David L. Bristow
To Nebraska in 1857: A Diary of E. F. Beadle
Part 3 of 4
Contents of Part 3:
10 - Saratoga. Omaha, Nebraska—May 17-25.
11 - A Lady. Omaha, Nebraska—May 26-June 9.
12 - The Weary Bachelor. Omaha, Nebraska—June 10-25.
13 - Dick Darling. Omaha, Nebraska—June 26-July 9.
10 - Saratoga
Omaha, Nebraska--May 17-25.
Sunday, May 17
A delightful day. Immediately after breakfast I started off alone to indulge in one of my most favorite enjoyments--that is a Sabbath day walk entirely by myself. I had a very pleasant time indeed. The grass is up sufficient to give the prairie such a color as I never saw it dressed in before, which color is pea green. The sun shone bright but there was sufficient breeze to prevent its being too warm. I went up to Saratoga, where I had not been for a week. Great changes had taken place in the way of buildings commenced and the grading of Pacific Avenue. Went up to the lot I have selected and plucked some flowers, two of which I will send to Sophia in my first letter to her. Crossed the platte or table land from my lot by going west on Saratoga Avenue over the bluff to Mr. Tuttle's farm. Here I found garden vegetables far advanced, and two men, Joseph McNeal and Wm. Pitcher from Cooperstown at work in the garden. Like all new countries before the people settled or have time to make places of worship, there is but little regard paid to the Sabbath. Br. Cook is often prevented from attending church in consequence of the arrival of a steamer with freight for Mr. Rogers, which must be received and charges paid or the goods would be taken back on the boat.
From Mr. Tuttle's farm, I returned to Omaha just in time for my dinner. The steamer John Warner had arrived from St. Louis. After dinner took a ride with the General and family; returned to an early supper. During the evening, the steamer New Monongahalia came up.
Monday, May 18
Commenced the business of the day by revising Saturday's work, after which went up to Saratoga. Returned half past eleven. Got a letter from home, dated May 3d and mailed the 4th. Enclosed was one for Miss Augusta and one for Me from wife, son, and daughter. I wish I could receive one every week. I presume my last letter is received this day. Mr. Tuttle is still absent, which fact keeps me undecided as to my future course of business. This evening at about dark, the steamer Spread Eagle passed up without stopping. She was in employ of the fur company or the government and her only load was supplies for the North.
Tuesday, May 19
This morning we have four boats in, the A. C. Goddin, Silver Heels, and Emma from St. Louis, and the Omaha on her return from up-country. Mr. Goodwill died this morning at one o'clock. His death is a great blow to Omaha and Saratoga. He was one of the first pioneers and kept the first house of entertainment in the place, known as the "Big Six." His doors have ever been open to the emigrant, and although he kept a public house but a short time, he was always at the boats, to look after the interest of newcomers and give up his own bed while he would take the floor. He has been twice a member of the Territorial Council, and at his death was Receiver of Taxes for the county and city; was Alderman of Omaha and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Sulphur Spring Land Co. His whole energies were at work to build up this region, which has made others wealthy while he has worked more and accumulated less. The rise on his property here has, however, left his family in comfortable circumstances. The loss of his only son, a boy about 14 years of age, last winter we think has had the effect to so wear on his mind as to impair his bodily health.
Immediately after breakfast, went up to Saratoga. Returned to the company meeting and we commenced drawing for lots, and waked until ten at night when we adjourned until morning.
Wednesday, May 20
Continued the drawing until about noon, at which time we had drawn twelve lots to a share, th[r]o[ugh] the number designated for the first drawing.
After dinner, preparations were beings made by the "Odd Fellows" and others to attend Mr. Goodwill's funeral. The attendance bade fare to be a large one. I accordingly repaired to Saratoga and looked out and staked some of the lots I had drawn. Came home, right tired, to a late supper.
Thursday, May 21
This day has mostly been consumed at a meeting of the Sulphur Springs Land Co., at which I was elected Chairman of the Executive Committee, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Mr. Goodwill. The most important duties I shall have to perform is the making of and executing contracts with persons receiving donation lots. The whole business of donations is in my hands. I objected to accepting at first but I have made myself so familiar with the ground, I was selected in spite of my opposition. Received a letter from Dr. Gray under date of May 8th. Mr. Gridley made his appearance here this morning; came in on the Emma yesterday.
Friday, May 22
Spent the forenoon in arranging the papers of the Executive Committee and donating eight lots. Afternoon went up to Saratoga. Called on a Mr. Smiley from Ohio, who has just got into his house brought with him from Pittsburgh. The company gave him one of the best locations, on the corner of Audubon and Fifteenth Streets. It commands a most delightful view of the river, Omaha City, and surrounding country. One consideration of Mr. Smiley's getting the location he did was his large family, consisting of one son and five daughters, the daughters all marriageable. The oldest is East still as a teacher, the next wishes to teach here. I presume we shall have a school in operation by fall. There is now as many as twenty small children living in Saratoga, where ten days ago there was none.
Saturday, May 23
An excessively warm day with a strong wind from the South making it very unpleasant out of doors on account both of heat and dust.
This day's mail brought me a pile of reading matter, papers from New York, Buffalo, and Auburn, also Mr. Brown's paper from Kansas and a letter from Mr. Brown and one from Harriet. The papers were very opportune as they helped to pass away this hot dusty day. From the Auburn paper I learned what Dr. Gray had before written me, that Mrs. Woodruff and Brennan were indicted. I cannot see what will prevent their being found guilty, although Frank writes doubtful. The letter from Harriet was partly to me and part to Cook, and in answer to one I wrote asking for my pen which was enclosed. They were well even to "red head."
Mr. Brown in his letter still urges me to come to Lawrence, he says Kansas is the place to make money "Sure as you are born." If I fail to get into business suited to me here I shall go to Lawrence. Mr. Tuttle is expected by the first boat. A letter received by the Teller of the Bank this day states that he, Mr. Tuttle, is on his way. The letter was written from Illinois. I consider that my not meeting him here has been a great disappointment to me, and I am tired remaining comparatively idle and daily expecting his return. Mr. Tuttle writes that his wife has a son that will he able to take the tellership of the Bank in a short time and that the present teller's services will not be required long. (At this moment I am interrupted--particulars on another page.)
