Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday Stories: Exploration and Trails

Excerpted from the 1891-1991 Sutherland Centennial

 In 1842, Colonel John C. Fremont traveled the approximate route of the Oregon Trail. On July 2, 1842, he reported that his party had passed near an old encampment of Oregon emigrants on Brady Island; so the travelers to Oregon were numerous enough at this time to leave evidence of their passing. That evening Fremont and his party crossed over to the north side of the South Platte River and camped. On July 3rd, they traveled up the South Platte for a distance of twenty-five miles. This would put them near the vicinity of where Sutherland now stands. The 4th of July was celebrated with a little “red fire-water”, and it was noted that while they were having their breakfast, a buffalo calf was chased through the encampment by a couple of wolves. Perhaps this was a portent of Sutherland’s future 4th of July celebrations.


A few miles west they reported a herd of about eleven thousand buffalo. He split his party here, indicating their encampment that day was not far distant from the road that crosses to the North Ford and that the trails on both rivers were in use.

Fremont Slough which ran and still runs south and to the east of Sutherland was named for Col. Fremont. It served as a watering hole for both people and livestock in the early days. Originally it was named Fremont Creek, and was at the site of the Lower Crossing of the South Platte where there also was a Pony Express and Stage Station. It was known as the Fremont Springs Pony Express and Stage Station or Buffalo Ranch.

There were three crossings of the California Road across the South Platte River. The lower, middle, and upper fords were used to join the north trail. The lower ford, Old Ford Road was southeast of Sutherland, the middle ford was east of Ogallala and the upper ford was west of Brule. This crossed over to Ash Hollow.

Old Ford Road was the crossing preferred by travelers of the early days, located near the sites of the I-80 rest areas southeast of Sutherland. Wagon trains planned at least one day to make this crossing as they traveled westward because of the heavy wagons sinking in the mud. The land was more level between the two channels and was a choice route, especially after the Indians had moved to reservations in the 1870’s. This crossing was used later, before there were any bridges over the South Platte River by local settlers. The tracks that were made by the wheels of the wagons crossing the country are still visible today from the eastbound I80 rest areas.
Oregon Trail Ruts at the I-80 eastbound rest area at Sutherland
“More excitement, more fun, more bad whiskey drank at the place (lower ford) than any other point from St. Joe to the Pacific. When safely across, the captain passed around the ‘big jug’…” Signed John Clark.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Sutherland featured in Lincoln Highway Guide Books

As early as 1915, Sutherland was mentioned in “The Complete Official Road Guide of the Lincoln Highway” published by the Lincoln Highway Association. It lists Sutherland as being 1769 miles from New York and 1615 from San Francisco. This is slightly different than the current mileage, which can be attributed to straighter roads.

Of Sutherland, the guidebook says: One hotel. Two garages: storage, night, 50c; washing, $1.00. Gas, 18c; Oil, 60c. Local speed limit, 12 m.p.h. enforced. Route marked through town and county; signs at town limits. Extensive road improvement planned for 1915. Good detour road without mileage increase over L.H. Two banks, 1 R.R., 18 general business places, 1 Exp. Co. 1 Tel. Co. 1 newspaper, 2 public schools, 50 automobiles owned. L.H. Local Consul, A. W. Hootson.

Today, the guidebooks have changed. Rather than being the sole resource for information along the road, they are enticing marketing pieces designed to spur travelers to leave I-80 and find adventure in the small towns along the way.

Sutherland is not overlooked in these guidebooks either. The Kearney Hub has published “The Lincoln Highway, Nebraska’s Longest Main Street Celebrates 100 Years”, and on page 99 is a full page photo of the Frontier gas station, taken last fall after the roof had been replaced. Famed Lincoln Highway historian Brian Butko’s latest book “The Lincoln Highway Photos Through Time” features two Sutherland photos, one of the completely un-restored Frontier gas station on page 31 and one of the recreated billboard at Sportsmen’s Cove. Our restoration efforts are mentioned in another Brian Butko book “Greetings from the Lincoln Highway, A Road Trip Celebration of America’s First Coast-to-Coast Highway” on page 162.

