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Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016
Tom's greatest challenge (02/01/16)
Over a very long and illustrious career, Tom Osborne has touched, and helped a countless number of lives, for the better -- on the football field, to maximize their athletic skills, but also to be better team players, better husbands and family men. In later years he has helped young men and women with his Teammates Program, to achieve life goals in a positive manner...
NU benefactor Johnny Carson (01/25/16)
At the University of Nebraska, in the years right after World War II, one John Carson, who in those days went by the name of Jack Carson, was definitely a BMOC (Big Man On Campus). A Navy veteran, he didn't throw his weight around, and he wasn't involved in campus politics, but never-the-less was a fellow that everyone recognized, and felt as if they knew him...
Brad Duke and the Powerball (01/18/16)
With the Power Ball Lottery reaching above the billion dollar mark for the first time ever, there seems to be a great deal of interest in this form of gambling, by an increasingly large number of players. The odds of an individual winning this grand prize have been calculated to be in the range of 1 in 292 million -- very slim indeed...
The Battle of the Bulge (01/11/16)
After the successful American invasion of France at Normandy in June, 1944, the Allied forces, under General Eisenhower, slowly, but steadily advanced against a retreating German foe. It seemed that the war on the Western Front was in the mopping-up stage, and the Allies (mainly US and British forces) would be able to march right on to Berlin...
The McCook Army Air Base (01/04/16)
Like all communities in Nebraska and throughout the U.S., McCook did its part in helping the United States win World War II, in providing its young men and women for service in the Armed Forces, in tightening its collective belt in conserving scarce commodities, and buying its share (and more) of war bonds...
A bump in the road to Cooperstown (12/21/15)
(Note: The following story took place during my two year stint in the Army, '50-52, during the Korean War. It is presented here as a bit of a preview from one of the chapters of a new book, "Oreo Cookie Man," which will be published in the near future.)...
Early McCook social clubs (12/07/15)
In the early years of McCook's existence, from 1882-1900, almost everyone was an immigrant from someplace back East. Being so far removed from family, friends, and organizations, it was natural to join with others, to get acquainted, and to bring some flavor of their former lives into this new country. ...
Jerry Solomon and the NU Sports Improvement Program (12/01/15)
Jerry Solomon, of Lincoln -- formerly of Culbertson, is a fellow who loves basketball. He has been a regular at the Cornhusker basketball games for many years, thrilling at the victories (all too few), and agonizing at the more frequent defeats. Jerry Solomon grew up on a dairy farm one mile west of Culbertson in the '30s and '40s. ...
The mystery of Blind Sam's violin (11/23/15)
Over the years, when there is discussion of a favorite long-time resident, Blind Sam, there is always the question, "I wonder whatever happened to Blind Sam's violin?" Now, thanks to a nice lady from Cokato, Minnesota, Jean Lanska, we have the answer to that question...
Unsung heroes (11/16/15)
The generation of World War II has been called "The Greatest Generation." This usually refers to the women and men (mostly men) who fought for our country in that war. We said goodbye only a month ago to a man who exemplified that quality of American men (though he would have been the first to refute that claim.) McCook's Willis Jones was a pilot in the Air Force and a Prisoner of War in World War II, and in the years since that conflict served as an inspiration to his family, as well as to countless young men in our area who were fortunate to have known him.. ...
Civilizing early McCook -- libraries (11/02/15)
In those early days of its existence, McCook must have been a very lonely place -- especially for the wives. There were no organizations for fraternization, and even church was something that the very early settlers had to forego. No radio; no TV; even mail service was sporadic, so communication with the outside world (back East) was infrequent, but those letters were something that all of the McCook's new citizens eagerly looked forward to...
Music in the early days of McCook (10/26/15)
McCook has always had an interest in good music. This interest is alive and well today in our fine high school band, the community concert series, fine church choirs, the "Live at the Bieroc" music series, as well as other musical events at the Fox, the auditorium, the lake, and other venues around town. The spring musical, brought to us by the community theater group, is a popular event and well attended...
Mrs. Traphagan's tree (10/19/15)
In the United States some of the most popular tours for Travel Companies are the New England "Fall Foliage" Tours. We have taken a tour of New England in the fall, and to be sure it is a spectacular show. They have so many hard wood trees in the northeast, and that blaze of reds and orange is a sight to behold. ...
Willis Jones' leap of faith (10/12/15)
Civilizing early McCook -- the churches (10/05/15)
The very early settlers to McCook, in 1882, started immediately to make their settlement into a community which would welcome women and families. This meant the formation of churches, the sure sign of social refinement on the frontier. The pioneer church in McCook was the Congregational Church. In 1882, a group of 16 settlers organized the first Congregational Church...
Ray McCarl, Watchdog of the Treasury (09/28/15)
(Note: Recently we brought you a story about Wm. Valentine, one of McCook's early (and great) Superintendents. Today we bring to you the story of one of the early graduates of MHS, during Mr. Valentine's tenure, and a fellow who credited Mr. Valentine for steering him on the path of success.)...
