Historical Details

Zerbe, Harvey E.

Courtesy of Our Heritage: Niobrarans and Neighbors, 01/14/2021


by Mrs. Harlan Zerbe

Harvey E. Zerbe came from Canton, Ohio. One of 13 children, he left home when he was a young boy and learned the plumbing, pipe fitting and tin smith trade.

He took up a homestead south of Harrison and courted his wife Mabel Battershill on horseback between Lead, S.D. and Harrison, Nebr. They were married May 3, 1909 at Harrison. They lived south of Harrison on the homestead in a sod house built in the side of a hill. They wintered many blizzards when only their chimney stuck out of the snow.

A son, Harlan; was born at Harrison July 11, 1910. Dr. Priest of Harrison attended.

They lived on the homestead for two years, then moved to Van Tassell where they operated a hardware store for 27 years. At this time there was a homesteader on every 320 acres.  The hardware business was good; they sold lots of equipment, windmills, coal and wood stoves -- all hardware in general.

At this time Wyoming was wet and Nebraska was dry. What a time was had!

Mr. Zerbe was mayor. O.I. Stenger and Mr. Pendray made up the town council. The town was quite a town with many businesses - Mrs. Feet's store, the Kuester hardware, barbershops and a saloon.  Mr. Zerbe con­tracted plumbing and heating for years.

Van Tassell has a jailhouse made of 2 x 4 laid the thick way.  Someone would become intoxicated and they would throw him in jail and leave the padlock unlocked. The inmate would discover this and the way he would go, thinking he had pulled a fast one - not knowing it was cheaper and much easier to get him on the go this way. He would never show up again.

Two churches were there and well attended each Sunday. Mrs. Zerbe's voice was always a joy to hear.

Mr. and Mrs. Zerbe have made their home in Van Tassell ever since.

Harlan married Leatha Pearce in 1931. They lived on a ranch three miles north of Van Tassell; they have two sons, Robert L. and David A. Zerbe. The boys attended grade school at Van Tassell and high school at Lusk.

Robert married Carol Hammond at the Congregational Church at Lusk.They have three sons, Rick, Brian and Craig. They reside on a ranch northeast of Lusk.

David married Marcia Shadel at Sand Point, Idaho March 18, 1966. They have three daughters Kim, Kellie and Kristy. They live at the family ranch home north of Van Tassell.

Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Zerbe observed their 66th wedding anniversary May 3, 1974. This makes four generations to grow up in this small community.

Mr. Zerbe is very interesting to visit with today. He remembers all those years so clearly and all the humerous happenings along with the sad. During the great flu epidemic of World War I Mr. Zerbe also was the undertaker.

Much happiness was in this community.

Many large families were raised here.   Today its very small (population about 15) as are many other small communities.

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Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Zerbe, Harvey (10/24/1881 - 09/24/1975) View Record
Obituary Zerbe, Mabel (01/15/1890 - 12/31/1976) View Record
Business Hardware: Zerbe Hardware View Record