History of Beaver Crossing, Nebraska
From: General History of Seward County, Nebraska
BY: John H. Waterman
Beaver Crossing, Nebraska - 1914-15


Although Beaver Crossing was perhaps better known throught the country in early times than any other locality in Seward county, there was nothing to indicate a town nor village, the name originating, as has previously been stated, from the freight route crossing of Beaver creek. But early in 1867 Roland Reed succeeded in getting a postoffice established under the name of Beaver Crossing, he receiving the appointment as the first postmaster, located the office in his ranch, about one half mile east of Beaver creek. Mr. Reed served as postmaster two years, resigning the office to move upon his homestead when Daniel Milispaw was appointed, becoming Beaver Crossing's second postmaster. About the time of Mr. Millspaw's appointment Thomas H. Tisdale arrived from the state of Wisconsin and established a general mercantile business in the John E. Fouse ranch. a short distance west of Beaver creek, Mr. Fouse having retired to his homestead. And in this store Mr. Millspaw located the postoffice, and appointed T. H. Tisdale his clerk. In connection we will quote a paragraph from W. W. Cox's history which is somewhat missleading. On page 260 of that work in the general write up of M precinct Mr. Cox says:

"Smith & Inals opened a little store in 1871 and Mr. Smith built the flouring mill the same season. At this time Thomas Tisdale had a little store at John E. Fouse's ranch at the crossing of the Beaver creek in the corner of L precinct. Mr. Tisdale had secured a postoffice which was supplid by a star route. Mail was carried on a broncho and was weekly; some said it was a weakly affair."

Mr. Cox practicially makes the opening of the "little store" by Smith & Angels the starting point of Beaver Crossing and gives no previous account of it. As:has been seen, Roland Reed secured the post office two years before T. H. Tisdale opened his store in 1869. The postoffice had been established four years and six months, at least, before the "little store" mentioned as being opened by Smith & Ingals was built. Mr. Smith, who was in the flouring mill business at Pleasant Hill, Saline county, built the mill in the spring and early summer of 1871, and in the fall of the same year he built and stocked the store as an ajunct to the mill. But the firm of Smith & Ingals was scarcely known in the locality as the store was opened and conducted under the management of Ed. Nye, a brother in law of Mr. Smith. And Ed. Nye was realy the only person interested in the success of this "new store" as it was commonly called. The writer had the honor of sawing on an old fiddle while neighbors and settlers from several distant points "warmed" the floor of the new store before the interior was fitted for merchandise.

Smith's flouring mill was built upon a portion of Ross Nichols' farm in M precinct, four miles south east of Beaver Crossing. And every indication pointing to that locality as the coming business center for the surrounding country, the determination to select a permanent location for his business while the opportunity was favorable, was soon settled by T. H. Tisdale and securing sufficient real estate form Ross Nichols he errected a new and commodous store building upon the site of the proposed town. And to these new quarters he transferred his mercantile stock. At the time he opened his "little store at the Fouse ranch" he was not vet a resident of Nebraska not having resided long enough in the state, and therefore was not eligible to appointment as postmaster; therefore could not have had anything to do with getting or securing a post office as stated by Mr. Cox. But having become a citizen in due time, Daniel Milispaw resigned his postmastership and T. H. Tisdale became the third postmaster. Of course when the store was moved the postoffice had to go too or remain without a postmaster and it went with the outfit and Beaver Crossing was thus moved from L precinct four miles south east and set down in M precinct where it remains without any other reason on earth for being called Beaver Crossing than that Tom Tisdale was postmaster and wanted to move his store to another part of the county. But there is not the first thing in sight to justify the name it bears. It is not even on or near Beaver creek and is merely a namesake or shadow. of the old matter of fact name established many years before the new village was thought of. In regard to the "star route, served upon the back of a bronchi" as a "weakly affair," we will illustrate the facts in a recital of a little personal experience of the writer in

A True Story of Marriage Under Diffiulties.