George bags the lame duck (09/21/15)
(This week, on Friday. we will again honor McCook's most famous son, with the George Norris Breakfast at McCook's Senior Center. This breakfast is always a key part of the annual Heritage Days Celebration. This year we are extremely fortunate to have McCook native, Chuck Peek as our featured speaker. ...
Early McCook schools (09/14/15)
McCook's birth as a genuine community occurred in mid-Summer of 1882. One of the first items on the city's agenda was the formation of a school, which opened on September 1, 1882. This first school, a modest beginning, was held in the dining room of the old Commercial Hotel, with Mrs. Alma Churchill as the teacher. Two of the first pupils were the future Mrs. F.M. Kimmel (editor of the McCook Tribune), and the future Mrs. Edna Meserve Magee...
Mildred Zink, McCook nurse (08/31/15)
(Note: In August, 2015, we were pleased to help honor a spunky, special McCook lady, Mildred Zink, on the occasion of her 104th birthday. In these past 100 plus years Mrs. Zink has seen a good many changes, in McCook, our nation, and the practice of medicine, the field in which Mildred devoted her life. ...
Remembering VJ Day after 70 years (08/18/15)
By the Spring of 1945 the American people were tired. For three and a half years, my entire high school career, the War ground on and on. Little hopes from overseas battles were followed by long periods of disappointment. Rationing of food, gas, and tires conserved products, but it also made people edgy. ...
Legal troubles in the 1920's (08/10/15)
Note: In a recent story of McCook's early lawyers it was mentioned that W.S. Morlan had mentored a number of outstanding attorneys who rose to prominence in McCook. One of these fellows was Charles David Ritchie, who in turn mentored another distinguished McCook attorney, Wade Stevens. This story covers a celebrated case in Furnas County, on which those two collaborated...
Mr. George and the baritone horn (08/03/15)
Recently the Optimist Club of McCook announced a drive for folks to turn in their old musical instruments to the McCook High School music department for the use of budding young musicians at St. Pat's School and McCook High school. What a great idea. ...
An early, exacting (and exasperating) McCook attorney (07/27/15)
Webster S. (always referred to as W.S.) Morlan was one of McCook's very early attorneys -- and a very successful one at that. He was born in 1848 in Crawford County, Ohio, and came to Nebraska with his family after the Civil War. As a youth, Morlan worked on building grades for the railroad, which was gradually pushing west across Nebraska. ...
The Kays of McCook and the Red Willow County Fair (07/13/15)
One of McCook's very early physicians was Dr. Zachius L. Kay, from Kentucky, who graduated from the University of Louisville School of Medicine in 1876. After graduation he practiced medicine for a short time in Illinois. Of interest to McCook is the fact that while in Illinois, the first baby that Dr. Kay delivered (of more than 3000 in his career) was George McClain, who later became a long-time Sheriff of Red Willow County, Neb...
Early days in McCook -- the doctors (06/29/15)
One of the early doctors to McCook, though certainly not the first, was Dr. Bryan Bennett Davis, who came in 1885. Dr. Davis was a rare individual, of exceptional talent as a physician, as well as a gifted organizer, both for McCook and the Medical Community of the area. ...
Early leaders of McCook (06/22/15)
In the 1880s, there were no native sons in McCook. All of the early leaders in McCook were transplants from somewhere else, drawn to McCook by the possibilities and the excitement of being in on the ground floor of the railroad's newest little Boom Town...
McCook's Hollywood connection (06/15/15)
(Note: In a recent column we talked about some of the early money men in McCook and the success that they had in the banks they started. One of the most interesting of these men was Frank Spearman, a fellow who had a great deal of success, but not necessarily in the bank he started.)...
The father of the Higgins Boat (06/08/15)
(Note: In 2015, a replica of one of the famous Higgins boats was manufactured and sent to France, as part of a Higgins Boat Memorial, a gift to the people of France by the people of Columbus, NE in time for the annual D-Day memorial celebration at Utah Beach. ...
Flora and the George W. Norris Foundation (06/01/15)
Note: Over the weekend we received word of the passing of a great friend of McCook, Flora Lundberg. Flora loved McCook, and for many years was McCook's #1 booster, working tirelessly as Mayor, and for a number of McCook organizations. This week it seems appropriate to look back at one of Flora's favorite organizations, and one in which she was instrumental in bringing into existence. ...
A 1935 flood tragedy (05/18/15)
Note: Memorial Day 2015 marks the 80th Anniversary of one of Nebraska's greatest tragedies, the 1935 Flood of the Republican River. In reviewing the stories about the 1935 Republican River Flood in Southwest Nebraska one finds stories of heroism, of ingenuity, of luck, both good and bad, and tragedy -- the loss of property and of human life. ...
Banks and money men of old McCook (05/11/15)
Initially, when McCook got its start in 1882, The Lincoln Land Co., the Real Estate arm of the Burlington Railroad, pretty much handled the financing for its new community. However, it wasn't long before a new source of money was needed by McCook's new citizens---money for building things, like business locations, houses, and city services. ...
Early McCook hotels (05/04/15)
In 1883, barely one year after McCook became a town, the new little city could boast of five hotels, some free standing and some occupying the upper story of downtown business buildings. Five hotels, for a town of its size -- a great number, but all the hotels were busy. ...