Had I known all the facts communicated in Mr. Brown's letter at the time of my first arrival here this spring, I should undoubtedly have felt remarkably uneasy when I was complaining of ill health. The facts are these as it seems from Mr. Brown's letter, from which I quote: "Mrs. Brown, it seems, had the small pox on board the steamer as we came up the river. She communicated it to her sisters who are yet confined with it, one of whom we consider dangerous. Mrs. B. had it very light, of course, the Varialoid." If I recollect aright, I wrote while coming up the river, something of Mrs. Brown's not being well, having weak eyes and a good deal of fever so that she did not go to the table at all times. No one, however, thought of it being the small pox in any form. The disease must have been communicated to a great number among so many passengers. Had I known the facts I have no doubt I should have been down sick on first arrival, as my indisposition at that time would have been attributed to the symptoms of small pox instead of a cold which was the case. "All is well that ends well."
Four young men who set out with a wagon and a span of mules on the 16th April on an exploring tour, have returned with a glowing description of the country along the Running Water. I listened perfectly captivated for an hour to their accounts of the game they saw and the incidents by the way. They staked out their claim and propose locating a town to be called Junction Rapids. It is at the junction of two streams forming the Running Water. The region in which they traveled has never been explored and was thought unsafe on account of the Puncoes [Poncas], a desperate band of Indians. The party, however, met with no obstacles in the form of Indians. I mean to get a full description of their discoveries.
This evening I went up to Cook's to give him the papers to read. There I found some Omaha squaws trading. One was called "Old Mary." She spoke five languages, has been to school five years at St. Joseph and been to the city of Washington. With her were the two widows of Logan Fontenelle, the chief who was murdered a few years since while on a buffalo hunt, by a war party of Sioux. In my diary of last year I wrote that Logan Fontenelle was buried on the present site of Saratoga near the Sulphur Spring. Old Mary says that is a mistake. The grave in question, which is so singularly made and surrounded with polings, is where the daughter of "Young Elk" was buried. Logan Fontenelle was buried at Bellevue by the side of his father of the same name who died very old, and was for many years chief of the Omahas. The elder Fontenelle was succeeded by Young Elk, who was a great chief. After Young Elk, the younger Fontenelle was made chief. Since his death, the Omahas have been without a chief.
Old Mary has agreed to make a pair of moccassins for my children. I gave her money to get beads. She says there is a coal mine about twenty miles from the Blackbird Hills which has not been claimed. She says she will show white folks where it is for pay. She says white folks come to her house, they get breakfast, dinner and supper for nothing. Indians don't charge fifty cents a meal. All is free.
Sunday, May 24
Have written all under date of 22d and 23d this morning. The interruption I received a short time since was caused by the marriage of the girl that works here and the hired man. They were married by Judge Wakely and have gone over into Iowa to visit an uncle. Will be back Tuesday.
Said Judge Wakely is of the Northern District, lately appointed; is from Wisconsin. He has been stopping here for a few days. Is about my age. This is the first couple he ever married. He was considerably embarrassed, but done it up strong and quick. Being his first experience in marrying, he gave his fee to the bride. They are a fine clever couple. Thus ends the one-hundredth page of this diary.
Have just returned from a long walk with Mr. Warner up to Saratoga. On our return we saw a rattlesnake in the road, which we killed with a cane. I cut off the rattles and will enclose them in my first letter. About a hundred rods from where we killed the snake, we found a much smaller rattlesnake which had been killed during the day. It had but two or three rattles. A short distance farther, we saw four men apparently killing a snake. When we came, we found a snake called here a blower. This one was as much as five feet long. They are spotted like a milk snake and perfectly harmless. I killed one on my return walk from Saratoga on Friday, a fact I forgot to mention. The rattlesnake we killed tried to get away from us, and was not at all inclined to show fight but rattled furiously.
The steamer St. Mary's stopped about noon and passed up with government stores. At evening the steamer Mink painted nearly black and belonging to the Government came up and stopped for the night. She is bound for Fort Pierre, some seven hundred miles above this point up the Missouri. Her loading was Government supplies. Carries no freight or passengers for outsiders.
Monday, May 25
A disagreeable rainy day. Received a letter from Robert with some very gratifying news, for instance, the renting of the house. The letter was a very interesting one. Some parts of it, however, did not make me feel very pleasant. When I went home to dinner, found the General and Augusta singing and playing "Rosalie the Prairie Flower." What a sensation it created within me! I had never heard the first word of it since I left home. And I could imagine I heard Sophia's voice in every line and word of it. How instantaneously I was transported to my family! Augusta was delighted with the music. She could sing and play "Rosalie the Prairie Flower" in a half hour after it was received.
11- A Lady
Omaha, Nebraska--May 26 - June 9.
The attraction of the party, however, to me, was not Miss Augusta or her dancing. But as Jonathan Slick says, "it was them grown-up gals all finefied off with ribbons and laces, sidling and twisting around, their bare arms and naked necks making them look good enough to eat."
Tuesday, May 26
Mr. Brown's clerk being sick today, I have been in the office until three o'clock, then went up to Saratoga, found all moving prosperously. During my walk up to Saratoga, the steamer Minnehaha came in. A bachelor's dancing party came off this evening on hoard the hotel steamer Washington City. The General being absent, Augusta was entrusted to my care until eleven o'clock at night. And for the first time in Omaha I went where there was an assemblage of ladies. Of course I did join the party, but went as a spectator and guardian of Augusta at the request of the family. A number of gentlemen came to me to be introduced to my little girl. She danced every set and when she left had four or five unfulfilled engagements. She was the best dancer in the room, and many were almost inclined to use physical force to prevent her leaving. On our way home her tongue flew very much as I have heard Sophia's at times.
