Category Archives: Nebraska Memories

Nebraska Hall of Fame Newest Inductee Selected

Hallway in the Nebraska State CapitolOn August 2, 2017, the Nebraska Hall of Fame Commission selected Thomas Rogers Kimball, a Nebraska architect, as its newest inductee. The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to recognize prominent Nebraskans. As of 1998, only one person is added to the Hall of Fame every five years. Busts of Hall of Fame members are placed in the Nebraska State Capitol. An induction ceremony for Kimball will be planned in 2019.

Thomas Rogers Kimball was born in Ohio in 1862 but moved to Omaha with his family when he was in his early teens. Kimball studied at the University of Nebraska then went on to study architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1891, Kimball returned to Omaha and opened an office.

Kimball designed numerous buildings, many of which are still in use today. In Nebraska Memories, there are images of fourteen different buildings that Thomas Rogers Kimball designed. Here are few of the buildings you may recognize.

Entrance to Burlington Station, Omaha, Neb.

Entrance to Burlington Station, Omaha, Neb.

Omaha Public Library

Omaha Public Library

 

 

St Philomena Catholic Church Omaha Nebr

St Philomena Catholic Church Omaha Nebr

 

Paxton & Gallagher Co., Omaha, Neb.

Paxton & Gallagher Co., Omaha, Neb.

St. Cecilia's Cathedral, Omaha, Neb.

St. Cecilia’s Cathedral, Omaha, Neb.

Hotel Fontenelle, Omaha, Neb.

Hotel Fontenelle, Omaha, Neb.

 


In addition to designing buildings, Kimball also served as an architectural adviser on numerous projects both in Nebraska and in other states. The two most notable projects in Nebraska included the Trans-Mississippi Exposition and the State Capitol. Rogers along with C. Howard Walker were co-architects-in-chief of the Trans-Mississippi Exposition and designed a few of the buildings. Kimball also served as an architectural advisor for Nebraska State Capitol Commission. He was involved in organizing the competition that lead to the design of the current Capitol.

Thomas Rogers Kimball died in September 1934 just after the Nebraska State Capitol was completed.

Thomas Rogers Kimball residence

Thomas Rogers Kimball residence

Visit Nebraska Memories to search for or browse through many more historical images digitized from photographs, negatives, postcards, maps, lantern slides, books and other materials.

Public Library, Holdrege, Nebr.

Public Library, Holdrege

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. Nebraska Memories is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information, contact Devra Dragos, Technology & Access Services Director.

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Over There

The Great War (later known as World War I) was the first large multi-country conflict in which United States forces fought. Although the U.S. took an non-intervention stance when the war started in 1914, Congress declared war and joined the Allies in April 1917 after Germany returned to torpedoing U.S. ships and offered Mexico financing to attack the U.S. on its southern border. While it took almost a year for the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) to arrive in France in great numbers, AEF was established one hundred years ago this month under the command of General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing.

Pershing started his military career at forts in the western territories after graduating from West Point in 1886. After fighting in several Indian campaigns, he was assigned to the University of Nebraska in Lincoln as a professor for military science and tactics and Commandant of Cadets (at left Pershing with some of his staff at the University, Townsend Studio Collection) . While there, Pershing formed a drill company which was later renamed the Pershing Rifles. Pershing attended the UNL law school and took his degree in 1893. Pershing is remembered in the naming of several buildings in Lincoln, including an elementary school and an event facility. And while they may have been singing Gershwin’s “Over There” on Broadway, Fall City’s own Harold Spencer honored Pershing with “General Pershing’s Grand March” (above right, Polley Music Library Collection).

Young men such as Marvin Murphy (above, Butler County Gallery) volunteered from towns across Nebraska joined the fight. Of course this photo was taken a few years before Marvin served in France and Germany at the age of twenty-two. As did many Nebraska veterans, Marvin returned to Nebraska, raised his family, worked in the family business, and served in a civic capacity.

Some families saw more than one son off to war. The two youngest sons of Joseph Welty both served in the war (at left, Butler County Gallery). Herbert would also have been twenty-two and Paul twenty-six. Three of the sons already had military experience, serving with the Nebraska National Guard during the Mexican insurrection in 1916. And, as happens in small towns, relatives through marriage also served in the military. Louis Welty, the second oldest son, married Mary Rosetta Delaney (standing at far right in the photo at right) whose younger brothers Charles (seated next to their mother) and Michael (seated next to Mary) were two of the older participants in the Great War. Charles was thirty-five in 1918 and Michael thirty-eight.

 

 

 

Not all the volunteers served in the army or overseas during the war. From the George Schweser family (at left, Butler County Gallery), Harold, the oldest served as a lieutenant in the Balloon Service in Oklahoma. Closer to home, at Fort Omaha, was the Balloon School (at right, Omaha Public Library Collection) which taught about 800 men for the Signal Corp in the war. Carl, the second oldest Schweser, served as an airplane mechanic at Camp Taylor in Alabama. And, Robert, the third in line, served in the navy.

Not all those who served made it back home from the Great War. Some died in the training camps from measles, flu, dysentary, or other diseases. Some died when their ships were sunk on the way to Europe and many more, like Albin Folda (at right with his father and sister at his mother’s grave, Butler County Gallery) died on the battlefield. Albin’s grandparents had emigrated from Bohemia, looking for a better life in the United States. They found it on a Nebraska farm they homesteaded fifty years before their twenty-four year old grandson died in France.

 

Visit Nebraska Memories to search for or browse through many more historical images digitized from photographs, negatives, postcards, maps, lantern slides, books and other materials.

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. Nebraska Memories is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information, contact Devra Dragos, Technology & Access Services Director.

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Preserving the Past

Souvenir postcard of Crawford, Nebraska, #1

Your library has boxes and boxes of old photographs, documents and who knows what else. They’re old. They’re dusty.  Some are labeled. Some aren’t. They’ve been in those boxes for years. You don’t know what to do with them. You’d like find a way to preserve them, preferably in digital form, but this type of project seems overwhelming. Where do you start? How do you get started?

The good news! You don’t have to go at it alone. If your town is like the one I grew up in, there’s always someone or some group looking for a project.  In fact, your local historical society or museum would make a fantastic partner.  Chances are, they have the resources to help you identify those photographs.  Also, projects are easier (and more fun) when you share the workload. East side of Main Street, Neligh Nebraska

But wait! There’s more good news! The Nebraska Library Commission manages Nebraska Memories, an online archive of digital Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials. Funded through a combination of funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Nebraska Library Commission, Nebraska Memories contains images digitized from photographs, negatives, postcards, maps, lantern slides, books and other materials. Working either independently or with a partner, Nebraska cultural institutions have digitized and contributed more than 5,000 items to Nebraska Memories.

Burlington & Missouri River Railroad train pass

Libraries and other institutions that have partnered to digitize and upload materials to Nebraska Memories include the Antelope County Historical Society and Tilden’s Raymond A. Whitwer Memorial Library; the Crawford Historical Society and Museum and the Crawford Public Library and the High Plains Historical Society and Museum and the McCook Public Library.

I hope after reading this post, you’ll find the prospect of a digital preservation project less overwhelming. Also, you might decide to reach out to a local historical society or museum in order to host a program or two on local history. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information, contact Devra Dragos, Technology & Access Services Director.

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A Fresh Perspective

Nebraska Memories contains thousands of images. Many of these images show buildings and street scenes from across the state. When the metadata that accompanies these images includes an address I like to find the location on a map. Finding the location on an online map is easy but since so many of the buildings have changed over the past 100+ years I don’t always find it helpful. When I saw the Library of Congress’s (LOC) announcement that they were providing access to nearly 25,000 Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps I was thrilled. At this time, the maps from sixteen states are available. Lucky for us one of those states in Nebraska. Currently all of the maps available were published prior to 1900.

