Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sunday Stories: William R. “Rance” and Lillian (Pierson) Humphrey Family

Excerpted from the Sutherland Centennial 1891 – 1991, published in 1991.

William Ransalaer Humphrey (Rance), the son of Benonia and Elizabeth (Osenbaugh) Humphrey, was born on January 27, 1877 in Maroa, Illinois. He moved with his parents and the rest of the family to Keith County in 1893, where they were early pioneer settlers. Their parents’ home was one of the few in this part of the county built from lumber, most of them being constructed of sod.

On January 27, 1904, Rance married Lillian Katheryn Pierson, daughter of John and Kathryn (Zimmerman) Pierson. As a young man, Rance enjoyed hunting wild game (prairie chickens, ducks and quail) to be shipped to eastern markets. The gun he used he gave to his grandson, Gary Wolff.

At the time of their marriage, Rance owned a Barber Shop in Ogallala, Nebraska. He had attended Barber College in Omaha, Nebraska. Lillian was a school teacher when they married. Following their marriage, they moved back to the home area to farm, and later moved into Sutherland, in 1907.

In 1924, they purchased his father’s home in north Sutherland. In 1931, they built a new modern home, the older house was moved to the north part of the acreage and rented. Their former home is now (1991) occupied by Mrs. Laura Woodard.
Rance and Lily were the parents of two children, William Melvin (May 5, 1905 to March 26, 1976 and Velda Merna Wolff, who at present (1991) lives in Hastings, Nebraska.

When Rance became ill, their home and acreage were sold, and Rance and Lily moved to Lexington to be closer to their son. Rance passed away on September 24, 1965, at which time Lily moved to Lexington to be closer to their daughter, Velda. Lily passed away in December 1969.


Both are buried in Riverview Cemetery, south of Sutherland.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sunday Stories: Barber Jim: James Fernando Humphrey

Excerpted from the Sutherland Centennial 1891 – 1991, published in 1991.

James F. Humphrey was born in Illinois on April 22, 1875 to Benonia and Elizabeth Humphrey. 

James died in January, 1936. His father Benonia, or Ben, as he was better known, was born in 1846 in Sidney, Ohio and died in 1922 in Sutherland, Nebraska. Jim’s mother, Elizabeth was born in 1855 in Hartford City, Indiana and died in 1918 in Sutherland. They had three sons, James, Rance and Elmer. Elmer died at the age of eighteen.
James, better known as Jim, married Irma Jane Pierson, May 3, 1900 in Paxton, Nebraska. They were the parents of four children, Harold Elmer, John Benonia, Howard James and Mirene Irma. Rance married Irma’s sister, Lilly Pierson and had two children, Melvin and Velda.

“Barber Jim” opened his first barber shop in Sutherland in December 1898. This shop consisted of one barber chair in the print shop where he worked. He placed an advertisement in the Sutherland Courier in May 1899 stating he was now an agent for the North Platte Steam Laundry and in January 1901 he was an agent for the Kearney Steam Laundry. In February 1902 Jim moved his barber shop across the street into a new building that he had moved from Elsie, Nebraska. This shop was located across the alley north of the present Post Office. At this time he began selling cigars, nuts and confectionery items as well as handling laundry for the North Platte Steam Laundry. In May 1905, “Barber Jim” installed one of the latest hydraulic chairs in his shop. This was a first for Sutherland.
In April 1908, an item in the Courier states that the showcases and confectionery outfit have been removed from the “Whiskers Emporium” to make way for further improvements. In 1917, something new was added again, Dry Cleaning, as well as laundry was handled at the barber shop. Family washings were nine cents a pound, suits cleaned and pressed for $1.25.
Jim continued his business for a number of years until he moved into the new brick building he had built. This building was then moved to just west of the Myers Grocery store on the east-west street, west of the Farmers State Bank. A creamer was located in the old building until it was later moved once more to the southeast part of Sutherland.

The brick building had three businesses under one roof. The barber shop in the center, the north one was the post office for several years, and the south one was rented, mostly to drug stores.

This barber shop had three chairs. The regular customers each had their own shaving brush. The owner’s name was inscribed on each cup. There were also mugs for walk-ins. Three large mirrors mounted on the wall had a lot of ornate wooden frames. A marble shelf stretched across the bottom of the mirrors, and a smaller mirror was on the west end of the shop. Later there were three long, narrow mirrors just above the three wooden waiting benches. There was a large clock installed on the south wall, where anyone passing by could see the time.

Jim had other barbers working in the summer. Jim and Irma had an orchard with apple and cherry trees and berry bushes. They always had a large garden to tend to in the summer. You either canned the fruits, vegetables, and meat or you didn’t eat the next winter. By this time, Harold was doing part of the barbering. John and Howard were doing jobs around the shop like sweeping up the hair, cleaning the sink, bringing up the coal for the heating stove and taking out the ashes.

