History of Buffalo County
and Its People
by Samuel Clay Bassett
CHAPTER XXXV (continued)
It had a rosewood case and cost $250. Every Saturday night the organ was moved to the place of next day's services and Monday taken home again.
In time the Presbyterians bought, for church purposes, a wooden building, built and used for a saloon, and located north of Rodger's grocery store. When planning the furnishing for the new room several wished to purchase chandeliers that could be used when they built their church building. Mrs. L. B. Cunningham had spoken for the chandeliers. A member believed it better to buy lights in keeping with the room, and Mrs. Hurlburt, daughter of Rev. Mr. Gould, made the remark, "they better buy lights in keeping with the room for they might use electricity to light the church when built." At that date electricity for lighting purposes was unheard of, but when the (present) Presbyterian Church was built it had electric lights. It was Mr. Gould's ambition to make a beautiful place of his home on the hill. The view was magnificent and he surrounded his house by a series of terraces. He hoped his children would all settle on his land, but he died in 1875 leaving a very peculiar will. The land was divided into ten acre tracts, one for each of his eight children. The child building first could have the pick of the tracts. Mrs. Hurlburt had first choice and built a brick house on top of the hill, since burned. Mrs. Greenman had next choice, but none of the rest built, and they settled the division by agreement among themselves.
The old house and surrounding ten acres went to R. D, Gould, who lived there several years, but eventually the house was deserted.
In the meantime the canal was built, the lake constructed, covering the lower part of R. D. Gould's ten acres. The boom days came on, a pavilion was built on the lake, there was boating, and at night when the band played in the pavilion there was dancing.
Soon ghost stories concerning the vacant house began to be circulated. The lights from the pavilion shown upon the windows and made the house appear lighted. Investigation made these lights appear to move from room to room. The peculiar location and the burial vault above all gave strength to the stories. Some one stuffed a suit of clothes, making a dummy, and hung it in the house. Stories of suicide and murder were common topics of conversation and it was called "the haunted house."
One evening two men were boating on the lake and they began to discuss the haunted house and ghosts in general. The braver of the two decided to investigate and prove the reality or unreality of ghosts, but his companion feared molesting the spirits. So the brave one started for the house, his companion promising to wait for him in the boat. He went to the house and entered. His companion circled around the top of the hill and by hurrying entered the top story from the west. As the brave ghost-hunter entered one of the lower rooms there was groaning, moaning, shrieks and cries. The brave ghost-hunter did not stop for further investigation but jumped out of the window into the tree that can still be seen on the hill. He had some trouble extricating himself and dropped to the ground, scratched, bleeding and thoroughly frightened. He ran back to the lake and found his companion sitting idly in the boat and told him his proof of the reality of ghosts while the author of the shrieks and chuckled inwardly.
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
At the time of the boom, when land near the city sold for enormous prices, all these ten acre tracts were sold for $10,000 each. All except one were sold to or through the agency of H. D. Watson. About one-third was paid down and on some tracts small payments were afterward collected, but on none were paid much more than one-third of the selling price. In settling for one of the tracts Mr. Watson paid $1,000 for one acre and the remaining nine acres went back to the original owner.
But the poorest tract of all, the one containing the haunted house, on which there was not a level spot, was bought by Marshall E. Hunter, who resided in the East, for which he paid in full $10,000.
The bodies buried in the vault on the hill were removed. As the owner did not come immediately to claim his own by possession the house was torn down and taken away. When the owner finally came to see his beautiful terraced home with its three-story house he found a side-hill, a cedar tree, part of a lake, a few bricks and a number of ghost stories.
THE KEARNEY BOOM By Miss Lena Briggs--Student at State Normal School
The Kearney Canal was started in 1882 by local pioneers of Kearney and carried forward to the extent of a cost of $67,000, which amount was about all they could raise. In 1885 the stock of the Kearney Canal and Water Supply Company was taken over by George W. Frank of Corning, Ia. (who owned extensive real estate interests in and adjacent to Kearney), in consideration of his completing the canal for water power and irrigation purposes. The canal was finished and water turned into the ditch in the spring of 1886. The canal developed a fall of 62 feet at its lower terminus within the city limits of Kearney, where were planned extensive manufacturing properties to utilize the water power. Mr. Frank during the years 1886-87 negotiated with various persons and companies having in mind the erection here of extensive factories among whom were officers of the Burlington Railroad who came to Kearney, examined the situation and about completed negotiations for a half interest in all of the Frank property, including the canal and electric light plant that was operated by water power and also including 2,000 acres of land within the city limits.
Through some inadvertent actions on the part of Mr. Frank the negotiations were abruptly terminated, the railroad officials withdrew and immediately established the large Burlington shops at Havelock, near Lincoln. The purpose of the negotiations had been the establishing of those shops at Kearney and the construction of a line to Holdrege, thus putting Kearney on the main line of the Burlington from Omaha to Denver. To further the plans for a sale of a part of the Frank interests and the inducing of large amounts of capital to come to Kearney for investment, Mr. Frank arranged with J. L. Keck to come to Kearney and erect the original Midway Hotel, for which a considerable subsidy was raised and donated to Mr. Keck.
Other plans having failed to secure capital to develop the water power and the Kearney situation generally in the summer of 1888 H. D. Watson, of Green-
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
field, Mass., met with Mr. Frank at Kearney and closed an option to purchase one-half of the Frank interests and which were incorporated into a company known as the G. W. Frank Improvement Company, which company took over the title to all the Frank real estate holdings, the Kearney Canal, and the electric plant.
