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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