Joseph Carroll

Biography of Joseph Carroll

Extracted from The Compendium of History, Reminiscence and Biography of Nebraska, 1912.

One of the most successful of the hardy pioneers who endured the hardships of the forefront of civilization in eastern Nebraska, is Joseph Carroll, now retired from active life and residing in a fine new home in the south part of Creighton. Mr. Carroll was born in Carbon county, Pennsylvania, May 31, 1849, and is a son of William and Elizabeth (Fagan) Carroll, natives of the County Meath, (Ireland) who came to America in 1848. They had just been married a year before a their first child came to them during the four months voyage on the Atlantic. The father died in 1898 at the age of eighty-two, while the mother, three years his junior, joined him in eternity in 1900. The grandfather, William Carroll, senior, lived to be ninety-two, and the maternal grandfather, Joseph Fagan, lived upwards of ninety-six years.

At the age of eight years Mr. Carroll’s parents moved to Scranton, Pennsylvania, where Joseph grew to manhood, learning the shoemaking and pipe-laying trades, at which he worked in the east until April, 1877, when he came west to seek his fortune and succeeded in finding it. He settled on a homestead and timber claim seven miles west of Creighton, and for three years “batched” it alone on the prairies. He then married and began a most successful career one hundred dollars in debt. He had a fine team of mules with every prospect of doing well, but to wipe out his indebtedness he left his young wife alone on the ranch and sought work in the construction of the railroad, three hundred and thirty-five miles west from home. He had been employed here but a few days when his team, along with two others, was stolen, and although they followed the trail far into Wyoming none of the teams were ever recovered. A fellow workman sold him a pony on a years time and later a horse for which he borrowed the purchase money, securing in this way a team with which to get to work again. His father and grandfather had been stock men in the old country, and he had been engaged in buying cattle, sheep, and poultry in the east, so it was but natural he should find a congenial occupation in raising stock. His management in this line was so successful that he has out of the proceeds accumulated a large acreage of fine land. He owns eleven hundred acres in Knox county; a quarter section in Boyd county; a like amount in Oklahoma; besides eighty acres adjoining Sioux City, where he owns a good dwelling house. Besides his elegant new residence in Creighton, he owns a house and several lots. After living thirty-two years on his ranch in Knox county, Mr. Carroll moved to town in 1909, and is taking life easy, although he still keeps an interest in the stock on the ranch which his sons occupy and manage.

Mr. Carroll was married on February 11, 1881, to Anna, daughter of James and Anna (Martin) Kain, a native of Crawford county, Wisconsin. Her parents came to America from Ireland in 1849, settled in Wisconsin for a time and then migrated to Knox county, Nebraska, in 1873. At that time there was but one house in Creighton. Here they endured all the privations of the frontier, to which were added the successive years of loss by the grasshopper pests that swarmed the west so many years. For two years Mr. Carroll lost every leaf of growing crops.

To Mr. and Mrs. Carroll thirteen children were born, ten of whom are living: Charles, a graduate of Wayne, Colorado, married Mable Nies, and they have three children. He has a ranch of three hundred and twenty acres near Java, South Dakota; Bessie, a graduate of Nebraska State Normal, is a successful teacher of Sheridan, Wyoming; Jennie, married William Nies, who is proprietor of a hotel at Wayne, Nebraska, their only child is a son, William; Rosa and William graduated from the college at Wayne and together with Joseph and George occupy the home ranch; and Vincent, Gerald and Edward, the youngest, are still under the parental roof.

Two brothers settled in Nebraska near Mr. Carroll---Francis came the same year, and Peter in 1882. Oxen were their only work animals for a number of years. At one time Mr. Carroll had to wade into an icy stream to release a yoke of young oxen that were being drowned by an older yoke that were drawing their heads under the water. Once in a flood in Bazile creek he got out into the water, released his horses and swam ashore; the wagon was washed down stream and the two hind wheels were found in a tree two miles below. During the first two years when no crops were raised---living was a hard problem, but game was plentiful, such as ducks, geese, and even an occasional swan on the creek, and these with crackers and “flap jacks” constituted the principal food.

Mr. Carroll was out in the blizzard on October, 1880, while at Brazile Mills, and in that of January 12, 1888, lost nineteen head of cattle, leaving him but one cow. Deer and antelope were plentiful, and at one time Mr. Carroll saw as many as fifty of the big timber wolves in a pack. This was unusual, of course, but prairie wolves were always plentiful. At times wheat had to be hauled upwards of thirty miles to market, bringing but twenty-six cents per bushel. When on railroad work at O'Neill, in the latter seventies, Mr. Carroll saw the famous rustler, Doc Middleton, stumbling over him as he lay sleeping in a hay mound as a fugitive from justice; not knowing at the time who he was, Mr. Carroll went about his business and continued to sleep.

Mr. Carroll is independent in politics, a member of the Catholic church, and is affiliated with the Knights of Columbus. He richly deserves the success that has come to him; he endured and suffered enough during the early days to merit all he has won. To such men the west owed the wonderful development it enjoys and has attained in a few short years.


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