About this time the Kearney men purchased the South Platte Land Company, which embraced the real estate holdings of the Burlington Railroad, about eight hundred acres of land immediately south and west of the Town of Kearney and incorporated as the Kearney Land and Investment Company in order in take title to that property.
The company immediately subdivided and platted into city lots different portions of the property and offered those lots for sale at auction. This created a public interest in Kearney and aided in the development of the Kearney boom.
As soon as Mr. Watson had secured the option to purchase the half interest in the Frank properties he went to New England and brought to Kearney during the following ninety days three train loads of manufacturers and investors who, while in Kearney, became so impressed with the value of the water power and the opportunity to develop extensive manufacturing interests that they furnished the money to pay the Franks for the half interest in the properties and invested what was commonly estimated, at the time, a total sum of $1,250,000. Varous persons in the company were interested in cotton manufacturing in New England and on the suggestion of Mr. Watson were induced to organize a company and erect the Kearney cotton mills. These men demanded of the citizens of Kearney a subsidy, cash and real estate of the estimated value of $250,000, which amount was raised by popular subscription and donation within the period of ninety days. At that date Kearney had an estimated population of five thousand (Dr. J. L. Bennett says the population at this time was over ten thousand) and this subsidy represented an average donation of $50 from each person then living in Kearney.
During these months various other enterprises were launched, each one of which demanded and received a subsidy or donation to secure its location at this place, among which were a paper mill, woolen mill, oatmeal mill, plow factory, canning factory, cracker factory, pressed brick works, and machine shops. The exploitation of these various industries caused a furore of excitement accompanied by a rapid enhancement in the value of real estate in and adjacent to the city.
The cotton mill was constructed at a cost of nearly four hundred thousand dollars for building and equipment and was operated nine years. With the exception of the cotton mill none of the subsidised factories operated for a longer time than a few months.
The West Kearney Improvement Company owned and planned for development of one square mile of ground adjoining the cotton mill location
The Midway Land Company owned and developed a section of ground called "East Lawn," where is now located the Kearney Military Academy.
During the boom days various improvements were made, such as the construction of the city waterworks, city gas plant, system of sewerage, city hall, opera house block, and the electric street railway. The collapse of the boom
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
came in a single day and was caused by a personal quarrel between Mr. Frank and Mr. Watson.
As an indication of the great enhancement in market value of building lots in Kearney during the boom period mention is made as follows: Two lots on the corner of Second Avenue and Twenty-fifth Street that had been purchased by Mr. Frank for his niece at $300 in the year 1886 were purchased by Mr. Frank of that niece for $125,000. (The boom collapsed, the lots were never paid for and the niece still owns them.) Four acres, at present apart of the State Normal campus, the same a part of an original purchase by Mr. Frank at $2.40 an acre in the '70s, was sold to John J. Bartlett in January, 1885, for $2,400, and sold by Mr. Bartlett to H. D. Watson in the fall of 1888 for $19,200, and by Mr. Watson subdivided into forty-five lots, each 25 by 140 feet, and sold by him, as lots, between December, 1888, and March, 1889, for $29,200. The purchasers these lots were almost entirely Kearney citizens who had known the history of that particular tract, among whom were George Downing and Dr. J. L. Bennett.
(The latter purchased eight lots where now stands the north wing of the State Normal Building, and he planted the trees which stand near this wing. Dr. Bennett traded all except two of the lots, having purchased all for $600 a piece; these two he sold for $133 and after deducting taxes had left about $100. These lots were purchased by a Swede woman, who engaged in the raising of Belgian hares. Later the lots were purchased from her for the present use--the State Normal School.)
Business lots in the city advanced from $40 a front foot to $400.
One real estate agent's commissions alone during the boom period often amounted to $1,000 a day.
Doctor Bennett purchased the last twenty-two lots of the West Kearney Improvement Company without seeing them or knowing anything about them. In two weeks he sold them at an advance of $500. This company offered to give a lot to every one who would build a house worth at least a specified amount and an Omaha architect drew plans for one of these houses, but it was never built. On this tract was a station and park with a fountain. Now no traces of them are left.
The lot where now stands the Midway Loan and Trust Company Building was bought and resold at an advance of $12,000.
THE KEARNEY CANAL
W. J. Scoutt
The necessity for irrigation in the Platte Valley very early appealed to the early settlers, and the feasibility of such a project was known as early as 1873. On a "Bird's-Eye View" of Kearney Junction, published in 1873; the line of the proposed Kearney Canal is shown. W. W. Patterson is probably the person that first discussed the matter.
An attempt to organize a company and construct a canal as early as 1875 was defeated by the fact that certain of the land owners across whose land the canal
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
would pass refused to either donate or sell a right-of-way for the ditch. This resulted in the first irrigation law of Nebraska being enacted by the Legislature of 1877, of which the Hon. E. C. Calkins was a member of the Senate, and who caused the introduction of a bill to constitute canals for irrigation or power purposes, works of internal improvement, and conferring on them the rights of Eminent Domain.
(Senator E. C. Calkins drew the Act of 1877, authorizing construction of canals for irrigation and power purposes and making them works of internal improvements.--J. N. Dryden.)
At a meeting of the Kearney Board of Trade in April, 1881, committees were appointed to secure data covering the cost of such a canal and to submit plans for the organization of a company to do the work.