Efforts to spruce up our town have not gone unnoticed by the visitors traveling through. All of the improvements, whether mentioned in the guidebooks or not, done by property owners or volunteers, is greatly appreciated and goes a long way in making Sutherland a nicer place to live.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sunday Stories: The Winkenwerders

Excerpted from the 1891-1991 Sutherland Centennial

Bernhard Johann Friedrick Winkenwerder


Bernhard Johann Friedrich Winkenwerder was born in Heldingsdorf, Germany on April 12, 1845 to Friedrick and Sophia (Erdman) Winkenwerder. Bernhard (Barney, as he was known) lived in the area of Schwerin, Germany, where was a farmer. He married Emilie Maxhelda Engle (born December 12, 1853).

Barney and Emilie immigrated to the United States in early 1882. Their oldest son, Richard Francis, who was born February 18, 1879, accompanied them on this trip, as well as Emilie’s mother, Karoline Engle, who was then 60 years old.

The family came first to Chicago and then moved on to the Watersville, Kansas area. Barney’s younger sister, Dorothea, and a younger brother, John, had previously settled in this area in the early or mid 1870’s. Story has it that Dorothea smuggled John out of Germany in a trunk so he wouldn’t have to register for the German army.

Barney and his family lived in Kansas about one year and then moved to North Platte. During the same year they filed on a Homestead on March 31, 1883, being the Southeast Quarter of Section 14, Township 13, Range 33, located seven miles southeast of Sutherland.

They moved out to the homestead March 1, 1884, after building a house with lumber they had acquired from a building somewhere northeast of Hershey. After living on the homestead the required number of years, they received their Homestead Certificate; Number 2999, dated September 15, 1891.

Barney and Emilie had five more children after arriving in the United States: Henry, born in Kansas; Emil, Marie, Bernhard Oscar, and Ernest Arthur, all born on the homestead. Henry (Hank) lived on the homestead all of his life. He died September 2, 1965. Marie lived to an old age and died in a rest home in Wisconsin. The three boys, Emil, Bernhard and Ernest, all died in infancy. Two of them were buried in a field west of the homestead house until the Lamont Cemetery was started in the early 1890’s.
Winkenwerder family plot in the background at the Lamont Cemetery
Barney helped lay out the original townsites of both Sutherland and Hershey. He passed away October 29, 1821. Emilie died on April 23, 1918.

Richard Francis Winkenwerder

Richard Francis Winkenwerder was born February 18, 1879, in Germany and immigrated to the United States at age three with his parents and his grandmother. He grew up on his father’s homestead southeast of Sutherland.

As a child, Richard remembered going with his father in a wagon, possibly to get a load of lumber to build the house on the homestead. They had to ford the South Platte River just east of where the Hershey river bridge is now located. While fording the river he saw some carp swimming in a small pond next to the river channel with their backs sticking out of the water. He planned to look for them on the return trip, but the wind had blown the pond completely full of sand. At that time there were no trees on the river. The only tree he could remember when he was young was a small grove of cottonwoods in the river about halfway between Sutherland and Paxton, and one tree that stood at the top of O’Fallon’s Bluff, south of Sutherland.

Richard, his brother Henry, and sister, Marie, attended the Lamont School which was located about a mile and a half north of their home. The Lamont School and Cemetery were established in the early 1890’s. At that time school did not go by grades, instead they called them “READERS” and when you accomplished one, you were advanced to the next one. By the time Richard finished the Seventh Reader, he was 20 years old and he decided to quit school.

From 1909 to 1917 Richard lived on a farm halfway between Sutherland and Paxton, just south of the South Platte River. As his father advanced in years, Richard returned to the homestead to help his brother Henry, with the farming.

Richard married Amelia Miller Straub in the spring of 1921. Amelia Was born May 27, 1894 in Waterville, Kansas, to Henry and Dorothea (Winkenwerder) Miller. Amelia’s family moved to Oregon in 1908 and she married Fred Straub in 1910. Fred died during the influenza epidemic in 1918. Amelia moved to Nebraska where she married Richard.

