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Their American Journey
Our Waggoner Heritage
Our Waggoner Genealogy
|At the time Willard Hadlock was born his parents lived in
the western end of what is now known as the state of New York. It
is very probable that he was the first native born child of this
family. There is no record of other children, and we have only the
stories told to us by our grandfather, when we were very young,
on which to build our story.
This period of time was a very long time ago, and the second was with Great Britain, which was known as the War of 1812, had been over only a few years. The Indians along the border were not too friendly, and so the Hadlock family decided to go further west. They traveled in covered wagons using oxen for teams. There were no roads and, in many places, not even trails. Usually several families traveled together for company and protection. Grandfather was eight years old when they made this journey, and to him, it was adventure at its highest.
They traveled as far west as what is now the state of Illinois, and settled near the place that is now known as the city of Warrensburg, and here the boy grew up. The Indians here were peaceful and were the only playmates Grandfather had. He would often tell stories of the good times he had with them, and how he often ate with them, the meal consisting of boiled dog and biscuits. He said they ate only yellow dogs. If Grandfather had any brothers or sisters, he never told us about them nor did he ever mention the death of his parents, and we were too young at that time to think of anything but the exciting stories he so often told.
When he was twenty three years old, Grandfather married an Indian girl of fifteen. Her name was Hannah Waggoner. One of his best stories was that of carrying her off on horse back and thus stealing her from his Indian friends. After they were married he used to sleep in front of the cabin door so the Indians could not come and steal her back again. I have an idea there was no ill feeling in the affair, only a sort of friendly rivalry. Grandfather never seemed to have any ill feeling toward his red brothers, as he often called them.
There were eleven children in this family; two girls died in infancy, one son died at the age of twenty-one. The remaining children grew up, all married and raised families except one, Willard, Jr., who remained a bachelor until his death. The country kept filling up with more and more settlers, and they began to have schools of a sort. Children at last began to learn to read and write. Their school houses were rather lacking in the necessary things, but they made long benches of split logs, and the desk, that had to do for all of them, was also a split log although somewhat wider than the benches. In addition to the lack of facilities at school, the children had to walk three miles to school. Winters in that area are severe, and there is lots of snow. When the snow melted, the trails were muddy and almost impassable. But the children went to school and learned to read, write and cipher. Now we call it arithmetic. These three things were about all that could be taught in those long ago times. Books, such as we now have, were still unwritten, and history, such as they knew was passed on by the simple process of telling whatever you learned from the travelers you contacted.
Sometime during these hectic years, Grandfather became converted. He believed he was called to preach. I do not know how preachers were educated in those days, but I do know that Grandfather was ordained. Preachers, in those days were assigned to a church; they were known as circuit riders and traveled a certain route which they covered in a specified length of time, carrying on whatever christian duties and activities they found awaiting them on the road. Among those duties, the circuit rider had to baptize children and to perform marriage ceremonies. Marriage licenses were unheard of then, and the only records of such weddings were found in a family bible which was one of the first things a young couple acquired. Here they recorded their wedding date, and registered the births of their children.
I believe that Grandfather was a farmer, and that he carried on as such and rode his circuit as a preacher during the times between planting and harvest. The family, all grown and married, began to look for a new frontier. They moved west into what is now Nebraska and settled in Hamilton Co. I do not know how many of them came at first, but by January, 1884, all of the Hadlocks were in Nebraska. The older daughters had married and moved to Kansas, which was also on the frontier at that time. My father and mother, who was the youngest of the Hadlock daughters moved to Nebraska in January, 1884. Soon the Hadlock boys, having heard of good land to be had in Colorado, decided to go there, and acquired the land on which they spent the remainder of their lives. Willard, Jr., remained with his parents because his father, who was now sixty eight and suffering from rheumatism so that he was no longer able to work, needed his help. However, the drier climate of Nebraska soon helped Grandfather to regain his health to the extent that he was able to carry on his christian activities. He often officiated at the funerals of many of the early settlers. He always grieved over the loss of the children, and I remember one very bad time when there was an epidemic of that dread disease diptheria. In one week Grandfather held funeral services for three little girls in one family. He felt it so much because they were all the children the parents had.
My father was a carpenter, and he and mother lived in a house next door to the home of my grandparents, after they left their farm. Willard Jr. then went west and settled on a tree claim in Keith Co., Nebraska. There he spent the remainder of his life. My parents bought a farm and built a little house beside theirs for my grandparents. We moved to this farm in March, 1891, and here my grand-mother died at the age of seventy-one. Grandfather died in 1899, aged eighty-three.
The years of my grandfather’s life covered the administrations of James Madison, who was the 4th president, to Wm. McKinley, the 25th president. The most memorable events in history, which occurred during these years, was the discovery of gold in California and the Civil War.
Willard and Hannah Hadlock are buried in the cemetary near the town of Phillips, Nebraska. Here also lies Willard Jr. and my parents, Francis R. and Elizabeth E. Reiter.
From Bessie Reiter Sorenson family history typescript, circa 1952
Elizabeth Earnestine Hadlock was born on 5 September 1860 in Partridge Township, Woodford County, Illinois, the ninth child of Willard Hadlock, age 44, and Hannah Waggoner, age 35. There she met and married Francis Rudolph Reiter, a carpenter, the son of Joseph Reiter and Zillah Ann White. They were married 12 December 1880 in Illinois, where two daughters were born, Orabelle on 2 February 1882, and Bessie Adell on 13 September 1883. In January 1884 she moved with her husband and daughters, her family and his, to Phillips, Hamilton County, Nebraska. There a third daughter, Delpha Blanche, was born on 23 January, 1886. Elizabeth Hadlock died on 28 December 1941 in Phillips, preceeded in death by her husband Francis Reiter, on 16 October 1940. They are buried in the Phillips cemetery.
Last Updated 4 April, 2005