The attraction of the party, however, to me, was not Miss Augusta or her dancing. But as Jonathan Slick says, "it was them grown-up gals all finefied off with ribbons and laces, sidling and twisting around, their bare arms and naked necks making them look good enough to eat." After one or two cotillions, more ladies came which I did not notice until they came out of the dressing room and took their seats. The fluttering of dresses in that direction caused me to look around, and didn't I stare some-there sat a woman a perfect daguerreotype of my wife in features, at a front view. I learned she was a Miss Clark, a sister of a Mr. Clark of the firm of Armstrong & Clark merchants in town. If I had belonged to the party I should have made her acquaintance. I shall endeavor to see her by daylight, and if she bears the resemblance as well as in the evening, I shall try and get an introduction. As yet I have made but two calls in Omaha and those were on acquaintance.
Wednesday, May 27
This day assisted Mr. Wyman, the present Post Master in putting up his presses and arranging his office. He had a new one direct from the foundry and is going to establish a daily and weekly. I done some heavy lifting without any unpleasant results.
Thursday, May 28
Finished putting up the presses about two o'clock, an hour previous to which Mr. Cockett came in to see me. He had arrived the day previous at evening in company with Mr. Tuttle. I spent the balance of the day with Mr. Cockett, went up to Saratoga with him and Mr. Tuttle. Mr. C. thinks Saratoga is just the place. During the day, four more persons arrived from Cooperstown: Erastus Root, a Winslow and Short boy. Received a letter from Frank written the day before Cockett left.
In the evening called on Mr. Gridley of Buffalo who is stopping at Mr. Kellum's. He has been unwell since his arrival, but is now about well again. Learned of the failure of John R. Lee & Co., which much surprised me.
The steamer Alonzo Child in.
Friday, May 29
Spent this day with Mr. Cockett. Had a very pleasant time. Afternoon rainy. Received papers from Brother Irwin. Steamer Sultan came in at bedtime.
Saturday, May 30
Passed this day as yesterday with Mr. Cockett. Had also a short interview with Mr. Tuttle. The afternoon rainy. I am having the best of times with Mr. Cockett. It seems much like being with Frank. We talk up Cooperstown matters and I feel almost home again. Another batch of papers from Irwin.
Sunday, May 31
Cool wet morning. Preaching was to come off at the "Central House" this forenoon, the first in Saratoga. Notwithstanding the unpleasant weather, I was bound to go up. The general got out his carriage for me and his little nephew, Augusta, and myself. Got in, drove up to the "Hamilton House," took in Mr. Cackett and went up to Saratoga. Just as we arrived at the Central House, we found the minister leaving. Some mistake had been made and the house was not ready and the weather prevented many from coming, so the meeting is put off two weeks. By that time the Central House will probably be completed, ready to be opened to the public. It will be the best hotel in Nebraska.
Three steamers have come up today. The Hannibal, Waucassa, and Asa Wilgus all loaded with passengers. You would be surprised to see the trains of emigrants that come across the country bound for the interior of this territory, Salt Lake, and California. Some trains are a mile long. It would seem at this rate that the entire East would become depopulated.
A host of people from Herkimer County, friends of Mr. Tuttle, came up on one of today's steamers. They are all men of means, are delighted with the country. Among the number is a noted clergyman who is in ecstasies about this country.
After tea went up to the Hamilton House and took a stroll with Mr. Cockett. Went out of town about a mile and a half in a direction I had not been before. I was equally charmed with Mr. Cockett. We could not help remarking again and again, "I wish Frank was here" to enjoy this treat with us. It was dark when we returned. Halted just at dusk where an emigrant train to California were pitching their tents. They had eleven covered wagons and families, a supply of horses and three hundred head of cattle. The men were some of them watching the cattle, others putting down the tents. The children gathering fuel while the women were getting supper. They made dome as fine biscuit as I ever saw, baking them in an old-fashioned "bake-kettle." Fried bacon, coffee, and warm cakes with molasses constituted the bill of fare. Oil cloths were spread on the ground and the tableware arranged much as it would be on a table. Not receiving an invitation to sup with them, we did not stop to see how they arranged themselves to eat, but presume they took seats on the ground. Their supper smelled delicious and would be a luxury to some families here who live on "cut straw and molasses."
Called at Mr. Tuttle's house, where two of the families from Herkimer are to stop, and had a pleasant interview with the clergyman and Governor Izard. Mr. Tuttle has purchased the governor's house, and [will] occupy it until his house at Saratoga is finished.
Monday, June 1
Remained in the office attending to the donation of lots this forenoon. Received a letter from my wife and one from Frank. Mr. Cockett bought a small Cincinnati house, fifteen feet square, brought up by Mr. Gridley, for $200. After dinner, got a team and went up with the first load and selected our lot. Mr. Cockett and myself are to own the building and lot jointly. Mr. C. purchased the building and I am to finish it for my share. While our teamster was after the second load, we looked out and went on our lots which proved better than we had expected.
Walked out in the evening after supper and talked up business, also our old business operations in Buffalo. Did not separate until after ten o'clock.
Tuesday, June 2
Spent the forenoon with Mr. Tuttle and Mr. Gridley. The mail brought me a letter from one of cousin Benjamin's girls who is at school in Indiana. Mr. Cockett gone over to the Bluffs.
After dinner went up to Saratoga. Sawed out ten oak posts and set five of them as part of the foundation for the office. Hired a carpenter to commence tomorrow to help me put up the building. Was very tired when I got home to supper. After tea went up town and chatted an hour with Mr. Cockett, who had returned from the Bluffs.
The steamer Admiral in from St. Louis.
Wednesday, June 3
Put up the frame for the office. Had hard day's work and returned at night very tired.
Thursday, June 4
Assisted the carpenter on the building. Donated lots for a church and parsonage. The donor a G. W. Skinner of Herkimer Co., N. Y., a friend of Mr. Tuttle. Is a Unitarian; will preach Sunday in the Central House, Saratoga, and at Omaha in the evening.
The steamer D. A. January is in, bound up the river.
Friday, June 5
Worked on the building same as yesterday. Do not feel well today in consequence of sore tongue and mouth. Have the steamers New Monongahala and John Warner in from St. Louis.
Before going up to Saratoga I bade Mr. Cockett goodbye, as he was to leave on a steamer toward Nome. My walk to Saratoga was a very lonely one after parting with Mr. Cockett. We have had the pleasantest kind of a time since he has been here. I found him almost equal to Frank for fun and a joke, and could not but be loath to part with him. I hope some good to us both will grow out of his visit to this place.
