History of Buffalo County
and Its People
by Samuel Clay Bassett
CHAPTER XXXV (continued)
The club's activities are rapidly multiplying and instead of being an organization working alone for the interest of the merchants it is striving to become a community builder, a city builder, where the farmer, the city dweller and the business man can meet on mutual footing and work harmoniously for the advancement of the entire community.
KEARNEY AERIE NO. 1489, F. O. E.
Kearney Aerie No. 1489, F. O. E., meets every Wednesday at Eagles Hall. Its officers in 1914 were: A. M. Franks, president; Joseph Kauer, secretary; J. F. Ackerman, treasurer.
LOYAL LODGE NO. 14, K. OF P.
Loyal Lodge No. 14, K. of P., history seems to disclose, was the first fraternal lodge instituted in Kearney, in the winter of 1872-73.
Its officers in 1914 were: G. E. Haase, C. C.; M. A. Moody, V. C.; E. P. Hamilton, P.; P. T. Lambert, M. of W.; C. D. Ayers, M. of E. and K. of R. and S.; W. H. Bettinger, M. of F.; A. P. Paulson, M. of A.
FORMAN LODGE NO. 12, A. O. U. W.
Forman Lodge No. 12, A. O. U. W., was organized August 13, 1883, with charter membership of twenty-five. Officers: Byron D. Smith, P. W. M.; J. A. Regnell, M. W.; W. H. Hurst, foreman; W. M. Knutzen, overseer; S. M. Nevius, Rec.; H. Fred Wiley, Fin.; J. C. Philbrick, Treas.; P. Lindgren, guide; G. A. Olson, I. W.
In the year 1915 the lodge had 350 members. Officers: C. E. Bloomfield, P. W. M.; T. A. Pickrell, M. W.; C. Lancaster, foreman; E. A. Miller, Fin.; John Frasier, overseer; E. F. Winn, Rec.; A. T. Olson, Treas.; George Clark, guide; A. M. Sherman, inside watch.
KEARNEY LODGE NO. 43. DEGREE OF HONOR, A. O. U. W.
Kearney Lodge No. 43, Degree of Honor, A. O. U. W, was instituted March 16, 1893, with a charter membership of sixty-eight. The names of its first officers could not be obtained.
In 1915 the lodge had a membership of 103. Its officers were: Ella Killgore, P. C. of H.; Maggie Dority, C. of H.; Lena Olson, L. of H.; Carrie Richard, C. of C.; Mary LaCornn, R'dr.; Ida Haynes, Fin.; Emma M. Hibberd, Rec.; Phoebe Lancaster, usher; the minor officers being Fern Lancaster, Ada Holmes, Nellie Fenton, Lucy Hall, Etta Temple, Rilla Flannery, Elsie LaCornn,
HOPE CAMP NO. 316, M. W. A.
Hope Camp No. 316, M. W. A., was instituted at Kearney in April, 1887, with seventy-six charter members. Its first officers were: W. A. Howard, V. C.;
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
J. R. Churchill, W. A.; C. H. Henderson, clerk; Ira Johnson, banker; C. A. Bartz, escort; C. O. Jackson, W.; W. Wilson, S.; A. L. Fitch, B. F. East and W. C. Holdem, board of managers.
In the year 1915 the camp had 220 members. Its officers: J. A. Allhands, V. C.; Roy Jacobs, W. A.; Charles Shahan, banker; G. E. Haase, clerk; T. A. Tollefson, escort; John Mannins, W.; C. Knorig, S.; T. J. Scott, William Lantz, James Cleary, trustees.
KEARNEY COUNCIL NO. 12, LOYAL MYSTIC LEGION
Kearney Council No. 12, Loyal Mystic Legion, is located at Kearney. Its officers, elected for the year 1916, are: Rachel Jenkins, W. C.; Olive R. Springer, W. V. C.; H. T. Clark, secretary; J. N. Jenkins, W. P.; F. .E. Hutchinson, W. P. C.; Dr. M. A. Hoover, J. N. Jenkins, P. E. Hutchinson, trustees.
KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS
St. James Council No. 1728, Knights of Columbus, was organized with a charter membership of ninety, April 21, 1914. The first officers: Dr. E. A. Watson, G. K.; Prof. B. H. Patterson, R. S.
The object of the order as stated: "To perpetuate and keep alive the memory of Columbus by fitting and appropriate ceremonies on October 12th of each year."
Membership, 1915, 120. Officers: R. B. Daugherty, G. K.; A. H. Berbig, F. S.
TRIBE OF BEN HUR
Kearney Court No. 108, Tribe of Ben Hur, was instituted September 16, 1903, with a charter membership of thirty-five, the officers being: Dr. M. A. Hoover, chief; E. A. Miller, scribe.
In the year 1915 the membership was ninety-five. The officers: E. E. Gardner, chief; Laura M. Berbig, scribe.
HISTORY OF THE FIRST METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH OF KEARNEY, NEB.
John N. Dryden
The first official reference to this church is contained in the report of A. G. White, presiding elder of the Omaha District, made at the annual session of the Nebraska Conference, held at Plattsmouth, April 18, 1873- The Nebraska Conference then comprised the entire state. Kearney Junction Circuit was at that time part of the Grand Island Mission. The report referred to contains the following:
The Grand Island Mission was an extensive field, requiring the labor of two men. Brother J. S. Smith, the pastor, preferred to confine his operations to the east part of the work, and he consented voluntarily to divide the missionary appropriation with another man, if he would take charge of the western part of
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
the circuit. I therefore employed Rev. William Morse, a supernumerary of Wisconsin Conference, appointed him to the western portion, and called it Kearney Junction Circuit. Brother Morse has labored very efficiently, and reports a large increase of membership."