... then along came Bob (04/27/15)
Today, when it seems we have days to honor all sorts of individuals, and events in our nation's history, it seems appropriate that here in Nebraska we should take a moment to remember a fellow who was born in this month, just 100 years ago. Although he did not invent the game of football, or even introduce it to the University of Nebraska, a case can be made for him as the man who ushered in this second great era of Cornhusker football...
Early McCook post offices (04/20/15)
One of the first needs of the settlers to our area was the establishment of a post office. In the Republican Valley these post offices were laid out following the route of the railroad. By 1881 Postal authorities reported that there were 59 post offices in Southwest Nebraska! (Fairview, which became McCook, was one of these). Each of these post office locations had the aspiration of becoming the hub town of Southwestern Nebraska. Most of these post office sites no longer exist...
Seventy-five miles from Japan on VJ Day -- Pete Graff, 1923-2013 (04/13/15)
By the end of April, 1945, World War II (in Europe) was coming to an end. Over 1.5 million Nazi German soldiers had been taken prisoner by the Allies on the Western Front and 800,000 Nazi German soldiers had been taken prisoner by the Russians, on the Eastern front. ...
Theodore Roosevelt and the Panama Canal (04/06/15)
(Honoring TR and the 100th Anniversary of the Panama Canal, recently we were privileged to join a Cruise through the Panama Canal, sponsored by the Medora, N.D. Foundation.) For many centuries man looked upon the Isthmus of Panama as an ideal place to create a water-way between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean...
Theodore Roosevelt in the White House (03/30/15)
Note: Marking the 100th Anniversary of the opening of the Panama Canal, we are taking a look back at Theodore Roosevelt, the man, his times, and his part in making the Panama Canal a reality. Theodore Roosevelt had come to North Dakota determined to spend the rest of his life in seclusion, at least as far as the East and its politics were concerned. ...
Teddy Roosevelt: Part 2, Medora (03/23/15)
(Note: To mark the 100th Anniversary of the Panama Canal, we would like to take another look at Teddy Roosevelt's life, his time in the West, in Cuba, the Presidency, and The Panama Canal.) North Dakota is not exactly the spot that people immediately think of as a tourist destination, either winter or summer. ...
Teddy Roosevelt, Part I: The early years (03/16/15)
(Note: Recently I was privileged to take part in a cruise, marking the 100th Anniversary of the Panama Canal. The trip was sponsored by the Medora Foundation, and called attention to the close relationship that Theodore Roosevelt had with North Dakota, and his part in making the Panama Canal a reality. We would like to take another look at Teddy Roosevelt, his life, his time on the West, his experience in Cuba, the Presidency, and The Panama Canal.)...
Frank Buk, Bachelor Father of the Year (03/09/15)
Over many years in the bakery, we got to know a great number of tradesmen, the people who supplied us with the raw ingredients needed to make our product. Seeing these fellows regularly was something we looked forward to, and a number of them became good friends. One such was Frank Buk, from Herndon, Kansas, who supplied us with fresh eggs...
City's first water works, part B: Sewer (03/02/15)
We have looked at how McCook got first water service to its citizens. But producing water is just one half of what it takes to make a Waterworks. It also takes a sewage system to make the system work. In 1882, before backhoes, and other mechanized digging machines, the work of creating ditches for water and sewer lines was all done by hand -- difficult, back breaking, hard work. ...
What it takes to make a town: The waterworks (02/23/15)
In 1881 McCook (Fairview) consisted of a couple of sod structures on the south side of the Republican River. A year later, thanks to the coming of the Railroad, and its Real Estate arm, The Lincoln Land Company, the new town of McCook grew up entirely on the north side of the river. ...
McCook's Mackay Trophy winner (02/16/15)
(Note: This week we were mightily pleased with the news that our friend, and Gazette Colleague, Dick Trail, had been inducted into the Nebraska Aviation Hall of Fame, an honor this intrepid airman richly deserves. In the article, among the honors that Dick has received, there was a mere mention of the Mackay Trophy Award, which Dick had been awarded. ...
More railroad business from 1890s (02/02/15)
By 1892, the labor troubles, which culminated in the major strike of 1888, between the Engineers and Firemen and the Burlington Railroad had been settled and in a spirit of cooperation the business of "Father Burlington" and his "Child, McCook," continued to grow and prosper. ...
Father Burlington -- the early years (01/19/15)
Note: Much of the following story of the McCook/Railroad connection comes from a paper delivered by long-time railroad man, H.E. (Harry) Culbertson, presented before the Southwestern Nebraska Historical Society, along with information from McCook Historian, John Cordeal, and Marion McClelland, in her book, "Early History of McCook."...
McCook, the new Red Willow County seat (01/12/15)
In 1882, McCook came into being, thanks largely to the coming of the Burlington Railroad. This also signaled the beginning of the animosity between Indianola, the Republican Valley Metropolis of the day, and McCook, the upstart community, with aspirations of greatness...