If you’ve never seen a Sanborn Fire Insurance Map before they may seem a bit odd the first time you look at one. As the name implies, these maps were created for assessing fire insurance liability. On the maps, you will see the outline of buildings along with information about building materials, the number of doors and windows and the amount of hose available. If you need help understanding all of the abbreviations and symbols on the map like I did, I’d suggest you look at the LOC’s About this Collection page.

I started exploring the Sanborn maps by first picking a few photos in Nebraska Memories and then trying to locate them on one of the maps. As I looked at different places on the map, I realized how much information was available. That information combine with seeing how a building related to other structures around it provided me with a fresh perspective of images I’ve viewed multiple times.Beet sugar factory, Grand Island, Neb

One photo that I selected was the Beet sugar factory, Grand Island, Neb. On the photo, note the two raised sections on the roof and the smoke that is rising from behind the building.American Beet Sugar Co. Now let’s look at the 1899 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Grand Island, Hall County, Nebraska. I found the American Beet Sugar Co. located on image 18 of the map. Under the name, it says, “2 Miles S. W. of P.O.”. The P.O. as you may have guessed stands for post office. I’ve included a screen shot of paragraph of information available on the map. As you read it, remember these are fire insurance maps.

Sanborn MapOn the drawing of the building, do you see the yellow square with the long yellow rectangle below it? It looks like a yellow i in the middle of the building. If you zoom in on the original map image you can see the words “Tank on R’F.” next to the square and “Vent in R’F” next to the rectangle. Now look to the left of the main building and find the building with the think black lines and small circles. The black lines represent steam boilers. The circles are iron chimneys. The circle with the black dot in the middle is the fire pump. I’m assuming the smoke or steam that we see in the picture is coming from this building. Taking these three pieces of information and comparing it to the photo, I would guess this picture shows the east side of the factory. Looking at the map, you will see other features of the factory such as the “underground sluice” that connects the beet shed to the main building and the “Molasses Reservoir (underground) Wood Cover”. These maps were drawn to scale so we can see that the reservoir is huge. Other areas I noticed include washers, brushes, slicing machine, granulator, press room and lime slackers.

Next, I located the Union College campus on image 47 of the 1891 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Lincoln, Lancaster County, Nebraska. The Union College, Ella Johnson Crandall Memorial Library has a collection of 100+ images in Nebraska Memories so I knew there were many photos available.

Sandborn mapWhen you look at this map or any of the Sanborn maps, make sure you look for the compass rose on the map and locate north. At first I had assumed the top of the map was north but quickly learned that is not always true. The location of north can even change from one image to the next. If you look at the full version of the Union College map, you will see that north is to the left.

The map shows five buildings located on campus. There are images of the three largest building in Nebraska Memories. Because these three buildings have been torn down, this map gives us a better perspective on exactly where they were located in relationship to each other. Remember that these maps are drawn to scale.Union College administration building

  • Main Building or the Administration Building – It is located at the bottom center of the map. It’s noted on the map that it was built in 1891.
  • North Hall – This building is located to the left or north of the admin building. A note on the map states that this hall is currently being built.  South Hall
  • South Hall – As you can guess, this building is to the right or south of the admin building. The map also notes that this building was built in 1891.

At the top left of the map is a building that is labeled “Bolier R’m 1st Laundry 2d” with the note “To Be Built as Shown”. There are two photos of the Union College laundry building in Nebraska Memories but the photos are from the 1940’s. I don’t have enough information to know if the building in the photo is the same building that is pictured on the map.

Garneau Cracker FactoryIn the 1887 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Omaha, Douglas And Sarpy County, Nebraska I located the Garneau Cracker Factory on image 20. This building was located on the northwest corner of 12th and Jackson St. While it was interesting looking at the building and learning that they did the mixing on the 3rd floor and baking on the 2nd what really caught my eye was the last line in the blurb about the building. The line states “1 Doz. Hand Grenades”. Sanborn MapI must admit that I had to stop and think about that one for a few seconds until I remembered that this is a fire insurance map. Those hand grenades were actually fire extinguishers. They were glass containers that were filled with a chemical. You were supposed to throw them at the fire causing the glass to break and releasing the chemical. If you would like to know more about them, I found a newspaper story in the 1884 Pacific Rural Press that includes a picture and description.

First Sidney schoolI must admit that not all of my attempts to locate buildings on a map were instantly successful. For example, the Cheyenne County Historical Society and Museum has a collection of 77 images in Nebraska Memories that cover a large span of time. In the LOC collection, there are two Sanborn maps for Sidney. One is from 1887 and the other is from 1892. Unfortunately, many of the buildings are not labeled with store names. I was able to find the First Sidney school on image 2 of the 1887 map.  It’s located at the corner of 1st St. and Chestnut.

Sandborn MapAfter looking at the Sanborn maps and a current map of Sidney, I’m starting to wonder if the street names have been changed. For example, the note included on the photo of the M.E. Church, Sidney, Nebr. states, “This church, built in 1919, replaced the Methodist Church built in 1884 on the same spot.” The record also states that the church is located at corner of 11th and Jackson Streets and currently is the Sidney Arts Center. I looked at a current map and was able to find the building located across the street from the county court house. On image 2 of the 1887 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Sidney, Cheyenne County, Nebraska I located a building labeled “M.E Church” that was also located across the street from a building labeled “County Offs.” These buildings were located at the corner of 1st St. and Myrtle. If I’m correct, that means 1st St. on the Sanborn maps is now Jackson St. and Myrtle is now 11th Ave. With a bit more work, I’m sure it would be possible to match more of the photos with buildings on the map.

M.E. Church, Sidney, Nebr.I hope you enjoyed viewing these historical images, along with additional information available on the historical Sanborn maps. If you would like to do your own research there are plenty more images in Nebraska Memories and a long list of Nebraska Sanborn maps.

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. Nebraska Memories is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information, contact Devra Dragos, Technology & Access Services Director.

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Got the Washboard Blues?

Do your dirty clothes and linens seem to multiply overnight? Do you never get to the bottom of your laundry basket? Can you hum the old Hoagy Carmichael tune, “Washboard Blues”? Do you know the F.B. Callahan lyrics? “Keep rubbin’–keep scrubbin’–keep tubbin’–keep drubbin’ ole dirty cloes.” Just imagine not having an electric washing machine and clothes dryer to do most of the back-breaking work for you.

The women who washed the clothes in the picture above probably had to rub, scrub, tub and drub the dirt away as in the song. Most likely using a corrugated washboard and a tub. Note that the backyards in this Omaha neighborhood didn’t have lawns, flower beds, patios, grills, or other ornamentation–just clotheslines. (Omaha Public Library)

Not all women had to bend over a washboard, some would have had hired girls to do that heavy work while others who could afford it would send out the laundry to be done. Women had been “taking in washing” for centuries. But enterprising businessmen opened full-service laundries in a number of towns across Nebraska in the 1890s and early 1900s. In the photograph (from about 1895) at right, a horse-drawn delivery cart sports the name Ideal Steam Laundry located in Fremont. Women employees stand in front of the door while the man by the cart is probably the owner. (Keene Memorial Library Collection)

Working in a laundry was acceptable labor for women at that time, as you can see in the postcard at left, most of the Guarantee Laundry Company employees are women. Business must have been booming with that number of employees. It also appears that it expanded from one building to two over time, and this was only one of several laundries in Omaha owned by Leonard Heine and his wife in the early 1900s. The photograph at right shows two of the Guarantee’s first motorized delivery trucks in 1916. Note the size of the house in the background; the lady of this house definitely wouldn’t be bending over a washboard. (Omaha Public Library Collection)

Lincoln also had its share of laundries (not including dry cleaners or dyers and cleaners). The 1908 Lincoln City Directory listed seven laundries and two “Chinese laundries.” In 1924, the number had increased to ten; 1930 also lists ten, but with a loss of one and a gain of another; the 1951 directory lists the first self-service laundries; and in 1960 the number of full-service laundries had dropped by half while the number of self-service laundries had quadrupled to twenty. People who wanted the convenience of fully automatic washers and dryers but could not afford their own had a place to go, while those who could have afforded to send their laundry out could easily purchase the machines to do their own.