This indicates that the work at this point began after the preceding annual conference, which met at Nebraska City on the 20th of March, 1872, at which conference the records disclose that J. S. Smith was appointed to Grand Island. The membership at Kearney at the end of Reverend Morse's first year was forty-five. At the Plattsmouth conference of 1873 the Kearney District was formed, with A. G. White presiding elder. The report of the elder for the succeeding conference year, from 1873 to 1874 (the time of holding the conference had in the meantime been changed, and that of 1874 was held October in that year,, making an interim of eighteen months between the conferences of 1873 and 1874) states:
"Kearney Circuit in Buffalo County was left to be supplied, and Rev. D. A. Crowell, a supernumerary of Erie Conference, was appointed pastor. The success of his labor is evidence that he is a workman that needeth not to be ashamed. A neat church has been built, 30 by 50 feet in size, with a projecting tower and bell, at a cost of $4,000, and the membership has been increased by the addition of nearly 100."
In the report of the district superintendents at the conference of 1875, held at Lincoln September 15th, the outlook at Kearney.was discouraging. The record says:
"When the church at Kearney was dedicated last year, pledges were taken sufficient to cover the indebtedness, but the grasshopper plague swept away resources of the people and they were unable to meet their obligations. The indebtedness amounted to $1,246, and an execution was issued for the sale of the premises. We obtained half this amount in the East, including $300 from the Board of Church Extension, and the whole debt was paid."
The charge at the conference of 1874 was left to be supplied, and Rev. William Morse was appointed to the place.
The local history of the church differs somewhat from that reflected by the official records above. The manuscript, written probably in 1874, by the minister in charge, is as follows:
"The territory now included in Kearney Circuit has been mostly settled in the last three years. The first religious organization made took place at Gibbon in October, 1871. Rev. A. G. White, presiding elder of Omaha District, preached in La Barre Hall on that occasion and organized a class of twelve persons and appointed Brother Aaron Ward leader. Two days later Brother White visited the family of Judge A. Collins, living at what has since become Kearney Junction. Notice was immediately circulated among the few settlers of the vicinity that religious service would be held in the house of Judge Collins. In the evening a congregation of thirty persons was assembled in the parlor, and Brother White preached to them, and Brother Collins assisted in the service. A class was then organized, composed of Asbury Collins, Louisa E. Collins, H. E. A. Sydenham (wife of Moses H. Sydenham), Alfred M. Gay and Hannah Jay. A. Collins was appointed leader. Brother Collins is a local elder, formerly a member of
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
Iowa Conference, but disabled by protracted sickness and compelled to desist from public speaking on account of ill health. But his efficient co-operation both here and elsewhere has contributed largely to the prosperity of the church.
"These classes were then attached to-Grand Island Circuit, and Rev. M. A. Fairchild, the preacher in charge, was instructed to give them preaching and pastoral care as he had opportunity. At a quarterly conference held at Wood River Station, on the Union Pacific Railroad, December 31, 1871, a board of trustees was appointed for Kearney Junction, composed of A. Collins, A. M. Gay and H. E. A. Sydenham. In February, 1872, Judge Collins organized a Methodist Episcopal Sunday school at Kearney Junction and held it in his own parlor.
"At the annual conference held at Nebraska City, March 20, 1872, this part of the work was retained with and formed part of the Grand Island Circuit. But the demands for ministerial labor were so great that the pastor could not supply them, and the presiding elder, by the request of the people and the consent of the pastor at Grand Island, divided the work June 15, 1872, and called the western part Kearney Junction Circuit and appointed Rev. William Morse pastor. The new circuit included at this time forty-five members, divided into three classes, and located respectively at Wood River, Gibbon and Kearney Junction. Also a Sabbath school at the latter place. Brother Morse labored faithfully the remainder of the year and enjoyed some prosperity. And at the close of the conference year, April 18, 1873, he reported a membership of seventy-five. At this conference the charge was renamed Kearney Circuit, and left to be supplied, and Rev. D. Allen Crowell, a supernumerary of Erie Conference, was appointed pastor.
During the conference year just closed (1874). covering a period of nearly eighteen months" (owing to the change of time of holding the sessions of the annual conference from April to October), "this charge has enjoyed some prosperity. The membership, including probationers, has increased during the year from 75 to 157, and owing to the increase of population and the growth of the church, the number of preaching places have increased from three to six. At Kearney a neat church has been built, 30 by 50 feet in size, with a protecting tower and bell, at a cost of nearly $4,000. At the conference held in Omaha October 1,1874, the charge was again divided, Gibbon and Erie being set off, and Kearney Circuit was left to be supplied."
If the local record is correct, the first trustees were A. Collins, A. M. Gay, H. E. A. Sydenham; the charter members, Asbury Collins, Louisa E. Collins, H. E. A. Sydenham, Alfred M. Gay and Hannah Jay. The only surviving member of the original charter members is Mrs. Louisa E. Collins, widow of Rev. Asbury Collins, deceased, who still resides in Kearney. In 1877 the church was moved from its original location to its present situation on the corner of Twenty-second Street and Avenue A. It was enlarged during the pastorate of D. K. Tindall in 1887, and further additions were made during the pastorate of David D. Forsyth in 1808, and the present beautiful structure, costing $40,000, finished in 1908.
