A Little Bit of History and a Little Bit of Legend!

There are several stories about why and when the Hellbusch family came to America. Because many records were destroyed during the war in Germany, there are items that we can not verify. When you read this, understand there may be some discrepancies that come about because dates can not be verified. In addition, passenger lists of immigrants are not always accurate because of transcribing errors.

According to the majority of information we have found, Johann Heinrich was the first Hellbusch that came to America. Johann was born in Germany, November, 1824, and arrived by ship in 1869, along with his wife and children. He settled in Platte County, Nebraska. This location has been verified and is accurate. The area is known as "Oldenbusch". It is recorded on some older road maps. It is a matter of record, the name came from the combination of Oldenburg (Germany) and Hellbusch.

Oldenbusch in 1900

Oldenbusch, Nebraska
Approximately 1900
Consisted of post office, store, creamery, as well as a livery stable.

The following article is written by Keith Bryan about Oldenbusch

Oldenbusch (which suggests a brand of beer) is a hybrid name. They took the name of J. H. Hellbusch, or of Eilert Hellbusch, the first postmaster, and combined it with Oldenburg, the area in Germany from where a group of settlers cam and came up with the name Oldenbusch.

The alternative of this merger would have been Hellburg, so Oldenbusch was no so bad a choice.

The settlement was 13 miles straight north of Columbus (Nebraska) and about seven miles south of Creston (Nebraska). St John's church and cemetery are all that remain. In its heyday it also had a creamery, a store, a blacksmith shop, a poultry ranch, and in later times a telephone exchange. In 1868 when several Columbus businessmen proposed a railroad from Columbus to Yankton, the survey ran through Oldenbusch. (Those were the days of "railroad fever", and in most instances the enthusiasm outdistanced the supply of capital).

Calvin Gertsch recalls that it was one of his mother's daily chores to take several cans of milk to the Oldenbusch creamery in a light wagon drawn by a mare. Calvin was so young he had to be told of the incident later, but one day, after the cans were loaded, he climbed aboard the wagon, said gitty-up" to the mare, and she took the boy, wagon and milk the full length of the well-memorized route to the station without, you might say, guidance of hum hand.

George Theilen was another who grew up in the Oldenbusch community. He couldn't sing, George admits, but as a boy he went regularly to the St. John's choir practice just to have something to do. The preacher was proud of the attendance at evening choir practices, but the secret was that the boys were sneaking into the creamery after practice and swimming the in large tank where the creamery operator washed the mil cans. Even on winter nights the water was still warm from the day's washing. In time the operator caught on. One winter day when choir practice was scheduled he let the fire go out early. So, that night when the swimmers arrive, the first kid dived into the tank with a shout of joy and exited from the icy depths just as quickly on the opposite side with a shriek of agony. Afterward interest in the choir fell off.

At one time several creameries and even a cheese factory were operating in the eastern half of Platte County. Why in just that area? Perhaps the land is more conducive to dairy operation, for one thing. But another is that the predominantly German families probably had more dairy know-how.

What happened to those old neighborhood creameries? According to Calvin Gertsch, the home cream separators put them out of business. Imagine that! The old fixture of the farm home, the cream separator, that was sort of fun to use (but not to clean up) and a heckuva lot of fun for kids to crank before it was reassembled after use, rang down the curtain on an "established" industry. But County Agent Bob Voboril agrees that's what happened.

As with many pioneers and settlers, the Hellbusch families in America endured many hardships. The first homes were "sod houses" because there wasn't any lumber available. Nebraska was prairie country with very few trees. The weather consisted of severe winters and extremely hot summers. In the 1874 or 1875, the grasshoppers destroyed any crops there may have been. Other pioneer stories record the times of the grasshoppers. Such stories as the "hoppers" flying through the air, creating what appeared to be a severe snow or dust storm. Also, they were so thick that the horses could not find the barn. One pioneer even recorded she had gone into her parlor one day and found her lace curtains on the floor, almost entirely eaten. The grasshoppers destroyed any crops there may have been.