The Globe Laundry was one of the longest lasting Lincoln laundries. Listed in the 1908 City Directory at 330-340 S. 11th Street or the southwest corner of the block. The address by 1930 is reported as 1124 L Street placing it in the south center of the same block, possibly a new building was built in between times. Their building and neat delivery trucks at left, may have been at either location. This entire block was cleared in the 1980s for new development. (Townsend Studio Collection)

Another long-lived Lincoln business, Evans Laundry Company was located on North 12th Street, close to the University of Nebraska. The 1936 photograph at right shows nine of their delivery trucks parked in front of the southern of their two building with drivers standing at the ready. This block was cleared in 1986 for the building of the Lied Performing Arts Center. (Townsend Studio Collection)

A third long-lived business, Union College Laundry was on the actual campus of Union College in College View, which was annexed by Lincoln in 1929. This laundry opened when the college was established in the 1890s to serve the students; however, it later became a commercial enterprise providing students with part-time jobs to pay their way through school. One employee was Eddie Holweger shown at left reading a newspaper while leaning against a delivery vehicle. (Union College, Ella Johnson Crandall Memorial Library Collection)

Items needing special care such as furs, hats, tie, and drapes could be taken to cleaners such as Apex Cleaning & Dyeing Company shown at right. While Peter Plamondon had opened the business with offices downtown several years earlier, the new office and main plant building shown at 123 S. 23rd Street was built in 1923. Notice the use of billboard advertising in 1928. This block was also cleared in the 1980s. (Jane Pope Geske Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors Collection)

Visit Nebraska Memories to search for or browse through many more historical images digitized from photographs, negatives, postcards, maps, lantern slides, books and other materials.

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. Nebraska Memories is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information, contact Devra Dragos, Technology & Access Services Director.

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The Boys of Summer

Possibly William “Pa” Rourke and one of his Omaha, Nebraska, baseball teams Nothing says summer more than grilled hot dogs, cold lemonade and baseball.  Yes, baseball, that most American of past times. Brought to the United States by British immigrants during the eighteenth century, the game as we know it, evolved throughout the nineteenth century. While smaller leagues sprang up around the country, professional leagues didn’t take root until the 1870s. Lincoln Baseball Club

Like other areas, Nebraska colleges and towns fielded baseball teams. In fact, the state has been home to numerous minor league teams. During the first half of the twentieth-century, Lincoln’s Baseball Club was a member of the Western League, which also included a team from Omaha.

Baseball team

 

 

 

 

To see more photographs of Nebraska baseball teams, visit Nebraska Memories to search for or browse through many more historical images digitized from photographs, negatives, postcards, maps, lantern slides, books and other materials.

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. Nebraska Memories is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspxfor more information, contact Devra Dragos, Technology & Access Services Director.

 

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Miss Jessie M. Towne, D. O. G.

Jessie M. Towne, Dean of Women, Omaha Central High SchoolWhenever I see an antique portrait of a person either in an antique store or online, I always wonder who they were. With over 900 portraits in Nebraska Memories, there are plenty of them for me to wonder about. In Nebraska Memories, the amount of information that is provided about each person depends on many factors including where the photo came from and what information was written on or attached to the photo. I thought it might be fun to pick a portrait and see if I could learn more about the person. I looked at a few different portraits and decided to research Jessie M. Towne.

The portrait of Miss Jessie M. Towne is part of Omaha Public Library’s collection. The record for Miss Towne provided me with some great information to start my research. She worked at the Omaha Central High School for over 40 years retiring in 1930. She was a teacher, dean of girls and an assistant principal. I also learned that her father was Solon R. Towne. He was a health inspector and ornithologist.

I started my research by searching the US Census in the MyHeritage Library Edition database. (MyHeritage is a genealogy database that is available to all Nebraska residents at no cost through NebraskAccess.) Here is some of the information I found from looking at multiple censuses.

  • Jessie was born in July 1874 in New Hampshire.
  • Her parents were Dr. Solon R. Towne and Harriet C. Towne.
  • Jessie was the oldest of four children.
  • She had one younger brother Robert S. Towne.
  • She had two sisters Mary A. Towne and Alice C. Towne.
  • In the 1940 Census, both Jessie and Mary were single and living together at 1502 North 54 street in Benson, NE.

The Omaha BeeNext, I searched another one of my favorite sites, the Library Of Congress’s Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers collection. The first article I found was “High School Girls to have a “Foster Mother”.” It appeared in the July 4, 1915 issue of the Omaha Daily Bee and talked about how she was recently appointed D.O.G. D.O.G. stands for Dean of Girls. Miss Towne looks like a series women in both the portrait and the photo that was included in the article. The article, however, describes her as someone who laughs. “Miss Towne does not giggle. But she laughs with her whole person. Her face lights up and her big eyes dance with amusement, merriment and sometimes she rocks to and fro. She laughs with perfect freedom. She laughs with girlish glee.” The article was very amusing to read. I also learned that she had already been teaching at the high school since 1895.

An article that appeared in the June 23, 1915, issue of the Omaha Bee talks about how she was assigned the position of Dean of Students in addition to being the head of the English Literature department. With the addition of the new responsibilities, her salary was increased from $1,400 a year to $2,000 a year.

Another great source of information was the Omaha Central High School Archives that contains digitized copies of the school’s newspaper and yearbooks. Jessie was mentioned many times in both. Here are a few of my favorites.

  • The February 1916 issue of The Register contains a picture of her as a small child. The picture and accompanying article can be found on page 14 of the PDF document or page 26 of the newspaper.
  • In that same issue of the paper is a small article describing Miss Towne’s presentation to a group of Dundee ladies. According to the article, “She mentioned the new system of having some of the Senior girls wear purple and white ribbons so that the poor, bewildered little Freshmen might know whom to apply when in need of aid.” (Page 10 of the PDF document or page 16 of the newspaper.)
  • Gallant Harrie Sbearer Recuses Fair Maiden”. In the February 10, 1928, issue of The Weekly Register, there was an article describing how a ghost was stalking Miss Towne. In a second article, they tell about how Miss Towne jumped up on a seat to make an announcement and found herself unable to move. While the article implies that it might have been the ghost at work it turns out her shoe got caught in the seat. Her shoe came off when Harrie helped her down.

The Central High School Foundation has a short bio of Jessie on their website. Not only did Jessie teach at the school she also graduated from there in 1892. She took courses at Harvard, Stanford and graduated from the University of Nebraska. At some point in time, she was made vice principal. Omaha High School library

When Jessie attended and taught at the High School it had a much more formal feeling than I would expect to find at a school today. The photos in Nebraska Memories provide us with a glimpse of the ornate sculptures and artwork in the corridors and classrooms.

Even though I’ve already learned a lot about Jessie, I decided to do a couple of more searches. I’m happy I did because I found what I think is the most interesting piece of information. In 1913, Jessie presented at the nineteenth annual meeting of the Nebraska Library, Omaha, Neb.Library Association. The article starts at the bottom of page 394 in Public Libraries, Volume 18. The article outlines the events of the two-day meeting that was held at the Omaha Public Library. Jessie presented a paper on the reading of high school students.

The journal Libraries: A Monthly Review of Library Matters and Methods, Volume 19 provided a few more details about her presentation. Her paper was titled “Stimulation to reading for high-school students.” Her presentation and that of a coworker were “issued in pamphlet form by the Omaha public library.”

As I mentioned before Miss Jessie Towne retired in 1930. She passed away on July 8, 1957. She was survived by her sisters Miss Mary Towne of Omaha and Mrs. Fred Deweese of Lincoln.

While I was researching Jessie, I couldn’t help but find some information about her family. Here are few interesting tidbits of information that I found.

