S.D. Butcher’s Pioneer History of Custer County and Short Sketches of Early Days in Nebraska (1901)

Blazing a Pathway and Personal Pioneer Experiences by J.D. Strong

In every new undertaking in life, whether political, religious or social reform, or the opening of some new and untried commercial avenue, or settling and establishing homes in a new country, the most picturesque and interesting character is always the pioneer—the one who blazes the pathway.

It is said that England’s people are divided into two classes—royalty, and the rest of the people. American history is made of two classes—the pioneer and the rest of the people.

The pioneer is in a class all by himself; he is the advance guard in every great enterprise; he is the “firing line” in every contest; a stranger to defeat and upon intimate terms with victory, no matter how long deferred. In the settlement of America his ax awakened the first rude echoes of the woodsman’s craft in the primeval forests of the East and of the South. His rude bark first rode the waves of the great lakes, searched their bays and inlets, and reared crude homes on their murmuring shores. His plow first turned the rich black loam of the middle west, and made it yield supplies for the wants of many. His feet first left a white man’s trail upon the arid sands of the “Great American Desert,” and his courage and skill turned it into a “land of plenty.”

Undaunted and undismayed, he found his way through treacherous passes and over snow clad summits of the Rockies, and at his magic touch they yielded up their precious metals. Cities, towns and railroads appeared in every valley like the realization of some magician’s dream.

Thus from shore to shore of this mighty continent went the pioneers of civilization, the heroes of border strifes, the men and women who “blazed the pathway” for the actual settler, who followed to find a home and independence. (63-64)