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Saturday, May 30, 2015
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...
Establishing McCook's early infrastructure (10/07/13)
Recently we were suddenly faced with a power outage in our neighborhood, caused by a bad garage fire. These outages are so rare that we were unprepared for the emergency and spent several anxious minutes groping through a really dark house to find a usable flashlight. Then for the next two or three hours, until we once again had lights, we had a good chance to talk and mull over what had just happened...
The Sun Dance: Pleasing Wanka Tanka (09/30/13)
hen settlers began to arrive in Nebraska and other High Plains states in great numbers, there was a very large Indian presence in the state and region. There had always been a great interest in the Indian people of the Plains by the Eastern population, but there was also a woeful lack of understanding of these Native Americans, and the attendant superstitions that arose from that lack of understanding, were huge...
Sen. George Norris and the Unicameral (09/23/13)
This week, on Friday. we will again honor McCook's most famous son, George Norris, with the Prayer Breakfast at McCook's Senior Center. This breakfast is always a key part of the annual Heritage Days Celebration. The event is sponsored by the George W. Norris Foundation, and serves as a reminder of some of the noteworthy things that Sen. Norris did for Nebraska and the nation. This seems like an appropriate time to take note of one of these achievements...
Tom Kropp -- the one who got away (09/16/13)
In the spring of 1971 the State of Nebraska was abuzz with the spirit of football. The Cornhuskers had just won a National Championship. After an early season tie with USC the 1970 team had swept the rest of their schedule, including a thrilling 17-12 victory over LSU in the Orange Bowl to earn the title...
The Bible years, 1929-36 (09/09/13)
Coach E.E. Bearg (at NU 1925-28), by most standards, had been successful at Nebraska in his four years of coaching the Cornhuskers. His teams had improved each year, culminating in Nebraska's first ever Big Six Championship in 1928. But the Cornhusker fans wanted more, and there were grumblings around the state, "Bearg teams did not use deception and strategy," relying instead on raw power. ...
The Battle of Beecher Island (08/26/13)
After the Civil War, in the late 1860s, the land bordering the Republican River in Nebraska and Colorado was a rather busy place. There were still a few mountain men going through on their way to the Rockies, and there was a steady stream of prospectors eager to strike it rich in the gold fields of California, and more recently in the mountains of Colorado. ...
Louie Dinklage -- The National Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame (08/19/13)
In July 2013 Leo Timmerman and Louis Dinklage were honored, posthumously by being inducted into the National Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame. It is quite appropriate that these two "giants" of the Cattle Feeding Industry would enter the Hall of Fame at the same time...
When the harness horse was king of the track (08/12/13)
In the first third of the 20th Century, harness racing was the leading spectator sport in the nation. In 1910, when Ty Cobb, the biggest star in baseball, was earning $5,000 a year, and playing before crowds of 3-5,000 spectators, Dan Patch was earning more than $1M for his owner and performing before crowds of 93,000. ...
The Cambridge Cornhusker Connection in 1940: Luther (08/05/13)
For some 123 years Nebraskan football fans have been cheering on their beloved Cornhuskers, and there certainly have been many many memorable moments for those loyal fans -- none more discussed and appreciated than the football season of 1940, which culminated in the school's first ever Bowl Game, the Rose Bowl against the Stanford Indians. ...
First school days (07/29/13)
At a time when we are again thinking about the start of a new school year, it is interesting to look back at the time the first citizens of McCook were doing their best to provide educational facilities for the young people of the community From H.P. Waite's collection of McCook Tribune Stories...
More on the Frontier County murder (07/22/13)
Recently we took note of the McCook Trumpet account of a gruesome murder in Frontier County in 1884. It would seem to be in keeping to take a look at that murder in a bit more detail. One of the principal players in the story was the presiding Judge in that case, Judge William H. Allen, the Frontier County Judge, the ancestor of at least two current, prominent Red Willow County citizens, Michelle (Mrs. Tim) Lytle, and Patsy Lee Redfern...
The McCook Trumpet reports the news (07/15/13)
From H.P. Waite's Collection of Early McCook Trumpet Stories McCook Trumpet Dec. 12, 1884: To the Editor: The following communication should have appeared earlier, but was refused publication by the editor of the McCook Tribune, who gave as his reason for not so doing that the article was not of interest to the public. Beg Pardon, Mr. Editor, but we have always supposed that the public were interested in knowing how, and for what the public funds are expended T.B. Stutzman, M.D...
Bill and the Duke (07/01/13)
Since the beginning of the United States as a sovereign nation, relationship with Russia has at various times, been friendly, or less than cordial. For instance, during the Crimean War (1853-56), the Russians fought against forces of England, France, and the Ottoman Empire...
Changing times 1884 (06/17/13)
A tragic Cowboy death; June 12, 1884 -- A cowboy, Jacob Van Meter by name, was thrown from his horse on Sappa Creek, in Kansas, last week and died in Benkelman, where he was taken to receive medical attention. He had fallen under his horse on his head and shoulders. He sustained a fractured skull and concussion of the brain...
Dr. John Brinkley, 1920s radio pioneer (06/10/13)
The 1920s were quite appropriately dubbed "The Roaring '20s." It was a time of change, after World War I, a time of young people changing the morals in America -- the time of flappers, illegal booze, wild speculation on Wall Street, and yes, a time when the country embraced a new phenomenon, commercial radio, which operated with a minimum of government regulation...
