One of Burt County's Grand Old Men Passed to Great Beyond Tuesday

[Branch 18 - William Wallace Latta]

The death of W. W. Latta Tuesday morning, July 2 [1912] was a profound shock to this community. To his intimate friends, it was known that he was not as well this past week and that he was again confined to his room, but they hoped that he would soon be seen on the street again as was his usual custom. Mr. Latta's ailment dates back to last September, when he showed the first symptoms of a break in his robust health that he enjoyed from childhood. He was confined to his bed for several weeks and from that acute attack later he gained strength sufficient to come up town and visit with old friends and attend to his duties at the First National Bank, of which he was president, since his cousin Congressman J. P. Latta passed away last September, but with best of care he could not regain his former vitality. He knew that his work was about finished and was quietly waiting for the curtain that divides time from eternity, to be drawn aside, and so, in his own home, in the midst of the friends and neighbors of many years, in the tender care of his wife and son, who were nearest and dearest to him, God's finger touched him and he slept the sleep that knows no waking.

W. W. Latta was born in Ashland County, Ohio, Sept. 6, 1832. When a mere lad he began life as a stage driver for the Western Stage Company on a route out of Richmond, Indiana; was transferred to a route between Dayton and Xenia, Ohio, where he drove a four horse coach, and later drove a four horse coach between Niagara Falls and Lewiston. In the meantime, his father moved his family to Jackson County, Iowa, and in the fall of 1852 Mr. Latta was married to Miss Mary C. Mason and immediately started for Nebraska. There was no railroad at that time, so they came in a covered wagon with all their belongings, which consisted of four yoke of oxen, a cow, a mare, and colt. They crossed the Missouri River at Sioux City, but there was no city then, just a steamboat landing and a few log shanties. They came down through the Indian reservation and located east of Tekamah, near the river, where he carved out a home. He arrived here in July just 55 years ago. On the 10th of last May they celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary.

Mr. Latta was a notable man and his career is a remarkable one. Here and unaided he began the struggle of live, and here by thrift, economy and self-denial he acquired wealth and rose to a position of commanding influence in the community. In financial and business affairs he possessed the confidence of the people to an unusual degree. In municipal affairs he took great interest, serving on the counsel for over 25 years with zeal and fidelity. He always constituted the people's interests, just as he consulted his own interests. He was a cautious, vigilant public officer and much of the permanent improvements in the city owe their foundations to his wise judgment. The cemetery especially, is today just what Mr. Latta made it, which was always under his care and supervision.

Common sense, practical ideas and conservative opinions were strong features in his character. Ripe in judgment, and in possession of confidence and esteem of everyone who knew his sphere of usefulness, it was cut short, he died too soon. During the last few months the lines on his manly brow grew deeper, their voiceless eloquence pleading against separation from her who had been his confidant, his true friend and inseparable companion through these 55 years. From her he was loath to part, he had no thought of death; it was nature's premonition of the advancing fate which he obeyed but did not understand. Fortunate in life, so was he happy in the time and manner of his going. While within a few months of the fourscore milestone he was in full possession of the vigor of his faculties with not one ray of his intelligence obscured or dimmed. Honored among men in his own city, county and state, he passed without a pang from this world; he was weary and fell asleep.

The funeral was held at his late home at 10 a.m. Friday July 5th. Rev. Dr. Taylor of the Presbyterian church conducted the service, and the attendance was very large. A select quartette sang: "Softly Fades the Light of Day," "In the Hour of Trial" and "Abide With Me." The pallbearers were: Messrs. E. C. and Chas. Houston, E. I. Ellis, F. A. Cameron, T. A. Minier, C. A. Metzler, E. Va. Morgan, E. C. Carscaden.

Mr. Latta would have been 80 years old next September, he was the eldest of a family of eight, five daughters and three sons, two sisters and three brothers preceded him, also three of his own children, two of them in childhood, and his son Will after he had arrived at manhood. He is survived by his devoted wife and son Bud R., also two grandchildren Will and Edith Latta, three sisters, Mrs. O. B. Prior of Miles, Ia., Mrs. Mary Snead of Seymour, Mo., and Mrs. Lou White of Tekamah.

Relatives from a distance were: Mrs. H. C. Bechtel, Tama, Iowa; Miss Nellie Snead, Seymour, Mo.; W. W. Mason, Lubbock, Texas; Lou Latta and wife, Blair; J. R. Latta and wife, Decatur. Others in attendance from abroad were: Miss Kathryn Ryan, Mr. and Mrs. Jas. Martin, Mr. and Mrs. Max G. Gladstone, N. C. Houston, Frank Houston, Alva Smith of Omaha; N. J. Ronin, Scott Wall, E. Hileker of Fremont; E. Va. Morgan and wife, Gene Bordick and wife of Herman; T. A. Minier, M. S. Wilcox, F. Minier, T. T. Plummer of Craig; Geo. Minier of Oakland; Dr. J. B. Whittier of Decatur; Ed Stapleton and wife of Thurston; M. M. Warner of Lyons. All places of business were closed in respect of Mr. Latta during the funeral hour.