History Elm Creek Township, Buffalo County, NE
From: Buffalo County, Nebraska and its people
BY: Samuel Clay Bassett
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago 1916


When the Union Pacific Railroad was completed across Buffalo County in the years 1866-67, a station was established and named Elm Creek and D. C. Bond appointed agent. Also at Elm Creek was located an eating house, Charles Davis proprietor, and the emigrant train, carrying passengers, was scheduled to stop twenty minutes for meals at this point. Mr. Davis also kept a saloon and in 1872 an advertisement of his dining hall and saloon appeared in the Buffalo County Beacon, published at Gibbon. Stations were few and far between on the railroad in the early days and travelers who indulged in strong drink embraced every opportunity offered to lay in a supply in bottles and jugs. The. presence of liquors on the emigrant train made much trouble for the trainmen, and it is related that the following plan of lessening the evil was adopted at Elm Creek, in co-operation between the trainmen and Mr. Davis the saloonkeeper.

On the arrival of the emigrant train refusal was made to sell liquors in bottles and jugs on the plea that the trainmen objected, but the would be purchasers were informed that if they would quietly wait until the train was due to leave and the trainmen elsewhere employed, they could have all the bottles and jugs of liquors they desired.

Hence it was at the last moment those who wished loaded up with wet goods. After the train had left for the West it was discovered that the wet goods consisted of cold tea and for a mile or more west of the station the roadside was lined with broken jugs and bottles.

Among the first to take homestead claims in what is now Elm Creek Township were: A. F. Fraser, T. J. Holt, B. Foot and H. Ryan in 1871 and Fannie Nevius, James Tyler, W. Shreve, R. M. Holt, M. Stout. F. Ryan, D. McAlister, W. S. Leake, J. E. Anderson, P. Hansen, D. T. Hood, W. V. Hoge, J. McKee and J. W. Stevens in 1872.

A postoffice was established at an early date, D. C. Bond. serving as the first postmaster. Wm. Clark for a time handled mail at a location one mile west of the present village, where the first schoolhouse was built and at this point a store flourished for a time.

John Churchill, who built and conducted the first store on the present village site served as postmaster. The others, as recalled, in their order were: D. I. Brown, Ed Potter, F. M. Barney, Charles Willis, Mark Jones, B. F. Saylor, and Ed Fitzgerald the present (1916) incumbent. The postoffice is of third class, the annual business for the year 1914, approximating three thousand dollars.


Joseph Owen, an early settler and serving as deputy sheriff of the county in the year 1870, relates that he sold on execution, at Elm Creek, on the loth of November, 1870, 460 cords of four foot wood, at prices ranging from six to nine cents per cord.

Mr. Owen states that the price at which the wood sold was just sufficient to satisfy the judgment and costs.

A memorandum in Mr. Owen's possession discloses the names of parties purchasing and the price paid:
D. C. Bond, 7o cords at 9 cents ..... $6.30
Charles Davis, 180 cords at 6 cents ..... 10.80
B. I. Hinman, 210 cords at 6 cents ..... 12.60

The following is copied from correspondence relating to the sale:

"North Platte, October 26, 1870.
"Mr. Sheriff:
"Enclosed please find execution; directions for service will be found in Revised Statutes, pages 474-476, sections 485-490.

"You will go to McLeans and Russells at Elm Creek and take possession of enough property to satisfy execution and if you do not find partnership property take individual property.

"They may talk large but go ahead and take the property and sell and if they resist call out power of county.

"And put up five notices of sale, two in precinct where you sell.

"You had better take property to some place where you can rely on its not being run off. Notify me when and where the sale will be and I will be down.
"Yours truly,
"(Signed) B. I. Hinman, attorney."

"Wood River Centre, Neb.
"September 17, 1870.
"B. I. Hinman, Esq.:
"Sir: Execution received. I have been up to Elm Creek and levied upon four hundred and fifty cord of wood, being the only property belonging to McLean. I could not find out whether anopiesad any claims on the said wood. Therefore I could not see any reason why I should not levy on the same; enclosed find copies of sheriff sale. Hoping this will meet your approval, I remain,
"Yours truly,
"(Signed) Joseph Owen,
"Deputy sheriff."

"P. S. Don't fail to be down at Elm Creek on the 10th inst."


"In consideration of sale of wood by John Oliver, sheriff, by his deputy, Joseph Owen, to me, I hereby agree to indemnify them against all damages arising from said sale.
"November 10, 1870.
"(Signed) B. I. Hinman, attorney, him to stamp the above as no stamps could be procured.
"(Signed) B. I. Hinman."

