Wednesday, September 4, 2013


There is always more to a man’s story and what we think we know after a century of hearing it told may be quite different from the way it really was. 

When Patti Novotny handed me the abstract of her family home last June, she hadn't thought much about the name on the first page, after all most of Sam Wymore’s land was turned over to the Lincoln Land Company on July 21 of 1881 to plat the town of Wymore.  His name must appear on the first page of a lot of abstracts in town – right ?  Right. 

What was different about this abstract was the first entry:

On July 9, 1868, Sam was in Brownsville, NE filing an application for Homestead land.  He paid a $14 filing fee to secure his claim on 160 acres described as the South 1/2 of the NE 1/4 and the West 1/2 of the SE 1/4 of Section 20 in township 2 of Range 7E.   It took Wymore 7 years and on April 29, 1875, two witnesses; William Wymore (his brother) and Herbert Viney vouched for the Proof of Wymore's settlement and improvements made to his homestead whereby Wymore earned the right to the title of this land. The Patent was delivered to Samuel W. Wymore on April 28,1876 ... the same date as shown on Patti's abstract.  Patti and Mike's property is an undivided City Block #4, essentially at the center of Sam Wymore's original Homestead and a few paragraphs down the page, we'll tell you why we think this 1890 house is Sam Wymore's last standing residence in the town that bears his name. 

Block 4 of Wymore's Addition
Section 20 Township 3 North Range 7 East of the 6th P.M.
Gage County, Nebraska

In 1870, a young man held the patent to 160 acres of the land bordering Sam Wymore's Homestead. When he claimed his stake he was 23 years old and his wife, Louisa, was 17, their daughter, Margaret Jane, was 3 and son William was born on this land that year.  It seemed impressive that this young man would cut the limestone by hand for the small stone cottage that stands today in ruin (on a lot at the north end of 4th Street) but George Wymore and his wife and children were not alone in Southeast Nebraska.  The Wymore Family had siblings and cousins scattered across Gage & Pawnee Counties in the 1800s and his older brother’s homestead bordered George’s property to the south and east.  While Samuel Wymore was fulfilling his obligations for 160 acres of Homestead land, he was also buying up land in the area. In 1875 George sold his property to Samuel … which presents an interesting question: Did George build the old limestone cottage or did Samuel ?  For certain one of them did. 

George & Louisa moved on to a farm in Section 1 of Island Grove Township.  They welcomed three more children into their family, Peolya, Samuel, Sallie and Robert. Louisa died young at the age of 30, in November of 1881. George lies at rest near his daughter Margaret in the Odell American Cemetery. 

compiled by Carolyn Riemann

(scroll down to)
Children of JOHNSON WYMORE and SARAH MCMAINS (1816-1890) : 

Samuel W. Wymore 1835-1908 (family pictured below)
William L. Wymore 1837-1911  (family pictured below)
 Margaret Peggy Wymore 1839-1921
 Abraham Wymore 1841-1917
 Nancy Wymore 1843- ?
 Martin Wymore 1844- ?
 George Wymore 1846-1913
 Summerfield Wymore 1848-1927
 Jonathon Wymore 1853-1926
 Robert E. Wymore 1855-1903

Back (l-r): Dill and Alice  Front (l-r): Samuel, Nancy, William L, Willie (James William) Wymore

Samuel Porter, Matilda Mariah, Isabella, Mary Scott & Samuel

Nancy Ann Wymore 1857-1878
Sarah Wymore 1859-before 1868
James Hugh Wymore 1860-before 1868
Mary Scott Wymore 1861- ?
Margaret Summerfield Wymore 1866-1886
Matilda Mariah Wymore 1869-1943

Samuel Porter Wymore  1875-1941

Matilda Mariah & Samuel Porter were born in the log cabin on the Wymore Homestead. 

When Samuel Wymore negotiated his historic deal with the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, he signed over his homestead and the land George had sold to him along with other landholdings to the Lincoln Land Company, a company the railroad incorporated to manage the sale of the lands they held title too and build towns spaced about 10 miles apart along the track.  Wymore’s Homestead was in the Wymore Addition of town and George’s old patent was in the Summit Addition.  John Schock held land in the west 1/2 of Section 20 in 1869.  Jeremiah Scanlan purchased land to the south in 1860. All of Section 20 was sold to the Lincoln Land Company in 1881. In the hands of the Lincoln Land Company, between 1881-1908, the secluded stone house near the railroad tracks took on a notorious reputation, apparently rented out to shady characters who capitalized on its close proximity to the railroad.  

