One of the early settlers was Alexander Allen who homesteaded the farm now owned by O. D. Howe, Jr. In 1866 we find his name along the organizers of the Presbyterian church of Pawnee county. His son, John Randolph Allen, now living by Axtell Kansas, 92 years old, tells the following story of how his father came to come to Nebraska.
Allen was an old time democrat from Kentucky who had settled at Springfield, Ill. Along with his brothers-in-law, the Barretts. The senior Barretts were also strong democrats, but a younger Barrett, (Dick) became a friend of Lincoln. After Abe Lincoln was nominated for president, he said to Barrett, “If you vote for me, and I am elected, I will give you an office.” Said Barrett, “I’ll do it”. Said Lincoln, “We are going to have a republican rally here shortly. I want you to ride a horse and be marshal of the parade.” When Dick Barrett's uncle heard this he said, “If he rides a horse in this parade I will shoot him.” So Lincoln let him off form riding in the parade, but Barrett voted for Lincoln and was made agent in the land office at Brownville, Neb. From there I suppose, he wrote to Allen about the probabilities of wealth and Alexander Allen became a resident of Bunker Hill school district.
I do not know when the first school house was built in the district. It was there when I attended school there in the fall of 1872. It was a small, dark affair and was only intended to last until the district could afford something better. District 35 at that time included the Foale district to the west and the Morton or Miller district to the south and the school house was a long way north of the center of the district, so a meeting was called in the spring of 1873 to decide on a permanent location for the school house. The people of the north end unselfishly wanted the school house moved a mile further south, while the people at the south wanted it to stay where it was so they could be set off at a different school district. It took two-thirds vote to locate the schoolhouse, the north-enders could not rally enough votes, so county Superintendent John Osborne divided the district. Then two acres of land were purchased of J. W. Shaw and the schoolhouse permanently located. The run in debt for it, so they waited until they had accumulated enough money to pay cash and in 1877 the new schoolhouse was built by Peter Hersey of Table Rock. It soon proved too small for the children who swarmed the school and an addition was built a few years later. Then some families moved away, children grew up, and the enlarged schoolhouse was never filled.
Peter Foale was one of the early settlers, coming to Nebraska in 1856 and buying land among the Nemaha. He built a log house in the timber. Two years later a prairie fire swept through the country burning the house and all of its contents. I think he most regretted the loss of his books for he was a great reader. I have heard him tell that during the Civil War he went to Missouri to send Oscar to school, but the “Old Governor Jackson stole the school fund and Oscar never did get any schooling.”
After the log house burned, Uncle Peter, as he was affectionately called by his neighbors, built another, and later built himself a stone house, (he was a stone mason by trade) in which he lived in nearly for the rest of his life.
Artemas Armstrong came to Nebraska, according to Edward’s History before 1858 and settled in the corner section now owned by Rudolph Vrtiska. Here in 1867 came the men from Illinois seeking free land. J. B. Pepoon, his wife’s brother, J. W. Shaw, his sisters husband, Eli T. Boone, and Mrs. Pepoon’s nephew, W. G. Lyman. Mr. Armstrong started from his log house to show them the possibilities of the neighborhood. Going to his north line and pointing to the north, he said: “Here is a pretty good quarter.” Mr. Shaw stretched his long neck, taking a good look around, and said, “I’ll take that”. Then pointing to the west of the section line, Armstrong said, “Here is another good quarter”. Boone said, “I’ll take that”. Mr. Pepoon afterward selected a quarter joining Mr. Shaw’s quarter on the east.
James Dobson, who came from Ireland, was the only settler in Bunker Hill district who lived in a “dugout”. His house was an excavation in the side of a hill were his numerous family lived for several years. Eventually he built a house on top of a hill where he passed the remainder of his life.
Henry and Phoeby Cooper had a fair sized house on the quarter now owned by Mrs. Goodenkauf. Here their many children grew up. Their names are now inscribed on a window in the Methodist church in Table Rock.