Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sunday Stories: James M. and Gertrude (Essex) Armstrong

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

James M. Armstrong was born in Davenport, Nebraska, July 2, 1888, the son of Winfield Scott and Ellen (Beck) Armstrong. His father worked for the railroad. James left home at the age of 14, working at various jobs. His main interest always being in sales. He was one of the first employees of the Omaha Electric Company, a barber, managed grain elevators and owned one of the first cars in his county.

Gertrude (Essex) Armstrong was born inGage County (near Beatric), Nebraska, October 1899 to Omer and Elizabeth Dinsmore Ellinger Essex.

Jimmie and Gertrude were married in Smith Center, Kansas, November 28, 1922. After living in small towns in eastern Nebraska, they moved west for Jimmie’s health, settling in Curtis, where they operated cafes and Jimmie sold insurance and umpired baseball games. Their daughter, Illa Mae, was born in Curtis on February 9, 1926.

In 1930, the family moved to Denver where they operated a grocery store. In January 1931, they moved to Flagler, Colorado, where Jim operated a lunchroom and Gertrude made the pies. They again returned to Curtis in 1931, again operating cafes. Illa Mae attended elementary school in Curtis, receiving the National Honor Society Pin in 1939 for the highest grade point average of that year.

Selling their restaurant in 1939, they came to Sutherland in August where they opened a small café by the Co-Op Service Station, continuing there until 1943. Jimmie was then working to establish an Allis-Chalmers Agency. He had been selling through the Ogallala agency. He had worked in Omaha in the parts department during the First World War.
Illa Mae attended four years at Sutherland High, graduating in 1943 as Salutatorian. She was active in Pep Club, mixed choir, girls choir, class plays and other activities. She was a member of the Methodist Church and Theta Rho.

In 1945, Illa Mae went to Boise, Idaho to attend Junior College (now Boise State). Her parents closed the café and Gertrude then managed the White Motel for Connor White, Jimmie had established ‘Armstrong Implement Company’ south of the railroad tracks.

Illa Mae received her diploma from BJC in 1945 and transferred as a junior to the University of Denver where she received her B.S. in 1947. She was a member of the Phi Chi Theta professional sorority.

Jimmie was a long time member of the I.O.O.F. having gone through the chairs in 1929. In Sutherland he owned a plane enabling him to deliver implement parts in the Sandhills. Friends piloted the plane. He also checked attendance at the Star Theatre.

Gertrude was a faithful member of the Methodist Church, receiving her 50-year pin. After the restaurant was closed, she devoted a great deal of her time to the church.

Jimmie and Gertrude retired in 1957, selling the Implement business to Bernard Gummere, Jimmie continuing in auto sales. He passed away October 8, 1971 and is buried in the Sutherland Cemetery. He was a “dyed in the wool” Nebraskan and always enjoyed living in a small town, fishing in the reservoir, etc.

Gertrude enjoyed needlework, singing and cooking. She preceded Jimmie in death on November 9, 1970, and is also buried in the Sutherland Cemetery. Jimmie’s grandmother was a cousin to Stonewall Jackson.

Submitted by Illa Mae Armstrong Imroth

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sunday Stories: Harvey James Applegate

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

Born January 16, 1907 (Died, Sutherland, Nebraska April 10, 1996 – All of the writing in this article is his, except for notes in parentheses, as of 1991). At the age of 34 years, married Geraldine Russell, who was born March 26, 1912. Geraldine was born and raised in the Tecumseh, Nebraska area, attended Peru State Teachers College. She taught school five years in Filley, Nebraska, and two years at Gisert. She then came to Sutherland and taught in the Elementary schools for District #55. She passed away June 8, 1984.
Harvey and Geraldine Applegate
Three children were born to this union: James Harvey, John Russell (b. Jun. 28, 1944 d. Jun. 20, 2003), and Emily “Susan” Kerley (b. May 25, 1945 d. Sep. 23, 2002) who is now living in Sacramento, California.

I went to the first through the sixth grades at Excelsior School located south of Sutherland. Then came to town school for the seventh grade, went back out to Excelsior for the eighth and ninth grades. Graduated from Sutherland High School in 1926.

Bessie McIntire was my first teacher at Excelsior. Other teachers were Mary Brown, Bessie Miller, Marie McQuire, Mildred Applegate, Hildred Applegate, Margie Mapes, Mrs. McKinely, Mrs. Martin, Naomi Reynolds, and Bertha Johnson. Mrs. Bertha Johnson taught every one of the Applegate children in one school or the other, or somewhere along the line of the education process.

