|Birth: ||Mar. 30, 1859|
|Death: ||Jul. 31, 1946|
Preface: So much has been written about Abraham and his family that is easily found on the Internet. Instead of duplicating 30-pages of his "story" during his childhood, LDS conversion, and/or the challenges during the sojourn to and exodus from Old Mexico, Abraham's own words are written herein as he reflected on his years in Cozad, Nebraska.
EARLY HISTORY OF COZAD, NEBRASKA, BY ABRAHAM BUNDY OF St. GEORGE, UTAH...
"Coming from Crawford County, Kansas where Uncle Ambrose lived, some 400 miles away, I landed in Cozad, Nebraska the day before Christmas 1879, without a cent in my pocket. A number of folks had come to Cozad several years before from Ohio, including: David Claypool, Trabe Gatewood and his mother, Sam Schooley, Mr. Biggs, who ran the boarding house, Mr. Skinner, who sold coal for a living, and John J. Cozad, founder of the town.
My father went to Cozad from Kansas a few years before. Mother had died a few months before my planned move there. After receiving the letter stating that mother was dead, waves of grief came to me with such force and for such a long time, that I thought it would kill me. All of the mean things that I had ever done seemed to come to my mind with a remorse that was overwhelming. To think that my mother was dead... It never occurred to me the sorrow and grief that must have gripped my mother's heart after I had run away from home (refer to Omer's account) and until six weeks later when I had sent her a letter from Kansas. My brother, Ambrose, and I talked it over, and decided that I should go to live with our father. We got a map. It looked like the railroad ran in a northwest direction right up through Kansas and came out near Hastings, so off I went. Upon my arrival, there was one place with 12-miles of wagon road ahead of me. How to get across that I did not know, but I finally decided to walk and carry my trunk. I shouldered it up and started up the road, carrying it less than a mile when I decided that I couldn't hold out for twelve miles. Luckily, two old farmers came along who were going to the same town that I was going to. They didn't even charge for the ride. In Hastings, I took a train to Grand Island. Although it was the day before Christmas, the winter was mild.
The first work that I did was to help my younger brother haul some hay down from one of the canyons in the hills northeast of father's place. It took all day to make the trip. I remember how nice the weather was when we came home in the afternoon facing the sun. The following summer was dry, and we didn't raise very good crops. In the fall, I took the malaria fever and very near died. I was reduced to a skeleton. For a whole week, everyone thought that I would die! I can't remember the years as they came, some were dry and some were wet. They say that one extreme in weather follows another. The next fall, it started to rain. It rained a-plenty. Mr. Claypool and Mr. Cozad tried to put up hay along the Platt River. It rained so much that it was hard to keep the hay from spoiling. I got a job helping, and we had to get our own drinking water. On one occasion, our water sack went dry, so a fellow workman by the name of Hank Adle and myself went towards the river. We saw a nice little steam coming down as clear as crystal, and we lay down and took a good drink. When we got up, we walked up stream a few rods and there lay an old dead dog, right in the stream out of which we had been drinking. He was half rotten. Gosh! When I think of it, I can see that old rotten dog yet.
The fall rains started the grass. By Christmas time, the range cattle were as fat as they ever got, but that winter proved a real tragedy for them. A week before Christmas it started snowing. Soon, the snow was 16-18 inches deep and hardened so that the livestock couldn't get anything to eat. It was very cold. The cattle from the Loup River country started to drift south. They came down by the hundreds. When they came to the Platte, they stopped at the frozen river. Trying to find shelter in the willows along the river bank, hundreds died from starvation. There were dead cattle carcasses for a hundred yards. The stockmen calculated that 80% of all stock on the range died. I was living with John Melius, another of the early settlers. Most of the time we had nothing to eat but cornbread and jack rabbits. The rabbits would burrow down in the snow, and we used to hitch the horses to the wagon and drive around coming within 100 or 150 yards of a jack. He would peep up to see what was coming and although we could see only the top of his head and eyes. Melius was a good shot. He had a muzzle loading rifle and hardly ever missed a shot. In practice, he could hit a 2-inch cap box lid at a distance of 200 yards off hand.