In the fall of 1869 my "best girl" emigrated with her parents from Harrison county, Iowa, to the wild plains of Seward county, Nebraska and located in. a little log house on the West Blue river bottom a mile and a half west of the site of the present village of Beaver Crossing. By a little dilligent inquiry I learned that her post office address was Beaver Crossing. And to and from that place the back of the broncho was heavier laden each week for a period of six months at the end of which I concluded to ride the broncho myself. In accordance with this determination I left Logan, Iowa, on the loth day of March, 1870, bound for Beaver Crossing via Council. Bluffs. As there were no railway accommodations in the direction I wanted to go, I had planned to cross the Missouri river from the Bluffs to Omaha and take stage passage to Lincoln where I would connect with the "star route" to the Crossing. I stopped at the old historical Pacific House in Council Bluffs for dinner and told the landlord where I was going and how I wished to get there. And I was very much surprised when he told me that there was no connecting line either by stage or any other way between the city of Omaha and Lincoln, the capital of the state. He said my only way to get to Beaver Crossing and avoid a week's lay over was to go by rail that evening to Nebraska City and take the stage which would leave the next morning for Lincoln where the hack for my desired destination would leave the following morning. I boarded the south bound train on the Hannibal & St. Joe road early in the evening for Nebraska City, fifty miles down the river and arrived at what was then called East Nebraska City, on the opposite side of the river from the city proper, at about ten o'clock. A young gentleman representing the Sherman House in the City met the train and as he was checking baggage to be delivered at the Sherman House I permitted him to check my valise. In the morning when the stage was ready to leave for Lincoln I presented my check at the baggag room in the hotel and found that the highly prized article had been left on the other side of the river. This caused me more trouble than can well be immagined. The stage would not wait a minute, and I either had to go with it or miss the hack from Lincoln to Beaver Crossing which meant a lay over for one week. but in that satchel was a forty dollar wedding suit which I expected to need as soon as I reached my jorney's end. I made up my mind, in a hurry, to leave the valise and get married in the clothes I had on, which were middling fair. Boarding the stage I found three traveling companions bound for Beaver Crossing, the trio consisting of a gintleman, lady and little boy. The gentleman was Mr. McCall, the lady his wife the boy his step son, well known in more recent years in the vicinity of Beaver Crossing as A. E. Sheldon, now the husband of Margaret Thompson, a pioneer girl of ranch days. The kid was about five years old and annoyed his mother and step father by insisting in climbing out of the stage every time it stopped to run a race with it,a race in which the boy would certainly have been winner. Leaving Nebraska City at about eight a. m. the trip of fifty miles to Lincoln was completed at seven p. in. Stops were made along the route to change horses and mail. There were no metropolitan hotels in Lincoln in those days, but I found a very fair place to stay and where I eat my first buffalo steak, a much better and more digestible meat than is served at many up to date hotels of the present time. In the morning I realized for the first time that the loss of my satchel had deprived me of a clean shirt at least, and that my chance to meet my girl and get married in a dirty shirt was very much too apparent for pleasant thoughts and looking down the street, which I think is now 0 street, saw a sign board accross the sidewalk which displayed the words in large letters, "Clothing Store." It didn't require a second suggestion, I was soon within the portal of that establishment and if my 'voice shook a little when I asked the proprietor if he had any laundried white shirts it must have been caused by the flight down the street. But the shirt with a box of paper collars were purchase] and I hurried back to the postoflice where I was to meet Mr. Adams, propritor of the Adams hack line to Beaver Crossing. Stepping into the postoffice a peculiarly giddy sensation passed over me and glancing down to the floor I discovered that it was composed of wide cottonwood boards which had not only shrank, leaving wide cracks between them, but had perhaps warped some making the floor rough and a little shaky. There were a number of full mail sacks laying by the side of the postoffice door and to the inquiry of where they were to go Mr.Adams replied: "With us; the most of them to Beaver Crossing." He then loaded them upon his spring wagon and started with his mail and one passenger on a two Hays journey to Beaver Crossing, and while I assure the readers of this sketch that I did not ride a broncho they may rest assured that if the mail that was loaded onto that wagon had been laid on the back of a broncho the animal could not have moved a foot. The load consisted of mail for Milford, Camden, West Mills and Beaver Crossing. I took dinner at Milford, supper, lodging and breakfast at Camden. Leaving Camden the next stop was at West Mills of a half hour while the postmaster change I the mail. Continuing the journey Daniel Millspaw's ranch was reached in time for dinner. Here, after enjoying a little amusement at the expense of the star route man, I met a surprise almost equal to the one over the loss of my satchel. There was a very fine appearing lady visitor at the Millspaw ranch and the amusing feature was brought up by the mention, in some way, of whiskey from which the lady took occasion to denounce the wet goods and every one who used it. And the star route driver, Mr. Adams, joined in and gave vent to his hatred of the vile stuff and denounced its use in terms so plain that a "way fareing man, though a fool, need not err therein." He assented to everything the lady said and in the language of card players, "went several chips better." But he failed to state that he had a gallon jug full of the oh-be-joyfull" under the seat in his hack which he had been "sampling" at the cornor of every section on the road from Lincoln. I immagined at the time that she had noticed the perfume of his breath, but perhaps not. After this interesting conversation the grand surprise in store for me was next in order, and after I had donned my overcoat and buttoned it up to continue my journey to the little log house of John D. Salnaye, about one mile further west, the fine temperance lady advocate stepped up to me and without the least sign of a doubtful thought, extended her hand, saying: "Mr. Waterman, we would be pleased to have you visit us before you return to Iowa." Following her came an elderly lady, God bless her kind heart, and grabbing my hand she shook it till my teeth rattled, calling me by name and wishing me much joy; and then came the third lady, grand enough to grace the finest habitations of a prince and giving me cheering welcome to the community she congratulated me in a very kindly manner. Well, I didn't faint, but did forget where I was at and didn't come to my right mind sufficient to try to learn the names of the ladies until I got started with the hack and Uncle Dan Millspaw in the back seat, who gave the name of the first lady as Mrs. Ross Nichols, the second, his wife, Mrs. Daniel 1Vlillspaw and the third their daughter, Mrs. Rosa McClellan.