A preliminary survey was made by one Simon Murphy, who estimated the cost at twenty-one thousand, four hundred and forty-eight dollars. But it was found that when the canal was constructed and enlarged the cost exceeded the sum of four hundred thousand dollars.
A company, known as The Kearney Canal and Water Supply Co., was organized with a capital stock of $100,000, of which 60 per cent was subscribed, and the subscribers, all of whom were the early settlers and not very well-to-do, very largely exhausted their resources in prosecuting the work.
In April, 1882, at an election held, the City of Kearney voted bonds to the amount of $30,000 to aid in the construction of the canal, which were to be sold and the proceeds given to the Canal Company in stated amounts as the work progressed.
The first president of the company was Nathan Campbell, and F. G. Keens was secretary. The other directors were: F. J. Switz, E. C. Calkins. R. L. Downing, J. H. Roe, H. Fred Wiley, Geo. R. Sherwood and S. L. Savidge.
During the summer of 1882 plans were perfected, final surveys made by John D. Buckley, and on September 6, 1882, contracts were let to Thomas Price for the actual construction of the ditch. Under this contract work was begun in September, 1882, and that date established the priority rights of the Kearney Canal (the oldest in the state on the Platte) to take water from the Platte River for irrigation and water power purposes.
The first and second miles of the ditch, from the headgates, were complete in the fall of 1882 and tested that December. Much other work was done during the fall and winter, and thirteen miles of the ditch were completed and water turned in during the summer of 1883.
The heavy fills across Deep and Mud creeks and at Kearney Lake were not completed until 1885, during the summer of which year the ownership of the canal passed from the original stockholders to Geo. W. Frank, who was then largely interested in lands in and adjacent to Kearney. To this time the original stockholders, officers and directors of the company were practically unchanged.
Mr. Frank undertook the completion of the canal and expended large sums of money in the work, the cost of which had so largely exceeded the estimates of the engineers. This work was done and water turned into the canal in the winter of 1886. A power house was erected, water wheels installed in the fall of 1886, and electric generators added and electric current transmitted for light
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
and power purposes in the summer of 1887. The work of completing the canal by Mr. Frank was in the hands of J. T. O'Brian, civil and hydraulic engineer.
As originally constructed the canal is sixteen miles long, and of an average size, 4 feet deep and 25 feet wide. The fall utilized at the power house is 56 feet.
In 1894 more water being required for power purposes, the canal was enlarged to an average of 9 feet deep and 35 feet wide, which gave it a carrying capacity of approximately 5,500 horse power. To aid in this work the City of Kearney again voted bonds in the sum of $60,000, all of which sum was expended for enlarging and improving the canal.
In addition to furnishing water for irrigation and power house uses, the canal finished water for power at the cotton mills for nearly ten years. At those mills exceeding 500 horse power was employed.
The title of the Kearney Canal in 1908 passed to The Kearney Water & Electric Powers Co., since which time it has been materially improved. More land been irrigated from it than theretofore, and at the power house a more extended use is made of the water for power purposes. During the year 1915 new water wheels of 1,350 horse power capacity were installed, with new electrical generating machinery, and concrete and steel bulkheads and sluice boxes.
The height of fall at the power house is the greatest of any water power development in the state, and the present water wheels and generator the largest water-wheel generating unit in Nebraska, and the canal capacity is now being developed for the purpose of generating and transmitting electrical energy to the country districts and surrounding villages.
THE OREGON TRAIL MONUMENT
In the year 1909 Fort Kearney Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution undertook the erection of a monument, at Kearney, marking the Oregon Trail. Largely by subscriptions from patriotic individuals a sufficient amount was soon secured and an appropriate monument, of Barre granite, was purchased. The inscription on the monument reads as follows: "The first stone erected in Nebraska to mark the Old Oregon Trail. 1811-1869.
"Dedicated by Fort Kearney Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, Kearney, Neb., February 14, 1910 "
The location of the monument is in the park adjacent to the station of the Union Pacific Railroad, the park bordering on Central Avenue. The location is one of the most conspicuous and sightly in the city.
Of the beginning of the Oregon Trail, across what is now Nebraska, history seems to disclose that Robert Stuart and four companions (members of the Astor Expedition to Oregon in the year 1910 [sic]) started from Oregon on a return journey to St. Louis; the party spent a portion of the winter of 1810-11, on the banks of the Platte River in the vicinity of Scotts Bluffs (of the present Nebraska) and in March, 1911, Stuart and his companions, on foot, journeyed down the Platte River on the north side, thus marking the beginning of the longest trail across our continent.
There be those who hold to the idea that the Oregon Trail across Nebraska
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
was confined to what might be termed a single pair of wagon tracks--one single definite trail--and that to appropriately mark the trail a monument must be placed just where those wagon tracks ran.
Emigrants over the trail to Oregon and California traveled with ox teams averaged about fifteen miles per day, and grazed their oxen and other live stock beside the trail.
