Centennial History Book
Every community has cherished REMINISCENCES
W. J. ADKISSON HUNTED AT FARNAM TOWNSITE
HAPPENINGS FIFTY YEARS AGO
by John W. Murphy
My early recollections of Farnam may not be interesting to your many readers, however, since you have requested us to write something, along this line I will do so, thereby, helping to make Farnam’s Golden Jubilee edition a success.
My parents, sisters and brother, Jim, arrived here November, 1885. 1 was a student of the Benedictive College, Conception, Missouri. Ellen, my sister, wrote me that Father’s health was failing and she thought I should come home. To say I was elated would be mild language, as I had suffered the pangs of homesickness until it was almost beyond my weak power to endure. My trunk was soon packed. Bidding good-bye to pastor, prefects, instructors, and fellow students; I was soon on my way to Council Bluffs, Iowa, where I was met by my sister, Mary, who informed me of my father’s serious condition. The next morning we left Omaha for Elwood, then the terminal of the Burlington & Missouri at that time. Arriving at Elwood, after much looking around we secured the services of a man with a team of partly broke broncos and a buckboard, to convey us to the land of my dreams, four miles west of Farnam. We were railroad grading, and working for Pat McGeer, the father of W. J. and Richard McGeer, contractors for the south part of the highway from Gothenburg to Farnam, which was put in a few years ago.
Thus, I arrived in Farnam, March 25, 1886.
Farnam on this date consisted of one small building, used as a land office by W. L. DeClow, on the corner where the C. E. Jackson hardware store is now located. We drove through Farnam. No traffic cops, stop and go signs, U-turn or any other turns if you so desired. Broncos, buckboard and occupants were soon in camp, where I found my father’s condition more serious than expected. Mother, that morning, sent a messenger to Gothenburg, with a telegram to Father Barrett, to come on a sick call. Traffic at that time with a span of railroad mules and a spring wagon was different from our present day mode of traffic, however. Father Barrett came and administered the sacrament of extreme unction. The patient soon became unconscious and did not recover.
The howling blizzard of March 26, 1886, came pussy-footing about noon and as the day faded into night, the storm increased, until it became something unbearable for man or beast.
Mother sent two of the most robust men to take Father Barrett to Gothenburg and bring a casket back. Gothenburg being a small place, at that time, did not have caskets in stock, or did not carry the size, that was necessary. It was necessary to telegraph the order to North Platte. This caused some delay, but it came. The boys, Mike Mulick and Mike Goetler, loaded it and started for camp. The blizzard was raging but undaunted they came with the storm, until within a quarter of a mile of the Crossgrove ranch, now owned and operated by Mr. Krepcik. It became impossible to see the way. They took the wagon box off, inverted it and spent the night under its protection, arriving in camp the next day at 10 o’clock, as lifeless as two men and two mules could be, neither man nor mules outgrew the hardship endured in that storm. This narrative may be the cause of a break-down in your readers, general health, but I must write a few more items to complete the story. The funeral, yes, we left camp with one lumber wagon and one spring wagon. The canyons where not too deep, were filled to level with snow. We drove to Elwood different times, the country we traveled was deceiving, the mules would plunge into some canyons of snow, and it would be necessary to scoop the snow from under and sometimes over them.
I will end this article here. My object in writing is to give the present day youngsters a glimpse of an old time blizzard.
Permit me a small space to say something of the early day prairie fire.
Those who have seen them will agree they were a beautiful sight, providing you were not there with a wet sack trying to extinquish the leaping of flames. The tumbling weed would break loose from its mooring, cross some path of the fire and destruction. Today as I listen to the beautiful strains that come floating over the air. The tumbling, tumbling weed, reminds me, we used a word to describe the tumbling we did not abbreviate, but lest it might set the old weed afire again. I will leave you to guess the name.
We had many pleasant happenings worthy of mention but space will not permit. However, here is one. Chet Johnson, a bachelor, living across the road east from the Ed Brock place, invited a bunch of us bachelors to live with him, get acquainted or better acquainted. We responded, not by proxy, after a good visit in the shade of the "Soddy". Dinner was announced, we gathered around his festive board provided with china cups, tin cups, sauce pans and what nots. A large kettle of bean soup was placed upon the table and in true western hospitality style we were invited to help ourselves, which we did. I especially remember Jerry Walker when he would dispose of his supply, would again help himself, and in his droll way would remark, "By dam boys ain’t that good." This happened 50 years ago.