Grace Powell was born July 5, 1901 to Herbert and Elnora Powell in Huntley, NE. Herbert Powell was born January 30, 1862 in Hampfordshire, England. He came to America with his family on a ship when he was fifteen and they settled near Stuart, Iowa. Elnora Independence Loy was born on June 13, 1864 in LaSalle County, Illinois and later moved to Stuart, Iowa. They got acquainted as young people since their parents both farmed near Stuart, Iowa and they were married on December 25, 1883.
Herbert and Elnora decided to move to Nebraska and arrived by train in Huntley on March 6, 1892. Herbert ran a creamery for a while in Huntley. He had the first cream separator in this part of the country. He became a Christian during an old fashioned revival meeting where John Davis was preaching in 1893 and was united with the Huntley Methodist Church. He then felt the call of God to preach the gospel. During his childhood, he didn’t learn to read very well. After his conversion, he had such a hunger to read the Bible that he worked very hard to learn how to read. He often filled in for other ministers and preached at school houses and country churches, traveling by horse and buggy. He practiced his sermons as he went up and down the corn rows and when he was working in the field.
Elnora was a rather shy woman with a very cheerful disposition. She was a hard worker and loved her home and children. She often stayed home when Herbert was traveling and preaching at other churches.
Herbert and Elnora had seven children, Sadie, Ethel, Ida, John, Loy, Mildred and Grace. They lived around Huntley the rest of their lives. They bought a farm and moved on it in March of 1917 but on August 15 of that year, Herbert died suddenly. In 1918, Elnora moved into Huntley and lived there until she was nearly 97 years old when she passed away in June of 1951.
Grace attended school in Huntley and at Salem School in District 31. Her schooling ended with her 8th grade graduation. She gave her heart to Christ as a young girl and taught many Sunday School classes and helped in any way she could at her local churches. As a young woman, she worked for Dr. Kerr and his wife in Alma, NE and in the general store.
Grace met Wayne Rawson, a handsome young man who had recently gotten out of the Army. They were married on October 19, 1921 at her sister Ethel’s house, near Huntley, NE. They had three children, Willamene, Estalene and Vincent. They lived on several farms in Harlan County before settling on a farm five miles north and 5 ½ miles west of Huntley. Grace was involved with Extension Club and was the Harlan County Chairman in 1958. She was also a 4-H leader for 17 years. Wayne died suddenly on March 17, 1957. Grace continued to live in her farm home close to her family.
On August 24, 1958, Grace married Phil Ferdinand and they resided in his farm home, three miles west of Ragan, NE. They enjoyed traveling around the country together. They were both very interested in Nebraska history and wrote a book together, Life Around Pioneer Crossing. Phil became ill so they were no longer able to travel together and Phil started on his dream of building a Museum to commemorate Pioneer Crossing. Phil died on February 2, 1967.
Grace continued to live at Pioneer Crossing, spending time with family and friends and was able to finish the Museum as a memorial to him. On November 27, 1969, Grace was married to Rev. Clarence Sheffield. Clarence was her former Pastor and family friend. They resided for a while at his current parish in Pleasanton, NE and spent time at her home. On his retirement, they lived at Pioneer Crossing and he came to love it as much as she did. Grace Powell passed away on March 10, but her legacy has lived on through her family and the museum.