While the heavy snow caused much suffering that winter, it did help to make a good crop that next summer. I went to work on the railroad that spring as soon as they took on extra hands and stuck to the job all summer. We were paid $1.40 a day and paid $4 a week for board. I was anxious to get on my homestead as settlers were beginning to come in, and I was afraid that I might lose it. Actually, the 10x12 foot cabin, sodded-up four feet, with a ridge pole across the top, would not have been much to lose. I got some willows down at the Platte River and laid them across those shelter poles. Then, I laid sod on the top of that for a roof. That was the only house that I had for about two years.
I didn't like the idea of living alone on that homestead. In Nebraska, I missed the girls that I had formed an attachment for in Kansas at the school where I went. The more I thought of them, the more my life seemed void and vacant. There was a few girls in Nebraska, but my heart knit around one in particular in Kansas. So, with a few dollars in my pocket, I went my way to Kansas, determined to make some of my dreams come true. When I got there, by gosh, there was a young fellow sparking the woman that I wanted for my wife! Some people would not think that was a very gorgeous mansion to bring a bride to, but that was all that I had. Once when I was in Kansas, my bride-to-be had made the remark that she would live in a hole in the ground with me. That was what she came pretty near doing. So on February 12, sixty-four years ago next month, my Ella and I were married. We did not move into our mansion right away, but I got a job on the railroad to earn money so that we could accumulate a few things to take to the homestead. When I first brought my wife back to Cozad, a certain young lady remarked to another, "Have you seen Bundy's wife yet?" She said, "No. What kind of a looking thing is she?" "Why," said the first one, "She has got eyes like a jack rabbit and is as speckled as a guinea egg!" That was because she had a few freckles on her face.
Fuel was hard to get in those days, although you could get coal if you had the money. But, a lot of people like myself didn't have money. I have gone out in the storms when the snow was blowing and the mercury dropped to zero and cut cornstalks. That was all that we had to keep us warm. Coal was $7.00 a ton, and corn was 15 cents a bushel. A lot of people burned corn when they had it. Folk would resort to all sorts of schemes to get something to burn. The Union Pacific Railroad used to haul coal on open flat cars. The old iron rails would make the cars wobble and shake off a chunk of coal now and then. The weather was freaky and uncertain. One year the corn was all tasseled out and looked like a fine crop, and then for three days, one of those hot winds blew and seared and killed every bit of corn. It used to hail in parts of that country every year, and may do it yet, sometimes in streaks or patches. You might be hailed out and your neighbor, half-a-mile away, would have a good crop. Once, a storm came up one night at 10:00 p.m. The sky was as black as ink but no wind. Then it began to hail. Hailstones were six inches in diameter. They were not solid but were big clusters of stones all frozen together. If Nebraska had an even climate and if you could depend upon the rain at regular seasons, farming in the state would be hard to beat. One year I made 35 bushels of corn per acre. Dad raised a squash on sod that weighed 106 pounds, and I had a turnip that grew among the potatoes that weighed 16 pounds!
Now, I want to tell you about the sod bridge that Mr. Cozad undertook to build across the Platte River. He had never given up the dream of building a town, and a number of new settlers were moving in. The country on the south, where there were very few houses, was beautiful. In order to encourage people to settle near Cozad, even if not in the town, it was deemed advisable to have a bridge across the river. As sod was the cheapest material near at hand, it was decided to build the bridge with sod, although some lumber would have to be used in the construction. The bridge was started with sod and built out for two or three hundred feet. Then a span between 100-200 feet was left where a piling was to be driven into the sand. The spans would be built just like the other bridge, with another 200 feet of sod, and the pilings alternating clear across the river.
Mr. Cozad hired the homesteaders that had teams of horses to get the piling. I was one that helped to haul the piling. We went way up on the Loup River to get the wood. Each trip would take about a week, as it was 50 miles away. I don't remember now what we got paid for the piling, but it wasn't very much. I think that we made $20-25 a trip. It depended on how strong the horses were and how many poles that they could haul. It was in the winter when we hauled the poles. I remember that on the first trip that I made, it was pretty cold crossing the divide. We hauled our bedding with us and made a bed on the ground whenever we stopped for the night. There was snow on the ground when we crossed the Loup River. I thought that it was pretty tough; however, when I was inclined to complain, the rest of the group made fun of me and called me a tenderfoot. My dad was about 65 years of age, and he didn't seem to mind a bit; but I sure wished that I was back in Kansas where the speckled girls were! I have found, though, that a man can do a lot of things when he has to. Since that time, I have slept on the ground for months at a time and through all kinds of weather.
