This is a Saunders County NEGenWeb Project web page


(image links to larger map)


   Wahoo Precinct was formed on Aug. 24, 1869, when the county was divided into the voting precincts of Chapman, Marietta, Wahoo, Oak Creek and Douglas.

   Precinct officers 1983-87: Chairman -- Dean H. Hansen, Clerk -- Earl H. Hageman, Treas. -- Leland Nygren.

   The North edge of Wahoo Precinct is ½ mile south of Mead and the town of Ithaca is located in the southwest corner of the precinct. When the Nebraska Ordinance Plant was organized, it took 12 sections of land out of the precinct.

   At one time there were 4 school districts in the precinct. In 1919, District 89, known as the Hallner school, located in the northeast corner, consolidated with District 72 of Mead. District 30, which was in the southeast corner was dissolved in 1942 when the Nebraska Ordinance Plant took the land. In 1973, District 42, in the northwest corner went in with Mead, which leaves the 2 Districts, 72 (Mead) and 50 (Ithaca).

   There are 3 cemeteries, Alma Lutheran Cemetery is on the north edge. This land was deeded to the church by John Clausen. Morning Side is 1 mile south of Mead. This belonged to the Covenant and Baptist churches in Mead. 2 acres of land was obtained from Louis Swanson in 1914. Indian Mound Cemetery lies on the northeast edge of Ithaca. This land was obtained from the O'Kane family.

   There also was a cemetery in Section 11, south of Mead known as the Mission Cemetery. When the Ordinance Plant came in, the government paid for moving the graves to Morning Side. Kenneth Marcy Mortuary of Ashland did this in the spring of 1942.

   There are 3 creeks in the precinct. Dry Creek and Silver runs north and south through the east and center of the precinct and Wahoo Creek cuts across the southwest corner.

   1 railroad, the Chicago-Burlington-Quincy ran through the south part but was abandoned in 1982.

   There is 1 lake, known as the Bissel Lake, south of Ithaca, which furnished recreation of fishing and swimming in the summertime, and ice skating in the winter. It also provided cakes of ice which the farmers cut and hauled home to their ice houses for their summer use. This was one of the hardest and coldest jobs and often the farmers would walk along the side of the wagon to keep warm. Ice was also taken from the John Charling and C.J. Anderson ponds near Ithaca, and from the John Nygren pond near Mead.

   Tragedies, such as tornadoes, fires, war casualties and accidents have happened in the Wahoo Precinct down through the years. Perhaps one of the greatest tragedies was when the Bill O'Kane's lost 5 of their 6 children with diphtheria.


   One of the biggest ways in which the citizens of Saunders County participated in World War II was in the building of the Ordnance Plant built east of Wahoo. This plant was the second to be built in Nebraska, and was the largest of its kind in the United States. The estimated cost for the plant was 25 million dollars.

   The news of the coming of the Ordnance plant was quite a shock to the residents of Wahoo and Marble Precincts. Around 180 farm families, or about 600 people, had to be relocated from the site. Approximately 17,500 acres were needed for the plant. The U.S. Government bought the land for an average of $140 an acre.

   The Wahoo site was selected over many other sites across the country for its natural advantages. The plant and its surroundings were built to be a veritable small city, geared to a single purpose: the production of shells. It was complete with fire and police protection, water and sewage systems, hospital, first aid stations, and telephone systems. This material was collected by: Kim Tvrdy, Julie Polacek, Mary Noonan, students at Neumann High School, Wahoo


   The history of Ithaca dates back into the 1860's when the first settler, William H. Dech, came to this territory in April, 1866. The Dech home was located on a hill overlooking the future town of Ithaca. The Indians had a camping ground at this site. After the town was founded, a cemetery was started across from this hill and named, appropriately, Indian Mound Cemetery. Many of the early settlers are buried here.

   Among the many early settlers to this community were William Lucas, William Dech Sr., William H. Dech, William E. Dech, Elijah Dech and Russell Roberts.

   Fred Talbot from New York state located near here and is responsible for the town being named Ithaca after his home town, Ithaca, New York. The first general store was operated by August Wagner. Later, Mr. Hatz built and operated another general merchandise store.

