Select Page


RG3914.AM:  Luna E. (Sanford) Kellie, 1857-1940

Reminiscence:  1876-1881

Adams and Kearney County, Neb.:  Farmer and political farm organization spokeswoman

Size:  1 box; 0.2 cu.ft.


Luna Sanford was born June 9, 1867, the eldest of five children of J.M. Sanford. During her childhood the family moved from Pipestone, Minnesota to Madison, Wisconsin, and later to Rockford, Illinois. While in Rockford she attended the Girls Seminary there. Luna Sanford married James Thompson Kellie on December 31, 1874. In 1876 the young couple followed Luna’s family to Nebraska and settled on a homestead in Adams County. After eight years of struggle there, Luna and J.T., as her husband was called, moved to a timber claim in Kearney County. Later they operated a “suburban grocery store” in Minden, Nebraska, before moving to a farm near Heartwell, where they both became active in rural reform movements. She became State Secretary of the Nebraska Farmers’ Alliance.

Although burdened with the many duties associated with farming and the responsibility of raising eleven children. Mrs. Kellie found time for her Alliance editorial and secretarial duties. She was also active in the temperance movement and the Methodist Church. Her involvement in reform causes in Nebraska met with frustration and she retired to Arizona. She died in Phoenix on March 4, 1940, and was buried at Heartwell, Nebraska, the scene of her earlier reform endeavors. Her husband, who had also been active in the Farmers’ Alliance, died in 1918.


This collection consists of Luna E. Kellie’s reminiscence of life on the Nebraska frontier in the 1870s and 1880s. Included in the memoir are descriptions of the farm she and her husband, J.T. Kellie, worked in Adams County, Nebraska. She also detailed the construction and furnishing of their sod house and the births and deaths of their children. She described her early disillusionment with the harsh environment of the Plains and frustrations with economic conditions of the 1880s. The Kellie’s became active in the Nebraska Farmers’ Alliance and Mrs. Kellie served as State Secretary. The memoir includes reference only to the beginning of their political involvement. For preservation purposes, researchers are asked to use the photocopies or transcripts provided.

Note:  See the photo component [RG3914.PH] for related images. See the NSHS Library Catalog and the Nebraska History index for published materials by and about Luna Kellie. See also the records of the Nebraska Farmers’ Alliance [RG2623].


Box 1


  1. Reminiscence (typescript)

  2. Reminiscence (photocopy of original)



Adams County (Neb.) — History

Burlington and Missouri River Railroad

Economic conditions — Nebraska

Farm life — Nebraska — Adams County

Farm life — Nebraska — Kearney County

Farmers’ Alliance (Neb.)

Grasshoppers — Nebraska

Kearney County (Neb.) — History

Kellie, Luna E. (Sanford), 1857-1940

Politics — Nebraska

Sod houses — Nebraska

Women in Nebraska


DHH/cat   11-30-1976

Encoded TMM   05-12-2010