Sunday, April 18, 2021

Early Pioneer John A. Macumber (1852-1940)

The above named gentleman is one of the prominent old-timers of Dawes county, Nebraska, where he has materially aided in the growth of that region. Mr. Macumber is familiarly known as "The Headlight of Bordeaux," the cognomen which was applied to him through the Alliance meeting. He is a warm friend and admirer of James C. Dahlman, the "cowboy mayor" of Omaha, with whom he became acquainted when he first came to this country. 

Mr. Macumber was born in Gallia county, Ohio, on April 8, 1852. His father, J. A. Macumber, was also a native of Gallia county, and died January 23, 1907, having settled in Madison county, Iowa, in 1853, when our subject was but one year of age, he having been a twin, and one of a family of eight children by the second marriage of his father who also had four children by a first marriage. The homestead in Iowa where they lived for many years is still owned by a nephew, Emory Calison, and it was there that the children all grew up. There John learned to do all sorts of hard farm work and assisted his parents in building up a good home and farm, going through pioneer experiences when they were obliged to suffer many hardships and privation, handle ox teams, etc., and at the age of twenty-one years started in for himself, following farm work. He owned a two hundred acre farm there, and went through the panic of 1873, coming out of the trouble in very good shape financially. 

In about 1886 Mr. Macumber came west, arriving in Dawes county in the month of March; went back to Iowa, sold his farm and returned with his family on the 8th of April 1886. They located in section 34, township 34, range 48, on Bordeaux creek, this stream also running through his land. He has plenty of natural timber on the place, and ninety acres is irrigated, on which he raises fine crops, and in all has one hundred and fifty acres under cultivation. 

The ranch consists of eight hundred acres, and is well supplied with good water, wild fruits, and he has many acres of good hayland and grass for pasture. The first dwelling put up on the farm was a dugout in which they lived for one year. The dry years followed soon after he located here and many were the losses and discouragements they experienced, and also in 1890 and 1891 they were occasioned much discomfort and anxiety through the Indian uprisings throughout this part of the state, but no one was injured. During the first years here he broke up all his land and did all the farm work with the help of two yoke of oxen, and used these faithful animals for five years. The ranch is now all fenced and well improved, free from all indebtedness, and he has one of the valuable pieces of property in the county, and a comfortable home. 

Our subject was married while living in Iowa, April 20, 1873, to Miss Melissa Shearer, a native of Indiana, who settled in Illinois, when a girl, with her parents, and in 1866 they moved to Iowa where they were among the pioneers of Madison county. Mr. and Mrs. Macumber are the parents of five children, named as follows: William H., Edward A., James W., A. Jr., and Alida G., all married except John A. Jr., who lives in South Dakota. James W. also lives in South Dakota. The balance of the family live in Dawes county, Nebraska. 

Mr. Macumber is a stanch Democrat, inclining strongly toward Socialism, and has always worked along reform lines and been closely identified with all reform movements in his section for many years. He is a man of superior intelligence and progressive ideas, and one of the foremost citizens of his locality. A picture of the residence and family will be found on another page.

Editor's NoteThe biography and photos above were included in the illustrated 1909 publication "Compendium of History, Reminiscence and Biography of Western Nebraska" printed by the Alden Publishing Company of Chicago. 
-- Larry Miller

Saturday, April 3, 2021

It was only yesterday....okay, it was 70 years ago!

For a closer look at these and a few other CHS faculty over the years, visit   Teachers Gallery - Chadron Schools

Monday, March 15, 2021

CSC grad Dr. Eugene Hughes leaves great legacy

By Con Marshall

One of Chadron State College’s most prominent graduates, Dr. Eugene M. Hughes, died Wednesday, March 10 in Flagstaff, Ariz., at age 86. He was initially recognized as an outstanding mathematics professor at Chadron State College, his alma mater, and began his career in higher education administration while at CSC and was the president of two major universities and the interim president of a third institution.

Chadron State presented Hughes with its Distinguished  Service Award in 1982 and conferred upon him an Honorary Doctorate Degree in 2003.

He was born April 3, 1934 in Scottsbluff and lived there his first 20 years. After graduating from what was then Scottsbluff Junior College, he enrolled at Chadron State.  He was named the college’s outstanding senior majoring in mathematics and graduated from the college first in his class of 63 in May 1956. 

Hughes spent the following year working on a master’s degree at Kansas State University, but returned in the fall of 1957 to teach math, gaining recognition as an exceptional mentor who helped numerous students launch outstanding careers.

In 1962, he began working on his doctorate at the George Peabody College of Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn.  He returned to Chadron State in September 1965 to again teach math and serve as director of research. His popularity as a math professor helped the department grow rapidly. Before long, CSC had more math majors than the other three state colleges combined and almost as many as the University of Nebraska. 

