Harvey D. Abel of Merrick County, Nebraska

Harvey D. Abel was my father, having been born at Central City, Nebraska, on the family farm on March 30, 1897. [EN: Son of Turner Abel and Lizzie E. Votaw] He passed away at Central City, Nebraska, on November 26, 1963. He met a cute little Swedish girl by the name of Edith Peterson while they were in high school. Edith was born on the family farm northeast of Marquette, Nebraska, on April 10, 1897. She was the daughter of Nels and Jennie Nicholson Peterson. They were married at Central City, Nebraska, on October 3, 1917. She passed away on December 9, 1961, at Central City, Nebraska. They lived on the family farm from 1917 until the spring of 1945, when they moved into Central City. My father went to work for a seed corn company at that time and continued this up until his retirement in May of 1963.

My parents were trying to raise and educate a family back at the worst of the drought and depression. I can remember how hard it was for them to be able to borrow enough money in 1937 to put down an irrigation well; it is still being used today. It is well to mention that there has never been a crop failure on that irrigated land since then.

The true need for irrigation, and how it has changed the standard of living and thus the self-respect of people, can hardly be understood unless you have seen the combination of the stock market crash, the bank closings, the bread lines, and the drought years of 1934 and 1936. It was truly a time to test the strength of many people; and thousands of Midwestern farmers took off for California at that time.

My father, my brother, and I helped Julius Zamzow, who worked for Ross, Cowgill & Hart, sand-bucket that well into the ground about 40 feet.

It was most interesting to see Merrick County start to use hybrid corn. My father experimented with various kinds and amounts of commercial fertilizer to help increase corn yields. I remember when the usage of 40 lbs. of actual nitrogen was a common amount, and just look at it today.

My father was one of the men who thought that electricity on the farm would be a good idea, so he carried a petition around the neighborhood to try and create some interest in this project. He was always amazed at the almost violent reaction of some people who objected to the $3.50 minimum charge for 50 KWH’s. Everyone who goes back into their memories will think about different events. I believe that my parents enjoyed their work in the Masonic Lodge and the Eastern Star as much as anything. I believe that my mother enjoyed her year as The Grand Guardian of Job’s Daughters as much as any event of her life.

My father served on the school board, township board, and the ration board during World War II.

There were four children born of this marriage, and we were all born on the family farm, and were delivered by Dr. Benton. Geraldine Abel, 6-21-1918, (Davis) Raytown, Missouri, Registered Nurse; Warren Abel, 10-12-1921, married Janice Layton, manager of Safeway Store in C.C.; Stewart Abel, 10-6-1924, married Zetha Norris, Insurance Salesman; Marilyn Abel, 2-9-1930, Rolling Hills Estates, California, (Nicholson) Manager and Owner of Plant and Flower Shop.

My parents are buried at the cemetery in Central City, Nebraska.

Submitted by Stewart Abel.


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

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