1:00–4:00 p.m., Thursday thru Saturday afternoons from April thru September.

1:00–4:00 p.m., Thursday thru Saturday afternoons from April thru September.

Philip Ferdinand

Philip’s mother, Judith Ester Mayfield, came from a family of 14 children born to Mathew and Saphrona Mayfield.  They were living in Kentucky when the Civil War broke out.  Two sons, Nelson and Salem died in the Civil War.  After the war ended, the Mayfield’s moved to Rulo, NE.  It was swampy land and not a healthy place to live.  Saphrona Mayfield contracted typhoid fever and died.  Judith lived with her sister, Minerva and her husband Tom Byrnes.  They moved to Keypaha County on a homestead and tree claim and built a log cabin there.

Philip’s father, Oscar Ferdinand and his brother Gust, had taken a homestead and tree claim in Keypaha County, and built a log cabin near Springview, NE.  There, Oscar, met Judith Mayfield and they were married in 1886.  Philip (Phil) was born April 24, 1889, his sister, Charlottie (Lottie) Sephrona, soon followed.  In 1894, Oscar and his wife and family moved to Webster County near Blue Hill, NE.  They first lived in a dugout and then a sod house.  In 1904, the family moved to Harlan County, NE.  They bought the Linstrum place near Pioneer Crossing.

Philip Ferdinand

Phil married Ethel Johnson in 1912.  In 1913, after Oscar’s death, they moved to the home place.  In 1915, they bought the Magnuson homestead south of Pioneer Crossing.  There they built a new frame house, a barn in 1917, a chicken house and a wash house.  They also dug a well, and built a cistern which was higher than the house, providing water pressure and put in a sewer system.  Phil built a thirty two volt electric light plant and they were one of the first farm homes to have electricity.  Phil sold light plants and wired a number of houses and business places in Ragan.

In 1920, they moved to Ragan so their son could attend school there and bought and operated the hardware store for two years.  Later they traded it for eighty acres of land.  Phil built 5 cement caves and three homes.  In 1933, he planted 200 evergreen trees near the station on the old Magnuson homestead.  In 1934 Phil and A.W. Ashley installed a molasses mill near Pioneer Crossing.  Cane grown in the area was used to make molasses.  They operated for four years with an output of 400-500 gallons per year.

In 1934 Phil started a filling station called Pioneer Camp.  He bought a pump and tank from Otto Johnson in Ragan, dug it up and moved it.  They got a mortgage to buy Charlie Johnson’s place which was on Andrew Wilson’s homestead.  They moved the garage and made it into a station building and store.  Phil and Ethel lived here and Gilbert took over the farm.

In 1935, Phil started a tank wagon service and delivered gas to many farmers in the area.  In 1947, the station was moved across the road, next to the house, where it still stands.  Five acres around the dam were terraced, 2000 trees were planted, and it was set aside for ten years as a game refuge.

Many meetings were held in this building and it was the voting place for Scandinavia Township.  In 1951, they decided to close the gas station and store.  Phil kept busy farming, wiring houses for electricity and doing commercial baling.  After retiring, Phil and Ethel enjoyed traveling all over the country.  Ethel became ill and soon passed away.

He married Grace Rawson in 1958.  They enjoyed their lives together, doing a lot of traveling, spending time with children and grandchildren and helping the preserve the history of the area.  Philip Ferdinand passed away on February 2, 1967.  His dream was to establish a museum in honor of the pioneers who traveled through this area.  The Museum was finished by Grace and dedicated to him.

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Museum Hours

1:00–4:00 p.m., Thursday thru Saturday afternoons from April thru September

Museum Location

424 Harlan Avenue Orleans, Nebraska

The Harlan County Museum welcomes you to their online experience. Please visit us when you can to enjoy the history of our county,