Saturday, June 6
Did not go up to Saratoga until after dinner. Had a long chat with Mr. Tuttle. He talks large for me, and if one half he tells me turns out right I shall be satisfied. Our town is honored with a number of railroad men from the East. They are large portly silver-haired gold-headed-cane gentlemen who are posted on R. R. matters.
Saratoga is growing rapidly, every day adds a new house and some days two are commenced. If I remain a whole day down to Omaha I see a marked change in improvements. In one month's time I shall hardly be able to keep track of the improvements. I shall be obliged to call on the company for a horse to ride soon or it will take my whole time to look after affairs of the company, which I am expected to do. We have steamers Omaha and Edinburgh in today. The annual June rise of the Missouri has commenced. Has risen some two feet; will probably continue to rise until the last of the month, then gradually subside until the fall rains set in. During the June rise the freights on the river are the lowest of the season. The June rise is occasioned by snows from the mountains, which do not commence to melt before the hot weather sets in in this latitude.
Sunday, June 7
An excessively warm day. A strong wind is all that makes the heat endurable. The thermometer ranges from 96 to 100. The incessant wind we have here is a great luxury in summer.
Br. Cook and myself walked up to Saratoga to hear the first sermon in the place. It was delivered by a Mr. Bergen, a Presbyterian. The text was: "Deliver unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's." The discourse was a very good one and delivered in the Central House, our unfinished hotel. In going up and returning, we stopped at the Sulphur Spring and took a drink. It was the first time Mr. Cook had seen the spring. This afternoon at three o'clock, Mr. Skinner, a Unitarian, is to preach at the Central House. It is too warm for me to walk up again. I accordingly devote my time to writing and keeping cool as possible.
The excessive heat of the day has kept us up late enjoying the cool evening out in the steps, hanging out of the windows, and watching the lightning from distant thunder clouds.
Monday, June 8
Remained in Omaha during the forenoon answering letters and attending to other business. Afternoon I went up to Saratoga and spent the balance of the day in showing the gift lots to different parties. Returned very much fatigued by the walk in the hot sun.
The steamer Emma up from below, bound farther up the river.
Tuesday, June 9
Went up to Saratoga directly after breakfast. On my way, I killed the largest snake I ever saw alive except such as I have seen in shows. It was six feet long and as large around as my arm. They are a species of snake resembling in color and shape an anaconda or boa-constrictor. When angry they make a blowing noise and it is said the breath they blow out, if inhaled in large quantities, produces a very nausea sickness for a short time. This I am not inclined to credit. They never bite and are not in the least venomous. The blower is a great destroyer of the rattlesnake. Kills them whenever they can find them, by circling them within their folds and crushing them to death. By this same mode they destroy small animals, which they swallow whole to satisfy hunger. The one I killed I think could have swallowed a small cat.
Assisted about half the day in the office in putting on the rough boards, the balance of the day showing up and donating lots. Had as many as twenty calls-at one time five carriages and twelve or fifteen persons, including ladies. At one time I rode this way with a party, at another walked that half a dozen following me and looking up lots to get for the building on them.
When the five carriages at one time were waiting on me, one person calling me this way and another that, all doing their best to get the most desirable location. I thought of Brothers Frank and Irwin. They would say "the kite is going it now!" and it did sail up some, but there was a little too much tail to it wishing to go different ways, so it did not go out of sight.
My position in the company makes me acquainted with every person before he locates in the place. And I trust my attention to them wins their friendship, which I think will do me no harm if it is not of real service to me. My office will do to go into this week and shall get all the agency business of the settlers and also their influence. This may not count at once, but if I can manage to get along for the present, I believe I shall succeed in doing first-rate business and be one of them in the city of Saratoga. Three months today since I left home, or rather since I left Buffalo.
12 - The Weary Bachelor
Omaha, Nebraska--June 10-25.
One thing Omaha cannot boast of and that is good-looking women.
Wednesday, June 10
Assisted in laying the floor to my office at Saratoga. Returning to Omaha, found the steamer Joseph Oglesby in, one of the largest boats ever coming to this place. Being her first trip, she gave a free party to the citizens. It is customary for every boat making its first trip of the season to come prepared to give a dance, and they get up some splendid affairs, all free. I had only attended one and that was as a spectator and company for Miss Augusta. It was at this time I saw Miss Clark which so much resembles my wife--since which time I have not had a sight of said lady. Accordingly, I decided I would saunter down to the boat after the dance should commence and see what I could see. As I started out about nine o'clock, I met Br. Cook, who by invitation accompanied me to the boat. I told him I was going to the boat to see a lady. Cook laughed and said something about how good calico looked in Nebraska. Before going on the boat, I told Cook to take notice of a certain lady I would point out to him, if she was there, and see if he ever saw any one that looked like her before. The lady in question was on the floor in a cotillion about the center of the cabin when we went in. I pointed in the direction; Cook noticed her at once and remarked "crackie that is Mate exactly." The more he looked, the more natural Mate's representative appeared. We stopped long enough to see two cotillions, then left thinking of home, and more of the folks at home.
Thursday, June 11
Mr. Warner has been sick for some five days with dysentery. Not so sick, however, as to prevent him moving around a little. He is as nervous as I am and more old-maidish. He determined to start for home this morning. I spent the forenoon settling up his business and getting him ready for a start, accompanied him to the boat, and bade him goodbye. We were old acquaintances, and since we have been here we have slept together, and it seemed rather sad to have him leave, particularly on account of his health, and gave me some unpleasant reflections the balance of the day, about how I should fare in this Territory were I taken sick.
After dinner went up to Saratoga. Have had the least wind and warmest sun today since I have been in the Territory. It has been a hot one. Received a letter from Sister Sarah, written at East Pembroke, where she was with the children.
We have two boats in today, the Watassa and the E. A. Ogden.
