Lorenzo S. Macomber

Written By: nppladmin - Jul• 16•22
Originally published to facebook.com/NorthPlattePL on July 15, 2022.

Welcome back to another Facebook Friday History! 

This week, we are looking at an early pioneer, Union soldier in the civil war, and survivor, Lorenzo S. Macomber.

On November 4, 1842, Lorenzo Smith Macomber was born in Canton, Massachusetts to John and Mary (Smith) Macomber. Lorenzo was one of six children, three boys and three girls. Lorenzo was the only son that served during the civil war, as his brothers were too young to enlist.

Lorenzo attended district schools in Massachusetts.

He volunteered to serve in the Union Army when he was nineteen years old on December 6, 1961. He served as a private in Captain Richardson’s Co 29th Massachusetts Regiment Infantry. On May 26, 1862, he was discharged at Portsmouth, Virginia with “Phthisis Pulmonalis”, now known as tuberculosis. His occupation was listed as shoemaker; and he had been designated as unfit for duty for 20 days, at the time of discharge.

Researchers speculate that during 1863, Lorenzo recovered to a significant degree or that the tuberculosis diagnosis was incorrect. Because on February 11, 1864, Lorenzo S. Macomber, age 21, enlisted as a private in Canton, Massachusetts with the Massachusetts 16th Battery Light Artillery, an independent state unit. During this time period, Macomber’s occupation is listed as a “boot maker.” He appears in Civil War records as serving as detached in service to Camp Barry in Washington DC until September 5, 1864. He is mustered out as a private on June 27, 1865 at Camp Meigs in Readville, Massachusetts. Lorenzo does successfully receive military benefits from 1891 through 1917.

On August 8, 1868, Lorenzo S. Macomber married Abbie Dennit Hemmenway in Camden, Maine. Together, they had nine children:

  1. Charles Henry Macomber (1869-1940). Born in Canton, MA;
  2. George Allen Macomber (1871-1945). Born in Marshalltown, IA;
  3. David Winfield Macomber (1874-1960). Born in Sibley, IA;
  4. Vinattie Abigale Macomber (1877-1961). Born in North Platte NE. “Abbie Nettie”, wife of George F. Patterson.;
  5. Baby girl (unnamed) Macomber (1879-1879). Born in North Platte, NE;
  6. Chester Arthur Macomber (1880-1957). Born in North Platte, NE;
  7. Harry Hemmenway Macomber (1883-1949). Born in North Platte, NE;
  8. Frank Leslie Macomber (1885-1978). Born in North Platte, NE;
  9. Lorenzo Smith Macomber Jr. (1895-1980). Born in North Platte, NE.

All of the sons remained in the North Platte area. Most are buried in the North Platte Cemetery.

In 1870, Lorenzo and the family moved to Iowa where he stayed until 1873.

In 1873, he moved to Sidney, Nebraska, where he lived for three years.

Lorenzo came to Lincoln county and bought a large tract of land in 1876. About the same time, he got a job with the Union Pacific Railroad Company as a blacksmith.

In 1879, Lorenzo pre-empted 160 acres of land between the Platte rivers, which he sold to Buffalo Bill and which became Cody Ranch. This land was approximately one mile west and one-mile north of the current Scouts Rest Ranch. Bill and Louisa Cody owned more farm-land around North Platte; more than just Scout’s Rest Ranch.

By 1890, Lorenzo, Abbie, along with their seven living children, are all living in North Platte, Nebraska. They live quietly, working on farming, raising children, and Lorenzo was working for the Union Pacific. His first born son, Charles, was still living at home.

And then, local newspapers reported a very strange occurrence that happened on July 5, 1893.  There are quite a few newspaper accountings of a family dispute, but the facts are this:

  1. Lorenzo and his wife, Abbie had a violent argument; where he attempted to physically assault his wife, including picking up a tea kettle to throw at her. Some accounts report that Lorenzo had been drinking; however, his fellow blacksmith coworkers stated that he never drank and it would be out of character for him to have had so much as a single drink. Some accounts suggested a marital dispute, other accountings suggest a family feud.
  2. His son Charles, age 22, came to the defense of his mother; and shot his father, Lorenzo in the chest with a 38 caliber pistol.
  3. Dr. Dick was summoned. He reported that the bullet entered Lorenzo’s left side, just above his heart. It struck a rib and stopped near the spinal column.  Dr. Dick was unable to operate.
  4. Lorenzo was not expected to survive the gunshot wound. But he did, in fact, he lived another 23 years!
  5. No charges were ever filed against Charles Macomber.
  6. Abbie had one last pregnancy in 1895, two years after this incident. Abbie was 46 years old and gave birth to her ninth and last child, Lorenzo, Smith Macomber Jr.

