Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday Stories: Sandhills Hardships

Excerpted from McPherson County: Facts, Families, Fiction, published in 1986

Jess Anderson, was born near Florence, Nebraska. His step-father beat Jess with a braided strand of barb wire. Jess carried the scars to his grave, but when fourteen years old he ran away from home and made his way to McPherson County where he became a cowboy. He worked on several spreads including the holdings of Cap Haskell. Gertie Calkins Anderson, was born near Wymore, Nebraska. Jess and Gertie married, homesteaded and had seven children while living in the county.

An example of a dugout shelter.
Jess continued to work for neighbors while proving up his homestead. The depression in the thirties caused him to lose his homestead and all of his other possessions. They moved into a corn crib on the Seiler place while Jess improvised a shelter into the side of a hill in the southwest part of Tryon. This house would be considered energy efficient now but didn’t prove to be very good at that time. It only had one window, one door and a dirt floor. They lived in it for about nine years and several of the children have had ailments which can probably be attributed to that house.

The five oldest Anderson children received all of their formal education in McPherson County. While living on the homestead they attended School District #22 which was three miles across country. They walked to and from school, stacking and bunching cow chips as they went. On weekends they retrieved these chips with a team and wagon. The cow chips were their primary fuel supply.

Iris Pennington is the oldest child. She spent several years in a TB clinic and eventually had to have one lung removed. She later fully recovered, married and raised a daughter.

Jack Anderson was the oldest boy. He entered the United States Army soon after the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor. Jack served in the European theater of Operations, starting in North Africa and going into Europe via the southern route. After being discharged in 1946, he settled in Missouri. Jack hired out to the Missouri Pacific Railroad in the Bridge and Building Department and retired to an acreage near Holden, Missouri in 1983.

All of Gertie and Jess’ children have traveled extensively, but the third child, Enid, got a head start. While they were living on the homestead southwest of Tryon and at the tender age of two she took off. About nine in the morning they discovered she was gone and at sundown that night she was found near Squaw Creek almost six miles due west. At this time Jess showed how fond he was of his children; he wore out three saddle horses searching for Enid.

The Nebraska Sandhills - easy to become lost in.
Perhaps there are still men alive who will remember this search as it happened in 1924. A crippled man by the name of Kenneth Johnson traveling in a wagon found her quenching her thirst at a pond. One old Cowboy, Charlie Moore said a coyote followed her for a while and he nick-named her the Coyote girl. She didn’t suffer any from this experience as she went on to graduate from McPherson County High School. She married at eighteen and had two children, a boy and a girl.

Neil was the next Anderson child. Neil was young when he entered the United States Marine Corps. At the time he finished boot camp, the United States was really taking a beating in the Pacific. Neil didn’t even get to come home on leave before being rushed into combat against the Japs. He was killed by a sniper on Okinawa in 1945.

Leon joined the U.S. Navy and served during the latter part of WWII. He saw action against the Japanese in the Pacific. After he was discharged in 1946 he settled near Sutherland. He married and raised six children, retiring from the Nebraska Public Power District.

Gene wasn’t old enough to serve in WWII but got in the army during the Korean Conflict. He was wounded in 1951. He recovered and has worked very, very hard ever since. He settled in Sutherland, working on farms and ranches in the area, then working for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and as a self-employed carpenter.

Keith, the youngest of Jess and Gertie’s kids, went to Missouri when Jess and Gertie moved there in 1943. He joined the Army and served in Alaska. He hired on with the Ford Motor Company and retired from there.

Jess was a strict father and if he wasn’t sure which child had created the mischief he whipped all seven. That way he was sure the guilty child got punished. His children all became outstanding citizens so it never hurt any of them.

No history of the Jess and Gertie Anderson family would be complete without mentioning a few other McPherson County residents who contributed to their well-being. Kenned Johnson, who averted tragedy when he found Enid after her trip through the Sandhills. Reuel Conroy, when the bank foreclosed on Jess, bought Jess’ milk cow then turned around and gave her to Jess so the kids would have milk. John and Eithel Dahlin who were newly married and very, very poor, but they willingly shared what they had with the Anderson children.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Book Review: Four Blue Stars in the Window

They're there for all of us - standing behind us, around us... those faceless, personality-less, often times nameless predecessors. We don't credit them with loving, laughing, crying... living their lives with the same joys, sorrows and stresses we live with today.

If we're lucky, some of them are the wrinkled faces we visit in the nursing homes. If we're unlucky, they're the names carved into the stones we visit at the cemetery.

Barbara Eymann Mohrman brings her people to life in "Four Blue Stars in the Window", and we can all benefit from the knowledge that, even if we don't know our own story, it is much like this one. Our ancestors came from somewhere else, they settled in a harsh, inhospitable environment; they endured incredible hard times; they fell in love, married, had children; they made mistakes; they persevered.

Four Blue Stars tells the story of Chriss Eymann as he was uprooted from his native Switzerland to settle in Oakdale, Nebraska. There he raised the all-American family - boys who loved baseball, hunting and basketball, girls who fell in love, married and gave him grandchildren. We see him and his bride, Hattie Mae as handsome, bright eyed newlyweds ready to settle down to a sedate, predictable married life.

