Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Negley Brothers Store Ads

 After having worked as a section foreman for the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad, William Dean Negley purchased the general store in Eldorado, Nebraska in March of 1914. He was age 30, his brother Cal was 27, and their sister Alice at 37 was likely involved in some way.  A year later, Bill was named Post Master. Here are a couple of advertisements and an article for the store I found in old newspapers.

"We have purchased the Fifield store and have moved it into Iliff's north store building where we are closing it out at a small fraction of its value. We bought it cheap and will give you the benefit of our bargain. We will positively sell out this stock in the next few days and have made prices that will make it go quick. Come and see what we have to offer. We have just received an entirely new stock of groceries, meat and fruit and solicit your trade in that line. We will treat you right. Highest prices paid for farm produce. This poster is not near large enough to give a full list of our bargains but here are a few samples."

Harvard Courier, April 4, 1914

With a population of no more than 100, it's hard to imagine Eldorado with a roller skating rink. I wonder if they did the Limbo.

Harvard Courier, December 29, 1916

The store had its share of trouble.

Harvard Courier, November 26, 1931

Bill retired at age 54 in 1937 from both the store and as Post Master. He had invested in some land.

Undated photo (possibly around 1914)

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Uncle Bill Vickrey & the Chicks

Well the chicks were more his wife's business, he was a partner.

John William Vickrey was born May 18, 1899 in Wayne County, Kentucky the son of William (maybe John William) Vickrey and Allie (Spann) Vickrey. His father's estate was inventoried on January 24, 1899, He never knew his father. William's estate was valued at at least $1681, the last page or two of it was missing so that was not the final account.

In 1901 Allie remarried to Cicero Bell, who was a widower with two sons. The three boys were joined by four more boys who all grew up together in Kentucky and later Kansas. About 1926 the parents and nearly adult boys moved to Giltner, Nebraska.

Photo taken at Cicero's funeral, April 1944.
Back: Bill, Frank, Oren; Front: Virgil, Ben, Stan, Ed

In 1920 Bill opened a restaurant in Ionia, Kansas "to give the town a cold drink parlor". He sold it within a year. Throughout his young adult life he worked odd jobs helping farmers with harvest in Kansas, Iowa, Colorado and Nebraska, as well as working his own farm. Bill married Roberta Emery, a school-teacher, in 1931 at Washington, Kansas. He was 32 and she was 38. He was a big sports fan as he was occasionally noted in the papers for going to baseball and Nebraska football games. 

Giltner Gazette, August 27, 1931

Bill and Roberta lived in Washington County, Kansas until at least 1943. In January of 1939, Roberta became the operating manager of a hatchery in Fairbury. On today's roads it's a 30 minute drive from Washington, Kansas to Fairbury, Nebraska. In 1944, they bought property in Fairbury. 

Fairbury Gazette, December 8, 1938

In 1945, it was reported the hatchery's capacity was 46,000 eggs making it the second largest hatchery in Fairbury open at that time.  There are many advertisements in the Fairbury newspapers for the Jefferson County Hatchery. This one may show the type of incubator they had. 

Fairbury Journal, March 26, 1942

Bill farmed as well as helping to manage the hatchery. On October 16, 1947 there was an auction of his farm property. I don't believe he sold the land at this time.

Fairbury Daily News, October 13, 1947

Roberta and Bill Vickrey, undated photo

The chicks were a big part of their lives. Bill and Roberta didn't have any children. They remained in Fairbury until Bill's death on July 22, 1988 at the age of 89. He was buried in the Fairbury Cemetery. Roberta died in Wilbur, Nebraska at the age of 99 on July 29, 1992 and is buried in Formosa, Kansas with her family.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

William & Nancy & Mary


Copy of Bible Record, property of Doris Menke, date created unknown.

Written in a Bible record, printed in an obituary and etched on his tombstone, the date of February 12, 1830 is recorded as the birth of William Mann. He was born somewhere in England, but I have not found any bread crumbs to the exact location. If he had any siblings, he seems to have not had any contact with them. His parents remain a mystery. He told the 1900 census taker that 1852 was the year he immigrated, but I don't find a William Mann in any ships passenger lists for 1852. 

The first definite record I've found of my Second Great Grandfather William Mann in America is an 1865 listing of voters in Princeville Election District in Peoria county, Illinois. An 1873 map with a list of settlers in Princeville precinct, Peoria County, Illinois indicates that William Mann had settled there in 1854.