Nobody will ever know what truly happened in the Macomber family on the night in question. Even the newspaper accounts reported the different perspectives and there was no “newspaper follow-up” on Lorenzo’s survival. He remained an employee of the Union Pacific until 1899; so researchers assume that he survived his gunshot wound with minimal health complications.

After retiring from the railroad, Lorenzo operated a sheep ranch for three years, and then moved to another section of land (160 acres) and lived there until his death in 1916.

In the few days leading up to his death, he knew he was dying. He was in no pain, and spent his time in prayer, and making selections of music for his funeral service.  Lorenzo Smith Macomber died on December 26, 1916, at age 74, in his home, surrounded by his wife and all of his children. Lorenzo was a proud member of the Grand Army of the Republic and a member of the Methodist Episcopal and Presbyterian Churches. Lorenzo was buried at Fort McPherson.

Abbie died in 1939, at age 89, in her North Platte farmhouse after a brief illness. She was buried next to her husband at Fort McPherson.

Thank you for reading!

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Beach Isaac Hinman

Written By: nppladmin - Jul• 09•22
Originally published to facebook.com/NorthPlattePL on July 8, 2022.

Welcome back to another Facebook Friday History! 

This week, we come back to a very early North Platte pioneer, Beach Isaac Hinman.

Beach Hinman was born on May 23, 1829 in Wysox, Pennsylvania to Abner Curtis and Augusta Elizabeth (York) Hinman. Beach was one of twelve children born to Abner and Augusta.  Abner was a farmer. Beach was a student at Towanda Academy and University of Franklin in Susquehanna county, Pennsylvania.

When Beach was nineteen, the Franklin University president asked him to teach at a school in Lewisberg, Pennsylvania. As a teacher, he began to study law in his spare time. He was admitted to the bar in Pennsylvania in 1857 and his first law practice was in Minnesota.

In 1860 and 1862, Beach visited his brother, Washington M. Hinman at his Overland Rest Ranch and General Store in Cottonwood Springs, Nebraska. In 1862, Beach moved his law practice to Plattsmouth, Nebraska. In 1864, he went to Montana Territory, where he became a miner. He returned to Nebraska in 1869 and became a citizen of the newly founded North Platte Nebraska.  He started out working in a mercantile store and then resumed his law practice, as the community developed and the need for a lawyer quickly arose.

As a lawyer, Mr. Hinman was well-known and established a reputation for his integrity and faithful devotion to his clients. He was a shrewd attorney and barely escaped lynching several times! His arguments in court and strict adherence to detailed legalities made him less than popular during those early pioneering days.

He served as the defender on thirty-five homicide cases; of which only two were given the death sentence. And one of those two cases, Beach appealed to a higher court and the decision was reversed, with the defendant being acquitted. The second case where his client was found guilty and sentenced to death was also appealed to a higher court and the penalty was decreased to manslaughter.

One of Hinman’s best-known cases was his defense of Peter Manning, charged with the murder of his well-known and respected sister, Kate Manning. Hinman defended Peter Manning and, in a trial which involved a change of venue from North Platte to Grand Island, secured his acquittal. Although the judge and others complimented him on the way in which he handled the case, a mob gathered and threatened to lynch him.

Beach Hinman was a delegate to the Nebraska Constitutional Convention in 1871 and again in 1875. He also served as a member of the State Senate in 1877, being elected on the democratic ticket from a strong republican district. Mr. Hinman was twice a candidate for district judge. Hinman had a partner and the name of his firm was Hinman & Neville.

Mr. Hinman was widely known for his philanthropic spirit. He believed strongly in helping the poor to help themselves. His plan was to help them to own their own homes and with this idea in mind, he platted a large tract into small parcels and allowed families to acquire homes on small advance payments, thus enabling them to pay for property instead of paying rental fees.

Beach married Sarah E. Minshall on November 2, 1869 in Plattsmouth, Nebraska. They had four children together:

  1. Augusta B Hinman (1870-1872);
  2. Curtis Hinman (1873-1935). Curtis became a stockman in North Platte.
  3. Cora Cornelia Hinman (1877-1915).
  4. Minor Hoyt Hinman (1882-1961) Minor became an automobile salesman in Kansas City.

