Sunday Stories: Sutherland Roots II

Excerpts from the Sutherland Centennial, 1891 - 1991.

The first businesses of the village were: Hardware store on Front Street owned by Elmer Coates, and sold to Orville Hostetter and his brother in 1893. He sold to E.C. Brown and C.B. McKinstry in the fall of 1896; John Coker Hotel run by Wilson W. Yates; Bank of Sutherland built in the spring of 1893 by E.C. Brown, President and C.B. McKinstry Cashier; first elevator was built by C.F. Iddings in 1892; General Merchandise of George C. White; Dry Goods Store of George C. McKay; Lumber Yard and Grain House belonging to C.W. Holtry; John Reed was the Village Blacksmith; Mr. Campbell served as Postmaster and Depot Agent; and the first newspaper, The Free Lance, was run by Charles Purnell until he sold it to C.M. Reynolds. The first grocery store was built in 1892 by Frederick L. Datchier on Front Street and is believed to have burned and he quit business.

In 1899, Sutherland had the only bridge crossing the North Platte River in the area and Hershey had the nearest doctor, Dr. Eaves. Sutherland had the pharmacy and a depot. There was an annual 4th of July celebration, with an open air dance in the park until daylight.

Sutherland was incorporated as a Village under the State Laws of Nebraska in April 1905. The first officers of the Village Board were: Chairman John R. White; Clerk W.F. Elfeldt; Health Officers James R. White and Dr. G.O. Gordon; Street Commissioner Hans Jorgensen; Treasurer W.C. Blackmore; and Councilmen James W. White, G.O. Gordon; G.L. Button, and A.W. Peterson.

The first church was the Methodist Episcopal established in 1886 at Cody Siding with the Rev. Crago as pastor. Data is scarce as records were burned in a fire in 1888. They built their first church building in 1899 on land purchased from Charles and Anna Burklund.

The Presbyterian Church was formally established on March 12, 1893, by Alex Robertson, David Hunter, and John Coker. The 24 x 32 feet church was erected in 1892 at a cost of $1,000.00 with an active Sunday School started at that early date.

The Lutheran Church was built on its present site in 1895.

In the spring of 1897, dreams of a village park began. A committee composed of Frank Carpenter, W.C. Blackmore and E.C. Brown was chosen to meet with the Union Pacific officials. With the help of John Keith who had great influence with the railroad, they secured land next to the mainline south of the business district.

Sutherland’s first fire department consisted of a double handled pump and 200 feet of inch hose located and owned by Sutherland Hardware on the southeast corner of Block Five. Later more pumps were added, as was hose at the J.H. McNeels and more at E.C. Browns’ Sutherland Hardware.

In 1934, in the midst of the Great Depression, extreme temperatures and drought, Sutherland was considered booming. The mile of Lincoln Highway through Sutherland was being paved and the Sutherland Reservoir was under construction. 350 people were directly connected with the building of the reservoir and at least 150 indirectly, bringing about 1,000 people to the area. About half of the men boarded at the reservoir site while the rest made their home in Sutherland. The payroll each week was around $6,000 and wages varied from 50 cents an hour to $1.20.


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