Official records give as the ministers who have served this church: Rev. William Morse, 1872-73; Rev. D. A. Crowell, 1873-74; Rev. William Morse,
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
1874-75; Rev. E. J. Willis, 1875-76; Rev. C. G. Lathrop, 1876-77; Rev. J. C. Armstrong, 1877-78; Rev. J. M. Richards, 1878-79; Rev. Joseph Gray, 1879-80; Rev. Z. S. Rhone, 1880-81; Rev. A. H. Summers, 1881-83; Rev. G. W. Martin, 1883-84; Rev. W. C. Wilson, 1884-86; Rev. D. K. Tindall, 1886-89; Rev. G. L. Haight, 1889-90; Rev. D. C. Ridgway, 1890-92; Rev. R. D. Black, 1892-94; Rev. C. A. Mastin, 1894-95; Rev. B. W. Marsh, 1895-98; Rev.D. D.Forsyth, 1898-1901; Rev. C. A. Mastin, 1901-05; Rev. G. W. Abbott, 1905-09; Rev. R. P. Hammons, 1909-12; Rev. R. H. Thompson, 1912-15; Rev. E. M. Furman, 1915-.
Local historians, in giving the roster of ministers, give the name of Rev. Asbury Collins as the pastor from March, 1871, to October, 1871, and Rev. M. A. Fairchild, 1871-72, and Mrs. Louisa E. Collins corroborates this version of the history. But the conference records as printed, and now existing in the archives of the conference, give the record as hereinbefore stated.
The first presiding elder, Rev. A. G. White, must have been a man of strong character, and was sustained in his discouraging efforts by a fine sense of humor. In speaking of the experience of one of his ministers, he says:
"He expected but little from the people in the way of salary, and he has not been disappointed."
His judgment as to the outcome of the territory in which he worked was prophetic. In his report for 1874 he says, referring to his district:
"The climate is salubrious, the soil unsurpassed in fertility. The people are intelligent and enterprising, but generally poor. Here are the elements of great physical and spiritual prosperity, to be realized in the near future."
And in his report for the preceding year he said:
"Nebraska is becoming known in the distance. We number among our thriving citizens representatives from every state in the Union, and from nearly every nation on earth. Doubts no longer exist as to the richness of the soil, the healthfulness of the climate and the prominence of the state in the near future. There is more gold in Nebraska than in Colorado, more fortunes to be made on these fertile plains than can be found in the mines of the mountains. Industry and enterprise and capital and intelligence are flowing in upon us, and these elements of power must be met by the leaven of the gospel, and won for Christ."
The church suffered, together with every other enterprise, by reason of the grasshoppers. Mr. White, in his report in 1875, says:
"One year ago Kearney District was financially prostrate, for the destruction that wasteth at noonday had come upon the whole land in the shape of prairie locusts. Crops were consumed and people left destitute and helpless. They could not carry forward their church enterprises, or support preachers or even obtain for themselves the necessaries of life."
This man in 1875 collected for the families of his preachers $2,850 in cash and $10,460 in other supplies.
The history of the Kearney Church would not be complete without special reference to its one surviving charter member, Mrs. Louisa E. Collins, and her estimable husband, Rev. Asbury Collins. They together wrought largely and most successfully in developing and building up the great commonwealth of Western Nebraska, and built churches at many different points. Mrs. Collins
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
organized the work of the Woman's Home Missionary Society, and was its president for many years. The first Sunday school was organized in the parlor of the Collins home, and the scholars came from a distance of many miles, and were always welcomed when it must have caused great inconvenience to the home-keeper. She is still spared and mingles with a host of appreciative friends, new and old. Her latest act of devotion to the church for which she has given her life was the conveyance of her home to the Preachers' Aid Society of the West Nebraska Conference, to be used as a home for the ministers and their families after their retirement, and at the death of the donor.
The membership of the church at this time, January 1, 1916, is 650. Membership of Sunday school, 400. Officers: District superintendent, George W. Isham, D. D.; minister, Edgar M. Furman, D. D.; superintendent Sunday school, George Burgert; trustee Nebraska Wesleyan University, John N. Dryden; trustees, Dan Morris, N. P. McDonald, C. J. Burke, A. G. Bower, B. F. Rogers, W. F. Crossley, W. L. Stickel, I. F. Henline and G. S. Dick. One of the most active members in recent years, and especially during the period of the construction of the new church, was the late Walter W. Barney, whose strong constructive influence upon this church will be felt for many years to come.
The Congregational Church at Kearney was organized about January 8, 1873; Rev. Libbins B. Fifield its first pastor.
Writing as to the organization of the church, F. G. Keens states it is from memory and adds: "But there were additional members present at the organization whose names I do not recall." Mr. Keens gives as the charter members: Jennie Grant, Ella J. Grant, William H. Green, Douglas Westervelt, David B. Clark, Francis G. Keens and Mrs. L. B. Fifield. The approximate cost of the church building is given as $8,000. In 1915 the church had a membership of fifty, the pastor, Rev. Wm. Spire.
FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
The First Presbyterian Church of Kearney was organized in the year 1873. Of the organization, L. B. Cunningham, a charter member, writes as follows: "About March 7, 1873. the synodical missionary, with Rev. Nahum Gould, organized the First Presbyterian Church of Kearney in the Times Building, with a membership of eight beside the minister: Dr. J. T. Brown, Roswell D. Gould, Mrs. Anna Smith, Edward M. Lord, Mrs. George E. Smith, Emma Greenman, Mrs. C. S. Greenman, and L. B. Cunningham. Roswell D. Gould and Dr. J. T. Brown were elected elders. The first pastor was Rev. Nahum Gould.
The present (1915) church building was erected at a cost of approximately $12,000. The present pastor, Rev. John E. Spencer. The present membership, 320.
FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH
The First Christian Church of Kearney was organized in October, 1874, this also being the organization of the first church of the Christian denomination
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
in the county. The charter members were: Robert Haines and wife, Emma I., E. A. Hartman and wife, Sarah, J. M. Thomas and wife, Eunice, and George Hoge and wife, Sarah Ann. At the date of the organization the charier members were living on homestead claims in Center Township. The first pastor was Evan A. Hartman.
In the year 1912 a church building was erected in Kearney at a cost of $27,500.
In 1915 the membership of the church was 295; its pastor, Manson E. Miller
EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN ZION'S CHURCH
Evangelical Lutheran Zion's Church was organized at Kearney, September 14, 1914; the charter members: Herm Petersen, Otto Wiednanders, H. A. Meyer, W. Baumann, R. Nuttleman, H. M. Kanzler, George Bautel. The first pastor was Rev. A. C. Baumann. In the fall of 1914 a church building was provided at an approximate cost of $3,000. In 1915 the church had a membership of 130; its pastor, Rev. W. Jiede.
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
A Roman Catholic Church was organized at Kearney in 1885. A fine church building has been erected; also in the year 1915 there was completed a beautiful substantial building for the use of the parochial school.
This church, in the year 1914, was reported to have a membership 800. Bishop of the diocese, Rt. Rev. James A. Duffy. Rector, Henry Muenstermann.
FIRST UNITED BRETHREN CHURCH
The First United Brethren Church was organized, at Kearney, November 5, 1887; the first pastor, Rev. C. M. Brooke. Charter members: Mr. and Mrs. F. F. Scott, Mr. and Mrs. J. P. Hartman, Mr. and Mrs. Perry E. Moler, Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Iddings, Mr. and Mrs. George W. Snyder, Mrs. Abbie George, Mrs. Minnie Snyder, Mrs. Rosana White, Mrs. Elizabeth Channel, Mr. Mrs. A. L. Graham, Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Moler, Mrs. Eliza Smith, Mrs. Matilda Campbell, Mrs. Mary A. Webert, Thomas Scott, Mrs. Mary Brice, Mrs. Matilda Wire, Mrs. Lou Koogler, Mr. and Mrs. Harper Campbell.
The approximate cost of the church building as dedicated in 1896, was $13,000. In 1915 the church had a membership of 136; the pastor, Rev. A. P. Vannice. Of the history of this church Rev. Mr. Vannice writes:
"The beginning of the work of the United Brethren Church in Kearncv dates back to July 12, 1871, at which time Rev. D. K. Flickinger, missionary secretary of the United Brethren Church, preached in the home of Rev. Asbury Collins, who lived then at the four corners just west of the present site of the city. This is supposed to have been the first sermon ever preached in Kearney. No effort was made at that time to continue the work. Sometime in the year 1886, Rev. J. J. Smith came to Kearney with the purpose of organizing a church, but only remained a short time. He was followed in the fall of the same year by Rev. C. M. Brooke, who effected the first organization. He rented what is now a part
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
of the present United Brethren Church, of the Swedish-Lutheran brethren and there held services. Articles of incorporation were filed November 5, 1887, with J. M. Eads, a presiding elder, and the following persons as trustees: F. F. Scott, Wm. Bankson, S. S. Hartman, Wm. Moler, J. P. Hartman, Sr."
Rev. H. W. Trueblood took charge of the work under the auspices of the missionary board of the United Brethren Church, October 20, 1890. He purchased and dedicated a small chapel located at the corner of Twenty-fifth and D Avenue. In 1896, under the pastorate of Rev. H. H. Spracklen, the present (1915) site was purchased and with the addition to the original building was dedicated October 4, 1896.
FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH
The First Baptist Church of Kearney was organized in the year 1874, with the following charter members: Mrs. E. Carey, C. B. Carey, Mrs. Anna Carey, Mrs. Ellen Sizer, Mrs. Emily Aitken, Mrs. Mary Keys, Mrs. Opie Poland and Mr. Poland. The first pastor was Rev. O. A. Buzzell. In 1800 a church building was erected at an approximate cost of $25,000. In 1915 the church had a membership of 175. Its pastor, Rev. H. J. Walker. The Sunday School had an enrollment of 150; Carl G. Sward, superintendent; Miss Alice James, secretary.
FIRST CHURCH OF CHRIST, SCIENTIST
A history of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, at Kearney, as related, may be said to date from the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Bunnell in the late '80s. They were practitioners who had just completed a course of study with the discoverer and founder of the movement in Boston.
Mrs. Bunnell gave the first treatment and Mrs. W. S. Freeman received the treatment. As related, it was found helpful and profitable for the beneficiaries of this science to meet together for study and mutual interchange of helpful thoughts and accordingly a church was organized in 1890 and incorporated in 1891.
Ezra M. Buswell of Beatrice, Nebraska, taught the first class in Kearney in Christian Science healing, and was prominent in the affairs of the church. The following members, were among the most active during the early years of the church when founded in Buffalo county: Mr. and Mrs. Fred Bunnell, Mr. and Mrs. S. S. St. John, H. A. Kennedy, Mr. and Mrs. W. A. McDonald, Mrs. Mary W. Haynes, Mrs. Sarah E. Bennie, Miss Delia McDonald, John H. Roe, Miss Jennie Pearson, Mr. and Mrs. S. T. Adams, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Benedict, Miss Lettie Overmise, E. J. Woolworth, Mr. and Mrs. F. Armstrong, Mr. and Mrs. D. N. Wells, Mr. and Mrs. W. S. Freeman, Mrs. Eliza Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Albert Wilson, Mrs. Nenta L. Maddox, Mrs. Harriet McClintock, Mrs. Estella I. Ayres, Miss Ella Mae Smith.
In 1915 the church owned a fine building site at the corner of First Avenue and Twenty-third Street worth approximately $6,000 and clear of incumbrance and on which the church planned to erect a church building which would be a credit to the cause and the community.