Several families in town had their own milk cow. To make things easier, these cows were herded together and taken out to pasture by various young boys in town. In the evening, the cows were located by the sound of a big cow bell hung around the neck of one of the cows. Then the boys again would bring “The Town Herd” as it was commonly called, back home, dropping them off at their rightful owners.

Jim always walked to and from work, no matter how hot or cold. He always walked like he was going to a fire. He took his lunch part of the time and always on Saturdays. The barber shop was a good warm place for the men to get together for a good man-to-man talk. The Humphreys lived in a house on west Locust Street.

Barbering wasn’t all done in the barber shop. The dirty towels were taken home to be washed and ironed. This was before electricity and with a push and pull wooden tub washer. The irons were called “Sad Irons” and were heated on a cook stove. This was fine in the winter, but pretty hot in the summer. Hanging the towels to dry in the winter was not fun either. They were frozen before you could get the clothes pins on them and you thought your hands were frozen too.

When we did get electricity, it was only on Monday and Tuesday mornings. There was no question as to when you washed and ironed. The electricity was turned on in the evenings again, with the generators being turned off about 10:30 or 11:00 p.m. There would be a little blink and you knew you had five minutes until you called it a day. We did not have the electricity twenty-four hours a day until about 1921… and this was what people call the “Good Old Days!”

In 1925, John B. Humphrey went to Moller Barber College. He worked with his father Jim until Jim’s death in 1936. John stayed in the barber shop until he hired out as a fireman on the Union Pacific Railroad in 1942.

In March 1939, the Humphrey’s sold the north building that housed the Post Office, to Ivan Gordon. Ivan and Clara Gordon installed a refrigerated Locker Storage Plant at that time. For $10.00 a year you could rent a refrigerated locker that would hold 225 pounds of frozen food or for $12.50 you could rent a larger drawer type locker that would hold 300 pounds of frozen items.

John B. Humphrey retired as an Engineer with the Union Pacific Railroad in November, 1971.
This is what we refer to as “The Good Old Days.” I have loved every minute of it. Of course, life is much easier now. John was eighty four in June 1990 and I (Lucille) was eighty two in September 1990. We celebrated our sixty third anniversary on June 6, 1990.


Submitted by Lucille Wilcott Humphrey and Charles and Marilyn Humphrey.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Sunday Stories: James F. and Irma Jane Humphrey Family

Excerpted from the Sutherland Centennial 1891 – 1991, published in 1991.

James Fernando Humphrey was born on January 22, 1875 to Benonia A. and Elizabeth (Osenbaugh) Humphrey near Weldon, Illinois. With his parents and two brothers, he came to Nebraska in 1893, settling on a farm in Lincoln County, southwest of Sutherland. In 1898, he located in Sutherland, starting a Barber Shop, in which business he continued until his death. This was one of the first businesses in Sutherland.
Irma Jane Pierson was born to John and Katheryn (Zimmerman) Pierson at Forest City, Illinois, on May 3, 1879. In 1882, the family moved to Nebraska, first to Colfax County and then to Keith County, southwest of Sutherland. Irma grew up here and taught school in Lincoln County prior to her marriage.
On May 3, 1900, James and Irma were married and moved into a house at what is now 1420 Locust in Sutherland.

At the time of their marriage their home was situated on a five-acre tract with irrigation rights. As was the custom, they grew and preserved most of their vegetables. They always had a milk cow and several hogs to provide milk and meat for their family.

Both Jim and Irma joined the Methodist Church at an early age, becoming active members. They were also active members of the I.O.O.F. and Rebecca Lodges. Jim was an elected member of the Village Board of Trustees and the School Board. When Irma had time for hobbies, she kept busy with Taxidermy, which she also taught to her children. Many products of this talent decorated their home and the Barber Shop. Irma, in later years, spent many hours crocheting.

Four children were born to this union, Harold on July 24, 1901, John on June 6, 1906, Howard on April 14, 1908 and Mirene on August 17, 1913. All four graduated from Sutherland Schools. The three boys all took their turn working in the barber shop while growing up. Harold and John both had shops of their own, Harold until 1953 when he retired and moved to the farm and John until 1941 when he took a job with the Union Pacific Railroad and moved to North Platte.

Harold married Edith Smith in 1921. They made Sutherland their home until Harold retired, at which time they moved to their farm near Sarben. Edith returned to Sutherland following Harold’s death.

John married Lucile Wilcott in 1927. They are still living in North Platte. Two of their sons also live there.

Howard married Lula Owen in 1929. They moved to Colorado where their family grew. Howard passed away in 1956. Lula still resides in Colorado.