In the late 1960s, he was promoted to dean of administration and was the leader in acquiring numerous federal grants and developing innovative programs that helped Chadron State earn the title of “Nebraska’s Pioneering College.”


In 1970, Hughes was lured to Northern Arizona University at Flagstaff, where he spent 23 years, serving as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, provost and academic vice president before becoming president on July 1, 1979.


During his 14 years as president, Northern Arizona’s state-appropriated operating budget increased 200 percent, the enrollment rose from 12,000 to 18,800 and the number of buildings on campus grew from 69 valued at $150 million to 90 valued at $750 million.  Midway through his presidency, NAU was selected by Money Magazine as one of 10 “up and coming” universities in the nation and was among 20 higher education institutions featured in the book “Searching for Academic Excellence.”


In addition, he received the university’s Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters and the 32,000 square foot building containing the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management that he founded was named in his honor.


Hughes became president of Wichita State in July 1993.  He was described as “the right man for the job” as he rekindled the university’s spirit and image, reversed the declining enrollment and found ways to greatly increase its support.


Near the end of his tenure at Wichita State, he was chosen the Outstanding Kansas Citizen of the Year by the state’s Society of Professional Engineers.


Shortly after he retired at Wichita State in 1998, the university dedicated the Eugene M. Hughes Metropolitan Complex, which contains a 1,700-seat auditorium and numerous offices.  The complex was purchased for the university through a $3.25 million gift that Hughes personally received from a donor who requested anonymity.


In mid-2001 after its president had resigned, Eastern Kentucky University at Richmond recruited Hughes to serve as interim president.  At the opening convocation, he told the employees “you will not be riding a dead horse.” Prior to the appointment of a new president, he was credited with providing dynamic leadership that helped stabilize the institution’s financial situation and led to several program improvements.


Hughes was elected secretary/treasurer of the 372-member American Association of State Colleges and Universities in 1988 and was its chairman in 1990-91.  He also was a charter member of the presidential commission of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and was a member of the Arizona State Board of Education eight years, including a term as president.


Another of his career highlights occurred in September 2011, when Hughes returned to Chadron State for the “Gene Hughes Math Reunion” that was attended by 20 of his former students who had benefited from his teaching and leadership skills.  He had introduced many of them to the coming “computer age,” providing them with as much material as he could find. A number of them used the information as a springboard to innovative and lucrative careers.


“The main reason we got together was to thank Dr. Hughes for what he did for all of us,” said Stan Hoffman, one of the organizers of the reunion. “He was our leader and guiding light.  We owe him a lot and are proud that we were taught by him.


“It was fun to talk about all the changes we have seen,” Hoffman added. “Because of Dr. Hughes, we had a head start on what would follow.  Things like the Internet, e-mail, cell phones, I-pads and smart phones.”


At the end of the two-day reunion for the alums and their spouses, Hughes spoke to the gathering, noting, “Your success reflects so well on Chadron State and means so much to me. I have been thrilled to hear your stories and learn more about your success.”


In later years, Hughes and his wife, Margaret Ann, resided in Flagstaff, where he served as president/CEO and then chairman of the board of the Museum of Northern Arizona, which focuses on the origin and development of the Four-Corner area and included 47 structures. He also served a six-year term as a member of the national Amtrak Customer Advisory Committee and was its chairman 2009-11.


Survivors include his wife, the couple’s six children and their families.  Services will be announced at a later date. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Inquiring minds still want to know...

Nearly three years ago, in 2018, we posted the above photo from the 1950's and a short story with several questions – but one important question that we didn't ask.  

Who were these two officers?  In that earlier story, we remembered Hugh Oliver, who ran the tobacco shop that stood between the old Pace Theatre and the Chadron Volunteer Fire Department headquarters, and we recalled several police officers from back in that era.  Butch Foster, Vernon Story, Robert Beers, Burt Holmes, and Lester Jensen, among others.  In fact, we think the fellow on the right in the above photo might be Story.

Would be pleased to hear from anyone who can identify these fellows.  Of course, we're continuing our quest for a good photograph of the Newsy Nook.  That would be a most valued photo, indeed!

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Another Pioneer of Dawes County – a 1909 Profile


     The name of Harry L. Bartlett is a familiar one to the residents of Dawes county, Nebraska, where he has lived for many years, locating here when this region was practically in its infancy, and has taken a leading part in its development and growth from its early settlement. He owns a well improved and valuable estate in section 6, township 29, range 47, and enjoys a pleasant and happy home.