Friday, June 12
Spent the day as usual at Saratoga. Donated five lots to Mr. Tuttle's friends, who are to commence at once to build. They are all fine people, with fine families. One is from Little Falls, has a shoe store there and his wife is extensively in the millinery business. Mr. Gray, the gentleman's name, has taken the next-but-one lot to mine. Will put up a store sufficient for his and his wife's business, and large enough to live overhead. He will then return for his goods and family. The others have their families with them.
This evening have spent with Br. Cook. He has leased one of Mr. Warner's lots for four years. Intends to build and send for his family at once. He has a good situation, is doing well and has leased at a great bargain. We have talked over our chances, &c, of getting our families here, until I feel extra homesick tonight. I go to bed to sleep-for the first time since I came to this territory-alone. I am glad to be without a bedfellow, unless it be of a different sex from what I have had since I left Buffalo. I am, however, getting somewhat weaned and feel a good deal like an old bachelor.
The steamers in today are the Dan Converse and Moses Greenwood.
Saturday, June 13
Having an opportunity to ride, I left Saratoga at four o'clock after laboring in a very hot sun as long as I felt disposed. My carpenter has at least one or two more days' work on the office before it will be completed. The balance of the work, including painting &c, I shall probably do myself.
Arriving at Omaha, went direct to the P. O. Got one paper and three letters. The paper was from Irwin, one of the letters was for John L. Beadle, mailed in Ohio. I put it back writing on the envelope a few lines for said John to call on me, perhaps we are cousins. One of the other letters was from Mr. McKim and the third from wife under date of May 30th. The latter letter was the greatest Saturday night's treat I have had in a long time. I read and re-read the letter, and set my wits to work to decide what was best that was feasible, and what that was feasible was best. After tea, went up to consult with Cook. He has his arrangements nearly completed, is only awaiting the result of one decision which will come off next Tuesday, if favorable, of which I have no doubt it will be. He will send the same day for his family to come as soon as possible. I presume his family will be here in four or five weeks. This makes me more anxious than ever. I am in hopes something will turn soon which will enable me to send for my family. I am tired of this bachelor life.
We have had the finest sunset this evening I ever beheld, since which a storm has been gathering, and at this moment the wind seems as though it would demolish the dwelling, while the lightning and thunder is incessant and the rain comes in torrents. I will stop and go to bed as the storm makes me feel weak, so goodnight, wife and children.
Sunday morning before breakfast, June 13
Feel very much prostrated this morning. The storm last evening compelled me to close the windows, thus preventing fresh air from coming into the room, and this morning is still hot and sultry, making me feel some sixty years old. The storms of last night were the worst I ever experienced in this Territory, the thunder and lightning being the most severe and incessant. One storm would spend its fury and subside until I would get into a drowse; then another would come up, if possible more severe than the last. This was continued until after midnight before I got to sleep.
The steamers of yesterday were the Alonzo Child and Minnehaha.
Four O'Clock P.M
Thus far have I spent the day in writing, excepting while at breakfast and what time I occupied in bathing and changing my linen. It has been a most excessively warm day. I never saw so warm weather after such a thundershower. One could almost see the corn and vegetables grow. We have hotter weather here than in Buffalo, but almost sure to have wind. Today it has blown a hurricane, but without the wind one would almost melt. The thermometer ranges to 95 today; think of that for the 19th of June. I have engaged my potatoes for next winter at fifty cents a bushel-cheap enough as yet.
Monday, June 15
Last night was equal to the previous for its severe storms of thunder, lightning and rain. This morning warm as usual. Walked up to Saratoga; remained until a severe thunderstorm came up the middle of the afternoon. Rode down in the omnibus. Found a letter in the office from Irwin with a scrap from Mate.
During the storm of Saturday night, a horse was killed by lightning in town. Last week a new and large church was commenced here by the Presbyterians (old school). Yesterday they organized and elected officers: a Mr. Barcalow, President of the "Nemaha Valley Bank," and E. F. Cook were elected deacons. I think Cook will make a good Deacon. He is doing well here.
Tuesday, June 16
This morning cool and cloudy. Occasional showers of rain with very high north winds prevents my going up to Saratoga today. Cook has this day sent the money for Lib to come to Omaha. She has had no intimation of it and will be happily disappointed. She will stop a short time at Hatt's and probably be here about the first of August. I have had the blues some today. Wrote a long letter to wife and laid it by to add to tomorrow.
The steamer Florence in tonight.
Wednesday, June 17
Still windy, cloudy and cold. Read over my letter written yesterday and decided not to send it. It was to much under the influence of the blues when it was written, so will burn it. Spent the day calling at the bank, chatting with Tuttle, at the printing offices and on the Deacon. Been a very disagreeable cold day, raining every twenty minutes in regular April shower fashion. A church fair in town this evening. I don't attend--want of capital.
Thursday, June 18
Clear and pleasant. Went up to Saratoga, found two families occupying my office. They had come in on the 15th and were occupying their wagons; the severity of the storm had compelled them to take refuge in the office. The office had no door in front and only the rough boards on, so that they were obliged to put up their tent cloths to keep off the rain. The stove pipe was put out of one of the front windows. The women expected a worse storm when I came and saw the state of affairs. But I could have no objections--of course not! Assisted in putting on the composition roofing until tea time. Took some dry bread, custard, and tea to stay my stomach until I should reach Omaha, having went without my dinner. After tea, Mr. Cook came down for me to go to the fair, which was to be continued this evening, said he would pay the expenses. Fixed up and went, where I was in hopes to meet Miss Clark. The room was crowded so as to make it almost impossible to get arround. Miss Clark was not there. There was, however, a good supply of ladies. One thing Omaha cannot boast of and that is good-looking women. I believe my folks, ordinary-looking as they are, would create an impression in town. The best-looking of the ladies were the Miss Smiley's of Saratoga. Of course, Saratoga was always noted for its fine-looking ladies even in N. Y., and the same is true of Saratoga, Nebraska.
We have the steamer Silver Heels in today.
Friday, June 19
Went up to Saratoga and completed putting on the roofing alone; finished about three p.m. Completed the day by examining the improvements in town and seeing that all was being done according to agreement. Returned with a good appetite for my supper, having fasted since breakfast.
The steamer Watassa in from St. Joseph.
