Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

Excerpts from pages 247-248


     William H. Winterer was born in the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, December 11, 1858. His father was Anton Winterer, a native of Baden Baden, Germany, where he was reared to young manhood and then emigrated to America, while his mother, who was Barbara Hirsch in her maiden days, was a native of Bavaria. They were married in Philadelphia about 1852. The family came to Milwaukee in the fall of 1863 and later settled in the thick hardwood timber country in Vernon county, Wisconsin, and lived there during the civil war, in which the father served as a member of the Forty-seventh Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry during the last eighteen months of the war. He resides in Hillsboro, Wisconsin, retired from active life. They were among the very earliest pioneers in the locality where they settled. The woods were so thick that they had to cut a way through a mile of timber for the wagon to pass, there being only a footpath to their destination. Here our subject was reared on a timber farm. becoming inured to the hard work of grubbing and logging. Schools were few and far between, our subject being obliged to walk three miles to the school house and he therefore received only a limited common school education. In 1879 he went to Rollins county, Kansas, but that country was evidently not satisfactory, as the next year he came to the North Platte river region in Nebraska. He engaged to work with several "cow outfits" and was with M. Burk & Son, and also John Bratt & Company for some time. His duties brought him to the vicinity of Keystone, Nebraska, and being pleased with the country, he decided to locate on a farm and build up a home. The country was very new and crude, but our subject saw possibilities which he thought promised great things if one expended energy and industry to develop them. He spent several years roughing it over western Nebraska both winter and summer and had ample opportunity to judge the country. He saw buffalo roaming the prairie in 1881 and wild game was abundant.

      Mr. Winterer settled on his present farm in section 34, township 15. range 37, in 1883. He put up a sod house and a stable and made other necessary improvements. He worked out for the settlers, breaking prairie and putting up hay, thus earning enough for a living and a little more. He saved his money and bought fourteen head of cattle, which was his start in the cattle business. He has now a fine bunch of two hundred and twenty-five head of cattle and fifty head of horses. He took land that other settlers seemed not to want and has made a grand success, having three hundred and twenty acres in the North Platte river valley, and one thousand two hundred and eighty acres back in the hills where our subject's home is located. He has numerous fine trees, running streams of water, has a good orchard of apple and plum trees and a variety of small fruits. His buildings are good and he has a house and ranch of which he is justly proud.

      William H. Winterer was married December 10, 1889, to Miss Louisa M. Cantrill, a native of Menominee, Dunn county, Wisconsin. She was the daughter of William Cantrill, a ship carpenter and a pioneer of that state; he formerly resided in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and in New York.

      Our subject has had quite a varied experience since locating in Keith county. He has had many discouragements and losses; once he was burned out, losing barns, sheds, and out-houses, and then there were the panicy (sic) times of 1893 and later; also the years of drouth (sic), when the grass grew so sparsely that it took miles of range to support his bunch of cattle and horses. In spite of all these unfortunate events, however, he stuck to his business and has attained fine success as the result of his labors. Once, when he was out in the Dismal river country, McPherson county, he found the body of a Mr. Board, one of a hunting party, who had become separated from his party and had died from fatigue and sickness. He had been missing for ten days and much fruitless search had been made for him. The body was buried in a plain wooden box by our subject and a few others.

      Mr. Winterer has been most actively interested in the affairs of his community and helped to establish the first school district on his side of the river. He has held various offices of trust and responsibility and has proven a capable and efficient public officer. He is a Democrat in politics. He is a member of the German Evangelical church, the Modern Woodmen, the Odd Fellows and with his wife, of the Rebekah lodge. He is a man of strong characteristics and a worthy citizen of the state.