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
ST. LUKE'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
The St. Luke's Episcopal Church of Kearney, organized in 1892, Rev. R. D. Oliver, D. D., its first pastor.
At an approximate cost of forty thousand dollars a fine church building has been erected. In the year 1915, the membership of the church was two hundred (200) ; the pastor on that date, Rev. George G. Ware, archdeacon.
ST. GEORGE SYRIAN GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH
The St. George Syrian Greek Church was organized at Kearney, June 3, 1903, Rev. Nicola E. Yanney its first pastor.
The church building erected cost approximately two thousand dollars.
In the year 1915 the church had a membership of 180. Of this church the present pastor, Rev. Nicola E. Yanney, writes: "It is the second, oldest church of its kind in the American hemisphere--second to that of New York City. The only church (of its kind) west of the Missouri River. A bishop, located in New York City, superintends the affairs of the church and the forty others of its kind in the United States."
GRACE UNITED EVANGELICAL CHURCH
The Grace United Evangelical Church at Kearney was instituted March 9, 1893, Rev. L. G. Brooker its first pastor.
The church building erected cost approximately five thousand dollars.
In 1915 the church had a membership of 165.
Rev. B. Hillier, its pastor at that date writes, "The church has a splendid opportunity for service, and is filling a real need in the community. We have in the Sunday school an average attendance of 150, and a splendid bunch of young people."
WOMAN'S CHRISTIAN TEMPERANCE UNION
An organization of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union was instituted in Kearney in 1878, through the efforts of Mrs. Louisa E. Collins. In the year 1915 the union had twenty members, its officers: Mrs. S. S. O'Brien, president; Mrs. Irene Merriott, vice president; Mrs. Nellie Treadway, secretary: Mrs. H. C. Holt, treasurer.
Mrs. S. S. O'Brien writes that the W. C. T. U. Hospital or the Mother Hull Hospital as it was also called, was established about the year 1885 by Mrs. Nancy Hull, who served as president until her death in 1911.
FIRST SCHOOL IN KEARNEY.
By Helen H.Hartzell, Student at State Normal School
When Kearney was first settled very few settlers brought their families with them, so few in fact that one woman, living here today, tells that when she walked
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
down the road early in 1870, a gang of men working on the road laid down their tools and watched her out of sight; but by the winter of 1872, there were at least twenty children of various sizes and ages.
The only building to be found suitable for school purposes was one occupied as a printing office-the Kearney Times--used by L. B. Cunningham, editor, now of Glenwood, Iowa. This building was located on Smith Avenue, now called Twenty-fourth Street and about Sixth Avenue; this building was the farthest one to the west, the town stretching eastward.
The printing office with all its machinery and noise and bustle, was upstairs, the school in the lower room. There was but one desk, loaned to the school by Mr. Cunningham; the pupils sat on long benches or rather planks laid on boxes; there were no blackboards, shingles were used instead. As for books, each pupil brought such text-books as their family possessed; Miss Fannie Nevius was teacher.
In 1873, a school building was built, its estimated cost being twenty-two hundred dollars. This building still stands on Twenty-third Street and Avenue A, now used as a rooming house. In this building were four rooms; (at that date there were four grades in the Kearney School) Oscar Hansen was principal and Miss Fannie Nevius the primary teacher, but Miss Nevius also taught algebra to half a dozen of the older pupils.
Later the Whittier School Building was erected at a cost of $25,000.
One interesting bit of history in connection with the Times Building, is that not only was the first school organized and kept here, but also the first Presbyterian Church was organized in this building with only seven charter members.
(Note--It is worthy of mention that in the early history of Kearney, the Times Building served a most useful purpose in the educational and religious life of the town; a newspaper was published here, whose editor was a man of high ideals, earnestness of purpose, a desire to be useful in the world; here was organized and kept the first term of school; here was organized one of the first churches in the town; here were held religious services conducted by ministers of different denominations; here was organized and met a literary society, where were debated questions of public importance; the foundations here laid, the early influence here exerted, has been felt in the life of the city, has been for the best interests of the people of the city down to this day and generation and will continue for long years in the future.--Editor.)
THE KEARNEY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
From the Silver Anniversary edition (1913) of The Kearney Daily Hub is taken the following well written and most valuable history of the public schools of the city:
Kearney may be justly proud of her educational advantages, for no city of its size in the entire state can boast of superior facilities for preparing the boys and girls for their life work. The system is thoroughly up-to-date in methods and equipment. It has commercial, domestic science and manual training courses as complete as any in the state--the first branch introduced last year and the second this year. It has a very large library, a fully equipped gymnasium, eight pianos,
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
and the entire school is accredited by the state university and the Central Association of Colleges and High Schools, and there is no school in the land but accepts Kearney High's credits. It has its own official publication in "The Echo," which is strictly a high school product ranking well with similar school papers, in fact there are none better or brighter. And there are other features creditable to the school too numerous to mention in an article of the limited scope of this one which tend to facilitate efforts along the lines of higher education. The handsome new building completed last year and dedicated last autumn signally enlarged the facilities for generally effective school work, and gave opportunity for the better equipment of boys and girls in the way of efficiency and practical work, upon leaving school.
A business undertaking of ponderous proportions is the management of the Kearney High School District which, since the establishment of the first school in the city, has grown from a very small beginning into an investment of $203,850, including in its property list, besides its thorough equipment of all kinds, eight blocks of ground and seven fine buildings all constructed of brick and stone, and named as follows: Longfellow High School, Whittier, Emerson, Bryant, Hawthorne, Alcott, Kenwood; all but the latter named for the poets.