Mirene married Richard Furze in 1936. They lived in South Dakota and were the parents of two sons. Mirene passed away in 1982.

Submitted by Charles J. Humphrey

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Sunday Stories: Joseph and Louisa Humphrey

Excerpted from the Sutherland Centennial 1891 – 1991, published in 1991.

Joseph Henry Humphrey was born April 19, 1863 in Shelby County, Ohio. His parents were Mary Elizabeth and James DeWayne Humphrey. At the age of four years he moved with his parents to Moroa, Illinois, where he grew to manhood.
In 1893 he and his family came to Nebraska. Coming in an immigration car with the family in one and their household goods and livestock in the other end. They resided south of Paxton for several years. He met and married Louisa Katie Refior, who was born May 29, 1873, in Lee County, Iowa. Her parents were Catherine Anerheimer and George Refior.

At the age of 11 years, she moved with her parents to a homestead twelve miles southwest of Paxton where she grew up.

She taught school for several years. Soon after her marriage to Joe, they move to the Sutherland area and later built a home in the west part of Sutherland, where they lived their remaining years. They farmed for a living. They were the parents of four children: Clara, Myrtie, George and Katie. Two are still living (1991), Clara Sanderson of Rapid City and Katie Vanarsdall of Portland, Oregon.


At an early age they joined the Methodist Church and were faithful to the end.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sunday Stories: James Wesley and Geneva Arizona “Zonie” Humphrey

Excerpted from the Sutherland Centennial 1891 – 1991, published in 1991.

Geneva A. Knowles with her parents, twin baby brothers and other siblings came by covered wagon from their homestead in Missouri, to the promising plains near Sutherland, Nebraska.

James Wesley Humphrey was born in Shelby County, Ohio on November 28, 1852, moved to Illinois at the age of 13 and grew to manhood there. He moved to Nebraska in 1892 with his mother and brother, Joe. He and his brother bought a pre-emption on the south side.
“Zonie” and Wes were married December 19, 1894 at her parents’ home. Due to a point of legality as to whether the house stood in Lincoln County or Keith County soil, the ceremony took place in the cornfield, as they had a Keith County marriage license.

Grandmother became well known as an accomplished seamstress. She also became popular as the Midwife of the community, delivering or assisting with the arrival of countless babies. No, she was not “certified” by today’s strict laws, but she was above reproach. She was certified in competence, availability, cleanliness, generosity and love.

Though of slight build, Grandpa was stalwart – thwarting doctors’ plans to amputate his broken leg when he was 26 years old. He recovered from this without a limp. He chucked dental visits, extracting his own teeth with pliers. He triumphed over sieges of hemorrhaging carbuncles and of pleurisy. He received his only injection of medication on his last earthly day, at half-past 89.

Zonie and Wes were the parents of six children. Richard was born September 13, 1895. He married Edna Johnson from Julesburg, Colorado on June 25, 1925. They had two daughters, Ardis and Virginia. Ardis married Elmer Ward and they had four children. Ardis and Elmer are both deceased and buried in Omaha, Nebraska. Virginia is living in North Platte, Nebraska. Dick and Edna are both deceased and buried in the Sutherland Cemetery.

Berth A. was born November 2, 1897 and married Clarence Pueppka on May 20, 1914. They had four children: Edward (Bus), Lloyd, Helen and Darlene. Bertha and Clarence are both deceased and buried in the Sutherland Cemetery.

Nellie F. was born September 24, 1899 and married Orvel Sanders on February 3, 1920. They had three children: Wayne, Doris and Gordon. Alva is deceased and buried in the North Platte Cemetery. Hazel resides in North Platte.

Frank was born June 12, 1906 and married Sylvia Burnside. They had three children: Robert (Bob), Roland (Bill) and Rodger. Frank passed away on July 20, 1979 and is buried in the Sutherland Cemetery.

Floyd was born on January 9, 1908 and married Nina Willcott on December 8, 1928. They had one daughter, Arlene. Floyd was accidentally killed in a farm accident on February 24, 1931. He is buried in the Sutherland Cemetery.

The Wes Humphrey family farmed southwest of Sutherland, moving into town in 1927. Wes passed away on March 12, 1942. Geneva died September 11, 1949. Both are buried in the Sutherland Cemetery.


While living on the farm they were very active in Pleasant Hill Sunday School. They were charter members of the Sutherland Methodist Church.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sunday Stories: Benonia Ausbury and Elizabeth (Osenbaugh) Humphrey Family

Excerpted from the Sutherland Centennial 1891 – 1991, published in 1991.

Several weeks ago, I posted the first story of the Humphrey family transcribed from the Sutherland Centennial History Book, then didn't return to the family history. Today's post is the second installment of the Humphrey family history. 