McCook becomes a 'trade center' (01/05/15)
During the first years of McCook's existence as a town, it was primarily a "cow-town." Ranchers far outnumbered farmers, and the cattlemen exerted a great deal of pressure, on the settler-farmer, and on the little city of McCook. Cattlemen seldom saw their cattle. Twice a year, there were roundups -- in the spring, for branding, and in the fall, when cattle were sorted out, by the brands of the various owners, and became available for sale...
A visit to Cuba (12/29/14)
In late 2014 one topic that seems to be very important to our leaders in Washington is the new stance we have taken with the Raul Castro government in Cuba. After some 61 years of very poor relations with the Cuban government there are now real overtures to reach for better, more normal ties between the United States and Cuba. ...
The leper colony (12/15/14)
I was drafted into the Army in 1950, about five months into the Korean War. Eventually I was sent to Korea and was assigned to a bread making company in the Quartermaster Corps. The Chinese had entered the war by the time I got there and we were kept pretty busy making bread for the 8th Army and the Marines who fought above the 38th Parallel. ...
Pearl Harbor (12/08/14)
To anyone who was around in 1941 the name of Pearl Harbor brings forth indelible images in the mind, the same as does the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1962. People remember just where they were when they first heard the news that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor, to jump start World War II. ...
The Salt Line: A Thanksgiving story (11/24/14)
Note: At Thanksgiving, that time when we count our blessings with gratitude and memories, I have chosen to reflect on a couple of events in my life that occurred about this time of year. The first was the fire in our home, which happened six years ago. The second happened more than 60 years ago---in Korea. (From the Gazette archives.)...
Nuts! Gen. McAuliffe and the Battle of the Bulge (11/17/14)
In the months following D-Day, July 6, 1944, the surprise, very successful invasion of Normandy during World War II, Allied troops were able to liberate Western France and allied forces, mostly US troops, began to move east. Advances toward Germany were moving more quickly than had been anticipated. The end of the War in Europe seemed in sight. However, somehow that news had not been conveyed to Mr. Hitler, for he still had one more trick to play...
Nebraska's Fred Astaire (11/10/14)
(Note: Nebraska has a wealth of folks who have become famous on the American scene, in virtually all walks of life, including the silver screen. Today we'd like to take a look at one with ties to Plainview, Neb.) Gazette Archives.) Fred Astaire, that symbol of elegance and grace, with his top hat, white tie and tails, can often be seen dancing with his favorite dancing partner, Ginger Rogers on the Old Movie Channels yet today. ...
The Breeztke shaving mug (11/03/14)
Recently, in the process of cleaning out a corner of the basement, my wife, Jean, came across a beautiful, off-white, antique cup, with the name of her great grandfather, K.F.A Breetzke (Karl Fredrick August Breetzke), carefully hand painted in gold lettering on the side. ...
DeGroff's Super Salesman (10/27/14)
(Note: Recently, the picture in this story was sent to us by one of Joe Urhich's daughters, prompting a look back at one of McCook's long cherished businesses, and one of the fellows who did his part in making McCook such a special place to live.) from Gazette Archives...
Plato Redfern and the Drake Relays (10/20/14)
Walter Camp, Teddy and American Football (10/06/14)
Walter Camp, who was often called the Father of American Football, was born in Connecticut, shortly before the start of the Civil War, in 1859, to a rather well-to-do family. As a youth he attended the prestigious Hopkins Grammar School in New Haven and then moved on to Yale College in 1876. ...
McCook's favorite son, Sen. George W. Norris (09/29/14)
(Note: As Heritage Days approached last week I had occasion to visit with a newcomer to McCook. He asked me about the Heritage Days Norris Breakfast. This led to the question, "Just who was this Norris fellow. I see his name all over town." As a more complete answer to his question I have turned to the Gazette Archives and brought back this column on McCook's George Norris.)...
Mata Hari: World War I beauty, courtesan or spy? (09/22/14)
(Note: In recent weeks we have looked at a number of people and events connected with World War I, which began 100 years ago this summer. One more story seems appropriate -- the still controversial story of Mata Hari, who figured in the highest echelons of diplomatic circles during World War I.)...
Wade Stevens: McCook aviation pioneer (09/15/14)
(Note: Much Aviation history was made during World War I, which began just 100 years ago this summer. But not all of that history was made in France. As a direct result of his experience as a World War I fighter pilot Wade Stevens, long-time McCook Attorney, and his friend Dr. Frank Brewster made a bit of aviation history of their own right here in Southwest Nebraska.)...
Sgt. York (08/11/14)
People don't give much thought to World War I anymore. In a recent survey on the most important events of the 20th century World War I barely made it into the top 10. This is unfortunate. A case can be made that World War I had a profound effect on almost everything that happened for the rest of the last century -- the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, World War II, the Holocaust, the development of the atomic bomb. ...
Black Jack Pershing (08/04/14)
(July 2014 marks the 100th Anniversary of the beginning of World War I, a war that eventually brought 1.2 million Americans into military service, in France, to aid the Allied Forces in their battle against the Central Powers (mostly Germany). In the coming weeks we will take a look back at that "mostly forgotten" war. Today we take a look at one of the true heroes of World War I, a fellow with ties to Nebraska, General John "Black Jack" Pershing.)...
