Antrim — Shepherd Families of Merrick County, Nebraska

The farmstead about one half mile east of Havens where I was born and spent most of my youth and early adulthood is gone. The house my grandfather built in 1908, all the other buildings and trees have been removed to enable farm fields to have uninterrupted corn rows irrigated by a pivot sprinkler.

But all our yesterdays are just memories anyhow and my recollections of our family life there are as fresh as today’s sunrise. They are as alive in my mind as they were in reality when my sister, Opal, and I romped around the yard with Rover while the milk was being separated before we took the skim milk back to the barn to feed the “bucket” calves. In summer we carried what seemed like endless pails of water to the large flock of chickens our mother raised. In spring she not only “set” a lot of hens but she sold many eggs for hatching to people who liked the large meaty Buff Orpingtons.

Our lives were to be restricted by the arthritis which totally disabled our father, forcing him into inactivity before middle age. But we made the best of it even during the drought of the “Thirties” when we operated a store in Havens.

Dad was Chas. F., the eldest son of John and Carrie (Cool) Shepherd, and Mom was Etta V., the only daughter of G.E. (Ed) and Linnie (Pettyjohn) Antrim. Their marriage joined two pioneer Merrick County families with a long friendship. Solomon Shepherd, a native of Kentucky and a Civil War veteran, came first to Platte County where his wife, the former Rachel Green, died in 1895 and was buried in Jackson Cemetery at Duncan. John was one of their four children. He was a native of Iowa, as was Chas. who came to Silver Creek to help care for his grandfather, Solomon, courted and married my mother, a close friend of his cousin, Rose, daughter of Henry Clay Shepherd.

Grandpa Antrim had come to Merrick County in the 1870s but returned to Iowa for about ten years before coming back to begin married life with my grandmother near Silver Creek. Mom was born on the farm south of Highway 30 now owned by Ed Dittmer.

My parents spent their first three years together in Cass County, Iowa, then came to the Havens community.

After graduation from Silver Creek High School in 1937, I married Kenneth M. Colby in 1939. He was the third child of George M. and Jessie (Brown) Colby and a native of York County. He had graduated from Clarks High School in 1933. It was in 1955 that we left the farm to operate a grocery store in Clarks for seven years. Kenneth died in 1962 after a long period of ill health.

I had a variety of work experiences including employment at Litzenberg Hospital and as bookkeeper at the Farmers Cooperative Association in Clarks before I married Frank K. Betts, a farmer and cattle feeder.

Submitted by Rose Betts


Persinger, C. E., A History of Merrick County, Nebraska: From “the Beginning” to 1895, Dallas, Texas : Taylor Publishing Company, 1981.

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