Peter Spracklen a Restless Man and son John!

It is amazing when an ancestor appears in the history books.  Peter was obliging.  He appeared in the History of Western Nebraska with his son John William Spracklen.

John with cousin Frank Russell.

John with cousin Frank Russell.

John W. Spracklen was born at Belle Plaine, Benton county, Iowa, August 23, 1862. His parents were Peter and Catherine (Russell) Spracklen, natives of Ohio and Tennessee respectively (sic). In 1852, Peter Spracklen entered government land in Iowa and engaged in farming in Benton county until 1878, when he moved with his family to Pawnee County, Nebraska. During 1882, he ranged cattle near the river, then came into Dawes County to decide for himself concerning the value of the land to which he had heard settlers were beginning to come. In his estimation the prospect was favorable and he immediately hastened to the filing office at Valentine, where his friend, John Danks, of Long Pine joined him, and unexpectedly his son, John W. Spracklen, who had also determined on homesteading in the newly opened tract. Peter Spracklen had to make his way from his range camp to his camp on the Niobrara river near Valentine, and after the party had secured the numbers of sections, range and town, in order to make filings, they found so many other settlers already in the entry office, each one demanding priority, that they spent an entire day, going without their meals, before they secured their papers. John W. Spracklen secured the first homestead in his township, filing on section 29-32-49, and also, at the same time, April 5, 1884, filed on a timber claim on section 20, while his father filed on a homestead and timber claim adjoining his son’s entries.

Peter Spracklen resided on his Dawes county land for some years or until his health failed, when he began to think of a home in another climate. In younger years he had read of the magnificent forests of Oregon and often expressed a desire to visit them and also, if opportunity presented, to kill a bear. So he sold his Dawes county land and moved to Oregon and lived in the shadow of the great trees until he had satisfied his ambition in regard to the bear, when he returned to Belle Plaine, Iowa, where he made his home for the rest of his life with a daughter, his death occurring in May, 1898, when seventy-three years old. His wife had homesteaded in Pawnee County, Nebraska, and the children completed paying for the land. She died in Pawnee county in 1913. They were members of the Methodist Episcopal church. Of their nine children six are living, John W., being the only one residing in Nebraska.

Here is a county map of Nebraska as it is today.  Dawes County is in the northwest corner and Pawnee is in the southeast corner of the State of Nebraska.

Nebraska Counties Map

Nebraska Counties Map

Peter also appears in the History of Belle Plaine, Iowa 1861-1962 which is sort of a review of the above. Peter mentions his brother Solomon Goss Spracklen in the following:

Belle Plaine, Iowa; A History 1862-1962
Peter Spracklen wrote about his early experiences: “I came to Tama County in the fall of 1852 . . . I returned to Mount Pleasant where I had left my wife and upon our return stopped near Marengo which consisted of three or four houses and a stage route inn on the road from Iowa City to Fort Des Moines . . . We took dinner at Guinnville with John Guinn, and later the same year I stopped over with Guinn for about a week. During that time I went deer hunting and followed a deer a little west of Belle Plaine . . . I was taken by the land and landscape and later decided to leave my former claim and purchase the area I had seen . . . We arrived here in January of 1853 and boarded for a while with John Guinn, paying $4.50 a week for myself, wife, child, and brother, Soloman . . . My brother and I squatted on two eighties, one on the east, and one on the west side of what is now called the county line road but is a half mile this side of the line . . . In the spring Soloman put up a smithy . . . and this log cabin was the first habitation ever put up by a white man on the ground-now within the corporation limits of the city of Belle Plaine. Richard Postlewaite and his sons, William and Joseph, lived in a cabin two miles east. John Guinn was the sole settler on the river bottom in this neighborhood. To the west was William Beabout and to the north was Robert Arbuthnot. No other settlers were found nearer than 12 miles up Salt Creek . . . so Spracklens were in the center of a four-mile prairie. Mallory Morgan was the first man to come within the now corporate limit; William Postlewaite was the next to come. He entered the place afterwards secured by Presley Hutton and upon which the original town of Belle Plaine is located. Henry Boody came in 1854 . . . the first child born was Ella, born to Peter and Maria Spracklen in July, 1854. The child died in infancy . . . Iowa City and Cedar Rapids were the market places and families clubbed together and hauled enough to last six months at a time. When W. A. Parris came to this locality, he hired out to the Spracklens.”

There is a lot of details in these two history books regarding Peter and his son John as well as Catherine.  I encourage you to go find copies of the original books for verification you can try Internet Archives, Google Books, WorldCat, or your local large city library.

About BJ MacDonald

Interested in travel, really into genealogy and researching my family history, classic novels and movies, fantasy and science fiction, photography, history and more... Here is a tip. Make sure you are commenting on the blog you were visiting and the post you were interested in. My blogs are listed by hovering over my pictures and clicking. Clicking one of them will take you back to the correct blog. You can try me here:
This entry was posted in Belle Plaine, Benton County, Catherine Snyder Russell, Chadron Dawes County, Iowa, John W. Spracklen & Dora May Gilmor, Nebraska, Oregon, Pawnee County, Peter Spracklen, Solomon Goss Spracklin, SPRACKLIN or SPRACKLEN Surname, Tama County and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Peter Spracklen a Restless Man and son John!

  1. Pat Stoudt says:

    How very interesting. Can’t wait to go back to Belle Plaine..

    • bonmac says:

      Pat: Good to hear from you. Yes, Peter was a very interesting man and quite the investor. I am sure if I put the time in I would learn a great deal more about Peter and his comings and goings. It seems to be a theme with Spracklin/lens to be restless and always on the move. Looking forward to hearing about your finds. Bonnie

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