Mr. Owen also has so called "indemnifying bonds" signed by Charles Davis and D. C. Bond. It is noticeable that in each instance the signer of the "bond" "authorizes them to affix stamp as it can not be procured," but in no instance is the stamp affixed.

It appears that the amount involved in the case was $8.30 as witnessed by the following receipt signed by the attorney for the plaintiffs in the case.

"Elm Creek received of John Oliver $8.30 on execution of Riddle Fuller Company against McLean and Russell.
"(Signed) B. I. Hinman,
"Attorney for Riddle Fuller Company."

The Village of Elm Creek was incorporated January 12, 1887, the members of the first village board being N. O. Calkins, H. D. Beecroft, E. O. Carpenter, H. Nantker, D. C. Bond.

In the year 1907 the village put in a system of water works - a steel tank on an elevated tower 120 feet in height, capacity 40,300 barrels, supplied by five, wells, thirty five feet deep, the water pumped by a twenty horse power gas engine; twenty two blocks of water mains were laid the same year, with sixteen hydrants and about sixty five private taps, in charge of the village marshal.

On June to, 1872, C. Putnam, county superintendent, made of record the following in his office:

"Organized this day, School District No. 9, of Buffalo County, embracing all the townships in Range No. 18 of Buffalo County; sent notice to John P. Arenott (Arndt) directing first meeting to be held on Wednesday, June 19th, at the house of Charles Davis at 2 o'clock P. M."

From records in the office of the county superintendent it appears that D. F. Hood was elected director on organization of the district and that in a report filed with the county superintendent, July 10, 1873, there were forty children of school age in the district.

As recalled bonds were voted by the district with which to build a schoolhouse, and it is stated in the Buffalo County Beacon, published in 1873, that the Union Pacific Railroad transported free from Omaha the lumber to build the schoolhouse. The schoolhouse was located about one mile west of the site of the present Village of Elm Creek.

Josephus Moore, now deceased, was the first teacher employed.

The records disclose that Josephus More (Moore) was issued a license as a teacher in 1873.

Later this school building was moved into the village and when a larger building was erected, the old one was purchased and used as an Episcopal Church. This church existed but a short period and the building is now (1916) owned by A. Reeve and used as a chapel in his undertaking establishment. In the year 1913 the high school was raised from a ten grade school to twelve grades, duly accredited and employing seven teachers.

The present board of education is composed of C. T. Mastin, Dr. J. W. Laughlin moderator, D. J. W. Frank treasurer, C. G. Bliss, W. C. Keep and E. Trates.

In the year 1910 John A. Nitchey built and equipped an electric light plant; the building is of concrete blocks, power is furnished by a fifty horse power oil engine. Light is furnished for streets and for private homes and business houses.

As recalled, R. N. Folk was the first newspaper man in Elm Creek, his paper the Elm Creek Sun, the first issue was dated June 2, 1886.

About the year 1900 E. C. Irewson purchased the plant of the Buffalo County Beacon, being published at Gibbon, moved the plant to Elm Creek, and began publication under the name Elm Creek Beacon. At the present time (1916) E. C. Krewson is editor of the Beacon.

Two grain elevators are located at Elm Creek with a storage capacity of approximately twenty thousand bushels each.

The Elm Creek flouring mill was built about the year 1897 by Frank McCall, the town donating the site. It was rebuilt in 1903 by Stephen Dworak. In 1915 the mill was not in operation.

Of physicians and surgeons who have ministered to the people of Elm Creek and vicinity the names of the following are recalled: Doctors Case, Tomlinson, Couch, Butterick, J. W. Frank, C. A. Yoder, J. W. Laughlin.

A fire swept Elm Creek in the year 1906, July 1st, destroying fourteen buildings; a better Elm Creek, with larger and more durable buildings has risen in its place.

In 1915 the village officers were: Trustees, O. J. Lloyd chairman, T. A. Cox, J. L. Daul, H. A. Wells, W. C. Rishel; J. O. Daul, treasurer; R. J. Mitchell, clerk.

The Farmers and Merchants Bank of Elm Creek was organized in 1889 with a capital stock of $12,300, with B. H. Goodell, president.

In the year 1915 the bank had a capital stock of $25,000; surplus, $3,300; deposits. $74,874; W. N. Garrison, president.