The sum of money required last year to carry on the work of this vast educational system was $47,066.83. The number of pupils was 2,087, and teachers forty-four from superintendent down.
This splendid school system of Kearney is under the supervision of six members of the board of education as follows:
F. J. Everett, president.
Clyde W. Norton, vice president.
Dr. M. A. Hoover, secretary.
Messrs. J. A. Miller, Gilbert E. Haase, Fred A. Nye.
The beautiful surroundings of the different school buildings are an incentive to the student body to do the best and most thorough work, and instil [sic] a keener insight into the advantages of a good education. The school grounds have capacious campuses and all appliances for the enjoyment of outdoor sports during respites from study, with see-saws, swings, teeter-boards, turning poles, basket ball, football, all of which go to make school life enjoyable for the pupil.
It can be truthfully said that Kearney High is one of the best "balanced schools in the country.
While no general system of study as laid out by educational publications is followed in the Kearney schools there is, however, a much closer supervision of teachers than is observed in most cities. The class room work is carefully planned and laid out in the office of the superintendent so that, practically, the same method and interpretation of the work is followed so perfectly in all the rooms of the grade schools that it has been said that the observer can visit the classes in one of the grade schools in one part of the city then go to another building and pick up the work just where he left it in the first school.
Six courses are followed in the high school--Latin, English, German, com-
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
mercial, normal training and domestic science. The normal training course for teachers is said to be one of the best for the purpose intended of that of any high school in the state.
BY WAY OF REMINISCENCE
One of the first, if not the very first, buildings used for school purposes in the City of Kearney is the two-story frame building standing at the southwest corner of Twenty-fourth Street and A Avenue, owned by one of the Nyes and fixed up now for a boarding and rooming house. The construction of this building was commenced in 1872, and owing to a mistake in the location of the lot lines it stood in the middle of Twenty-fourth Street. There was strong opposition to the building's location there and at one time there were three petitions out to have the structure located elsewhere. Finally, but before the building was anywhere near completed it was decided to move it to what is now the northwest part of the city, and near the present sites of the Hamer and Keens residences. Shortly after the removal to that location the elements took a hand in the campaign and one night sent along a wind of such force that the structure was razed to the ground and scattered about the prairie. What fragments of the demolished building that were available were gathered up and a re-construction of the building on its former site was begun. There it was built and there it stood until was discovered the error in the street lines when it was moved over on the lot where it now stands.
There was another frame structure used awhile as, a school building which was on the present site of the Whittier Building, formerly the high school building. This building was obliterated when plans had been laid for the construction of the Whittier School.
THE KEARNEY PUBLIC LIBRARY
By Mrs. Adah Basten (C. V. D.)
The Kearney Public Library was established in the summer of 1890. The first board appointed by the city council was: Dr. O. S. Marden, Ira D. Marston, Judge A. H. Connor, Rev. John Askin, Capt. Joseph Black, H. H. Seeley, Mrs. Nancy Hull, Mrs. Nora M. Jones and Mrs. Etta R. Holmes.
This board held its first meeting July 8, 1890. Judge Connor served as temporary chairman. Dr. John Askin was elected president, and Mrs. Holmes, secretary. Mr. Marston drew up the rules and regulations; No. 2, provided that books should be drawn only on Tuesdays and Saturdays; the reading room to be open every day.
The purchasing committee, Doctor Marden, Mr. Marston and Mrs. Jones, bought the private circulating library of Wm. Skinner--1,400 volumes--with fixtures and list of publications. This purchase made it possible to open the library in the city hall with Mrs. Hadassah J. Seaman as librarian on September 1, 1890.
Judge Connor's place, at his death, was filled by the appointment of Mrs. B. S.
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
Smith, and that of Mrs. Nora M. Jones by Mr. Yost, who was succeeded by J. P. Johnson as a representative of the Fourth Ward.
The roster of the board of trustees for the ensuing twenty-five years includes well known names: Mrs. Holmes was trustee for nine years and acted as secretary for that time; this long service has not been exceeded except by Captain Black, who served nineteen years, 1890-1909, and by Mrs. Adah Basten who was appointed in 1899 and is still (1916) a member of the board. In addition to those mentioned the following citizens have served as trustees: Rev. W. S. Barnes, Mrs. H. S. Robertson, George W. Frank, Jr., Marvin Trott, Wallace Bierce, Mary A. Squires, W. W. Barney, T. N. Hartzell, H. A. Webbert, John N. Dryden, Mrs. Hazelton, Miss M. I. Stewart, Rev. G. S. M. Montgomery, C. H. Gregg, Frank Varnes, E. Frank Brown, Mrs. V. E. Jakway, George Ray, W. S. Clapp, Mrs. C. V. D. Basten, Miss Blanche Finch, Mrs. J. F. Daniels, Carl O. Lund, Mrs. W. D. Oldham, Judge B. O. Hostetler, J. S. Adair, V. C. Chase, Jas. L. Tout, Rev. George Allen Beecher, Mrs. Walter Nye, Clarence A. Murch, A. O. Thomas, C. F. Bodinson, Dan Morris, Rev. M. McMinn, G. A. Burgert, H. N. Russell, Mrs. Henry C. Andrews, Mrs. T. J. Parish, W. A. Tarbell, Rev. M. L. Daly, Mrs. A. L. Bertig, Mrs. J. N. Dryden, George N. Porter, H. E. Bradford, Philip G. Snow, R. E. Cochran, N. P. McDonald, Mrs. F. F. Roby, John G. Lowe.
