Biography of John S. Beardsley of Saline County

John S. Beardsley was born in Ohio, but was brought by his parents to Iowa in the year 1856, where he grew up to manhood. He came to Nebraska in April 1870 and secured a homestead, it being the south west quarter of Section 22, Town 7, Range 1 west. He then brought his wife and family to Crete, coming from Iowa with a wagon and team of horses, having also with them a saddle horse, a spare horse, three cows and a heifer. Mrs. Beardsley bringing: along her sister, Miss Knox.

Mrs. Beardsley has had two experiences of pioneer life, being among the pioneers of Iowa, and remembers when there were only three families of white people in their neighborhood. Her playmates were mostly Iowa Indian children, and she could as easily converse with them in their own language as she could talk English with her own people at home.

She remembers her father selling a fat pig to an Indian named “Sepick” which he killed on the farm. After he had given the pig its death blow from which it quivered, the Indian said, “that is just the way my squaw did when I killed her.” When asked if he had killed a squaw? he said, ”yes.’ when I got tired of the first one I killed her!”

Mrs. Beardsley ‘s grandfather, “Knox,” a Scotchman, started the first Dry goods store in Sigourney, Iowa.

Mr. Beardsley received his education in the Finlay Congregational School; which was at that time a branch of the Oberlin and Harvard Colleges. He studied Mathematics and Natural Philosophy under Prof. McKee, studying as a text book Prof. Cumstock’s Philosophy, but missed his diploma as a result of his coming to Iowa to see after the land his father had bought, the School term being finished when he got back to Ohio. He afterwards taught school in Iowa and Nebraska.

On their arrival in Crete, they found that a house was unobtainable, so they had to use their wagon for sleeping purposes and arranged a kitchen outside of Colonel Doane’s house. Here their first supper was prepared and when everything was ready, a dust storm came up which soon had everything covered with dust, then it was the children asked the mother, “Have we to eat dirt and all?”

Mr. Beardsley started a nursery right where the Crete Depot now stands, and lived in the town one and a half years. In 1871 he farmed the land belonging to Colonel Doane, the founder of the Crete College. In the fall of that year they moved onto their homestead which was at that time a fine grazing ground for antelopes, elks and deer, many of those early inhabitants of Nebraska were still to be seen. Farming was commenced with great earnestness; three acres a day being often broken with a horse team and plough. An orchard of 600 apple trees was planted, besides a grove 16 acres in extent containing many kinds of favorite trees, and the pity of it is, these are nearly all dead.

During the grasshopper time, when feeding was so scarce, he fatted his hogs on sugar cane seed, which answered the purpose admirably. He was also fortunate in having a good crop of oats, wheat, and barley; though like so many in the country he lost all his corn.


Pioneer Stories of the Pioneers of Fillmore and adjoining Counties, by G. R. McKeith, Press of Fillmore County News, Exeter, Nebraska, 1915.

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