Biography of Henry W. Shubert of Shubert

Henry W. Shubert, born on June 2, 1834, in Bath County, Kentucky, was a pioneering settler and influential figure in northern Richardson County, Nebraska. He founded the town of Shubert on his land and became a prominent farmer, stockman, and orchardist, establishing Nebraska’s first commercial fruit orchard. Shubert moved to Nebraska in 1865 and expanded his land holdings significantly. Known for his generosity and community spirit, he contributed to local development and assisted many settlers. Shubert passed away on April 19, 1909. He was married twice and fathered eight children.

Among the early pioneers of the northern part of Richardson county, few, if any, are held in better remembrance than is the late Henry W. Shubert, who was one of the first settlers in that part of this county and on whose land the town of Shubert was laid out when the railroad was surveyed through that section. He not only was one of the first settlers in northern Richardson county, but he became one of the substantial farmers and stockmen thereabout and an extensive landowner, owning lands in this county and in the neighboring neighboring county of Nemaha. He was the pioneer orchardist of Richardson county and set out the first commercial fruit orchard in the state of Nebraska. He built up a fine homestead place in the Shubert neighborhood and his children and grandchildren are worthily carrying on the work he started so admirably here back in pioneer days.

Henry W. Shubert was a Kentuckian, born in Bath county in the old Blue Grass state, June 2, 1834, son of John and Rebecca (Shrout) Shubert, also natives of Kentucky, the former born in 1806 and the latter in 1810. John Shubert was the son of Nicholas and Elizabeth (Meyer) Shubert, natives of Germany, the former born in 1780 and the latter in 1785, who were pioneers in Kentucky and whose last days were spent in Mason county, Illinois, the latter dying there in 1860 and the former in 1870. There were four brothers who came from Germany about the same period, of whom John Shubert was one, Louis Shubert was another who was the ancestor of the Shuberts of theatrical fame. John Shubert was trained as an iron moulder in his youth and worked at the trade for a number of years. He was married in 1828 and in 1835 built a flatboat at the headwaters of the Licking river in Kentucky and with his family and household goods floated down that stream into the Ohio and thence to the landing at Madison, Indiana, where he disembarked and then pushed on eighteen miles into the wilderness, where he hewed out a home in the woods, started a farm and presently also started a country store. There he remained until 1843, when he disposed of his interests there and moved by covered wagon over into Illinois, where he settled on a farm in Macon county, remaining there until 1873, when he and his wife joined their sons, who had meanwhile settled in Nebraska, and spent their last days on a farm in the neighborhood of Shubert, in this county, John Shubert dying there in 1879 and his widow in 1883. They were the parents of eleven children, of whom nine grew to maturity, those besides the subject of this memorial sketch being as follow: Rachel, widow of T. Harmon, of this county; Elizabeth, wife of George Vanlandingham, of the neighboring county of Nemaha; Mrs. Mary A. Vanlandingliam, deceased; Eliza Jane, who died at the age of eighteen years; James M., who became a substantial pioneer farmer of this county and who met a tragic death in March, 1882, by being thrown from a wagon when his team of horses ran away in the vicinity of Brownville; John W., who also became a pioneer of this county and who is now living retired, at Spokane, Washington; William M., another Richardson county pioneer, now living retired at Shubert, and Rebecca, also living at Shubert, wife of Charles Pond, a veteran of the Civil War and one of the pioneers of this county.

Henry W. Shubert was but a babe in arms when his parents moved down the river, changing their place of residence from Kentucky to Indiana, and he was but nine years of age when they moved from the latter state over into Illinois and settled on a farm in Macon county, where he grew to manhood. He had little schooling when a boy. He helped to build the first school house in the neighborhood of his home and was a good student, becoming a very well-informed man through wide reading and much study at home. From 1856 to 1860 he operated a grain separator and corn-sheller in connection with his general farming. In the meantime, in the spring of 1838, he married and in 1865, attracted by the possibilities then opening to settlers in the then Territory of Nebraska, came out here and bought the northeast quarter of section 5 in the precinct of Barada, in Richardson county, that tract then being a part of the Half-breed Reservation, paying two dollars and fifty cents an acre for the same. The next year he put out a crop on that place, but range cattle ate the crop and he then spent the next year splitting rails with which to fence the place. In the meantime he had taken up additional land, over the line in Nemaha county and on this latter tract had erected a log cabin in preparation for the removal of his family to the new home in the wilderness. He then returned to Illinois and settling up his affairs there returned here with his family and established his home in this state, where he spent the remainder of his life, one of the active and influential pioneers of the northern part of Richardson county. When the Burlington railroad was surveyed through this county a station was located on Mr. Shubert’s land and was given his name, which it still bears, the thriving village of Shubert having grown up there. As he prospered in his farming and stock-raising operations Mr. Shubert added to his holdings until he became the owner of seven hundred acres of fine land and was accounted one of the most substantial residents of that part of the county. He brought his father and, mother out here in 1873 and gave them forty acres, on which they spent their last days. His brothers also became well established and the Shubert family thus came to have a most important part in the development of that region.

In 1884 Henry W. Shubert became associated with the Lincoln Land Company and in that connection did much valuable development work hereabout. On his home place he set out extensive fruit orchards and was the pioneer orchardist of Nebraska and was the first apple grower to use a spraying machine and also the first grower to pack apples in barrels for shipment. Mr. Shubert’s career was not always favored with successes, however, as he had many vicissitudes during his active life in this county. During 1886 he suffered the loss of practically all of his hogs and cattle because of hydrophobia contracted from a shepherd dog, which was afflicted with the dread disease. In later years he lost a considerable fortune because of a bank failure wherein he had served as bondsman for the bank officers.

This noted pioneer gave away to his children practically all of his estate, when old age crept upon him, and was widely known for his great liberality to his friends and acquaintances. He was known never to have forced a collection in instances where he had loaned money or given assistance to his neighbors in time of need. He took a pride in assisting new comers to his neighbors in gaining a foothold and many settlers have cause to bless his kindness of heart and generosity. For a period of thirty-five years prior to his death. Henry W. Shubert suffered from an incurable cancer, but uncomplainingly and smilingly pursued his way and did the things which he deemed were just and right in the eyes of the world. He was a member of the Christian church; a Free Mason, and a Republican in politics, ever taking a warm interest in church, lodge and political affairs, as became a man of position and standing. He died at his home in this county on April 19, 1909.

Henry W. Shubert was twice married. On May 7, 1858, in Illinois he was united in marriage to Mary Griffin and to that union seven children were born, namely: John D., of Shubert; M. Fannie, wife of F. F. Burson, of Shubert; M. Etta, wife of J. L. Speece, of Falls City; Arthur M., a farmer and orchardist, of Shubert; J. Franklin Shubert, banker and orchardist, of Shubert; Henry Walter, a merchant of Ottawa, Kansas; Austin Grant, a well-known real estate dealer and farmer of Falls City. The mother of these children died suddenly mule riding in a carriage on the highway between her home and that of J. P. King, on New Years Day, 1881, her last born child, Austin Grant, less than two years of age, being held in her arms at that time. In 1883, Mr. Shubert married, secondly, Mary Skeen, daughter of Squire A. D. Skeen, one of the pioneers of Nebraska and a former resident of Nebraska City, and to that union was born one son, Leon Willard, whose mother died on January 1, 1917.


Edwards, Lewis C., History of Richardson County, Nebraska : Its People, Industries and Institutions, Indianapolis : B.F. Bowen, 1917.

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