Then came the stock market crash, the dust bowl, the grasshopper plague and World War II. Their family faced the very real specter of starvation, and just when they had survived those hard times, their boys were sent off around the world to unheard of places to fight in a war Chriss couldn't understand.

It is also the story of how a family kept the reverence for their ancestors alive. Family reunions, the visiting of the Oakdale cemetery each year on Memorial Day to care for and decorate the graves, picnics. All instilled in Mohrman the connection to her family and those who went before. Then she discovered the cardboard box in her basement that told her that her father had a life before he became the man she knew as dad. Her curiosity led her to dig deeper into her family history, and her education and writing skills led her to share her story with the world.

Four Blue Stars in the Window is an easy read, yet a poignant story of a family's life. It will be available on, on January 8, 2013, but can be found now at local Nebraska bookstores and from Mohrman's website.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sunday Stories: Alfred Combs Part 2

Excerpted from the Sutherland Centennial Book, published in 1991.

When Pearl had just turned eleven years old, in about 1913, Alf’s investigative experience as marshal qualified him to accept a position in North Platte as a special detective for Union Pacific Railroad for the territory from North Platte to Cheyenne, Wyoming, and he was often away from home.

An example of a hay crew of this era.
Pearl says “It was a good training period for me, for I learned not only to cook and sew and crochet, but also to help with business matters like paying the bills, at such stores as the E. T. Tramp and Sons Grocery on Front Street. Members of the Tramp family became my lifelong friends, even after they later went out of the grocery business to start a quality shoe store on Dewey Street in North Platte.

But Alf was looking for a more secure home and job for his growing family when he met Mr. Dolly, an old family friend on the street in North Platte, who happened to be in town on business from Chicago. Mr. Dolly said, “Al, you are just the man I am looking for. I know a family that owns a ranch and farm at Hershey, Nebraska. The man who was living there most recently was killed in a car accident. We need to get the ranch leased out.” The Bank of Lincoln County put up the money for Alf to enter into a five year lease on the ranch. The family moved to Hershey and operated the ranch for 20 years until 1933 as the “A.C. Combs & Sons Ranch.” The ranch produced thousands of bushels of wheat and corn plus thousands of tons of wild hay. Clover seed was threshed by a steam engine and threshing machine and about 30 men, for whom Pearl Combs did all the cooking.

Pearl recalls, “The ranch house was so small that a large kitchen and bedroom were added, as well as a large bunkhouse, barn, garage and permanent cook shack, plus a portable cook shack 12 X 30 and a bunk shack also 12 X 30, each on runners so they could be moved from hay camp to hay camp during the cutting season. There would always be 10-15 hired men surrounding the long kitchen table for meals three times a day, regularly served at exactly 7am, noon and 6pm. You could set your watch by the tolling of the loud dinner bell mounted outside the kitchen on a pole and also used to call the men for an emergency or for an urgent phone call. The bell had been a school bell and held a special charm. That bell is now in use at the dairy farm of Ada McConnell, O’Fallons, Nebraska, daughter of Archie Combs and granddaughter of A.C. and Clydia.”

“Most of the Combs men were good all-around cowboys in their own right. Guy was the bronco-buster. Ted was the bull dogger. Lane was the horse racer.” Pearl recalls, “I wasn’t so bad a horsewoman myself. I rode several miles by horseback to school in Hershey every day, sometimes in weather 15 degrees below zero. Reba was the lady rider. I think Edith may have been scared of horses, if the truth were known.

We were all pretty good dancers. The ranch was a place of love, hospitality, and good food following hours of backbreaking hard work in the fields or with the cattle, often in scalding hot or freezing cold, harsh and windy weather. There were good times, loud laugher, and always friends – many, many friends and relatives who often and regularly came miles for meals and stayed long after for good conversation, always in abundance there.”

A dust storm of the 1930's
“The stress, deprivation and heartbreak of the first world war gave way to hope and recovery. Even during the great depression of the 1930’s, with all the problems plaguing us – ranging from prairie fires and terrible storms of dust one day and hail the next, there was still much happiness and many good things to remember through the worries and sorrows, even though no one ever had enough money during those years, even for necessities.”

“Some of those memories: The excitement of the family rodeos in the pasture; the crowded country dances in the barn loft; the 15 or 20 men crowded around the tables for three meals a day enjoying their daily jokes on each other and trading stories; the smell of cookies or doughnuts or of fresh bread (12-15 loaves a day) or of 10 pies or more cooling on the work table waiting to be downed by tired, hungry men.

There was always a little smell of spice in the kitchen and plenty of work for the women and children. There were always willow branches to be cut to shoo away any flies. Any time the flies got too bad, everyone would grab a dish towel to shoo the flies out of the corner into a swarm in the center of the room and thence out the open door to freedom, after which they would all cluster on the windows, especially before a summer storm.

There were always at least six oil lamps to be filled, glass lamp chimneys to be polished, four pails of water to be carried from the pump house, a tub of corncobs to bring in to fill the box by the stove. The wooden floor had to be mopped to a polish every day before noon, cream needed to be whompted into butter in the old stone churn, and warm milk from the separator needed to be put down in the bottom of the spring-cold water tank in the pump house.”