In 1871, James Hugh Scott, his wife Mary Emily and their twin sons, James & Levi, packed their belongings in a covered wagon and moved to Gage County, Nebraska.  Here they joined his twin sister Isabelle and her husband, Samuel Wymore.  Little Mary Emma was born on January 21, 1872. Life on the prairie held many hardships and Mary Emily died in June of 1872 leaving James with the 3 year old twins and baby Mary.  On September 16, 1872 he took over the claim to the homestead land of Owen Jones. This was in the Blue Springs Precinct, formerly Otoe Indian Reservation. From his place there was not a house in sight. The nearest neighbor lived in the neighboring town of Blue Springs, which at that time consisted of only a store and a post office. A few months later in 1873, Mary Emma followed her mother to her eternal home.  In June of 1873, James married Mary Catherine Tisdell and together they worked to earn the rights to their Homestead.  They built a 12 x 20 foot house with a shingle roof, floors, 2  doors and windows 'all complete'. They built a corn crib and pig pen listed in their documented Final Homestead Proof submitted on 6 October 1877. 

When Samuel Wymore invested a good share of his land holdings into platting the town of Wymore in 1881, his brother-in-law James Scott sold his Homestead to Samuel.  This is the land now thought of as Wymore's Home Place.  The dugout dwelling on Indian Creek was most likely the work of the original Homesteader, Owen Jones.  James Scott stated he built a frame house on the property. The 1888 Gage County Biographical Album describes the limestone foundation house:  The residence of our subject overlooks the city, and is a very fine modern building erected as recently as 1883, one in every way worthy the founder of so beautiful and prosperous a place.  

Samuel Wymore Home Place (taken before 1981)
Limestone foundation with wood frame first floor

Limestone foundation summer 2013

Legendary Indian stone for grinding corn on the old Wymore land.
Section 29 of Gage County was once a part of the Otoe - Missouri Indian Reservation. 

When James Scott sold the rest of his land situated near the Original Town of Wymore, the land became what is still known as Scotts Addition to the town of Wymore. 

For some men the grass, it seems, is always greener over the next hill and Samuel Wymore spent most of his adult life pursuing an ever illusive dream.  Between 1835, the year of his birth and 1857, the year he married Isabella Scott in Mahaska, Iowa, Wymore lived in Indiana, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri.  As was customary at the time, Samuel left Isabella with her family when the children were small while he worked for his father in Atchinson County Kansas and drifted from Missouri to Pawnee County, Nebraska and back. In November of 1864 he held a Warrant for 120 acres in Section 9 of Pawnee County. In December of 1865 he held a Warrant for 120 acres of land in Section 3 of Pawnee County.  The Homestead Act successfully held him captive for nearly 8 years, since he had to build a dwelling and live on the land to fulfill his obligation to the rules of the Act.  It is possible that Wymore built the limetone cottage on North 4th street while living on the Homestead intending to live there for a time before he moved south of town in 1881. 

Even after building the fine limestone & frame home in the country, Wymore built what is now Patti & Mike Novotny's house on Block 4 of Wymore's addition.  While it is true that Sam Wymore and William Ashby built numerous spec homes to sell with their lots, Block 4 was never divided into city lots and the large 1890 Four-Square home is seated on the portion of Wymore's original homestead where the old log cabin likely was situated.  It is logical to think that in 1890, when Wymore was on the backside of 50, he built that nice house in town for Isabella that most pioneers of his time promised their wives when they retired. 

Wymore's 1908 obituary states: In 1892 the population got too dense and he moved to Nevada and bought over 5000 acres of land under an irrigation ditch.  The fact that the town was closing in around Samuel is another reason to believe Samuel and Isabella lived in the 4th Street house from the time it was built until they moved to Nevada.  The Nevada move proved to be Wymore's most costly mistake ... both in Nevada and Wymore.

 Charles M. Murdock was born in Pennsylvania in 1843 to Daniel and Prudence Murdock. Daniel was a Presbyterian Minister and son, Charles was one of 9 children. The family followed the western movement in 1853 and settled for a time in Iowa.  In 1856, Daniel accepted the calling as missionary to the Oto-Missouri Indians and taught for a time at the limestone mission school just south into Kansas in Marshall County. When the Civil War broke out, Daniel served as chaplain of the Thirteenth Kansas Infantry.  On the 11th day of July, 1862, Charles enlisted as a member of the Ninth Kansas Calvary ... Charles turned 12 years old the next month. 

After the war, Charles settled in Washington County Kansas and associated with the likes of William Hecock "Wild Bill."  After serving as sheriff of the county, Murdock moved to Blue Springs, NE in the late summer of 1874.  He founded the Blue Springs Reporter and was appointed right-of-way representative for the Burlington Railroad which lead to his appointment of agent to the Lincoln Land Company when the City of Wymore was organized. History remembers Charles Murdock as quite an outspoken character. 