Radio in Nebraska in the 20s and 30s (06/03/13)
In the 1930s there was no television in Nebraska (it did not make an appearance in the Midwest until the late 1940s, after the end of World War II). There was no Internet, with its myriad of entertainment options. What we had was the library, our movie theaters, and a few (just a few) AM radio stations. Radio was by far the most popular entertainment media. It was free, and it was good. Today, it is difficult to imagine the impact that radio played in our lives in the 1930s...
More news from spring 1884 (05/20/13)
From H.P. Waite's collection of early McCook Tribune Stories Immigrants: May 15, 1884: Seventy-five families of Hungarians have settled on Beaver Creek in the vicinity of Herndon this Spring. Ugh! May 15, 1883: the alleys of McCook are encumbered with the carcasses of dead animals, tin cans, waste water, and other stench-emitting and disease producing offal...
The Great 1,000 mile race (05/06/13)
Recently we came across an article, which noted that the running of ultra-marathon races (endurance races of 50, 100, even 150 miles) was the fastest growing outdoor sport in America. McCook has at least two dedicated ultra-marathoners, who do credit to their sport. This brought to mind a race that originated in Nebraska some 120 years ago, a super race that tested the mettle of both man and beast, and in so doing set the standard for endurance horse races to today...
Growing pains: McCook 1884 (04/29/13)
From the H.P. Waite Collection of McCook Tribune Stories March 20, 1884: The streets and alleys present a wretched appearance. The space around the town pump is the favorite resort for hogs -- which, in spite of the ordinances prohibiting the running of animals at large, still have free range of the streets. ...
NU's Dr. John Leland Champe (04/22/13)
To those of us who grew up in Northeast Nebraska in the 1930s ancient history was pretty much knowing about someone's grandparents. But occasionally we got a chance to look further into the past, when we got to view a collection of Indian Arrow Heads, or a cracked piece of Indian pottery, which the owner invariably referred to as something "really old." We had to take his word for the age of the artifact...
Syngman Rhee, Korea's George Washington (04/08/13)
Today, we read and hear a great deal about North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un (Dennis Rodman's buddy), pontificating, and brandishing nuclear bomb threats against the West, while the North Korean people struggle to find enough to eat. Electricity is on in the cities for just a few hours each day -- in rural areas perhaps not at all -- and there are stories of forced labor camps. It is difficult for us in the United States to understand a fellow like this...
McCook at 1 3/4 years: 1884 (04/01/13)
In March, 1884, Frank Kimmel of the Tribune felt compelled to offer an update on the progress of McCook, which at that time was still three months shy of celebrating its second birthday. Almost from the beginning of McCook, the Tribune's Editor and the Editor of the Indianola newspaper had been trading almost weekly pot shots at one another. ...
Staying healthy on the prairie, 1884 (03/25/13)
The wife of a ranchman living northwest of here in Hayes County, was thrown from a wagon a few days ago, and suffered a broken arm. She lived more than 40 miles from the nearest surgeon. The weather and roads made it impossible for her to reach his office. She, with the assistance of her brother, who has no knowledge at all of surgery, set the fractured bone, and it is reported she is getting along nicely...
125 years ago, the Blizzard of 1888 (03/18/13)
The Eastern Seaboard of the United States has recently been hit with a severe blizzard, as has the Eastern portion of Nebraska. Such storms bring about great hardships and even deaths. These days, most of the troubles connected with the storms revolve around automobile traffic, especially on the Interstates, where automobile pileups can reach epic proportions. These recent storms, while bad, pale when compared with the some of the storms of yesteryear...
The Chautauqua (03/11/13)
For many many years, before there was television, one very popular forms of entertainment in communities across the land was the traveling tent show. These productions set up in vacant lots in cities and small towns for a day or two, to as much as a week, providing live entertainment for young and old alike. ...
More early McCook businesses (03/04/13)
From H.P. Waites Collection of McCook Tribune Stories In 1883 McCook was still in its infancy as a frontier community, yet those early settlers were filled with optimism, energy and foresight, making the new little city of McCook the fastest growing town in the state, which was attracting more settlers every day...
McCook, 1883: The end of year two (02/25/13)
From H.P. Waite's Collection of McCook Tribune Stories McCook Tribune December 5, 1883: McCook is to have a place other than the Church and the Band Hall where public meeting can be held. The Church serves the purpose when the gatherings are of such a character that they can properly be held there. The Band Hall is suitable for all sorts of public meeting, but its capacity is limited. Dances are usually held in the dining room of one of the hotels...
William Valentine, educator (02/18/13)
Note: These days, when one travels on East 5th and 6th Streets, and views the former East Ward School grounds, halted now in the midst of its transformation to apartments and duplexes, he cannot help but think of that structure, when it was the proud center of learning for so many years. ...
Stan the (Gentle) Man Musial (02/11/13)
In mid-January 2013, we were saddened by the news that Stan Musial, the perennial all-star slugger for the St. Louis Cardinals had passed away quietly at his home in Ladue, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. The accolades for this Hall of Fame baseball player have been lavish in their praise, and richly deserved, but his death brought back the one personal encounter I had with Stan the Man, a long long time ago, in 1953...
Walt Sehnert
Days Gone By