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THE REAM FAMILY AT KIDDER - 1867

Narrator: Adam Ream, 80, of Hamilton

Mr. Ream was born Dec. 1854, the son of Conrad Ream and Amanda Grable. On March 13, 1867, the Ream family got off the train at Kidder, and Adam, the boy of 12, saw a very small town.

The family had decided to move west from Summit County, Ohio. They already had moved to Stevenson County, Ill. The story of how they chose to come to Kidder is peculiar. One of their old Ohio friends, John Hallam, a teacher and preacher in Greensburg, Summit Co., had gone to Omaha for a job. On account of poor railway connections, he missed the job, and got on the train to return. When the family was near St. Joe one of the children became sick. It was discovered that it had scarlet fever and the conductor forced the whole family to get off at Kidder. When the entire family had recovered from the disease, the father was in love with Kidder people and Kidder country and wanted to stay. He bought a farm northeast of the present Allen School and afterwards taught school in Hamilton in the old school on the Methodist parsonage site walking over every day.

He wrote back to his Ohio friends about the country and they came and bought farms. There were the Heldbrand family, east of Winston, John Rohrbough, near the Allen School, Michael Young, near Winston, Henry and Ephraim Koonse. Henry H. Brown bought two and one-half miles southeast of Hamilton. He later married the widow Clampitt. The Conrad Ream family bought one and one-half miles southwest of Kidder, paying $3,000.00 for 233 acres. They bought it of Herman Townsend, whose predecessor had entered the land. It had a log cabin which they used for nine months. Now, Kelley Strickland owns one-half of it and Jesse Ream (Adam's son) the other half. Conrad Ream proceeded at once to fence. He bought 1200 feet of fencing, paying $39.75.

When the Reams came in 1867, Kidder had about twenty houses. One mile west of Kidder was the Kenney mansion around which much local interest has centered, and about which arose the Kenney-Hemry quarrel in the early eighties. To this same P.S. Kenney belonged the three-story frame on site of the present garage opposite the old Shaw corner. This was the site of one of the first wells. The first story of the building was Kenney's general store, the second was the home of Kenney's mother, the third was the Catholic Chapel for services once a month. A little earlier, the services were held in the mother's apartment and the third story was the office of the land company. Then there was a one story store where the Farmers Bank is, a general store owned by D.G. Chubbuck's widow and run by Ben Laribee, his brother-in-law. In 1867, James Beaumont's term as postmaster ran out and he and Laribee became partners in the above general store. Fitzpatrick had a wagon shop on the street north of Front Street.

Mr. Ream attended the one-room Kidder school several years, it being on the same lot as the present school. Some of his teachers were Miss Mary Sackett, Charlie Fletcher, C.W. Smylie who was a farmer teacher living near the present Manson district and the father of Prof. C.N. Smylie, now of Carlton College, Minn. They afterwards lived in Hamilton on the corner northeast of the park. Mr. Ream also was a student at old Thayer College both down town under Van Collem and out on the hill in the new building when Dr. Cochran came from Grinnell. But he grew tired of school and did not stay long. The enrollment varied from thirty to sixty with three and four teachers. Dr. Cochran had a charming young lady daughter, Minnie, who taught music. They lived north of Thayer Hall in a house built by Miss Mary Sackett who also built the one-story part of the Burbank home. The old Cochran home later was known as the Prof. Burmeister house (Prof. Burmeister and his wife taught music at Kidder Institute) and is now the property of Sterling Shaw (son of Prof. G.W. Shaw).

Mr. Ream talked about the church history of Kidder. The Catholics, as had been said, met in the Kenney Hall. The Congregationalists being the predominant class in Kidder ran the town in those days; hence they took the public school building for their church-house and wouldn't let anyone else in. G.G. Perkins was the pastor, afterwards a pastor in the church at Hamilton. Little by little the Yankee element in Kidder decreased, either by death or removal elsewhere and the church dwindled. Mrs. Purple, mother of Ed Purple, the wealthy stove manufacturer in Chicago, was a great worker in it and for her sake Ed gave much money to its support. Now it is unused.

The Methodists held monthly services in the home of J.G. Thompson. Kidder and Hamilton at that time were on one circuit. He finally moved to Hamilton and bought land from the present Methodist Church corner out north to the Doll home, intending to make it into a Thompson addition. Finally A.H. Gurney came to Kidder in 1869 and being a strong Methodist, circulated a subscription paper to raise money to build a church. The Methodist church had the first church building in Kidder.

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All photos are copyright KingsCross Farm, 1997 & 1998
All written material other than reference material copyright KingsCross Farm 1998