In approximately 1923-1925, my father commenced to buy land up in the Sandhills. At that time had cattle on the leased Henry Olson place where Mel Lake lived. After graduating from High School, I stayed out at the “South Place” for a short time, then on Thanksgiving Day, in 1927, I went to the Sandhills and I have made my home there ever since.

I lived on the “Attebury Place”, Section 2 of T-15-N, R-34-W. Was there until I moved up on the hill on the Section 36, T-16-N, R-34-W, this is catty-corner from where Harshfield’s loading chutes are now located. On March 26, 1931, John Gaiser, a bachelor, died; Mart and Helen Mathers lived and used the Gaiser place. Mathers went back up to Trego’s place; so I moved onto the Gasier Place and finished out Mather’s term.

This is Section 10,T-15N, R-34-W. IN 1933 we purchased the place and is now (1991) the home of James and his wife, Gail.

There is a distance of 12 miles from the North Platte River up to the Birdwood Creek. We purchased land in the middle of these two landmarks. Over the period of years, people lost their land, the banks and finance corporations would sell them out. Some of the people who stayed and toughed it out were the Harshfields, Greens, McLains, Muellers, Cokers, Tregos, McNeels, Orhlands, Lunkwitz, Cases and Brogans.

Twenty sections make up the Applegate holdings today, some of the people whose land became a part of the Applegate Ranch are McLain, the school section, Gaiser, Dancer, Olson, Hunkey, Kilpatrick, Attebury, Halstead, Lunkwitz, and Lake.

Geraldine and I moved to town in 1949 in a little house south of the railroad tracks, and in a few years moved to my current home where I have lived for 25/30 years.

I am a member of the Methodist Church, Nebraska York Rite of Freemasonry of North Platte, Tehama Temple A.A.O.N.M.S. of Hastings, Nebraska. Was a 50-year crop reporter for the Department of Agriculture, received the Beaver Award-Boy Scouting on March 27, 1977, Grand Marshal of the Sutherland 4th of July parade, and received my Admiralship of the Great Navy of the State of Nebraska in November 1984.


Mr. Applegate is the benefactor of the “APPLEGATE SCHOLARSHIP” given each year to one of the Sutherland High School Graduating Seniors. He is a kind, warm-hearted man, and is the first to help out if someone is in trouble. There was no other calling for this intelligent man, who made substantial returns for his time and money invested in his ranching and commercial businesses. He has always been willing to exert himself to keep abreast of the times to realize a profit on his investment of time and money. ~Claudia Eberly

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sunday Stories: Lincoln Colfax Applegate

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

Born August 14, 1866 in Marion County, Iowa; the son of George Washington and Mary J. (Pallin) Applegate. (On December 2, 1912, early in this series, I posted the story of George W. Applegate, the first Applegate in Sutherland.)
He remained in Marion County, where he acquired an education and assisted his father until 1886. While his parents had already moved to Lincoln County, he stayed on in Marion County, Iowa until the spring of 1886.

After his arrival in the region, he homesteaded a quarter section of land, proved up on his claim, and placed it under cultivation. In the meanwhile, some of his neighbors became unwilling to continue their efforts on account of the hardships which always prevail in a new district; and he added to his holdings at a higher price until in 1920 he had 3,000 acres on which he had made all of the improvements himself. Lincoln married Emily S. Richards who was born July 15, 1875, on November 24, 1897 in Cheyenne, Wyoming. She was born in Wisconsin, but had moved to Keith County with her parents, Edward E. and Mary Jane (Tunstall) Richards, both natives of England. Emily Susan Richards passed away February, 1963.

There were eight children in the Richards family.

Lincoln engaged in general farming and stock raising and was very successful up to the time of his death on November 1, 1944.

Lincoln and Emily became the parents of the following children: Mary, Laura, Ellen, Harvey, Clarence, Elizabeth, Woodrow, Jeanette, Walter, and Francis and Chauncey, both of whom died in infancy.

He was a member of the Episcopal Church, and a member of the school board of District No. 27, also known as Excelsior School.

The following is a short history of the Applegate children. Mary married Marion Brown, and their children are Tom, Georgia, Robert (Bob), Lucille, and James. Mary passed away in 1989.
Laura was born on April 18, 1902, and married Norris Anderson, who was from South Dakota. They had no children. Laura died on August 3, 1944 with complications of emphysema. She’s buried in the Sutherland Cemetery. Laura taught the Anderson School south of Maxwell for approximately one year, then attended business school in Denver, Colorado. In approximately 1925 she moved to California where she studied to become a nurse, embarking in the nursing profession at the Methodist Hospital in Los Angeles, California.