“We never dreamed of the modern conveniences we have today. When it hailed, though the crops may have been ruined, we scooped up the hailstones and stirred up a batch of homemade ice cream and invited neighbors. And at sunset of each day, the hayracks were lined up in a neat row as were all of the wagons, mowers, rakes and other equipment. This was the A.C. Combs Ranch at Hershey, Nebraska. We loved Hershey and the people who lived there. We loved our neighbors on the farms and ranches nearby, some of whom had arrived in this county 50 years earlier or more with our grandparents.”

In 1935, the Combs family lost their lease on the ranch when it changed hands; and Alf and Clydia moved to a 10-acre parcel of land in the north part of Sutherland, on part of what is now the high school athletic field. They lived there until for reasons of health, they relocated to North Platte to be closer to their daughter, Edith. They left a rich heritage to their descendants – an ability to see humor in nearly everything, to enjoy life fully by working and playing hard. They taught the virtues of honesty and integrity and the importance of being resilient in the face of life’s trials, of which they had more than their share.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Changing from the inside out

What an absolutely tragic time in America today, made all the more so because of the senselessness of an attack against innocent kindergarten children.

I've heard all of the arguments for gun control, against gun control, for greater mental health services, to bring God back into the schools, for limits on movie and video game violence. I'm sorry that these discussions have started so soon after this tragedy when it is a time for grief and reflection. It's not that they don't have merit, it's just that they also have a time and a place.

Individually we may not have the power to bring about great political change. We can however, change America from the inside out.

My friend, David Bernard-Stevens had this to say: It's not up to "others" somewhere out there to do something. It is up to each of us to decide to do something more to support another person, and then another. Over time, this individual effort by thousands will become millions and our nation will change from the inside out. That is where true change comes from... us. So what are we going to do today (right now) to change how we treat and support others in need.

In business it's called customer service. In life it's called being a caring, thoughtful, generous human being.

God bless those who are hurting today. When you look into someone's eyes, you don't know whether or not that person is hurting, but if you treat them nice, whether they are or they aren't, you'll make the world a better place for them.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sunday Stories: Alfred Combs Part 1

Excerpted from the Sutherland Centennial Book, published in 1991.

Mary Jane McGrew was born in 1830 in Clinton County, Ohio. She married William D. Combs and they made their home in Palmyra, Nebraska. When William died in 1887, she was widowed with eleven children. Her youngest son, Alfred, was but fourteen. In addition to raising her own family by herself, Mary Jane also raised a set of twins who had been orphaned at birth by the death of their mother, Mary Jane’s sister. One evening while she was alone on the ranch near Palmyra, Nebraska, Mary Jane was frightened by a party of Indians peeking through her windows. She made friends with them by sharing her fresh baked bread, and the left in peace.

The Garfield Table country, taken in 2009
Alfred Campbell Combs was born at Palmyra, Otoe County Nebraska. This branch of the Combs family is descended from Zur Combs, 1763 – 1826, born in Montgomery County, Virginia, died in Highland County, Ohio. The Combs family was from England.

Ad for 1917 era
Alfred left his mother’s ranch when he was about 25 years old, heading west on his black pony he called “Billy”. He settled on a homestead claim north of North Platte in high prairie sandhills country known as the “Garfield Table” and became the local postmaster at Garfield. At that time he met the 17 year old beauty who would become his wife, Clydia Gertrude Chappell. They were married at high noon on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1897. With over 50 guests, some from many miles away, it was a gala event of some importance for those days. She had made her own wedding dress and baked enough berry pies for all the guests at her own wedding, a task she set for herself that seemed to become a tradition for nearly every family dinner she presided over for the rest of her life.

Clydia’s family are descendants of Richard Chappell, who came from England to Virginia in 1600 where he became the patriarch of the Virginia branch of the family known as the “Tidewater” Chappells, named for the tidewater counties in which they reside along the seacoast.

After their marriage, Alf Combs operated a livery stable and taxi service in Gandy, providing horses, wagons and buggies for rent. He also furnished transportation for Dr. McClay, the town doctor, the only one for many miles. Many times he served as Dr. McClay’s assistant and thus formed a friendship that lasted a lifetime. Eventually, Alf relocated his dray business, livery stable and taxi service to Maxwell, Nebraska. He made this move across the prairie with two small children before there were any roads and while Clydia was about to deliver Pearl, their third child. In Maxwell, Alf became town marshal, solving several serious robberies and other crimes of the day.

An example of the Lincoln Highway circa 1920,
this stretch is in Wyoming.
Alf was in demand by various companies as a manager for ranches they owned in Nebraska. One of these companies was the Kent & Burke Ranch and Cattle Company in Genoa, Nebraska, where he worked for a time. Another assignment was in Silver Creek, Nebraska, working on a project for a Mr. Holcomb. At that time there was still a lot of work in the construction of the great Lincoln transcontinental highway. The first woman to drive across the country was a movie star, Miss Paramount, probably sponsored by paramount Pictures as a publicity stunt. In any event, her auto became mired in the mud just outside of Silver Creek, and Alf pulled her out with a team of horses, for which she later sent him an autographed picture.