Saturday, June 20
Do not feel well today. Will not go to Saratoga. Have spells of dizziness in my head; attribute it to my last two days' work on the roof in the hot sun and being up late the last two nights. The night of the fair, I left with Mr. Tuttle, went over to the bank and did not leave until one o'clock. We got engaged in talking and did not notice the time. Last evening was at a meeting of citizens called to take into consideration the propriety of issuing city scrip to complete the capitol.
Quite an excitement in town on the arrival of the first circus in Nebraska. It is to exhibit this afternoon and evening. Circuses, it seems, keep pace with other emigration. Undoubtedly it will be crowded, as almost everyone will go, even to the Indians. Amusements are scarce here and circus will draw.
After dinner, went up to the circus ground. Got into the crowd and was drawn in. Everybody was there--I did not know there was so many people in this county. The performance was much better than I expected it would be. A little girl about the size of Sophia went into a cage with a leopard. It was a dangerous looking sight. I went to the circus more to change the state of my feeling produced by my physical indisposition. By about tea time, my dizzy spells had changed to hot flashes, severe pain in my back and head. What would I not give to be home or with my family at this time. I am going up to have Cook come down and stay with me tonight.
The steamer Admiral up from St. Louis.
Sunday, June 21
Had a miserable night. Cook came down to stay with me. Judge Black, however, coming home with the general to stay all night, I expected I should be obliged to share my bed with him, and Cook did not stop. He might have done, as the Judge slept on the lounge. I was fidgity all night. Could not sleep well. If I ever get my family around me again, I hope I shall not be obliged to be absent from them so long again. Do not feel any better this morning, not having rested well. After breakfast, went up and got a box of sidledtz powders--going to doctor myself some today.
The day has passed and I think I feel somewhat improved, although not as I would wish to feel. Will not, however, complain unless I am worse than at present. Being away from my family magnifies my ailments. Nothing of importance to fill this page.
Monday, June 22
Nothing of note today. Kept quiet in order to favor medicines taken. In the afternoon, sat in Cook's shop while he purchased lumber for his house. The steamers up today are the Asa Wilgus, D. H. Morton, and Emigrant.
Tuesday, June 23
Very warm rainy morning. Omaha Indians in town to buy horses preparatory to going on a buffalo hunt. Mr. Estabrook offered them his pony. Had Augusta ride him that he might show off to better advantage. The saddle being put on loosely, it slipped around under the pony, throwing Augusta to the ground when the pony was going downhill at full speed. No harm was done, however. And the General could blame no one as he put on the saddle himself. We were all somewhat frightened.
Before dinnertime it cleared off and in the afternoon I went up to Saratoga. Had not been there since Friday. In so short a time, even, I saw a marked change, in new buildings raised. All at Saratoga were becoming anxious about me. Donated four lots and returned feeling perfectly well again. In the evening, attended a preliminary political meeting. The General is a candidate for Congress. I am using my little influence for him, and in this place it is no small item. I figure a little in the columns of the paper; as I become more bold I branch out some.
Wednesday, June 24
Went up to Saratoga and returned in time for dinner. Afternoon figured some and stopped at Cook's store to give him time to do the outdoor business. Evening spent in writing.
Thursday, June 25
Remained in Omaha until the mail arrived and was distributed. Accepted an invitation to ride up to Saratoga. Dined at Mr. Smiley's, one of our Saratoga neighbors. Found my tenants moving out of the office. Set the painters at work. Spent the afternoon with two neighbors--Mr. Gant and Mr. Smiley--in surveying a whole block which I am trying to get by changing off other lots. An entire block is small enough for my residence.
13 - Dick Darling
Omaha, Nebraska--June 26 - July 9.
Money is made easy and is spent freely.
Friday, June 26
By previous engagement, went out to see a claim belonging to "Dick Darling." He made his claim in September 1854. Being still underage, he cannot pre-empt it. Has sold off 160 acres last year. Has talked so much with me about it I agreed to go out and see it.
Dick Darling, the only name I know for the person, came here before a house, except the "Big Six," was erected. He resides in town in a very small cabin, the only one standing of the first cabins built here. Lives alone and has done for three years in the same cabin. He has got some property, has owned largely here, but sold when he got a fair advance. When he first came to the place, he went up to Saratoga, staked out 160 acres one afternoon, came down and sold his claim for five dollars. Although Dick is under 21 years of age, he is considered one of the first pioneers and allowed to vote. Is a general favorite, but too much like boys who do not appreciate money. He thinks he can speculate when he gets short and make his expenses. Does nothing and spends his money extravagently. Is here two or three times a day when in town. So much for Dick Darling.
The claim we were to see is six miles west by the section lines. The route we were obliged to go makes the distance traveled eight or ten miles. Six miles west by the traveled road, we come to one of the smaller Papillion creeks. A late freshet had carried away the bridge so that teams could not cross. We took the horse from the buggy and led him across on a plank. Then took the buggy down the bank by main strength and crossed that likewise on a plank. Three miles more and we reached one of the main Papillions, or as it is more commonly called the "Little Papio." The claim was immediately on the west side of the creek. For the last half mile we had left the road, reaching the creek opposite the claim some three miles nearer than by the road. We took the harness from the horse and hitched him where he could feed while we were reconnoitering. The log over which Dick was in the habit of crossing had been carried away, leaving us in a dilemma about how we should cross. From the top of an elm which hung over the stream, suspended a grapevine. Dick went up this vine to the top of the elm and down the elm which grew on the opposite side, thus landing safely. Not being myself a climber, I concluded to try the stream; accordingly stripped and swam across, which was easy enough, the distance only being about twenty feet.
I found the claim much more valuable than I had supposed. I am trying to make a trade for it. If I do, I shall preempt it for my own use. It is not too far from Omaha to suit me. On the claim is a small grove, a number of springs, and a stone quarry. Through said claim runs the Papillion at the east end. And lengthwise, running east is the first stream I have seen in the West with stone bottom. The stream is like our eastern streams-clear and rapid, tumbling along over rocks and pebbles. I was charmed, delighted, with the place, and it was difficult for me to refrain from expressing my admiration. As I was looking with a view of purchasing, I kept silent. The place has advantages but one or two know of. In fact, it has never been examined except from a distance, and only by two or three. We found Indian devices carved in the rock, and on the margin of the stream were otter and wild turkey tracks in great numbers. If I succeed in getting hold of the claim, I will make a thorough examination and report at length.
