Category Archives: Nebraska Memories

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.

c

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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Sometimes it is more than just a Nebraska Memories Blog Post

This week I had planned to write a short blog post highlighting some of the photos in Nebraska Memories taken 100 years ago in 1916. While I hadn’t actually typed a single character, mentally I had a great start on the post. That was until I did a quick web search on Spirella. That search started a chain of events that led to a bit of work and me deciding to revise the post I’d been mentally composing.

Here is the picture from 1916 that started my search. As you can see this image shows a room full of women sewing what looks like wide strips of fabric.

Spirella Company

Spirella Company

Deputy 11th Street BuildingThe Spirella Company was located at 211-215 S. 11th Street, Lincoln, Nebraska. The Library Commission’s office is located between 12th and 13th streets so this building would have been located about a block west. Unfortunately, the building was torn down but we do have a picture of the outside of the building taken in 1918.

Don’t worry if you don’t recognize the name Spirella. Before starting this blog post, all I knew was that the Spirella Company made corsets and that in 1918 Ira B. Saunders was the General Manager of the plant.

A quick web search led me to the article in Wikipedia about Spirella. It provided me with a lot more information about Spirella and the twisted and flattened coils of wire used in the corsets. The Wikipedia article however was missing what I considered to be an important piece of information. There was no reference of the factory in Lincoln. How could that be, I was just looking at a picture of the factory.

Spirella Plant in LincolnThis is where the extra bit of work started. I knew I had to add the Lincoln location to the article but before I did, I wanted to do a bit of research to see if I could find any more information. The first thing I found that clearly confirmed that Spirella had a location in Lincoln was a one-page ad in the March 1917 issue of The Ladies’ Home Journal. The ad contained an image of the plant and stated, “At Lincoln, Nebraska, a plant was located to care for our clients west of the Mississippi.” The full ad is available online but I have included the image of the Lincoln building that was used in the ad. Did you notice that the top decorative triangle is missing? The curvy line to the top and left of the building is an image of the springs used in the corsets.

The American FederationistIn the 1917 issue of The American Federationist another ad mentions the Lincoln location. In the add it states “Spirella Corsets Are Made in Spirella’s Daylight Factories under Safe, Sanitary, Convenient, Working Conditions by well paid, contented, skilled works who find joy in their work.”

While I had more than enough information to update the Wikipedia article I was still curious, so I did a quick search across the historic collection of newspapers available on the Library of Congresses’ Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers website. While I didn’t find any information about the factory itself, I did learn a bit more about the corsets and the local corsetiere.

Click to enlarge.Mrs. Magnolia Duke was a corsetiere in the North Platte area. There were numerous ads for her services in The North Platte semi-weekly tribune along with articles that mention her work. To the right is an example of one of those ads. This is from The North Platte semi-weekly tribune. (North Platte, Neb.) May 23, 1911, Image 8

In August of 1911, Magnolia traveled to Pennsylvania to attend the National Training School of Spirella Corsetieres. You can read about her trip in the article titled Home from Training School that appeared in the Sept. 1 edition of The North Platte semi-weekly tribune. (The article is at the top of the page, just to the right of the owls.)

"Try the new Spirella Corset."Another corsetiere in the state was Mrs. J. R. McCleary of Falls City. Here is her ad for corsets that appeared in the June 28, 1907 issue of The Falls City Tribune.

After gathering this information, I was able to update the Wikipedia article to include the factory in Lincoln. I also passed the information on to my colleague who added additional information to the photo in Nebraska Memories. As you can see, what I thought was going to be a simple blog post turned out to be a chance for me to correct wrong information and provided additional information to enhance our metadata in Nebraska Memories.

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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Here Comes the Bride!

Bride and groom outside of church June is the month for weddings. In Western culture, the tradition of marrying in June dates from Roman times, when early Romans celebrated the festival of Juno, the goddess of marriage and childbirth, on June first. As such, couples considered June to be a good time to marry. During the Victorian Era, weddings were held in June because of the availability of flowers. Some claim that because many people bathed only once a year, usually in the spring, brides chose June because they and their guests were still relatively clean. In the modern era, brides and grooms may select June for other reasons. Or they may choose not to wed in June, but at a time more convenient for them.

Interestingly, it appears that of the couples appearing in Nebraska Memories, many chose not to marry in June. According to the dates on the photographs, these couples wedded in months other than June. Or at least the photographs were not taken in June. So perhaps June was not a popular time for couples to wed in Nebraska. Unfortunately, we don’t know why couples chose their wedding dates. For some, it simply may have made more sense to marry in the dead of winter than to wait for warm summer days.

Hickman weddingHaving grown up among farmers and ranchers, where weddings were often squeezed in between planting and harvesting,  haying or even hunting season, I think some couples wedded when they and their families had a free moment!  In same cases, it appears couples married before the groom had to report to base or ship off to war.

Looking through Nebraska Memories, I found a variety of wedding-related Kelly wedding: birde and groom in a car after the ceremonyphotographs. For the most part, they are of brides and grooms, wedding venues and wedding parties. Many are studio portraits of brides and grooms, but a few are less formal. No, not the candid shots that we’re used to seeing of brides feeding cake to their grooms or children dancing! But smiling and relaxed couples, standing with friends or sitting in their cars.