In 1860, only one William Mann is listed in census for Peoria county. He is 48 years old living with a Smith family and no one else named Mann. His age would be too old for William and too young to be his father. Our William should be 30 years old, but he might be the man listed in Van Buren county, Iowa living with the Thomas Rain family. That man's age is given as 23 which is too young. But it's interesting because this William worked as a miner and Van Buren county happens to be the same place that Nancy (Climie) O'Brien, a widow with a one-year-old daughter, lived. Her husband had been a miner and was killed in an accident before June 1st, the date of the census. The daughter, Nancy Jane, was born July 23, 1859. William and Nancy were married on September 14, 1861, but I haven't found the location. They spent some time in Macon county, Missouri before William took her back to Princeville, Illinois by 1865. Did William go to Iowa to work in the mines to earn money, try out Macon, Missouri, then go back to Illinois to farm?

When a cousin gave me this photo of William Man and wife several years ago, she said she didn't know which wife was with him. After finding a photo posted online (below) of Nancy's half-sister Jane, I see a strong family resemblance between the two women.

Sisters Jane Jones Vandermark and Nancy Climie Mann, date unknown

Nancy was born in Canada to Thomas Climie/Clemie who was originally from Scotland and Mary Jane Hull an immigrant from Ireland. She had two older brothers, Andrew and Robert. Some people believe Thomas Climie died shortly after Nancy was born, others believe he left his family and married another woman. At any rate, her mother Mary Jane got remarried to Edward Jones and later moved to Van Buren county, Iowa. Together Mary Jane and Ed had four girls and one boy. Mary Jane died when the boy was born in 1854. At age 16, Nancy was likely the caretaker for those children. Two years later her step-father remarried and had two more children. Nancy married John O'Brien in 1858, had her daughter Nancy Jane, and then was a widow within two years. 

Eleven children were born to William and Nancy in Princeville, four died as infants. The only record of them comes from the Bible record. No marked graves for these infant children have been found or recorded.

From the Bible record, the children of William and Nancy:

  1.     Ada, born July 10, 1862
  2.     Corean, born February 16, 1864, died at birth
  3.     Lafayette, born January 13, 1866
  4.     William B, born October 25, 1867
  5.     Stephen A, born August 25, 1869, died in infancy
  6.     Horace M, born July 28, 1870
  7.     Marvin Oscar, born November 15, 1872
  8.     Carrey, born January 11, 1875, died in infancy
  9.     Effa, born March 8, 1876
  10.     Clarence L, born June 18, 1878 
  11.     Elsie, born August, 1880, died at birth

Between 1880 and 1881, William and Nancy moved their family to Jefferson county, Nebraska. In December of 1881, they lost their oldest son Lafayette. I haven't found the cause of his death at age 15. Nancy died on February 11, 1894, just a day before William's 64th birthday. 

By 1885, William owned 880 acres of land in Jefferson Precinct, Jefferson County, Nebraska. His farm was worth $4650 according to the agricultural census taken that year. He grew corn, oats, wheat & a little rye and livestock included cattle, hogs, chicken and horses.

Mary Armstrong was the daughter of another early Princeville, Illinois setter James Armstrong and his wife Margaret. Mary was a pioneer school teacher in Brimfield and Princeville townships. She was a faithful worker in the church, taught Sunday School and was a member of the Womens Christian Temperance Union. She and her sister Margaret were known all over the northern part of Peoria county where they raised flax and prepared it for cloth themselves. Starting this endeavor during the Civil War, they carded and spun wool and wove it into blankets and rugs for many years. 

It would be interesting to know if William Mann went back to Princeville with the intention of marrying Mary Armstrong, or if Mary had come to Nebraska and they got reaquainted. It's very likely they had known each other during the 1860's when William lived in Peoria County. She and William Mann were both 66 years old when they married in 1896, but I don't know where. It was Mary's first marriage. They lived at 715 Grace Street in Beatrice, William died there on August 29, 1905. Mary died January 17, 1912 and was buried in Coin, Iowa near a niece. 

Friday, May 28, 2021

Equally Divided to all My Lawful Heirs

William Mann wrote out his last will and testament on May 1st, 1903. Just over two years later he passed away from heart failure on August 29, 1905 at age 75. Surviving him were his second wife Mary and seven adult children. 

