Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Know Nebraska: Maureen's Kitchen in Brady

Recently to prepare for an upcoming travel writer tour, we did a whirlwind windshield tour of the route to better get a grasp on the timing. We had the amazing good fortune to be in Brady, Nebraska at lunch time and stopped at Maureen's Kitchen.

Wow! You have GOT to try this place - EVERYTHING is homemade, including the bread for the sandwiches!
This is a bacon cheese meatloaf sandwich on homemade white bread, which was the lunch special on March 26th.
As you can see, the menu isn't very expansive, but it is all made with care and is delicious! Not a mass-produced, frozen, deep fried item to be found.
The restaurant is at 118 N. Market Street, and is open 6am to 2pm Tuesday through Saturday, and 9am to 2pm on Sunday serving their breakfast menu and one lunch special.
As an added bonus, also in the same building is the Third Season Boutique, which offers flowers, inspirational and local author/interest books, boots, and bling for yourself and your home! They donate 10% of their sales back to their community.
Maureen's is definitely one of those treasures you hope to find when sampling a small town diner.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sunday Stories: William H. “Bill” and Leela Jane (Hunter) Lawyer

William “Bill” Lawyer was born January 11, 1876 on a farm near Perry, Green County, Iowa. When he was about 11 years of age, his family moved to near Concordia, Kansas.

Leela Jane (Hunter) Lawyer was born February 13, 1885 in Henderson County, Illinois. When about three years of age the family moved to what is now Goodland, Kansas.
William H. “Bill” and Leela Jane (Hunter) Lawyer
Bill and Leela were married ag Agenda, Kansas in 1901. They lived at Horton, Brown County, Kansas, where he worked in the railroad shops. In 1907 or 1908 he fell from a high scaffold, receiving a severe hip injury and injured one hand severely which left him quite incapacitated the remainder of his life.

He had a brother that had taken a homestead near Somerset, Nebraska. This brother encouraged him to come west to seek land. He did and found land near a lake, a short distance from the head of Little Birdwood Creek in McPherson County, Nebraska. He went to Tryon which was the county seat and filed on three-quarter section of land. This was located approximately 28 miles north of Sutherland, Nebraska.

In 1909 he built a 16 x 20 foot sod house. Down the slope of the hill a short distance from the house he dug down sinking a bottomless barrel. The ground water level was such that the seepage water soon came up to fill the barrel. This method was used for the household as well as for livestock, for quite some time.

He then sent for his wife and family who had remained in Kansas until he was settled. The family, grandfather Lawyer and the family dog (Old Ring) came by train to Sutherland. He met them with the team and wagon which was loaded with groceries, supplies, furniture and they started toward the homestead. They forded the North Platte River, camped for breakfast, hen went on their journey north. The first night they camped at “Tin Camp” on the Little Birdwood Creek.
Tin Camp in the Little Birdwood Valley
Dad, as other homesteaders, must have had the faith of Abraham, “When he went from his homeland in a northerly direction, unto a place where his tent was, which he had placed there at first; there was poverty among them that lived in this land.” Genesis.

The second day of travel the family arrived at their homestead and the new sod house.

Dad helped neighbors as they came to the area to build their sod homes. William “Bill” Haines, a homesteader, bought an acre of land from Rufus D. Howard. On this ground, Dad helped William “Bill” Hossack build a two room sod building. One end was used for living quarters and the other end was used as a General Store and Post Office. This was named Flats. Bill Haines was the instigator and the first Postmaster in 1914.

Sutherland became the main source for supplies, news, mail and medical supplies. Dad hauled freight from Sutherland and the river area. He took cuttings from trees and planted them for shelter and shade. In the fall he would haul winter supplies, apples and fruits from the Hunter Orchard for our family and neighbors.

About 1912 when the Kinkaid Telephone Company was organized, Dad was instrumental in building lines and installing telephones north from Sutherland to the farms and ranches and later a line into Tryon. A switch board was installed in our home and was operated there for a number of years.
Bill and Leela were the parents of 10 children: Claude, Roy, Mabel, Jessie, Walter, Leonard, Davie, Mae and Joseph. Most of them remained in Sutherland, North Platte, and Paxton area with the exception of Roy who went into the Merchant Marines after his graduation from high school and Jessie who lives in Denver, Colorado.

