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   Annabelle Lee was the first white child born in Wahoo on May 29, 1872. Her parents were James M. and Sarah Lee. Mr. Lee is credited with being the founder of Wahoo. He built the first house in the village and opened the first store. James Lee was the first postmaster, keeping his office in his merchandise store. Lee served as postmaster until Dec. 8, 1870. Annabelle married Harry C. Hart of Utica, New York, in 1893. She died, and was buried in Clarinda, Iowa.

   Wahoo once had horses and buggies lining 5th Street. One could find the Barton and Robinson Livery Stable on 5th and Elm.

Wahoo - Early Days
Wahoo - Early Days

   William Jennings Bryan opened his first presidential campaign in Wahoo. Fifth Street was crowded with people. This took place at the Bryan Parade, Nov. 1, 1897.

William Jennings parade
William Jennings parade

   As years passed, board walks were replaced by concrete walks and brick streets. Brick streets were covered with black top in the 1970's. A brick street still remains uncovered - Broadway Street.

   Much modernization and industrial changes have occurred over the past 113 years. Cable television, new street lighting, new housing additions, the Industrial Park, along with computer courses and seminars being offered to our residents, show much progress. Car-pooling or commuting out-of-town is part of Wahoo life. Many residents work in Omaha, Lincoln, or Fremont, as well as in some of the small towns surrounding the city of Wahoo.

   The residential areas are a combination of rolling and level areas. Much beauty is seen throughout this city with its parks and many trees. Wahoo's unofficial population is 3,555. The residents of this community are of many nationalities. They exemplify the qualities of hard work, thrift, and enterprise of their forefathers. Changes and modifications will continue throughout the city in its daily growth.

   There has been a great dispute over the origin of the name of the town. Several origins were given. Some people have said Wahoo was named for the Sioux Indian Chief named Wahoo. Another legend was that Sioux Indians were guarding their meat while it was drying and were pestered by coyotes and these coyotes howled "Wahoo." Another explanation was that Simpkins arrived in town one morning, and found no one at the local blacksmith shop. He painted the word "Wauhoo" above the door. The best explanation is that it was derived from the Indian name "Euonymus," or "Wahoo," sometimes called "burning bush" which grew along the creek banks west and south of Wahoo. This once grew in abundance and that the creek in question was the Wahoo Creek. This shrub was prescribed by the Indian medicine men for various ills. Another explanation is that the name Wahoo is corrupted from the name Pahoo, meaning "few bluffs." Since Wahoo was the Indians' main camping ground and the site for burial grounds, much thought is given to the shrubs used by these Indians.