The City Bank of Elm Creek was organized May 9, 1907, with a capital stock of $10,000. The officers were: John A. Miller, president; C. G. Bliss, vice president; S. A. Reasoner, cashier.

This bank owns its own building erected in 1911.

In 1915 the bank had a capital stock of $10,000; surplus, $3,500; deposits, $90,199.

The officers of the bank: C. G. Bliss, president; H. A. Wells, vice president; E. E. Bliss, cashier; L. M. Bliss, assistant cashier.

The Christian Church at Elm Crcek was organized in February, 1910, with thirty five charter members, the first pastor, Rev. Harry G. Knowles, who served the church until 1913. In the summer of 1910 a church building was completed at a cost of $5,000, and dedicated in July of that year.

In 1913 the membership of the church was eighty.

Succeeding Rev. Mr. Knowles, the following pastors have served the church: H. H. Utterbach, F. R. Wedge, G. P. Brammel.

In the organization of a Methodist Church at Elm Creek, it is related that the first service was a funeral sermon for Mrs. Ryan, preached by Rev. Mr. Summers who had homesteaded north of Elm Creek. The funeral was on December 4, 1872. In February, 1873, Mr. Summers held a series of revival meetings and a church organization was effected. The charter members as near as can be recalled by Mrs. George Milbourn were: D. I. Brown, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Holt, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Holt, Rev. and Mrs. Summers, Mrs. Shuffelbarger, Miss Mollie Shuffelbarger, Joseph McKee, John Badgely.

Meetings were held in the schoolhouse until a church was built during the pastorate of Rev. T. H. Thurber in 1883, being located south of the track: about the year ____, during the pastorate of S. J. Medlin, the church building was moved north of the track, remodeled and improved. In 1915 the membership of the church was 136.

The names of the pastors who have served the church, in their order are: Rev. Mr. Summers, Wm. 'Willard, J. IL Vincent, \V. S. Norval, Rev. Mr. Dressler, Asbury Collins, T. H. Thurber, Joseph Gray, C. H. Savage, George H. McAdam, J. G. Hurlburt, L. W. Chandler, R. Randolph, Samuel Cates, J. A. Haggard, H. M. Pinckney, N. H. Miles, S. J. Medlin, R. H. Thompson, O. F. Chesebro, C. E. Woodson, W. C. Swartz, George Shuman, J. M. Haskins, H. S. French, F. A. Hawkey.

Of the Catholic Church at Elm Creek, it is related that services were held in the railroad section house in 1871 or 1872, before there was any other meeting place in the village. That about 1878 the church had a membership of ten or twelve families and at that date a small church building was erected; this building was enlarged in 1889.

Of the pastors who have served: this people and church the names of the following are recalled: Father Walsh came once a month from Lexington, he is now located at Battle Creek (Nebraska); next Father Flood, now dead; Father Fitzpatrick from Kearney; Father McGovern from Iearney, now bishop of Wyoming; others, Fathers Delbo and Dailey; Rev. T. D. Sullivan is the first resident pastor, having been located here since 1907. The membership of the church at the present time (1915) is thirty five families.

Asher Chapter No. 252, O. E. S., was instituted at Elm Creek in March, 1913, with twenty four charter members. The first officers were: Mrs. E. Ray, W. M.; Joseph Elliott, W. P.; Mrs. Mary Jones, A. M. Miss Jessie Jones, Cond.; Mrs. A. Miller, A. Cond.; Mrs. John L. Daul, Treas.; Mrs. John Kernmerling, Sec'y; Mrs. George Milbourn, Chaplain.

In 1913 the chapter had a membership of thirty six. Its officers: Mrs. Mark Jones, W. M.; Joseph Elliott. W. P.; Mrs. E. Ray. Sec.; Mrs. John J. Daul. Treas.; Miss Bessie Lloyd. A. Conch; Mrs. John Kemmerliug, A. M.: Mrs. George Milbourn, Chaplain.

Elm Creek Lodge No. 314, I. O. O. F., was instituted in March. 1906, with M. C. Brown as Noble Grand.

The membership of the lodge in 1915 was thirty three. Its officers: A. M. Brown, N. G.; H. E. Shafto, V. G.; John Richards, Secy.

Elm Creek Lodge No. 133, A. F. and A. M. was instituted at Elm Creek, August 8, 1884, with ten charter members. Its officers: Daniel C. Bond, W. M.; O. Calkins, S. W.; Robert K. Potter, J. W.; Lewis B. Irvin, S. D.; Delbert G. Webster, J. D.; David I. Brown, Sec.; Charles J. Carper, Tyler.