   In 1871, James Jardine and Mr. Eberhardt built a flouring mill. It was sold to J.F. Roll and C.L. Meilenz. A large ice house was built. Other businesses built in the 1890's included two meat markets, Hanson and Kansenbach, a livery, two grain elevators, another mill, and a post office. The first postmaster was Elijah Dech.

   The 1890's brought disaster to the small town, In 1893, a tornado destroyed much of the town. Ithaca rebuilt, but, in 1894, a fire burned many of the buildings. Ithaca again rebuilt.

   In 1902, the Farmers State Bank of Ithaca was organized with J.F. Wagner as president, F.C. Hanke as vice president and J.M. Hall as cashier. Fred Wagner became President when his father, J.F. Wagner, died. The Ithaca village was incorporated in October, 1904.

   A school was established in the early years. The first teacher was Martha Dech, daughter of Elijah Dech.

   Growth continued into the 1920's. Ithaca had a dime store, a millinery shop, two cafes, Weigert and Youngstrom blacksmith shops, Olson Brothers Ford Garage, Schroeders Chevrolet Garage, Endres Garage, two physicians, Dr. Hickey and Dr. Fletcher. A little later, Harry Rexilius had a grocery store. This later became the Wm. Gilbert Grocery. Herman Wolfe Sr. and Raymond Hass operated barber shops. Ted and Carl Hengen revolutionized the community by supplying electricity to the town in 1925. The telephone central office was established during this time.

   The Phelps Lumber Company, Cornell's Hardware and Markle's Feed and Produce became thriving businesses. Edward Stillger operated a garage and John Holloway set up a blacksmith shop.

   Ithaca was hard hit by the depression years of 1929 and 1930. Drought came to the rural area affecting business in the town which depended upon agriculture.

   The town was changed during Word War II when land east of the town was taken for an ordnance plant. A mobile population came with the plant. As the years went by, the

page 153

population again became stable. Many farmers moved to Ithaca in their retirement years.

Markle's Feed and Produce
Markle's Feed and Produce

   A community hall was built in the 1930's. This served as a place of entertainment for social gatherings and school activities. Roller skating was a big source of enjoyment during these years in the hall. Free silent movies had been a source of pleasure to the community. These were sponsored by the merchants of the town and were held out under the stars in the summer.

   A new school replaced the old ten grade school in 1948. Many of the community had received their education here. It is now a K-6 school. As the century moved on some businesses closed; others took their place. Buck and Edna Wolfe's cafe and garage, Basil's grocery store, which later became Ralph Treptow's store, prospered.

   Ithaca had a bicentennial celebration on June 27, 1976. The community spirit lingers on.

   Today the town has a Farmers Coop Grain Elevator, Hanson's Well Company, Tomsicek Manufacturing Company, Hass Trucking, a Post Office and Elsie's Cafe.

   Changes have taken place over the years. There are fewer businesses in 1982. The United Methodist Church now serves as the only church in the community. Memorial Day is observed not only to honor the men who served in the armed forces but to remember the pioneers who came and are now buried in the Ithaca Mound Cemetery.

   There are many fourth and fifth generations descendants and a few sixth generation ones living in this area; many will have their histories in this book. Ithaca in 1982 is alive and thriving and looking forward to a prosperous future. Written by Faith Dech Smith

Old School Dist. 50
Old School Dist. 50


   The first school in District 50 was built by Elijah Dech in Section 20 of Wahoo Township. He built it on his own farm and his daughter, Martha, was the first teacher. When the new school was built, the old schoolhouse was moved into Ithaca and remodeled for use as a home.

   The new school consisted of two rooms, one upstairs, and one downstairs. The first school records remaining in the district date back to 1892. The teachers were Gilbert Hoppel and Blanche Roberts and there were 39 students on the roll.

   As the school grew and the students progressed, grades were added until they included one through nine. In 1908, four students graduated from the ninth grade.

   In about 1908, the schoolhouse was enlarged. Two rooms were added to the west side of the building. In about 1916, a basement was put under the building and a furnace was installed. A well was dug so the school would have its own water supply. Prior to that, students had to carry water by buckets every day from the home of Mr. Knapp, one block south of the school.

   In 1922, the school added the tenth grade. It continued with ten grades until May, 1947. The present school was built in 1948 and located north of the old building. The cost was approximately $30,000.

School Dist. 50
School Dist. 50

   In 1970, District 50 consolidated with District 102, thereby enlarging the district and the number of students. The patrons voted to contract the seventh and eighth grades to Wahoo or Mead so they could participate in Junior High programs. Since that time the school has included kindergarten through grade 6.

