Cicero Lathrop Bristol


Cicero Lothrop Bristol, born at Harmony, Chautaqua, Co., New York Nov. 22d, 1836. In the spring of 1839 the family removed to Kenosha Co., Wis., and it was in the town of Bristol where the home was made and where he began going to school. During the five years that the family remained there he attended school summers and winters, and being of a studious mind for a child made fairly good progress in his studies. In the intervening years between the first removal and 1850 he continued in the schools of the various places where the family lived. In the year named they moved to Appleton, Wis., where he, with the two eldest sisters, entered the Lawrence University. He remained there less than two years. During that time he made fine progress. He excelled in reading, spelling, grammar, history, geography, and philosophy. In mathematics he was only average.

In 1853 the family home was in Dakota, Wisconsin. This was a small village composed of an unusually high moral and intellectual class of people. The school was excellent. For several years the winter terms were taught by Elder George C. Babcock, a teacher of exceptional qualifications and of great popularity. The summer terms were taught by Miss Laura Seely, a finely educated lady, experienced and successful as a teacher. The school was known far and near for it excellence. The subject of this sketch attended the winter terms, making excellent progress. The remainder of each year he worked on the farm doing a man's work tho so slight that his weight did not much exceed one hundred pounds.

In the early fall of 1855 he went to Ohio intending to take a full course in Beran College. But conditions did not suit him there and he returned as far as Toledo where his uncle George Warner lived. The latter was a building contractor and had just finished a fine brick structure known as the “The City Institution.” Here he entered this fine city school, remaining for three or four months, and then returning to his Wisconsin home. It was home-sickness that caused him to return. He at once secured a school in Sander's district a few miles south of Dakota and taught one term. This was during the winter of 1855-6.

During the next summer he made up his mind to go west and join the free state party in Kansas which was fighting desperately to defeat the Missourri Border Ruffians in their attempt to make a slave-state of Kansas. Early in the fall of 1856 a party consisting of Jonathan L. Davison, John G. Haskins, James S. Goodwin, Joseph V. Weeks and Cicero L. Bristol, started from Dakota to make an overland trip to Nebraska City, the ultimate destination being Kansas. On the day of the presidential election in 1850 the party passed through Tabor, Iowa, and the next day it reached Nebraska City. A few miles below the city a settlement of Wisconsin people lived who were anxious to have their old friends find home among themselves. There the party went. Fighting had ceased in Kansas for the time being at least, and the new-comers from Wisconsin determined to look over the prairies of Nebraska while waiting to see what would be done in Kansas the next season. A trip was therefore made to Salt Creek via Weeping Water. So pleased were the land-ruckers with the Salt Creek country that they all located claims in a neighborhood some twelve or fourteen miles south of the present city of Lincoln. Returning they concluded to remain at Otoe until spring; but toward the last of January, hearing that the legislature had adjourned to Florence and had remove the capital to some point on Salt Creek, it was determined to send three of the party to represent the claims, the remainder to follow as soon as possible. In pursuance of this plan it was arranged that J. L. Davison, J. V. Weeks and C. L. Bristol, should start at once. It was the first of February, intensely cold and the ground covered with deep snow heavily coated with ice. The three named started, each pulling a hand-sled loaded with provisions, bedding, axes, shovels and other supplies. Each sled weighted about seventy-five pounds. At the end of a five days struggle they reached their destination in safety. The trip of seventy miles was made across a trackless waste of snow-covered prairie without a sign of house or road or object to guide them. It was a perilous trip and the three men suffered intensely.

The five men that came to Nebraska from Wisconsin have formed a copartnership for the purpose of laying out a townsite and building a sawmill. Work on the dam across Salt Creek was begun early in the spring but soon after completion went out with the first flood. Rebuilt it went out again the next spring. A townsite called Olatha was surveyed and platted and a few houses were built, but Indian Troubles, together with a scourge of fever and ague that did not leave enough well people to care for the sick broke up the settlement altogether. Before the breaking up and scattering of the inhabitants of this settlement an election was held in what was then Clay county. Mr. Bristol was a candidate for county commissioner and his old friend, James S. Godwin, was the opposing candidate party lines not being drawn. Mr. Bristol was defeated by nine votes, the only time he was ever defeated.
In the fall of 1858 Lawrence T. Bristol joined his brother joined his brother and the following summer suffered severely with the prevailing sickness. When the settlement broke up the two brother went to Nebraska City and a few months later to St. Joseph, Missouri. They worked on farmes near there till the spring of 1860 when they crossed the plains to Pikes Peak. The two remained in Colorado till November, 1863, except each made one trip to the states and back alone, the other remaining. They engaged in the hay business, had teams hauling quartz, and worked in the mines to some extent.

As the war came on both joined a company of Zouaves which was drilled by a man from Chicago, a personal friend of Col. Ellsworth. The company was organized for a emergency, but saw no actual service. Gov. Evans sent Cicero a commission as Lieutenant although unacquainted and the commission was not sought.

His home was in Empire City, a long ways from Denver. An election coming on his friends insisted on running him for sheriff. But he refused to run for the office on the ground that the duties required a man of greater physical size and strength. His name was put on the republican ticket for county surveyor and he was elected by 135 majority.