For extra money, Alf broke horses and Clydia would sometimes accompany him as he transported them, tied to the back of the wagon. On one occasion, they would not move, so Alf built a small fire under them and started a runaway, with Clydia alone in the wagon. He grabbed the runaway horses by the bit as they charged past him and was dragged until they stopped. Clydia was more frightened at the prospect of being left a widow than she was at being injured herself in a runaway wagon.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sunday Stories: Christy Cafe and Candy Store

Excerpted from the Sutherland Centennial Book, published in 1991.

Elmer Lind was united in marriage at Osceola, Nebraska in 1910 to Florence Talbot, and later moved to Kewanee, Illinois. To this union, a daughter, Marjorie was born on January 24, 1915, and a son Hubert. Florence, along with her newborn son died during the flu epidemic in November 1918. They are buried together at Kewanee, Illinois.

Upon the death of his wife, Elmer took Marjorie, who was just three years old, to Stromsburg, Nebraska to live with her grandparents, the A.B. Linds. It was in Stromsburg that Elmer met and later married Adela Christy.

The Ku Klux Klan influence was very strong in the Stromsburg community and because Adela’s father, E.T. Christy wouldn’t join the Klan’s ranks, he moved from there to Sutherland in June of 1925 where they opened the Christy Bakery.

In August 1925, Elmer, Adela and their young family moved to Paxton, Nebraska where Adela was to run a café, and Elmer was going to learn the bakery business from Adela’s father. Adela operated the café in Paxton for approximately one year, and then learned that the family was soon to be increasing, so with two small girls and another baby soon to arrive, she closed the cafe in Paxton, and moved to Sutherland in the spring of 1926.

The family lived in the living quarters behind the family business known as the “Candy Kitchen,” which was the bakery. It was located on east Front Street. In August 1927, the Sutherland Courier states that Christy the Baker announced the opening of a new café in the front portion of the bakery.

The bakery business continued to prosper until a tragic accident that happened in April 1929. Clayton Malm, a young school boy came into the bakery to visit a friend after school one day. He reached into the mixer to get some dough, and got his hand caught in the blades of the huge mixer and was pulled into the large mixing vat. The boy was small for his age at fourteen years. Adela and an employee, Ella (Rhoades) Thomas were in the bakery at the time. Adela went for help; it took ten men to pull the boy out. He died later that night at the hospital.

It was a horrible accident, and when the word got around the area that the boy was pulled into the vat, no one wanted to buy their bread. They had been selling one thousand loaves of bread a day, taking bread to Sarben, Paxton, and Hershey. After the accident the sales dropped to ten loaves a week.

E.T. Christy put a notice in the paper that the mixer had been replaced by a new one, but that didn’t help matters any. The Candy Kitchen space, which was next door, was leased and the lease was not renewed. The bakery equipment was sold to Mr. Emil Seiler, who moved the business to Madrid, Nebraska. Following the sale of the bakery business, E.T. started the Christy-Lind Café in the McNeel Hotel building. This was operated until October 1929, at which time it was sold and the family moved to Grand Island to run a bakery there.

The stock market crashed and the economy was bad. The bakery was lost in Grand Island. In April, 1930 they moved back to Sutherland to take back the café that had been sold because the buyer couldn’t meet the payments. The lease on the hotel building space was not renewed, so E.T. built a small building for the café west of the schoolhouse on Locust Street. This was also called Christy-Lind Café and had a patio area where people could eat outside and enjoy the cool of the outdoors. This building and the business was destroyed by fire in March 1934 and was never rebuilt.

At this time, E.T. and his wife decided to move to California. They were on the train enroute when Mrs. Christy passed away. Her body was removed from the train at Salt Lake City, Utah. Mr. Christy continued on to California. Elmer Lind and family stayed in Sutherland, and Elmer went to work for his brother, Ben Lind, who had a farming operation near the Nichols School, east of Hershey. Elmer died November 11, 1940 and upon his death, Adela’s father, E.T. Christy returned to Sutherland from California.

In June, 1940, the Sutherland Courier has an item that a business with the name of “Life’s Bakery,” located across the street from the McNeel Hotel was in operation. This business was sold to E.T. Christy in January, 1941.

On January 9, 1941 an article in the Courier reads as follows: “The first of this week, E.T. Christy, former Sutherland resident, bakery and café man, returned to Sutherland from California and purchased the O.J. Life Bakery. For the past four years, Mr. Christy had been the purchasing agent for the C.C.C. Camp near Eureka, California. It was six years ago that Mr. Christy left Sutherland to locate on the west coast.
The bakery will be known as the Christy-Lind Bakery, and will be open to the public Saturday. Mr. Christy promises the best in a full line of bakery goods, and they will also serve coffee, bakery lunches and hamburgers. An invitation is extended to al people of Sutherland and surrounding community to renew acquaintances with Mr. Christy and his products. They will be glad to meet you. He will be aided by Mrs. Elmer Lind, his daughter, Shirley and Christy Lind.” The special for this day was Giant Angel Food Cake – 50 cents.

The final word, though no date is given, is that Mr. Christy didn’t stay too long this time, the demands of bakery items in the area was not in existence any more, so he returned to California. He later returned to North Platte where he passed away.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sunday Stories: The first Applegate in Sutherland

From the archives of the Sutherland Centennial Book, published in 1991.