Veterans of the 'War to End All Wars' (07/28/14)
(Note: 100 years ago, on July 18, 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Army fired the first shots of what became World War I, in preparation for the invasion of Serbia. These shots set off a global war, involving almost all of the world's leading nations -- it was called "The War to End All Wars" -- one of the bloodiest wars in world history.)...
The face in the mirror in Berlin (07/21/14)
Through a rare set of circumstances I was able to fulfill a lifelong dream of visiting Berlin. It was after World War II had ended, but during the time when there was still a wall between East Germany and West Germany. This was a time of peace and booming prosperity in West Berlin, and a time of peace, but not prosperity in East Berlin. ...
The Starkweather killing spree (06/30/14)
In January 1958, McCook, along with the rest of Nebraska, was caught up in a near panic situation. Word had come out of Lincoln that one Charles Starkweather had killed multiple victims in cold blood (the number eventually reached 11). He had left Lincoln and headed west in a stolen car, and every community, with many unfounded reports of seeing the fleeing car, was convinced that the killer, Starkweather was either in, or headed toward their town...
Ben Nelson and Tiananmen Square (06/16/14)
(Note: June 2014 marks the 25th Anniversary of what is usually referred to as the Tianenmen Massacre, one of the black periods of the Chairman Mao's cultural revolution in China. As fate would have it, McCook's Ben Nelson was an observer of this event. It was a significant moment in Nelson's life, and was one of the factors that spurred his interest in politics, first as Governor of Nebraska, then U.S. Senator. From the archives.)...
Amor Huff and the invasion of France 1944 (06/09/14)
This week, on the 6th of June, we celebrated the 70th anniversary of D Day, the invasion of occupied France, on the beaches of Normandy by the Allies in World War II. This invasion, which Hitler had boasted could never happen, signaled the beginning of the end of the war in Europe. ...
Witnessing history from 800 feet (06/02/14)
(Note: On Memorial Day we rightly honor our men and women who died while serving our country in past wars. At this time it is interesting to think about those men from the McCook Army Air Base who served during World War II. Today, we revisit a story that first appeared in the Gazette in 2003. Al passed away in 2009)...
Boomers and Sooners (05/19/14)
Like most Nebraska sports fans, I have been generally pleased with the Huskers aligning themselves with the Big 10 Athletic Conference. Yet, I'm sure that I am not alone in missing the "Love/Hate" relationships that we enjoyed with the schools of the old Big 8 Conference, especially the University of Oklahoma -- relationships that stemmed back to the old Missouri Valley Conference, which began in 1907 -- then to the Big 6, Big 7 and finally the Big 8. ...
St. Catherine's Hospital (05/12/14)
(Note: After the St. Catherine's Apartments in the 1200 Block off West 5th Street were closed a couple of years ago there has been considerable speculation as to the fate of the old St. Catherine's Hospital. Now, thankfully, there is new interest, and hope for that property again. This is a second look back at the history of St. Catherine's.)...
Let there be light -- McCook's alley lights (05/05/14)
May 5 may be Cinco de Mayo, but for residents of certain areas in east central Nebraska, today's the 50th anniversary of the one of the worst tornadoes Nebraska has ever experienced. The last F5, measured by the old Fujita Scale, tornado reported in the state killed two people on a farm about three miles northwest of Bradshaw, injured 20 near Harvard and hurt others near Hastings and rural areas. More than 40 farmsteads were damaged and over 100 head of livestock were killed...
Ninety years of Rotary in McCook (04/28/14)
This year the McCook Rotary Club s once again hosting a District Conference, at which we will honor yet another District Governor, Duane Tappe. Our club can be justly proud that we have been represented by a fellow like Duane, who lives the Rotary Four Way Test, and practices the Rotary mottoes, "he Profits Most Who Serves Best," and "Service Above Self."...
Father Burlington and his child, McCook (04/21/14)
Note: Harry Culbertson, a long-time railroad man in the early days of the last century wrote extensively about the railroad coming west in the 1880s and '90s and its effect on the development of McCook. Much of the material about the railroad in those early days in Marion McClelland's Master's Thesis book, "Early History of McCook, Nebraska" is taken from Mr. Culbertson's early works...
King for a Day (04/14/14)
Sometime, back in January our son, Matt, sent me some information, with the note, "This looks like something you should take part in." What Matt had sent was information and an application for a One Day Trip to Washington for Veterans of the Korean War, to give some 460 Korean Vets a chance to see the War Memorials, which had been created in recent years in the area around our Nation's Capitol -- the World War II Memorial, the Vietnam Wall, the Iwo Jima (Marines) Memorial, and of course the Korean War Memorial, as well as the Lincoln Memorial and some of the other older Washington attractions. ...
Nebraska becomes a state -- 1967 (04/07/14)
On March 1, 1867, 147 years ago, Nebraska became the 37th state in the Union. Becoming of a new state was the culmination of a number of initiatives, most very controversial, stemming back to the Missouri Compromise in 1820. That Compromise, allowing statehood to Missouri, decreed that slavery would be outlawed in all territories north of Parallel 30 degrees 30 minutes North, except the area within the proposed state of Missouri, which had been a slave holding area since the early days of the French explorers. ...