Visit Nebraska Memories to search for or browse through many more historical images digitized from photographs, negatives, postcards, maps, lantern slides, books and other materials.

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. Nebraska Memories is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information, contact Devra Dragos, Technology & Access Services Director.

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Paving the Way

Spring is here and birds have been returning to Lincoln and building their nests. However, the rat-a-tat-tats I’ve been hearing aren’t all woodpeckers! It’s construction season for houses and roads. Lincoln’s 2015 population estimate was 277,348, up 7.3% from 2010; it is a seller’s market at the moment as the city continues to grow.

Between 1920 and 1930 Lincoln’s population increased by 38.2%. Although the annexation of Bethany Heights (1922), University Place (1926) and College View (1929) contributed about 8,000 of the 20,985 new Lincoln residents, there was still a definite need for more housing.

Sheridan Park, one new housing development, was organized by Harvey Rathbone, secretary and manager of Sheridan Park Investment Company and president of Rathbone Company (real estate). Now part of the Boulevards Historic District, Sheridan Park’s original plat map shows a rectangle bounded by South and Van Dorn Streets and 27th and 31st Streets, and includes several interior streets that curve and have medians. Sheridan Boulevard follows a geographical ridge with the streets on either side following the same line. The final layout was very close to that of the plat map, but a few streets have different names, and 31st Street, which became Winthrop Road, ended up with several curves in it. On the east side of Winthrop Road, Rathbone later created a subdivision called Rathbone Village; that name was sometimes used when referring to all of Rathbone’s development in this area. The photograph below shows Bradfield Drive, the north entrance to Sheridan Park/Rathbone Village, from South Street in 1923 (all historical photographs in this post are from the Townsend Studio Collection).

The first house on Bradfield Drive was built in 1917 and the last in 1940. Along the way, streets were cut and paved as needed. New machinery helped with the process, as seen in the photograph at right. With the brand name “Best” stamped above the grill, the machine used to pull the equipment that cut and lifted the sod has a motor and continuous tracks like a tank for traction. However, the wagons used to haul away the sod were still pulled by horses.

The side view of this machine shows its size and the equipment it is pulling. This second section has various rods and chains as well as three wheels shaped like a ship’s wheel that the men appear to be working. Instead of continuous treads, it has wheels–the back ones larger than the front. Abel Construction Co. is printed on the side of the second section. Abel Construction Company started as a paving contracting company in Lincoln in 1908 and is still in business today under the name Constructors, Inc.

Along with brick-paved streets, the new housing division had other modern conveniences, such as electricity. Even though there is a windmill behind one of the bungalows in the photograph at the right, there are electric poles and lines running by the houses. Perhaps the reliability of the electricity was still a little iffy and the windmill was used like a backup generator.

In addition to housing, people have various other needs. In the above photograph, at left in the distance behind the building with the smokestack, was the dancing pavilion at Antelope Park. The park eventually expanded to run down the length of the east side of the development and is part of the city’s current bike trail system. In 1925, Sheridan Elementary School was built in Sheridan Park on Plymouth Avenue, and Westminster Presbyterian Church was built a few blocks to the west on Sheridan Boulevard.

When you drive through the new housing developments today and see the little stick trees planted in the front yards, just think of how they will look 90+ years from now. As in the photo below taken at the South Street entrance to Bradfield Drive, you won’t be able to see the houses for the trees!

Visit Nebraska Memories to search for or browse through many more historical images digitized from photographs, negatives, postcards, maps, lantern slides, books and other materials.

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. Nebraska Memories is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information, contact Devra Dragos, Technology & Access Services Director.

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Just a Brief Note . . . .

Before I became a librarian, I worked as a researcher for a consulting firm.  Most of my work focused on clients who were involved in environmentally-based litigation.  While I mainly read typed or printed government records, occasionally a client asked me to look at older documents – shipping manifests, diaries and correspondence – stuff that was written in longhand!  As you can imagine, I became proficient at reading nineteenth-century handwriting.  Recently, I had a chance to put those skills to the test when a postcard written in German crossed my desk.

Scribner High School

For the record, I cannot read or speak German.  Before I asked a retired professor from Nebraska Wesleyan to translate, I attempted to do so using Google Translate. I realized pretty quickly the handwriting was not the nineteenth-century script I had dealt with previously. For starters, it may incorporate both German and English cursive.

The script appears to an older form of German-language handwriting known as Kurrent. Kurrent is based on late medieval cursive and German cursive. It was used heavily in Middle to High German-speaking regions during the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. Like any written script, Kurrent characters vary in shape and form, making it difficult to interpret.

Scribner High School Scribner High School

This particular letter was written to a young woman, named Ella, by her grandmother.  In the letter, Ella’s “Granny” mentions  two people known to Ella, who had taught at Scribner High School. Although brief, Granny shares some family history, as well as let Ella know that she’s not far from her thoughts.

This letter also tells us that Ella reads, and most likely speaks German.  Based on the fact that Kurrent was used in specific places, we have an idea of where Granny lived before moving to Nebraska.  Additionally, Scribner wasn’t settled until the 1870s, when the railroad arrived. The high school featured in this image, wasn’t built until 1885.  Granny most likely was a relatively recent arrival in eastern Nebraska.

Brief notes like this one can share a lot of information.  They drop hints about the writer’s and the reader’s backgrounds and relationships.  Postcards offer us a glimpse into the private worlds of people like Granny and Ella.

Visit Nebraska Memories to search for or browse through many more historical images digitized from photographs, negatives, postcards, maps, lantern slides, books and other materials.

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. Nebraska Memories is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx.For more information, contact Devra Dragos, Technology & Access Services Director.

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What are they?

Every time I see this image of the Burlington Shops in Nebraska Memories, I wonder what the gray things are piled up in front of the buildings.

Burlington shops, Havelock, Nebr.

Before asking for help identifying the items I had to do my own research. I’ve learned a lot about the Burlington Shops. I still don’t know what those items are but I have some better guesses now. Before I share my guesses and ask for your help, let me tell you what I’ve learned about the Burlington Shops in Havelock.

The book Lincoln: The Capital City and Lancaster County, Nebraska, Volume 1 (1916) provides a nice history of the town and the shops. The town of Havelock was incorporated on May 6, 1893. It was located about four Burlington Shops, Havelock, Neb. miles northeast of downtown Lincoln. Around the same time, Burlington decided to locate a repair and manufacturing shop in Havelock. Work on the first building started in June of 1890. A blacksmith shop, boiler shop and a new shop building were added a few years later. The next large expansion came 1910.

I was surprised by the amount of information I was able to find about the shops and expansion that took place around 1910. I found two journals articles published in 1911 that included detailed information about the Burlington Shops. At first glance, the articles may appear to be identical but they are slightly different. They contain too much information for me to include in this post but below are links to the articles along with few highlights.

Here are a few highlights from these articles.

  • MapBoth articles provide detailed drawings of the property that includes the location and dimensions of every building. I found it fun to compare the map to a current bird’s eye view of the shops. Many of the builds are still being used today.
  • The newly built storehouse is 80 ft. wide, 500 ft. long, and three stories high. It is surrounded on three sides by a 16 ft. wide platform.
  • On the west end of the storehouse, 100 ft. of space on the first and second floors was designed as office space. On the first floor were “quarters of the superintendent of shops and the storekeeper. On the second floor are the stationer, medical examiner with emergency hospital fully equipped, telephone exchange, space for apprentice school and meeting room.”
    Store house, C.B.& Q. shops, Havelock, Nebr.
  • The windows in the storehouse were designed to work with the material cases that would be stored in the building. “The material cases are 5 feet wide at the bottom and are separated by space of the same width. This arrangement gives a case spacing of 10 feet center to center and 7 feet of window between two adjacent cases, the tops of which are three feet wide.”

While both of these journal articles provided me with a ton of information, I still didn’t have any good guess about the objects in the photo. I thought they might be made out of cement because if you look at the bottom of a few of the stacks you can see that a few of them have broken. Burlington shops, Havelock, Nebr.

