In May, 1856, a group of German Methodist emigrant settlers entered the valley and camped south of the creek near what became Ponca. This group included sisters, Anna Tausch Smith (Mrs. Adam Smith) and Margaret Tausch Buntz (Mrs. John Buntz). They had traveled overland from New York. The Smith's daughter, Mary, was the first white child born in the county and their home was the first log cabin built in the county.
In 1858, Anna Maria (Mary) Garthe Tausch and her second husband John Ernst and their two teenage daughters, Helena and Elisabeth, emigrated from Germany to Ponca, following Mary's two elder daughters by her first marriage, Anna Smith and Margaret Buntz, to Nebraska. The Ernst family entered the U.S. at New Orleans and traveled up the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers to reach Ponca.
A few years later Anna Elisabeth Garthe and her husband Wilhelm Imanuel Scheffel emigrated to Ponca with their three children, Peter, Wilhelm and Anna Elisabeth. These were the predecessors of the Scheffel family in Ponca. Mrs. Scheffel was a sister to Anna Maria Ernst.
Thus, emigration patterns followed the WOMEN of the family from Germany to Nebraska!
Within the next few years, Helena Ernst married Solomon Stough, Elisabeth Ernst married John Stough and their cousin, Anna Elisabeth Scheffel, married Jacob Stough so these families were even more closely tied. With the Baltzly family, all were active in the early development of Ponca and Dixon County as well as Salem Lutheran and German Lutheran congregations in the area. The last descendant of the three Stough brothers to live in Dixon County was John E. Newton of Ponca, 1904-1984, a grandson of Solomon and Helena; his sister, Carol Newton Watson, 1907-1996, of Fremont, was the last in Nebraska. Descendants of the Scheffels and of the Stough-Baltzly branch remain in the area in 2000.
In the 1860s, the Smith and Buntz families moved south to Oregon, Missouri where descendants remain today.