Hannah Waggoner

1824 - 1895

 The following biographical sketch was written by her granddaughter, Bessie Reiter Sorenson, in the early 1950s.

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 fami- 
lies traveled together for company and protection.  Grandfather was  
eight years old when they made this journey, and to him, it was ad- 
venture 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 Warrens- 
burg, 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 some- 
what 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 Grand- 
father 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 be- 
tween 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 ac- 
quired 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 ex- 
tent 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 grand- 
parents.  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. 


Last Updated 5 April, 2005