History of Scott & Sartoria Townships,
Buffalo County, NE
From: Buffalo County, Nebraska and its people
BY: Samuel Clay Bassett
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago 1916
SCOTT AND SARTORIA TOWNSHIPS
The first settlements in Scott Township appear to have been by Benjamin Scott and John Laro in 1873, W. Hanshen,
J. P. Gihnore, James A. Betts in 1874, J. J. Moore and James Broadfoot in 1878, and W. W. McLea and O. H. Lowry
REMINISCENCES IN THE EARLY SETTLEMENT OF SCOTT AND SARTORIA TOWNSHIPS
(Note - Mr. Swenson was a soldier of the Civil war, leaving one arm on the battlefield. He took a homestead
claim in Divide Township in the year 1874. He served two terms as county superintendent.)
HOOLEY SHOOTS AN ELK
During our conversation Hooley told me of an accident that hit him on one of his recent hunting expeditions.
Having heard that elk were often seen in a certain locality, Hooky went there to get some of them. He arrived at
the objective region late one evening and let his mules loose to graze while he was arranging for the comforts
of his camp. Something scared the mules and they came stampeding by the camp, and Hooky said, "here come the
elks," leveled his faithful rifle and down fell one of his mules.
MY RIDGLING PONY
My first power of conveyance was a ridghing pony, weighing in good condition 812 pounds. He took good care of
himself on the road whether he had his burden on his back or behind hint However, if there was a horse within several
miles ahead of him, he would deliver a speed and assume a style that the kings horses could not surpass. There
being no special inducement for progress on the other side of the river and somewhat heavily loaded his wagon got
stuck in the quicksand and one time when 1 asked him to cross the river without any load he refused to go on.
The first settlers in the region afterwards named Sartorial, came in the fall of 1877. They were Norwegians
named Lee. They consisted of the parents, four stalwart sons and two grown up daughters. They took three homesteads
at first and more afterwards. They had but one team. Began breaking prairie early in April and ended in June.
This township was first settled by Benjamin Scott, after whom it was named, who settled on his homestead on Deer Creek in 1873, and on which he lived continuously till 1907, when he hung up his armor and was put to rest. His good wife went some years before him. There was nothing remarkable about Ben Scott, except that he was a model citizen, as I believe he had been a model soldier.
On the west bank of the river Cornelius Cook erected a rather nice frame house. He and his family were people
of education and refinement; they tried to live like white people should live; at this undertaking their means
soon quit them and they quit the country.
LUDICROUS AND DANGEROUS INCIDENTS
There were many ludicrous as well as dangerous happenings along the river, which, if related, would read stranger
than fiction. I will mention but two with which I had to do. Early in March Dan Rohrbarger and I went south on
the divide after some corn. On coming back my horse, being used to cross the river, bounded right through. Rohrbarger's
horses, despite his whipping with a two foot long willow switch, stopped in the middle of the stream to drink.
The team having satisfied itself, when urged to go on could not move the wagon. Rohrbarger, facing the river diagonally
and seeing the water running by him swiftly, cried to me, "Ain't I going?" "Not that any one can
see," I replied. "What will I do? No, rather say, what can you do? Will I have to leave the wagon here?"
he said. I replied, "If you can not move that's the only thing you can do." Rohrbarger unhooked the horses
and walked out on the wagon tongue and hooked the tongue loose from the neckyoke and jumped on one of the horses.
When this one was asked to go he could not get his feet loose. After floundering for some time he finally fell
on his side with Mr. Rohrbarger under him. Rohrbarger at last got out and walked home in his wet clothes, four
miles. The next morning he came with two men and two teams. How to get the wagon loose looked to be a difficult
matter indeed. All that was to be seen of the wagon, was one corner about eight inches above water. The two men
went into the wagon in the water and as the team passed forward and back the men in the wagon threw, each time,
four grain sacks of corn into the passing wagon. The corn being all out the wagon had to be taken to pieces to
the last wheel to get it out of the
A DUCKING IN AN AIR-HOLE IN THE ICE
Poverty having somewhat let loose its grip, we slowly crawled out of it and some of us got in possession of
some not insignificant herds of cattle. I, among the most of those mentioned, got in possession of cattle and knew,
like the man who has earned a dollar, how to use it, took care of my herd. One Sunday, bright the breezy, I went
to the river to see that the cattle got water and to prevent them from falling into air holes and drowning. One
large bunch came to one of these air holes and, behold, the ice broke and the whole bunch fell in.