1865 -- First settlement by Moses Stocking.
1869 -- First house and store in the village by J.M. Lee.
     Post office established and run by James M. Lee.
     First Hotel by John Stevens, called Wahoo House.
     First blacksmith was John Bracken.
1870 -- Company composed of J.M. and J.R. Lee,
     William B. Lee, H. Dorsey, E.H. Barnard, J.J. Haw-
     thorn, and a man named Miner made claim to the town
     site, surveyed the land, and became the original proprie-
     tors of the village.
1871 -- James B. Sturdevant, first photographer, opened
     a business in Wahoo. Previously, 1869, had settled on a
1872 -- Mr. Beebe with Mr. Lee opened a second store in
     the village.
     Dayton Andrews started a general merchandise store.
     Old Brickyard east of Wahoo by Marcus Schmidt.
     Charles Beebe was the first machinery dealer.
1873 -- First Cemetery
     First Assessor started in town with 10 buildings.
1874 -- N.H. Barnes started the first hardware store in the
     form of a tin shop.
     John Beermaker opened the first furniture store.
     First Courthouse built in town.
     First Drug Store by Dr. R.B. Morton.
1875 -- First Newspaper was the Independent of Wauhoo.
     First Banking Service started.
     Isaac E. Phelps was a carpenter who helped build many
     of the first buildings.
1876 -- First elevator by Otto Ostenberg.
     Thomas Killian came to Wahoo and became the manag-
     er of a dry goods store.
1878 -- First fire protection offered to the city.
     A commercial hotel was opened by Dr. R.B. Morton
1879 -- First Carriage Factory -- Thomas Rance
1880 -- First Brewery by Anton Jansa.
1883 -- Havlik's Hall was located at 3rd and Broadway.
1886 -- Northwestern Railroad completed its track to
     Wahoo, October 13, 1886.
1887 -- Burlington Railroad was completed to Wahoo
     April 5, 1887.
1888 -- Terrible blizzard of 1888
     Wahoo Musical Union Bank requested permission in
     June to erect a temporary bandstand at the intersection
     of 5th and Bdwy.
1891 -- Opera House dedicated on September 10, 1891.
1893 -- Dog licensing began June, 1893.
1901 -- A smallpox outbreak. Board of Health was
     created. City paid for nursing and medicine.
1903 -- Ordinance passed regulating the speed of autos in
     the city limits August 28, 1903.
1905 -- Curfew Ordinance, #203 passed in June, 1905.
1911 -- In February of 1911, the minutes of the city
     council were first typed on a newly purchased second
     hand "Smith Premier Typewriter" with a 14" carriage.
1915 -- Ordinances 320 and 323 -- To do away with
     Burlington viaducts and vacate 2nd Street and Walnut.
1917 -- Wahoo Theatre opened.
     Numbering of businesses and dwellings for free mail
     service in city began.
     The title of Marshall was changed to Chief of Police.
1918 -- First woman city clerk -- Anna Hull
1919 -- First paving district formed. Brick paving to
     Bond issued and assessments levied.
1924 -- Christmas decoration in December, 1924 under
     the supervision of the Lights and Water Commission.
1929 -- Election for Sunday movies -- Results (For --
     426 Against -- 409)
     For Band Concerts and a Community Band Results --
     (For -- 623 Against -- 193)
1933 -- A member of Wahoo's first and only black family
     (Greene) began providing janitor service to City Hall.
1935 -- Question of bond issue for $25,000 to erect a City
     Yes vote -- 196 No -- 399
1937 -- Application for federal grant to aid in building a
1943 -- Wahoo's first tract homes. Victory houses built in
     the Cook's Addition.
1950 -- Saunders County Community Hospital built.
1953 -- Swimming Pool built.
1959 -- New City Hall built.
1961 -- National Guard Armory dedicated on April 8,
1966 -- New Civil Defense Warning Siren Installed.
     Director Don Cerny.
1968 -- Dutch Elm Disease was prevalent in the city.
1970 -- Wahoo's Century Round-up.
1972 -- Putt-a-Round -- A fun time for the family,
     located south of the National Guard Armory on 15th
1974 -- West Dale Development began.
     Wahoo's First Dinner Theatre on Nov. 10, 1974.
Researched by Phyllis Nozicka

Railroad removed 1982
Railroad removed 1982

Old wooden bridge over the years
Old wooden bridge over the years


The depot area was known as the "Flat."
The east part was known as "Observation Point."
Business part known as "The New Jerusalem."
Old part of Wahoo was called "Jericho."
Other names included: "Solid South," "New England," and "Stocking's Addition."

In 1870, Wahoo known as a village.
In 1874 -- According to Ordinance No. I -- the first day of Sept. 1874, duly organized as a body corporate and known as "the inhabitants of the town of Wahoo." Said town of Wahoo consists of more than 500 inhabitants and whereas, on the 11th day of Mar. 1878, the "inhabitants of the town of Wahoo" by its board of trustees, passed an Ordinance numbered 18 declaring the inhabitants of the town of Wahoo a city of the second class. And, whereas, on the second day of April, 1878, an election was duly held.


   1983 Officers: Phyllis J. Nozicka City Treasurer, Donald H. Peterson Water-Light Com'r.; Johnson-Erickson-O'Brien & Associates City Engineer, John E. Hansen Jr. City Physician; Loren Lindahl City Attorney; Daryl Reitmajer, Mayor; Arnold Pospisil President of the Council; Phyllis J. Nozicka, City Clerk; Councilmen: First Ward: Tom Lindau, James F. Taylor; Second Ward: Ray J. Fiala, Tom Svoboda; Third Ward: Willis Hoy, Arnold Pospisil.


   Minnie Manners taught in the Wahoo Public Schools for 51 years. Her story was submitted and edited by her nephew, Rev. Roger E. Manners. Following excerpts were taken from her most interesting story on Wahoo.

