Ah…just looking at the picture brings back memories from childhood. The screen door we ran in and out of constantly, the L-shaped side porch with its potted red geraniums, the long counter Grandma worked at perched on her stool, the worn wooden stairs we played on, the soft, comfy beds crowded into the room. All of us “Smith Cousins” have many wonderful memories of Grandma’s house before it burned down in 1976.
I’m not sure when the house was built, but I suspect it was built sometime in the late 1800’s by Grandpa Smith’s dad, Charles M. Smith. The land the house was built on, the “home place”, was purchased from the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad Co. by Charles M. Smith on 11 Sep 1873[i], being the Northwest quarter of Section 29, Township 9, Range 2 West. At the time of his purchase, Charles M. Smith resided in Agency City, Wapello County, Iowa. Shortly after, Charles, and his wife, Mary Jane (Howell), along with several members of her family, made the trek west to settle in York County. A few years later, in 1877, Charles M. made a Homestead claim for adjoining land lying just to the east (North half of the southwest quarter of Section 28, Township 9, Range 2 West)[ii]. According to the homestead papers, the family resided on the homestead land from 1 Aug 1877 until at least March 1883, which included a sod house, stable, granary, cellar and well. My guess is that sometime after the homestead was “proved” (they had to live on the land for 5 years), Charles built the house on the land purchased from the railroad…the house we knew as “Grandma’s House”.
[i] Application to Buy Land in Nebraska, Railroad Land Records (microfilm), Nebraska State Historical Society, Lincoln.
[ii] Charles M. Smith (York County) homestead file, final certificate no. 10658, Lincoln, Nebraska, Land Office; Land Entry Papers, 1800-1908; Records of the Bureau of Land Management, Record Group 49; National Archives, Washington, D.C.