Beach was a member of the Presbyterian church. In his spare time, he enjoyed traveling and hunting.

On September 10, 1905, Beach Isaac Hinman died at his home after suffering from sun stroke (aka heat stroke).  Beach Hinman, his spouse and children are all buried in the North Platte Cemetery.

Thank you for reading!

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Clarence Matthew Newton

Written By: nppladmin - Jul• 02•22
Originally published to facebook.com/NorthPlattePL on July 1, 2022.

Welcome back to another Facebook Friday History! 

Today’s FB History looks at a man who began his working career in the book and stationary business in North Platte, Clarence Matthew Newton.

Clarence’s contribution to North Platte and Lincoln County was actually quite significant. Researchers could not find any pictures of Clarence, his family, or his North Platte Business.  While he led a quiet life, Clarence was dedicated to providing books and information to our community, some 15 years before North Platte had a public library. The North Platte Public Library didn’t open until 1912 and the local Book Store was a place for entertainment, communication, and information.

Clarence was born on July 4, 1855 to Pitt and Huldah (Matthews) Newton in Sandy Creek, New York. Clarence was the third child of five sons born to Pitt and Huldah.

Clarence received his elementary education in the public schools of Sandy Creek, New York. He then attended High School at the Mexico Academy in Mexico, New York. Later, furthering his education at Eastman’s Business College in Poughkeepsie, New York.

Researchers are not sure if he graduated from the Business College, but according to his obituary, after attending business school, he worked for his father in the mercantile business in Sandy Creek, New York. After that, he spent three and a half years in the construction of the waterworks in Cornwall, Canada, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, and other places.

In November 1880, Clarence married Alvinette E. “Nettie” Rich.  They had two sons:

1. Ralph Earl Newton (1881-1970). Became an electrical contractor and lived most of his life in Casper Wyoming.; and

2. Karl Newton (1884-1901). Karl died at the age of 17, from pneumonia.

According to “An Illustrated History of Lincoln County Nebraska and her people,” Nettie Newton died in 1885. Researchers could not confirm her death or burial location.

Clarence came to North Platte in 1890. He worked in the E. W. Hammond Book Store. Hammond opened his book store in approximately 1874!!  Clarence’s brother, Earl J. Newton, also came to North Platte and purchased the Book Store from Hammond.  The brothers, Clarence and Earl worked together and created the Newton Book Store.

For the next few years, Clarence owns several different businesses, but when his brother Earl died in 1901, from consumption, Clarence went back into the Stationery and Book Store Business. He eventually owned and operated Newton’s Book Store.

In 1894, Clarence married again, to Louise “Lucy” Laubenheimer (1865-1950). Lucy and Clarence had one son, Donald Beyerle Newton (1902-1959). Donald graduated from the North Platte High School in 1919. He continued his education at the Nebraska State University, graduating with a degree in engineering. As an adult, Donald became the vice president for the Pittsburgh Bridge & Iron Company in Rochester, Pennsylvania.

Clarence passed away in his home at 615 West Fourth Street on October 19, 1933, at age 78. He was a member of the BPO Elks, Masonic Orders-including the Knights Templar and Shrine; and Maccabees. Lucy passed away in 1950. Clarence and Lucy were members of the Presbyterian Church in North Platte.

Clarence, wife Lucy, sons Donald and Karl, and brother Earl J. are all buried in the North Platte Cemetery.

Thank you for reading!

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George Ambrose Austin

Written By: nppladmin - Jun• 25•22
Originally published to facebook.com/NorthPlattePL on June 24, 2022.

Welcome back to another Facebook Friday History! 

Today’s history looks at the early days of the Union Pacific Railroader and a strong Irish-Catholic who led an amazing career working for the Railroad, George Ambrose Austin.

George A. Austin was born April 1851 in Kilballyowen, Clare, Ireland to Patrick and Catherine (Connors) Austin.  George was eleven years old when they immigrated to the United States, settling in 1862 at Pittsfield, Illinois.  His father was a day laborer, and both his parents died in Pittsfield.  George had one sibling, a sister, Jane Austin.