A COW, A LAMB AND A PIG
In my sheep keeping we sometimes had orphan lambs. These we had to feed with a bottle. This was tiresome and so with one lamb I tried to teach it to nurse a small cow. This went well after the first trial. When the little cow was lying down, the lamb hunted out the teat and then nursed the cow. The cow let down her milk so that it ran on the ground. A pig took care of what seemed to be wasting. He followed the stream from the ground to the teat, and in this way learned to nurse the cow also. These two followed the cow until satisfied, after which they would lie down. When again the cow wanted to be relieved she lowed, the lamb camel running and bleating at every jump and the pig came following as fast as he could and squealing at every jump. The cow stood the same as for her own calf. These two grafters grew to big proportions.
COTTONWOOD TIMBER ON THE SOUTH LOUP
The South Loup River having its banks covered with lots of big trees and brush was, for a short time, free for
all, and was a real blessing to the people of a large extent of country. This timber served for fuel and building
material for the settlers. There was nothing anywhere else one could get to burn except what could be had from
the river, and how the pioneers made use of this opportunity may be judged from this - there were 300 large cottonwood
trees in front of my house in September, 1879. and in the following year there were eleven of the scrubs left.
Besides furnishing building material and fuel these trees were also shaped into ways to furnish bread to the most
needy. John Stockdale, after having built his sod habitation and broken a few acres of prairie, his means for a
livelihood were all gone. He had to turn to the timber to see what he could get out of it. He went after a cottonwood
log one day, split into stove length the next day, hauled it to Kearney (some twenty five miles) the third day
and brought home a sack of flour the fourth day. Its sometimes happened that he arrived home a little later than
usual, then all the light used by the family would not leave the window and all the members of the family waited
and watched till father was in sight; the children often quarreled among themselves about who should get the flour
sack for a garment.
One cold morning in March a very small man came to me and asked to buy a pair of oxen, without money. I had
no oxen at all. "Have you no unbroken steers?" he asked. I replied, "I have one three year old half
bred Texan and one what we call a native, three years old." "Let me have them," he urged. "'My
good man, you could not handle the half breed at all." I replied. "Yes, let me try it. I can handle him,"
he still insisted. With all the persuasion I could make, hem insisted so hard that we had to get him the steers.
But how could we catch the wild one, that was the important question. We had a haystack, close and parallel with
the end of a shed, with a door which opened into a partition in the shed, the haystack and the end of the shed
serving as a chute. We got him in and how this steer felt about his captivity you can imagine when you know that
he stood on his hind legs and reached his front feet up to the roof. We managed to put loops of a strong rope over
his big horns and then we let the wild fellow out with little Felix Kreutzer at the end of the rope. 'Now the comedy
commenced. The steer behaved after the fashion of a bucking broncho, but with all his capers Felix stuck to the
end of the rope. Finally the animal became somewhat tired and had turned in the direction he should go. Felix went
ahead, pulling on the steer, who now stood stock still. After about two hours of jerking and pulling the steer
took now and then a leap forward. In this manner Felix led the steer home, a distance of sixteen miles, and the
next morning, while we were breakfasting at S o'clock, Felix and his wife stood outside the door and wanting the
other steer. In my judgment Hercules never performed a greater wonder than did little Felix Kreutzer when he led
that wild steer sixteen miles, all alone. These steers he broke to the yoke, broke up his farm with them and had
no other team for several years. He is now a retired farmer, living at Amherst, contented and happy. While serving
as county superintendent and Visiting schools over the county I had a good chance to learn the condition of the
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