All that glitters ... (03/31/14)
Note: In a recent story about the Lords of Indianola, there was mention of the long-defunct Indianola Mining Company. This story appeared some time ago in the Gazette, but it seemed like a good idea to take another look at that bit of Southwest Nebraska history. -- W.S...
The Lords of Indianola (03/24/14)
One of Southwest Nebraska's oldest and best-known businesses has got to be Lord's Store, of Indianola. Andrew Lord came to the area in 1882 and opened his harness and shoe repair, and retail hardware store on the corner of the highway and Main Street in downtown Indianola. ...
John and Katherine Longnecker, early Red Willow County settlers, 1871 (03/17/14)
Two of the early settlers to Red Willow County were John and Katherine Longnecker, who emigrated to Nebraska from Kentucky, in 1872. John and Katherine had both come from old time, well-to-do Kentucky families. Still, for John, the lure of the new frontier, the stories of the "land of milk and honey" were an attraction that he could not resist. He very much wanted to be a part of the "new empire."...
Nebraska becomes a state in 1867 (03/10/14)
On March 1 1867, 147 years ago, Nebraska became the 37th State in the Union. Becoming of a new State was the culmination of a number of initiatives, most very controversial, stemming back to the Missouri Compromise in 1820. That Compromise, allowing statehood to Missouri, decreed that slavery would be outlawed in all Territories north of Parallel 30 degrees 30 minutes North, except the area within the proposed State of Missouri, which had been a slave holding area since the early days of the French explorers. ...
Bakers, bullets and Bed Check Charlie (03/03/14)
(Note: The current news of continuing squabbles with North Korea, and word of the death of one of my old Korean War buddies, stirred more memories from the Korean War) In 1945, following the end of World War II, Korea, a former colony of Japan, was divided by the victorious allied forces, at the 38th Parallel. ...
Napoleon in Korea (02/24/14)
(Note: I recently got word that Napoleon, a soldier friend of mine in Korea, had passed away. Napoleon, who hailed from Omaha, had returned to Omaha after the war and had become a very successful business man. In retirement he moved to Alabama, not far from another GI buddy. Though it has been many years since our time in Korea, I have good memories of Napoleon.)...
1882 beyond McCook (02/17/14)
For some time we have been looking at McCook, from its beginning in 1882. Starting from scratch, those early settlers had to provide everything -- wooden structures to replace the soddies and creek bank caves that were the first homes. Businesses were either hauled in from Indianola or built from the ground up. ...
McCook civilians in World War II (02/10/14)
It is difficult to overstate the impact that World War II had on the lives of all Americans. An entire generation of young men (and a sizeable number of women) had gone off to war. Too many of these young people never did come home again, and those that did had their lives changed forever by their experience...
Labor troubles in McCook (02/03/14)
The Burlington railroad first arrived in McCook in 1882. At that time McCook consisted of just a few sod buildings, doubling as the U.S. Post Office, general store, and hotel, going by the name of Fairview. When the railroad decided to make this the Division Point on the line between Denver and Lincoln, the community took the name of McCook, and McCook became a booming "metropolis" on the banks of the Republican River...
Winter football -- the Gotham Bowl, 1962 (01/27/14)
This year there has been a great deal of talk about the 2014 (XLVIII) Super Bowl, which is scheduled to be played in New York City at 6:30 p.m. EST Sunday between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks. A great deal of this talk revolves around the weather, speculation about field conditions, the cold, snow, and attitude of the fans, in this, one of the worst winters in the East in years. ...
Going home (01/20/14)
Who says you can't go home again? I just had a wonderful visit to my old home town -- Plainview, NE -- via the silver screen, in the new movie, "Nebraska." I had heard that parts of the movie were filmed in Plainview (Hawthorne in the movie), but I was really surprised, and delighted to find that so many of the scenes took place on the main street (Locust Street) of Plainview. It was a vicarious stroll through the streets where I grew up -- in Plain View...
Wartime shortages (01/13/14)
During World War II there were shortages of just about everything. There was rationing of sugar, gasoline, fats (butter, lard, etc.), which we usually think of, but there were shortages beyond that. Automobiles and farm machinery that were in use when the war began were made to last until the war was done. ...
Leo McKillip: One of McCook's finest (01/06/14)
(Note: We were saddened recently with the news of Leo McKillip's death. We thought that it might be of interest to look back again on the career of one of McCook's greatest athletes.) In 1946 the McCook football team was receiving rave reviews all across Nebraska. ...
The Walking Moai (12/30/13)
Most of us, when we move to a new location, like to keep a few reminders around of the place we left behind. Usually these keepsakes consist of pictures, or bedspread, or some personal keepsake. But for Patty Keene, of McCook, that was not enough. She keeps a 6' high replica of one of the stone statues, which are so closely identified with Easter Island, a part of her home country of Chile, in South America. ...
A memorable Christmas (12/23/13)
During the '30s, my dad worked out an arrangement with a Mr. Riley, of Pierce, who had quite a large herd of Shetland ponies, which he used to pull a Christmas sleigh, for holiday promotions in towns throughout Northeast Nebraska. Mr. Riley, of course, was dressed in a Santa Claus outfit for these sleigh trips, and he and his ponies were a popular attraction in our area...
