R. H. Knapp was identified with both agricultural and financial interests in Saunders county as in addition
to owning and operating a large amount of land he organized and was the first president of the Bank of Cedar Bluffs.
He likewise held public office, serving as county treasurer for six years, and his record in that connection was
a credit to his ability. He was born in Parmey, near Buffalo, New York, on the 1st of November, 1881, of the marriage
of Randall H and Tryphena (Havens) Knapp, both of whom were life long residents of the Empire state. There were
five children in their family, all of whom are deceased.
R. H. Knapp received the greater part, of his education in New York but attended school for a time in Hudson, Michigan.
Later he clerked in a store in the latter state but when twenty five years of age came west on account of his health
and, being favorably impressed with conditions in Desoto, Washington county, Nebraska, he purchased a farm in that
locality. He resided upon that place for a considerable period, after which he went to Wood River, Nebraska, which
was then on the frontier, and there located on a ranch, where he lived for six years. He then returned to Desoto,
whence he came to Saunders county, locating on a homestead three and a half miles west of Cedar Bluffs. Charles
Perky, the supervising editor of this work, took the adjoining claim and they lived together for some time. Mr.
Knapp purchased railroad land adjoining his homestead and devoted his time and energies to the improvement and
cultivation of his land until he was elected county treasurer, when he removed to Wahoo. He served in that office
for six years and discharged the important duties devolving upon him with promptness and accuracy. Following the
expiration of his term he continued to live in Wahoo for one year, during which time he engaged in the stock business.
He then returned to his farm and for about ten years largely concentrated his energies upon agricultural pursuits.
During that time he established the Bank of Cedar Bluffs and was elected the first president of that institution.
He held that position continuously until his demise in February, 1918, and under his management the bank became
known as one of the prosperous and reliable financial institutions of the county. Mr. Knapp possessed natural business
ability, kept in close touch with agricultural conditions and with the general trend in the financial world, following
a policy which safeguarded the interests of depositors and stockholders and promoted the legitimate business expansion
of the community through judiciously extended credit. At the time of his death he was not only a leader in financial
circles in the county but he was also one of the largest landowners, holding title to twelve hundred acres, four
hundred of which was located near Wahoo and eight hundred in the vicinity of Cedar Bluffs.
On November 1, 1852, in Wheatland, Michigan, Mr. Knapp was united in marriage to Miss Barbara Van fleet, who was
born in Chautauqua, New York, but was taken to Michigan when quite small, and she proved an excellent helpmate
to her husband. They became the parents of one son, Ned W., who died when forty one years of age, and they also
reared two adopted children: Frank, who is now president of the Bank of Cedar Bluffs; and Mary, the wife of John
Winslow, who lives a mile east of Cedar Bluffs.
Mr. Knapp was a republican and was elected on that ticket treasurer for a second term, although he was elected
the first time on an independent ticket. He was not a member of either of the churches in Cedar Bluffs but supported
both, believing them to be valuable factors in the moral development of the community. Independence and perseverance,
which were strong factors in his success, were strikingly manifested while he resided at Wood River. The white
settlers in that locality were few and Indians were numerous and frequently troublesome. On one occasion there
was a serious uprising and Mr. Knapp's hired man and a neighbor and two of the children were killed. Terror stricken,
the greater part of the settlers fled to Fort Kearney, but Mr. Knapp and his wife remained upon their ranch, although
the trouble with the Indians had not subsided and the other settlers did not return until the following spring.
All who knew him agreed that with his passing Cedar Bluffs and Saunders county lost one of their foremost citizens.
Frank Knapp, the adopted son of R. H. Knapp, is a resident of Fremont and is cashier of the First National Bank
of that place and president of the Fidelity Loan & Trust Company of Fremont. He is also president of the Bank
of Cedar Bluffs, having succeeded his father in that office. He is efficient and enterprising and is recognized
as one of the leading financiers of the county.
Past and Present Saunders County, Nebraska
A Record of Settlement, Organization,
Progress and Achievement
Charles Perky Supervising Editor
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Saunders County, NE
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