The editor holds to the idea that from east to west, across what is now Nebraska, from and including the Platte River Valley to the Kansas line, ran trails entitled to be called, the Oregon-Overland Trail. That in the Valley of the Platte in Buffalo County it is not in strict accord with the facts to drive a stake or erect a monument and say, "Right on this spot (between the river and the bluffs) ran the tracks of the Oregon Trail and nowhere else to the north or south." The whole valley, in the days when the Oregon Trail flourished, was a trail, marked with deep, well defined wagon tracks. The erection of a monument to the Oregon Trail has two purposes: One in memory of, a marker of the event; a milestone in its history. The other, educational. To reach and educate the people in this matter, we must, as far as practical, bring such monument to the people, where the people can see, read and remember the legend there recorded. To place such monuments in inaccessible places or where few people see them is largely a waste of expense and of patriotic effort.
DEDICATION CEREMONIES, JUNE 9, 1910
(Note--The following account of the unveiling ceremonies is from the Kearney Daily Hub, M. A. Brown editor.)
With fitting solemnity the Old Oregon Trail Monument, the first commemoration of its kind in the State of Nebraska, erected by the Fort Kearney chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, was unveiled Thursday afternoon. Large crowds of visitors and residents of Kearney gathered about the Union Pacific Park to witness the ceremonies accompanying the unveiling exercises. Visitors high in the councils of the Daughters of the American Revolution and in state political realms took part in the dedication of this monument to the future generations of Nebraska, of Americans, of all who hold dear the memory of the pioneers of civilization, who endured hardships of war, privations, the dangers of the desert, all that a greater people than they might live in the Golden West.
The governor's party arrived early in the forenoon and were entertained at 12 o'clock luncheon at the beautiful suburban home in East Lawn of Mr. and Mrs. E. W. Tabor. John L. Webster, president of the Nebraska State Historical Society, accompanied the party.
A luncheon consisting of six courses was served. The decorations were in the national colors, red, white and blue, and the place cards were tiny photographic views of the Oregon Trail Monument, which will be treasured by the guests as souvenirs of the dinner and of the unveiling of the monument, which followed immediately after the luncheon.
From an upper balcony of the house floated the Stars and Stripes, the governor's flag, so called by the family because it has waved over the heads of six governors who have been entertained beneath its folds.
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
The following were the guests at the luncheon: Governor and Mrs. Ashton C. Shallenberger, Hon. John L. Webster, Hon. S. C. Bassett, Mayor and Mrs. John W. Patterson, Judge and Mrs. W. D. Oldham, Mrs. Oreal S. Ward, state regent D. A. R., Mrs. Andrew K. Gault, vice president general N. S. D. A. R., Mrs. Charles Oliver Norton, regent Fort Kearney Chapter, D. A. R., Mr. and Mrs. E. W. Tabor and Misses Isabel and Agnes Tabor.
Following the dinner the party returned to the city in automobiles and were met at the Hub Hall by the Norris Brown Guards, Company A, N. N. G, with Capt. H. N. Jones commanding, the Kearney Concert Band playing "Hail to the Chief."
The procession was immediately formed by Maj. Walter C. Sammons, marshal of the day, and proceeded west on Twenty-second Street, south on Central Avenue, thence west on Twentieth Street to the Union Pacific Park.
A grand stand had been erected in the park just west of the monument and was occupied by the governor's party, Hon. John L. Webster and the other speakers of the day, Mrs. Ward, Mrs. Gault, and the officers and members of Fort Kearney Chapter D. A. R. South of the monument Company A and the Kearney Concert Band was placed, also a large delegation of soldiers of the Civil war.
Invocation by Rev. R. P. Hammons, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, opened the exercises, followed by the Lord's prayer in which the audience joined.
In the pause that followed the draperies about the monument were lifted by invisible wires and the monument stood revealed to the thoughtful crowd. As the flag hung suspended in the air, drooping in graceful folds of red, white and blue, Mrs. Oreal S. Ward, Nebraska State Regent D. A. R., stepped forward and while men stood with uncovered heads in silent reverence of the emblem of national unity and honor in these words she paid tribute to the flag:
"I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the republic for which it stands; one nation -- indivisible -- with liberty and justice for all."
Mrs. Charles Oliver Norton then, with a brief, fitting explanation of the value of such a monument, not so much to us but to generations to come, presented the monument to the City of Kearney. Mayor John W. Patterson responded to the presentation speech, congratulating the Fort Kearney Chapter of the D. A. R. on their successful efforts to commemorate the Old Oregon Trail and accepting in the name of the city this token of patriotic zeal toward the perpetuation of memories of earlier days.
A summary of Mrs. Norton's speech follows:
"Monuments are enduring links, which bind one generation to another. We of today do not need monuments to remind us of the romance and tragedy of the history of the Old Oregon Trail, for there are still among us, men who have traveled the dreary stretches of this road, who can tell us the story of their privations and sufferings, of their escapes from their savage foe, of the famine and thirst which they endured and of how after many years, they have seen the full fruition of their hopes, and the realization of their wonderful dream, of the building of an empire in the great West which stretches out from the Missouri to the Columbia.
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
"But our children, our children's children will need these monuments, 'Lest they forget.'
"The Daughters of Fort Kearney Chapter, D. A. R. are very proud of erecting the first stone in Nebraska to mark the Old. Oregon Trail, and they are grateful to those who assisted in making this monument a reality and we feel that in placing it under the care and protection of the City of Kearney, that its permanency is assured for untold generations.
"More than sixty years ago the Old Oregon Trail ran close to where we now stand, but the hammer's stroke that drove the golden spike that on that memorable day in 1869 united the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific railways just west of Ogden, proved the death knell of the old road, and drove the freighters and stage drivers from their peculiar avocation and made it a memory only.
