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.