NEBRASKA STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY MANUSCRIPT FINDING AID
RG4247.AM: William H. Ellison, 1862-1949
Letterpress books: 1888-1897
Hebron, Thayer County, Neb.: Insurance agent, bank cashier and County Treasurer
Size: 2 volumes
Richard Ellison was born in Chautauqua County, New York in 1829. He lived in New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa, and even made a trip to the Nebraska Territory before settling in Nebraska in 1868. The 1870 census shows Richard living in Jefferson County, Hobbs precinct, with his wife Adalette, age 25 (believed to be William’s stepmother); daughters Nellie and Rosa, ages 14 and 10, and Willie, age 8, who was born in Wisconsin; Richard, age 3, born in Iowa; Julia, age 2 and Mary 2 months old, both born in Nebraska. Also living with the family was Thomas Ellison, age 63, born in New Jersey. By 1880 Richard was living in Hebron, Thayer County, Nebraska. Nellie had become Mrs. Brewster and was living in Arizona; Rosa married John Bobst and lived in Spring Creek precinct with a one month old daughter, Jessie (they later moved to California); and Will had left home. Five more children were born to Richard and Adalette between 1870-1880.
After moving to Thayer County, Richard’s land holdings grew to 160 acres. He was a breeder of short horn cattle, hogs, and engaged in the wool and grain business. The 1886-1887 Gazetteer lists Richard as a livestock dealer and loan broker. He held notes on property in Thayer County and was involved in many foreclosure proceedings in the District Court. The 1885 census shows him still living in the Hebron suburbs with an additional two children. Sometime in the 1880s he began frequent visits to California and vicinity where he spent most of his time, eventually remaining in that area. His wife (Will’s stepmother) died in Los Angeles in August of 1895.
William H. Ellison is listed in the 1885 Hebron, Thayer County, census as Assistant Deputy County Treasurer. On August 11, 1885, he filed a timber claim in Logan (formerly Weld County), Colorado, six miles from Holyoke, on the E 1/2, SW 1/4 and W 1/2, SE 1/4, S4, T6, R4. In February of 1888 he was made assistant cashier of the First National Bank of Hebron, the same year his father was elected as director at that bank. He purchased his home in Talmadge Addition to Hebron (lots 10-12, Block 5), in September of 1889. He also owned property 10 1/2 miles from Hebron and 4 1/2 miles from Deshler (SE 1/4, S33 and SW 1/4, S34, T3, R4) a portion of which was sold in 1891.
On November 15, 1889, he married the daughter of E.T. Hanlon of Hebron, Rosa M. Frost, at the home of her uncle in Barnesville, Ohio. They lived in Hebron and Will continued as assistant cashier at the bank until he resigned December 2, 1893, having been elected County Treasurer. He served in that position until January 1, 1898. Will was also a fire and tornado insurance agent throughout his career at the bank and to a less extent as County Treasurer. He represented Aetna Insurance-Hartford; German American-New York; National Fire Insurance-Hartford; American Insurance Company of Omaha; Fidelity and Casualty Co.-Chicago; Guardian-Des Moines from 1892; Franklin Insurance-Columbus, Ohio to December 1890; and Southern California Insurance Company, Los Angeles from 1891. He served clients in Nebraska and Wyoming.
Will was a member of the Blue Valley Lodge #52, Knights of Phythias as Keeper of the Records and Seal until 1891 when he was appointed to a higher position with the Herald Hebron Division #29. Will was also connected with the school board, Chairman of the Republican County Central Committee, 1892, treasurer of the Hebron Town Hall Co., 1887, Secretary of the Knights of Phythias Hall Co., 1889, and a stockholder in the Hebron Building Association as well as the 1st National Bank of Hebron. His wife was a member and once treasurer of the Ladies Aid Society.
At the end of his term as County Treasurer on January 1, 1898, his plans were to form a party to go to the Klondike for a mining venture, and he did make a trip to investigate this prospect in January-February 1898. However, he had also inquired about the living conditions in Columbia, South America in 1897. He eventually joined his former colleague Henry C. Bigelow at the Ogden State Bank in Utah. His brother (or step-brother), Walter, was married to Abbie Fulton, September 1, 1898, and resided on their father’s farm south of Hebron.
SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE
This collection consists of two volumes in one series designated as 1) Letterpress Books, 1888-1897. Correspondence in the volumes relates to Richard Ellison’s extensive land holdings in Thayer County, Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Kansas; to Will’s timber claim in Logan County, Colorado, and his efforts to prove up on the claim; to Will’s land in Thayer County; and to Richard’s loan business taken care of by William in his father’s absence. Included is official correspondence of the Knights of Phythias, Hebron, official correspondence of the First National Bank of Hebron, official correspondence as insurance agent with clients and the companies he represented (see biographical note), and official correspondence as Thayer County Treasurer, April of 1894 through November of 1897. Volume two is almost exclusively correspondence in his capacity as county treasurer.
Items of interest are the letters relating to his timber claim; letters to his father in California and to family members; those relating to the fire of the Hebron Mercantile Company in 1890; correspondence concerning the Hebron Water Works and fire department, 1891; and transactions concerning Thayer County school bonds, 1891. There is extensive correspondence concerning legal cases involving Will and his father, Richard Brown vs. Albright, April 1889; Joel T. Albright vs. Ellison, September 1889; Goodhue vs. Ellison, August 1890; Albright vs. Brown in Supreme Court, February 1893 was drawn out through 1897.
Correspondents include the insurance companies represented by Ellison; his clients in Thayer County and elsewhere; Andrew G. Collins, President, 1st National Bank of Hebron; Henry C. Bigelow, President, Thayer County Bank later moving to Ogden, Utah, and formed the Ogden State Bank; Charles L. Richards, Attorney, Hebron; Erasmus M. Correll, State Senator; Joel W. Dewesse, Attorney, Lincoln; W.H. Morris, Judge, Crete; and Thayer County and Nebraska officials during William’s term as county treasurer.
These two volumes of outgoing correspondence represent a valuable addition to the history of Hebron and Thayer County, Nebraska. A few of the letters are faded and illegible.
Series 1 – Letterpress Books, 1888-1897
- 1888, Feb. 20 – 1895, Feb. 4
- 1895, Feb. 4 – 1897, Nov. 7
Albright, Joel T.
Banks and banking — Nebraska — Thayer County
Blue Valley Lodge #52. Knights of Phythias
Collins, Andrew G., 1847-1932
Correll, Erasmus M., 1846-1895
DeWeese, Joel W., 1843-1907
Ellison, Richard, 1829-1919
Ellison, William H., 1862-1949
First National Bank (Hebron, Neb.)
Hebron (Neb.) — History
Insurance — Nebraska
Knights of Pythias (Hebron, Neb.)
Land — Nebraska — Thayer County
Morris, William H.
Republican Party (Hebron, Neb.)
Richards, Charles L., 1856-
School bonds — Nebraska — Thayer County
Thayer County (Neb.) — History
Timber claims — Colorado
Revised TMM 12-08-2017