Murdock and Sam Wymore had negotiated many property deals together, so when Wymore left for Nevada in 1892, he and Murdock wrote up a contract dated 3 December 1892, entrusting Murdock with selling Wymore's extensive land holdings in Gage County and various personal properties including a team of horses, paying any property debts and taxes incurred during the process and forwarding the proceeds to Wymore.  Samuel and Isabella actually deeded their property over to Charles and Arthur Murdock and Joseph Pasko.  The first thing Murdock did as Wymore's wagon disappeared over the horizon, was to mortgage Wymore's home place for $500 which he used for personal expenses.

Now ...  in Murdock's shaky defense, the Panic of 1893 sent the United States into the worst depression the county had experienced, fueled by overbuilding of the railroads and its shady financing.  As the 1890s wore on, Wymore's holdings in Gage County sat idle and property taxes accumulated .. unpaid. Charles worked up an agreement with his son, Glen, to buy the nice Four-Square house on 4th Street, but the paper was never formally filed with the county and essentially Glen lived there without paying anything for the convenience. Charles occupied a lovely piece of land just a few blocks to the northeast and built a nice house overlooking the Blue River Valley (it was torn down years ago but some will remember seeing it on the hill west of the River road). 

1906 Plat Map showing undivided Blk 4 & C.M. Murdock property

Weekly Wymorean - Feb. 23, 1895

Samuel Wymore arrived in this city last Monday, Feb. 11, 1895 from Wellington, in the Walker River Valley, Nevada, where he has a small farm of 5,920 acres or 37 quarter sections. He looks rugged and hearty and says that the country is good enough for him and that he has no desire to return to Nebraska to make his home. On his ranch he has over 400 acres of alfalfa meadow which they cut 2 or 3 times a year and get from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 tons per acre at each cutting. He has over 50 milch cows and about 100 head of horses. He has the upper charter on the Walker River which not only gives him fine mill power, but affords an abundant supply of water to irrigate. They are sure of a crop every year, but without the water, the land would be useless for farming purposes.

As the 19th Century came to a close, the Wymore family found themselves back in Wymore after the disappointing sale of Sam's investment in Nevada with not much better prospects on the home front. Wymore renewed his agreement with Charles and Arthur Murdock in March of 1899 providing that from the sale of proper to credit Samuel Wymore $8729.50 due in three notes and after said amount is paid the residue and balance of all property held in common or sold and proceeds divided equally.

1906 Plat map

A 1906 Plat map of the Blue Springs and Wymore Township shows Wymore's Home Place in the center of Section 29 in the name of A. L. Wachtel.  One can only assume that when Samuel Wymore returned to his Home Place in 1899, he was allowed to live on the property but never again in his lifetime would he hold title to it.  Stories around town flourished with tales of poverty the Wymore family struggled through. 

Beyond Wymore's control, the properties he once held title to, began to sell at tax sales.  On July 25, 1907, Blk 4 on 4th Street was auctioned for taxes due from 1893 to 1904 ... a total of $124.91 and James H. Ellis was the high bidder. 

On September 19, 1907 Samuel Wymore filed suit against Charles, Arthur Murdock and their wives in Gage County District Court. As the highly publicized trial wore on into 1908, Wymore's health began to deteriorate and in June of that year the family made George T. Stephenson Trustee for Samuel Wymore.  Samuel would not live to see the verdict handed down in his favor in May of 1909.  Murdock filed an appeal and took the case to the Nebraska Supreme Court who upheld the District Courts decree in January of 1911

Over 100 years have passed since Samuel Wymore was laid to rest in Blue Springs Cemetery next to his daughter Nancy.  Isabella joined them there in 1914.  Wymore's weaknesses were laid to rest with him. His strengths and the town who bears his name lives on to celebrate, each June during Sam Wymore Days, the legacy he placed in their care. 

Weekly Wymorean-Dec. 31, 1908
Funeral of Sam Wymore

The funeral of the late Sam Wymore, was held last Saturday morning, at 10:30 am at the Baptist Church. Services being conducted by Rev. Taylor of Blue Springs. In respect to the deceased, all the business houses in the city of Wymore, were closed during the funeral. The funeral offerings were beautiful, the casket being literally buried with flowers. The services were largely attended by old friends, who had come to pay their respects to one with whom the history of Wymore is so closely connected. The pall bearers were all old friends of the deceased. Interment was made in the Blue Springs Cemetery. 

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