Publisher Ira Bare with a North Platte Telegraph-Bulletin.
Early freight train, such as that of Dorothy Rowland's parents, the Grooms.
Downtown North Platte, 1881
Addie Breternitz's grave
Photo by Tamra Turnbull
Rowland's cabin at the Lincoln County Museum
The stories of the person who built the first log cabin and edited the first newspaper, as well as other early pioneers of Lincoln County, will be presented at North Platte's unique living history cemetery tour.
Advance tickets are on sale at the North Platte Public Library for the Library Foundation’s annual cemetery tour, June 15 & 19.
The stories include the person who built the first log cabin, which was used as a general store; the earliest newspaper editor; a pioneer florist; a woman who cared for the poor of Lincoln County; and several others who lived and raised families in thearea.
On June 15, a tour will be held from 4-8 p.m. in the North Platte Cemetery, where attendees walk to grave sites where “ghosts” wait to tell their stories.
Graves can be visited in any order and the stories will be repeated throughout the evening. It takes about an hour and a half to hear the presentations, organizers say.
If people wish to attend but don't want to walk and stand, and indoor performance will be held Tuesday, June 19 at 7 p.m. at Bethel Church (2700 W Philip Ave.) in North Platte.
Advance tickets are $10 for adults (ages 16 and over) and may be purchased at the North Platte Public library until 1 p.m. June 15. After that, tickets may be purchased at the gate or door for $15.
Students and children under age 16 are admitted free when accompanied by a ticket-holding adult.
Seating may be limited for the indoor performance on June 19 at Bethel Church, 2700 W. Philip Ave., so children will be issued tickets for that show to ensure there is an accurate seat count and enough room.
For more information, call the library at 308-535-8036.
Emma Freeman was born September 29, 1857 in Liverpool, England, to William Freeman and Emma Todd Freeman.
Emma met and married William Cooper in England. They had three children: May, Ada, and Lena. While Emma was in England she worked as a nurse and worked with the poor and sick.
The Cooper family all arrived in America in 1880 and settled in North Platte in 1881. Emma had three more children with William: Emily and Margaret (twins) and Victoria (who died at age 5).
Sometime between 1888 and 1889, William Cooper returned to England and died during the voyage. Emma was left to care for, feed, and raise her girls by herself.
William D. Pulver was born in Albany, New York. He enlisted in the U.S. Army and served with the 7th New York Heavy Artillery for three years. He served in the Union Army during the Civil War. On June 16, 1864, William was captured in Petersburg, Virginia and was sent to Andersonville Prison where he survived for nine long months. After the war was over, he was promoted to Corporal and mustered out of the military on June 16, 1865.
In April of 1870, William Pulver married Elizabeth Libby Palmatier in New York. Elizabeth died four years later after giving birth to two children: Eliza Eleanor Pulver and Julia Pulver. Researchers could not find any information on Elizabeth’s death or Julia (named after William’s mother) and suspect that Elizabeth may have died giving birth or from birthing complications.
After Elizabeth’s death, William Pulver accompanied his father-in-law, Anson J. Palmatier, who followed the tide of western emigration, out to Maywood, Nebraska.
And then in 1890, William moved to North Platte where he worked as a carpenter and contractor. On October 18, 1892, he married Emma Freeman Cooper in North Platte. Emma and William did not have any children together. In 1902, William Pulver died in Greeley Colorado. This left Emma to raise her children and William’s daughter.
Ever since Lincoln County was organized, the county tried to care for the poor people in its general population. The lodges and churches were benevolent towards the poor of the community. For many years, a poor farm was maintained. Unfortunately, said caretakers received very minimal compensation for caring for the poor.
According to Lincoln County records, in July 1899, the county commissioners made a contract with Mrs. Emma D. Pulver for keeping the poor of the County at the following rates:
• Resident paupers who were not sick or injured, fifty cents a day;
• Regular paupers, sick or injured, who required medical treatment and nursing,
$1.00 per day if staying less than one week or five dollars per week or over for others;
• Transient paupers twenty cents a meal and twenty-five cents for lodgings;
If nursing was required she was to have $2.00 per day and night or $1.00 per day. All bedding necessary to be destroyed was to be paid for by the County.
