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Early Settlers

    The Chase County Historical Society, located in Champion, Nebraska, has since it's inception in 1938 collected personal histories of residents of Chase County, Nebraska.  These oral histories provides a history of Chase County that goes beyond facts and information about the state.  Listed on these pages are transcripts of interviews of many early settlers of Chase County, Nebraska.  I am grateful to the Historical Society for the work it's researchers did in preserving these stories, and for permission to share them here with other researchers.  These stories and other important historical information about Chase County can be found in their published Histories of Chase County, copies which can be purchased from the Society or viewed in the Imperial Republican Library.

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Goddard, Ira and William

        Ira and Will Goddard came to Chase County from Iowa and filed on their homesteads northwest of Champion in 1995.  They farmed near Hastings for a year and returned to this county in the spring of 1886.  They both built sod horses.   The Ira Goddard homestead was where Elmo Prosh now lives.
        They hauled water from the big rock spring on the river on land now owned by Frank Goddard until a well could be dug.
        Ira helped at the sorghum mill at Chase in season and helped build the Dewey dam on the Charles Hoffmeister place with slips and horses.  Muskrats made holes in the dam and it washed out.
        Earl, Ira's son, remembers they lived in the soddie until he was about 12 years old and then a frame house was constructed.
        Ira and his oldest son, Frank, went to Colorado to work in the irrigated potato fields and brought home potatoes, honey, cabbage and other vegetables to last through the winter.  They burned cow chips and sagebrush for fuel and Ira walked the more than six miles across the country for groceries at Champion after they had a store.  In the beginning all their supplies were brought from Benkelman.
        The Goddards were on the milk route of George Hatheway who took the milk to Champion to be separated.
        The Ira Goddards had 3 children when they came, Frank, and two older sisters.  Harry Jeff, Arie ( later to become Mrs. George Banks, Sr.) and Earl were born in the soddie. 
Will Goddard settled in the same community and they had 10 children grow to manhood and womanhood.  Their first child died in infancy.  The children are Clark, Clint, Harry A., Woodie, Lige, Dale, Myrtle, Chase, Fred and Squire.
        Woodie married Myrtle Steele in February 1901 and they built a 2-room sod house.  In 1969 the Woodie Goddards celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary at Sumner, Washington, where they resided.
        Mrs. Woodie Goddard reminiscing said her wedding dress was cream colored wood material.  They had no music, no photos, no wedding trip.  She continued, "We milked 13 cows of mixed breed and sold the cream to buy groceries.  I had enough chickens to sell 30 dozen eggs a week and for a long time received from 10 cents to 15 cents a dozen.  We smoked our own bacon and ham, and made sausage."
        There were to be 8 children and she baked 8 loaves of bread every other day and made all the children's clothes usually made over from some old garment.   Making baby shoes with the soles from old fat hats didn't daunt her.  She also made sunbonnets for the boys to wear to school.  It was the general belief that it was bad for children to get brown in the son.  "The boys hated the bonnets and probably took them off as soon as they were out of my sight" she said.

        (Information provided by Earl Goddard, and published by the Chase County Historical Society in the Chase County History, Volume III, in 1969)


Bradley Grover

        "There isn't very much for me to tell.   I was born in Warrenville, Illinois, August 23, 1878.  My parents came to Corro Gordo County, Iowa, near Mason City, when I was one and one-half years of age.  Later they went to Adams County near Corning, and in 1889 came to Chase County, Nebraska.
        We lived in a dug out when we first came.   It kept caving off and mother would smooth up the walls.  One day it caved off and again and she carried out the dirt and smoothed up the walls; brought in some boards and set some posts.  She had it nearly completed when boards, posts and dirt came tumbling down, burying mother to her waist.  I had to go a half mile to a neighbors to get help.  The neighbor man came and dug her out.  Father had some boards which he had purchased to roof a sod house which he intended to build in the fall.
        One day while father and I were in the field, mother built a sort of house out of the boards.  It didn't look like much and it was in that house that mother found the first centipede which we  had ever seen.
        But mother wasn't afraid of being buried alive and we lived in it until fall when father built our sod house.  It had a magnesia floor and we children thought it was quite nice.
         We burned buffalo chips and sagebrush.   Our neighbors were scarce and as father was not the visiting type they came once or twice and didn't come any more.  After our near neighbor moved away there was months at a time when mother and we children did not see anyone.
        Father had a good many friends and knew everyone but it was hard for mother.  There was no church or social affairs near us.   As I grew older I went to Literary occasionally.  For the most part we children were a happy healthy lot.  School was far away too, so mother taught us and sent us to school whenever she could find a way.
        We spent a few years in the south during the hardest times but came back to Nebraska after four years and in 1905 Charlie and I came back to Chase County where we have resided since.
        (The above was written by Mrs. Charles Needham, resident of District No. 70 on December 13, 1938, based on information given by Cora Grover Needham.  It was printed in Volume I of the Chase County Histories, by the Chase County Historical Society in December 1938.)

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