   When the Methodist and United Brethren Churches united, the school purchased the Methodist Church building and had it moved in 1969 to the east side of the school building. It was remodeled into a gym for the use of the students and for other community functions. In 1981, a new roof was put on the present school building.

   In September of 1982, 29 students were enrolled in grades K-6. The teachers were Mrs. Dorothy Klink and Mrs. Pam Trutna. Mrs. Leon Teetor served as aide. School board members included: Bruce Shepherd -- President; Linda Kapple -- Treasurer; Debbie Bahm -- Secretary; Brad Shawhan and Jan Givens.

   NOTE: This history was compiled from records of the district and from information received from former students. Some of the dates may not be exact and some of the facts are different in different reports.


   A group of women from the Ithaca Community organized as an Extension Club in the year of 1923. This club was called the Ithaca Homemakers. On a hot afternoon of May 27, 1927, the Ithaca Homemakers met at the Ithaca School building to organize as a Federated Women's Club. The name selected was Ithaca Women's Club.

   The Club became active in the Saunders County Federation of Women's Club. Two of its members served as County President, three as Vice-President and one as Secretary. It was decided that all members signing the Constitution by September 1, 1927, would be charter members, of which there were 48. The Ithaca Club was both an extension club and a Federated club until the year of 1956 when we dropped from the federation and became an extension club only. The early meetings of the club were held in a clubroom, which was located in an old store building that had been a hardware and drug store owned by Mr. J.M. Hall. The club members cleaned the building and brought their own fuel, such as wood, to heat the building.

   In 1924, a member, Alberta O'Kane entered a contest sponsored by a Women's Magazine on "Why We Need a Community House". For this article she won $100 which she put out on interest. Each year the Club added to this fund until there was $500.

   Crops and prices were poor in 1933 but the Women's Club with the other organizations of the Community banded together to get the Community Hall Building started and built.

   All through the years the Ithaca Women's club has been very active in the community. Some of the other projects have been Drama Club, Flower Show, Quilt Shows and Bridal Parties. We received a citation when we banded with another club and got flashing lights at the railroad crossing by the Mead Alfalfa Mill.

   Those serving as Presidents over the years were Miss Alberta O'Kane, Mmes. Ben Noerenberg, Russell Roberts, Roy Hageman, Ernest Hageman, LeRoy Frahm, Harold Robbins, Rodger McKlem, Duane Gustafson, Gerald Treptow, George Hageman, Robert Hageman, Milton Eichmeier, Wallace Quick, Dale Noerenberg, Edwin Hass, Ralph Hageman, Blaine Rish, Casey Jones, and Julius Izso.

   On May 27, 1977, old friends and former members joined in celebrating with the members for its Golden Anniversary at the Community Building. Seven of the original 48 charter members were able to be present. They were Alma Hageman, Mmes Edward Hageman, Ernest Hageman, Ewalt Hageman, Sr., Edward Scheuneman, all of Ithaca, Mrs. Lester Sherfey of Ogalla, La., and Mrs. Ben Noerenberg of Lincoln.

German Evangelical Church
German Evangelical Church


   The Ebenezer Evangelical Church, made up of Ithaca people who had been attending the Zion Church, was incorporated and began services in May, 1900.

   Plans were made for a new church building and it was built at an approximate cost of $3000. It was dedicated March 18, 1901.

   The parsonage was built between 1904 and 1908 for $2000.

   In 1910, the Women's Missionary Society was organized with twenty-three charter members.

   During the World War seventeen young men from the two churches entered the service of the United States. All came home safely.

   A vote was taken in 1922 to have all services in the English language.

   It was about this time Silas Hanke, a member of this church, entered the ministry.

   In 1931, a building fund for a new church was established. $58. was raised that year.

   The W.M.S., Adult League, E.L.C.E., Mission Band, Little Heralds and Men's Brotherhood were organizations that were a very important part of the church. Revival meetings were held and the young people attended Missionary rallies. The ladies, the youth and the men all participated in their camps at Riverside Park at Milford. Vacation Bible School

page 154

Back Contents Next

Return to
The Saunders County NEGenWeb Project

© 2002 - designed by Connie Snyder for The NEGenWeb Project.