The article A Modern Concrete Slab and Pile Plant appeared in the 1921 issue of Railway Track and Structures, Volume 17 confirms that there was a concrete plant at the Havelock shops. The article listed some of the items manufactured at the Havelock Shops. “In addition to the concrete slabs and piles, the concrete plant is equipped to manufacture concrete fence posts, platform curbs, hog troughs and some miscellaneous items.” Included with the article was a picture of concrete curb units but they do not match the items in the picture.

Now that you know a bit more about the Burlington Shops at Havelock, what do you think the items are piled in front of the boiler shop? If you haven’t already done so, take a minute and go view the image on the Nebraska Memories website. You can use the zoom function to get a better view.

What do you think they are? As you can see, there are a few different items. I can pick out three different styles for sure.

Burlington shops, Havelock, Nebr.At the far left, you can see three small piles. I think they are flat but they do have slight curve to them.

 

 

 

Burlington shops, Havelock, Nebr.In the middle of the picture are items that have a slight arch to them. If you look at the bottom of the piles, you can see a significant gap between the middle of the items and the ground. As I mentioned before a few of them have broken. Do you think these and the first items are both curbs used on curves?

 

 

Burlington shops, Havelock, Nebr.The items at the far right are much shorter. I think they have a slight arch to them. As I was looking at the picture of the roundhouse, I was wondering if these pieces could be used to line the turntable.

 

 

Burlington yards, Havelock, Nebr. Do you agree with my guesses or am I completely off track? Are these pieces used in assembling a train engine? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think they are.

If you are interested in the Burlington shops, I found two additional historical journals articles that I read but didn’t reference in this post. I thought you might enjoy reading them.

Visit Nebraska Memories to search for or browse through many more historical images digitized from photographs, negatives, postcards, maps, lantern slides, books and other materials.

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. Nebraska Memories is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information, contact Devra Dragos, Technology & Access Services Director.

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The Luck of the Irish

At 32,599 square miles, the island that contains the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland has just over two-fifths the area of the state of Nebraska. However, it has made a huge impact on the world through the immigration of its people to other places. While the largest diaspora occurred during the potato famines of the 1840s, many Irish continued to move to the United States throughout the rest of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. A fair number of them came to Nebraska.

According to Nebraska Moments by Donald R. Hickey, et al., the very first church built in Nebraska Territory was a Catholic church to serve the Irish population in 1856. Another church purported to have been built for residents of Irish descent some 26 years later was the St. James Catholic Church of Fairmont at left (Fairmont Public Library Collection). After Germans (a mix of Catholic and Protestant faiths) and Swedes (generally Lutheran), the Irish made up the third largest ethnic group of immigrants to Nebraska.

O’Neill, which has been proclaimed “The Irish Capital of Nebraska,” was named for John O’Neill, who helped establish several towns in Nebraska with Irish settlers. O’Neill, a U.S. Civil War veteran, had worked for “Home Rule” in Ireland, trying to push the British out. Some years later in 1890 that topic was raised in a program at Lincoln High School by the Photereone Society (Polley Music Library Collection). Along with a mixture of music and dramatics, students debated Irish Home Rule and discussed the issue of Chinese immigration. In two years the Chinese Exclusion Act that suspended Chinese laborer immigration to the United States was due to expire; the Act was renewed in 1892. Some people also wanted to restrict the immigration of other ethnic groups, including the Irish.

The Irish worked at a variety of jobs in Nebraska. William McGaffin, above with his son Wesley (Butler County Gallery), and his first wife Margery emigrated to the United States in the late 1860s. After spending some years in New York, the McGaffins moved to Butler County, Nebraska in 1885. McGaffin published the Bellwood Gazette that year and ran the paper into the 1920s. Joseph Haney, at right (The Lincoln Police Department Collection), was a baby when his family emigrated in 1881. From age 16-20, Haney drove a police wagon for the Lincoln police department. Another Irishman, Captain William T. B. Ireland who was born in New York, served with the Lincoln Police Department for over 20 years.

Whether or not you have descended from those earlier Irish immigrants, you might have enjoyed the St. Patrick’s Day musicale at the Temple Theatre in 1913 with song and dance (Polley Music Library Collection). I plan to enjoy some Irish dancing myself tonight across the street in the newer performing arts center. Enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day!

Visit Nebraska Memories to search for or browse through many more historical images digitized from photographs, negatives, postcards, maps, lantern slides, books and other materials.

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. Nebraska Memories is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information, contact Devra Dragos, Technology & Access Services Director.

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Good Times in Nebraska

When people think of places like Nebraska, and the American West in general, they often assume that residents have little to no access to cultural institutions. That is, no libraries, opera houses, theaters, art museums or symphonies.  Those of us who live in the West, know this to be otherwise.  In fact, nineteenth century mining communities hosted traveling acting troupe or minstrel shows. Other early towns built opera houses and theaters, while some opened small libraries.
American Music Hall, Omaha, Neb.
With its large population, Omaha was home to numerous theaters, such as the American Music Hall and the Orpheum Theater.

15th and Harney Streets, Orpheum Theatre and City National Bank, Omaha, Neb.
Theaters and other entertainment venues could be found in smaller communities as well. Opera houses, for example, could be found in Valley and Papillion. They may not have been the most beautiful of buildings, but they provided stages for more than a few talented people. More importantly, opera productions allowed people with a brief respite from the rigors of prairie life.

Opera House, Valley, Neb. Interior of opera house in Papillion, Nebraska

Additionally, Nebraska was home to more than few musical groups.  Composed of local musicians, these groups enabled participants to hone their talents while providing entertainment for others.  For   some musicians, particularly those who immigrated from outside the United States, music may have not only connected them to fellow immigrants, but linked them to their former homes as well.

Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show

German Stringed Quartet

 

 

 

 

If the opera or a musical gathering didn’t provide enough entertainment, people could attend Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show when it roared into the state.  Perhaps not high culture, but entertaining!

Visit http://memories.nebraska.gov/ to search for or browse through many more historical images digitized from photographs, negatives, postcards, maps, lantern slides, books and other materials.

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. Nebraska Memories is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information, contact Devra Dragos, Technology & Access Services Director.

 

 

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Dense Fog Leads to Head-on Collision

C.B.&Q. Railroad train wreck at Red Cloud, Nebraska, #3 Sunday morning, November 22, 1908, two trains collided at Red Cloud killing two men. According to the article “Disastrous Wreck at Red Cloud” that appeared in the November 27, 1908 issue of The McCook Tribune, “two Burlington trains collided at the west end of the city stock yards at 6:55, doing great damage and killing two men and injuring one.”

“The trains came together just beyond the yard limits, on a big curve, where there was a heavy fill, and the impact was so great that the engine 1225, pulling the extra from the west, was thrown from the track, as it struck 1182, 63’s engine, and was overturned and C.B.&Q. Railroad train wreck at Red Cloud, Nebraska, #5 fell almost bottom side up, killing the two men as she went over. Train 63 was standing still, and the force of the collision was so great that five cars, the tender and engine were badly wrecked, and three cars and the engine on the stock extra were reduced to kindling wood. The wrecking train was ordered from McCook and reached here about 1:30, and the work of cleaning the track was commenced in earnest, and was finally finished at 5:40 p. m., so that trains could go over the track.”

There are six photos of this deadly wreck in Nebraska Memories taken by L. E. Tait. Basic information is written on the edges of each photo but the newspaper article provides more details.C.B.&Q. Railroad train wreck at Red Cloud, Nebraska, #1 After reading the article, I think I was able to match the photos with the information provided in the newspaper article.

The photo labeled #1 shows the wrecking train, that came from McCook, lifting engine 1225. Engine 1225 was part of the stock train.