Ellen was born on August 29, 1903. She graduated from the Sutherland School in approximately 1922. She never married. She taught school at the Boyle School, and at the Bussmer School north of Sutherland. She moved to California and continued teaching at the Herbert Hoover High School in Glendale, California. She is now (1991) living in a retirement home in Yountville, California.
Clarence was accidently electrocuted south of Sutherland in September 1956.

Woodrow lived up in the Sandhills after the war, but did not like it there and moved to North Platte. He sold his property when he became ill with Multiple Sclerosis. He then moved to Old Mexico to be in the warm weather year around. He died in 1981 and is buried in the Sutherland Cemetery.
Elizabeth married Alvin Hahn also from South Dakota and he was a cousin of Norris Anderson who married Laura.

Jeanette married Walter Quillin from Grand Island and she is living in Grand Island today (1991).

Harvey was born on January 16, 1907.

Walter was born in 1916, and was killed in a construction accident in San Francisco, California. He preceded Woodrow in death.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Sunday Stories: Claretta (Shuler) and Peter Laboranti Family (Class of 1945)

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

Peter Laboranti was born June 24, 1925 to Angelo Laboranti (1899-1966) and Mary (Dolf) Laboranti (1899-1973) in New York City. They emigrated from northern Italy and married July 20, 1924. Peter grew up on the streets playing a game called stick ball. He attended Aviation High School, then began work for United Airlines in 1944. He served in the U.S. Army Air Force (1945-1947) stateside and in Germany, returning to United Airlines following discharge.

Claretta (Shuler) Laboranti was born December 21, 1926 in the living room of Oscar and Nora Shuler. Their farmhouse was built on ruts of the Oregon Trail southwest of Sutherland.
As mentioned in the earlier Shuler story (see link above), this is the house my (Seifer) family moved to when we moved to "town" from the Sandhills in the early 1970'2.

Claretta spent her first 14 years attending school, doing evening chores of picking cobs from the pig pen for the kitchen cook stove, carrying wood for the heating stove, putting grain in the horses feed box and hay in the mangers and checking to be sure the windmill was running to fill the tank for the evening’s rush of livestock that lowered the level fast. Our goldfish swam near the bottom.

Social activities were few. Sunday school and 4-H club that helped teach us cooking and sewing, were held in the schoolhouse. It was usually a long walk to these activities as the saddle horse was not always available.

The four Shuler children, Mervan, Cleo, Merna and Claretta, attended District 18 – West Fairview School as did an older cousin, Helen Stedman, who lived with them after the death of her parents. Once a year the students put on a program which sometimes ended with a box social. The money collected from this auction would buy much needed supplies or a new bat and ball.

Summers were spent working in the hay fields. Large hats shaded our faces, our arms were covered with old cotton stockings to keep us from getting too sunburned. The burlap covered water jugs were nearly always empty by the time the haystack was topped and we headed home in the two wheeled cart that was used to pull the stacker cable that lifted the stacker load of hay, dropping it onto the haystack.

When Claretta entered Sutherland High School she resided with the E. H. Adee family for four years. She worked in their honey house during the summer.

Saturday night entertainment was either a dance at Jeffers Pavilion in North Platte or attending the Sutherland Theater after having a malt at Arnold Drug. We then walked home on dark streets as World War II brought the blackout and the ten o’clock curfew.

After graduation from S.H.S., Claretta spent a short time in Denver then moved to North Platte with her mother. Her father had passed away in 1942. She worked at O’Conner’s Dime Store for a time then attended a Communication School in Omaha. Ultimately she was employed by United Airlines at La Guardia Field in New York in 1946.

It was here she met her future husband, Pete. They were married in North Platte on October 30, 1948, returning to Woodside Long Island for the next eight years.

Pete continued to work for United Airlines. Claretta was employed by TWA for nine years. She commuted by subway into Manhattan to work on the 52nd floor of an office building.

In 1956 they moved to South Floral Park where Darla Marie was born January 19, 1959. In October of 1959 they moved to Garden City, Long Island, New York, where they resided for 25 years as Darla was growing up. After her graduation she attended the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Here she and daughter, Jennifer Marie (March 15, 1981) make their home.

In 1983, Peter and Claretta transferred to the San Diego area, moving into their Poway, California home. Pete retired in September 1984.

According to online obituaries, Claretta (Shuler) Laboranti passed away on July 22, 2006, and Peter P. Laboranti passed away on January 25, 2011 in Poway, California.