After Johann Heinrich's arrival, in spite of many hardships, he apparently felt his decision to move here was a good one because he urged his German relatives to come to America, also. There were a lot of advertisements in Germany asking for people to come to America. For example, the following information really promotes Nance County, the area George Hellbusch (our Grandfather) settled.

The following article is from (http://www.rootsweb.com/~nenance/towns/immgartl.html) the "Immigration Issue", a special newspaper published to encourage settlement in Nebraska. Several towns submitted data for inclusion. Just imagine making your decision based on these articles!



An Historical and Descriptive Sketch - One of the Most Favored Counties of the State - Fullerton the County Seat - One Hundred Miles From Lincoln, on the Union Pacific Railroad - Genoa, a Town of One Thousand Inhabitants.

Nance County, christened in honor of Albinus Nance, the governor of Nebraska at the time of its organization, lies near the center of the state in the fifth tier of counties west of the Missouri river and has an area of four hundred and fifty square miles.

The land which now comprises this county, save and except six sections, was selected in 1857, under Buchanan's administration, by the Pawnee Indians as their reservation, and characteristic of the red man of the forest, the selection made is the most beautiful tract of country in the state, where this tribe enjoyed the hospitality of the government for nineteen years, when they were removed under treaty to the territory.

Under an act of congress of April 10, 1876, provision was made for the sale of this reservation after the appraisement was completed it was offered at pubic auction at Central City on July 15, 1878. It was sold for cash in three equal installments, one-third to be paid at time of sale, one-third in one year and one-third in two years, the deferred payments to draw 6 per cent interest.

It was the general opinion that the reservation would be divided and attached to the adjoining counties, but the citizens who had made investments in this land, without delay petitioned the legislature for the organization of a new county, deeming it more to their advantage than to be annexed to counties already overburdened with debt. Through the influence of Brad D. Slaughter, then chief clerk of the house, their design was accomplished, and in June, 1879, the governor issued his proclamation for the organization of the county, with Fullerton designated as
the county seat.

The reservation is noted for its agricultural advantages and water facilities, which, no doubt were fully appreciated by the Pawnees when they selected it in preference to other sections. It is one of the best watered counties in Nebraska. The Loup river enters on the west boundary and us an easterly course entirely through, furnishing thirty-two miles of a rich and productive valley from one to three miles wide. Tributary to it and flowing from the northwest are the Beaver and Cedar rivers and Plum, Council, Horse, Timber, South Branch and Cottonwood creeks, all of which are bordered with rich alluvial bottom lands.

For richness of soil these valleys cannot be excelled, while the table lands are preferred by many for grain raising as a large per cent of lime enters into the composition of the land. There is comparatively little uncultivable land in the county and even this is in demand for grazing purposes.

All of the land has been purchased from the government and is mostly occupied by actual settlers, leaving but a small per cent in the hands of speculators.

The tendency of a cash sale of these lands by the government has been to keep many from settling in this county for want of means, and they have gone to other sections where home could be secured on railroad grants or under the public land laws of the United States.

There has been a compensation for this loss, however, since those possessed of means only could buy. The better and more thrifty class have settled in the county, giving a population composed of the very best elements which congregate in our western states.

The new comer meets here the same refinement and intelligence which marks society in the older and wealthier communities.

Stock raising is one of the leading occupations, and among those who have largely invested in this industry may be named E. D. Gould, Gould & Baker, Gould & LaGrange, Hiram Lewis, F. C. Miller, T. F. Miller, C. D. Woolworth, W. H. Paton, John Reimers, Frank Green, Frank Hodge, C. E. Brady, J. D. Edgington, Jackson Bros., and Mr. Carleton.

Compiled in a 2 Volume Book With Lots of History and Information About Platte County Visit
Past and Present of Platte County

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Daughter of Louis and Hilda Hellbusch

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