Mrs. Seaman was librarian for nine years. Miss Belle S. Earley succeeded her in October, 1899. The library was still in the city hall, occupying the former council chamber, a platform had been removed to increase floor-space, but the needs of the public were not adequately supplied by the meager facilities. Communication with Mr. Andrew Carnegie resulted in a gift of $10,000, in January, 1903. The city council appointed a committee to decide on a site; this was not settled until June. The generosity of Mrs. Charles O. Norton, who gave a valuable lot on the corner of Twenty-first Street and First Avenue, finally decided the location. Its accessibility has made it a good location. The builders' and architects' bids were passed upon, the contract going to Knutzen and Isdell of Kearney and James Tyler and Son of Lincoln, on September 28, 1903. An additional gift of $2,000 was asked from Mr. Carnegie, on the ground that the levy for library purposes would meet this requirement for maintenance. This request was graciously granted, and the library board were thus enabled to put the building into shape for occupancy. The books were removed from the city hall December 29, 1904, and the new building was ready for the public February 4,1905.
1892 1915 Number of books in circulation.. 391 Number of books in circulation.. 54,000 Number of books on shelves ... 2,000 Number of books on shelves.... 10,800 Number of borrowers ........ 1,263 Number of borrowers ........... 4,427
The library has always been a depository for public documents, a highly valued asset.
In the twenty-five years of existence there have been four librarians: Mrs Hadassah J. Seaman, 1890 to 1899; Miss Belle S. Earley, 1899 to 1904; Miss Mary Katherine Ray, 1904 to 1907; Mrs. Pauline Frank, 1907 to ---. These
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
women, alike competent, conscientious and ambitious for the success of the work, reflect credit upon the discrimination of the various boards of trustees who selected them to this responsible post. Mrs. Seaman, the first librarian, had the longest term of office.
From a published report of July 20, 1893, the following is quoted: "The affairs of the library and reading-room have been faithfully looked after by Mrs. Seaman, the librarian. Competent, attentive, and intelligent, with the experience of age and the instinct of a good mother, she is a wise advisor as to what our boys and girls should read." Mrs. Seaman went to Tulsa, Okla., in October, 1899, and died there May 30, 1911. Her interest in founding a library in her new home was recognized by a special memorial service to her at the laying of the cornerstone of a new Carnegie library in October, 1915. Her portrait will adorn its walls and a delivery desk, with her name carved above its panels will be placed there in her honor.
Mrs. Seaman was the wife of John D. Seaman, pioneer settlers in Crowellton Precinct (now Odessa), Buffalo County, in the year 1872.
Miss Belle S. Earley was born in Kennedy, N. Y.; she prepared for her work by a course in library science, then in its infancy, at Madison, Wis.; it was a sad circumstance that she did not live to see the new library building completed, but died after a short illness on the 29th of December, 1903.
An extract from the secretary's report at that time reads: "Everywhere were evidences of her busy hands, trying with the poor means at her disposal, to make her little domain come up to the ideal library which existed in her mind, planted there by instruction, study and an innate desire to do whatever she did well. She was away from her work one day less than a week, and was laid to her rest with tears and loving remembrances on the last day of the year 1903."
Miss Mary K. Ray was elected on April 18th, the post being filled in the interval by Miss Earley's sister, Mrs. Mary E. O'Brien.
Miss Ray attended a library summer school at Iowa City, Iowa, and assumed her duties on her return. She resigned May 6, 1907, to take a like position in the state library at Lincoln, Neb.
Mrs. Pauline Frank was elected to succeed Miss Ray and took up her work August 1, 1907. She was born in Madison, Wis., educated in a Chicago high school and in St. Xavier's, Chicago.
She has fitted herself for her work by numerous courses at library schools. It is owing to Mrs. Frank's genius for administration that the Kearney Public Library is one of the best in the state. It is third in point of distribution of books in the state: that is, it comes next to Omaha and Lincoln, though there are four other towns with greater population between Kearney and Lincoln. The board of trustees not infrequently receives letters asking for points in management as the "Kearney Library is known to be a model small library."
The activities of the library outside of the care and loaning of books are many. It is, in fact, in touch with whatever intellectual life there is in the city. It has study clubs, meetings in the reference room under the direction of the librarian, besides its relation to all the other clubs and schools. Mrs. Frank has also stimulated work in domestic science. A notable achievement was the observance of the Shakespeare tercentenary.
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
NINETEENTH CENTURY CLUB
Mrs. Etta R. Holmes (K. O.)
The history of Buffalo County would be incomplete without mention of the woman's "Nineteenth Century Club," of Kearney.
On June 15, 1888, Mrs. Elizabeth Lisle Saxon, vice president for Tennessee of the National Suffrage Association, addressed the Clio Club of Kearney on "Equality of Women Before the Law." As a result of the lecture an organization was formed which was named, "The Nineteenth Century Club of Kearney."
The officers elected were: Mrs. F. G. Hamer, president; Mrs. F. Y. Robertson, vice president; Mrs. J. L. Tout, treasurer; Mrs. E. B. Jones, secretary.
The motto chosen was, "Interdependence not Independence," which certainly absolves the members from a militant suffrage policy.
The charter members were: Mesdames Rebecca Hamer, Eva Robertson, Martha Tout, Nora M. Jones, Amelia E. Pratt, Fanny M. Gilcrest, Etta R. Holmes, Mary C. Barnd, C. J. Raymond, S. M. P. Holmes. The last named three are deceased and five have moved from the city.
For twelve years this was a live culture club, limited to fifty members. In 1910 it was made a department club. The membership immediately doubled and the club joined the state federation and later the national federation. During all these years while annually pursuing a liberal course in study, the aim of the club has been service and a desire to assist in whatever tended toward an uplift in the community. The special days regularly observed are: Federation, Library, Civics and Education.