During World War I (1914-1918), provisions and rents increased, so Emma was allowed a small increase in her charges, but not in proportion to the increased cost of provisions.
All persons under Emma’s care called her “Mother.” Emma ran the Lincoln County Poor Farm until 1929.
Emma died at age 73 in her home located at 516 East 5th Street on January 23, 1930.
In the book, A History of Lincoln County, it stated, “Mrs. Pulver has had charge of the county poor and those without a home for thirty years, but has only three inmates at present. A nurse by profession, she has made it her work to take care of the unfortunates, doing this out of the innate goodness of her heart. She never refuses anyone and is noted for her goodness and kindness, and her beautiful character is reflected in her smiling happy countenance. ...Nothing was too hard or distasteful for this brave-hearted mother of helpless little ones. She cleaned the floor in the schoolhouse, washed dishes after banquets, did nursing, and was always ready and willing to take over those tasks no one else wanted to do, and in time, prospered.”
At the time of Emma’s death she left a large estate, including many city lots, to her children.
Beach Isaac Hinman was born on May 23, 1829 in Wysox, Pennsylvania to Abner and Augusta Hinman. Hinman attended school and studied law there. In 1857 he was admitted to the bar and moved to Minnesota. Soon afterwards, he moved to Nebraska.
From 1860 to 1862, Hinman helped out his brother, Washington Hinman, at his Overland Rest Ranch and General Store at Fort McPherson, Nebraska. Hinman was one of the early settlers in the area who wasn’t going to leave despite the scalding sun, hostile winters, and angry Indians. In 1862, Beach resumed his law practice at Plattsmouth, Nebraska and two years later traveled to Montana to engage in mining until 1868.
Beach married Sarah Elizabeth Minshall on November 2, 1869 in Plattsmouth, Nebraska. They then moved back to North Platte. Beach and Sarah had four children: Augusta B. (died at 21 months); Curtis; Cora Cornelia; and Minor.
Beach was the first lawyer for the community. Hinman established an enviable reputation for his integrity and faithful devotion to his clients. He defended 35 homicide cases and only two of these were given the death sentence. Upon appeal to a higher court one decision was reversed and the defendant was acquitted. The other was found guilty of manslaughter.
Though Hinman was a perceptive man and a shrewd attorney, he barely escaped lynching numerous times. His cunning arguments in court and strict adherence to detailed legalities made him less than popular in the robust and bawdy settlement of North Platte during the 1870’s. Being an emphatic Democrat from a strong Republican district didn’t improve the situation.
One of Hinman’s best-known cases was his defense of Pete Manning, charged with the murder of his well-known and respected sister, Kate. Hinman defended Manning and, in a trial which involved a change of venue from North Platte to Grand Island, secured his acquittal. Although the judge and others complimented him on the able way in which he handled the case, a mob gathered and threatened to lynch him. When a wealthy cattleman was tried for murder at Hastings, a mob gathered for the purpose of lynching both the prisoner and his attorney Hinman, but once again Hinman withstood the attempt and again secured the freedom of his client.
Hinman was a delegate to the Nebraska constitutional conventions in 1871 and 1875, and was elected to the Democratic national convention when Grover Cleveland was nominated. His own political ambitions were halted though when he twice ran unsuccessfully for district judge.
In the History of Lincoln County Hinman is described as a philanthropic person, “It being his method to assist the poor to help themselves. His plan was to help them to own their own homes, and with this idea in mind he platted a large tract into small parcels and allowed families to acquire homes on small advance payments, thus enabling them to pay for property instead of paying rentals.”
Hinman was a determined and involved lawyer. His friends loved and respected him; his enemies vehemently despised and hated him. Either way, they couldn’t have known Beach Hinman and remained indifferent.”
Beach died on September 10, 1905. Sara died on January 22, 1931.
William Star Peniston was eulogized by the Evening Telegraph newspaper in October of 1906 as being North Platte’s first merchant and first citizen.