While we don’t know the fate of the couples featured in this post, we do know what happened to one: Ben and Katherine Homan of David City, Nebraska, who married on November 22, 1901. According to the notes attached to this photograph, they raised nine children and operated Homan Appliance store.  A colleague did some digging and discovered they had many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Mr. and Mrs. Ben Homan

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 for more information, contact Devra Dragos Technology & Access Services Director.

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Dogs Rule and Cats Drool

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post titled “Cats Rule and Dogs Drool” that highlighted the cat photos in Nebraska Memories. I don’t want to offend dog lovers, so today’s post has gone to the dogs.Seefus Tavern and confectionary store

While I don’t know if any of the cats were drooling in the photos, I do know when comparing the number of cat pictures to dog pictures in Nebraska Memories that dogs definitely rule. There are only 11 photos of cats in the collection compared to 70+ photos that contain at least one dog. To be fair in a number of the photos the dog is not the center of attention and is just part of the crowd. This is true in this 1927? photo of a group of men and a dog standing in front of the Seefus Tavern and confectionary store in Valley, NE. In the description of the photo, you will find the names of all of the men, but the dog will forever be nameless.

Fred Schumacher familyYou can also find dogs included in People and dogs in front of sod housemany of the family photos that were taken in front of the house. The Fred Schumacher family had at least two dogs that were included in their picture. Looking at the picture, I wonder if that white spot over by the chickens is a cat. The family in this photo, entitled People and dogs in front of sod house, included two large dogs in their photo. I wonder if the chicken was included on purpose or if it just wandered into the shot.

Fire Department, 1910-1911, Crawford, NebraskaIn other photos, dogs can be spotted front and center. Football team 1906ThGerman prisoners of war at Camp Atlantae man in the front row of this photo of the Crawford fire department is holding a dog sitting in the front row with him. The German prisoners of war at Camp Atlanta and the 1906 Nebraska State Normal School at Kearney football team also chose to include dogs in their group photos.

Man on horse with dogsAs you can see, some dogs were put to work. This man on a horse has a group of five dogs with him.

Have you ever seen a Dog walking on a tight rope? That was one well-trained dog.

Dog walking on tight rope

Denver Chop House Restaurant doggieI don’t know what to say about this poor dog who was dressed up to advertise the Denver Chop House Restaurant in Omaha. To me the banner looks like it was designed for the dog to wear so he/she might have be used to that. Was the dog also trained to stand still wearing the wig, hat, and glasses? Do you think the dog actually had the cigarette in his mouth, or was it “photoshopped” in later? I asked a coworker this question, and she assumed it was really in the dog’s mouth because she didn’t realize people have been manipulating images since the 1800’s. You can see a few examples of manipulated photos in the, “What did it really look like?” blog post.

I’ve saved the cutest photos until the end. The Butler County Gallery collection in Nebraska Memories contains photos taken by the professional photographer Harvey Boston. As you can see, many people had pictures taken with their dog.

Edwin Lyndon Ned May Jr

Edwin Lyndon “Ned” May, Jr.

Unknown child and dog

Unknown child and dog

Boy and dog

Boy and dog

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minnie Liebrecht and dog

Minnie Liebrecht and dog

Agnes Birkel

Agnes Birkel

Louis Fuller and dog

Louis Fuller and dog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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Trees, Trees and More Trees!

Hanscom ParkSince moving to Nebraska I have discovered many new and interesting facts. For example, Nebraska was the first state admitted to the United States after the Civil War. Nebraska is also home to both the National Museum of Roller Skating and the International Quilt Center and Museum. It’s also the site of the first American commemoration of Arbor Day. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, Arbor Day was first celebrated in 1872, in Nebraska City.

While J. Sterling Morton, who the Arbor Day Foundation credits with organizing that first Arbor Day, is not included in Nebraska Memories, there are many tree-filled photographs and postcards. Browsing through the collection, it seems as though trees pop up everywhere – in front of churches, libraries, schools, government buildings, and private homes. Trees even stand adjacent to Nebraska’s legendary cornfields!

Country road and fields near Bennington

In many of the images, the trees appear to have been deliberately planted. That is, I didn’t see a lot of pictures of broad forests, similar to those found in western Montana. For Green Terrace Hall, elevated viewexample, the trees surrounding Green Terrace Hall, on the campus of the Nebraska State Normal School in Kearney, grow in neat rows. This does not hold true for all the photographs and postcards I found. A postcard featuring two young women in Omaha’s Hanscom Park, depicts a meadow crowded with trees; while a postcard of Big Saddle Butte, near Crawford, shows trees scattered around a butte.

I’m sure in the coming months and years, I’ll learn many more fascinating bits of trivia. Here’s one more: Arbor Day is the last Friday of April. You don’t need to plant a tree to celebrate, but take a moment to enjoy the beauty of a tree.  Big Saddle Butte Lone Butte to right Crawford Neb.

Scene Hanscom Park Omaha Neb

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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