could be Buffalo's crossing the platte

 Research Papers

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Thornton Township

        Third row of Townships, 4th from the west, next one after Divide.
        Starts a mile east of Highway 10.
        Between Hawk Road and Keystone Road, 115th Road and 205th which is Pole Line Road
        North and slightly east of Kearney

        Mostly in the Wood River watershed with streambeds draining south, except on the northern edge which slopes toward the South Loup

        Originally prairie. Deer, antelope, wild horses, buffalo, Indians. Now mostly tilled agriculture, center pivots, some pasture land.

        Five sections of the 36 have no farmsteads more probably because of expended acres in farm size and abandoned farmsteads than large pastures.

        Probably for Samuel W. Thornton who homesteaded there in 1874
        (first homesteads were in 1873)
        Raised 8 children, oldest daughter married John Swenson of Sartoria
        Represented Buffalo Co. in State Leg. In 1886
        Maternal grandfather – married 4 times, 22 children

        Prairie Center – Community settled early
        First postmaster, Samuel Spry, appointed July 2, 1874

        Haven’s Chapel Methodist Church – organized in 1884. Still active, in its 3rd building
        St. Mary’s Catholic Church – organized in 1890

        Prairie Center Cemetery – Est. 1883
                Located 2 miles south of Prairie Center post office
                Catty corner to Haven’s Chapel church
                John Wort (D’s father) first burial in what had been a corn field

        St. Mary’s Catholic Church Cemetery – Est. in 1910
                Land donated by Henry Schram\
                First burial was that of his daughter in law Anna Paitz Schram, on Jan. 27, 1910.

Current families:
        Kegleys, couple Altmaiers, some Richters, Stengels, Giffins, & Andy Howe

Early families:
1873 – 8 homesteaded

Bartlette Turner – Obtained a prairie schooner at home in Missouri and started west to find land for himself in 1873. Ended up here and after scouting around, settled on a homestead in Thornton Township.

1874 – 15 homesteaded

Samuel Thornton

Sylvester St. John – Came from Wisconsin to Kearney in Sept 1872, just as it was being platted. First town clerk of City of Kearney in 1873. Also served as city treasurer and on the Council. Established an insurance and real estate agency. Invested in property in Kearney & the county, including a homestead in Thornton Township

F. G. Hamer & G. W. Patterson – Kearney businessmen also investing in land

James Gass – came with his parents in 1873, filed a homestead in 1874. Hunted from here to the Dismal River (100 miles) in those early days. In the bad years figured he could stay here on the money it would cost him to leave and go some place else.

Wm. Neely

1875 – 8 homesteaded
1876 – 3 Homesteaded
(grasshopper & drought years)
1877 – none

1878 – 10 Homesteaded

Rebecca Neely, wife of Wm

3 Weldins – Z. A (Zephaniah, b. 1840), L. W. (Lewis W., b. 1839) & W. (William, b. 1843) – so, probably three brothers & their families.

1879 – 11 Homesteaded

D Wort family came to Prairie Center from Illinois in 1879. Purchased land from the RR.

Peter Schars – came in 1879, purchased a farm in Thornton township. Served 2 terms as sheriff 1883-87 & two terms on Co. Bd of Supervisors. He was the sheriff who asked D Wort to be deputy.

Philip Altmaier, wife Gertrude, & son Adam
Adam married before they all moved to NE. Had 13 children.
At least 4 sons who each had 6-7 children

1910 (source: Jerry Schram)

Henry Schram
One of 13 children
Immigrated in 1873 from Germany

Met & married Otilia, born in a village 13 miles from his home in Germany.
8 children according to census records

Lived in Sarpy Co. first. (Schram State Park)

Came to Thornton Township after 1900, before 1910

Lived at same intersection as St. Mary’s Catholic Church at Prairie Center

Known as a land entrepreneur. Gave each child land, 1-3 sections. Not all land in Buffalo Co.

Jerry grew up in original house
Sod foundation
Cellar under the house, possibly still down there, pile of bricks
Shiplap wood walls, stairs gone, probably used in 1930’s
Vineyard south of the house
Great grandfather made wine, so did Jerry

Porch on southwest corner which held the Post Office

Pasture had a buffalo wallow – pivot on it now, hauled in loads of dirt to fill


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Revised: 02/08/2018