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Historical Newsletter

February 1999


From 1822 to 1838 two civilian enclaves, the Fontenelle and Cabanné trading posts, clung to the bank of the Missouri River in today's eastern Nebraska. Now their story has been told in The Fontenelle and Cabanné Trading Posts: The History and Archeology of Two Missouri River Sites, 1822-1838, published as Volume Eleven in the Nebraska State Historical Society's "Publications in Anthropology" series.

Fontenelle's Post, or Bellevue, adjacent to the present city of the same name, was founded by the Missouri Fur Company, while its rival to the north was established by Berthold, Chouteau, and Pratte, commonly known as The French Company. The story of the posts is the story of the fur trade in eastern Nebraska as these and other companies competed for trade with the Oto, Missouri, Omaha, and Pawnee. It is also the story of entrepreneurs, such as Lucien Fontenelle and John Pierre Cabanné, who were to leave their mark on the Missouri River fur trade and on Nebraska history. Although the trade in the region declined by the mid-1830s, Fontenelle's Post gained new life as headquarters for the Upper Missouri Indian Agency.

Physical evidence of the posts soon disappeared following their abandonment in 1838-39. By the twentieth century, the sites themselves had been encroached upon by agriculture, railroad construction, and growth of the Omaha-Bellevue metropolitan area. Although portions of the Cabanné site were lost to development, the Fontenelle site's location within the Fontenelle Forest natural area insured its preservation. In the early 1970s the Nebraska State Historical Society, with the cooperation of the Fontenelle Forest Association, Omaha's Western Heritage Museum, and the Youth Conservation Corps, carried out systematic archeological investigations of the sites under the direction of Richard E. Jensen, author of this volume, who is now senior research anthropologist in the Society's Research and Publications Division.

In addition to the excavation and artifact reports, the volume includes detailed histories of the posts presented within the context of the fur trade in eastern Nebraska. Appendixes by John R. Bozell, Michael A. Pfieffer, and Trisha Nelson, respectively, provide analysis of animal bone at the two sites, and of clay tobacco pipes and mollusk remains at the Fontenelle site. Publication of the report was supported by the William B. Webster Memorial Publishing Fund established at the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation by John W. and Nancy Webster.

(image) The Cabanne Site was excavated by high school students from Omaha who were enrolled in the Youth Conservation Corps.

(image) This bale seal from the Fontenelle Site secured cords tying a bundle of woolen goods, probably imported from England.

The 170-page, paperbound book includes ten maps and twenty-eight photographs, several in color. It can be ordered from the Society's Museum Store, P.O. Box 82554, Lincoln, NE 68501 for $24.95 (IA, SD, KS, MN, and NE residents add sales tax), plus $4 shipping. Phone orders for credit card payment may be made to 1-800-833-6747.


The Time Travelers program, administered by the Missouri Historical Society, is a cooperative effort by nonprofit historical institutions to creatively enhance their membership programs without undue financial burden. Member institutions agree to provide a package of on-site benefits to visitors who are members of other Time Travelers institutions. For example, a member of a Time Travelers institution visiting the Nebraska State Historical Society's historic sites would receive free admission, as well as a ten percent discount in Society museum stores. Similar reciprocal benefits would be available to Society members who visit another Time Travelers institution. A current Society membership card would need to be presented to claim the benefits.

Participating institutions will be identified by the Time Travelers logo at the entrance to their facilities, and on printed materials.


The Archeology Division, in cooperation with the State Historic Preservation Office, was recently awarded $56,000 from the Nebraska Department of Roads for development of a Nebraska cultural resources Geographic Information System (GIS) layer. The award is part of the Federal Highway Administration ISTEA program, which provides funding for transportation enhancement projects involving the natural, cultural, and scenic environment.

The project will create a computerized map layer of known archeological, historic, and cultural sites in Nebraska. The layer will serve as a powerful research, resource preservation, and management tool--particularly when used in conjunction with other layers such as vegetation, distance from water, and soil type. The GIS will, for example, enable governmental agencies, land use planners, archeologists, and historians to make informed decisions and predictions regarding development in certain environmental zones. The potential for research is also exciting. Through GIS-generated data, historians and archeologists can much more effectively understand the intricate relationships between humans and their environment over ten thousand years of Nebraska's past.


The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) invites nominations for its Fifty-fourth Annual Awards Program, the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of local, state, and regional history.

The awards program recognizes outstanding achievements in local, state, and regional history. By focusing attention on the accomplishments of individuals and organizations in the field, AASLH hopes to encourage standards of excellence and inspire others to give more care, thought, and effort to their own projects.

Nominations are encouraged for unusually meritorious work with special consideration given to new and promising ideas, approaches, and innovations. AASLH confers awards on a variety of projects ranging from education programs and exhibits, to publications and videos. Individuals making outstanding contributions to the field of state and local history are also eligible for AASLH awards.

Deadline for nominations is March 1, 1999, and they must be submitted with proper documentation to the state awards chair. Further information, award guidelines, and nomination forms are available by contacting John Schleicher, AASLH State Awards Chair, Nebraska State Historical Society, Statewide Services Department, P.O. Box 82554, Lincoln, Nebraska 68501-2554; phone (402) 471-2634, toll-free (800) 833-6747; fax (402) 471-3314; e-mail: statesrv@www.nebraskahistory.org.