C.B.&Q. Railroad train wreck at Red Cloud, Nebraska, #2 The photo labeled #2 shows two engines. I’m assuming the one at the top left of the photo is engine 1182. It was part of train No. 63. Along the right side of the photo is engine 1225. I know it’s somewhat hard to tell that this is an engine just by looking at this photo. If you compare the front end of the engine in photo #1 you can see that it matches the pile of metal on the ground.

Photo #4 shows two men sitting on a pile of wreckage. Laying between them is a large axe. The man on the left is sitting on engine 1225, which is upside down.C.B.&Q. Railroad train wreck at Red Cloud, Nebraska, #4 The paper said it “overturned and fell almost bottom side up, killing the two men as she went over.” The caption of the photo reads “1,2, Where Engine Crew Died”. If you look at the ground to the left and right of the engine, you will see the numbers 1 and 2 written on the picture. Killed in the accident were Engineer John W. Bartholoma and Fireman George Snoke. Short obituaries for both men can be found at the end of the newspaper article.

According to the newspaper article “The excitement was intense and more than 3,000 people visited the wreck, coming from Kansas and Nebraska towns for a radius of 20 miles, and most of them remained all day.” When I reading that line my first thought was that the newspaper article had to be exaggerating, that’s a lot of people. Looking closely at photo #6, I think the newspaper could be correct. Look at the huge groups of people on both sides of the track.

If you to read the complete newspaper article, you may have noticed that there was no reference to the dollar amount of damage caused by this wreck. While I was looking over the newspaper page that contained the article about the train wreck, I noticed the “Railroad News Items” along the left side of the page. Two items in this column relate to the wreck at Red Cloud.

  • “The estimate of the total damages of last Sunday’s wreck is placed at near $20,000.”
  • “The wrecking outfit came back from Red Cloud, Wednesday, and the engines – 1182 and 1225 – were started for Havelock, Thursday. The damage was estimated at over $4,000 on the two engines.”

Below the railroad news, you will find “Card of Thanks” from the Bartholoma and Snoke families.

I hope you enjoyed learning more about the C.B.&Q. (Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company) train wreck at Red Cloud. Visit Nebraska Memories to search for or browse through many more historical images digitized from photographs, negatives, postcards, maps, lantern slides, books and other materials.

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. Nebraska Memories is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information, contact Devra Dragos, Technology & Access Services Director.

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To Serve at the Pleasure of the President

Among the positions appointed by a United States president are ambassadors to foreign countries. One former ambassador with Nebraska ties was David Eugene Thompson.

Born in Michigan, Thompson came to Lincoln by way of his work with the Burlington Railroad and made his mark in Lincoln during the 1890s and early 1900s. In addition to his work with the railroad, he was president of local gas and insurance companies.

In 1892, Thompson and his wife, Jeannette, built a Neoclassical Revival-style two-and-a-half story house at 1445 H Street, seen in the postcards at left and right (Nebraska Library Commission Collection). The elegant residence contained several wood-paneled rooms on the first floor, six fireplaces, and a third floor ballroom. The Thompsons sold this house to the State of Nebraska in 1899 to serve as the first official Governor’s mansion. The sale included many of the furnishings. For more information about and photographs of the house, see James E. Potter, “The Governor’s House, the People’s House: Nebraska Governors’ ResidencesNebraska History 89 (2008):26-41.

The Thompsons next lived in the Lincoln Hotel seen at right (Townsend Studio Collection) and maintained rooms there as late as 1908. While living here, Thompson founded the Lincoln Daily Star newspaper, later the Lincoln Star, which finally merged with the Lincoln Journal in 1995 to become the current Lincoln Journal Star. He also became more involved in politics. President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Thompson as the “Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary” to Brazil. Thompson took up his position as of April 1,1903. As of March 16, 1905, the position became “Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary,” and the Thompsons remained in Brazil until November 1905. President Roosevelt next appointed Thompson as Ambassador to Mexico where he served from March 1906 to December 1909.

The Thompsons remained in Mexico City where Thompson bought and managed the Pan-American Railway until his wife’s death in 1911. Mrs. Thompson was buried in the Wyuka Cemetery in Lincoln, and Thompson lived in Lincoln for a few more years before moving to California. After his death in 1942, Thompson was also buried in the Wyuka Cemetery.

At some point during the 1900s, the Thompsons gifted the city of Lincoln with the fountain seen below (Nebraska Library Commission Collection). Located at 11th and J Streets, the fountain remained a prominent feature of the capitol/university/downtown district until it was moved to Antelope Park which was developed in the late 1910s.

Visit Nebraska Memories to search for or browse through many more historical images digitized from photographs, negatives, postcards, maps, lantern slides, books and other materials.

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. Nebraska Memories is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information, contact Devra Dragos, Technology & Access Services Director.

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The Herpolsheimer Company

Herpolsheimer BuildingWith Christmas just days away, many of us have been busy shopping for gifts. In the early days of Lincoln, residents had the choice of two department stores, Miller & Paine and Herpolsheimer’s. While Miller & Paine may be a name Nebraskan’s recognize I’m guessing most people don’t recognize the Herpolsheimer Company.

Henry Herpolsheimer

Henry Herpolsheimer

Henry Herpolsheimer first opened a dry goods store with Otto Mohrenstecher on O Street in downtown Lincoln. According to Lincoln historian Jim McKee, Henry built a new, 73,000-square-foot store at the corner of 12th and N Street in 1880. As you can see in the pictures of the building, there were large windows on the north side of the building. The store earned the nickname “The Daylight Store” because of the large windows and electric lights.

A window display of corsets was featured in the 1908 Dry Goods Reporter, Volume 38. According to the caption, the window was decorated by A. G. Sten. As a side note, if you are interested in photography note the article above the photo. It describes the steps you should take to get good photographs of display windows both during the day and at night. The night exposures could take up to thirty minutes.

Corset WindowCapital city courier., January 28, 1893, Page 8, Image 8Herpolsheimer’s sold a wide variety of goods. An ad in the January 28, 1893 issue of the Capital City Courier listed bedspreads, spreads and counterpaines for sale. The prices ranged from seventy-five cents up to $5.00.

1908 Lincoln Nebraska Directory, compiled and published by Jacob North & CompanyThe ad for the H. Herpolsheimer Co. in the 1908 Lincoln Nebraska Directory (Jacob North & Company), lists many items for sale including dry goods, men’s and women’s furnishings, fancy goods, furs, toys and groceries.

Herpolsheimer soda fountain, view 1While I couldn’t find any information or advertisements for the soda fountain in the store, these 1914 photos show that they had one at that time. The signs on wall advertise items such as Dickinson’s Maple Mousse, a Mallow bitter sundae, Coca-Cola, and Vassar chocolates.

The Herpolsheimer Co. closed in 1931. I don’t know exactly when the building was torn down but by early 1939, a Firestone service station stood in its place at the corner of 12th and N. While there is still a Firestone station on that corner today, the original building was torn down and replaced in 1998.D. Eiche Firestone Service

Visit Nebraska Memories to search for or browse through many more historical images digitized from photographs, negatives, postcards, maps, lantern slides, books and other materials.

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. Nebraska Memories is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information, contact Devra Dragos, Technology & Access Services Director.

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The Joys of Hunting Season in Nebraska

Before the advent of grocery stores, people produced much of their food. Although Blackbirds flying over field gardens and livestock supplied staples such as vegetables, milk and bacon, many settlers looked to hunting to supplement their diets as well as provide some much needed cash from the sale of pelts. Nebraska Memories not only features postcards and photographs birds and game, but of people posing with their rifles and the fruits of their labors as well.

While the blackbirds featured in the above image may not have been intended for dinner,  you can almost imagine a bird hunter eagerly awaiting their flight so that they might snag a bird or two to add to their collection. Take this photographic postcard from Bird hunt Wheeler County. It shows a hunter, with his trusty hunting dog, firing at several game birds. Chances are, these birds were destined for the family dinner table and the tail feathers used to decorate a hat.

