Biography of William C. Oswald of Falls City

William C. Oswald, born May 28, 1843, in Saxony, was a respected retired farmer and Civil War veteran residing in Falls City, Richardson County, Nebraska. Emigrating to the United States in 1858 at age 15, he worked in Ohio before enlisting in the Union Army in 1861. After serving with the Ohio Volunteer Infantry and Cavalry, he moved to Nebraska in 1867, homesteading in Johnson County. Despite early hardships, he prospered and eventually purchased a farm near Salem. In 1892, he retired to Falls City. Oswald married Christina Hasenyager in 1868, and they had six children. The family was active in the German Lutheran church and the Grand Army of the Republic.

William C. Oswald, a substantial retired fanner of Richardson county and an honored veteran of the Civil War, now living in Falls City, is a Saxon, born in the kingdom of Saxony, on May 28, 1843, a son of William and Christina 0swa1d, the former of whom died in his native land in 1870, his widow later coming to this country, her last days being spent in Cedar county, this state, where her death occurred in 1909.

It was in 1858 that William C. 0swald came to the United States, he then being but fifteen years of age. It was his intention to join kinsfolk in Wisconsin, but upon landing at the port of New York he was without money to complete his journey and he accepted an offer of an Ohio farmer who was seeking “hands” and went to Springfield, Ohio, in the neighborhood of which place he began working for his employer at a wage of four dollars a month, which after some months, was increased to six dollars. After some months of this employment he had saved enough money to pay his fare up into Wisconsin and he made a visit to his kinsfolk there, but not liking condition. in that then pioneer country he returned to Ohio and was working there when the Civil War broke out. He enlisted for service on September 7, 1861, as a member of Company H, Forty-fourth Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, attached to the Army of the Cumberland, and with that command served for three years, receiving his discharge on October 12, 1864, after which he returned to Springfield, Ohio, and in the following November cast his first vote, voting for Abraham Lincoln for President. He then re-enlisted as a veteran and was attached to Company H, Eighth Ohio Cavalry, with which command he served until the close of the war. In November, 1865, Mr. Oswald made another visit to his kinsfolk in Wisconsin, but in the following April returned to Ohio. He was unable to get work there, however, and decided to come West, having, heard much of the possibilities that awaited young men out here in the plains country. He headed for Leavenworth and after working a month there hired out as a freighter, joining a caravan of twenty-two wagons, each haying five yoke of oxen, headed for Nebraska City. Upon arriving at this latter point he gave up his job as a “bullwhacker” and hired out to a farmer near Union, with whom he worked until in the fall. He then returned to Leavenworth, a three-days trip by horseback, and got his trunk, which he expressed to Nebraska City and then rode back to the latter point, another three-days horseback trip. During 1867 Mr.

Oswald worked in the French settlement at Julian, on the line between Otoe and Nemaha counties, and while thus engaged went over into the adjoining county of Johnson and exercised his soldier’s right by filing on a homestead tract near Tecumseh. The next spring, 1868, he went over to his homestead and in three days had a dugout constructed there and felt quite well equipped for establishing a home. In July he married and he and his wife began their housekeeping in that Johnson county dug-out. During the first years of their residence there their crops were very poor and for fourteen years they faced continual hard times, but finally things began to brighten up a bit and, the grinding poverty of those “lean years” was never felt again. When Mr. Oswald began farming on his own account on his homestead tract he had no team and while proving up his claim worked out elsewhere whenever he could, though maintaining his residence on the homestead, his sod shanty there serving as a shelter for himself and wife until they presently could see their way clear to the erection of a small house. Besides his lack of a team he was further handicapped by a serious injury to one of his arms and side sustained during the delirium of an attack of typhoid fever suffered while in the army. He finally got a team, however, but both horses presently died and he had the further in luck to lose two other teams in quick succession, so that it was seven years before he finally got forty acres of his homestead under cultivation. In, 1882 Mr. Oswald sold his homestead tract for twenty-five hundred dollars and came down into Richardson county, where he bought a quarter of a section of land two miles east of Salem, paying for the same forty-five hundred dollars, this transaction entailing a considerable debt, but he had a succession of good crops and paid out in good time. He built on that place a new house and farm building and otherwise improved the same and there made his home for ten years, at the end of which time, in 1892, he rented the place and moved to Falls City, where he and his wife have since made their home and where they are very comfortably situated, enjoying in comfort the rewards of their trying days on the farm as pioneers. Mr. Oswald is a Republican and has ever given a good citizen’s attention to local political affairs, but has not been a seeker after public office.

On July 31, 1868, William C. Oswald was united in marriage to Christina Hasenyager, who was born on a pioneer farm near Warrentown, Missouri, November 21, 1850, a daughter of John C. and Louisa (Brinkman) Hasenyager, natives of Germany, who settled in Missouri upon coming to this country and who moved over into Nebraska during war times, and to this union six children have been born, namely: William C., a farmer, of Edison, this state, who married Emma Adams and has three children, John, Ruth and Fred; Ellen M., who married Dorsey Will, of Falls City, and has two daughters, Mrs. Florence Deitrich and Grace; Carrie, who married Ross Will, a farmer, living three miles west of Falls City, and has five children, Pearl, Myrtle, Orville, Evelyn and Robert; Frederick W., now a resident of Buffalo, Wyoming; John, a photographer at Falls City, and Lillian, also a photographer in her home town. The Oswalds are members of the German Lutheran church and take a proper interest in church affairs. Mr. Oswald is an active member of the local post of the Grand Army of the Republic and takes a warm interest in the affairs of that patriotic organization.


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

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