George W. Applegate

James Harvey Applegate, the second son of John Applegate (born 1784) was born in 1807, in Allegheney County, Pennsylvania and moved with his family to Montgomery County, Indiana when he was nine years old. He was orphaned at the age of eleven and bound out to a local farmer, and was on his own again at the age of fifteen. He married Raumy French in 1822. They settled in Marion County, Iowa and were the parents of seven children. He died in 1840.

George Washington Applegate, the fourth child of James and Raumy was born in Montgomery County, Indiana, September 10, 1834. He was the first Applegate in the Sutherland community, moving here in 1887.

George married Mary Jane Freeman, and together they had one child. Mary Jane, as did the child, who was scalded to death by pulling a pan of boiling water off of a stove onto itself.

Battle of Shiloh by Thure de Thulstrup.
He then married Mary Jane Palin in Fountain County, Indiana on January 29, 1857. Mary was born near Attica, Indiana. They started out from Indiana with a three month old baby, James Harvey, in a team and wagon. Due to heavy rains and mud, they were forced to abandon the wagon at Jacksonville, Illinois, and continue the trip on horseback. Upon arrival at Marion County, Iowa, he doubled up with his brother, Philander, until he had secured a house and land of his own.

George was a life-long farmer. When the Civil War broke out, George became a soldier for the North. He served with the Thirty Third Iowa Volunteer Infantry, Company I in July of 1862, where he served for three years. He was a teamster, hauling army supplies with a team and wagon. George fought at Shiloh on the Tennessee River; Yazoo Pass near Vicksburg; and Ste. Helena. He was honorably discharged at Fort Montgomery, Alabama, Company E, Reg. 33, Iowa Infantry, July 1865, after the war was over. He traveled back to Marion County, Iowa where he lived and continued to farm until 1887.

A typical Nebraska homestead in 1887
He came to Lincoln County, Nebraska in the spring of 1887, acquired a farm by homestead rights. The family successfully engaged in agricultural pursuits and the ranch and stock business until his death on February 12, 1910 at the age of 75 years. He simply did not wake up one morning. He is buried at the Sutherland Riverview Cemetery.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Main Street Businesses

This past week saw Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, all ways of describing the frenzied start to the Christmas shopping season. While I'm not an economist, I do have a vested interest in helping Nebraska's small communities sustain a thriving main street. Of course, for any small town to survive, first the families have to survive, so I'll start with the caution to create a substantial savings account buffer against hard times and not overspend at Christmas or any other time of the year. With that being said... if you must spend, spend in your local main street stores.

And I'm not just talking about Small Business Saturday. I mean all year around! I'll admit that my own home town of Sutherland has a dying downtown district, as I've posted about before. But that doesn't mean that we don't have locally owned small businesses where we can get many of our day-to-day needs. Maline's Super Foods is a perfect example. I've recently seen posts from my friends on Facebook about driving to Walmart in North Platte to pick up the five items they forgot on their Thanksgiving shopping list. Not only does this not make economic sense, this attitude supports a corporation with a questionable history of its treatment of employees and the communities in which it locates its stores, at the expense of a business owned by neighbors, employing neighbors that supports local causes and organizations. Without the support from Maline's, Sutherland - the school, 4th of July celebration, youth sports and the volunteer fire department to name a few - would look far different. If you support them with your large grocery lists, they'll be there when you run out of sugar or milk or eggs to finish that recipe.

There are other stores as well. Kildare Lumber Company is a small west central Nebraska business headquartered in Paxton with a store in Sutherland. Having recently done some extensive renovation in our home, I can attest that they have most of what you will need for projects large and small. Plus, if you support them with your large projects, they'll be there when you just need that single fastener or pipe for an emergency project.

Becker Auto Parts and the local Co-Op are a couple of others. It's great to have these stores in town. Their owners and employees are vital to our community. They are youth sports coaches, volunteer firemen, local politicians. The property taxes on their homes and businesses support maintaining our home town. Unless you need specialty tires or parts, you can find what you need there. And, if you support them when you need to buy a new set of tires, they'll be there for you when your car is broken down and can't get to North Platte for the emergency parts you need.

There are so many others: Ozzies and Ozzies I-80; Sportsmens Cove; the Longhorn Bar; the Medical Clinic; Sno-White; Sutherland Industries; Thomas Insurance Agency; First Street Fitness; Courts Candles. Thankfully, the Village of Sutherland recently upgraded their website that now has complete business listings.

This time of year, there are craft shows nearly every weekend, where you'll find wonderful hand-made items, plus manufactured goods sold by local entrepreneurs. It's a good way to fill out that Christmas list or buy things you need for yourself, supporting local friends, neighbors and small businesses while purchasing the things you need.

So what are some of the statistics about small business? There are 27+ million small businesses in the U.S. Between 60% and 80% of all new jobs created in America are as a result of small businesses. Small businesses, with less than 100 employees represent 99% of all employers In Nebraska, the payroll of small businesses is $8.3 billion or 30.4% of the total payroll in the state.

You'll find most small towns are the same as Sutherland. Some local friend or neighbor has a business that can meet your needs. Call on them before you go driving out of town to find the same thing. In the long run you'll be saving money and saving your community. In the big picture, you will be contributing to the growth and stability of the entire U.S. economy. Not a bad return on investment.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday Stories: First White Girl in North Platte

From the Sutherland Centennial Book, published in 1991.