The facts are, I had been expected to appear in person in that neighborhood about a month before and business matters had forced me to postpone the trip. And as the young lady had made all necessary arrangements for the wedding, with guests invited her disappointment at my non appearance was thoroughly understood by sympathizing neighbors. Those ladies knew this and perhaps had heard of the second proposed trip, and as the travelers over the star route to Beaver Crossing were limited in number, they felt sure that I was the man they were expecting to see.

Here I wish to mention Daniel Millspaw, because connected with his name is a memory which remains and will remain with me until My time passes to eternity. He is the one who as justice of the peace, prounounced the ceremony uniting myself and life companion in holy wedlock at the home of the bride's parents, Mr. and Mrs. John D. Salnave, near Beaver Crossing, March 26, 1870. This occuring a few days after the experience at his house and also following other difficulties, similar to the loss of the satchel, by which the wedding was delayed. Business affairs in Iowa demanding my immediate return, as we could go with William Collier who was going to make a Sunday drive to Lincoln we were married on Saturday. Sunday morning broke with a raging, blinding north west blizzard of the old time grade and we were corralled for four days. But we finally got off. spending two days and one night on the route to Nebraska: City where I found the satchel at the hotel. Crossing the river in the morning to take railway passage; having run short of cash I presented a bank draft to pay for tickets, but the ticket agent said I would have to be identified to get tickets with that. Here was the worst appearing dilemma I had met, but fortunatly my wife had an uncle, Judge Ed. Reed, also an aunt and husband, Mr. and Mrs. Royal Buck residing in the city and we recrossed "old muddy" and spent twentyfour hours in a very pleasant 'visit with the uncle and aunt and their families. Judge Reed cashed my draft and the journey was completed without further trouble. I trust that the narration of the difficulties incountered on this short trip and the marriage, illustrates the condition of the country in regard to travel and the transit of mail in those early times in a more comprehensible manner than in any other way of presenting them. The railway fare fro Logan to Beaver Crossing at the present time is two dollars and twenty cents, and the time reqired to make the trip is five hours. I was four days and three nights making the same journey. And the expense of the round trip, including the cost of the shirt and box of collars, wedding fees and return fare for the bride was ninety five dollars and fifty cents.

The Beaver Crossing Mail.