Steamers today: New Monongehola, Omaha, and Watassa.
Saturday, June 27
Another week is ended, and my mind is away east with my family, where I long to be in person, or to have them with me here in the West. It is a long time to look forward to the earliest day we may be together again at best. I look upon it all for the best, be the result whatever it may.
A threatening rain prevented my going to Saratoga this morning as I had intended. The storm, however, did not commence until about noon. Kept up the most of the afternoon. It has now nearly cleared up and is delightful in the extreme. The air cool and refreshing, making it one of the best of nights to sleep. It is early, but the house being so very still I will retire. The family were out to a dance last evening, except myself.
The Edinburgh and Watassa are in today. Although quite wakeful and lonely, I will say goodnight and go to bed.
Sunday, June 28
A clear pleasant atmosphere tempted me to take one of my accustomed strolls. Went up to the Deacon's and found him ready to accompany me as soon as he should get his breakfast. He had partially agreed to go up the night previous and stop over to Mr. Griffin's and come down with them after dinner to church. Mr. Griffin's farm is about three miles west of Omaha, very pleasantly situated on the high and rolling prairie, and like all the prairie of Nebraska, beautiful beyond description. We had a delightful walk, found the family a very agreeable one, consisting of Mr. and Mrs. Griffin, two sons and two daughters, the oldest a boy near fourteen. Go wherever you will among Nebraska pioneers and you will find intelligence and refinement equal to the eastern states, and Mr. Griffin's family was no exception. They seemed much pleased with our visit as they have few neighbors. Our dinner was a grand one. The three most important articles in the bill of fare, to suit my taste, was strawberries and cream, green peas and Dutch cheese. Mr. G. has some 340 acres of land, ten of which is timber, all paid for and not a foot of waste land in the lot. In five years it will be as great a fortune as any man wants or at least ought to have. I got some ideas about how to manage my farm.
Soon after reaching Mr. G's, I notice the children coughed a good deal. I made bold to inquire the cause, which was answered thus: Lutherra, the oldest girl, about eleven, went down to Omaha to get subscribers for the Casket and Home and brought back a club of sufficient to entitle her to a premium, and also brought home the measles, which the last ones that had it was just recovering from. Here on the wild prairies of Nebraska, I found the Home and Casket, farther west than I expected to find it. They were pleased to learn I was the Mr. Beadle whose name was on the books.
At about three o'clock p.m., after the pleasantest kind of a time with a pleasant family, we left with the family who came down to church in their double wagon. Again I must say I cannot make it seem to me that this is a new county but about three years since the first settlement was commenced in the Territory.
At our levee, we found the steamer Council Bluffs on our return.
Monday, June 29
Remained at Omaha during the forenoon, expecting important letters. After dinner, went up to Saratoga, where I found a number of persons wanting lots who were on hand with lumber to commence building. The family occupying my office had got into a house of their own. And the office was occupied by a Mr. Keller and Mr. Gray who were keeping bachelor's hall while they are erecting their buildings. Gray & Keller came on with Mr. Tuttle's party. They are from Little Falls, N. Y.
Steamer Alonzo Child in.
Tuesday, June 30
Immediately alter breakfast, went up to Saratoga. Had a meeting of the company at the Central House. I was solicited to take the office of Postmaster in Saratoga, but declined for reasons just and sensible.
The furniture for the Central House came yesterday on the steamer Alonzo Child and is being arranged in the House preparatory to the arrival of the landlord, who is expected about the 4th of July. The company's meeting adjourned to meet tomorrow over to the Bluffs. Returned to Omaha after donating two lots. Found a letter under date of June 15th from wife and daughter, also one from Mr. Warner, who had arrived home safe but very much exhausted.
The steamer E. A. Ogden in.
Wednesday, July 1
Spent this day at Council Bluffs in a meeting of the S. S. L. Co. Returned between five and six p. m. Found my friend S. M. Hall in town, also John L. Beadle, who is now making his home at Bellevue. He is a very pleasant man, is a descendant from the same parent stock, some over one hundred years back-too distant, however, to claim a relationship. His great-grandfather and my grandfather were probably cousins.
The Estabrook family have gone this evening to an Episcopal fair. My inclinations are not in that direction.
Thursday, July 2
Went to Saratoga, rode up with General Estabrook's family and the Hon. Judge Black, who were going to Florence. From the General's, we drove up to "Pioneer Block," where we took in the Judge. Were obliged to wait for the general to transact some business. Our position was directly in front of Armstrong & Clark's store, at which place was Miss Clark standing in the door of the store. This was the first time I had a fair view of Miss Clark by daylight, and the more I saw of her the more I thought I saw a resemblance to my wife.
At Saratoga spent most of the day with a Mr. Patrick, one of the Executive Committee. Mr. Patrick was presented last evening with a son, the first child born in Saratoga. He is entitled to a center lot.
The steamer Minnehaha is in this evening.
Friday, July 3
Remained in Omaha until middle afternoon transacting business with Mr. Hall, then rode up to Saratoga with Mr. Tuttle and some men from Pittsburgh who are going to build largely in Saratoga. At Saratoga we found the Central House arranged for a dance which was to come off this evening, being the commencing exercises for the 4th. Returned to Omaha with Mr. Hall who had come up with his team, in time for a late supper about nine o'clock. Judge Black and myself took the General's horse and buggy and rode up to the "Central House," Saratoga, to the dance. Found the dancing hall filled to the utmost of its capacity. Council Bluffs, Iowa, Florence, Omaha, Plattsmouth, and Bellevue in this territory were all represented, comprising the elite of Nebraska. And I doubt if a more refined or intelligent assemblage could be got together in any of the eastern cities. Judge Black participated in the dance and became generally acquainted, while I, notwithstanding the urgent solicitations of my very few acquaintances, remained "An idle looker on in Venice," satisfied to make up my enjoyment of the evening in beholding others' enjoyment, and feasting from a distance on the attraction of Miss Clark, who on a close view did not bear the happy resemblance to my wife she did when distant the length of the Hall.