Alverda Peale was the first white baby girl born in the city of North Platte, Nebraska. The daughter of Franklin and Mary (Comly) Peale, Alverda was born in August, 1870. Her parents were Pennsylvanians. Franklin Peale came to North Platte to be the first foreman painter at the Union Pacific shops. He painted Pullman cars and also horse-drawn carriages and coaches for the people of the town. He later had his own paint and paper shop located on Dewey Street in downtown North Platte.

The Peales homesteaded northwest of the town and part of their land is now a portion of the North Platte City Cemetery. Their graves are marked with a stone which reads "At rest on the old Homestead."

Alverda Peale lived on the homestead as a girl and was a frequent playmate of the William F. Cody children. They rode their ponies across the prairies, went to school in the town and ice skated on the river in winter. Once she was captured by Indians who took her across the river to the north. They kept her overnight and the Indian women returned her to her parents the next day. She told of the great herds of buffalo which ran at large, as well as the Indians.

Photograph of Buffalo Bill Cody
and Sitting Bull
Alverda studied painting in Chicago and became an accomplished artist. One of her works, a large portrait of Buffalo Bill and Sitting Bull, hung for years in the North Platte High School. It now hangs at Scouts Rest Ranch.

On October 22, 1891, Alverda Peale married Henry Coker of Sutherland. They lived on a ranch near Sutherland. Mr. Coker was a prominent citizen of the town, having created the Sutherland Post Office and serving for six years as its postmaster. The Cokers had 11 children.

Alverda helped organize the first Sunday School at the Sutherland Presbyterian Church, of which she and Henry and all their children were members. She operated a hospital at their home "Alverdale" in north Sutherland. Her later years were spent with her children. She passed away on July 17, 1958 at Eureka, California and is buried at the Sutherland Cemetery.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday Stories: From Scotland to Sutherland

The stories of our forebears always fascinate me. In looking through the Sutherland Centennial book, published in 1991, I realized how many incredible stories of hardship, perseverance, joy and loss there are to be told. This is one of those stories.

James Brownlee Beveridge, was born March 12, 1886 in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania. He was the youngest of 10 children born to George and Grace Weir Beveridge who came to the United States from Hamilton, Scotland in 1868. In Scotland they had rented out horses and mules. George came to America first, followed by Grace a few months later with three children. Another child was born on shipboard enroute.
Hamilton, Scotland circa late 1800's

At the time Grace and George left Scotland, ten of George's brothers also left - some to the United States, others to Australia. Though he often tried, George was never again able to locate any of them.

James came to Nebraska in 1902 at the age of 16 from Nanticoke, PA where he and his brother John had worked in the coal mines. He arrived by train at Paxton, then walked to the old Stone Ranch where his brother George, whome he had never seen,  lived. George was the child of Grace and George who had been born aboard ship enroute from Hamlin, Scotland to the United States. His official birthplace was: "The U.S.S. Iowa, New York Harbor". He was, therefore, christened George Iowa Beveridge.

James stayed in Nebraska only a short time before going back to Pennsylvania. He returned to Nebraska in 1904. He farmed with his brother Tom, worked for other farmers and, in about 1907 or 1908, helped lay the grade of the O'Fallons branch railroad. He worked 12 hours a day, six days a week, plus feeding the horses on Sunday. The pay was $25 per month.

In 1908 he homesteaded about ten miles south of Sutherland. He bought some land and rented another section. The homestead still remains in the Beveridge family today.

In 1910 James was able to send for his bride-to-be, Mary Mae (Maymie) Griffith, or Nanticoke, Pennsylvania. She came by train to North Platte. They drove to the Methodist church where they were married September 14, 1910. They departed at once, cross country by buggy, for the homestead.

The city bred bride, who had run a hat shop and sang with the Welsh Singers, suffered a great deal of cultural shock. She was horrified at the use of cow chips for fuel, especially for cooking. She was later to laughingly remark that she became so accustomed to them that she could toss them into the stove with one hand and eat with the other. She was also terrified, at first, at the sound of coyotes howling at night and was often lonely so far from her family.

They raised cattle, hogs, horses and mules. Mules are not known for their sweet dispositions and James had the top of one ear cleanly clipped when kicked by a testy mule.

1913 Blizzard in Denver, CO which dropped
nearly 48" of snow
They came through the blizzard of 1913 without loss. Struggling through the snow and wind, they got many of the animals in the barn and the rest sheltered by windbreak. Many of their neighbors were less fortunate and James and Maymie later picked up bones from neighboring ranches and sold them at Sutherland. The bones were also a source of fuel.

Times were hard. Interest, if one could find someone with money to lend, was 12% to 14%. The Coker store carried many ranchers and farmers a year at a time. At one time James had only one shirt which Maymie would wash each night.

The Beveridges gave the school district the land for a school which, 5 years later, the district being dissolved, they bought back.