"Now, Mayor Patterson, we ask you to accept this trust for the City of Kearney from the Fort Kearney Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution."
Following the unveiling services the procession formed again and marched to the opera house, where the speakers on this occasion were heard by the audience which filled the house, the aisles and the halls.
PROGRAM AT OPERA HOUSE
Dr. A. O. Thomas, president of the State Normal School, was chairman of the program at the opera house. He read the following telegram from Adj.-Gen. John C.Hartigan:
"Regret my inability to be present Thursday. Congratulations on beginning of a great work."
A letter from Mrs. Nettie Collins Gates, president of the Nebraska State Society, National Society Daughters of 1812 was read. The letter, which was addressed to Mrs. Charles Oliver Norton, follows:
"Civic pride and loyal patriotic sentiment are inherent in our American women. To them belong much of the honor of perpetuating historic spots and creating reverence for the same.
"Kindly convey to your Kearney Chapter, D. A. R., my heartiest congratulations at the unveiling of the first stone to mark the Old Oregon Trail in Nebraska."
In introducing the speakers and before the program began Doctor Thomas expressed his appreciation of the Daughters of the American Revolution as an order to promote and perpetuate interest in historic things.
An instrumental duet opened the program. Misses Norma Gordon and Susie Scott were at the piano. They played "The Poet and Peasant," by Suppe, and were applauded heartily by the audience.
A short introduction was accorded Dr. Wm. A. Clark, of the Normal School and he began the speech-making of the afternoon. In part Professor Clark said:
"The life of a nation is organic. It is developed along certain lines by specific organs. The functions of its life, however, are subdivided. There is the jdicial,
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
legislative and executive. But there are certain adventitious orders not included in the general classification. These orders lend life to the nation, either by anticipating the future or preserving the past or present by means of education. The Daughters of the American Revolution performs all these functions. I am proud of what has been done in Kearney; of what the Fort Kearney Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution have done.
"It is said that Americans are losing their hero-worship. I believe as Carlyle did that hero-worship is essential and that the nation that does not have it is degraded.
"We appreciate the efforts of the pioneers and of this organization in perpetuating the memory of those efforts, which has been so effectually done through the leadership of Mrs. Norton."
Following Doctor Clark's address Mrs. Joseph Steadman sang a solo, "Birds in Dreamland Sleep," by White, with Miss Anna Caldwell, pianist, Harry Black violinist, Professor Porter clarinet, and Lewis Pierce, cornet, accompanying.
Followed a brief address by Mrs. Oreal S. Ward, of Lincoln, Nebraska State Regent, D. A. R. At the outset Mrs. Ward stated that our ancestors for the first 100 years were too busy making history, in conquering savage foes and subduing wildernesses to appreciate the importance of their own work which we are now perpetuating. Then followed a statement of the objects of the Daughters of the American Revolution, a great patriotic society, the work of which is so little understood, and closing with a tribute to the pioneers and congratulations to the Kearney Chapter of the D. A. R.
Mrs. Andrew Gault, of Omaha, vice president general of the National Society, D. A. R., was next introduced. Mrs. Gault denied that the society was organized for pink teas and to show good clothes. The society is organized for patriotic purposes and for marking historic spots, and will go forward in the fulfilment of that purpose. Relevantly, it was announced that the ladies of the Omaha chapter would within a few weeks dedicate the second monument to the Old Oregon Trail in Nebraska.
Miss Elise Green sang very charmingly, "Awake, 'Tis Dawn," by Hamley; accompaniment by Miss Leota Mollring.
S. C. Bassett, secretary of the Buffalo County Historical Society, spoke briefly of what the monument meant to him--a mark of the trail and a marker for the thousands of graves of those who died in the wilderness. Incidents of the trail were related by Mr. Bassett.
Hon. John L. Webster, of Omaha, president of the Nebraska State Historical Society, was introduced amid great enthusiasm. Reverting to the central theme, General Webster said the exact location of the trail and the unveiling of the monument was of little significance compared with the fact itself. Another important thing in connection with the event is the fact that it is part of our written history. We are making history and others are writing it. Blot from your memory what happened yesterday and you will have no conception of what will happen tomorrow. The spirit of patriotism is preserved in history. This monument is a marking of history, of the manhood of the pioneers who opened the trail to the Oregon country, to the great Northwest.
The memories of those we talk about today who were our pilgrims and our
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
cavaliers, will 100 years hence have equal place with the Pilgrims of New England and the Cavaliers of Virginia. Followed a history of the first journeyings through this wilderness, then a desert, describing the transformation through succeeding geological changes. Followed again the emigrant caravans on the marking of the trail. Then the building of the Overland Iron Trail and the development of this wonderful country, and the importance of the West in its relation to the East.
Miss Agnes Mowry Tabor sang "I Hid My Love," by Dhardlot, very beautifully, with accompaniment by Miss Isabel A. Tabor.
The closing address by Governor A. C. Shallenberger complained that he had been left with practically "nothing to say," but might be able to pick up a few fragments. As to the monument--"As all roads lead to Rome, so all trails lead to Kearney"--whence the appropriateness of setting up this first stone to mark the great trail at Kearney, and how wonderful the great overland railway should follow that trail. The erection of this monument marks an epoch and signifies patriotic pride and love of home, and the governor added his congratulations to all who have participated in such a historic event.