Amelia bore 14 children, including two sets of twins (Ed and Edna and Don and Darrel):
  • Elmer Straub, who died in April 1989 at Nome, Alaska, where he had lived for 50 years.
  • Gladys Straub (Mrs. Bud Howerton) of McCook, Nebraska.
  • Grace Straub Rogers and her husband John were both killed in an automobile accident on March 7, 1978 in Missouri.
  •  Durward (Dude) Straub, who was killed January 10, 1943, near the Bermuda Triangle in a U.S. Navy airplane.
  • Irene Winkenwerder (Mrs. Ed Young) of North Platte.
  •  Edna (Mrs. Herman Dishman) who lived on the Winkenwerder homestead.
  •  Ed Winkenwerder who was killed February 8, 1975 when he fell from a railroad car while working at Farmer’s Elevator in Hershey.
  • Don Winkenwerder who died at five months of age.
  • Darrel Winkenwerder
  • Ernie Winkenwerder of Sutherland.
  • Fritz Winkenwerder of Lincoln.
  •  Ben Winkenwerder of Sutherland,.
  • Edith Winkenwerder Phetteplace of LaCrosse, Wisconsin.
  • Dotty Winkenwerder Roseberry of Dunning, Nebraska.

Richard lived on the homestead until his death on October 19, 1957. Amelia stayed on until the death of Richard’s brother Henry on September 5, 1965. She then bought a house in Sutherland and lived there until she moved to the Sutherland Nursing Home one month before her death on September 14, 1972.

Bernard Francis and Alice Winkenwerder

Bernard (Ben) was born Marcy 7, 1932 to Richard and Amelia Winkenwerder, at the homestead southeast of Sutherland, with Lydia Kautz as the midwife. He attended Kindergarten through the eighth grade at Lamont School and one semester of ninth grade in Sutherland.

In the fall of 1932 Richard and Amelia lost the homestead farm and they moved a mile south. Ben remembers riding on the back of the wagon, with some boxes full of chickens, as they moved back to the homestead in 1934. Shortly after that Richard took ben north of the house to watch a dragline that moved on rails as it dug the canal from the Sutherland Reservoir to Lake Maloney at North Platte for Platte Valley Public Power.

The family cooked and heated their home with wood and a lot of corn cobs from the corn they grew and a lot they got from the neighbors. When they would run out of cobs they would take the wagon with the bang boards and go to their neighbor, Jacob Koch and pick up cow chips. Dude (older half brother), painted on the side of the wagon the name “Heifer City Coal.”

As kids in their teens, they made their spending money by trapping skunks, selling the hides for $2.00 to $2.50 apiece. Other times they would go through the neighbors’ pastures and pick up bones or scrounge through their junk piles for scrap iron which they sold. Occasionally they would do odd jobs for neighbors.
On weekends Ben and his brothers would do a lot of walking, roaming the country. Quite often they would walk the seven miles to Sutherland to go to a movie. At that time John Townsend operated the theater and it cost ten cents admission for kids, a quarter for adults. The theater was in the east half of the building where the Longhorn Bar is now located.

Ben joined the Army in March of 1954, spending 16 months in Korea. Ben and Alice Bloomquist married on October 21, 1962. They had three children, Carol, Craig and Karen.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sunday Stories: Wever Brothers – Trick Riders and Ropers

Excerpted from the 1891-1991 Sutherland Centennial Book:

Two talented young men who grew up in the Sutherland community were, at one time, well known throughout the United States for their amazing feats in Trick Riding and Roping.

Francis and Floyd Wever, who both still lived in Sutherland at the time of the writing of the history book in 1991, learned their tricks as young men while at home. Before the days of all types of entertainment, young people made their own. There was radio of sorts, but operated by batteries, thus the use of them was generally monitored carefully so when something really exciting was to be broadcast, the batteries would be in good shape and wouldn’t run down halfway through the broadcast. Television was unheard of. Francis and Floyd chose to entertain themselves by doing tricks on their horses.

