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 Editor's Notebook, by Bill Blauvelt Driving the Backroads Country Roads, by Gloria Garman-Schlaefli

Editor's Notebook, by Bill Blauvelt
In this space last week I made a brief reference to the lynching of a man take from the Nuckolls County jail. This week I received an email from a reader in New York asking for more information about the lynching.

I'm surprised the reader didn't now about it. The lynching story has been told so many times I thought everyone who was born, raised and educated in Nuckolls County as the reader was would know it by heart. Apparently, I am wrong.

So for the benefit of a reader in New York and perhaps others who don't know the story I will use this week's space to reprint the story as it appeared in the 1967 Nuckolls County history book titled, "From Hoppers to Copters."

On July 14, 1887 the law-abiding citizens of Nelson learned the body of Henry Sallen, a well-known and highly respected farmer had been found on the road a mile and a half northwest of town (an area thereafter known as "Dead Man's Hollow). Sallen had sold five head of hogs for $52.50 that morning and had been seen leaving town with another man.

Citizens at once began to search and it was soon agreed that John Conrad, known as "Jim the Cook" or "Coon," formerly employed on a Burlington railroad construction gang, was the guilty man. He was found at his home, taken into custody and brought before a coroner's jury. His trial was set for July 19.

The trial was not to be held. An enraged and vengeful mob, hooded and armed, assembled in the park around one a.m. and marched to the jail, elbowed their way into the prisoner's quarters and looped a rope over the hapless prisoner's neck. Fully surrounding the prisoner, the mob marched to the Rock Island trestle over Elk Creek, some seven blocks away. Quickly securing the rope to the rail, the mob pushed the man off the track and the noose quickly tightened around his neck.

The mob quickly dispersed, leaving the incoming morning train to cut the rope and let the body drop to the stream below. The train crew saw what had happened, stopped and pulled the victim to the side of the bank, before going on their way. Burial was made later that day in the Nelson cemetery.

In the summer of 1890 the body of the lynched man was exhumed, the head severed and taken away. At this time a man claiming to be a study of phrenology (the study of the skull shape as an indication of mental ability which was a "science" much in vogue at the time) was giving lectures in Nelson. A few months later in another town the same phrenologist had on display a skull which he described as a "murderer-a man of low intellect and brutal instinct."

As with the case of the mob who took the law into their own hands, no legal action was ever taken.


Sidelight: Now 146 years after the organization of Nuckolls County, county residents can still brag "There has never been a trial held in the county for a murder committed in Nuckolls County." That's not to say there has never been a murder in Nuckolls County or a murder trial in Nuckolls County for there have been both. There just hasn't been a trial held in the county for a murder committed in the county.

Driving the Back Roads

By Nela Huntsinger Erwin

I grew up in a farming community in North Central Kansas knows as Mankato. There were, and are, backroads in abundance. There are also plenty of them in the Ozarks where I now live.

There's something so relaxing about driving these roads...especially the dirt roads! Yes it kicks up dust, but it reminds me of simpler times. My dad and I would drive these roads summer and winter, looking for cottontail rabbits. They were some of the best eating ever!

We ate a lot of fried rabbit!

As a family, we would take Sunday drives after church and dinner. There was no destination, we just went. We'd stop alongside a field and pick some field corn. Wheat and milo grew about everywhere. Wildflowers made the best bouquets. It was just a relaxing time.

I really enjoy taking a backroad. You see things your wouldn't normally see. You discover a creek you didn't know existed, a little meadow, a copse of trees standing alone. Pastures with Black Angus or Charolais cattle, an occasional horse running and enjoying the wind. Maybe an old farmstead will pop up when you crest a hill. The possibilities are surprising. An old stone schoolhouse, a windmill, a little waterfall, an old fence made of tree limbs, a makeshift lean-to where someone hid while hunting.

The road can be winding or straight. A few hills are nice. Trees overhead may form a canopy or it may be a wide open road with lots of sunshine. Drive it slow or drive it fast, whatever your soul is needing.

Enjoy the wind blowing in your hair. Look around and see what's there. Stop if you find something you want to explore. Let the backroads take you to a different place!

Country Roads, by Gloria Garman-Schlaefli

It's Christmas cookie baking time in the Schlaefli farmhouse kitchen. Saturday was designated as the day to bake the seasonal cookies. Favorite recipes were gotten out of the cookbooks and recipe boxes. Some are family favorites handed down from our mothers such as Mexican Wedding Cake cookies that my mother-in-law made every Christmas, and the Prize cookies that my mother made. A friend's recipe for a different twist on chocolate chip cookies which adds some healthy oatmeal were baked, along with a recipe from one of my "second" mothers called Pecan Tassies. Soon the kitchen was filled with the aroma of fresh baked cookies.

Awaiting help from two of the younger granddaughters will be the sugar cookies. They will not be made until the girls come visiting. My mother's metal cookie cutters will be used to cut the dough into shapes such as stars, Christmas trees, angels, candy canes and stockings.

After the sugar cookies are baked and cooled comes the really fun part of helping the girls decorate them with frosting and sprinkles.

All the cookies I made Saturday were placed in containers and secretly carried downstairs to the large freezer to store. If my husband knew there were bunches of fresh baked cookies, he would enjoy getting into them. Getting into the cookie stash was a favorite thing for my sons to do.

I did feel a little guilty and filled my husband's cookie jar before taking them to the freezer.

Later the cookies will be packed in small boxes and taken to neighbors and work places. Some will be served when company comes. Everyone enjoys eating Christmas cookies, even Santa Claus.

Next on my list of things to make are cinnamon rolls and Christmas candy.