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Fitchie, Samuel D.

Samuel D. Fitchie, who lived sixty-two years in Nebraska, described his early experiences here in a letter written December 20, 1919, to the Nebraska State Journal. Fitchie arrived in Nebraska City in 1855 with his father's family. Later he attended school for two years in Paris, Illinois, before returning to Nebraska "with visions of Pike's Peak gold." Fitchie recalled, "About midway between Denver City and Nebraska City I met so many disappointed gold seekers returning who all declared the Pike's Peak gold mines to be a hoax, I got employment from the Overland Stage company.

"I made application to ride the pony express which was then running from Atchison, Kan., to Sacramento, Cal. There were three applicants: Hon. William Campbell, later of Otoe county, Nebraska, now a resident of California; Richard Cleve, deceased, and myself. Both of them were accepted and I rejected, on account of my weight. However, I was given the position of collecting the broken down ponies and placing sound ones in their stead, from old Fort Kearney to Julesburg, . . .

"My next venture was in Denver, Colorado, where I clerked in a grocery store one year and then formed a partnership with Fred Clark. We made a great success and had visions of great wealth until the great Denver fire in 1882 left us minus everything but friends, who offered to stake us. I decided to go home to Nebraska and visit my parents, stopping on the plains at my brother-in-laws' ranch known as Gilmans' ranch, where I accepted a partnership in a ranch (which I afterwards bought) situated two miles west of Fort McPherson. . . .

"The government advertised for 200 cords of wood, to be delivered at Post Lincoln, thirty miles west of Fort McPherson, and notwithstanding it was well advertised in Denver and the length of the road to and in Omaha, there were but two bidders, owing to the country being infected with savage Indians and a hard winter setting in. I was the successful bidder and filled the contract under the most discouraging difficulties and dangers, without the loss of a man." Fitchie's letter also described subsequent experiences as a railroad subcontractor in western Nebraska and as a freighter in Wyoming. Not mentioned is his participation in the Nebraska temperance movement.


(August 2002)



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