“He was born in Peniston, Yorkshire, England in 1834 and as a child emigrated with his parents to Quebec, Canada. He came to Nebraska territory in 1859, as an adventurous 25 year old. Peniston first settled in Nebraska City, Nebraska; and then in 1860 he and business partner A.J. Miller established a store and half-way house along the Overland Trail at Cold Water on Willow Island. This was located 25 miles west of Plum Creek, now Lexington, Nebraska. During the Indian Wars of 1864, they were forced to flee for their lives.”
In 1865, Will Peniston married Anna Marie Webb in Auburn, New York. On the same day, his partner, A.J. Miller, married Anna’s cousin.
Col. William Henry Corbusier was Post Surgeon at Camp Sheridan, Nebraska from November 23, 1877 to April 27, 1880. He wrote the following:
“Immediately after their marriages, the Penistons and Millers came west to the store at Cold Water. The Union Pacific reached there in the summer of 1866. Miller, while on a trip to Omaha, learned that North Platte was to be the railroad division point. He and Peniston quickly decided it would be to their advantage to locate their business there. Lumber and building materials were brought from Denver and hauled to the newly-platted North Platte site by the railroad company. The Penistons and Millers camped there in September of 1866, then selected and purchased a lot for their store.”
The store was located on what is now the corner of Front and Jeffers Streets. The frame building, the first building in North Platte, opened for business on November 8, 1866. They prospered, selling to the railroad workers, camp followers as well as travelers by rail and wagon, and Indians.
The Peniston and Miller partnership was dissolved in 1870. Shortly before this, an ad was placed in the North Platte Republican newspaper which read:
“Peniston and Miller. Wholesale and Retail Dealers in Dry Goods, Groceries, Provisions, Clothing, Grain, Hardware, Tinware, Liquors, Robes, Boots, Shoes and in fact everything usually kept in a general store. We respectfully ask our share of patronage of the public.
Our Motto: WE WILL NOT BE UNDERSOLD.” They served breakfast and supper. They borrowed and loaned money. Once they loaned $250.00 to the First National Bank of Omaha, charging $1.50 for express delivery.”
The wives were just about the only women in the stirring times when the railroad was built into the town of North Platte. Mrs. Peniston bravely raised her family and became a factor in influencing the spread of morality and good citizenship. She contributed greatly in the transformation of North Platte from a lawless frontier town to the community it is today. Annie and William had eight children together: William S. Jr., Charles, Catherine “Kate”, Caroline “Carrie”, Mary “Mollie”, Anna, Nellie, and Elsie.
Miller continued the store until 1872, when he sold the building to Charles McDonald and the stock to Otto Uhling.
Peniston became interested in government. In the early 1870s he served as the county treasurer for two years, then a justice of the peace, and then a county judge. He served as U.S. Commissioner for over 30 years. Many persons who committed federal crimes were brought before him for their preliminary hearings. For 25 years he was employed “more or less” as clerk in the U.S. land office. He also served seven terms in the Nebraska Territory legislature.
William died in 1906. He left a vacancy among the pioneers of western Nebraska. He was an educated man and a gentleman in all his relations, private and public. Mr. Peniston was a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows for many years and in March, 1906, his lodge presented him with a handsome token of their esteem in the shape of a jeweled pin. He was in this order for 25 years.
Ira Leslie Bare was born November 24, 1860 in Mount Union, Pennsylvania to L.M. Bare and Catherine Spangle. He was raised and educated with his four brothers and sisters: John S., Mary A., Benjamin F., and William R.
Ira began his newspaper career young and was a printer’s devil employed by various Pennsylvania newspapers, finally becoming editor at Mount Union before coming to North Platte in 1881. A printer’s devil was an apprentice in a printing establishment who performed a number of tasks, such as mixing tubs of ink and fetching type. A number of famous men served as printer’s devils in their youth, including Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, and Lyndon Johnson.
When Ira first came west, Colorado was his destination. However, he stopped over in North Platte on his way to Colorado and liked the growing community. But he continued his trip to Colorado and quickly discovered that the altitude negatively affected his health, so he started the return trip back to Pennsylvania. In North Platte, he ran low on funds and asked for a temporary job to tide him over and help him finish the trip to Pennsylvania.