The Society expects to finish work on two major books during 1999. The first of a two-volume history of Fort Robinson by Fort Robinson Museum Curator Tom Buecker will be available this spring to coincide with the 125th anniversary of the establishment of Camp Robinson. Fort Robinson and the American West tells the story of Fort Robinson in the nineteenth century, with major sections on the Red Cloud Agency, the Great Sioux War of 1876-77, the death of Crazy Horse, and the Ninth Cavalry ("buffalo soldiers"). A second volume will cover the years from 1900 to 1948. Publication of the history of Fort Robinson is made possible by the Ronald K. and Judith M. Stolz Parks Publishing Fund established at the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation.

Spans in Time: A History of Nebraska Bridges is a cooperative project by the Society and the Nebraska Department of Roads. The book, scheduled for fall publication, is based on data gathered by the Nebraska Historic Bridge Inventory and Management Plan jointly administered by the Nebraska State Historic Preservation Office and the Nebraska Department of Roads in 1991.

The publication will review the history of bridge-building in Nebraska from the earliest temporary bridges built by overland emigrants, to the modern, steel and concrete highway bridges of the mid-twentieth century. Text and numerous illustrations will highlight both non-extant and remaining examples of various bridge types used in Nebraska, many of which have been listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The book's publication will be supported by funds administered by the Department of Roads. The Society is providing editing, design, and layout.



Linda Hein, site supervisor at the Senator George Norris State Historic Site, was recently honored as the volunteer of the year for the McCook Lied Main Street Program. Linda was recognized and given a plaque at the annual Nebraska Lied Main Street Awards Banquet held in Sidney on November 19.

Her nomination reads in part, "Linda donates an average of forty hours per month to the Main Street effort. She serves on the board as secretary and furnishes much in-kind materials for the office." Linda writes a column for the McCook Daily Gazette titled "On Main Street." This column provides readers with stories of McCook's historic past as well as information about Main Street. Her column has become so popular that she is considering publishing a collection of her articles that will serve as a fund raiser for the McCook Main Street project. Congratulations to Linda, and keep up the inspired work.


The John G. Neihardt State Historic Site will be closed on the weekends during January and February. Hours these months will be 9-5, Monday-Friday. Beginning in March regular hours will return: 9-5, Monday-Saturday; 1:30-5, Sunday.


By Cindy S. Drake, Library Curator

New Acquisitions of Interest to Genealogists

Treasured Memories, by Pauline Neale. (Stoltenberg family in Washington County).

Growing Up in Aunt Molly's Omaha and Facing the World Beyond, 1920-1965, by Eleanor H. Murray. (Greusel and Reynolds families in Douglas County).

The Henry Rieke Family History, compiled by Marjorie N. Maguire and Don Neben. (Family in Cass County).

Frontier Nebraska: Boone County Stories of Hardship and Triumph in the 1870s, compiled by Stephen K. Hutchinson.

A History of Anders Nilsson in Sweden and America: Anders Nilsson, 1820-1914, researched and written by Russell R. Nery. (Family in Kearney County).

Evolution of Ella Wheeler Wilcox and other Wheelers, by M. P. Wheeler. (Family in Valley County).


As of December 29, 1998, we have received $50 towards the purchase of the 1999 Supplement to the Passenger and Immigration Lists Index. (See the December 1998 Genealogy Column). There are two parts for the 1999 Supplement. As of January 1, 1999, the price for each part is $235 plus postage. Your monetary donation will insure that we have a complete set of this reference source for our researchers. Any monetary donations for this title should be directed to my attention and include a note with the title so it may be applied towards the purchase of this set.


January 21: Brown Bag Lecture, "The Omaha Nation," by Judith Boughter, instructor of history, University of Nebraska at Omaha. 12 noon, Museum of Nebraska History, 12th and P streets, Lincoln. Free and open to the public.

January 23: Collectors Saturday Lecture Series, "Photographs," by John Carter. 10 A.M., Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center, 1326 South 32nd St., Omaha. Free and open to the public. To schedule a twenty-minute appointment with speaker ($25), call 402-595-1180. Appointments can be scheduled between l:30 and 4 P.M.

Astaire Film Series: You Were Never Lovelier (February 7); Holiday Inn (February 14); Easter Parade (February 21); Band Wagon (February 28). Films at 2 P.M., Museum of Nebraska History, 12th and P streets, Lincoln. Free and open to the public. Seating is limited.

Sunday Afternoon at the Rock: The Forgotten Soldiers, by Dean Knudsen (February 7); The Oregon Trail: Historical Ride to the Bicentennial, by Allan Maybee (February 14); Historical Clues from the Fort Robinson Record, by Tom Buecker (February 21). Presentations at 1:30 P.M. at the Ethel & Christopher J. Abbott Visitor Center, Chimney Rock National Historic Site, two miles south of Highway 92 on Chimney Rock Road, Bayard. Free and open to the public. Seating is limited.

February 11: Lincoln Corral of Westerners, The Raptor Recovery Group, by Elaine Bechal. Meet at Ramada Plaza Inn, 9th and P streets, Lincoln, 6:30 P.M. Call Margaret Allington, 488-5698, for reservations (required).

March 11-13: Forty-second Annual Missouri Valley History Conference, Regency West Motel, Omaha. Sponsored by the Department of History, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Omaha, NE 68182-0213.

Now Available at the Museum Store

Governor's Mansion graphic

The Renovation of
the Nebraska Governor's Mansion

A Video Presented by
The American Society of Interior Designers

Video is approximately thirty minutes in length.
The proceeds from your purchase help support
restoration of the mansion.
­Sorry, No Discounts Apply­

In observance of Presidents' Day, the NSHS Headquarters Building (Library/Archives) will be closed Sunday, February 14; and Monday, February 15. The Museum of Nebraska History and branch museums will be open regular hours. The Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center, Omaha, will be open February 15 only in the afternoon.

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Last updated 9 February 1999

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