Lou Cogger, a rancher who lived north of Sutherland and also furnished stock for the North Platte (Buffalo Bill) Rodeo, as well as rodeos throughout the United States, saw Francis and Floyd one day while they were “just fooling around”. He was quite impressed by; their efforts, so he told them that if they got good enough he would give them a job performing at rodeos. This sounded very intriguing to the young men, so they began practicing with greater enthusiasm.

Francis was twenty-two years old and Floyd was seven when they gave their first performance at the North Platte Rodeo in 1934 on the 4th of July. They were very well received with their outstanding acts in trick and fancy roping and riding, and considered very high class and unusual entertainment for rodeo fans.

During their careers with the rodeo circuit they were fortunate to compete with the best riders and ropers in the world and meet many famous people. Francis and Floyd were members of the Cowboy Turtles Association which was the forerunner of the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association).

To name of the few rodeos where they performed: the Bart County Rodeo at Oakland, NE in 1934 and 1936; the Mid South Fair in Memphis, TN in 1936; In 1939 there were performances at the Rupert Rodeo, Rupert, ID; Dubois Annual Rodeo at Dubois, WY; Robbers Roost Roundup at Price, UT; and the World’s Championship Rodeo at the Chicago Stadium, Chicago, IL; In 1940 they performed at the Roundup at Price, UT and the Hardin Rodeo at Hardin, MT. 1941 took them to the Days of ’76 Rodeo at Deadwood, SD; the Ski-Hi Stampede at Monte Vista, CO.

They performed only one time at the Sutherland Rodeo, in 1942, only because of the demands for them to go elsewhere. They gave their final performance in Ogallala in 1942. It was decided to quit because World War II had begun, gas was rationed, and the fans couldn’t et around as well, let alone the performers.

Friday, August 9, 2013

It's time to rethink our attitude toward marijuana

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, respected medical advisor for CNN, has finished an in-depth analysis of 20 years of worldwide marijuana research. His conclusions? The US has been totally, completely, 100% wrong in its characterization of marijuana as a schedule 1 drug.

How much irreparable damage has been done to families by America's relentless prosecution of marijuana use and distribution? Families torn apart, children in foster care while their parents languished in prison, poverty resulting from the inability to get a job with a record? 

How many BILLIONS of dollars has been spent in enforcement and incarceration of marijuana users and distributors? Money which could be used to shore up our education system, repair our crumbling infrastructure, protect the most vulnerable of our citizens?

Not only is it time for the federal laws prohibiting recreational use to be overturned, it is BEYOND time for medicinal use to be legalized. As a schedule 1 drug, it can't even be studied in the US, but around the world, it is recognized as an effective treatment for myriad illnesses, most specifically chronic pain.

The other benefit of finally coming to our senses about marijuana? The legalization of the hemp industry. Hemp could be a billion dollar boon to American agriculture, with more than 25,000 currently documented uses, from renewable Hempcrete building products to ethanol and everyday products like cellophane.


It's time for marijuana to become a revenue stream for government (sin taxes, income taxes, license fees, etc.), rather than being a billion dollar annual expenditure for local, state and federal governments.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Tribute to Nebraska

Oh, Nebraska, never thought I'd miss you so much.
Little towns and wide open spaces, I've found nothing like it in all the other places I've been.
Not my words, but those of The Marcy Brothers in a tribute to Nebraska. I hope I'm tagging the right Marcy Brothers here! They definitely deserve a lot of credit for this beautiful song.

This Tribute to Nebraska was played at the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute 2013. So glad there are young people out there who LOVE Nebraska! There is hope for the future of our great state.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Sunday Stories: The Frank Edwin “Ed” and Dora Alice Wever Family

Excerpted from 1891-1991 Sutherland Centennial book.