James and Maymie left the farm in 1918. James ran the Farmer's Elevator in Sutherland until the dust became a health problem. In about 1922 they moved to North Platte where James first worked for the Union Pacific Railroad and later became a real estate broker. Mary Mae died in 1969 at the age of 83 and James died in 1979 at the age of 93.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


With my post about the 101 year old building being torn down in downtown Sutherland, I have been spending a lot of time reading through our local history book. It was published in conjunction with the centennial of our town in 1991. I've owned the book for years and periodically looked up something of interest to me in it, but never really took the time to sit down and read the stories of the families and businesses in our area.

What a treasure this book is. Actually, I own four such books, the one about Sutherland, one about Lincoln County, one about McPherson County, and one about the Sandhills community of Arnold. I also own smaller pamphlets, one about the small rural school I attended, one about the community of Brownville, and one about the O'Fallons community. I've just been fortunate to have been the recipient of them over the years, mostly found by my mother at auctions.

I can't thank the folks who went to so much trouble to edit these books enough. And those who took the time to write the stories of their personal families and submit them. They are treasure troves of local history.

I've decided I'm going to start a series called "Sunday Stories" and write a blog post each Sunday featuring a story from one of these books. My goal isn't to plagiarize these important works, but to give the stories a wider readership. By their very nature, these books had a very limited publishing run, and many of these stories are unknown outside of our local community.

I hope you will find these as fascinating and thought-provoking as I do.

To give credit where credit is due, here are the folks who worked so hard to make these books possible:

McPherson County: Facts, Families, Fiction; Established in 1890
History Book Committee: Nona Moore, Eva Correll, Hazel Haase, Kathleen Fisher, Katrina Fisher, Marjorie Finley, Virgil Graham, Oneeta Neal, Dorothy Kramer, Grace Miller, Helen Trumbull, Betty Schroeder, Maudene Sowders.

Sutherland Centennial: 1891-1991
Editing Staff: Linda K. Tacey, Gene R. Tacey, Marilyn Humphrey, Charles J. Humphrey.
Writers: Marilyn Humphrey, Linda and Gene Tacey, Claudia Eberly, Deloris Crosby, Betty Tidyman, Vernon Thomsen, June Holm, Judy Coker, Irene Seifer, Michele Kalin, Frank Fleecs, Norma Fleecs, Altha Babbitt, Sandy Thompson, Ray Goedert, Dennis Thompson.
Proofreaders: Linda and Gene Tacey, Charles Humphrey, Irene Seifer and Esther Walbert.
Typists: Marilyn Humphrey, Linda and Gene Tacey, Claudia Eberly, Betty Tidyman, Irene Seifer, Nadine Thompson, Barbara Rotert, Carol Brobert, Mrian Merrill, Pam Seiler.
Additional Assistance: Russ and Norma Masters, Avis Danielson, Debby McIlnay, Lucille Shoup, Bonnie Reichenberg, Sandy Nelson, Mabel Shepherd, James and Gail Applegate, Mary Wruble, Gladys Thomas, Betty Beatty, Roseilyn Kennedy, Floyd  & Phyllis Paulman, Beulah Callihan, Caroline Gant, Neva Moore, Iola Eckhoff, Ruth Crockett, Muriel Aden, and others who helped in a variety of ways.

One Hundred Years on the South Loup: A History of the Arnold Community from 1883 - 1983
Compiled by Nora Hall Mills

Pictorial Atlas, Lincoln County Nebraska
Compiled 1969 by Title Atlas Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota

You'll see the first of these posts on Sunday, November 18.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

Sad Nebraska

Visitors to this blog can usually expect to see beautiful pictures of the Nebraska Outback. However, right now, the landscape in the Outback is rather sad. Nebraska has seen one of the driest summers on record, with precipitation that is nearly 6" below normal.
This drought, coupled with steady brisk winds and high temperatures have combined to make this one of the worst fire seasons in memory. Nebraska has lost more than 300,000 acres of crop land, grazing land and forests to fires this summer.

On a recent driveabout in the Nebraska Sandhills, we see reminders of the drought and the fires of this past summer. As you can see, the loss of grass cover on this fragile ecosystem can quickly have devastating effects.
Below a herd of Antelope kick up a cloud of dust as they race through a landscape that looks more like a desert than the greatest grassland on earth.
Closer to home, a pivot stands amid a burned out corn field, results of a 10,000 acre fire that occurred a month ago amid a day of 60+ mile per hour wind. That day also saw a huge dust storm stretch from Nebraska to Oklahoma.
The Nebraska Department of Agriculture even has a "drought central" website for farmers and ranchers affected by the drought.

Hopefully brighter days are in our future. Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Gone... forever

This is the sight that greeted me upon my return from a meeting in El Paso, a city that passed a $500,000,000 bond issue on the November 6th election for downtown renewal. Though it is a much larger city than Sutherland and not really comparable, I find it ironic that the two events so closely coincided with each other. While they are working hard and investing millions of dollars to save their historic infrastructure, we are cavalierly destroying ours.
This is what I saw as I left town Tuesday morning. The contractors ready to do away with a century of history - in a matter of days.
Some of you may remember that this past spring, I campaigned hard for a local-option sales tax in Sutherland, using kids and photos of our decrepit downtown (yes, I said decrepit, and I stand by that harsh statement!). The measure was defeated soundly, and I do mean SOUNDLY with more than 3-1 voting against it.
Now we're living with the result. Not to guarantee that we could have saved this building, but at least we would have had a tool to use for the financial aspects of the project.

