William Brage Family of Merrick County, Nebraska

William Brage, who is my grandfather, was born June 17, 1860, and died May 1, 1889. Louise, his wife, was born January 10, 1863, in Wolderheim, Germany, and died May 4, 1938. When they came to the States, they sent their trunk and a big locked box with their clothes ahead. They reached a seaport in England and took a ship across the Atlantic Ocean, landing in what is now called New Jersey. They came by train to Nebraska, stopping south of what is now Central City, Nebraska. There they bought a wagon and horses. Then they moved six and a half miles north where they built a house, barn, and cattle shed.

After they were settled, a son, Fredrick Brage, left to live in Grand Island where he drew plans for buildings, whatever people wanted. Later, he went to Dallas, Texas, where he drew plans for a company. He died in 1960. Another brother went to Alaska, and the third brother stayed at home to run the farm.

William Brage earned the name of Leap Frog Brage because while planting ash trees on the farm, he just leaped from one tree to the other while planting.

The mailbox was put out at the road, then when any of the neighbors went to town, they got the mail and put it in your box.

As a daughter, Louise went through the third grade. She had to quit school to help in the fields, picking up corn that was knocked down by the wagon. If she missed getting it in the wagon, they were picked up the second time. She also helped her mother in the kitchen. After her mother died, Louise had to take her place and do all the housework as well as the garden.

William H. Hayes (my father) lived with his parents in London, England. As he was the oldest, he became “Bus Boy” for the King. Later, growing tired of that work, he quit, and the family moved to Canary Island, where the only girl died. The family then moved back to England, and William took a ship and came to New York, then went by train where they did tree farming north of the Great Lakes. He earned enough money to send for his two brothers, mother, and father to come to what is now Michigan. One brother went south to Mississippi and later moved to Oklahoma.

William then worked his way west and south on the railroad, later doing odd jobs. He finally ended up across the road from a nice young lady whom he later married. They had five children: Grace (myself), who married Walter Bannister; Laura, who married Oscar Mills; and Fred, who married Hannah Newton. Bill and Mary never married.

Submitted by Grace Hayes Bannister


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

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