The Hosford family came to Boone County from neighboring Madison County in 1872, settling along side the Voorhees brothers along the banks of a small creek that still bears the Voorhees name.  My great-great grandfather, William Addison Hosford, was a native of Massachusetts and had served with the Voorhees brothers in the Civil War.  Before coming to Nebraska, the Hosfords had lived in Washington, D.C.  The land homesteaded by the Hosfords is no longer in our family.

However, both my mother, Mari, and my grandmother, Etta, were Mansfields, and both were descended from Augustus George Mansfield, an immigrant from London, England, who settled in Boone Countyin 1880.  566 acres of Mansfield land is still owned by our branch of the family.

Records show that A.G. Mansfield purchased a 160 acre homestead from S.E. Bowman in 1883, and about a year later sold it to his son, my great-grandfather Frank Mansfield.  My grandmother Etta was Frank.’s youngest daughter, and like her three older sisters –Ada, Ruby and Nellie – was born on this farm.

I suspect that S.E. Bowman was A.G. Mansfield’s brother-in-law, though I have yet to confirm this. If A.G. and S.E. were indeed related, then this farm has been in my family since homesteaded in the 1870s.

My reason for suspecting A.G. and S.E were in-laws is based in part on the fact that my great-grandfather Frank had come from Marengo, Illinois – where the Mansfields were then living – to Boone County in 1879 with his uncle whose last name was Bowman, to see if the area would be a good place for the family to relocate to (he reported that it was and they emigrated in 1880).

My great-grandfather Frank’s mother was Mary Moore (Mary was Native American and had been born near Syracuse, New York — because of the location of her birth, I suspect she was a member of the Anglicized branch of the Iroquois tribe).  Her brother, Orlando Moore, settled in Boone County in the 1870s.  In his daughter Grace’s obituary it mentions that Grace had been born in Marengo in 1866 and “at the age of four years she came toNebraskawith her parents.  They traveled in a covered wagon train consisting of several wagons composed of relatives, all of whom settled near Boone in Boone County, Nebraska.”

While I suspect the 1870 date is erroneous – the first settlers in Boone County arrived in 1871 and there were no Moore’s among them – I believe the mention of coming in the company of relatives to be true, and suspect that among these relatives was S.E. Bowman, who homesteaded the farm where my grandmother was born and that we still own today.

Frank Mansfield retired from farming at age 50 and in 1911 moved his family to nearby Albion (Lori and I live in his former house).  In 1915 his second oldest daughter, Ruby, married Monte Wright, and they lived on the family farm until shortly before Monte’s death in 1963.  Though I was very young, I remember visiting them at the farm and their moving to Albion.

This farm was then occupied by renters – most notably the Robert Shaw family, until 1985, when Lori and I were married.  Against the advice of everyone, we attempted to remodel the farmhouse but failed.  Since then it has been unoccupied and is frequently visited by teenage vandals – and even some teenage ghost hunters — from the area.

Frank Mansfield was in inveterate trader, once trading lakefront property in Minnesota for a team of mules.  He did manage, though, to increase the size of his holdings around the original homestead to its present size of 546 acres.  He also ended up with 20 acres of desert in southeastern Oregon’s Harney Basin, land Lori and the kids and I hope one day to visit…