Sunday Stories: William F. Elfeldt

In recounting the history of the Snyder family in Lincoln and McPherson counties, I touched on the Elfeldt family, as one daughter, Alberta "Bertie", married Sutherland's Glenn Elfeldt and they made their home here their entire lives. That prompted this series recounting the origins of the Elfeldt family in our community.

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

William F. Elfeldt was born in Clayton County, Iowa, July 19, 1860. At the age of four years, he moved with his parents, to a farmstead in Minnesota. Four years later, in June 1868, they emigrated to Nebraska, and located in Lancaster County.

On September 1, 1882, he was united in marriage to Minnie C. Fisher of Crete, Nebraska. They were the parents of four children: Arthur, Ella, Effie, and Earl. The family grew up near Hallam, Nebraska. Before moving to Lincoln County, they lived for a short time in Beatrice, Nebraska, where William and son Arthur, had a grocery store and a restaurant.
In October 1911, William and his wife, Minnie, along with Arthur and his wife of one year, Edith, moved to the Sutherland area. They had bought a farm 12 miles southwest of Sutherland, which is still operated by Skip Elfeldt, who is the great grandson of William F. Elfeldt. This partnership was bought out by son, Arthur, in the early 1920s.

William was a life-time member of the Methodist Church, for years serving as Sunday School Superintendent, Sunday School teacher, and church treasurer. He was always very interested in the welfare of the church, and financially helped build churches in different communities.

For several years, he was engaged in general merchandise business from which he retired in 1926. He served as Village Clerk and Police Judge in Sutherland for two terms, and was always interested in public improvements in Sutherland.

Of William and Minnie’s family, only Arthur and Ella remained in Sutherland. Ella helped her father in the store while he owned it, and later was cook and dietitian at the Russell Hospital. “Art”, as most people knew him, remained on the farm southwest of Sutherland until he retired in 1942, when he and his wife, Edith, moved into Sutherland.

Art and Edith had four children, Glenn, Marie, Beulah, and Carl. Glenn and his family came back to Nebraska from Colorado to take over the farm business when Art retired.

William, or “Bill” as his friends knew him, was a person who appeared very stern most of the time, but he had a good sense of humor under that stern exterior. He could tell stories to his grandchildren that were never forgotten, and were only figments of his imagination. He loved mules and bought his last “span” of mules just a few years before he died. He used them to mow grass, and was so proud to be seen driving them. The following is a quote from a letter written to his granddaughter in 1932, “When Minnie and I were young, we did not have a “whoopee” Ford, but SAY, we had a nice young span of bay mules, new harness, and a new wagon and good health.” Also, in the same letter, he wrote, “Oh, it has been such a lovely day.”

He and Minnie took trips to Montana, Colorado, and Texas in their Model T Ford Coupe. One card that the folks at home received while they were traveling related that they had driven 125 miles in ONE DAY. Quite an accomplishment in those days.

William F. Elfeldt died on August 9th, 1938.


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