1945: Potsy Clark and the Iowa game (12/16/13)
(Note: The aftermath of the disappointing 2013 Iowa game brought to mind another NU Iowa game.) During World War II there was compulsory military service for all men age 18-45. Toward the end of the war all the males in a class of graduating seniors were entering some type of military association. ...
Growing up in Haw Thorne (12/09/13)
In November 2013, the new Alexander Payne movie, "Nebraska" had its Nebraska Premier showing in Norfolk, to an appreciative audience, including a large delegation from Plainview. One of the towns featured in that movie was called "Hawthorne," but they couldn't fool Plainview-ites...
Remembering Pearl Harbor (12/02/13)
Last month, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, there were a great many individuals who recounted to the television interviewers just where they were when they received the news of the tragedy. Everyone who lived through that time has no trouble recalling the event, still fresh in the mind's eye, even after a half century...
Bess Furman Armstrong: Danbury's Washington connection (11/25/13)
For almost 40 years, from the '20s to the '60s, Bess Furman Armstrong, a native of Danbury, Nebraska, was one of the most respected women journalists in Washington. She was the first woman journalist to regularly cover the U.S. House of Representatives for a news agency (AP), she had the ear of President Roosevelt (through her long, close friendship with the president's wife, Eleanor) and she enjoyed the utmost trust of the people she interviewed, as well as her colleagues and editors...
The (rail) road west (11/18/13)
In 1881, Southwest Nebraska was faced with a real crisis. The region had lured thousands of settlers from the East, which had been suffering from poor economic times following the great Civil War. For some years the region, with timely rains, had lived up to its backers' claims as "The Land of Milk and Honey." In the vicinity of McCook there had been some 59 post offices established -- each of those localities (including Fairview, the future site of McCook, on the Republican River) with dreams of great future growth. ...
McCook Junior College: The Dream Season 1965 (11/11/13)
(Note: McCook takes pride in the annual High School Bison trips through the Football playoffs, with good reason. But there was a time when a football game at McCook Junior College was the leading sports attraction on an autumn night in McCook -- none more so than 1965.)...
McCook's First Band Man, 'Col.' H.P. Sutton (11/04/13)
(Note: A recent inquiry came our way. A newcomer to McCook wanted to know about the history of the large clock that graces the lawn of the Carnegie Library on Norris, as well as the Sutton family.) By 1889, McCook was a very confident new community, and while there were small musical groups in town that played for dances in homes or the church social hall, the town leaders felt that to be a first class city they needed a real band. ...
Train Wreck Tom Novak (10/28/13)
(Note: In the 100-plus year history of Nebraska, the state has produced many great players. Most of us have our favorites. One of mine is Tom Novak, a one-of-a-kind Nebraska boy who came along in the bleak years of Cornhusker football, after World War II. Tom was an inspirational leader of his teams, and has served as an inspiration to the players who came after him. This football season, I feel Tom deserves another look.)...
Why you should move to McCook -- 1893 (10/21/13)
Note: Most of the following material was taken from the "McCook Columbian Souvenir 1893", a publication offered by the McCook Times Democrat, as a promotion piece, for Fairgoers at the Chicago Columbian Expedition, which celebrated the 400th Anniversary of Christopher Columbus Voyage of Discovery to the New World---an introduction the "good life in McCook and Southwest Nebraska" to Fairgoers, from all over the United States and Europe, and to encourage prospective settlers to come. At the close of the close of the great Civil War, thousands of our brave boys returned home only to find the business places they had once occupied filled by others, business of all to kinds at a standstill, and practically every avenue of business closed to them. Naturally enough, the great West, with its millions of neglected acres, and grand opportunities attracted their attention ... the tales of the great, almost unexplored land west of the Missouri River ... that the stories of the Great American Desert were a myth ... the plains of Nebraska swarmed with game ... and diversion could be found in hunting Indians when other sports became monotonous. Nebraska: 30 years ago travelers or homesteaders were told that the "dead line" was the Missouri River ... lands lying to the west were unfit for cultivation. Now that Great American Desert has become the seat of Empire. Over 12M acres within the State of Nebraska are under cultivation and the cultivated area is increasing at the rate of 1M acres per annum ... For 25 years Nebraska has led all her sister states in every proportion of increase. In 1860 her population was less than 30,000---In 1890, 1,058,910. In proportion to her population, Nebraska furnished more grain, cattle and hogs ... than any state in the Union. Nebraska produces 2/5s of the beet sugar in the United States, the output more than 8M pounds per annum. The state is literally gridironed with Railways, having a mileage of 5,400 miles ... probably 6,000 miles in the next year ... 