The program in the opera house closed with the singing of "America," by the audience, led by Mrs. Steadman, and dismissal by Rev. C. B. Stephens.
So were the exercises concluded but the monument itself will stand by the road where thousands and thousands will read its message and feel the greatness of the West as they have never felt it before. It will translate its mute message sage to generations who will never have known the real West as it was when the great Oregon Trail was blazed; it will give to future generations the power to appreciate what the pioneers did, the manner in which they did it, and the innate worth of the pioneers themselves.
THE SOLDIERS' MONUMENT AT KEARNEY
(Note -- The editor is greatly indebted to State Superintendent A. O. Thomas and Comrade F. J. Switz of Kearney for the history of the erection of this monument and of the unveiling ceremonies.)
In the year 1906, on the 12th day of February (Lincoln's birthday), Mrs. A. H. Boltin, president of Sedgwick Woman's Relief Corps No. 1 of Kearney called a joint meeting of all patriotic and soldiers' organizations'in the city with a view of securing the erection, by the city, of a soldiers' monument. Past Post Commander Capt. Joseph Black served as chairman of the meeting. Pres. A. O. Thomas of the State Normal School delivered an inspiring address appropriate to such an occasion.
On motion of Comrade F. J. Switz a monument committee was appointed, representing the two G. A. R. posts of the city and the citizens, with authority to request the city to erect a suitable soldiers' monument.
The members of the committee thus appointed were A. O. Thomas, chairman, and representing the citizens of Kearney, and Comrades F. J. Switz. Edwin Thomas, J. A. Larimer and James Larimer as representing Sedgwick Post No. 1 and Smith Gavitt Post No. 200, Grand Army of the Republic.
When the matter was brought before the city council it was learned that the
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city had no authority of law to expend public funds for such a purpose and it became necessary to secure the enactment of a statute providing that cities might legally expend money for such a purpose. A bill to this end was drawn by City Attorney H. M. Sinclair, introduced in the Legislature by Hon. George W. Barrett of Buffalo County, and became a law.
An ordinance providing for the erection of a soldiers' monument at the expense of the City of Kearney was passed June 7, 1909; the members of the city council being C. W. Hoxie, W. H. Knaggs, Charles Smithy, C. A. Barts, W. S. Freeman, C. W. Kibler, Robert Haines (a veteran soldier of the Civil war) and M. E. Chidester. John W. Patterson, mayor. After advertising for bids the contract for the monument was awarded to Troup & Cruit, of Kearney, at $4,300.
UNVEILING CEREMONIES OCTOBER 25, 1910
To arrange for the unveiling ceremonies E. B. Finch and C. H. Gregg were iiled to the monument committee.
In carrying out the general arrangements the following committees were appointed: Bands--Geo, N. Porter, Harry Black; Committee on Finance--James Boyd, Dan Morris, C. W. Norton and Robert Garrison; Seating and Platform-- W. F. Crossley, W. S. Freeman, E. Schuler and Frank Major; Flags and Decorations--E. B. Finch, W. O. King and L. L. Wernert; Parade-John Wilson, Gilbert Haase and Maj. Walter Sammons; Arrangement of Monument for Unveiling--C. A. Bessie and E. E. Piper; Publicity--This committee consisted of the same members as the Publicity Committee of the Kearney Commercial Club; Ushers--Dean W. A. Clark, Prof. H. N. Russell, Supt. H. E. Bradford, Supt. C. B. Manual, Ben Olson and Arthur Scoutt. The lumber for the seats, speakers' and band stands was furnished gratis by Mr. W. L. Stickle.
The lateness of the season produced considerable anxiety on the part of the committee in trying to select a good day in advance. October 27th, Roosevelt's birthday anniversary, was first selected, but it was suggested by Mr. F. J. Switz of the general committee that a storm was billed for that date. Mr. Switz was therefore made chairman of the Weather Committee and the date changed to October 25th. It was a delightful day. Delegations came from Holdrege, Funk, Axtell, Minden, Kenesaw, Grand Island, Wood River, Shelton, Gibbon, Elm Creek, Lexington, Overton, and the towns along the K. & B. H, Railroad. Long before the appointed hour for the ceremony had arrived the multitude had gathered and it became evident that the 3,000 seats provided for the occasion would be entirely inadequate. But Central Avene [sic] and wide Twenty-fifth Street provided standing room for the throng of 12,000 visitors.
The drapery which had veiled the monument since its erection was loosened. The statue of a volunteer soldier of the Civil war surmounting the shaft was draped with the Stars and Stripes. The speakers' stand was decorated with flags and bunting. Everything was in readiness for the unveiling ceremony. About the city hall were gathered the various organizations that were to take part in the parade. The Second Regiment Band heading the procession was located on Avenue A and Railroad Street. Immediately back of them came more than one
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
thousand students of the city schools. These were followed by 400 representatives of the State Normal. Next came the Kearney Military Academy cadets with arms, while Company A of the Nebraska National Guard under Capt. H. N. Jones formed the special escort of the guests of honor, the members of the Grand Army of the Republic, the Woman's Relief Corps, and the various ladies' auxilliaries, together with the Spanish-American war veterans. As the band with a military march all organizations fell in line. It was a grand spectacle. The procession filled Central Avenue from the railroad to the monument. As advance guard reached the monument the ranks opened and the old soldiers and other guests of honor marched through. Along the line the crowds took up the cheering, banners and flags were waving everywhere.