The lots mentioned in his will in Milliken's Subdivision, Beatrice, Nebraska were located between Scott and Linn streets to the North and South, and Sumner and Bluff streets East and West. $500 in 1905 is the equivalent of over $14,500 today. When the estate was settled two years later his children received an additional $175 each, which would compare to nearly $5000 today1. His step-daughter Nancy may have felt things were not exactly "equally divided", but there were no legal objections.  A transcription of the will follows the images.

"William Mann of Beatrice Gage County and State of Nebraska, being of sound mind and memory, do make, Publish, and declare this to be my last Will and testament, here by revoking all former Wills by me at any time heretofore made, and as to my worldly Estate and all the Property, Real Personal, or mixed, of, I shall die seized and Posessed or to which I shall be entitled at the time of my decease, I devise, bequeath and dispose thereof in the manner following, to wit - 

My Will is, that all my just debts and furnal expences shall by paid my Executors herein after named, to be paid out of my possessions whatever it may be Money or otherwise as soon after my Decease as shall by then be found convenient

I give devise and Bequeath to my Beloved Wife Mary Mann all my Household goods my Horse and Buggy and Buggy Harness, and also my City Property as follows, Situated in Millikens Subdivision an addition to the City of Beatrice Gage County and State of Nebraska - containing two (2) Lots 53, and 39, with its improvements to have full use and all profits from said property, as long as she may live or until her Death, after her death - the Property shall be sold and equally divided to all my lawful heirs. I give to my Beloved Wife Mary Mann five hundred Dollars 500.00 in Cash - then in the following manner I give to my Daughter Effie Camp five hundred Dollars in Cash 500.00 I give to my Daughter Ada Johnson five hundred Dollars 500.00 Cash I give to my Son Clarence Mann five hundred Dollars $500.00 in Cash my son William B Mann and Son Horace Mann have received each $500.00 beforehand

I give to my Son Oscar M Mann two hundred and fifty Dollars $250.00 in Cash having had two Hundred and fifty beforehand - I wish to give my Stepdaughter Mrs Jane Camp two hundred Dollars $200.00 in Cash all the and residue of my Estate real personal and mixed of which I shall die seized and possessed or to which I shall be entitled at my decease I give devise and bequeath, to be equally divided between all my lawful Heirs, please understand me in this (Will) I have let my conscience guide me to the best of my understanding and lastly I do nominate and appoint my said Son William B Mann, and my Son in Law W H Camp to be my Executors of this my last Will and Testament, In witness whereof, I the said William Mann have to this my last Will and Testament, consisting of one sheet of paper subscribed my name and affixed my Seal this first day of May One Thousand Nine Hundred and Three,

Signed, Sealed, Published, and declared by the said William Mann

William Mann, as and for his last Will and Testament, in the presence of us, who at his request and in his presence, and in the presence of each other, have subscribed our names as Witnesses thereunto.

William Mann {Seal}

George W Heikes Residing at Beatrice, Gage County, Nebr

Edwin J Maxwell Residing at Beatrice, Gage County, Nebr "


1 Inflation calculator by Morgan Friedman, accessed 5/28/2021.


Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Rooms Are All on Fire


As my Grandma took these pictures of her old house burning down, I wonder what memories came to her. It makes me sad to see these pictures, there were a lot of good times had here.

No one was living in the house in 1987, it was burned down for more farm ground by the farmer who bought all but a few acres of their property a few years earlier. My Grandparents built a new house and shed on the acreage they kept at the corner of two rural roads now called 711th Road and 582 Avenue on the Jefferson/Gage county line in southeast Nebraska. They moved from Aurora into this farmhouse in about 1965 when the youngest of their four children was finishing high school and then into their new home in 1981 about the time they each retired. Grandpa worked at Petersen Wrench in DeWitt and farmed. Grandma worked at the Beatrice State Home.

It was a two-hour drive for my family to my Grandparents' place. We probably made the trip three or four times a year, usually just for the day. Always at Christmas when my other cousins, Aunts and Uncles were also there. Our Christmas gatherings were often on a Sunday near Christmas Day, Grandma would work at the State Home on the holidays. One year at Christmas we went down the night before and there weren't enough beds for everyone. My Aunt Sondra and Uncle Dale and I spent the night at Grandma's sister and her husband Aunt Florence and Uncle Pearle's house a few miles away. 
I think I also remember once sleeping on the couch in the dining room with the back that folded down into a bed. During the years they lived in this house my siblings and I spent part of a week there without our parents at least once when we were young. My sister and I got the bigger of the two upstairs bedrooms, my two brothers the other one. My parents met them halfway in Friend, Nebraska either to drop us off or pick us up. It's strange that I don't remember anything we did while we were there.

