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Merrick County
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The Nonpareil - July 7, 1898


History of Merrick County

• From "the beginning" until the year 1895.


   A departure from the regular line of our history is taken this week, for the double purpose of relieving the monotony of the usual order and of allowing for the return of some "copy" which the editor sent out for correction by outside parties. This week's installment consists of extracts from the early issues of the county papers, and will, we believe, prove interesting to all, but especially to those who were here at the time and acquainted with the people who were the subjects of the articles which we reprint.

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     Our first extract is from the Lone Tree Sentinel of October 15, 1873, giving the program and cast of characters of the first home talent play of which we have any record. As will be seen, the court house took the place of an opera house -- a position which it filled very acceptably for several years. The twenty-five years since the program was published have made the most of the names contained in it unfamiliar to the majority of us today, although they are still well known to the Lone Treeite of'73. As nearly as possible we have reproduced the style of the program just as it appeared in the Sentinel:

Variety Entertainment

23rd, 1873!

Proceeds to go toward purchasing
an organ for the Mission S. S.
A Pleasant Time Anticipated.

     1. Greeting -- "We come with song to greet you;" full chorus.
     2. Solo -- "The Cuckoo;" by WILLIE BARTLETT.
     3. Tableaux.
     4. Solo -- "Beggar Girl;" by MRS. L. L. DOOLITTLE.
     5. Solo -- (vocal) "Walking down Broadway;" by ALLIE BARTLETT.
     6. Solo -- (instrumental) by MR. R. KOMBRINK.
     7. Solo and Chorus -- "Mollie Darling;" by MRS. BARTLETT and others.
     8. Solo and Chorus -- "Little Maud;" by MRS. WHITTAKER and others.
     9. Duet (vocal) "Look me in the eye, John;" by MRS. DOOLITTLE and J. B. WHITTAKER.
     10. Duet -- (instrumental); by MRS. WHITTAKER and R. KOMBRINK.
     11. Solo -- (vocal) "Bell goes ringing for Sarah;" by MRS. DOOLITTLE.

The whole to conclude with the Roaring Farce


With the following cast of characters:

Handy Andy
Squire Egan
Squire O'Grady
Mr. Murphy
Dick Dawson
Mr. Furlong
Edward O'Conner

A.M. Fleming
J. B. Whittaker
C. E. Meade
M. O. Skeeter
G. A. Percival
L. Waters
H. Waters
A. Sardine



Oonah Roody
Mad Nancy
Fanny Dawson

Miss Nameless
Mrs. L. L. Doolittle
Mrs. J. B. Whittaker

ADMISSION: -- 25 cents.

Doors open at 7 o'clock.

Performance to commence at 8 P. M.

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     From the Courier of May 3rd, 1877 we get the following interesting illustration of the trials through which our early postmasters were called to pass:

     A letter, with the following poetical address, reached our postoffice one day last week:

Oh carry me along at a rapid rate,
   To Central City, Merrick County, Nebraska state,
And there let me in the postoffice lay,
  Until Absolom Fonts takes me away.


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From the Courier of the same date we extract a prophecy concerning the coming residence and business portions of our city. How

near the truth this early prophet came may be easily figured out today. "Second street" is just south of Stitzer Avenue. "First street" having practically disappeared when the town was "turned around:"

One of our leading citizens says, in the near future the second street from the railroad tracks to the south, from the Vieregg residence, past the old postoffice and D. Martin's home, will be the principal business street and main thoroughfare of Central City. It is convenient to the depots, and yet far enough away to prevent horses being frightened by the cars. We agree, and hope that the day is not far distant when our "Second street" will be lined with business blocks, sidewalks, street lamps, offices, etc., and daily thronged with people and teams -- a rendezvous of trade. He also inclines to believe that the second street north of the railroad, upon which is situated the Baptist and Catholic church buildings and Academy (high school), will be "the" residence street. But we believe the city homes will take south, towards the river valley, thus keeping from crossing the tracks to and from business, and having the railroads on the "outskirts" rather than through the heart of the city. However, time alone will tell.

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The "characters of the following "Kerosine Komedy," which is taken from the Courier of April 28, 1881, are recent enough in the history of our city to be familiar to most of our readers. As nearly as we can find out, the main details of the "Komedy" are true, although, of course, the Shakespearean "style" may be attributed to Mr. Sam D. Cox, who was doing the local work for the Courier at that time.

Kerosene Komedy.

Dramatis Personae. -- Doc. Barton, Gene McDonald, Dan Hopkins, Frank Persinger.

Properties. -- A sidewalk, jug, big beet, etc.


Scene I -- [Enter Gene and Hopkins.]

Hopkins. -- In truth it is a monster beet and good. Wilt bite it, Gene?

Gene. -- What! Bite a beet? A raw and blood-red beet? Thou raw dead beet! An 'twere not that thou'rt sheriff --

H. -- Go to. An wilt thou not eat the beet, I'll beat thee till thou'rt wilted. [Throws him upon his back and attempts to make him eat the beet. Gene yells.]

[Enter Dr. and takes up jug.] How now, a jug? Stop thy noise or by the hump-backed moon I'll fill thy noisy wind-pipe with what's I' the jug. What is't? Rum, cognac, sack, bock-beer or vinegar?

Persinger. -- "Tis vinegar, else I'm a horse, a blown-out blizzard or a monstrous vacuum, I swear by the eternal spotted orb of day 'tis vinegar.

Dr. -- Well, then, I'll fill that gaping cavern. [Pours Gene's mouth full.}

Gene. -- Waghgh! Ugh! Gewhiz! Oh thunder, catch the fiend. It is not vinegar, but kerosene!

[Exit Dr. with great celerity around the corner, coat-tails horizontal.]

Persinger. -- Ha! Ha! A Wick! Swallow a wick, good Gene, And you are fixed, being filled with kerosene.

Gene (Solus). -- ---------- ! ---------- ! ---------- !


We close with a poem taken from the Courier of July 21, 1881, Fred Shaffer, now the "Swedish Philosopher" of the Denver Post, but then a boy of ten or twelve, was the author. Wonder if Fred would endorse both the poetry and its sentiment today?

The Three Stages of Life.

[The following literary curiosity was handed us by Master Fred Shaffer, a lad of about twelve years of age and quite a philosopher in his way -- ED.]

When life is blooming sweetly,
And youth is in its prime,
In our time for improvement,
And to make good use of time.

Our days are passing swiftly,
Our youth will soon decline,
Then comes the age of manhood
Beyond our youthful time.

Then comes the care of manhood,
With its pleasure and its pain,
And it's like the ends of many
To toil and toil in vain.

Then comes old age with feeble steps,
Our life there is none can save.
It is but a step then to look back
From the cradle to the grave.



© 2000, 2001 by Ted & Carole Miller