Photo by Hana Muslic

By Andy Vipond

My ancestors have left many marks in Nebraska.

The land that is now Millard, Nebraska, was once owned by my ancestors.

A general store in Clarkson, Nebraska, that opened in the 1900s is still being operated today by descendants.

My ancestors immigrated from most of Europe, but also descended from colonial times in Massachusetts. My family line of immigration extends from Norway, Belgium, England, Denmark, Czechoslovakia and Bohemia.

Wesley Moore, my great-great-great-grandparents, lived as a baby in a sod dugout on the Nebraska prairie. His parents, Thomas and Harriet immigrated from Czechoslovakia and started an orchard near Schuyler, Nebraska. His wife, Josephine Stodola, was one of eight children. Her parents, Frank and Anna, immigrated from Bohemia in 1890. Wesley’s parents had immigrated from England and go as far back as his great-grandparents being in England in the 1820s.

Josephine’s father died the next year leaving her mother to raise her siblings alone in a country where they didn’t speak English. She was sent to Chicago at age 12 to learn to be a seamstress. She returned to Nebraska when she was 18. She and Wesley started a general store in Clarkson, Nebraska, shortly after their marriage. Their daughter Marguerite, my grandmother, worked at the store as a teenager. Today the store is still being run by one of the Moore’s great-grandchildren.

The founding of Millard

My grandfather’s side descends from colonial times and also immigrated to America. George Steven’s, my grandfather’s great-great-great-grandparents, ancestry dates back to the early 1600s in Boston, Massachusetts. His family settled in Maine and moved to Omaha in the spring of 1865. Omaha was a brand new town at the time. He worked for a ferry company taking pioneers and wagons across the Missouri River.

He and his brother purchased 320 acres of land southwest of Omaha where they built a homestead. In 1858, George’s brother was killed in a flash flood in the Papio Creek. His wife Mary Kofoed was born in Denmark in 1839. Her family was Mormon as a result of Mormon missionaries in Denmark around that time. They immigrated to America in 1857 and joined other Mormons traveling to Salt Lake City, Utah.

Along they way they stopped in Omaha and stayed for three years where she met George and were married. Her parents didn’t approve because George was not Mormon. After this, her parents left her in Omaha and never saw her again. They sold their homestead to Ezra Millard in 1871 for $10,000 and moved to Schuyler. Millard’s husband immediately had the land platted as the Village of Millard. In 1971 the City of Omaha annexed the land and a two block street named “C Street” was renamed “Stevens Street” in honor of the couple who were the first settlers of the land that is now Millard.