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Winter of 1880-81 and Agricultural Fairs in Brown County, Nebraska

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In the winter of 1880-’81 many farmers were unable to get supplies as the cold and snow were so severe that it was almost impossible to drive to Atkinson for the necessities of life. Even at Cook’s ranch where supplies could usually be obtained, but little could be spared. Three settlers, Gus Sisson, C. N. Swett and Jap Stanley, sent a team to Atkinson, but owing to the deep snow it did not return for thirty days. They got a half-bushel of shelled corn, a few beans and a hog’s head from Cook’s and on this they lived till the team came through.

The little log cabin built by Bill Woods on his homestead in 1879, still stands. It is on highway 7, on W ½ NW¼ of section 13, township 30 range 22., four miles north of Ainsworth. It is probably the oldest house in the county.

Agricultural products from this county have won recognition at Nebraska state fairs. In 1909-’10-12, and possibly in other years a carload of exhibits took the first prize for the western district. In 1910 Brown County took first prize on potatoes in competition with the entire state. A collection of nearly one hundred varieties of native grasses found in this county was also awarded first premium in 1912. C. W. Potter, W. H. Peck and J. E. Stauffer were in charge of this enterprise.

In 1908 Frank Herron and August Bokhold while employed by Wm. Slonecker cutting brush for riprapping on the north bank of the Niobrara River, discovered the curious tree known as the “spreading cedar.” It is a tree whose branches surround the trunk making a carpet on the ground for several feet surrounding the tree. When discovered it was but three feet high. Samples of it were sent by Mr. Slonecker to the state university. It is said to be one of only four of the same variety in existence. It is near the Meadville baseball park.


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