The Bittinger Family of Merrick County, Nebraska

The earliest genealogical records of our family relate the birth of John Bittinger on November 3, 1817, in Chambersburg, Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Located in the fertile Cumberland Valley, it was then (and is still today) the state’s greatest apple and peach producing region.

John married Rebecca Kail, and to their union were born six sons — Dave, Charles Henry, Sam, Will, Fred, and Frank. The Bittinger boys grew to manhood just as the Civil War raged at nearby Gettysburg. Chambersburg was occupied by the Southern forces three times. The last time ended in the burning of the city in 1864. Historians record the city also served as a base of operations for John Brown prior to the raid on Harper’s Ferry. Perhaps these bloody battles induced second son Charles Henry to leave his native state. Together, he and his wife Anna Hittle Bittinger journeyed west by wagon train and arrived in Clarksville, Nebraska, in 1877. They homesteaded five miles west of the present town of Clarks on an eighty-acre claim. They planted many fruit trees on their land (shades of home). The following record was taken from the June 4, 1880, Federal census: Bittinger, Charles Henry, age 35, occupation, farmer; Bittinger, Anna, age 35, occupation, keeping house; Bittinger, Walter F., age 2, son; Bittinger, Otis A., age 1, son. (Daughter Mabel E. wasn’t listed, as she was born later that year on October 22nd). Charles died in 1913, and Anna in 1917. They are buried in the Clarks Town Cemetery.

Otis Allen, second son of Charles and Anna, was born December 9, 1878, on the family farm in Clarks. He married Fannie Bird of Clarks, in Fullerton, Nebraska, on January 1, 1908. Later that year he became owner of the Clarks Telephone Exchange and conducted that business for over forty years. Two children were born to them: Margaret (Mrs. Wayne Palmer of Sun City, Arizona) and a son, Vinson, of Clarks. Otis died at the age of 69 in 1948, and Fannie on October 6, 1956. Both are buried in the Clarks Village Cemetery.

On April 20, 1942, in Omaha, Nebraska, Vinson married Margaret Hayes from the Polk County area. Vinson spent from March 1943 until March 1946 in the U.S. Air Force, with fifteen months spent in Calcutta, India. Upon arrival home from the service, they took over owner-management of the Clarks Telephone Company. They are the parents of five children: Michael Vinson (wife Patricia of Central City, Nebraska), Patricia Carol (husband Greg of Lakewood, Colorado), Thomas Allen (wife Cherie of Lincoln, Nebraska), Mary Margaret (husband Lynn Boden of Omaha, Nebraska), Timothy Daniel (wife Cindy of Clarks, Nebraska).

Margaret and Vinson presently have 8 grandchildren: Scott, Jeff, and Ric Cline (children of daughter Pat and husband Greg), Ann, Mark, Maureen, Kathleen, and Michael (children of son Mike and wife Pat), Eric Boden (son of daughter Mary and husband Lynn), Mae Lynn (daughter of son Tim and wife Cindy).

Margaret and Vinson maintain the family home in Clarks, Nebraska.

Submitted by Margaret Bittinger


Merrick County Historical Society, History of Merrick County, Nebraska (1981), Volume I, Dallas, Texas : Taylor Publishing Company, 1981.

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