We didn't work on the bridge itself until the summer when the river was nearly dry with just a few channels of water. There were quite a bunch of fellows working -- a team of two plowing sod, two or three fellows cutting sod, and several teams hauling sod. They soon made quite a showing. At the end of every span of sod, they drove a piling and nailed two inch planks to keep the water from washing the sod away. We got the bridge away out into the river, and then Mr. Cozad stopped the work. I never did learn the reason why. The partly finished bridge stood there all winter. The next June the high water came down the river. When it subsided, only a few pieces of piling were left, and the tops were sticking up a little way out of the sand.
The most terrible thing in those days was a prairie fire. I have seen a blaze of a prairie fire 20 miles long. The settlers would try to protect themselves by plowing a strip rod or 20 feet wide around the homestead, but that wasn't always safe. When the wind was strong, it was liable to blow a spark or a little piece of burning grass across and start the fire on the other side of the firebreak. Buffalo grass was easily ignited when it was dry. I can recall one time that a fire started about ten miles northwest of my place, and the wind was blowing a gale. It looked like the fire would leap 20 feet high, then flop down to the ground, and then leap up again. It sent up a huge smoke such as we have read about in the story of "Sodom and Gomorrah". There were some range cattle in front of it and as the fire got close, they started to run, but the fire overtook them. They kept running until they dropped dead. Of the whole bunch, not a single head escaped.
Nebraska was a great country for wild game. The first few years that I lived there I could see antelope every day by just stepping out of the door. There were prairie chickens and grouse. In the fall of the year, there were cranes and wild geese by the thousands. The fowl would stay down on the river during the day. In the morning and evening, they would fly out onto the fields to feed. I have seen them at times when it seemed as though there were 10,000 or more in the field at once. Now, that was a sight to see! If only we had movie cameras at that time. That would have made a wonderful picture. The most that I ever killed with one shot was seven! The country was so level that you didn't have much of a chance to sneak up on them. Most people think that birds and animals don't talk. But, I claim that they do talk to each other and that they have a guard who keeps watch when they are feeding. That guard never puts his head down to eat while the others are feeding. The guard seems to know that someone might sneak up on them through the corn. I have watched as the guard stands just like a statue while the rest of the flock feeds as if there was no danger in the world. Then, tiring of the game, I would cautiously stand up, but that old guard would always spy me, give a honk, and like a flash of lightning, the entire gaggle would rise up out of the stubble. Not any one of them would stop to argue the case or gawk around and say, "What is the matter?" It matters not whether these are geese or cranes, I've had the same experience with both.
Well, my experiences in the early days were much like those of the other settlers. A lot has changed since that time. I might tell you that I helped to build the side track where the town of Gothenburg now stands. At that time, there was only one house in sight. The folks who settled Nebraska were poor people for the most part. When a family came in and made a sod house and could put a shingle roof on it, we figured that this family was pretty well-to-do. Lots of people came and located claims and then went away to earn a stake so that they could build a house. Some of them never came back. John Melius, one of the early settlers, was one of the best stickers. I have never heard him talk about leaving. He always went at things as if he meant business and was not half-hearted. He prospered as well as any of the settlers right from the start.
I have enjoyed writing this, although I am very busy. My wife is bedfast now, and I have to take care of her and do all of the cooking and housework..." --AB
Isaac Bundy (1815 - 1909)
Sarah Susanna Vest Bundy (1820 - 1879)
Ella Anderson Bundy (1865 - 1946)*
Lillie Belle Bundy Iverson (1883 - 1970)*
Roy Bundy (1885 - 1959)*
James Dennis Bundy (1887 - 1977)*
Omer Bundy (1891 - 1971)*
Ina Bundy Gifford (1893 - 1981)*
Vivian "Pat" August Bundy (1899 - 1985)*
Chester Marion Bundy (1901 - 1980)*
Edna Bundy Griffiths (1903 - 1985)*
Ambrose Allen Bundy (1841 - 1908)*
Rachel Bundy Kendig (1842 - 1868)*
Christopher Columbus Bundy (1846 - 1880)*
Charles Monroe Bundy (1852 - 1926)*
Obadiah Boyd Bundy (1857 - 1919)*
Abraham Bundy (1859 - 1946)
Mary Ellen Bundy Melius (1860 - 1923)*
William Lincoln Bundy (1866 - 1940)*
Mount Trumbull Cemetery
Maintained by: H. Bundy
Originally Created by: John Warnke
Record added: Apr 09, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial# 13900324