In addition to shooting game birds, Nebraskans hunted other animals, such as coyotes. After 1860, fur traders saw the value of coyote fur pelts increase from almost nothing to a few dollars or more per pelt. Coyote pelts could not be used as rugs, but they could be made into coats, jackets and hats. As such, they most likely became a source of income for many people. mand woman with coyote hides Additionally, ranchers disliked coyotes because they attacked sheep and cows. The couple featured in this postcard may have shot coyotes in order to harvest their fur or they may have been helping ranchers protect their livestock.  Four men with shotguns

Not all photographs focus on potential targets or an expedition’s results. Some images are of the hunters themselves. This photographic postcard not only features four hunters posing with their shotguns, but three dogs can be glimpsed as well. While two of the three dogs are not visible clearly, the third one sits at his master’s feet, ready for action. Okay, maybe not. But bird hunters relied on dogs such as pointers, spaniels, setters, and retrievers to fetch downed birds. Despite their somewhat casual stances, I do not doubt the abilities of these hunters or their dogs.

Undoubtedly, hunting enabled many families to survive the often harsh and rugged Nebraska plains. A settler with a good shot gun could provide food, warm clothing or bedding in the form of fur pelts and cash from the sale of game or pelts. Hunting also helped protect livestock from predators like coyotes.

Visit Nebraska Memories to search for or browse through many more historical images digitized from photographs, negatives, postcards, maps, lantern slides, books and other materials.

 Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. Nebraska Memories is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see  http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information, contact Dragos Devra Technology  &  Access Services Director.

 

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“The establishment of the town of Hastings was an afterthought…”

First National Bank

First National Bank – 2nd Street, West from Hastings Ave. As you can see in Google Street view, this building is still standing today.

“The establishment of the town of Hastings was an afterthought with the men who settled upon the three homesteads which formed the original parts of town.” I don’t know if that is true but that is what Henry G. Smith wrote in the Book of Hastings : a sketch of the town with illustrations. This book, published in 1906, is available in Nebraska Memories.

The Book of Hastings tells the history of the area starting in 1869. In 1873, the Hastings Town Company (page 6) was formed to develop the town of Hastings. On April 20, 1874, Hastings was declared an incorporated town.

Browsing this book, I learned a lot about the history of Hastings and the surrounding area. The book does not have a table of contents or an index, so I wanted to highlight some of the information available in this book.

  • A number of railroads had service to or through Hastings over the years including the St. Joe & Grand Island, Burlington & Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley. (page 18)
  • Juniata was selected as the county seat of Adams County in December 1871. Not everyone was happy with this. For years, folks fought to move the county seat to Hastings while others fought to keep it in Juniata.
    Juniata

    Juniata (page 81)

    The group supporting Juniata won the 1875 election but lost the 1877 election. They were not happy with the loss and contested the vote. The issue was finally settled by Judge Gaslin. (page 22)

  • A fire in 1879 destroyed 33 buildings in the Hastings business district. Many of the wooden buildings that burned were replaced with brick buildings. Later that year the Burlington depot was destroyed to cover up a murder. Fires in 1881, 1890, and 1905 also destroyed many businesses in town. (page 28)
  • At the time this book was written, there were 18 church organizations in Hastings. A brief history of each organization is included. (page 40)
  • The Hastings Library opened in January 1888. It was run by the Library Mite Society until it was taken over by the city government. In the spring of 1905 the new Carnegie building was completed. The library contained about 6,000 volumes. Miss Mabel Stone was the librarian. (page 46)
  • Hastings residents started discussing the possibility of building a college in 1873 however, Hastings College did not become a reality until 1882. J. J. H. Hewitt was the first student to graduate in 1887. Dr. W. F. Ringland was the president of the college for the first 15 years. (page 70)
  • Starting on page 81 you can find lists of many of the towns first officials including the mayor and councilmen.
  • Towards the end of the book you will find a list of “Personal Sketches of Early Settlers” (page 95) followed by a list of businesses titled “Among the Business Houses” (page 103).
  • The book is also full of pictures of houses however; most of them are only labeled with the name of the current resident.
Residence of C. Koehler.

Residence of C. Koehler. (page 54)

I hope you take a few minutes to learn more about Hastings by looking at the Book of Hastings : a sketch of the town with illustrations.

Visit Nebraska Memories to search for or browse through many more historical images digitized from photographs, negatives, postcards, maps, lantern slides, books and other materials.

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. Nebraska Memories is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information, contact Devra Dragos, Technology & Access Services Director.

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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Header Crew for Wheat HarvestFall is my favorite time of the year.  I love the crisp morning air, the feel of a warm sweater, the tart taste of apple cider on my tongue.  For some, however, fall is a sad time.  The wheat has been harvested, the trees are bare, and winter is around the corner.

According to the song, “Nebraska in the Fall,” the leaves turn to “red and gold . . . . the flaming sumac flaunts her colors bold and Nebraska in the Fallcottonwood and maple have turned to yellow gold!” Having moved to Lincoln in January, this will be my first Nebraska autumn. While I have experienced the cooler mornings, I have yet to see trees dripping with red and orange colored leaves as described by the song’s writer, Hazel Dolan of Louisville.

However, fall does not invoke images such as those described by Hazel Dolan for all people. In my experience, some see fall as a season of leafless trees and bleak landscapes, like the scene on this postcard of the Pavilion at Omaha’s River Park. Pavilion, Riverview Park. Omaha, Neb. Regardless, many find a way to enjoy the season.  This group from Lincoln’s Union College apparently found something to celebrate or at least a way to stay warm! woman drinking out of a bucket

While most of the fall-related images in Nebraska Memories are of leafless trees, there are many other pictures that capture the essence of autumn – crews harvesting hay and other crops, nature scenes and music scores.

Visit Nebraska Memories to search for or browse through many more historical images digitized from photographs, negatives, postcards, maps, lantern slides, books and other materials. Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. Nebraska Memories is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information, Devra Dragos, Technology & Access Services Director

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Hotel Fontenelle and Hotel Castle

Hotel Fontenelle, Omaha, Neb.The first images the Hotel Fontenelle and Hotel Castle I saw were those included in Nebraska Memories. I didn’t know anything about the hotels and there wasn’t a lot of information about them included in Nebraska Memories. I decided to do a bit of research hoping to find a few interesting tidbits that I could share with you. I found more than just a few tidbits; I found what I consider to be a research jackpot. The Omaha Daily Bee newspaper did multiple page specials on both hotels when they opened. These special supplements are made up of multiple stories that tell about the hotels. Many of the companies that built, furnished and continued to work with the hotels also had advertisements in the supplements highlighting how they were connected to the hotels. These supplements were fun to read. I learned a lot about each hotel but it was also amusing to see what things were important to write about in 1915.

The Hotel Fontenelle opened in February 1915 on the corner of 18th and Douglas streets. It operated as a hotel until 1971 and was razed in 1983. The supplement covering the Hotel Fontenelle in the Omaha Daily Bee was published on February 28, 1915. The supplement is 15 pages long and was published in two sections. Both parts contain photos of the inside of the hotel.

Omaha Daily Bee - February 28, 1915 - second section

Omaha Daily Bee – Section 2

Omaha Daily Bee - February 28, 1915 - first section

Omaha Daily Bee– Section 1

Here are a few things in the article that caught my attention for one reason or another.