Soon after supper, a recess was taken in order to sweep the dancing floor, and we were obliged to occupy three of the reception rooms, bringing us into close quarters. Judge Black introduced me to several ladies during the recess, one of which, and the only one whose name I remember was Miss Dora Clark, the youngest sister of three Miss Clarks in attendance, the oldest one being the person who so much resembles my wife. An introduction to a few of the ladies, and the exhilarating effect of the supper and trimmings, made the balance of the evening pass off equally as agreeable as the first. I did not, however, make the acquaintance of the Miss Clark. Between two and three o'clock, the Judge and myself left the balance of the company to their own enjoyment and returned home.
Saturday, July 4
Got up to breakfast about 8 o'clock. The day was ushered in, as usual in the East, by firing a salute and ringing bells. A military company came over from the Bluffs and joined in our celebration, which was got up and went through with in the usual manner of such things. The oration was delivered by Judge Black in "Park Wild" Grove. Everybody "and the rest of mankind was there." The oration was extempore, and although the Judge is one of the best speakers, an occurrence took place which very much marred the whole proceedings. Respect to parties concerned prevents my placing on record the facts. Miss Clark was at the celebration and recognized by Mr. Tuttle as bearing a striking resemblance to my wife. So it cannot be attributed to her personal charms, sufficient to make my wife jealous if she does resemble her.
After the celebration was over, the streets were filled with men who began to feel the effects to too much strong drink. It is the besetting sin of Omaha; in fact all places on the river are notorious for habits of intemperance, and the young men are coming up with very immoral habits. Money is made easy and is spent freely.
After tea, I took a stroll up Capitol Hill and went on the top of the Capitol, which is approaching completion. Will be ready for a roof in a few days.
The steamer Ben Bolt came in this evening.
Sunday, July 5
This has been a very warm day and I have had but little time to write. Been quite busy in taking care of Judge Black, who is not well today and has required considerable attention.
Monday morning, July 6
My attention being so much occupied with the Judge, I have had time only to write a few lines in my diary. Probably can write some this evening. He is much better this morning. Must go up to Saratoga directly after breakfast.
E. F. Beadle
Monday evening, July 6
Spent most of the day at Saratoga. Returning, found the Judge nearly well. The steamer Emma came in and passed up.
Tuesday, July 7
Donated a large number of lots in Saratoga. We now have about fifty houses in town ready for occupation, and they are occupied, too. Wrote a number of letters this afternoon to Eastern parties. Among the number was one to Mr. Tuttle; also to G. B. Rich.
Wednesday, July 8
Immediately after breakfast walked up to Saratoga with a gentleman from Pittsburgh, Pa., who has six houses for Saratoga, 16 x 32 feet, two stories high. Selected lots for him and returned to Omaha at one o'clock p.m., having been on foot all the forenoon. Received a letter from Robert Adams, and a protest on one of the notes Mr. Wowzer gave me. Wrote half a dozen letters.
Toward tea time, the steamer Moses Greenwood came in, freighted mostly for Saratoga. Went down, found Mr. Killen the Pittsburgh man there. His buildings and men to put them up was on board the Greenwood. Having but little loading to put off at Omaha, I had no time to return for my supper and still go up on the boat to Saratoga. Accordingly, I took tea aboard. The Saratoga landing is but a mile or less above the Omaha landing. The captain says the Saratoga landing is as good as any on the river. He further says a bar is forming front of Omaha and in a year or two all boats must land at Saratoga with the Omaha freight. The Captain was delighted with the place. After tea, we went up on the table land by Pacific Avenue where we had a fine view of the town and the improvements. We then went to the Springs, where a demijohn from the boat was filled with water from the Sulphur Springs.
The party that went up to the Spring was about twenty in number, including Captain Thomas, crew, and passengers. All expressed themselves delighted with what they saw and will speak of Saratoga as it is, among their craft.
The Moses Greenwood is the second steamer that ever landed at Saratoga, and the first one to break the stillness of the atmosphere by her steam whistle. She went through all the preliminary signals and et ceteras of landing at a large city. I claim to be the first person of the Sulphur Springs Land Co. that ever landed from a steamer at Saratoga. The freight of the Moses Greenwood was mostly lumber and building materials. She discharged forty-one thousand feet of lumber, forty-two thousand shingles, and doors, windows, and hardware to match. Did not get all off until eleven o'clock, but the moon was in its full and it was a delightful evening and the time passed rapidly. During which I gassed some. Judge Black left on the Moses Greenwood who stopped only about an hour at the city of Omaha.
Thursday, July 9
Four months this morning since I left for this place. Got up this morning before the sun and wrote. Among the peculiarities of the climate of this country over the East where I have resided is this, notwithstanding we have hotter weather here, there always is a breeze during the day to rarify the atmosphere, and the evenings are cool and delightful beyond description, and one can sleep comfortable under a sheet and light quilt, awakening in the morning completely refreshed and invigorated. On the contrary, in the East during the months of July and August, the nights are as hot as the days, and one gets up in the morning completely exhausted. This I consider a great advantage, but is small compared to some of the natural advantages of this Great Country west of the "Big Muddy."
We find the steamer Admiral in this morning.
After breakfast, went up as usual to Saratoga. Called on Mr. Tuttle and the Zollars, who are occupying Mr. Tuttle's house-the old Izard place built and occupied first by Governor Izard. Tuttle calls the place "Grandmother Izard's." Stopped and gassed some with Tuttle. The steamboat landing last evening at Saratoga and what the Captain said set us to gassing some.
Returning from Saratoga at noon, found a letter from Brother Frank which was very interesting to me. Figured during most of the afternoon with our Pittsburgh man and succeeded in making a trade that pleased me. Wrote to Frank and spent the evening with Cook. Thus this day closed. In addition to the Admiral, we have at the landing the steamers Col. Crossman and the Watossa. How soon, if ever, is a wonderment to me, that I shall be watching the arrivals of the steamers to see my family.
New material © 2000 by David L. Bristow
“One thing Omaha cannot boast of and that is good-looking women.”