Late in the fall of 1863 the two brothers started for “the states” going to Tabor, Iowa, via Omaha Neb. After a short rest there they resumed their journey to the old home in Dakota. Cicero had been away over seven Years, Lawrence, over five. The visit was indescribably sad, tho very endearing, to see father, mother and all my sisters. My youngest brother was already dead. My mother was crushed over the news of her youngest boys death and I never shall forget the parting with the dearest mother in all the world. After the visit of two weeks he returned to Tabor, where his affianced, Miss Mary J. Weeks lived. He soon entered Tabor College and wwas pursuing his studies when the call for the hundred-day men came. His health had been too slender for soldiering else he would have been in the service from the first. He now determined to go. He rode the county over and secured thirty-one men whereas it was said he could not get ten. He was made third sergeant, the government putting the fragments of companies together, without waiting for Mr. Bristol. He had waited for the last eleven men in order to keep the Tabor boys together. He had promised to do this. His service was in the southern and was in no sense especially eventful.

On January first, 1865 Miss Mary J. Weeks was united in marriage to Mr. Bristol at the Weeks home in Tabor. April 27th they arrived in Omaha, there to make their home for near fifteen years. Three years after he was elected city clerk by the city council of Omaha for the term of one year. He was re-elected the next year by the unanimous vote of the council During the next session of the legislature the office was made elective for a term of two years. Mr. Bristol was nominated by the republicans and was elected by a majority of 192. Nearly half the republican ticket was defeated. In 1874, just before the close of his office of councilman to which he had been elected he was appointed U. S. Pension agent for Nebraska, the territories of Wyoming and Utah being added to his district later. This position he held for over three years or until the district attached to that of Iowa.

Partly on account of his wife's health and partly on account of financial resources Mr. Bristol decided to move to Idaho, later to Montana. He held an eating-house franchise on the Utah and Northern Railway; but the business was too small and the competition too great to be remunerative. The sudden death of Mrs. Bristol at Red Rock, Montana, on August 2d, 1880, put an end to the business. He settled in Dillion and in 1881 secured a license to trade with the Piegan Indians from the Garfield administration. His brother-in-law, S. P. Horr, became his partner; but the small appropriations for this tribe of Indians and the scarcity of game left them in a starving condition and the trade was very light. After this fiasco Mr. Brisol settled on a horse ranch and for eight years “rode the range,” often accompanied by his faithful little boy, Leland, who was an excellent rider.

In the winter of 1893 the legislature of Montana created the new county of Teton, taking it from the western end of Choutean County. Mr. Brisol was made the first treasurer of the county by act of the legislature. When the next electon came around other candidates appeared. Mr. Bristol was nominated on the first ballot with votes to spare; but one of the candidates, Major George Steel, who had twice been Indian agent over the Piegans, bolted and announced himself as an independent republican candidate. The democrats indorsed him and a great contest ensued. A county-seat fight was on and Major Steel mad alliances on that issue that helped him and had the saloon vote virtually solid; but Mr. B was elected tho by a majority of only eighteen. Since his last term as treasurer expired he has been assistant postmaster at Kipp, and since 1905 postmaster at Babb, Montana. Soon after that he resigned the occasion being the death of his son in 1910.

In appearance Mr. Bristol is about five feet four inches tall and in late years rather plump in build. Weighing about 155 pounds. He was a puny babe, “brought up on a bottle,” and during his growing years slight but very active and reasonably healthy. He had black hair, brown eyes and fair complexion, was straight and full chested. At sixteen he, with Oscar Babcock, as apprentice and other young men, was one of the regular debaters, taking part with and against the mature speakers of the village of Dakota. Before and after making his home in Omaha he read law for which he had a great liking. But drifting into public office he did but little in law practice except in the way of office work. He was an adept  in parliamentary law. He was always a strong temperance man, being a member and worker in the Good Templars and Sons of Temperance, and various time holding nearly all the offices, and was Grand Treasurer of the state of Nebraska of Sons of Temperance. In religion he was inclined to be rather liberal, but with his wife became a member of the First M. E. Church of Omaha and is still connected with the Methodist church. The death of his noble wife was a terrible shock to him and to his children. He has often said since then, “That his life and his family were wrecked when she died.” But for the unbounded love of his sisters who became as mothers, and especially is true of Retta, he would have fallen by life's wayside, unable to bear the anguish of separation from his and the loss of wife and children.

On the second day of August 1910, just thirty years from the death of his mother, Leland died in the city of Portland, Ore. As the result of an operation for appendicitis. His father went on and with his wife, buried him there. In April, 1911 Mr. Bristol who had gone to his daughter's in Lincoln to live made a trip to Montana for his wife's remains and at the same time his sons remains were shipped from Portland. They were buried in adjoining graves in Wyuka Cemetery [in Lincoln]. Brief ceremonies were had, and address by the Presbyterian minister and hymns by selected singers. And this was the end of the tragedy.

Source: This biography was written by a sister sometime after 1911, probably Dora.