Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday Stories: From Scotland to Sutherland

The stories of our forebears always fascinate me. In looking through the Sutherland Centennial book, published in 1991, I realized how many incredible stories of hardship, perseverance, joy and loss there are to be told. This is one of those stories.

James Brownlee Beveridge, was born March 12, 1886 in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania. He was the youngest of 10 children born to George and Grace Weir Beveridge who came to the United States from Hamilton, Scotland in 1868. In Scotland they had rented out horses and mules. George came to America first, followed by Grace a few months later with three children. Another child was born on shipboard enroute.
Hamilton, Scotland circa late 1800's

At the time Grace and George left Scotland, ten of George's brothers also left - some to the United States, others to Australia. Though he often tried, George was never again able to locate any of them.

James came to Nebraska in 1902 at the age of 16 from Nanticoke, PA where he and his brother John had worked in the coal mines. He arrived by train at Paxton, then walked to the old Stone Ranch where his brother George, whome he had never seen,  lived. George was the child of Grace and George who had been born aboard ship enroute from Hamlin, Scotland to the United States. His official birthplace was: "The U.S.S. Iowa, New York Harbor". He was, therefore, christened George Iowa Beveridge.

James stayed in Nebraska only a short time before going back to Pennsylvania. He returned to Nebraska in 1904. He farmed with his brother Tom, worked for other farmers and, in about 1907 or 1908, helped lay the grade of the O'Fallons branch railroad. He worked 12 hours a day, six days a week, plus feeding the horses on Sunday. The pay was $25 per month.

In 1908 he homesteaded about ten miles south of Sutherland. He bought some land and rented another section. The homestead still remains in the Beveridge family today.

In 1910 James was able to send for his bride-to-be, Mary Mae (Maymie) Griffith, or Nanticoke, Pennsylvania. She came by train to North Platte. They drove to the Methodist church where they were married September 14, 1910. They departed at once, cross country by buggy, for the homestead.

The city bred bride, who had run a hat shop and sang with the Welsh Singers, suffered a great deal of cultural shock. She was horrified at the use of cow chips for fuel, especially for cooking. She was later to laughingly remark that she became so accustomed to them that she could toss them into the stove with one hand and eat with the other. She was also terrified, at first, at the sound of coyotes howling at night and was often lonely so far from her family.

They raised cattle, hogs, horses and mules. Mules are not known for their sweet dispositions and James had the top of one ear cleanly clipped when kicked by a testy mule.

1913 Blizzard in Denver, CO which dropped
nearly 48" of snow
They came through the blizzard of 1913 without loss. Struggling through the snow and wind, they got many of the animals in the barn and the rest sheltered by windbreak. Many of their neighbors were less fortunate and James and Maymie later picked up bones from neighboring ranches and sold them at Sutherland. The bones were also a source of fuel.

Times were hard. Interest, if one could find someone with money to lend, was 12% to 14%. The Coker store carried many ranchers and farmers a year at a time. At one time James had only one shirt which Maymie would wash each night.

The Beveridges gave the school district the land for a school which, 5 years later, the district being dissolved, they bought back.

James and Maymie left the farm in 1918. James ran the Farmer's Elevator in Sutherland until the dust became a health problem. In about 1922 they moved to North Platte where James first worked for the Union Pacific Railroad and later became a real estate broker. Mary Mae died in 1969 at the age of 83 and James died in 1979 at the age of 93.

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