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John and Sophia (Riggs) Christy and
George Simeon Christy

John and Sophia (Riggs) Christy

In 1854, Father (John Christy) came from the Western Reserve, Ohio, to Iowa down the river from Wheeling, West Virginia to Cincinnati, Ohio. Then he walked across Indiana, Illinois, and to Keokuk County, Iowa, 100 miles west of the Mississippi River, where he secured land. After 19 years (1873) of trying to grow fruit for the family, he sold the farm and started west again—destination South Bend, Kansas.

Three families, with all of their worldly possessions, headed west the second week in October. Father, sister Ella, brother James D., and myself (10 years of age at that time) had two wagons and twenty head of cattle, and in a trunk in the back of one wagon were the remains of the Iowa farm—$1,800.00 in cold cash. Mother and the four younger children: Lucy, Margaret, S. Willie, and Jenny came by train to Leon, Iowa where they joined the caravan and finished the journey.

We went along an uncharted trail, passing through towns in the southern tier of Iowa Counties. The motorist today speeds over the ground in a half day, on a paved highway, that we spent three weeks crossing. In our entire trip I do not think we ever passed through a town where it was possible to buy a loaf of bread.

On November 2, 1873, we crossed the Missouri River at Nebraska City on a ferryboat. That night we camped near a farmhouse southwest of the city, and the old gentleman advised father NOT to cross the Nemaha River, because he said it never rains west of the Nemaha River.

Father did not heed his advice, so on November 4, 1873, we arrived at Brock to visit friends who had left our hometown at an earlier date. Mother became ill and we postponed our trip to Kansas. We spent the winter in a house on the bank of the Nemaha River across from the Dan Lare home. The next March we moved to a farm 1/2 mile west and one mile south of Brock. The children attended the Union School near Brock. Here we endured the drought, the grasshopper scourge, though our wheat was safe in the stack before the hoppers came.

March 4, 1876 we moved to the farm one mile south of Johnson. We did not cross a bridge on the 8 mile trip and only followed section lines.

In 1901, father died, and in 1906, mother, James, Willie, and Jenny (none of whom ever married), moved to southern California. Hattie Fredenburg and I were married and lived on a farm three miles northeast of Johnson; Lucy married James Daugherty and they lived in Johnson, later moving to California; Margaret married Harry Richey and they lived in Colorado; Ella married Clifford Vorhees. (Submitted by George S. Christy, son).

George Simeon and Hattie Christy

George Simeon Christy, born October 24, 1863, at White Pigeon, Iowa, came to Nemaha County, Nebraska with his parents, John and Sophia Riggs Christy in November, 1873. Other children in the family were: S. Willie, James, Margaret, Lucy, Ella, and Jenny. Hattie Fredenburg was the oldest child of Ben and Ann Jones Fredenburg and was born on McKissick's Island, Nemaha County, Nebraska, March 22, 1866.

George and Hattie attended schools in the Johnson community, and both later attended Fairfield College, which later became Cotner College. He later taught history there. He also taught in Nemaha County rural schools. They were married August 24, 1887, and moved to the farm on the section north of the Fredenburg home. This farm is still in the Christy family.

The Christy's grew fruit on their farm and raised and shipped as many as 1200 crates of strawberries and 300 crates of raspberries in a single year. As many as 20 train carloads of apples, several tank cars of cider, cherries, pears, and other fruits have been produced on the Christy Farm during a year. Even after they moved to Brock in 1936, they grew and sold fruit until their retirement about 1940. George exhibited fruit at the Nebraska State Fair from 1895 until the early 40s. He was in charge of the Nebraska fruit exhibit at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904, and won several medals with his own fruit.

George represented Nebraska's Southeast District in the State Legislature in 1903-04 and 1919-20. As chairman of the Agriculture Committee, he presented the bill for the new Agricultural Hall, the first adequate building at the Nebraska State Agriculture College. For many years he was either president or secretary of the State Horticulture Society, Fruit Growers Association, and various other groups promoting better agriculture.

The Christy's and their children were lifelong members, and faithful to the work of Brock Christian Church, where George served as an elder for many years. Their son, Lauren, graduated from Cotner College, and served in the Christian Church ministry in Wyoming and Colorado for over 60 years. Their sons Clair, Floyd, and Chan farmed in the home community all of their lives. Daughter, Zora (Mrs. Melvin) Horn lived on a ranch in Custer County, daughter Gladys (Mrs. Roland) Evans lived in the Brock community all of her life. A son, Vance, drowned in the Nemaha River near Brock in 1917.

George died July 12, 1943; Hattie passed away September 4, 1953.

In 1876, nine sections of land, belonging to speculators, lay to the west of Highway #105, bordered on the south by what is now Highway #136. Over that land, many cattle ranged for several years. Mr. Sears was the largest owner as he had secured several sections of College Script land at 64 cents per acre. He paid taxes for many years and finally sold out at $64.00 per acre. George Christy herded his father John Christy's cattle over this speculator land in 1876. John Pohlman had a herd of 300 cattle. Frank, Minnie, and Ollie Pohlman were his "cowboys." Peter Berlet also had a big herd of cattle on that range. The water supply for those cattle was from the many buffalo-wallows that existed along every hollow. They were four to eight feet deep and seldom went dry.

Along the south side of that range was the famous Brownville-Tecumseh road over which thousands of covered wagons passed every season during the years Kansas and Nebraska were being settled. Today there is a black-top mat over that line of travel and the speed of the "covered wagons" that pass over that road--Highway #136--would make those early travelers dizzy.

The wagon trail did not have the mile jog south of Johnson, but came from Brownville to the south part of Auburn, then west into Tecumseh.

Submitted by Glenda Hinz.
Source: "A History of Nemaha County" written by the people of Nemaha County. 1987,
 Taylor Publishing Co.; found at Nebraska State Historical Society, Lincoln, NE; p. 129: "George S and Hattie Christy."