Few towns in Nebraska have carried three names during their existence but such is the record of Giltner. Platted as Huntington, it later was named Broomfield and then Giltner, all in its pioneer days. In 1882, John T. Smith first received a government land deed for this area.. In 1884 he sold it to R.E. Hammond by Warranty Deed for $2,000. Three years later it was bought by Lincoln Land Company, whose business was developing towns in the prairie country. On May 25, 1886. Huntington was surveyed and platted, named by a Burlington railroad employee for his home town of Huntington, Pennsylvania. It kept that name only until the post office was moved from Lerton and the town was renamed Broomfield. They struck a snag here for there was a Bloomfield in Knox County and other similar names which played havoc with the mail. So the name was changed to Giltner in 1895 to honor Father Giltner, a revered Presbyterian minister.
The Burlington and Missouri River railroad were in the process of laying a branch line from Aurora to Hastings in 1886, which intersected this platted new town, and this provided the impetus for rapid growth. New settlers had been swarming into the county for 15 years so the area was ripe for a town. The Carrikers of Illinois established the first hotel, the Huntington, and there were great festivities when the first train went through town. They came by every conveyance to observe, and the hotel provided accommodations. The first store was operated by the G.F. Pruitts who came from Hillsboro, Illinois, in 1886. They also had Red Onion Cafe. The first building was built by Joe Brown, and nine other business buildings and four homes went up in rapid succession, the lumber being hauled from Grand Island. J.W. Peters was one of the early homesteaders moved into town in 1887, and ran a livery stable, as did Geroge Jacket, who came in 1871. A.H. Brown who came in 1884, was another in this popular business of horses and rigs for hire. Ruff Wilson had a pool hall, Jake Thomas had the first harness shop and Nobe Fry, a blacksmith shop. Both the Washburns and Hegenbarts had hardware stores. In 1890, there were two hotels, the Bromfield House run by William Chisholm and the Commercial Hotel, owned by John T. Smith. An early jewelry store was owned by William Cain who later moved to Aurora.
There were two elevators, Implement stores, a lumber company, and he Farmers Alliance Association handled grain, coal, flour and livestock. Mrs. W.W. Trobee, a milliner, worked in connection with her husband's general store. Miss Eva Trobee was a music teacher. Mrs. S.E. Myers operated a drug store. Giltner had two early practicing physicians, Dr. C.E. Brown who had the first home in Giltner and Dr. T.J. Case, both listed as Alleopathic physicians and surgeons. Two or three doctors came and went up until 1962. There were carpenters and builders, and John Chaney was a "milk gatherer".
According to records, the "Era" was the first newspaper published in Bromfield, though an early directory lists the Bromfield ?Bulletin as an independent newspaper. In 1901 the Giltner Gazette began publication, and was published until 1962. It was then published quarterly. The Farmers Elevator Company was established in 1915, and Harmon Grain in 1950. Businesses of this type have expanded greatly and today Giltner has the Farmers Co-op Elevator Company which also operates an oil station, and Giltner Grain and Supply. Bill Robertshaw and Dale Creech had insurance agencies.
The Giltner Opera House was restored in 1966, into a splendid community gathering place with kitchen conveniences, auditorium and village offices. The women of Giltner have added much to the town's progress through the years, as the Giltner Woman's Club, organized originally a the Giltner Music Club in 1926. In 1933 they opened the Giltner library in rooms donated by the Masonic Lodge. The women were responsible for getting music into the school and for the town park.
The first bank was built by the national Lumber Company and sold to William Glover and W.H. Wheeler in 1888,later sold to the Bank of Bromfield. In 1917, reorganized as a corporation it became the Giltner State Bank, and on September 15, 1932, the bank was declared insolvent and went into receivership. It paid $.53 on the dollar to its depositors. The Citizens State Bank was organized in 1906, and became a corporation in 1919 . When it closed its doors in August, 1927, the State Banking Commission took over the receivership and paid only $.13 on the dollar. Giltner has been without a bank since 1932.
Early Day Recollections
It was the rule of the early settlers to limit the contents of their covered wagons to real necessities, but Mrs. George Jackett, when their wagons left Illinois in1872, had stashed slips of white, lavender and purple lilac bushes in a dark corner. Many wagons had rose bushes, packets of seeds or a little toilet article such as a mirror packed carefully. Giltner had scores of business fires in the early years. When Mr. Jacketts's livery barn burned eight horses burned with it. Prairie fires were so dangerous because flax made such intense heat. It was said by a pioneer who fought fires that a big fire south of Giltner in 1878, traveled at the rate of eight miles an hour.
Early blizzards were another great threat to settlers and their stock. The Easter blizzard of 1873 was another remembered by the settlers.
A group of people of the Catholic Faith met October 10, 1901, organizing a Catholic parish in Giltner. The first couple married in the parish was Lena McMahon and James McNeff in 1902. Their daughter, Florence was the first baby baptized in the church. It is known as a mission church, served by the pastor from Aurora. The Christian Church was the outgrowth of two rural churches. Prior to 1898, Christian preachers had held services in halls or the schoolhouse in Giltner. They later combined with the Seaton body at a meeting held in Deering School.. In 1898, the Seaton church was moved into Giltner and placed on the present site of the Christian Church, dedicated in May 1898. It had taken 36 teams of horses to move the building. The date of the founding of the Methodist Church is not on record but it was fully organized by 1888, when lots were purchased from the Lincoln Land Company. Then the Village was named Huntington but by the tie work began on the building it had become Broomfield. The oldest record is a scrap of paper which told of the Busy Bees presenting the infant church with an organ for use in the schoolhouse. This body of women are now the Womans's Society of Christian Service. On November 29, 1889, a contract was signed to build a church, with work beginning early in 1890 and by 1891, Bloomfield became a separate charge. Revival meetings throughout the years vastly improved its membership. Ground breaking for a new building took place on June 21, 1959 and the cornerstone was laid October 4, and on September 11, 1960, the Consecration service was observed in the new building. The mortgage of $25,000 was placed on the new edifice January 1, 1960, for a 10 to 20 years period, but was paid off in full in three years.
"Centennial History of Hamilton County 1867-1967"
by Bertha G. Bremer