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. The Society welcomes any additional stories about early settlers that you may wish to contribute to their files.
Rosemary Hayes O'Brien
O'Brien came to Chase County with her parents the Thomas Hayes' when she was 13-years-old.
They came to a homestead six miles south of Imperial in 1886. The first
year she attended school in a sod school on her father's place. the second year she
went to school in a dug-out. her teacher for the second year was Thomas Quiggle, a
college professor who had a claim nearby. Mrs. O'Brien told researchers that the
students brought what books they used from home, and that some of the students were
Her father did blacksmith work for the neighbors. The first winter he busied himself making grasshopper plows for breaking sod. He also built wagons for heavy hauling.
Mrs. O'Brien told of the day when the first train came to Imperial on august 15, 1892. "We had waited so long for the tracks to be completed," she said. the train came as far as Wauneta on January 19, 1892. The grading began May 1, 1887, and it was a long wait until 1892 for the settlers. "The day the train came Imperial was full of people," she said. Some of them brought their lunches and had a picnic and before the day was over they were all shown through the train.
"We used to have dances in the soddies," she told researchers. "The men set the furniture out doors and we danced, and before they left they set it back inside again. There was always someone who could play the violin. We had five who could play in a radius of six miles. Bill and John Reynolds, Al Roe, Harry McGillin and Willy McGillin."
She attended school until she was 17 at which time she stayed home to help care for her mother who was a semi-invalid. Later she married to James O'Brien and they farmed for many years east of Imperial. In honor of her 90th birthday on July 14, 1966, the members of St. Patrick's Catholic Church hosted a dinner for her.
the remaining sod houses in Chase County stood in 1969 in northeast Chase County on a farm
owned by Mrs. Frank Osler. It was built by Jim Peak and purchased by Joseph Osler.
Mrs. Frank Osler came to Chase County as a child to visit her grandparents Mr. and
Mrs. Gideon C. Davis in the Blanche Community. The Davis' ran the Blanche Post
Office in their sod home from January 13, 1903 to August 16, 1915 at which time Norton
Inman took over. Mrs. Davis was of Quaker parents and spoke with "Thee"
and "Thou" throughout her life long after she had left her home of Pennsylvania.
Mr. Davis planted cactus around the foundation of the sod house to prevent it being
undermined by animals. Mrs. Osler taught in Chase County schools in 1913 and 1914.
During that time she met and married Frank Osler and went to live on his homestead
in Chase County.
(Information provided to the Historical Society by Bertha Girtin Osler.)
email Linda Banks at: FlorenceEm@AOL.com
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