My very rough sketch of the floor plan as I remember it, second floor bedrooms on the left.

Other buildings on the old place were also torn or burned down. My brothers and cousins played in and around those buildings, but I don't remember playing out there. I was the only girl for several years, I kept out of trouble unlike the boys. They have some stories to tell!  At the end of Grandpa and Grandma's short driveway on either side were "Husker footballs", white with red stripes on poles stuck in the ground (made from some kind of metal maybe, I don't know).  They moved those over to their new home.

The house faced south to the road. The small square window on the right in the first photo is the kitchen window. The back door where we always entered is to the right of that. Grandma's kitchen was long and narrow, not much wider than the opened oven door. The sink was at the south end of the room with a window looking out over the front yard. Right inside the door was their kitchen table with a chair for each of them at each end. The stove and refrigerator were on the west wall. If I remember right, she didn't have a dishwasher.

Through the arched doorway to the dining room, the table was to the right where we had our big family dinners of roast, ham or turkey, mashed potatoes and all other sorts of dishes. I had to be careful if there was scalloped corn, Grandma sometimes made it with oysters and I am not a fan. I'm sure when we were all there, some people ate at the kitchen table and some at TV trays in the living room. After dinner there were often games of 10 Point Pitch played. As a kid, you would start out sitting on an adult's lap to watch the game, sometimes getting to "play" a card. 
About the time you were big enough to hold your cards, you could fill in a hand or two while someone had to get up from the game for a little bit. It was a rite of passage when you could play a "real" game with the more patient adults. Often some of Grandma's family would visit while we were there and then the Pitch games got serious. 

In the second photo I can see the screen door burning on the front porch. There was a door to the front porch in the dining room, and also one around the corner in the living room. They might have been open in the summer, but I don't remember using those doors much. There was a big picture window in the living room which was decorated in the greens, golds and browns of the '70's. I remember the TV sat in the southwest corner of the room. Grandpa smoked a pipe and I remember his pipe stand and ash tray next to his recliner.  

At the bottom of the stairs there was a bookshelf that held various things including a set of encyclopedias. This story comes up often, and everyone has a slightly different memory of it. But my memory is that I was looking through an encyclopedia and found a twenty-dollar bill. (The amount of money found grows depending on who's telling the story.) I ran to show Grandma what I found and she made it clear this was not a "finders-keepers" situation. Several others took an interest in the encyclopedia's that day. I don't remember anyone else finding more money, others might remember they did. When the encyclopedia's were on their moving sale years later, I think we all wanted one last look through them.

Grandma and Grandpa slept in the downstairs bedroom which was open to the living room. It wasn't a place for us kids to be other than to get to the bathroom from the living room. Between their bedroom and the bathroom was their walk-through closet. That's where Grandpa's safe was. One of my cousins wrote the combination to the safe on a slip of paper and stuck it in the door frame of the closet in the south upstairs bedroom. I wonder if it burned in the fire.

The bathroom had a door on each end of the room. They didn’t latch well and would sometimes come open again when you closed the other door. Makes a little girl kinda nervous (maybe some big girls too). The laundry room was of course, not a place for kids, but we always had to peek in and look for some A & W bottles. If there was any chance of getting root beer floats, there was Root Beer in the laundry room. 

Out of the twelve of us grandkids, probably all but the last four of us can remember this house. No doubt, Grandma had a few of these memories I've shared and many others too, as she watched them all go up in flames. 

Sunday, February 14, 2021

"The Secret of Better Health and Happiness is Keeping Busy"


Allie Bell in her yard, undated photo from the late 1940's

For Mrs. Cicero Bell It Has Been A Good Year For Vegetables And Fruit

Mrs. Cicero Bell, though 83 years young, is one of Aurora's most enthusiastic gardeners, both in vegetables and fruit. And she always finds time to raise an abundance of pretty flowers.

This season it seems peach trees are synonymous to a peach crop, and here again Mrs. Bell is up with the best of them with a peach crop. She has seven or eight trees, some of which produced early peaches, others of the very large and choice variety were picked late last week and still other trees are standing with their broken limbs loaded with lucious fruit. The boys propped up many of the large limbs to the best of their ability but when those big main branches hang so loaded it is hard to do much about it. As a result one of the big trees has the two main limbs broken high in the tree. The peaches will finish ripening but this is the last crop one or more of the trees will have.