His brief stop-over in North Platte turned into a lifetime of service to North Platte and Lincoln County.
Bare’s first five years in North Platte were spent as a printer on The Western Nebraskian. Bare then established the Lincoln County Tribune in partnership with L.A. Stevens in 1885. Two years later, Bare bought Stevens’ share of the newspaper and began operation of the North Platte Semi-Weekly Tribune.
In 1922, Bare sold the North Platte Semi-Weekly Tribune to Wilson Tout, who renamed the paper the North Platte Tribune.
It was about this time that Ira served as secretary of the North Platte Chamber of Commerce. Unable to get the printer’s ink out of his system, Bare was a columnist for the North Platte Daily Telegraph (1936-1938); which then became the North Platte Telegraph.
His boundless energy and wide field of interests led him to other civic activities. In 1903 he became a director of the Mutual Building and Loan Association. From 1910 to 1912, he was receiver for the United States Land Office in North Platte.
For 65 years, Ira was involved with the affairs and betterment of North Platte and Lincoln County. As editor, publisher, and columnist, he had a high sense of the newspaper’s responsibilities to a community. His contemporaries cited many instances in which he used the influence of his newspaper for progress and improvement of local schools, the town, and the county.
His sense of responsibility to the community went beyond his newspaper. It was personal, too. In every project or proposal, personal or civic, he considered first the effect on the community.
Ira was intensely interested in the history of the United States and of his own community. So Bare served as president of the Lincoln County Historical Society and one of his greatest accomplishments was the co-editing of the two-volume History of Lincoln County.
Bare served a term as agricultural chairman of the North Platte Chamber of Commerce and was a member of the Episcopal Church of Our Savior. He was a charter member and past president of the North Platte Rotary Club.
While trout fishing always interested him, it was his hobby of gardening that fascinated him. For many years, the yard of his home at 514 West 4th Street drew city-wide attention during tulip time.
Ira was married on February 14, 1888 in North Platte to Mollie “Mary” Thompson. Mary and Ira had two children: Geraldine (born on January 6, 1889); and Leslie S. (born on January 9, 1899).
Mary died on May 21, 1934 and Ira died December 17, 1952.
Mary Helen Sweeney was born April 2, 1861 at Fort Ripley, Minnesota to Captain William R. and Rohanna Sweeney.
William was a leader of a U.S. military Army Band. He was killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana when he tried to break up a fight. He died from a blow to the head. Rohanna was a nurse during the Civil War, so the Sweeney’s were used to following around the military.
Mary recalled that on the night of April 14, 1865, her father, a stern army official, shed tears, the only time that she ever remembered her father having cried. “On that night, father returned home crying and said that President Lincoln had been killed at Ford’s Theater in Washington. I remember him lowering our flag to half-staff.”
In 1877, Mary married Henry F. Clark at the age of fifteen in Fort Lyons, Colorado. Henry had served in the Civil War and was a private in the 8th company Kansas Infantry.
After the birth of their first child (Rohanna), they moved to Camp Brown (later named Fort Washaka), near the present Thermopolis, Wyoming. When Rohanna was three years old, she could speak only the Indian language. She was five years old before she spoke English.
The Indians with which Mary came in contact were primarily peaceful, but she did have trouble with one old chief. He had a habit of coming into her house and demanding food. Mary was afraid of him, so she complied until Henry told her to bluff him. So the next time he entered her home, Mary had Henry’s pistol and made him leave. From that time on, every time he came to the fort, he brought Mary a present. He called her “heap brave squaw.”
In about 1877, Mary and Henry arrived in Fort McPherson and later moved to North Platte. Henry was a carpenter and helped to build several buildings in North Platte.
Mary and Henry had eight children: Rohanna, Lillian, Margaret, Katherine Francis (who later married North Platte Sheriff, Arthur J. Salisbury), Henrietta F., Inda M. (short for Independence), Henry Jr., and Bessie. Henry Clark died on October 8, 1894.
