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Saturday, 24 September 2011

My visit to Valentine was a success. I can’t imagine what I was worried about. The lady in the Deeds Office, Debbie, put herself at my disposal and spent the better part of two hours, either side of her lunch hour, pulling down huge ledgers containing records of land ownership and transactions.
What follows is bitty, but adds a few more pieces to the jigsaw. The first record pertaining to this 160-acre holding notes Holger Arent’s receipt of his patent on 5 June 1911. As I understand the homestead laws, that would normally be available five years after the original claim was registered. The piece of land is described as being “the South half of the South Half of Section 34 [i.e., a quarter section, or 160 acres] in Township 33 North of Range 38 West of the Sixth Principal Meridian, Nebraska.”

On 4 September 1913, Holger received patent on a further 466.56 acres, suggesting that he made a claim under the Kinkaid Act (1904), which allowed a total, of 640 acres. I suspect that the odd figure involved has to do with it being river-side land.   

It seems that Helga, the Arent’s eldest child, also made a claim. She died in childbirth, in her twenties, which would explain the record I saw of her land being assigned to her heirs on 21 March 1916.

As to Hedvig’s brothers, the Petersens, who had come out here as early as the 1890s, their land was indeed along the Snake river. I saw no record of their acquiring the land, but there is a deed whereby Julius and his wife Kristina sold various parcels down there to a Carl Jorgensen. The contract was made in June 1914, the deed exchanged in October 1916. The sum involved was $13,568.   

As to Hedvig and Julius’ brother Peter, there is a record of him and his wife Emila selling two 40-acre parcels of land to a Hans Jensen in 1910 for $1920.

In 1948 the surviving Arent offspring – Herman, (and Effie, his wife), Phillip (and Louise, his wife), Otto, Margaret (now married to James Herrington) and Anna (married to Harley Collins) signed a document granting the tenancy of this place to Charlie and Dorothy Wright. Helga and Martin were both dead by this time; Astrid was still alive, and, I believe, married to Hans Gammel, but was not a signatory. Ultimately, the and would pass to the current owner, Kitty’s dad, in 1961.

This is, as I said, bitty, for which I apologise. I simply noted all that I found – which included three other pieces of information. Some time ago, when A and I hiked down to the place where the wagon train was burned by the Cavalry, I mentioned the old wooden home we came across, known locally as the Thayer place. Having seen his name on a map, I can confirm that the homesteader down there was Alvin R Thayer.

The log house I saw yesterday, down where Leander Creek flows into the river, belonged to James J Goodfellow.

Finally, on the audio tape recorded by the late Astrid Arent, she spoke of the family staying with the Lyons family for a few months before they finally came here in 1904. I saw Lyons’ name on another map, one mile north of the Harlan school and post office, in Lavaca township, about eight or ten miles up-river from here.

The impermanence of many of the names on these old charts can be gauged by the fact that on a Nebraska Railroad Commission map dated 1915, Center is marked as a settlement. All that’s there  now is the cemetery, two miles or so from here and just to the east of the ranch-house.

It may not sound a lot, but it is helping me understand of this little corner of Cherry County a little better. Tomorrow I’ll try and synopsise what I found among the Mari Sandoz papers earlier in the week.

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