  • “There are really sixteen stories in the Fontenelle – above the street. And there are two stories, very busy stories below the street. Total height, eighteen stories.”
  • The architecture is Gothic. The first 10 stories are dark brick, above that is white tile and “the building design is of fretted and gabled French chateau style, with gabled roof painted a pleasing green.”
  • The land cost $215,000.
  • The land and building were owned by the Douglas Hotel Company. The supplement includes a list of officers and directors of the Douglas Hotel Group posing in front of Hotel FontenelleCompany. The Interstate Hotel Company of Nebraska leased the hotel and ran it.
  • William R. Burbank was the director general of the hotel. Abraham Burbank was the managing director.
  • The hotel has 350 guest rooms. The room rates varied depending on if they faced the street and the size and configuration of the room. The cheapest room listed was $2 a day while a corner suite that had a bedroom, bathroom and sitting room was $10 a day.
  • “Sample rooms will rent at $2.50 up, according to size and location.” Traveling salesmen stayed at the hotel and used a sample room to display their products. The Baird Buildingsample rooms were located on the tenth and eleventh floors. The rooms had thick carpeting, telephones and private toilet and bath rooms.
  • All of the rooms in the hotel had a telephone. Telephones were also placed in other locations such as the kitchen, barbershop, lobby and elevator. A very long article explains the 63 miles of telephone wire used and the switchboard could serve a town of about 3,000 people.
  • Every room had “ice water on tap”. The water was “cooled to a temperature of forty degrees by ammonia coils” before being distributed through the building.
  • The L. G. Doup Co. of Omaha provided the box springs and mattresses for the hotel. The mattresses were of the “very best quality — the hair used in the mattresses is long curled horse hair of the quality known as drawings…”
  • Big Electric Signs on top of New Hotel” – A short articles talks about the importance of the electric signs. “It is so built that it harmonizes with the Downtown Omahagable roof of the French chateau style of architecture.”
  • Included in the supplement are the floor plans for the ground floor and the main floor.
  • Hotel on Cow Stable Site” This column talks about the land the hotel was built on and how it was “far remote in the outskirts of a frontier country village fifty year ago; today the location of Omaha’s $1,000,000 modern and palatial hotel…”
  • Hotel Has Its Own Laundry” – I was surprised to read that the laundry was located on the 13th floor. “This is the only original motor driven laundry in Omaha. … big “extractors,” which turn on their vertical axes at a speed of a thousand revolutions a minute. These are for drying the wash. They remove the moisture by centrifugal force instead of by the slow and primitive process of drying.”Banquet at Fontenelle Hotel
  • Thomas R. Kimball was the architect for the hotel. According to the article, he was also the architect for the S. Cecelia’s cathedral, the Burlington station, designed the city library and the Methodist hospital.
  • I’ve never heard of a telautograph but the Fontenelle had one. “A telautograph is an instrument that will reproduce your handwriting perfectly at a distance.”

 

Hotel Castle and other buildingsThe Hotel Castle was located on corner of 16th and Jones Street and opened in March 1915. The main building was six stories high. The hotel had 150 rooms. All of the rooms had a toilet and running hot and cold water. One hundred of them also had private baths. Rooms rented for $1.25-$2 a day. Attached to the hotel is a two-story building referred to as the annex. The 50×80 feet convention hall or ballroom is located on the second floor of the annex.

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Omaha daily bee

The special supplement about the Hotel Castle was published on March 21, 1915 in the Omaha Daily Bee. Here are some of things I found interesting about the Hotel Castle.

  • “The Hotel Castle is absolutely fireproof. From basement to proof [sic] there is hardly a splinter in the construction that can be consumed by fire. The doors of the rooms are about the only inflamable things, the rest being concrete and marble.” Multiple times in the article, fireproofing is mentioned. This may seem odd at first but keep in mind that in 1913 a fire destroyed the Dewey Hotel killing around 20 people. If you would like to read about this fire there is an article about it in the Mach 1, 1913 issue of the Omaha Daily Bee.
  • “even the smallest rooms have three lights,…and a third at the head of the bed so that guests can enjoy the luxury of reading in bed.”
  • Miss Clara Fry was proprietor of the cigar stand. Miss Fry also owned a cigar stand in the Plains Hotel in Cheyenne Wyo.Yourex silverware
  • “Vinegar, pickles, olives, sauerkraut, ketchup and the like will be supplied to the new Castle by Haarmann Vinegar and Pickle Company…”
  • The supplement contains a picture of a guest room and a bathroom and other rooms in the hotel.
  • Yourex silverware was used at the hotel.Eckman Chemical Company
  • “The Eckman Chemical Company was the first outside concern to rent one of the store buildings facing Sixteenth Street on the ground floor of the Castle.” According to their ad “If you have sick hogs, try Eckman’s special treatment for sick hogs.”
  • If you need a laugh, I’d suggest reading the article “Some Guests to be Barred – Messrs. Rat, Mouse, and Bug and Their Families to Find No Homes Here.” It is a rather long article that tells the story of how Mr. Rat and his family were not able to find a place to live in the new Castle Hotel.

I hope you enjoyed learning about the Hotel Fontenelle and Hotel Castle.

Visit Nebraska Memories to search for or browse through many more historical images digitized from photographs, negatives, postcards, maps, lantern slides, books and other materials.

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. Nebraska Memories is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information, contact Devra Dragos, Technology & Access Services Director.

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Plotting the Route: Maps of the Missouri River

The summer I turned ten, my family drove from Montana to northern California to visit my grandparents. My dad put me in charge of plotting our route. This was pre-GPS. I actually had to look at the road atlas. Unfortunately, my dad rejected many of suggestions. I think it had something to do with the fact that some of them would have taken us through North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado – not exactly the most direct way to travel from Montana to California. Regardless, I found I enjoyed looking at maps. Something I still like to do.

Maps do more than tell us how to get from one place to another. Depending on the map, they can convey informationMap of Omaha City, Nebraska  like elevation, land use, socio-economic levels. If they are maps of bodies of water, they mark the locations of navigational hazards, ship wrecks and water depth. In some cases, we can use maps to show how rivers have changed their course over time or the evolution of land use in an area. Nebraska Memories features several maps and an atlas or two.

Maps depict more than geography. Some focus on the mundane and the ordinary, such as city planning. For example, this map of Omaha from 1866 shows the city laid out in a grid pattern. While the city blocks are numbered, individual owners are not named. With a little help from a Polk Directory and/or the Census, you could figure out who lived where. Regardless, this map provides us with plenty of information — it shows the location of Nebraska’s first capitol building at Twentieth and Dodge Streets. It also tells us the Omaha experienced some flooding during its early years. How do I know? The map marks the locations of several levees along Omaha’s eastern boundary. Also, the cemeteries are located on the western edge of Omaha, far from the Missouri River.

Map of the Missouri River from surveys made, in accordance with acts of Congress approved June 18, 1878 and March 3, 1879, under the direction of Major Chas. R. SuterSpeaking of the Missouri River,  two atlases chart the course of the Missouri River from its mouth to its source in Three Forks, Montana.  Both the Map of the Missouri River from its Mouth to Three Forks, Montana and the Map of the Missouri River from surveys made, in accordance with acts of Congress approved June 18, 1878 and March 3, 1879 under the direction of Major Chas. R. Sutter show an amazing amount of detail.

Map of the Missouri River: from its mouth to Three Forks, Montana These maps plot the locations of islands, sandbars, vegetation, the locations of previous channels and much, much more. The Map of the Missouri River from its Mouth to Three Forks, Montana also notes  Indian settlements, wood yards, and large ranches. Since the maps are drawn as though you are looking at them from above, it’s like looking at the nineteenth-century version of a Google map.

Map of the Missouri River: from its mouth to Three Forks, Montana

Maps, like old photographs and postcards allow us to travel into the past. We not only see how rivers have changed course or how cities have evolved, we catch a glimpse of what mattered to the mapmakers. Since the Missouri River was a major transportation route, these mapmakers were focused on documenting navigational hazards, woodlots, and Indian settlements. They wanted to ensure that riverboats would be able to navigate safely, as well as resupply as necessary. Looking back on that long ago road trip to California, the maps we used may not have contained the same sorts of information as the ones found within Nebraska Memories, but they provided us with the information we needed.

Visit Nebraska Memories to search for or browse through many more historical images digitized from photographs, negatives, postcards, maps, lantern slides, books and other materials.

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. Nebraska Memories is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information, contact Devra Dragos, Technology & Access Services Director.

 

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