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.


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