Regarding the Beaver Crossing mail in pioneer time being a "weakly affair" there is a greater reason than Adams' jug to say it was a strong one. It is true it came by what was called star route. only once a week, but for this reason it was too heavy for the back of a broncho, at least as early as the spring of 1870. Beaver Crossing was, the terminus of the mail route and mail was brought there for settlers on an area of territory reaching into York and Fillmore counties, and the fact must be apparent that with the rush of settlement in the years of 1869 to 1870, inclusive, there must have been a large and increasing demand for mail service. Communication between the homesteaders and their recent old homes was a matter of absolute necessity to the progress of the country's settlement. While there was not such a. vast amount of second class and ordinary mail matter in those days as at the present time, it can scarcely be denied that mail to and from Beaver Crossing of the first class, or letters, was heavier then than at the present time. Although the postoffices at Camden and Milford were served by the mail route threes times a week in 1870 the heaviest mail to be delivered in any postoffice in Seward county at that time passed through those offices to Beaver Crossing.


The first of the pioneer postoffice was opened with James Johnson as pestmaster at Camden in 1865. This office served the people of the entire county of Seward and many settlers in Saline county and counties further west, for a period of about two years when an office was opened with J. L. Davison as postmaster at Millford, and almost simultaneously with this postoffices were established at West Mills, on the West Blue river, west of Camden and at Beaver Crossing and the star route was extended from Lincoln via Pleasant Dale, Millford and Camden to West Mills and Beaver Crossing. Thomas West was the posmaster at the Mills and Rolland Reed at the Crossing.

About the time these latter offices were opened the enter prising little settlement in the vicinity of the proposed town of Seward resolved to get a postoffice and after making an ineffectual effort to induce Lewis Moffit to accept the position of postmaster an application was sent to a Nebraska representative in congress to have the honor of postmaster bestowed upon Mr. Moffit as a pleasant surprise regardless of his determination not to accept it. He was the only available man, being the only resident of the site of the proposed town and his house the only suitable place for the postoffice. The application was duly considered, the appointment made and Seward had a postoffice and postmaster. But the patronage was so small that the government declined furnishing it with a star route. With a brand new postoffice and postmaster the people of Seward were not going to be nonplussed for the want of a mail agent and they contracted. with E. L. Clark, a one armed soldier, to carry the mail to and from Camden once a week for one dollar and fifty cents a trip, funds for the purpose being raised by subscription. The distance from Seward to Camden was about fifteen miles and Mr. Clark made the trips on foot: and carried the mail in an old army haversack.

Several postoffices were established in the northern precincts of the county in pioneer days. A postoffice was opened in Milted Langdon's house on section 21, at Oak Groves in 1869 with G. B. Harding as postmaster. It was first served by "buckboard" star route and later the mail was carried by stage. A postoffice named Orton was kept in a farm house in D precinct in the late sixties, Stephen Phillips being the postmaster. There was also one maintained at Marysville in C precinct for several years. The Germantown postoffice was established after the advent of the B. & M. rail road in 1873, with John Westerhoff as postmaster. The postoffice at Pleasant Dale was established in 1870 with James Iler as postmaster. The office was located in Mr. Iler's residence, and if our memory serves us correctly it was a structure made of small stones which undoubtedly had been gathered along Middle creek, Pleasant Dale being in the Middle creek valley, in the eastern portion of the county. There is an abundance of stone along this valley. The Utica postoffice, established in the fall of 1877, was the last one in the list of what might be called pioneer postoffices of Seward county. T. E. Standard was its first postmaster, through whose efforts the office was shortly advanced to a money order office.

The foregoing postoffices of the pioneer period were small and perhaps as Mr. Cox says "weakly affairs," but their mission was great and grand. And we feel safe in saying that there never was the same number of mail deliveries to serve the same number of inhabitants that did the real good to the patrons and the country in which they were located that those offices did.

And the benevolent pioneer postmasters whose labors in the performance of service to their neighbors was, with the exception of the reward of appreciation, practicially an unrewarded act of kindness to the patrons of their offices, to them and their offices is due the credit for having assisted the pioneer settlers in the civilized settlement of Seward county.

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