   I recall as children we used to spend hours (in the 1870's) searching among those old Indian graves and often finding reminders of the original inhabitants in the form of beads and arrowhead. I also remember watching the first of our three railroads

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come across the prairie into town, with its great, huffing steam locomotive. In my childhood, bands of by now greatly impoverished Indians used to camp at the edge of town, and go house to house, begging for food.

   Three business houses, a blacksmith house, and a schoolhouse which consisted of a single room 24 by 16 feet, with two or three residences, comprised the entire city of Wahoo when my father, Joseph Manners, brought his family here in 1873. All of these buildings, in 1873, were located on First Street, directly south of where the Burlington railroad station now stands. For some reason it was decided to change the location of the business part of town. My father built his first business house on the lots now occupied by Smith-Hultin and Anderson's firm, the streets in front of it (now called Fifth and Broadway) then being unbroken prairie land.

   One of the important buildings in the eyes of young people of earlier days was the old water mill down on Wahoo Creek, for the existence of this mill and dam made possible the wide expanse of water which afforded us so much pleasure. Here we fished and boated in summer, and skated in winter. by Minnie B. Manners, 1868-1954, Wahoo, Nebraska

Top left: Dr. George Beadle - Top right: Sam Crawford
Top left: Dr. George Beadle
Top right: Sam Crawford


   The small town of Wahoo is proud of five men who rose above all expectations. These men have been proud to claim Wahoo as their birthplace.

   Samuel Crawford was born April 18, 1880 and grew up in the North Ward area. He grew up to be known as "Wahoo Sam" and his love of baseball led him to the Baseball Hall of Fame, which he achieved in 1957.

   Dr. George Beadle was born south of Wahoo in 1903. Beadle's interest in science has brought him many awards. He won the famous Nobel Prize in 1958 for his work in genetics.

   Darryl F. Zanuck was born September 5, 1902 in Wahoo. Zanuck was enthusiastic and energetic. He was a pioneer in filmmaking and co-founder of 20th Century-Fox. He will be remembered for the film classics such as "The Grapes of Wrath," "The Jazz Singer," and "Sound of Music."

   Clarence Anderson was burn in Wahoo on April 12, 1891. His love of horses led to his first book, "Billy and Blaze" plus many more series of books. Mr. Anderson was listed in "Who's Who in American Art." Clarence Anderson was a well-known artist who exhibited in art galleries across the country. His paintings of horses gained national recognition.

   Howard Hanson was born in Wahoo October 28, 1896. His love for music led him to the Pulitzer prize for "Symphony No. 4" in 1944. He headed the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester in New York. He served this school for 40 years.

   "The Famous Five" achieved fame in a growing nation and will long be known as Wahoo's five famous sons. The accomplishments of these men could fill pages and pages.


   On Friday, April 22, 1966, Senator Edward Kennedy came to Wahoo in a Shrine Motorcade. Senator Kennedy spoke at the John F. Kennedy College's first annual Founders Day Convocation. Over 1400 people assembled in the Field House to hear his speech.

   In April, 1968, Pat Kennedy Lawford was in Wahoo campaigning for her brother Robert, who was running for the presidency of the United States. In May, 1968, Robert, himself, appeared at a political rally on the streets of Wahoo. Robert was assassinated the next month in California.

Scope - Wahoo 12th and Chestnut
"Scope" Wahoo 12th and Chestnut


   Two community landmarks of long standing were destroyed by fires in the 1970's. One of these landmarks lost to flames in February of 1976 was a building that was once used as a home for the Central Bridge and Construction Company in the early 1900's. This building housed a large vault made of concrete and steel. The building was largely used for a machine shop, laundromat, and small apartment. This landmark was at the corner of 8th and Chestnut. Located at this corner is the present SCOPE cable television antenna.

   "Old Main" on the College Campus in Wahoo was gutted by a fire in 1971.

   We must not forget another landmark outside of Wahoo that started in the 1920's -- the Wanahoo Park (later called Dance Island) facilities. In 1967, the Dance Island Pavillion in the park burned, causing the passing of this recreational area. This pavillion ceased to operate in 1963, followed by a cave-in, finally a fire in 1967.


