50 Years Ago – The Virginians

By. Dr. W.A. Thomas

The Wilsons

There is one fact about John Wilson that we must not forget. Before he left Virginia he had married a Miss Wisecarver. To this circumstance, in some measure, the county is indebted for the presence of Johnson B. Wisecarver, usually called “Jack” Wisecarver, and his brother, Wade Hampton, more generally known as “Hamp” Wisecarver. We do not know that Jack was named for the president, Andy Johnson, but Hamp was undoubtedly named after the famous confederate general and senator of South Carolina. The elder of the two brothers, Johnson, came to this county in the fall of 1878. Perhaps the most notable fact in his career in this county was his victimization by the Nebraska Farm Loan & Trust company, whereby he found himself compelled to pay a mortgage on his farm twice. It is bad enough to pay a mortgage debt once in hard times. When it comes to paying twice with accumulated interest of ten years and costs, it becomes a pretty sore burden. Fortunately Mr. Wisecarver held his farm with a close grip until he was able to sell it two years ago for some eight or nine thousand dollars. Even then he sold it too cheap, as events demonstrated. But he was sagacious enough to invest a good part of the money received in other lands, so that he has been benefited by the general increase in the values of farm property. Mr. Wisecarver married Miss Olive Bean, daughter of the Rev. John Bean, who was so highly esteemed during his residence in the northwest portion of the county. There are two children from this marriage, Bertha, who is now Mrs. Bruce Payne, and the bright Rittlo Ethel, whom we permit almost anybody to endeavor to trip in spelling hard words. Since the sale of the farm Mr. Wisecarver has made his home in this city.

“Hamp” Wisecarver came to the county some years later. He married a Miss Holmes, a niece of Mrs. Arthur Wilson. (article missing) During the tabernacle meetings, it is related that one of the evangelists, seeing the abruption with which “Hamp” listened to the exercises, approached him and asked him if he did not think it was time for him to “give his heart to the Lord.” Without any intention of being offensive, “Hamp” replied, after considerable effort and delay, that he needed it for his own use at present. “Hamp” is now running a lunch counter in the city.

Another Wilson that we should have mentioned in connection with her brothers is Elizabeth, who became the wife of John Marker while in Virginia. The Markers followed the Wilsons to this county, where they lived in unassuming, industrious quietude until the election five years ago, when Miss Lizzie surprised a great many of the people by securing an election to the office of county superintendent, and demonstrated that the Virginia settlers possessed a culture that fitted them for any position. John Marker died three or four years ago, his widow and nine children surviving him. Lizzie is well known to our readers by reason of her four years occupancy of our highest educational position; Annie, nicknamed “Tishie,” is an accomplished stenographer in Minneapolis; John, the oldest boy, is managing the homestead; Dora and Carrie are each married and live just out of the county on the Blue; Albert is in California, and Ford and Lena are on the farm with their mother and John.

No account of the Virginians would be complete which omitted mention of the Paynes. The first to come was F.E., or “Ed” Payne. He arrived in 1877. His father, “Uncle Dick” Payne, came the next year, with his young son, Bruce, and his two daughters. “Uncle Dick” passed away many years ago. “Ed” has been something of a political storm center in Catherton township since his arrival. Before coming of G.P. Cather in 1873, the Norwegians, under the lead of one German, O. Lee, made a settlement on Thompson creek in Franklin county. They were located on lands by an old gentleman named Budlong. By him their corners were pointed out. As their Norwegian friends spread out to the east, they eventually met the Virginians spreading from the north and east. By this time the few (article missing) government corners that had been in the township, if any, had been obliterated, and a dispute arose concerning the lines which divided the people of the township, culminating in a new survey under the direction of a town meeting. There being no authority for such a survey, lawsuits arose which kept the two elements of the township, the Virginians and the Norwegians, in disquietude for some years. It fell to Mr. Payne’s lot to be the center of this controversy, his land being near the center of the township. Mr. Payne has also, from the organization of the populist party, been a warm and leading adherent to that party. He is consequently better known to the people of the county than most of the Virginians. While a strenuous fighter, he has never been accused of anything worse than obstinacy by his opponents, which is not the worst fault that could be laid to a man. Mr. Payne has one daughter, Miss Willella. Bruce Payne is a comparatively young man. He is a graduate of the Red Cloud public schools, and was a soldier in the Philippine war. He married Miss Bertha Wisecarver, and is at present in Herman, Nebraska.

The two daughters who came with “Uncle Dick” are now Mrs. Noah Harvey and Mrs. Finley Hale. Another daughter, Mary, is Mrs. Cooper. We have not the pleasure of an acquaintance with the Coopers and cannot relate any particulars concerning them in this issue.

One more Virginian deserves mention who is no longer a resident of the county, Mr. Will Matheney. Mr. Matheney married a Miss Andrews, a niece of Charles Cather. He sold his farm in this county a few months ago for over $9,000, and he is trying to live a life of comparative ease on his farm near Campbell.

We believe that we have enumerated all the Virginians who have ever settled in the neighborhood of Catherton. It must be admitted that there is a goodly number of them. It is not at all surprising that they thought themselves of consequence to build a church and christen it the New Virginia church.

There is one lot of Virginians which ought, perhaps, to be mentioned. The Rinkers also came from the Shenandoah valley, and were neighbors of the Cather and Lockharts. But they settled on Walnut creek. There were two brothers, Josiah and Galloway. Of Josiah, the elder, there were two sons, Clinton and Avilon. Clinton married the daughter of R.B. Fulton. She died within a few years after the marriage. Avilon is back on his father’s farm in Virginia. Galloway Rinker, who remained in this county longer than his brother or nephews, is now in Franklin, but Charles Rinker, his son, is still a resident of Walnut creek.

We have almost forgotten another Virginian who is one of the best known to the people of this city, especially the ladies. The present Mrs. Jones, formerly Mrs. G.W. Francis, came to this county an unmarried girl, and showed that she was capable of making her own way in the world by her work in the harvest field, where she did the work of a man prior to her first marriage. Mrs. Jones is at present in Colorado. Mrs. Bortfeldt is an adopted daughter, whom she reared to womanhood with a mother’s affection and care.

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