By Marlene Gale
I was the youngest in the family and wanted to learn my history, as most of the great grandparents and grandparents were gone before I was old enough to meet them. My Parents, Aunt, and Uncles on my fathers side told of the mystery of my Great Grandfather George Paterson McGregor who came from Scotland to Nebraska, USA, about 1878, but died and was buried in Salt Lake City in 1891. They did not know why he was there, how he got there, and why the family was still on the farm in Hayes County. They talked of him joining the harvesters in Nebraska and making their way to SLC, but I felt that was a long way from Nebraska. So I decided to do the research and find his story.
George Paterson McGregor was born 11 Feb 1840 in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland. He was the 7th child of the 12 children James and Margaret (Taylor) McGregor and since Margaret was the 2nd wife, James had 20 children in all, but many had died.
On 16 Nov 1860, George married Elizabeth Bell McNaught, born 4 Nov 1844. They had 4 children, with one (Margeret) surviving by the early 1870’s when they chose to leave Scotland and go to Ontario, Canada, where they had two sons. By 1878 they had a set of twins, but lost them. Soon after, they went to America.
In 1880 the George McGregor family settled in Cass County, Nebraska, in a little village named South Bend. They purchased a small acreage on the edge of town with a nice log cabin and farm there. About 1886 or 1887, they sold the property back to the man that sold it to them and moved away to Hayes County, Nebraska, leaving their oldest daughter, Margaret, in nearby Weeping Water because she had married in 1885. George applied for Citizenship (having filed his first papers in Cass County) and chose the land that he would Homestead.
He set out to own 160 acres near Elmer, Antelope Precinct, Hayes County, Nebraska. They built their home and farmed the land having great success with their crops at first. In the summer of 1890, however, the rains didn’t come and the farmers were worried that there would be no crops. Finally there was rain, but sadly also hail. The Hayes County Republican published this on Thursday, June 5, 1890: “We regret to say that several in the west part of the county have suffered greatly from hail the last week, several have lost almost their entire crop. Stephen Thompson lost 21 shoats, 150 apple trees, besides all his corn must be replanted and the wheat will be more or less damaged. Also, several hail stones struck Everett Omstead’s house that came through the sod and board roof which were as large as a teacup, the windows on the west of his house were all knocked out. We have not heard of all the damage done, yet.”
In the Hayes County Times newspaper of Sept. 24, 1890 The land office at McCook, Nebraska gave note that George P. McGregor had filed notice of his intention to make final five year proof in support of his tree claim and that said proof would be made before Judge John Wilson, county judge of Hayes County, Nebraska at Hayes Centere, Nebraska on Saturday, October 18, 1890.
By fall there were notices in the newspapers saying the men could go elsewhere to find work, as long as the rest of the family stayed on the homestead. Letters were written to the newspapers telling of others that had found work. One such letter was printed by the Hayes County Republican on Thursday, November 13, 1890 from J.W. Theovalt. He told of the work available in Denver Colorado.
In the Hayes County Republican on Wednesday, January 1, 1891 they report this: “G. P McGregor of Antelope precinct, returned from Denver, Colorado last week where he has been at work for several months. Mr. McGregor says Denver is a fine city to work in, but is overdone at present”
Sometime after that, George went to Salt Lake City where his mother-in-law, Agnes Arbuckle lived. We believe he went there to find work to support his family that was still in Hayes County.
The family received notice the last week of July & it was published in the Hayes County Times, August 5, 1891 that “Mrs. G.P. McGregor, of Antelope precinct, received the sad news, last week, that Mr. McGregor had died and was buried at Salt lake City, Utah. Mr. McGregor had been working at the above city since the first of the year & was taken sick and died within three days. The bereaved family have the heartfelt sympathy of all who know them.”
The family was told that George got hungry while working on a hot July day and he ate a green apple or two. Within hours he got sick and died in 3 days. (When my Father told me that, I replied that no one dies from eating green apples, so I ordered the death certificate to prove it wrong. Well, I certainly lost that bet!)
Both the Hayes County Republican and the Hayes County Times, published the obituary of George Paterson McGregor: “McGregor–Died at Salt Lake City, Utah, on Monday, July 27, 1891, Mr. George P. McGregor, aged 51 years, of Antelope Precinct, Hayes County, Neb. Mr McGregor has been a resident of Hayes County for the past five years, being one of the first to make a permanent residence in the western part of the county. He had been at work in Salt Lake for the past three months and the first intimation of his condition was a telegram announcing his death.
The following resolutions were adopted by Mount Pleasant Sabbath School:
Whereas, the all wise God, the great ruler of the universe, has seen fit in his infinite wisdom to call our fellow worker and former Superintendent, George P. McGregor, from this life to where we believe to be a better and happier life beyond. Therefore, be it.
Resolved, That in his death this Sabbath School has lost a true friend and worthy member, the community a worthy and respected citizen, and his family a kind husband and father.
Resolved, That we as members of Mount Pleasant Sabbath School extend our kindest sympathies to the bereaved family and humbly bow to the will of Him who doeth all things well.
Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be presented to the bereaved family, also to the Hayes County Times and Republican for publication.”
The cause of death was listed as: Cholera Morbus
Cause of Death
Cholera Morbus: A gastrointestinal disturbance characterized by abdominal pain, diarrhea, and sometimes vomiting. Resembles Cholera, common in hot weather in the summer and autumn, and was associated with eating too many green apples.