Benonia “Ben” Ausbury Humphrey, the son of James D. and Mary E. Humphrey, was born on February 18, 1846 at Sidney, Shelby County, Ohio, one of 11 children. At the age of 21 years, he moved from Ohio to Mount Pulaski, Illinois.

Elizabeth Osenbaugh, the third child of John and Martha (Whitney) Osenbaugh, was born on a farm near Hartford City, Blackford County, Indiana, on March 7, 1855. She was five when the family made its brief move to Henry County, Missouri, to help “make it free from slavery”. Her father moved the family to Macon County, Illinois, where Elizabeth grew up.

Ben and Elizabeth were married on March 8, 1874, at Maroa, Macon County, Illinois. They farmed near Weldon in Dewitt County, Illinois, where their first son, James Fernando Humphrey was born on April 22, 1875. They returned to Maroa, Illinois, where their son, William Ransalaer (Rance) was born on January 27, 1877. The third and last child, Charles Elmer, known as Elmer, was born on February 3, 1882.

The family moved to a farm south of Paxton, Nebraska, in 1893. Most homes in the early years were made of sod, however, Ben shipped the lumber and windows by rail from Illinois, for a home made of lumber.

The youngest son, Charles Elmer, passed away on November 14, 1900, at the home, and is buried in Riverview Cemetery in Sutherland.

Because of Elizabeth’s failing health, the couple moved into Sutherland and built a home that is still in existence in the north part of town. In later years they lived with their son, Rance, and his family.
Elizabeth died at home in Sutherland, on July 5, 1918, and Ben passed away in Sutherland, March 11, 1922. Both are buried in Riverview Cemetery.


They were among the earliest settlers, their “homestead” one of the first. The two surviving sons, both moved to Sutherland and raised their families. Ben’s two brothers, James Wesley and Joseph H. Humphrey, were some of the early settlers.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sunday Stories: John Dudley and Cora Mathers Stewart, Harry Gene Stewart

Excerpted from the Sutherland Centennial 1891 – 1991, published in 1991.

John Dudley Stewart was born on April 16, 1918 to Harry McElroy and Mary Francis (Johnson) Stewart, at their farm home west of Sutherland, Nebraska.
He attended a country school and then the Sutherland Public School, graduating with the class of 1935. He helped his father on the farm until March 1942 when he enlisted in the United States Army.
Cora Mathers was born June 25, 1918 to John and Rosa Bell Mathers at their farm home southwest of Paxton, Nebraska. She attended the Paxton Public School, and graduated with the class of 1936. Cora worked at a local café, and Hehnkes Store, and was a Postal Clerk at the Paxton Post Office.

Cora and Dudley were married in Abilene, Texas on June 6, 1942. After Dudley’s discharge from the Air Force, they returned to Sutherland, where he was engaged in farming with his brother, Harry Gene.

Dudley was Past Master of the Sutherland Lodge #299 AF and AM, Past Patron of the Platte Valley Chapter #305, EOS. He was a member of the Sutherland School Board for a number of years and was an Elder in the Presbyterian Church.

Cora was Past Matron of Platte Valley Chapter #305 EOS, Deacon in the Presbyterian Church, Member of the Genburnie Extension Club, and 4-H Club Leader.

Dudley became seriously ill in February, 1962 with the influenza, and after an extended illness, died in the Sutherland Hospital, August 13, 1962. After Dudley’s death, Cora accepted a position in the Sutherland Post Office. She also worked in the North Plate Post Office. Cora was appointed Postmaster of the Sutherland Office, August 11, 1979, and retired October 28, 1983.

Dudley and Cora had four children: Edyth Ann, born in 1947; Mary Jane born in 1951; John Dennis, born in 1953; and Carol Ina, born in 1955.

Note: Cora Stewart passed away on Saturday, October 17, 2009.

Harry Gene Stewart

Harry Gene Stewart was born April 23, 1925, at the farm home of his parents, harry M. and Mary F. Stewart, northwest of Sutherland. He attended school in Sutherland and graduated in 1943. Throughout school he excelled in sports and singing. A bout with polio limited his sporting endeavors but his singing continues to delight all that know him. After graduation, Harry Gene joined his father in farming the home place and the Tracy farm west of Sutherland. He married Ruth Hazel Coker on January 1, 1947 at the Presbyterian Church. They have three children: Peggy Jean, born in 1948, Harry Michael born in 1950, and Timothy James born in 1955. Harry Gene is Past Master of the Sutherland Lodge #299 AF and AM. He has been for many years, and is currently Worthy Patron of Platte Valley Chapter #305, EOS. Harry Gene is an elder at the First Presbyterian Church in Sutherland and continues to live on the farm where he was born.


Note: Harry Gene Stewart passed away on November 12, 1998. 

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