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Immigration in Brown County, Nebraska

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For a few years, during the 80’s the tide if immigration flowed steadily until there was claim shanty on almost every quarter section of tillable land. The years 1884 and 1885 were marked by an unusual rush of newcomers. A few cattle ranches had been opened in the sand hill sections, but at that time the grass was very sparse, and only in the valleys was the growth heavy enough for grazing. This was probably due to the frequent prairie fires which swept over them.

The normal, yearly rainfall of Brown County is about 24 inches (23.98 as shown by the average all-time records). Although no records were kept the early settlers say rains were plentiful and. that harvests were abundant, especially wheat which was of excellent quality. In 1884 and again in 1888 a carload of wheat shipped from Ainsworth took the first prize offered by the Chicago ‘board of trade as the best grade received there during those years.

Garden products grew with almost no cultivation and were also of excellent quality. Food was plentiful for those who were willing to put forth even ordinary effort. The late P. D. McAndrew once wrote of our early settlers: “Brown county received a large contingent of Uncle Sam’s nobility and very best citizens, full of faith, zeal and energy, who went to work in dead earnest, and soon proved to the satisfaction of everyone that this is a white man’s country”.

It is true that these pioneers had a great many hardships to endure, many handicaps to overcome. But few of the comforts and none of the luxuries was the rule. Small houses, many of log or sod, a restricted social life, few churches and schools, yet on the whole everyone seemed contented and happy. The blizzards and extreme cold of winter, the heat, cyclones hailstorms and prairie fires of summer, Indian scares, rattlesnakes, cattle rustlers, horse thieves and other “pests” or annoyances were overcome or endured.


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