In 1874, George married Elizabeth Louise McGinn (1854-1930) in Pittsfield, Illinois. They had four children:

1. George Thomas Austin (1874-1974, Born in North Platte, NE). He owned an automotive garage in Pasco, Washington;

2. Mary Ellen “Nellie” Austin (1876-1965, born in North Platte, NE), who married E.F. Seeberger, President of First National Bank in North Platte;

3. Margaret “Theresa” Austin (1882-1964, born in North Platte, NE), who married Joseph B. Hayes and lived in Omaha; and

4. Charles Patrick Austin (1885-1961), a clothier in Bakersfield, California.

He began his railroad career when he was 21 years old as a section foreman in Roscoe, Nebraska. He worked his way up and within a year became a fireman. George moved to North Platte in May of 1874, where he continued to work as a fireman for the Union Pacific. In 1881, he was promoted to engineer. The next year, he was initiated into Division 88, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE). George had a forty-six-year career with the Union Pacific Railroad.

George lived in a house at 417 East 5th Street and the family lived there until his death on January 11, 1928.

On August 21, 1895, George had a night he would never forget. On that night, he was on Train No. 8 and it was a half an hour late leaving North Platte.  As the train approached Brady Island, there was a signal to stop and take on passengers. The stop was short, because they were trying to make up time.

George and his fireman saw two men leap onto the baggage car next to the engine, and almost before they realized it, George heard the fireman say, “For God’s sake, don’t shoot!” Looking back, Austin saw the two men coming over the coal box, one man with two pistols and one man with a Winchester rifle.

George tried to stop the train, but the bandits told him to keep going, and they would tell him when to stop. He followed their instructions, all the while trying to figure out how to get the bandits off the train.

The bandits told him to run through a curve. They would tell him when and where to stop the train. George could not talk or communicate with his other UP trainmen to put any plan together to escape or take down the bandits.

Once the bandits ordered the train to be stopped, the bandits ordered George to rap on the door of the express car; and when the messenger opened it they entered and compelled the man to open the local safe. After rifling through it, the bandits stole the $150.00 in it and ordered another safe to be opened. But the second safe could only be opened by a train station agent and no one was able to open it. The robbers then produced a sack of dynamite to blow the big safe open, and set the explosives. Then, every person left that train car to allow the dynamite time to explode.

Meanwhile, Austin convinced them to move further away from the safe, for everybody’s safety.  The desperado remarked, “The damned thing isn’t going off,” and he started back to investigate, but then changed his mind and came back to Mr. Austin. And in the meantime, George Austin had put together a plan to get help. He asked for a volunteer to sneak back to the engine, uncouple it and escape to go get help when the explosives went off. Fireman Tom Duke quietly volunteered and the plan was put into motion. Dukes slipped away from the trainmen and got to the engine to start uncoupling it and preparing it to make a getaway.

The dynamite finally exploded and the robbers hurried back to the express car, only to find the outside door blown off of the safe. During the setting of the explosives, up until the moment of the explosion, a fireman uncoupled the engine; and escaped, taking the train engine to Gothenburg, where he spread the alarm.

The bandits were frightened and mounted their horses and disappeared into the night.  If they had been able to get into the big safe, the bandits would have stolen approximately $13,000. This would be worth about $450,000 in today’s dollars.

As the bandits escaped the scene of the crime, one of the horses went lame after going through a barbed wire fence, so both men escaped on one horse.

After a few days of being “in hiding,” the men walked into Mason City, Nebraska, where they ordered breakfast. The Mason City railway agent happened to see them there and concluded they fit the description he had read about in the alarms and bulletins. The agent hurried to go find the marshal. When the bandits finished their breakfast, they started on foot, walking down the train tracks.

After they walked out of town a while, the bandits stopped to cool off in a stream, not knowing that lawmen and deputies were on their trail. By the time they were done in the water, the marshal appeared and ordered them out of the water. The men were arrested and charged. The thieves turned out to be Hans and Knute Knudsen from Dakota County. They plead guilty and were sentenced to ten years in the penitentiary within ten days of committing this crime.

In October of 1895, George Austin and Tom Duke received a gold watch for their bravery at the Brady Island train robbery.  The watch cases were inscribed with “Presented to George Austin and Tom Duke by the Receivers of the Union Pacific and Pacific Express companies, for meritorious conduct at the train robbery near Brady Island on the night of August 21, 1895.”

George Austin died on January 11, 1928 after suffering with a stomach ailment for two months. He was 76 years old. George was a member of the Knights of Columbus and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers.

 After his death, his wife, Eliza moved in with her daughter Nellie. She passed away in 1930, at age 76 after suffering a stroke.

Thank you for reading! And, be sure to visit the Lincoln County Historical Museum, where you can see the Brady Island Train Depot and more Lincoln County History! See you next week!

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