The death of Jacob H. Culver on August 19, 1921, in San Diego, California, marked the passing of a colorful ex-Nebraskan once prominent in business and military circles here. He was for many years a resident of Milford, where he started the town’s first newspaper in 1870 and had numerous other business interests.
Born in Ohio on June 19, 1845, he moved with his parents to Wisconsin several years later and enlisted at the age of sixteen as a drummer in the first Wisconsin regiment of the Civil War. Culver recalled in 1871 of his first attempt at soldiering: “I presented myself as a suitable candidate for enlistment, but was informed that I ‘must grow a little more and live a little longer before I could fill the bill.’ It was in September, 1861, that I succeeded in convincing the Captain of company K, First Wisconsin infantry, that if my avurdupois [sic] was not sufficient for a private I might possibly learn to drum, but another impediment to my youthful aspiration presented itself when I was informed that it would be necessary for me to have my parents consent before I could be sworn into the United States service.
“I went home and asked my parents, who were reluctant in giving their consent, but a prediction of my father’s decided the matter, and their permission was granted; it was that I would probably soon get sick of camp life and want my discharge. This they could easily get, on account of my youth. This I overheard, being in an adjoining room, and it has decided my course in life up to this time, and will undoubtedly through life-‘stick to it.'”
After the Civil War Culver attended the state university in Wisconsin, and then settled in Nebraska in the summer of 1869, homesteading near Milford. He and H. G. Parsons established the first newspaper in town, the Blue Valley Record, in 1870. Culver also served as postmaster and operated a book and stationery store. His later business activities included part ownership of a flour mill. Culver started bottling Shogo Lithia Spring water from natural springs in Milford in 1906. “Lithia” refers to lithium chloride, a mineral in the water. His company sent drinking water for workmen during construction of the Panama Canal.
Besides his business and civic interests in Milford, Culver had a military career. He organized Troop A, Nebraska National Guard, in 1887 and commanded it until the close of the Spanish American War. He was seriously injured during a scouting expedition in the Philippines but as soon as he was able, returned to active duty. All four of his sons served in the Spanish American War and three also served with him during the Philippine insurrection. Always prominent in GAR affairs, he was department commander of the GAR in Nebraska in 1896 and 1897 and served as the first commander of the Soldiers’ Home, which he worked to have established at Milford.
Several of Culver’s five children distinguished themselves in fields other than business or the military. Clarence Curtis Culver (1872-1946) was an early contributor to the development of radio communication in aviation. Real estate developer and promoter Harry H. Culver (1880-1946) was the founder of Culver City, California, which became a center of the motion picture industry.
Jacob H. Culver, adjutant general of the Nebraska National Guard, 1903. From Portrait and Biographical Album of the State Officers and the Members of the Nebraska Legislature, 1903-1904 (Fremont, 1903).
Water from Shogo Lithia Spring at Milford was once bottled and sold by Culver. From USGenWEB Archives.