PAWNEE COUNTY HISTORY, Internet home for the honored past of Pawnee County, NEBRASKA

History of
Mission Creek
Mrs. Alfred Eastwood

    Long before counties were laid off and named, this locality was known as the Pawnee country and so our county received the name "Pawnee."  In 1855 Pawnee county was laid off into townships and into sections in 1856.  Names of the townships or precincts came mostly from creeks or early settlers.  The creek and precinct of Mission Creek must have been named for an Indian mission, founded by the Presbyterian church during the 1850s and located on the Kansas side of the state line and on what is now the Henry Breunsbach land.  The two stone buildings still stand there.  The Indians felt very bitter towards the settlers as their hunting grounds were being taken away from them.  They set prairie fires, shot arrows into the buildings and no doubt frightened many settlers away who would have liked to stay.  Perhaps they frightened those early missionaries.  At least we have no record of Rev. Murdock and family who were in charge of the mission, after the 1860s.  And many arrow heads were later pulled out of the old mission buildings.

    The first settler on Mission Creek was named Bartholomew, in section 29, in the year 1856.  The entry on the land was not made until Sept. 15, 1859, and patent recorded Sept. 15, 1860, and then it was in the name of Lucy A. Bartholomew.  This farm of 120 acres was later sold to Marshall and successively to Wm. Dick, Frank Allen, Fred Nelson, and lastly to Barr.

    The second oldest settlers were David Neal and Henry Musfeldt in 1857.  They settled on section 21 which they later sold to Thos. Clark, L. Griggs, and others.

    The third settler was George Tanner on the northeast quarter of section 28.  His entry was made Oct. 19, 1859, patent obtained in September, 1860.  George Tanner wrote in 1876, being then the oldest settler on Mission creek:

    "I was induced to move to this locality and state by the founding of the mission school and church by the Presbyterian board of home missions.  I first visited here in June of 1857 and brought with me a load of corn from Fremont county, Iowa, which I sold to Rev. David Murdock, who was then in charge of the mission, for $1 a bushel.

    "I returned in 1858, selected and entered the tract of land on which I now reside.  I built my cabin and moved into it in 1859, and lived there until 1873.  In those days the buffalo were but a day or two away from here, and my cabin being on the route early residents of Pawnee City often stopped on their way to the hunting grounds.  And more than once I have enjoyed a choice steak as a present from these hunters.  At that time there were but two neighbors on the creek, Henry Musfeldt and David Neal, both unmarried men.  These do not include Rev. Murdock and family.  There were at the mission about 15 young Otoes, but I have never heard of any benefit they derived from their instruction.  At one time my nearest neighbors were Mr. Waters on West Branch and George Welch on Johnson creek."

    It is interesting to note how speculators came in, made entries on the land, got their patents, and then sold out.  Some of these speculators were . . .

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. . . patents about 1867.  Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 13, 14, 11 and 12 and parts of sections 9 and 15 were sold to Bookwalter in 1880, so Bookwalter owned almost one-third of Mission Creek precinct.  Very little of the land was taken by settlers themselves, but by speculators who sold the land to settlers, charging exorbitant interest.  The land was sold from $5 to $10 per acre.  The settlers were compelled to go to Missouri for a great part of their provisions, as nothing much but sod corn could be raised at first.

    The first school district formed was 22 in section 29.  One acre for it was sold by Perry Miller for $5.  By 1870 and later in the 70s Mr. Griggs, O. Jenne, Jennings, Johnson and Carpenter, all in this district.  John Bowhay came in 1867.

    District 28 was established some time prior to 1872 on section 22, the southeast quarter.  Perhaps Mr. Sours, the owner leased the land to the district.  No record was made.  The district was so large some had to walk three miles to school. In 1883 two school houses were built.  One in section 27, the land being sold by Mr. McKee, the other on section 15, land being given by Bookwalter.  These schools were known as north and south 28 until about 1894.  The district was divided then and known as schools 28 and 76.  The old school house was used as a dwelling for a while and then sold to E. M. Berry.

    The third district organized was 47 in 1874.  Harvey Owen gave the district a lease on the northwest quarter of section 17.  This school was moved to section 5 in 1892.  It was the smallest building in the precinct.  Later they built a larger school house.

    District 66 on section 20 was organized in 1884, the lease being given by John Eastwood.  This was the largest school building in the precinct and it was filled to capacity.

    District 77, the Bookwalter school, was organized in 1899.  School was held in a store building that year and the school put up later in section 11.  This was the nicest school house then in the precinct, but later 22, 76 and 47 put up new buildings.

    Reverend Morrison taught a select school in the church in 1880.  Probably his subjects were more advanced ones for older pupils.


    The Mission Creek church was organized in July, 1872.  Reverend McCready came from Pawnee City with Elder Wright to effect an organization. They met in the school house one mile south of the present church site, in district 28.  Those presenting certificates were Mr. and Mrs. Simpson, whose home was where Ed Knowles now lives, Mr. and Mrs. Watson, Mr. Reed, Mrs. McClymonds, Miss McClymonds and a few others.  Mr. Simpson was chosen clerk of the new organization and Mr. Reed and Mr. Simpson elders.  Trustees were Mr. Halderman, Mr. Watson, Mr. McClymonds. For a while all that was done by the group was to keep up Sunday school and a Sabbath evening prayer meeting.  Mr. Simpson was Sunday school su. . .

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. . . the fall, steps ere taken to build a house of worship.  Mr. Carothers deeded two acres for the church site, later adding four more for church and parsonage.  A congregational meeting was called to gather in the Halderman store.  Mr. Simpson and Mr. Blair were chose trustees to fill vacancies of Mr. Watson and Mr. McClymonds, who had moved away.  Four families had left by the spring of 1873, but the church was being built.  Mr. Blair got the contract and by May it was enclosed.

    June 4, 1873, Rev. Marian Morrison from Amity, Iowa, preached.  He found only two actual members.  At this time those uniting with the church were Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Griggs, Miss Laura Tanner, Mrs. Margaret Agnew, W. J. Halderman, Mr. and Mrs. Utter, Lafayette Nelson, Mr. and Mrs. French, J. E. Stewart and Mrs. Cameron, 16 in all.  The church was enclosed but not plastered.  Seats were set in loose to accommodate the congregation.  Mr. Morrison made this trip of 100 miles on horseback and returned the same day.

    Rev. John Bryan supplied the pulpit for three months.  Then Reverend Pollock preached as stated supply from November, 1874, to July, 1876.

    About 1873 or '74, J. E. Stewart went east to Pennsylvania and collected money to build a parsonage.  It was built on 40 acres one and a half miles north of the church. This was finished and ready to be occupied by July of 1876.

    Rev. Oscar Jenne was appointed stated supply at Mission Creek and Johnson Creek and moved into the parsonage.  (One of the older residents of West Branch precinct identifies the Johnson creek church as having been in a schoolhouse.)  He preached until about 1878.  These were discouraging times.  Drought and grasshoppers made short crops and hindered immigration.  In the spring of 1878 a call was made to Reverend Morrison by Mission Creek and Johnson Creek.  He accepted at a meeting of presbytery in Atlantic, Iowa, April 30, 1878.  Prospects were not very bright then.  Nineteen members had been reported, but Mr. Morrison found only eighty.  Two families lived about 16 miles north and could get to church but seldom, doming by wagons.  Some ceased to attend.  Each congregation was to raise $200 for the pastor's support; Mission Creek turned in $170 and Johnson Creek $130.

transcribed by Dick Taylor for PawneeCountyHistory

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