Bill departed his life at the Sutherland Hospital on March 6, 1946 at the age of 70 years, following a lingering illness. Leela passed away on November 4, 1988 after having resided in the Bethesda Nursing Home in Sutherland for 17 years at the age of 103. They are both buried in the Sutherland Cemetery.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

March River Walk

After a pretty mild January, then a frigid February, this week in March is shaping up nicely. Predicted to be in the 60's and 70's for about eight days straight! These were from a walk along the North River.
Cars used to be used as "riprap" along the edge of river banks to keep them from eroding. I don't know if the practice is still in use, but it was very effective in this instance.

Farther away from the river, more picturesque views.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Sunday Stories: Letha's Beauty Salon

Excerpted from the Sutherland Centennial 1891 – 1991, published in 1991.

Submitted by Claudia Eberly

Letha Jane Heskett Kennedy, after her graduation from the Sutherland High School, journeyed to Omaha, Nebraska, to attend the Moller Beauty College in 1928. After a year’s training, she returned to Sutherland and opened up a shop. Her business was located above the former Post Office, a two story building on Walnut Street.

Letha’s shop was located on the second floor in the northeast corner of the building. Also on the second floor was the Telephone Company owned by George White. Nina Wilcot Humphrey had lost her husband, and worked as the night telephone operator. She and her daughter Arlene had an apartment next to the street. Downstairs on the first floor was where Mr. McKinley was located and Dr. Shambaugh’s office. Mr. McKinley was on the south, and Dr. Shambaugh was on the north side.
Later, Mrs. Nation came from Wallace, Nebraska, and she and Letha moved the shop downstairs into the location former occupied by Mr. McKinley. Dr. Shambaugh at that time moved into the Cox Hospital Building.

In 1941, Mr. Nation bought a nightclub in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and he and Mrs. Nation moved to Cheyenne. Letha could not afford to buy Mrs. Nation’s share of the business, so she moved the shop into her home. This has been the location of Letha’s shop since that time.

At about that time, Verona Moore and Mrs. McCall had a shop in the Emery Drug Store. Also, Lorna Hillard and Doris Dunn had a shop together. They both got married, and closed up business.
Finger waves were most popular in the middle 20’s. Permanents were given with a big electric “Croquonel” machine, and the spiral method was used. The style that Letha came home from Omaha with was called the “Marcel”, and everyone had that style in the early 1930’s.

Example of a permanent wave machine
Permanents at that time cost $1.75 to $3.50, and haircuts were $1.00. Letha did not do barbering, as a special license was needed for that.

Letha started her shop in 1930, and a copy of the original license is shown. She has the honor of being the oldest licensed cosmetologist in the State of Nebraska.

Letha’s only comment regarding the many years she has been at work is that “it seems like I never have enough time to visit and to keep up with all my old friendships.”

What a wonderful lady! Letha raised her family, kept her home neat as a pin, and was a working cosmetologist for 60 years. Sutherland can be proud of her for being the oldest original business in the village of Sutherland.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


After the early morning fire reports, we wanted to go to the hills to check on my Grandparents' homesteading cabin we are restoring. Decided not to drive in and risk being caught there. We didn't go closer - no sense in adding to the worries of the firefighters.
This is looking directly west. The small white dot in the center foreground is the District 60 school. The small white dot in the left middle, surrounded by trees is the homestead.

Here is a zoom into the cabin, blurred by smoke. This was about 8:30 in the morning on March 29.

We got a call shortly before noon that the fire was threatening the home place, so loaded up to head north to make a stand - thankfully, dedicated firefighters had already made a stand.
The drive way into the home place. You can see where the fire skirted to the east.
North on the Paxton Road. At the bottom of the hill is where you would turn left to Bucktail (Arthur), or right to Sutherland. This would be the furthest north-west of the "Horseshoe".
Looking north from the home place driveway. Everything north of the road is burned, even if it is not black. The wind has already blown the soot away.
he pivot just north of the home place. You can see the pivot corner windbreak has burned, and the fire skirting the pivot on the east.
Burned ditches.
Drifting sand from the fire.
The pivot corner that has burned. Not a total loss, however, we received a call on Monday that the fire had reignited in this windbreak and we lost much more of it.
South on the Birdwood, you can see firefighters mopping up hot spots in the background.