     Mr. Bartlett was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1865. His father, Alfred E., married Rebecca Putnam, also born and raised in Massachusetts, and they afterwards came west and were among the oldest settlers in Nebraska, where the father engaged in the farming and ranching business. The subject of our sketch was but three years of age when his parents settled in Audubon county, Iowa, and he was reared and educated there, attending the country schools during his boyhood. At the age of twenty Mr. Bartlett came to Nebraska and settled on a homestead in the southeastern corner of Dawes county, "batching it" for several years, living near a brother who had settled here some years before. He. proved up on his claim, and was in the cattle business from the first, farming a small portion of his place, and during the hard times working in the Black Hills in the mines. He spent a short time at Deadwood. He filed on another homestead in section 12, township range 48, and remained for four years, farming during that time, but proved up also and located on his present farm in 1893. Here he bought land, put up buildings and developed a good ranch and has been most successful in every venture, the place consisting of thirty two quarter sections, a large part of which he along the Pepper creek. He has it all fenced and cross fenced, and devotes his time to the sheep raising business principally although he has about thirty horses and a few head of cattle. One hundred and fifty acres are devoted to farming purposes, raising small grain, corn, oats, etc., for feed for his stock.

     In the early days of Mr. Bartlett's residence here he went through many rough experience in traveling by team through the wild country, surrounded by wild beasts and spending many a night sleeping on the snow covered ground. For some time he was employed as a stage driver, carrying the mail from Hay Springs to Nonpareil in Box Butte county, and at that time there were only three dwelling places on the road between these two towns.

     Mr. Bartlett was united in marriage in 1893, to Miss Bessie Fenner, daughter of Bradford Fenner, an old settler in this state. Prior to her marriage Mrs. Bartlett was a teacher in the schools of Dawes county. Mr. and Mrs. Bartlett are the parents of two children namely: Arthur, aged fourteen years, and Raymond, aged ten years.

     Mr. Bartlett is a Republican in his politic views and takes a keen interest in party affairs.


NOTE:  From the "Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska"

Thursday, December 17, 2020

A 1909 Profile of a Dawes County Pioneer


     William Clark, one of the leading old settlers of Dawes county, Nebraska, deserves prominent mention for his aid in the success of western Nebraska as an agricultural and commercial center, and in doing so has incidentally built up a good home and farm for himself by dint of his industry and good management.

     Mr. Clark was born in Green county, Ohio, in 1846. His father was Samuel Clark, of mixed nationality, a farmer by occupation and for many years followed that work in Ohio, Illinois, Minnesota and Nebraska and has been on the frontier all his life. When our subject was but a baby the family moved to Iowa, then to Nebraska, but most of his boyhood years were spent in Minnesota, where they lived for some years in Freeborn county. He learned to do all kinds of hard farm work up to his eighteenth year, then enlisted in the Second Minnesota Cavalry, Company C, and saw service in the west mostly, fighting against the Indians.

     After the war he went back to Minnesota, locating in Martin county, and was there married to Miss Louisa Connic, daughter of Howard Connic, a harness maker, of Pennsylvania and an old settler in Minnesota.

     In the spring of 1881 he came to Cuming county, Nebraska, and was among the pioneers in that section, but only remained for three years. In 1884 he came to Dawes county, driving here with a team and covered wagon, and as soon as he located here built a shack and lived in that for some time, batching it" up to the spring of 1885, when he was joined by his family, who drove from Valentine. They were then located on section 26, township 31, range 47, and went through pioneer experiences, often meeting hardships and privations, one winter being spent in Pine Ridge, logging with ox teams to make a living for the family. During the dry years he had many losses from partial crop failures, although he was able to raise some crops during all that time. 

    For three years he was in the Sand Hills engaged in the stock business, and as he was able, bought more land, until he is proprietor of six and a half sections, in partnership with his son-in-law, Fred J. Stinchfield. Mr. Clark now lives on section 28, township 31, range 47, where he has built up a fine farm and home. The place is supplied with plenty of good living water, and he has a very fine grove of trees near his house, one of the best in the county. He has seven wells and windmills, and is largely engaged in stock raising, running from four to five hundred head all the time. His ranch is all fenced and cross fenced, having in all about fifty miles of fencing . He has a fine young orchard and garden, and everything to make a well ordered home and comfortable rural life.

     Mr. Clark's family consists of nine children, named as follows: Charlotte, Melissa and Eva, Rosella, Jennie and Belle, born in Minnesota; and Lorenzo, William and Grace, born in Nebraska. The family are highly esteemed in their community and enjoy a happy and peaceful life, surrounded by a host of warm friends and good neighbors.

     Mr. Clark is active in school affairs in his district, and takes a leading part in local political matters, voting the Republican ticket. He is a member of the school board, and has held local office, serving as road overseer.