The program began promptly at 2 o'clock. The presiding officer was Chairman A. O. Thomas. Seated upon the platform was the acting mayor and members of the city council; the Monument Committee; Past Department Commanders Eli A. Barnes, J. H. Maxon and C. E. Adams; officials representing Woman's Relief Corps, Daughters of the American Revolution, Ladies of the G. A. R.; clergymen of the city; a few representative business and professional men of the city together with those having a place on the program.
The Second Regiment Band, N. N. G., under the leadership of George N. Porter, took up "America" and the multitude, standing with uncovered heads joined in the song, after which Rev. Erastus Smith, a pioneer Methodist minister, a veteran soldier of the Civil war, delivered a prayer full of thankfulness for the blessings of a free and united country.
After the band had played the "Star Spangled Banner," Comrades Robert Haines and Joseph Black drew aside the veil, lifted the flag and the monument stood out in all its beauty. Constructed of the finest Barre granite, it stands thirty-three feet high. On the south of the die is the inscription "Erected in honor of the defenders of our country, 1861-1865 and 1898-1900. On the die to the north is the legend: "Erected by the City of Kearney, 1910." On the east and the west are the emblems of the Woman's Relief Corps and Ladies of the G. A. R. On the shaft to the south is the badge of the Grand Army of the Republic, while on the north is a crown of olives denoting victory. Surmounting the shaft is the volunteer soldier of the Civil war, with arms at rest, proclaiming peace. It is safe to say that this monument is not surpassed in beauty by any in the country. It is of artistic design and well wrought.
Following the unveiling, Acting Mayor Chas. W. Hoxie presented the monument to the old soldiers for dedication. The receiving ceremony was conducted by the Rev. Henry Wood, commander of Sedgwick Post No. 1, and Chaplain S. W. Thornton, of Smith Gavitt Post No. 200. In a brief address, Comrade F. J. Switz thanked the city officials and the citizens in general for this fitting memorial, and expressed the appreciation of the old soldiers for the honor thus conferred. The salute to the flag was led by Fort Kearney Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, Mrs. Charles O. Norton, regent, after which the band played an overture consisting of fragments of patriotic airs.
The orators for the occasion were United States Senator Norris Brown and Past Department Commander C. E. Adams.
Letters of congratulation were read from Major Arnold, Chancellor Samuel
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
Avery, Prof. Joseph Sparks, Past Department Commander John E. Evans, President John Lee Webster of the State Historical Society, and ex-President Theodore Roosevelt, who sent "the best wishes in the world."
The monument stands at the intersection of Central Avenue and Lincoln Highway, located at this point by the city authorities in response to a petition to this effect signed by ninety-three soldiers of the Civil war.
STATE INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL AT KEARNEY
At the fifteenth session of the State Legislature (1879) an act was passed providing for the establishment of a state reform school in conformity with the provisions of section 12, article 8, of the constitution of the state. Ten thousand dollars was the amount appropriated for the establishment and maintenance of the school. Citizens of Kearney offered 320 acres of land as a site for the school, which was accepted, Senator John D. Seaman and Representative James H. Davis, members of the State Legislature, and Nathan Campbell and F. G. Keens, on behalf of the citizens of Kearney, being active in securing the location of the school at Kearney.
Both boys and girls were admitted to the school until the year 1890, when the Industrial School for Girls was established at Geneva and about this date the name of the school was changed from Reform School to Industrial School.
The school was ready for occupancy in July, 1881. The first superintendent, Dr. G. W. Collins, of Pawnee City, was appointed April 29, 1881. He was succeeded by S. C. Mullin, who served from January 1, 1884, until May 7, 1885, and was succeeded by John T. Mallalieu.
On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the school it was stated: "During the past ten years, 590 boys and 180 girls have been placed under the control of the school. Of this number 384 boys and 120 girls have passed out into active life. Good homes have been provided for many of them; others have gone out and secured homes for themselves."
The superintendents of the school in the order of service have been: J. T. Mallalieu, C. W. Hoxie, J. N. Campbell, J. T. Mallalieu, J. V. Beghtol, B. D. Hayward, E. B. Sherman, C. B. Manuel, R. V. Clark.
STATE NORMAL SCHOOL AT KEARNEY
The State Normal School at Kearney was located by act of the Legislature in the year 1903 and opened to students in the year 1905, in charge of Dr. A. O. Thomas as president.
From a silver anniversary edition of the Kearney Daily Hub, October 29, 1913, is taken a brief summary of the establishment of the school, a financial statement and reports as to enrollment and graduation of students.
23½ acres of land, valued at ..........................
Green Terrace Hall for dormitory, valued at.............
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Perpetual water right from Kearney Canal, valued at 10,000 Water and sewer connections brought to buildings, which if
necessary to be built would cost......................
20,000 Cash donated by City of Kearney...................... 5,000 Total ........................................ $95,000
LEGISLATIVE APPROPRIATIONS FOR BUILDINGS
Session of 1913, for buildings ........... $ 50,000 Session of 1905, for heating plant ............ 15,000 Session of 1909, for north wing ......... 50,000 Session of 1911, for south wing ........... 55,000 Total for buildings and heating plant. ........... $170,000
THE NORMAL SCHOOL'S RECORD TO 1913
The total appropriations by the Legislature for the support of the school have averaged each year, $50,504.50. This includes all funds for water, fuel, lights, furniture, equipment, office supplies, printing, salaries, wages, etc.