Mrs. A. O. Thomas, while acting as chairman of the educational committee of the state federation, became founder of educational day, which has since acquired state-wide observance.
Donations to the public library have included Poole's Index to Periodicals, several sets of fiction, juvenile works, and a valuable picture.
In educational work much more has been done than there is space to enumerate. Many lectures of great value have been secured from prominent educators. By special tax, a fund was raised to assist in sending a teacher for a much needed kindergarten in the South. The club once placed by special effort two efficient women on the school board. It worked and voted for a $40,000 addition to the high school building; contributed $25 to the Nebraska University scholarship fund, and to several other scholarship funds liberal contributions have been made from time to time. Two lectures on domestic science by Mrs. Harriet McMurphy have been supported by the club.
The following benefactions stand to their credit: A set of dining-room furniture to the City Hospital; $200 in stock subscribed to the Chautauqua Association; $5 monthly for one year to the Salvation Army rest room; $5 monthly for one year to the Mother Hull Hospital; $400 was given to the Community Club for boys and a committee from the club took active part in its management.
For several years the club has taken charge of the sale of Red Cross seals and three public drinking fountains have been secured with a little addition from the club treasury.
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
The club now numbers about eighty-seven members. It has three departments: Home Economics, Art and Literature, and History. The present (1915) officers are: Mrs. Emma Wort, president; Mrs. Nora L. Killian, vice president; Mrs. Alice Cavanee, recording secretary; Mrs. Huldah Saylor, corresponding secretary; Mrs. Elizabeth Troupe, treasurer; Mrs. Helen Dryden, historian.
Within a few weeks the Child's Conservation League has elected to join the club and this will greatly add to its strength and value to the public.
We have thus set forth the public work of the club and we may well add that it has all been done on the modest entrance fee of $1 at first, increased later to $1.50 and for the last two years to $2.50 for admission and $2 annually.
The subtle and more powerful influence on its members and their families cannot be estimated. One remarkable fact in the history of the club is the low death rate among its members. So far as I have knowledge of the hundreds who have been enrolled in the twenty-eight years, only eighteen have passed away, and two of these were octogenarians. Shall we not attribute the low per cent of death to intelligent, careful living and to the co-operative study and work which contribute to it?
The following have served as president of the club: Rebecca A. Hamer, three terms; S. M. P. Holmes, Eva R. Robertson, Etta R. Holmes, four terms; Mary W. Newman, Mary A. Ripley, Ida Brady, Margaret E. Fox, Helen H. Dryden, three terms; Cuddie L. Marston, Margaret B. Hostetler, two terms; Ethelwyn G. Brown, Mary T. W. Graves, Helen A. Packard, Ellamae C. Thomas, three terms; Cora D. Neale, Ella L. Bessie, two terms; Emma C. Wort, 1914-15.
The membership of the club for the year 1915 was as follows: Mrs. Mary Andrews (H. C.), Mrs. Anna Barney (W. W.), Mrs. Annie Bell (H. S.), Mrs. Laura Berbig (A. L.), Mrs. Elizabeth Barber (Emory), Mrs. Augusta Blanchard (J. S.), Mrs. Effie A. Boltin (A. H.), Mrs. Sarah Brindley, Mrs. Alice Beardsley (Chas.), Mrs. Darlen Burgert (G. H.), Mrs. Ella L. Bessie (C. D.), Mrs. Mabel Bower (A. G.), Mrs. Adah Basten (C. V. D.), Miss Anna Bishop, Miss Marie Berkman, Mrs. Alice M. Cavanee (J. N.), Mrs. Catherine Carrig (C. C.), Mrs. Irene Conklin (J. D.), Mrs. Susan A. Davies (C. K.), Mrs. Josephine Doherty (J. G.), Miss Katherine Dickerman, Mrs. Una Donnell (J. S.), Mrs. Helen Dryden (J. N.), Mrs. Mary F. Downing (W. F.), Mrs. Elliott (R. L.), Mrs. Viola Easterling (J. M.), Mrs. Elleen G. Fountain (L. D.), Mrs. Estelle Fowler (J. H.), Mrs. Pauline Frank (Agustus), Mrs. Rue Good (Chas.), Mrs. Winnie V. Giest (F. G.), Miss Sarah L. Garrett, Mrs. Flora Harrison, Mrs. Mary L. Haase (G. E.), Mrs. Mary E. Heasley (C. J.), Mrs. Lana H. Hecox (D. W.), Mrs. Bemice Hamer (T. F.), Mrs. Lavina Horn, Mrs. Grace Hardy (Ward), Mrs. Margaret Hostetler (B. O.), Mrs. Clarissa L. Huntley (F. C.), Mrs. Clara Hawthorne (J. D.), Mrs. Harriett Hendrys (L. D.), Mrs. Anna Hyatt (M.), Mrs. Etta R. Holmes (K. O.), Mrs. Etta K. Hallowell (F. M.), Mrs. Anna L. Halstead (George), Mrs. Nellie Henline (S. A. D.), Mrs. Leah Inks (Thos.), Mrs. Minnie A. Jones (H. N.), Mrs. Nora S. Killian (A. C.), Mrs. Minnie S. Koeppa (L. A.), Mrs. Elizabeth King (W. O.), Mrs. Gertrude Lambert (A. C.), Mrs. Phoebe J. Lancaster (Thos.), Mrs. Nellie Landis (S.), Mrs. Ella Lee (A. J.), Mrs. Clara E. Martin (L. D.), Mrs. Etta Manuel (C. B.), Mrs. Phoebe A. Miller (E. A.), Mrs. Alice Moore (D. C.), Mrs. Anna Moore (C. H.), Mrs.