So just what did we lose? The photos below tell the story of a once-thriving business district. Here in 1990, the year before Sutherland's centennial, the beginning of the end is near. Already the community is struggling to find a use for this building.
Here in 1949, the building housed the telephone office and the post office.
In 1925, the district was really thriving with numerous going businesses.
The earliest photo I could find in the Sutherland history book, circa about 1917. The building in the center right housed the telephone company office.
While this stately old building stood, there was still hope. Now there's none. Some would call this progress, but I'm not one of them. How much more are we going to lose before Sutherland is completely the bedroom community for North Platte that it is working so hard to become?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Three Alarm Fundraiser

Nebraskans are nothing if not creative

The fire departments of Paxton, Sutherland and Hershey have responded to hundreds of fire calls and rescues in 2012. They've supplied mutual aid whenever it was needed across the state. Now they need some help.

You have two opportunities to win one of these massive sets of horns to grace the wall of your hunting cabin or man cave! These Watusi are more than 10 years old and the horn spans top 10 - 12 feet! They've lived long and extremely non-productive lives, having no purpose other than to mystify drivers along the country roads south of Sutherland. In their death, they can make a contribution of $$ into the budgets of our local volunteer fire departments, which have saved countless human lives and homes through their valiant efforts.
Raffle tickets are $20 for the chance to win a complete Watusi cow - 1,000+ pounds of meat (probably best if made into burger!) and a skull with 10-12' horn span. What you do with it is up to you!

A $5 raffle ticket will give you the chance to win a skull with horns, ready for the taxidermist. You have to make arrangements for shipping.

100% of proceeds will be divided equally between the volunteer fire departments of Paxton, Sutherland and Hershey.

Message me if you're interested in purchasing some tickets and we'll make arrangements for the transaction. You've got to hurry, though! The drawing is on the 17th of November, so it's coming up FAST!
Update: Prize drawing items for the November 17 dinner and dance include:
  • Cash Prizes
  • Baskets from Robin Peterson and Sherry Seifer, Rafter 7S
  • A Trickle Charger from Becker Auto Parts
  • A pair of Leather Gloves from Kildare Lumber
  • A Nebraska Windsock from Sutherland Industries
  • A gift certificate from Hair We R
  • A football t-shirt from Courtney Harold of Court's Candles
  • Seifer Farms Fresh Chicken and Smoked Chicken
  • Michael Forsberg coffee table books "Great Plains" and "On Ancient Wings"

  • More being donated before event
Grand Prize - red ticket - a live Watusi steer, hoof, hide and horns, (approximately 1000 lbs dressed weight). Blue ticket grand prize - head and horns, suitable for mounting.

Musicians planning to perform include: Butch Kiger, Kurt Wareham and Friends, Maynard Zipf, Rascal Martinez, Jake Cox, Taylor Staggs and possibly more.


If you wish to participate in music performance, contact Butch Kiger at 530-6419. If you have a door prize donation, contact Ray Seifer at 386-8962 If you wish to help with the meal (salad, casserole or dessert) or at the ticket table, contact Trenda Seifer at 386-8697.

The 3-Alarm Fundraiser will be held Saturday, November 17 at the Sutherland Legion Hall. A meal, featuring "Scotty-Q'd" Watusi Beef, beans, side dishes and desserts from some ladies in our local communities, beginning at 6:00pm.

If you want to see just how valiant these men and women are, check out this slide show of the recent Korty fire. Though they were fighting in 60+ mile an hour wind, you'll see time after time how they made a stand and saved a home. Thanks for stopping by. The coffee's always on.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Through the Seasons Part 6

Fate conspired against me being able to get out and get a photo taken in July, so this one is about a month late. Taken at about 6:00pm on August 8.
Photo below is about 8pm on June 6. The corn is starting to green up. The photo below taken at about 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, May 20.
7:45 a.m. CDT on Sunday, April 8, 2012.
Below approximately 8:15 a.m. on March 18.
Below 9:00am CT on Sunday February 5.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Through The Seasons Part 5

Tried a different time of day this time - about 8pm on June 6. The corn is starting to green up. The photo below taken at about 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, May 20.
7:45 a.m. CDT on Sunday, April 8, 2012.
Below approximately 8:15 a.m. on March 18.
Below 9:00am CT on Sunday February 5.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Preserving History

It has been since early 2011 that excitement has begun to build for the 2013 centennial celebration of the Lincoln Highway, America's first transcontinental highway. To join in the fun, my hometown of Sutherland, Nebraska decided to restore an historic service station located along Highway 30, which, through Nebraska, is designated as the Lincoln Highway Nebraska Scenic and Historic Byway.

Below are three photos of the gas station as it has stood for many years.

While a lot of progress has gone on behind the scenes - fundraising, organizing, etc., there wasn't much progress. The two photos below show the site after doing a little clean-up

My husband and brother, foster son and nephew spent three long, hot, grueling days atop the roof tearing off the nearly 100 year old shingles and replacing it with historically-correct new cedar shingles.

And here is the progress to date - click on the image below to open a "photosynth" - a full 360 degree view. We've got a long way to go, but at least we're moving forward. Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.