   The Wahoo Chamber of Commerce adopted and put into force a set of by-laws on July 12, 1923. The preamble states: Because of there existing in the City of Wahoo and vicinity, lines of interest advantageous to the individual members of the community, and to the community at large, the furtherance of which can not be attended to by individuals alone, and which is not provided for out of any municipal or county funds, or by any existing representative officiary, but must be secured by special organized effort and funds, the Wahoo Chamber of Commerce is organized.

   In 1928, the Board of Directors included Ed Lehmkuhl, President, Rudy Anderson, Ferd Anderson, O.F. Anderson, Mart Hult, M.A. Phelps, Eric Erickson, Dr. McCreery, and C.E. Ericson. They held monthly dinner meetings that cost each person 50¢. Dues were $20 per year.

Chamber of Commerce
Front Row: Sherry Treptow, Richard Fairbanks, Nancy Fairbanks, Karen Rathje, Rida Knudsen.Second Row: Doug Franz, Martin Erickson, Larry Pearson, Bob Forbes, Lee Chipperfield, John Hohl, Don Clark, Louis Austin, Steve Ludi, Greg Hohl, Amy Fairbanks (child)

   In 1931, the dues were reduced to $10 per year. For many years the Chamber worked closely with the 4-H Clubs. The Chamber sponsored a Calf Club. Each year boys and girls from ages 12-18 would register to win a calf. The only stipulation was that the winners attend Calf Club meetings, properly care for the animal, and when the calf matured, give the first-born heifer calf to the Chamber.

   In the years that followed, the Chamber worked closely with the city to erect a new hotel, contributed financially to Luther College, the Saunders County Hospital, and to the American Red Cross. The Chamber was also instrumental in the completion of Highway 92.

   The Chamber today has 100 members. Monthly meetings are held at the Eagles Club.

   The officers of the current Board of Directors are: President, Karen Rathje; Vice President, Larry Pearson; Treasurer, Glen Baumert; and Secretary, Sherry Treptow. Other board members are Tom Svoboda, Greg Hohl, Iown Triplett, Ray Barton. Bob Gottschalk, Macel Hoppe, Dr. Ted Japp, Mildred Wright, Larry Stunkel, Bill Pruss, and Doug Franz.

   The Chamber helps organize, and participates in, the annual Easter Egg Hunt, National Secretary's Day, and Teacher Appreciation Breakfast, to name a few. The Chamber has a slide-tape presentation to help advertise the advantages of living in Wahoo.

   The office is located in the basement of City Hall, and is staffed with a full-time Secretary-Manager, who is available to answer numerous requests by phone and letter. Services provided are: Information to Tourists, Telephone Alert Calling Tree, Santa Claus, Christmas Music, Ribbon Cuttings, a Monthly Newsletter, and Health Insurance for Chamber Members.

   The Chamber relies solely on the support of the business community. Keeping business in Wahoo is the primary goal.

   On July 12, 1983, the Wahoo Chamber of Commerce will celebrate its 60th anniversary of service to the Wahoo Community.


   A Planning Commission for the City of Wahoo was formed in October, 1956. The function and duty of the commission is to make and adopt plans for the physical development of the city, including any areas outside its boundaries which bear relation to the planning of the city. The commission recommends to appropriate public officials programs for public structures and improvements. It consults with, and advises, public officials, agencies, public utility companies, civic, educational, professional and other organizations.

   A Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 1971 and is currently being updated. Present commission members are Roger Fisher, Chairman, and Gaylen Maly, Lyle Peterson, Martin Shanahan, Jack Christensen, Jack Tillman, Tom Johnston, Jim Svoboda, and Art Gerdts. Phyllis Nozicka is secretary.


   In April 1944, a group of citizens and taxpayers appeared before the Mayor and Council asking for the establishment of an airport for the City of Wahoo. The Council agreed to set up funds in the budget for the purpose of acquiring a site.

   In July, 1945, a petition, filed by resident freeholders asking for an airport and calling for a special election to vote on bonds to be issued for airport and air navigation purposes, was declared sufficient and an election was held on September 18, 1945. Results of the election was 428 for the issuance of $25,000 Aviation Field Bonds and 228 against. Bonds were issued and a Wahoo Airport Committee, chaired by O.F. Anderson, was appointed.

   The site, consisting of 101.5 acres, was purchased from Lucy Fisher and Katerina Dolezal and Frank and Emma Simodynes. In 1950 a Federal grant was received and a 24' x 40' Administration Building

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