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.

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