NOTE:  From the "Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska"

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Memories of Bill Rice (1943-2020)

Bill Rice, an outstanding athlete at Chadron High School and the University of Montana who became a lieutenant colonel in the United States Marine Corps, died at his home in Beaufort, South Carolina, on Monday, November 9, a week before his 77th birthday.

Rice was born in Chadron on November 16, 1943 to David and Kathryn Rice.  Among his many achievements was becoming an Eagle Scout in 1959.  As a Chadron High senior in 1960-61, he was a starting end on the Cardinals’ undefeated football team, the starting center on the Class B state championship basketball team and won the Class B high jump by clearing 6-foot-3 at the state track meet.

He then attended the University of Montana, where he majored in wildlife biology and was a letterman on both the basketball and track and field teams.  He once held the Grizzlies’ triple jump record. That’s also where he met Jackie Cooper, who has been his wife the past 55 years.

Rice joined the Marine Corps in 1966, and served in Vietnam, the Philippines and Okinawa as well as on various U.S. bases.  He retired from the military in 1989 and he and his family had lived in South Carolina since then. 

He was preceded in death by his parents and brother David, who was the state high jump champion while attending Chadron High in 1957.  Survivors include his sister Sandra Vassar of Bellevue and brother Larry of Glenrock, Wyoming, as well as his wife, their three children and their families. 


A memorial service is planned for the summer of 2021.

Thanks to Con Marshall for sharing the above information


It seems that as we wander into the realm of "senior citizenry," we become more reflective about our lives – our joys, regrets, accomplishments, and our failures.  We embrace our families and close friends as we stumble into an era of increasingly sophisticated technologies that many of us don't fully understand.  And, thankfully, we begin placing greater value not on things, but on relationships:  our parents, "though they be gone," our spouses, children, and extended families......and our friends.

Those relationships are what many of us come to realize really count in our lives.

Bill Rice was a classmate at East Ward elementary school all the way through high school.   We didn't live in the same neighborhood, so we weren't close friends, but by about third and fourth grades, we often found ourselves together.  I recall playing in Bill's backyard at 810 King Street in March of 1953.  I don't remember who all was there or what games we were playing.  But the big news event of the day (allowing me to remember that day) was the death of Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin.  The Cold War was a big deal in those days, and even 9-year-old kids knew of the Russian leader.

Young Bill Rice (1958-1966) school until the Marine Corps

It was sports that allowed Bill and I to get to know one another better.  Grade school basketball, summer baseball, and sandlot football.  By Junior High we became closer because of sports.  Bill participated in both football and basketball – but he was also involved in track and field, likely because his older brother Dave was good at it, too.   Bill and I both had big brothers involved in sports, and I suspect that we tried to emulate them.

Bill was quite involved in Boy Scouts, too, and became an Eagle in 1959; he seemed to have a real passion for hunting and fishing as well.

It was in high school that Bill really began to blossom as an athlete.  A "late bloomer," his athletic prowess peaked during his senior year.  He was our tallest player (at 6'3") and a leader in the Cardinals winning the Class B State Basketball Championship in 1961.  That spring, he also won the Nebraska State High Jump Championship!  

After high school, Bill went to the University of Montana on an athletic scholarship  He was a standout athlete in basketball, as well as track and field. He graduated from Missoula in 1965.

Bill met his wife, Jackie Cooper, in Montana, and they were married for 55 years.  In 1966, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps, serving in Vietnam, as well as the Philippines and Okinawa, among other assignments.  He retired in 1989 as a Lieutenant Colonel, and the Rices made their home in Beaufort, South Carolina.

In 2010, the Chadron High classes of 1960 and 1961 held a joint reunion in Chadron.  For the reunion booklet, Bill reported that Jackie was working as a teacher/counselor and that he had sold the lawn maintenance business he'd operated for several years after retiring.

"We spend as much time as we can with our family...a week at the beach with all and also get together at Christmas for a couple of days...Jackie and I try to make a trip out west to see our families in Nebraska (Sandy), Wyoming (Larry), and Montana (Jackie's sister and dad)."

Of course the best thing about reunions is seeing old classmates and getting reacquainted while sharing stories about all the special moments we enjoyed while growing up in Chadron.

Bill recalled his time in scouting, exploring "C" Hill, King's Chair and the many trails in the pine hills south of the CSC campus, "skinny dipping" in the swimming pool, and re-visiting the many great experiences we shared as youngsters. 

Since we rarely, if ever, can maintain contact with all our old classmates throughout our lives, it's gratifying to live with the memories of those moments we shared as youngsters – and bask in the comfort of having known and having shared an important part of our lives with one another.

Those of us fortunate enough to have crossed paths with Bill Rice are all the richer for having known him.

     ~~  Larry Miller