Dora Alice was born at Moreland, Graham County, Kansas on August 15, 1891. She is the daughter of Albert and Linda (Bryant) House. She had two older sisters, Cora and Rose; and a brother, Albert Roy, 11 years younger. Dora’s father and Grander lived to be 105 years old before passing on. Dora stated that “Paw never did lose his mind, his body just gave up.”


She received her education in a country school near their homestead, ten miles south of Moreland, Kansas, completing the eighth grade. Her parents couldn’t afford to send their children on for further education as the family would have had to move to a larger town for that.

When she was just a small child, the family moved to Oklahoma on the Canadian River where her father did commercial fishing. He would set his nets out in the river and would pull in a catch, dress them, and early in the morning haul them into Oklahoma City, selling the fish there and returning home by nightfall. The family returned to the homestead in Kansas when Dora was three years old.

She was united in marriage in 1910 at Hill City, Kansas, to Frank Edwin “Ed” Wever, at the age of 19.

In the fall of 1911, they came to Nebraska by covered wagon to a homestead in the Sandhills, 15 miles north of Paxton, Nebraska. They built a one-room sod house which was 14 x 18. Dora can remember gathering cow chips to burn as fuel to heat and cook with. The gathered chips were stacked high near the house for availability.

They didn’t go to town much, perhaps once a month. It would take all day to make the trip into Paxton and back home again by wagon and team of horses.

Dora and Ed became the parents of two sons. Francis was born on August 16, 1912 with the help of Mrs. Gordon, a neighbor. Floyd was born 14 years later.

In 1919 after proving up on the homestead, they sold it and moved to the O’Fallons community, with Ed obtaining a job with the Union Pacific Railroad as a water pumper at the pump station located near the O’Fallons Depot. The family lived in an “outfit” car that the UPRR had sat down onto the ground. Dora recalled that there used to be a Depot at O’Fallons to dispatch the trains up the branch line. O’Fallons was located two miles east of Sutherland. The trains would have to stop to cross through the switches located on the main line.

Also located in the same area were two section houses provided for the families that lived and worked there for the railroad. A man by the name of Donally was the depot agent, or dispatcher. At one time there was a woman who had two little girls who worked as the dispatcher for awhile. Jim Killian was the last one to work there. Due to modernization, the depot and employees were no longer needed as the job was handled in North Platte.

The area also had a large beet dump located just west of where the main road turned north. There were quite a few farmers who raised sugar beets in the area at the time. The team and wagons would drive up on a platform and the wagon would be dumped into the railroad cars. There was a lot of baled hay loaded out of the area for points east.

Dora and Ed traveled with the Francis and Floyd to wherever they were performing in rodeos (see next week’s Sunday Stories). She would go with them so she could take care of them in their clothes. The family would put up a tent and live and cook inside of it while on the road. The boys would do their trick riding and roping performances in the summer months and return home for the winter. Using a treadle sewing machine, she made all the boys trick riding suits so they would look nice while performing.

Ed worked for the railroad until he retired in the 1950’s. He died at the age of 72 in February, 1961, and is buried in the North Platte Cemetery.

Dora lived south of the railroad tracks at O’Fallons, where she enjoyed raising a garden, flowers and going for walks in the pasture. She had a garden until she was 92 years of age. She moved to the Sutherland Care Center in 1988.

During her life she did a lot of sewing, making all the family’s clothing, sewing for others also. She remembers doing laundry on the scrub board and ironing with the old flat iron and cooking on wood-burning stoves.

She helped her husband bring in the crops, handpicking a wagon of corn in the morning, go in at noon to unload and go back out in the fields in the afternoon to pick another load. At noon she would have to fix a lunch for the men.

She also did a lot of other field work, plowing and planting grain with a team of horses. Generally they had about three teams of horses on hand to use. When the tractors came onto the place, Ed had hired men to help him out and she didn’t have to go out to the fields to help any more, but she still had to cook for all of them. Ed usually had two or three hired men at one time.

Both of her sons went to school at the O’Fallons School Francis went to the 8th grade and Floyd graduating from high school.

Dora’s advice to live long is good hard work, take life a little slower and stop and smell the roses, notice the world around you.

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