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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Fall of 1883 in McCook

Monday, October 22, 2012

E.M. Kimmel
From the pages of the McCook Tribune -- collected by H.P. Waite

(Note: For the first time the name of E.M. Kimmel, appear as editor and publisher of the Tribune, replacing Mr. Israel who started the Tribune in 1882. No other announcement of the change in management appears.)

In 1883 McCook was still a frontier town, far from tame, and still had trouble with cowboys out for a good time. But there were more and more people coming who strove for law and order, and were working for the creation of churches in the town. There were also itinerant preachers.

Red Willow County Fair produce, 1883.
Temperance. Oct. 11th 1883. A colored preacher from Nebraska City stopped at McCook today on his return from the west, where he had been preaching since June. He was raising money to pay off the indebtedness of the Baptist colored congregation in Nebraska City. He reports meeting with many discouragements, and having collected little money. In Georgetown, Colorado, he was informed that were he petitioning for a saloon his efforts would have been met with greater success. At Akron he preached in the eating house. His meeting was attended by all the railroad employees who were laying over at the time. During prayer the "boys" dealt him a hand and offered to raise him a dollar.

A lodge of Good Neighbors has been organized in McCook. The members of the order agree to abstain from the use of intoxicating beverages, and to use their best efforts to suppress and to prevent the spread of intemperance. There are no saloons in McCook, but there are two drug stores that not only dispense whiskey and wine to all who have the money, but when they receive a fresh consignment of liquor, advertise the fact through the columns of the local paper.

Ladies Aid 1883: The ladies of the Episcopal Church held a sociable in the dining room of the B & M Eating House this evening. Refreshments were donated and the musicians who played such fine music rendered gratuitous service. By 9 o'clock 100 persons had assembled in the dining room, when refreshments were served, after which dancing was instituted and continued until midnight, when more refreshments were served, after which dancing was resumed and continued until 2 a.m., when the merry party reluctantly disbanded and retired to their homes.

A Day at the Fair. Oct. 6, 1883. Yesterday was the last day at the Red Willow County Fair, in Indianola. The sun came out warm and bright and the day was truly delightful, with a barely perceptible breeze that sent the leaves, touched with a severe frost a few days ago, fluttering to the ground. The trees here, while not as brilliant as in the eastern forests, are still gorgeously beautiful -- the cottonwoods are great mounds of gold. The sumacs beneath them are crimson. The duration of this great glory will be brief.

The homesteaders have been looking forward to the fair for some time. Many were up and astir this morning long before sunrise. Teams were fed, cows were milked, grain was scattered for the chickens, chores were done by lantern light. The wagon bed was filled with hay, and a few corn nubbins were thrown in for the horses after their long trip. The children's hands and faces were scrubbed and dressed in their best clothes. Breakfasts were hurried and lunch baskets packed -- all before sunrise.

The man, his wife and the youngest child occupied the seat. The older children sat upon blankets spread upon the hay. After a four hour ride, town was reached and the horses were unhooked and given a drink at the common watering tough. For many women and children this was the first glimpse of the town since the 4th of July, and some of them had seen no human beings other than family and nearest neighbors for several months.

A special train carried the Light Brigade Band and a delegation numbering more than 100 of McCook citizens to Indianola. The train arrived shortly before noon. The band made a tour of the town, and was followed to the grounds by Indianola's entire boy population.

The exhibits at the fair were worthy of the attention attracted. Larger vegetables of the root order were never grown in any land. No such beets were ever exhibited before. There were cabbages and squash larger than any man wanted to lift, turnips, the size of which excited awe, and onions, watermelons, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and other vegetables that were not only of extraordinary size, but of equally remarkable quality. One exhibit contained five varieties of potatoes; another, three kinds of corn, which would have been a credit to any state. Seven samples of winter and spring wheat were also shown.

The needlework display interested the women. Among the curiosities was a quilt that contained 34 hundred pieces. The women's department also displayed samples of culinary art, such as jells, canned fruit, bread, cakes, pies, and butter. Another unique exhibit was sorghum molasses made in Red Willow County. Several head of Polled Angus cattle, one thoroughbred Durham cow, a herd of high grade Shorthorns and Herfords, as well as eight pens of hogs, including Chester Whites, Berkshires, and Duroc Reds were on exhibition. A pen of sheep and a large Southdown ram also attracted attention.

The crowd was well entertained by the delightful music of the band, the horse racing, the G.A.R. drill, the consumption of watermelons, and the speeches made by several local orators.

The grounds were not artificially lighted, and as night approached, the crowd dispersed. The McCook visitors, after a final selection by the band at the station, boarded their special train for the west. The country folks saddled their ponies, or hitched up their horses and trailed homewards over the winding roads.

The night was as fine as the day had been. At sunset a cloud banner hung motionless, close to the horizon, halfway across the western sky. The northern end was black, like the handle of a great torch. The southern end seemed to be on fire. As the sun sank lower the flames died out. The sky, which, at the earth's edge, was green, merged imperceptibly into gray and darker shades. Night gathering in the East flowed slowly, silently over the prairie. Suddenly Venus blazed in the firmament. Then, one by one, the stars appeared. The wagons, rattling over the country roads could be heard for long distances in the still air.

(Note: No one can say that the reporters of the Tribune did not sometimes wax poetic in 1884.)

1883 Technology Report: It is reported in the daily press that a steam buggy, powered by gasoline, has been invented down in Georgia. The machinery is over the single front, traction, wheel. This single wheel will pull two hind wheels, between which are the seats for those who will ride in the conveyance. It is designed to travel an average of a mile in three minutes.

Area Crime Report: A band of horse thieves drove off 35 head of horses from off the range at Culbertson one day last week, which belonged to J.T. Ray, and when heard from they were at Oxford. The probabilities are they will be captured. This is a pretty good steal, one that Mr. Ray cannot afford to lose, and we hope to see the thieves captured and severally dealt with.

Civic Improvements: (In the fall of 1883 McCook was abuzz with the completion of the first phase of the City Waterworks, prompting this editorial). Now that our waterworks are in 1st Class condition and everything is working smoothly, and we are enjoying the same in our houses, we would like to suggest the advisability of putting up a watering trough and fountain in the business part of our town, where our farmers can water their horses, and allay their own thirst. As it is, they have to draw their water from just one well, the only one accessible, which is very tiresome operation. (That one central well was located at the edge of the sidewalk, about 75 feet south of the northwest corner of Main (Norris Ave) and B. Street.) We feel that it is only necessary to suggest this matter, to have the same carried into effect. It would certainly be a convenience for which our homesteaders would be grateful.

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Walt Sehnert
Days Gone By