From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Pioneer Stories of Brown County, Nebraska

Names in Brown County history


I've been lurking around eBay quite a bit lately, and not surprisingly, I found a book that I needed -- Pioneer Stories of Brown, Keya Paha and Rock Counties, in Nebraska, published in 1980 by the Brown County Historical Society. (Brown and Rock counties are where I was born and raised.) I bid on the book and was happy when I won it.

Today, the book arrived in the mail, and I'm a little disappointed. The title is misleading. The Brown County section of the book has 581 pages. The Keya Paha County section has 165 pages. And the Rock County section has 16 pages -- yes, 16 pages. The book should have been titled Pioneer Stories of Brown County, Nebraska and subtitled With Additional Stories from Keya Paha and Rock Counties.

Despite the shockingly-short Rock County section, the book is interesting. I don't regret buying it. Leafing through the Brown County pages, I see many surnames that I recognize. I don't know the people at all, but I know their names.

My dad's mother was a Brown County resident most of her life and an enthusiastic genealogist. Sometimes Grandma Nora came to visit us for a week or two at a time when I was a kid. I remember her sitting at the dining room table with her embroidery, talking on and on about who was related to whom. Because of her, I recognize Brown County names like Hulshizer, Schipporeit, Bejot, Kackmeister, Wolcott, Mundorf, and Klapper. (I think some of the Kackmeisters may be cousins of my family -- we may share a great-grandmother or our great grandmothers may have been sisters. Then again, I could be wrong about that.)

Some Brown County names in the book do have personal meaning to me. The Gudgels drilled many wells for my dad. When I was little, we attended church in Ainsworth with the Bollers and Lotspieches, and my parents were always friendly with them. The Babcocks and Mengers lived in the western expanses of the community where I grew up. And there are other names that stir memories of faces and experiences.

Regrettably, no one from my family wrote up any of our history for this book. My great-grandparents on my dad's side of the family were homesteaders in Brown County, too. My great-grandfathers' surnames were Clark and Hill, and my great-grandmothers' surnames were Fisher and Mapes.

7 comments:

Laura said...

I love finding county histories like this, too, simply for the personal stories recalled for historical reference. I understand your dismay that the title misrepresented the contents of the book... I know that feeling. This reminds me, I need to continue my family genealogy searches on Ancestry! I have learned much about my father's mother's side of the family, much more than he ever knew to share. Unfortunately I have no info on his father's side - He was the result of an affair (and of course it was all hush-hush)! But my mother's side of the family spans all over Mississippi and Kentucky. :) I've got to see if I can collect some county histories of Warren and Barren counties. I know they exist, I just ought to find the relevant ones. :) Good luck with your searching!

Genevieve said...

Laura, I hope you're able to find some history books that don't cost an arm and a leg. I'd enjoy having copies of the Christian County, KY, history books of 1986 and 1991 (I think those are the years they were published -- anyway, there are two volumes.) However, I haven't yet convinced myself to pay the steep price necessary to buy them. One of these days, I tell myself, I'll find them offered somewhere at a bargain price.

Brianne said...

Hi there - just doing some late night web surfing and came across your blog. Have you read Rock County's centennial book, "Those Who Came Before Us"? It's referenced at the end of this article, which my great-aunt contributed to. My great-great grandparents settled along the Niobrara River in the 1880's), and Audrey has done a fantastic job documenting stories, pictures, etc. of that era.

Genevieve said...

I have tried to buy a copy of Rock County's centennial book, but it's out of print and thus it's become very precious. I search for it every now and then on Abebooks and on eBay, but I haven't found one yet at a price that I wanted to pay.

Brianne said...

I have some excerpts that pertain to my family (mostly the Farr's, but the Dyer's may be mentioned as well). I could definitely scan that to you. I know my parents have a copy of the book - I may be able to scan or copy it, as well.

Genevieve said...

I appreciate the offer, Brianne, but that would probably be photocopying to the point of copyright infringement. My sister has a copy, I believe, so if I'm ever really desperate to know if something is in it, I can consult with her. And sooner or later, I'll probably stumble across a copy to buy.

Brianne said...

I knew it was iffy - but thought I'd offer what I had. I hope you're able to come across it without sacrificing an arm an a leg!

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