Mrs. Bell has harvested quite a crop, giving her sons several bushels. She sold the rest, after canning all she can use. The super large fruit, she doled out by the pound so that many of her friends might have a few. Your writer can vouch for their quality and size. They averaged about three-fourths pound each.

Peaches are only one of her crops this year. Early there were nice cherries and choice summer apples. She had a better than average crop of strawberries and raspberries.

Long a producer of fine tomatoes, Mrs. Bell put her plants out very early and as a result she picked bushels of choice tomatoes, which had matured well in advance of the extreme heat of late June. They are gone now but numerous Aurora housewives have these tomatoes canned for later use.

Mrs. Bell made numerous entries at the county fair, not only fresh fruit but several cans of fruits, vegetables and jellies. She relates that she received some prizes but she didn't know just how many.

In her pleasant little cottage at 1505-13th St., Mrs. Bell keeps busy and happy the year around. Along with taking care of the garden, she always has a variety of colorful annuals and perennials, as well as climbing vines.

When the winter season arrives, Mrs. Bell turns to other interests - handwork of many kinds. She is especially enthusiastic about braided and crocheted rugs. These occupy her time largely until its time to garden again.

A few years ago she had a severe and lenghtly illness, but she has over come this and finds the secret of better health and happiness in keeping busy. She has several sons and their wives in the community who keep a watchful and affectionate eye on "Mom". 

Aurora News-Register, September 10, 1954 

Friday, December 4, 2020

I Miss Family Dinners


COVID-19 put a stop on any plans for Easter dinner. Family reunions in the summer were all cancelled. No Thanksgiving dinner. Christmas is not likely, and we will be staying home for New Year's Eve. I'm very grateful that I have not had to deal with COVID personally. But the news has been been so overwhelming at times, so I turned to old newspapers online for more interesting reading. I've found lots of trivial family news in the social columns of the past.

My Great Grandparents, Cicero and Allie Bell, were parents of a total of seven sons. Frank and G O (Oren) were sons of Cicero and his first wife. J W (Bill) Vickrey was Allie's son from her first marriage. In 1901 after both were widowed, they married and had Ben, Ed, Stanley and Virgil. About 1923, most of the family moved to Hamilton County, Nebraska from Jewell County, Kansas. Depending on the year, Oren, Bill and Virgil each may have had to drive in from out of state for family get-togethers.

We have had many family gatherings in the past where some people were unable to be there. Very often they were celebrating with the other side of their family. In this clipping from 1942 at Thanksgiving, it states "All joined in a prayer for those absent because of sickness, and for the boys in service." I'm thankful at least we're not at war right now. At the time of this dinner a few of the grandsons of Cicero and Allie were serving in WWII. Cicero was living in a nursing home, and Frank is not mentioned. Mr and Mrs Bill Dieckman are Ben's wife's parents.

Aurora News-Register, December 11, 1942

In 1943 the Bell family gathered for Christmas at the Grandparents home in Aurora. Two families weren't there, Oren's from Oklahoma and Bill's from Kansas. Cicero and Allie were blessed with 9 grandsons and 9 granddaughters.

Republican-Register, Aurora, NE December 31, 1943

I admit I had to lookup "Salmagundi", and I believe these dinners were the type of the second definition, "a general mixture, a miscellaneous collection". I've been having salmagundi dinners all my life! How did such a great word get dethroned by "pot luck"? 

This clipping says "all of her boys" but Bill, Frank and Oren weren't there. 

Aurora News-Register, December 30, 1949

"Those things mean so much to a shutin." Can't we all relate to that this year! 

Aurora News-Register, January 13, 1950

This big family reunion with the families of Cicero Bell and his sister, Laura Alcorn must have been quite a production. I'll bet the instrumental number by my Mom and her sister was a clarinet and saxaphone duet. From the list of where everyone came from, it looks like Oren's family didn't make the trip from Oklahoma.

Aurora News-Register, September 11, 1955

For Christmas 1955, my Grandparents hosted dinner for Grandma's parents, brother and Uncle Bill. Not mentioned were my Mom and her sister and brothers. This would have been in the same farmhouse where I had my first several Christmas dinners with this family. Great Grandma McGrath and Uncle Bill Negley were gone before I came along, but Uncle Virgil was at all of our family events, often with his movie camera.

Aurora News-Register, December 30, 1955

All of these events were before my time. I don't know if any of these people had a camera to take snapshots, but they would be priceless. These clippings are fund to read, but I think they are making me miss family even more.  When this pandemic is over I'm gonna host a big ole' salmagundi dinner!