In the year 1915 the lodge had a membership of thirty nine. its officers: August Pierson, W. AI.; John L. Daul, S. W.; William A. Clarke, J. W.; William T. Adams, S. D.; Bert Miller, J. D.; Frank J. Jones, Sec.; B. E. Elliott, Treas.; John H. Richards, Tyler.

Elm Creek Lodge No. 108, A. O. U. W., was instituted January 12, 1887. Its first officers were: Frank McCall, P. AI. W.; David McCall, AI. W.; H. D. Becroft, For.; R. N. Volk, O.; J. H. Morris, Rec'r.; David McComb, Fin.; Wm. Barron, Recv.; G. G. Case, G.; R. M. Jones, I. W.; A. T. Geyer, O. W.

In the year 1913 the lodge had a membership of seventy two. Its officers: W. C. Pettett, P. M. W.; J. D. Hayes, M. W.; R. M. Jones, F.; Geo. Witmer, O.; C. E. Clark, Recdr.; AI. J. Jones, Fin.; W. T. Gould, Recv.; W. J. Dow, G.; E. Gottwald, I. \V.; S. L. Beaver, O. W.

Purity Lodge No. 50, Degree of Honor, A. O. U. W., was instituted April 4, 1893. Its first officers: Hattie Scott, P. C. of H.; Frankie Lloyd, C. of H.; Carrie Brown, L. of H.; Zelia Rall, C. of C.; Fannie Haughton, Recdr.; Sarah Fisher, Fin.; Eunia Mace, Recv.; Lillie Snyder, Usher; May Brown, I. W.

In the year 1915 the lodge had a membership of eighty four. Its officers: Martha Milbourn, P. C. of H.; Mary Pettett, C. of H.; Annie Pettett, L. of H.; Rose Thompson, C. of C.; Sadie R. Gould, Recdr.; W. T. Gould, Recv.; Catherine Hurley, Fin.; Mary Shawkey, Usher; Susie Smith, A. Usher; Hannah Palmer, I. W.; Ethyl Soniville, O. W.

Golden Rod Camp No. 470, Royal Neighbors, M. W. A., was instituted at Elm Creek, November 27, 1896, with twenty one charter members. Its first officers: Mrs. Fannie Dermody, Mrs. Minnie Newcome, Mrs. Anna Dermody, Miss Addie Nantker, Mrs. M. Ellen Anderson, Mrs. L. May Arndt, Mrs. Evelyn Clark, Mrs. Matilda Nantker, Mrs. Amanda Tossing. The remaining charter members: Mesdames Etta Tucker, Sarah Morris, Catherine Milbourn, Anna Camfhie, Barbara Schiff, B. F. 'fussing, S. J. W. Tucker, J. H. Morris, William Dermody, W. F. Milbourn, Mrs. D. E. Reve and Mrs. O. J. Lloyd.

In the year 1903 the camp lost by fire, its charter, regalia and all its supplies, but nothing daunted were up and doing. In the year 1912 twenty four new members were added.

The Royal Neighbors of America is said to be the largest women's fraternal society in America.

In 1915 Golden Rod Camp had seventy one members. Its officers: Ragina Fitzgerald, Bessie Frates, Mary Neidigh, Mary C. Skawkcy, Martha F. Frank, Louisa M. Roger, Luella Shafto, Jennie Bushee, Lucy Anderson, Addie Daul, M. Ellen Anderson, Nina Mitchell. Physicians: Doctors J. W. Frank, J. W. Laughlin, C. A. Yoder.

Home Camp No. 1860. M. W. A., was instituted at Elm Creek, in 1891, with charter members as follows: F. W. Schiff, venerable counselor; Geo. C. Case, George Decker, Edward Fitzgerald. Samuel P. Flesher, J. M Guisinger, Wm. C. Keep, Lawrence Kelly, Oliver J. Lloyd, Robert Mitchell, David McComb, Adelbert Snyder, John Taylor, Charles D. Taylor, August J. Ulrich, Albert Younkin.

The (1915) membership of the camp was eighty two. Its officers: V. C., C. J. Lloyd; W. A., E. C. Irewson; Banker, J. A. Johnson; Clerk, T. A. Cox.

The original records of the camp were burned, together with the charter, and a new charter was issued July 12, 1906.

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