Our neighbor (in the hills) lost about 2500 acres of grass, but it could have been much worse. He and his family went out about midnight to fight the fire where it started, near Bucktail. At that time it was heading straight south. Then the wind changed and it made a run to the east before turning south again. By the time he made it back to his house, other firefighters had made a stand there and saved his home (the fire got as close as across the road) and his bale pile. So many lost so much, but the firefighters also saved so much.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunday Stories: Merle Lee and Letha Jane (Heskett) Kennedy

Merle was the son of William Franklin and Nellie Lorriane (Wilson) Kennedy, born August 26, 1900 in Gravity (Taylor County), Iowa. He married Letha Jane Heskett in 1930, the daughter of Thomas E. and Carrie (Hayes) Heskett, who was born August 17, 1908.

At the age of eight years the Kennedy family moved to Wewela, South Dakota. Merle’s father sold the farm in Iowa, and along with Mike McBean, took a contract to help build, by teams of horses and mules, the Northwestern Railroad out of Gregory, South Dakota to Colome, South Dakota. A railroad car of both horses and mules was bought and shipped to South Dakota. Merle and Dave road the emigrant car and their mother and the other children rode the “coupling” car to the end of the line at Gregory. Things did not work out well there, everybody went broke building the railroad, and thus the family was stranded in South Dakota. Merle’s father then went into the freighting business. Winters were real severe there, that first winter the snow was 36 inches deep.

It was during this time that Merle got a job with Mrs. Bismarck Ranous, who was Chief Sitting Bull’s niece. She was the first Indian registered nurse in that area; Merle was hired to herd her cows and to drive her team of horses for her wherever she would have to make house calls on the sick or go out and gather the various herbs she needed to make her medicines.

In 1910, the family moved to Sutherland from South Dakota, at the time Charles Burklund was building his store. Merle’s father did carpenter work in and around Sutherland.

Merle attended the Sutherland School three to four years, which was held in the old wooden school which sat behind the current school building.

Merle’s first job in Sutherland was at the age of 10 years, herding approximately 50 head of milk cows for the “towns” people of Sutherland for $1.00 a head, per month.

The family then moved to Keith County, and his father worked building the headgates for the K and L Ditch Company. They had 40 acres 11 miles northwest of Paxton on the North Platte River valley.

It was at this time that Merle went to work for Bill Sadle, the father of Byron Sadle. Bill had some of the finest horses and mules in the area and Merle was hired to care for the horses. Merle’s parents insisted on him getting an education, so he told Bill he would have to find someone to help with the horses and that was when Bill decided he could not afford to let Merle go to school. Mary Lawler was going to teach the local school so Bill told her that he would give her her board if she would teach Merle at night. This was done. Merle never missed work, nor did he go to school except at night. When it came time for him to take the examination, he rode horseback to Ogallala and passed the exams with flying colors.

Merle worked at various ranch and farm jobs, and in 1917 started farming with his brother, Dave, and did so until 1928. In 1929 he was farming on his own on the river north of Sutherland. In 1934 he acquired employment building the Sutherland Reservoir, working for Babbitt and Ward. In approximately 1943 he hired out to Keith and Lincoln County Ditch Company for whom he worked 20 years running a dragline, retiring in 1963.

At the age of 90 years (in 1991), Merle is still raising his own beef and hogs and is very active in the community. Merle is a fun-loving, good-hearted, friendly man. He states that he has seen a lot of changes during his 90 years of life here on earth.
Merle Lee and Letha Jane (Heskett) Kennedy
Letha Jane Heskett Kennedy was born on the family homestead located on the Birdwood Table. There were two children in her family, an older sister, Lois Heskett Brewer and herself. When Letha was approximately six years old, the family moved into Sutherland “proper”, (approximately 1915), to the home she and Merle currently reside in today.
The quaint and cozy Kennedy home in Sutherland as it looks today.
She was educated in Sutherland and graduated from the Sutherland High School in 1927. Letha furthered her education in Omaha, and returned to Sutherland to start a hair styling salon.
Merle and Letha became the parents of two children: Thomas Lee, born April 20, 1932 and Carolyn Ann Kennedy Grady, born April 4, 1934.

Merle and Letha are an enjoyable couple, both have made many, many friends over the years and enjoy visits. People are always welcomed with open arms into their home. Letha passed away November 13, 1991. Merle died November 16, 1992.

Submitted by Claudia Eberly.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Beautiful Sandhills Morning

Just a reminder that spring will come, and with it, the beautiful greens and colors of the Nebraska Sandhills wildflowers.