Henry & Johanna Baese of Merrick County, Nebraska

My grandmother, Johanna Donovan Baese, was a homesteader in Merrick County. She probably inherited her pioneer spirit from her father, John Donovan, Sr. He was born near Dublin, Ireland, in County Cork in 1820. He married Jane Hickey in 1846 and came to America in 1848, moving to Pennsylvania until 1867. He then settled in Chapman in 1868 and was section foreman there on the newly built Union Pacific railroad. John Donovan, Sr. donated the land for the Chapman Cemetery. He died in 1902.

Herman and Johanna Baese
Herman and Johanna Baese

As stories are told, Johanna, born February 20, 1855, was a determined young lady. Coming with her father and his family in 1868, she homesteaded a farm near the community of Chapman while she was yet in her teens. Having to remain on the farm located one mile east and 1 3/8 miles north of the village of Chapman, a certain number of days and nights to secure her claim, Johanna sighted several Indians on one occasion. She managed to keep calm, found a safe hiding place, and remained out of sight until they passed.

Dorothy Baese Yutesler — 1934
Dorothy Baese Yutesler — 1934

Johanna married Herman Henry Baese on October 30, 1881, in Central City. Herman, born December 13, 1854, in Buffalo, New York, and Johanna, passing away January 15, 1922, became stalwart members of the Chapman Community for fifty-seven years. Herman, fondly remembered in a tribute at his death on April 1, 1936, as a “Grand Old Man” was one of the first county commissioners of Merrick County having his name inscribed on the cornerstone of the Merrick County Courthouse.

Of this union, one son, Fred J. Baese, my father, was born on March 11, 1883. My father preceded his father in death on March 25, 1925. My father was one of the first farmers to switch from horse-drawn machinery to a tractor when he purchased his Fordson Tractor. The huge wheels on the back had large “lugs” on them and Granddad insisted this would “pack the soil.” Granddad Herman Baese continued to use his faithful horses, Tony and Major.

Fred Baese married my mother, Genevieve Nunneman, on August 15, 1914. My brother Charles, passing away on October 7, 1979, and I were born on this farm as was my father, which remained a part of our family until 1960. I feel very proud of being a direct descendant of one of the earliest pioneers of Merrick County. I am also fortunate in the continuation of our heritage in my children, Charles Douglas Yutesler and Sheryl Yutesler Barry, and in their children: Kim, Kari, and Kathy Yutesler and Shannon Mistene Barry, and my great-grandchild: Donnie.

Submitted by Dorothy Baese Yutesler


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

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