Centennial History Book
Every community has cherished REMINISCENCES
EARLY DAYS IN WESTERN NEBRASKA, 1936
by Mrs. Louie Kelly [Amanda Messersmith)
In the year 1884, my father, T. J. Messersmith and my oldest brother, Marion, took up land in Frontier County, Nebraska, near the Russell post office (now discontinued). In February, 1885 we moved from Gage County to this homestead. Talk about hard times, we surely did see them. It would be useless to try to mention them all. My brothers, Marion and Tommy drove through with the team and brought a few necessary things, such as stoves and bedding. The rest of the family which consisted of father, mother and eight children, came by train to Cambridge. My two oldest sisters being married, did not come with us. We were met at the train by the boys, and it took us all day long and into the night to get out to our new home. The snow was deep and the road was like cattle trails. They ran all around over the prairie and ridges. We traveled for miles and got no place. The boys had put the stoves up, so we spread the bedding down on the dirt floor and went to bed. However, we did not continue to live that way many weeks; as soon as the weather would permit, they went to Cambridge and got lumber and put floors in the house and made some bedsteads.
Imagine twelve of us living in two little sod rooms, but before spring opened up we made the acquaintance of several neighbors, namely, Mr. Scott and family, Mr. Binger and wife, Mr. Kyle and family, and Mr. Harry Jones and wife, who managed the Russell post office. Immediately I went to work for the Jones and stayed there five months where I met and made many friends as they came from far and near to get their mail. Tommy and I continued to work away for almost two years; Tommy receiving $20 per month and I received $10 per month of which we turned most all of it to the folks at home to live on.
In the winter of 1886, I taught school in Mr. Hinman’s one room sod house before there was a district organized in the county. There were twelve of school age in a six mile square, and the parents just privately hired me to teach them. Oft times the snow was so deep that for days there wouldn’t be more than two or three there.
With all the ups and downs we had lots of pleasures, for the whole country was like one big family. We had a nice union Sunday school and people would come for ten miles around. We had parties of different types and dances. Sometimes even dances on the dirt floor.
I am happy to say our family is not scattered as badly as some families that I have known. Tommy and myself are the only two who live out of the state of Nebraska. Tommy and family for several years have lived at Malmo, Minnesota, and Oklahoma’s lovely sun has shone upon me for thirty-five years. Mr. Kelly passed away eleven years ago last May. My oldest sister, Orpha, or Mrs. D. A. Armstrong had lived at Warrensburg. Missouri, for several years prior to her death in the year 1914. My next sister, Emma, or Mrs. S. G. Foster, is living near Orafino, Nebraska. Katie (Mrs. Ed Heart) is living at Lincoln, Nebraska. Mary, or Mrs. Charles Bray, is at Mitchell, Nebraska. George is at Curtis, Nebraska. Lucy or Mrs. Will Atkisson, and Andy Messersmith are both at North Platte, Nebraska and as everyone knows, Harry and Lonnie are there at Farnam. Father, Mother, Marion, Orpha and our baby sister, Tenia, or Mrs. Clyde Thompson have all been called to their heavenly home where their toils and sorrows have ceased.
I often wonder how mother endured all she had to, for in February, 1887, the stork brought our baby brother, Andy, which made frontier life that much harder for mother, with its lack of money.