4/5s of the farmers in the state are within 12 miles of a railway station. Nebraska has a greater railway mileage than all of New England. Red Willow County: Lying west of the 100th Meridian, with its southern boundary boarding upon the State of Kansas is Red Willow County, 24X30 miles, containing 460,800 acres. The County was organized in 1873, but its first Post Office was established in 1872, near the mouth of Red Willow Creek, by Nelson Buck, and was called Red Willow. Red Willow County has 115,208 acres, under high cultivation of Wheat, Corn, Alfalfa, but also 32,000 fruit trees, 1M forest trees, and 1,200 grape vines, to say nothing of farm crops such as meadow, barley, flax, broom corn, rye, and potatoes. According the County Assessor, there are also 6,375 horses, 11,774 cattle, 341 mules, 8,517 hogs. Climate: A healthful climate is of paramount importance to the prosperity of any country. If, for instance, the cold winter is intense, the efforts of the producing classes are suspended, and much time is wasted. Or, if the summers are so warm as to enervate and enfeeble, similarly disastrous results follow. Or, if, again, through the existence of an unfavorable altitude or any other of the hundreds of disease breeding elements, ill health is the rule, development is handicapped, and a deplorable condition of affairs ensues ... To touch upon the climate of this greatly abused country is to develop one of its strongest points. The main basis for its excellence lies in the altitude of the region, which ranges from 1,500 to 1,800 feet above sea level.. The atmosphere is invigorating ... the catarrhs and rheums, the neuralgia and the consumption of the east are unknown, except such cases as were contracted before coming here. Although, in summer the thermometer ranges, high sultry heat is, of course impossible at such an altitude. To be perfectly comfortable in the hottest weather, it is only necessary to keep out of the direct rays of the sun. The nights are always cool. It must be noted that as regards heat and cold there is a great difference between Dakota and Kansas for instance. This is merely a question of latitude, but take a medium latitude, such as Southern Nebraska, and there you can find as near perfect climate as the United States affords. As between wintering in Southwest Nebraska and Florida, there is much in favor of the former. McCook: According to Government census, in 1886 McCook had a population of 2,346. Today it is over 4,000. The town originally covered 480 acres, but has expanded in every direction, and has four distinct districts. West McCook is a good sized town in itself. South McCook, near the river is on a level plain. East McCook is also called Willow Grove Addition. Main Town ... slopes gradually from the north to the railroad to the south to the river. The roads leading to McCook from every direction are in good shape and are duly appreciated by the pleasure-loving citizens, many of whom own dashing turnouts and fine horses. The businesses in the city are in a flourishing condition. The stores are full with well-selected stocks with everything the market affords. A number of brick blocks ornament Main Street, and a new Public Hall, with stores underneath is to be built this summer. The business men in town are enterprising and public spirited. Every branch of business necessary for an agriculture centre is represented. McCook has two grain elevators, one flour mill, three cigar manufactories, five hotels, three banks, and a multitude of minor establishments representing every line of trade. A view of the business streets on a Saturday is enough to convince the most skeptical of the commercial activity prevalent, and suggests age and size. McCook as a Medical Center: The dryness of the air and the elevation of the land produce nervous exaltation, which creates enthusiasm, energy, and vigor ... men are converted into boomers and hustlers. Expression is strong and suited in the time and place. Faith and enthusiasm animates every citizen and rejects the impossible, with lofty disdain. Ambition, hope, and belief in the future of the town are the prevailing sentiments. The low death rate will prove the healthfulness of the climate. Malarial and lung troubles do not find a home here. From the Souvenir's paid ads: Castle Cure Company, McCook. $1,000 reward Will be given to any case of Piles, or Hemoroids that cannot be cured at this Institute ... We also give treatment for the Liquor, Opium, Morphene, Tobacco, and Neuresthemia. Our charge for professional service and medicine is $25 per week ... $4-$6 per week board and room, according to inclinations and purses. Dr. L.J. Spickelmeir, Medical Director. Burlington Route B.& M.R.R. Don't be a clam! Of course you're going to visit the World's Fair ... Now be sure and buy your excursion tickets over this line ... and say, don't forget to stop at McCook, the Queen of the Southern Tier! McCook (1893): A reply to jealous critics: There is always gross criticism and ignorance prevalent in regard to a newly settled region, but particularly is this true of 'Western Nebraska and Kansas ... over enthusiastic tourists see only the advantages and beauties of this section ... others, are disappointed, and write doleful newspaper articles about droughts, mortgages, cyclones, deserted towns, sharpers, etc., enough to frighten the most sanguine. We evenly qualify any enthusiasm that might creep into a description of this section. Throughout the entire tributary of the great Burlington Route are scattered cultivated farms, comfortable houses and barns, cattle ranches great and small, fields of growing grain, ... a healthy moving forwards to a prosperous future, particularly for Red Willow County and McCook. While envious competitors are misrepresenting, McCook has gone steadily on, until today she has become THE CITY between Lincoln and Denver. The Burlington Railroad ... is considered one of the most important Railroad systems in the country ... its head in Chicago, connecting with branches ... from the Atlantic to the Pacific, with McCook on its Main Line.
The Ghost Dance and Wounded Knee (10/14/13)
There were two Native Indian dances of which the settlers on the Great Plains, including Southwestern Nebraska, were familiar. One was the Sun Dance, as practiced by the Sioux. Gradually, it was accepted as a religious ceremony of the Indians by the settlers. While they were appalled by the stories of torture endured by the dancers, they were not especially fearful of that the Sun Dance would lead to trouble for the white man...
Walt Sehnert
Days Gone By