William Coulter Elder was elected judge in North Platte, Lincoln country, Nebraska in 1905. Prior to 1905, he was a clerk of the district court for fifteen years. William had also served during the Civil War. William married Elizabeth A. York and they had four children: Ora E., Rosa A., Nona Sarah, and Nina Frances. Elizabeth died on October 22, 1893.
William was a man who had the interest of the community ever at his heart and worked zealously for the people’s welfare while he served as a judge.
On January 5, 1898, William Coulter Elder and Mary Clark entered into marriage. They had one child together, William Coulter Jr.
Mary, embraced her new family and husband. She had always been supportive of her Country and over the years, Mary joined or began many patriotic organizations. She was a member of the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution); DUV (Daughters of Union Veterans); Women’s Relief Corps; American War Mothers; and Gold Star Mothers.
William died on March 6, 1911 at age 65 of diabetic complications.
Mary died on October 18, 1951 at age 90.
Charles Pass was born on March 25, 1844 in Nottingham, Northampton, England. He spent his early years there and served an apprenticeship as a machinist, then completed a course of horticulture.
He came to Toronto, Canada in 1879 to tend to some business, expecting to return to England. During his business in Canada, Charles visited the United States and was so attracted by the liberal advantages he decided to relocate in the States.
While in Toronto, he met Margaret Mary Sexton and they were married on July 7, 1881. Soon after his marriage, they moved to Aurora, Illinois where he had charge of the Milwaukee Railroad shops and for a year, the Burlington Railroad shops. They then moved to Dubuque, Iowa, where he spent three years and nine months in charge of the machine railroad shops of the Milwaukee system. Mary and Charles had their first child in Iowa, Charles J. “C.J. or Charley” as he came to be known.
Charles then accepted employment from the Union Pacific Railroad and moved to Omaha, Nebraska. Then the family moved to North Platte in May of 1881. Charles and Mary had two more children in North Platte: Amy Maria (buried in the North Platte Catholic Cemetery) and Leo Francis.
The first year Charles was in North Platte he devoted his leisure hours to a very large garden. He raised surplus produce which was sold at market. When Charles first announced that he would devote his leisure time to growing produce for the market, his friends were inclined to give him a laugh; but he carried out his plan and had success.
His successes led to the addition of several greenhouses. The maintenance of the greenhouses became so demanding, that the supervision of the greenhouse business had to be passed on to his son Charley.
DOROTHY ROWLAND & ADDIE BRETERNITZ
Dorothy “Dolly” Grooms was born in Weston, Missouri on October 16, 1833 to Arnet and Elizabeth Grooms. Dorothy made the overland trip to Fort McPherson in 1862 (age 29) with her family. The Grooms family were “Freighters.”
Robert and his family were also freighters. “Freighters” were the people and companies that organized the pack trains and wagons who transported thousands of tons of supplies into the most seemingly inaccessible places. This was before there was a railroad to transport supplies and goods.
On May 21, 1863, Dorothy married Robert E. Rowland. The wedding ceremony was performed by Charles McDonald, then a justice of the peace. It was only his second such ceremony.
A log cabin was built sometime around 1863 near Ft. McPherson (Cottonwood Springs). The cabin was built from cedar logs that Robert Rowland chopped down in the canyons south of Cottonwood Springs; the cabin was built without nails.
While residing near Ft. McPherson in their little log cabin, it was occasionally necessary for Mr. Rowland and his family to flee to the safety of the Fort in an effort to escape possible harm from roving bands of Indians. Dorothy experienced many stirring incidents while living in this new and undeveloped country, including run-ins with Indians.
On March 2, 1864, Robert Ernest was born to the Rowlands. On August 8, 1866, they had a daughter, Mary Ellen. Mary Ellen died a year later on September 17, 1867.
In 1868, the Rowland family decided to move to North Platte. The railroad had been built to Ft. McPherson and the freighter business was coming to an end in that area.
So, the cedar logs were numbered, disassembled, moved to North Platte and the log cabin was re-assembled at 6th and Dewey Streets. At this point, the cabin still had a dirt floor and a sod roof. This was the first move of five that the cabin would undergo. Because there was still quite a bit of railroad construction going on, Robert opened up a saloon, the Kentucky Keg, at Front and Pine (now Bailey Ave.) Streets.
