Our Ancestors in the History books...

From the book:

"History of Hall County," ©1920 By Buechler, Barr & Stough

Alda Township History

Page 157

Claus Stoltenberg came to Hall County in April, 1859. He was a native of Holstein, Germany, born September 2, 1832, and grew to manhood in his native land. He emigrated to America in 1856, and after spending some time in New York and in Wisconsin, he came to Nebraska and spent a year and a half in Omaha. He entered 160 acres of land, but afterwards acquired more land around him. He was married here December 6, 1862, to Miss Esther Paustean, a native of Holstein, Germany. They had six children, Alwine (wife of Claus Tagge, of Grand Island), Edward, Ferdinand, Cecile (wife of Bernhard Wise, of Rock County, Nebraska, Wilhelmine and Carl.

Under another gentleman's bio who came in May of 1859... same page...

The country was then decidedly sparsely settled. The nearest neighbors on the west were eight miles away. Buffalo, deer, antelope, wolves, and Indians roamed over the vast treeless plains with wild freedom, undaunted by the approach of any white neighbors. A few hundred Indians camping near .... was not an unusual occurrence.

From the book:
"Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Adams, Clay, Hall and Hamilton Counties"
Published 1890 by the Goodspeed Publishing Co., Chicago, Ill.


Claus Stoltenberg is a farmer and stockman of Alda Township, Hall County, Neb., and like the great majority of German Americans he is industrious, thrifty and consequently successful. He was born in Holstein, Germany, September 2, 1832, and is a son of Henry and Katrina (Spett) Stoltenberg, who were also born in Holstein, both being now deceased. Claus Stoltenberg grew to manhood in his native land, and after serving one year in the regular army of his country he, in 1856, emigrated to the United States, and in the spring of that year landed in New York City. He went almost immediately to Wisconsin, and for about eighteen months worked in Winnebago County, after which he came to Nebraska, and spent one and one-half years in Omaha, and after following various employments he came to Hall County, in April, 1859, being one of its very earliest settlers. Wild game of all kinds was very abundant, but buffalo, elk and deer were the most plentiful, and many pleasant hours were spent by Mr. Stoltenberg in hunting. In time a German settlement formed around him. He entered 160 acres of land, but by many hours of honest toil he has become the owner of 255 acres of fine bottom land situated about five miles from Grand Island, on which are an excellent residence and other buildings, and a good bearing orchard. He was married here December 6, 1862, to Miss Esther Paustean, a native of Holstein, Germany, a daughter of Hans Paustian, who died in his native land, as did his wife. Mrs. Stoltenberg came to the United States after reaching womanhood, and she and her husband are now the parents of six children: Alwine (wife of Claus Tagge, of Grand Island), Edward, Ferdinand, Cicilie (wife of Bernhard Wise, of Rock County, Neb.), Wilhelmine (a young lady at home) and Carl. Mr. Stoltenberg is one of the leading farmers of Hall County, and is an intelligent and throughly posted man on all public matters.

In both of these biographies Bernhard Wise should be Bernhard Wiese.

Our Reher ancestors don't have a formal biography in the Hall County History book. These biographies were placed by subscription... in other words you had to pay a fee to have your story told. They are mentioned in several times and are found in several other biographies.

August Reher has a biography in the history book... His father was our Johann's brother and came over from Germany at the same time as Johann & Sophie Vogt Reher, when our Grandfather Ernest was just a baby... This is what part of what it says in August's biography, page 766: The parents of Mr. Reher were Christian and Christina Kroeger Reher, natives of Germany, where the father followed the carpenter trade. They came to the United States in the spring of 1873 and reached Washington township, Hall County, on April 17, just two days after the memorable snowstorm of that year.

On page 146 the History book states: In 1873, on the 13th day of April (Easter Sunday), the early settlers experienced the worst snow storm of our history. It lasted three days. Many of the settlers lost their teams and their milch cows and other stock in the storm.

The grasshoppers were another serious drawback to the early settlers. There was not much corn raised anyway during those early days, on account of the stringency of money through the country. Owing to the money shark's high rate of interest, many a settler had to abandon his claim because he could not get sufficient to live through the panic period of 1873, 1874, and 1875.

Pages 93-95 have some tales told by a Mr. William Anderson titled A FEW GLIMPSES OF EARLY LIFE IN HALL COUNTY Mr. Anderson owned a saloon at the corner of Pine and 2nd Street... and had built a large house between where 5th and 6th streets and Cleburn and Elm streets now run. This place became very notorious and as it was so far "out on the prairie" in the early seventies, it was called the "Prairie House." To help you picture where this Prairie House was, that is the block where the old GI High School was located, which became Walnut Junior High after the new high school was built; it is across the street west of the Methodist Church.

To continue... When the great storm of 1873 came, Mr. Anderson was conducting the saloon at the corner of Pine and Locust. The entire building was drifted in, with snow to the top of it. When it lessened so the boys could get outdoors, they would climb up over the snow to the roof of the building, get onto their sleds and run over onto a story and half structure at the corner where the present Hedde Building now stands. Mr. Anderson then lived in a story and half house on Pine street, right south of 2nd street. For three days he was unable to traverse the distance of less than three blocks from his place of business to his home .

When he finally did get home it took several men to shovel the snow from his doorway, his wife not being able to get out for three days. She commenced to cry... she said she wouldn't stay in the house any longer -- it was haunted.... she could hear an ooo! ooooo! by the wall. They got busy shoveling, thinking it might be a man dieing... but found instead a great big Texas steer, about 15 hands high, immense horns and his eyes were green. They fed it over the winter and summer and in the fall butchered it. He was some sight. He had come this way in the storm, kept coming northeast; snow had just drifted in on his hair and froze it so his hair all came out in time.

Mr. Anderson told a lot of stories about early life... some quit interesting. He told that In the early seventies, one morning he counted fourteen antelpe feeding between present Fifth Street and the railroad tracks. You cold get up on a nice still morning, like this time especially, and hear the prairie chickens in a continual roar, and see roosters strutting around and it was no trouble at all to kill great numbers of praire chickens.... In the sixties, around Kearney and the present Lexinton ... you could ride on horseback and see buffalo just as far as the eye could see, looked just like an ocean, continual movements as far as the eye could see.

Two other interesting notes... from page 146: In the fall of 1867, the buffalo came in by the thousands. The whole country was so full of buffaloes that the ranchmen could get all the fresh meat they wanted, and there were a great many people from farther east who came in to hunt buffalo and get a winter supply of meat.

There were frequent raids by hostile Indians from 1867 to 1870. A good many ranchmen abandoned their ranches here and went on further east for safety.

On February 5, 1862 the first Indian massacre of whites in Hall County took place (Joseph P Smith, his two sons, William age 11, and Charles, age 9, and his grandson Alex Andersen, age 14) . This happened about 12 miles west of Grand Island & south near the river.

In August, 1864, two boys, Nathaniel and Robert Martin were pinned together by an Indian arrow as they fled on horseback. They were left to die but both recovered and lived to an old age. This happened about 18 miles southwest of Grand Island... west of Doniphan several miles.

It was on July 24, 1867 that the Indian attacked the Campbell ranch just west of the present Doniphan, NE where Amick acres subdivision is located. They killed Mrs Thurston Warren and a neighbor Henry Dose and carried away the two nieces of Campbell, aged 17 and 19 and twin boys four years old.

Since Claus Stoltenberg lived 5 miles southwest of Grand Island, you can see that these Indian attacks happened fairly close by... around 10 miles away. It must have been pretty scary for the families living out on the lonesome prairie at that time.


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