No institution of the country has made a more enviable record. Members of the Legislature who have visited the school have repeatedly made statements that nowhere have greater results been achieved with funds appropriated. They have repeatedly complimented the management upon the conditions found and upon the conservation of funds set apart for its support.
The matriculation, which counts each student enrolled in the institution in the eight years but once, amounts to 4,695 Graduated from higher courses .......................................... 522 Life certificates issued .......................................... 301 Elementary certificates issued .......................................... 467 Diplomas from department of commerce.................................. 20 Total enrollment, not including model schools and counting each student but once, during the year closing May, 1913 ..... 1,303 Average annual enrollment, about ....................... 1,100
ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF KEARNEY MILITARY ACADEMY
(From an address by Bishop Anson Graves, December 18, 1906)
On my second visit to Broken Bow, in the year 1890, I had gone to my room for a little rest on Sunday afternoon. Soon after, my hostess called me, saying that a caller had come to see me. Supposing that some prominent churchman had come to pay his respects to the new bishop, I went down to the parlor. I found there a lad about twelve years of age. I was pleased that a boy should be so thoughtful as to call on his bishop. After a little talk together, he looked earnestly at me and said, "When can the church take me?" I supposed that he was think
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
ing of confirmation, so I asked him if he knew his catechism and what preparation he had had. He replied, "Oh, I don't mean that, when can the church take me and educate me for the ministry ?" That question was a poser to me. I could not make any promises, but it set me to thinking very seriously. I knew that there must be many boys like. him on the farms and lonely ranches of Nebraska.
Some time after this a committee of the United Brethren Church came to Kearney with the intention of starting a school there. They canvassed the town to see what could be raised for the purpose. They got the promise of twenty-five acres of land in the eastern part of town and a promise to put up one large building costing $7,100. The committee then went to York, Neb., and succeeded in getting a better offer there, so they declined the offer at Kearney. Some of the citizens then came to me and asked me to take up with the offer made to the United Brethren. I did not see how I could do so then, but promised that on my trip East I would see if I could get sufficient help to enable me to found a school.
On my first trip East to raise money for our, missionary work in October of 1890, I was invited to address a branch of the woman's auxiliary of a church in Yonkers, N. Y. There were about thirty ladies present. I told them of our missionary work and then I told them of the little boy at Broken Bow and the offer made me by the people of Kearney. I said I needed $3,000 to build a dormitory and with that help I thought I could found a church school. After the meeting had adjourned, a lady whom I had never seen came to me and said, "I will give you the $3,000. I almost broke down with emotion. Something for which I had pleaded before several wealthy congregations was now put into my hands without much effort. This lady was Mrs. Eva Cochran, who became a mother to the school and gave to its upbuilding at one time or another about thirty-five thousand dollars.
On my return to Kearney I told the people that I was ready to go ahead with the school and directed them to go on and put up the large central building. At the same time the contract was let for the dormitory of forty rooms. It was slow work getting the buildings finished and furnished, so we were not able to open the school until the September of 1892. At first we had both boys and girls in the school and it ran in this way for about seven years. Gradually the boys increased in number and the girls became fewer and fewer until the girls were reluctant to come at all among so many boys. About this time, 1898, the Spanish war broke out, and taking advantage of the military spirit which pervaded the country, we changed the school from a co-educational institution to a boys' military academy. At this time the name was changed from Platte Collegiate institute to the Kearney Military Academy.
The year we opened the school there was a good attendance of boys and girls, mostly from the country. Soon after came years of drought and famine, so the country people had no money for schooling and the children had to work the year round to fend off starvation. It was a hard time for the school, but sympathetic friends in the East helped us to keep it going.
Prof. C. A. Murch took charge of the school for the first three years and then Mr. H. N. Russell for the next three years. Both gave up discouraged on account of the hard times. Then the Rev. E. P. Chittenden took the school, having like
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
the others, the whole plant free on condition that the tuition should be kept so low as to reach the needs of our plainer people. The first year Mr. Chittenden did very well, but in the midst of the second year, on account of neglect and complications, the school nearly broke up entirely. I then induced Mr. Russel to become headmaster and I took the general management of the school myself. I might then have given up the school in despair if just at that time an endowment of $36,000 had not come to the school from the estate of Mr. Felix Brunot. This sum I carefully set aside, determined to use only the interest on it to keep the school going and to help the poorer boys with scholarships. I had managed the school for several years and put it fairly on its feet, Mr. Russell was again willing to take the school plant, rent free, and assume the financial responsibilities. This greatly crowded our buildings, and there became great need of a large, permanent, fireproof building.
At this juncture Mr. F. G. Keens, of Kearney, came to me and offered to raise $25,000 of it himself in the East for a fine new building. I laid the proposition before the "mother of the school," Mrs. Eva S. Cochran, and after careful investigation she promised the other $25,000. The building was to be of reinforced concrete, the walls filled in with pressed brick and hollow tile and the whole entirely fireproof.
I would here add that in due time the building was completed and occupied. Mr. Russell remained in charge as long as I was bishop there and deserves great credit for the upbuilding of the school. The school became in every way ablessed success and a helpful adjunct to the church's work in the Distict of Kearney and the neighboring diocese. I-would also add that the little boy Broken Bow was a free pupil in the school for several years, although he did not finally study for the ministry. Some other pupils of the school, however, are now in the ministry and others became teachers there and elsewhere.