On June 3, 1869, Robert and Dorothy’s daughter, Adline “Addie” was born and she was the first white girl born in North Platte. On November 9, 1871, the Rowlands welcomed a boy, John William, into their family.
Addie attended the first school in North Platte. The log schoolhouse was located at 5th and Dewey Streets. The schoolhouse also served as a church and interdenominational services were held every Sunday.
Addie was interviewed on April 14, 1940 and here are some of the things she remembered about living in the cabin.
“...Sometimes the Indians would come and look in at the windows putting their hands up like children do to peek in. Mother (Dorothy) was never afraid of them though, though she never weighed a hundred pounds in all her life. She never let them in, though, because if they had gotten in they would have helped themselves to anthin they wanted. They didn’t ask if they could have, they took anything they took a fancy to and there wouldn’t have been a thing left in the cabin to eat or anything else.
I’ve heard father say she had more grit—he used to want her to go to the roundhouse when the warnings of Indians would come, or, when they would hear that the Indians were getting troublesome, but she never would. She’d stick right there in her own cabin and never went to the roundhouse at any time when the rest of the town thought they needed protection.
We always had plenty of meat and meal. I met Cochran Patterson in Long Beach (California) and he told me, ‘You know I always liked to eat with your folks, because your father used to get oysters.’ Father always did buy oysters when they were shipped in.
We used to go hunting, father was always quite a hunter. We children would pile into the back of the wagon and wrap up with buffalo robes. Every family had buffalo robes then; we had two or three. Father hunted prairie chicken and ducks and geese and deer and antelope. He didn’t go and come back empty then either.”
In about 1875, the cabin made its second move to 6th and Sycamore Streets.
In 1882, Robert Rowland had to move the cabin a third time because the cabin was built on railroad property. So the cabin was again disassembled, moved, and reassembled on the south side of 5th Street, between Jeffers and Dewey Streets. After this 3rd move, the cabin was given a roof and a wooden floor.
On May 30, 1882, Robert Rowland died suddenly of a stroke. He was 51 years old.
On April 17, 1892, Adline married Henry Breternitz.
Dorothy Rowland died on September 2, 1912 at age 79.
From 1912 to 1923, after serving as the Rowland home for 60 years, the old log cabin fell into disrepair. The family was arranging to have it torn down and sold for lead pencil cedar, when the Sioux Lookout Chapter of the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) approached the family, saying they never allowed a historical thing to be destroyed if avoidable.
This precipitated the fourth move of the cabin, when the Sioux Lookout Chapter of the DAR did indeed move the cabin to Memorial Park on east 4th Street in North Platte.
It was at this time that Floyd Breternitz, Addie and Henry’s orphaned nephew, had been contracted to tear down the partially burned-out courthouse. Knowing that the DAR could use them, he made a gift of, and hauled the brick, stones, and terra cotta to the new cabin site, for use in the building of the foundation, fireplace, and walks. This material was extremely heavy and required a large dump wagon pulled by a team of horses. The same material is seen on and around the cabin today. Floyd Breternitz later became a city councilman.
Addie and Henry had one child, Vera Breternitz. Addie eventually moved to Long Beach, California and lived there many years. In her later life, she returned to North Platte and died on February 25, 1946 at 77 years of age.
The Sioux Lookout Chapter of the DAR restored the old log cabin and used it as a museum until they voted in 1991 to have it moved to the Lincoln County Historical Museum Village at 2403 North Buffalo Bill Avenue. The DAR had lovingly cared for the cabin for 71 years.
In 1994, Ray Groenewold of Farnam moved the cabin, fireplace and all, in one piece, saying the cabin was the oldest and most delicate he had ever moved. Groenewald and his crew spent five days preparing the cabin and moved it July 5, 1994 without incident.
The log cabin has been resting at the Lincoln County Historical Museum Village for the past 21 years and for a building that is just shy of 150 years old, it still holds is integrity and visitors are still welcome to view this pioneer home.
This report was first published June 6 in a special limited print edition in conjunction with The North Platte Library.