Stories by Elsie (Spear) Tillman, Courtesy of Mrs. Alvena Widner.



Elsie (Spear) Tillman is the daughter of William and Louie E. Spear. The Spearís homesteaded a section of land in the northwest corner of Lincoln County, near the head of the West Birdwood Creek. The Spearís came with their six children, to Lincoln County, on April 23, 1905. Children in the family at that time were Elmer, May, Davy, Elsie, Harlen and Ted. May married a Widner and Elsie married a Tillman.

The family of William and Lou Hurd arrived to homestead about the same time as the Spears, at a location about 12 miles north of the village of Spear. The Hurdís had three daughters: Vera (age 16), Myra (age 14) and Emma Laura (age 2).

There were no schools or school houses in the area, so William Spear hired a women named Vera for a three-month term, for two years, to teach the children. School was held 1.5 miles from the Spearís home, at the home of a bachelor named Sidney Dillon. Elsie remembers the sign over the front door that said "Hoboís Roost". Sidney "Sid" Dillon was a son of Isaac Dillon, and nephew of Sidney Dillon, who was twice President of the Union Pacific Railroad.

Later, William Spear bought a small house that they used as a school house. He had the house moved next to their sod house, and they used the building for school, Sunday School, church services, or any other gatherings or entertainment that they had in Spear. Several years later the Spear children went to school 3.5 miles north, in McPherson County. The school was near Lorenzo Pickleís home, and was called the Pickle School.

William Spear operated a Post Office and grocery store. They were located on Section 6-T.16, R.34. According to Perkeyís Nebraska Place Names, the post office officially operated from May 25, 1909 until June 30, 1915. William would go to Sutherland twice a week to purchase grocery supplies from Owen and Lyons Store, which he resold at the Spear store. It took two days for each trip. He used the North Platte River fording spot near the location of the present North Platte River bridge north of Sutherland. This saved William two miles travel to the other fording spot two miles east of the present bridge. Archie Stenner was the mail carrier who picked up and delivered mail to the Spear Post Office. From Spear, he traveled on to Mrs. L. D. Nickolsonís home in McPherson County. She operated the Mayflower Post Office. According to Perkeyís, the Mayflower Post Office was established February 3, 1906, and discontinued in 1920.

Three more children were born to the Spearís at their homestead in Lincoln County: Edwin, Charles and Ruby (Mrs. Lloyd Splitt). At the time of the transcription of these stories (date unknown), Ruby lived in Laramie, Wyoming and was the victim of Parkinsonís Disease. May Widner was living in a nursing home in Kansas, and Edwin was living in Ogallala. The remainder of the children had passed away.

The Spearís sold their homestead in 1916.


Perkeyís Nebraska Place Names, by Elton A. Perkey, Published by the Nebraska State Historical Society, Copyright 1995, ISBN 0-934904-19-7.

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