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Past, Present and Perspective

Some twenty years and over I camped across the Blue
Twelve houses big and little were all that were in view.
Orr Stevens tried to sell me the quarter by the bridge
That stretches from the river, clear up along the ridge.
He asked two hundred dollars, I had it in my purse
But didn’t think those sandbars were worth a single curse.
I failed to see a fortune in sandy knolls and scrub
Then drifted up in Jefferson, and settled down on Cub.
But now the place is covered with streets and structures fine
And Parker’s gaudy mansion, that might as well been mine.
And when I come to visit, or business calls me down
I want to hire someone to kick me over town.

Now comes our special roll-call, old settlers tried and true
But I will merely mention, those only whom I knew.
I know alas! That many will never answer more
They’ve crossed the mystic river and tried the other shore.
There was a walleye’d fellow, I think it was McMath
Who owned a little stone-house, I used to know the path,
He kept some pills and plasters, some paper pens and ink,
And when I learned the gamut, just when and how to wink
Could always for a quarter get something good to drink.

Joe Saunders kept a store-room, and Hazard helped him through
Reynolds, Townsend and Blakely were in the business too,
And Pease and Hinkle’s drugstore, was nobly neat and new,
Ford Roper run the grist-mill, store orders passed for cash
Snow pounded out our plow lays, George Hulbert furnished hash
From Flechers came chairs and tables, our bedsteads great and small
Pap Towle, our genial Postmaster was known and liked by all,
Ora Wadsworth tinkered watches, and sold us clocks and rings
Myers cobbled up our harness, our hardware came from Kings.

And still a little later, another blacksmith Shaw,
And Reynolds was our doctor, and Weston practiced law.
And then we had Cap Ashley, and able lawyer too
Who built a natty cottage in a corner up the Blue,
I met with Loren Coffin in Brownsville I believe
And when I got to Cub Creek, saw Rogers and John Sheve
I’ve taken many a supper, had many a hearty laugh
And punished lots of Lugar with honest old Joe Graff.
Our early friend Dan Freeman, got homestead Number One
And still another, Dan knows how it was done.
Still further up was Casey, whose land with theirs did join
And he had a standing quarrel with Titus and Gascoyne.
Bill Blakely had had a cabin and the doorway was so low
It shaved his lofty cranium and kept it always so
George Bailey and his father, and Whitmore lived near
And Uncle Sam Kilpatrick an old time pioneer.
No man I knew was purer, and few that were his peer,
For acts of loving kindness was always in the van
A loyal friend and father, a shrewd but honest man
And there was Grant and Plucknut, and one or two between
And steady old John Gilbert, and Triplet from Saline.

We hauled corn from Brownville, five days to make the trip
But if there was some hauling, we let no chances slip
To pay for tea and coffee and swell our bill of fare
For take it at the brightest, we hadn’t much to spare
But when we shot a chicken we thought we were in luck
And tried to stay our stomach with pigweed and such truck.
With thirty cents for bacon, potatoes out of sight
We found our daily ration monotonous and light
Just mush and milk for breakfast and ditto noon and night
Save when the wife got gruntled, and went to work to bake
And cut us out for wadding, some sort of pie or cake
We had no easy sailing but when our work was done,
Our neighbors all were social and we had lots of fun
We hauled for Pease and Hinkle (I’d like to do it still)
We had in every outfit a gimlet and a quill.

Now farms that lay around us, and in the city bounds
Laid out in streets and town-lots, in parks and pleasure grounds
And yet the circle widens, the cry is still more room
To satisfy newcomers, and punctuate our Boom.
And what a glorious prospect if we can get the land
With Prussia in our suburbs, and Russia close at hand
See how our merchant-Princes, are coming to the front
How gallantly they shoulder, the burden and the brunt
If every scheme that promises to make their business hum,
They sow their seed in seed-time and watch the harvest come
And by the end of next decade, and possibly before
These businessmen will rusticate in Lincoln and Wymore
Three railroads in the City, and booming us along
And many more on paper, give indications strong
All scheming for a bonus before they venture in
But don’t you think we’ve voted as much as we can chin?
Our factory for canning has proved grand success
Is pointed as standard by patrons and the press.
Electric lights are making our nights as bright as day
Our water-works are planted, our street-cars come to stay
And sewerage and paving will soon be under way
Six papers now are issued, all lively, full of spice
Two dailies and the Tribune are readable and nice
The women’s time that’s coming will end in triumph, when
They drop the short haired women and the twaddy long horn men
In law we have our quota, some mighty would-be big wigs
Like Ashby, Tait and Colby, and Hazlet, Bates and Griggs.

Our doctors are afflicted with idleness and ease
We’re so confounded healthy, no physic and no fees.
With lots of garbled nonsense that floods our weekly news
Some Blathershite tries vainly to cultivate the Muse.
Can’t say how many churches, I’ve got no data near
But every blessed one has got some converts here.
Our schools are justly noted and judging by the fruit
We find the young idea is learning how to shoot.

Corn is King in Nebraska, the Crown Prince is the steer
Next in line of succession, the hog worth millions a year
There’s always room for workers, for muscle and for brain
And those who have some capital will search the State in vain
To find a better opening for safe and certain gain.
Come with your hogs and horses, your cattle and your sheep
Come with your sons and daughters, come while the land is cheap.
Six banks to do your business nor is it passing strange
There should be such a bustle around and in the Exchange
The Firm is famed for promptness, and dealing on the square
And seldom will you meet with a better business pair.
They have achieved a record too brilliant to surpass
Their abstracts simply faultless, their Titles are first class.
They deal in land and Town-lots, all kinds of real estate
Or if you want to borrow and get the lowest rate
Be sure you have good surety, then go to Grable and Tate.

Plymouth, Jefferson County, June 18, 1887.

Published: 26-Apr-2004