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Historical Newsletter

July/August 2003

125th anniversary emblem


Where were you in September of 1953? If you were in Lincoln, one of the hottest tickets in town was to the brand-new Nebraska State Historical Society building at 1500 R Street. Of course, no ticket was needed--the new facility with its museum, library, auditorium, and offices was open to the public free of charge.

Where will you be in September of 2003? We hope you'll be helping us celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Society headquarters building, its listing in the National Register of Historic Places, and the 125th anniversary of the Nebraska State Historical Society. Friday, September 26, the Society will host historian Dr. James C. Olson, author of the classic History of Nebraska and superintendent of NSHS when the R Street building was constructed and dedicated, who will share his perspective. We'll also present our annual awards to individuals and organizations that have been exemplary in helping preserve our state's past, hold an open house at the R Street building, and open a new exhibit, Recovered Views: African American Portraits, 1912-1925, at the Museum of Nebraska History. More details to come, but mark your calendars and save the date!


Nebraska State Historical Society archeologists Gayle Carlson and Rob Bozell, along with independent consultant Bob Pepperl, have located the site of Engineer's Cantonment along the Missouri River north of Omaha. Historians and archeologists have speculated about the precise location of the site for nearly a century. It was found using analysis of a painting by Long expedition member Titian Peale, aerial photographs, ground-penetrating radar, and utility cable trenching.

The Long expedition (1819-20) consisted of a small group of engineers, artists, naturalists, and soldiers charged with exploring portions of the Missouri and Platte River valleys. They reached the Rocky Mountains, and Long's Peak in Colorado is named for expedition leader Maj. Stephen Long. While wintering at Engineer's Cantonment, the expedition built several cabins, documented local flora and fauna, and improved American relations with local Native American tribes.

Engineer's Cantonment Dig
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln archeological field school tested small portions of the site in late May and early June. The site produced a variety of artifacts including tableware, lead musket balls, charred animal bone and corn, trade goods, long-stemmed clay pipes, buttons, and nails. Fireplaces and limestone foundation remains have also been identified.

Engineer's Cantonment is now the oldest "discovered" Euroamerican archeological site in Nebraska. It has obvious archeological research potential as well as national historic significance by virtue of its association with the Long expedition.


We want to learn more about our valuable members. We are sending our new and renewed members a membership survey to complete and return. As a "thank you" to each member who returns the completed survey, we are sending a copy of Historic Places, The National Register for Nebraska. This book records the diverse and significant Nebraska landmarks, buildings, and districts that have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The outstanding colored photographs in this interesting book make these places come to life.

Look for this survey to arrive in the mail after you renew your membership or become a member of the Nebraska State Historical Society. Please complete and return it to receive your free book. We look forward to getting to know you better.

If you have any questions concerning this survey or membership, please contact Karen Heath, membership coordinator, at 402-435-3535 or toll free 888-515-3535.


The premier conference on downtown revitalization in Nebraska will feature "New Strategies for Building the Heart of Your Community" during two days of workshops to be held in this Panhandle community on September 11 and 12, 2003.

Educational sessions will be held in Scottsbluff with field trips to Alliance and Kimball.

Valecia Crisafulli, a senior program associate of the National Trust's Main Street Center, will present three sessions aimed at business recruitment, retention, and expansion in Main Street districts. Amy Cole of the Mountain Plains Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Denver will discuss financial and educational resources of the trust.

The annual awards program-the best of the best projects on Nebraska's Main Streets-will be held Friday night, September 12, at the historic Midwest Theater in downtown Scottsbluff. Stephanie Redman, program manager for technical services at the National Trust's Main Street Center, will be the keynote speaker.

We welcome all professionals and volunteers working in Main Street and non-Main Street communities to attend this conference. Registration brochures will be mailed in July. For more information contact the Nebraska Lied Main Street office at 402-323-7337.


Reserve these dates now for the annual fall tour for Society volunteers, members, and friends. We will visit historic sites and museums in our sister state of Kansas. Stops will include the U.S. Cavalry Museum at Fort Riley, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Center in Abilene, the Garden of Eden in Lucas, and the Pawnee Village Museum near Republic. The overnight stay will be in Abilene.

The U.S. Cavalry Museum traces the role of the horse cavalry in the West from the 1830s into the twentieth century. Although the Eisenhower Center may not be new to some, the museum exhibits have recently been updated, and new displays are in preparation. At Lucas, we will visit S. P. Dinsmoor's folk art creation, a concrete representation of the Garden of Eden, which surrounds his "log" house built with Kansas post rock. Finally, we will stop at the Pawnee Village Museum operated by the Kansas State Historical Society, a site once believed to be where Zebulon Pike in 1806 prevailed upon the Pawnees to lower the Spanish flag and hoist the Stars and Stripes. Later scholarship determined that the village Pike visited was actually near present Guide Rock, Nebraska.

The tour is limited to forty-five persons. If you are interested in receiving a tour registration form, contact Lana at 402-471-3272.


Building on five years of successful teacher training through the Nebraska Institute, this summer NSHS staff will participate in a federally funded "Nebraska Institute for Teaching American History," July 21-August 1, in Lincoln. Underwritten by a U.S. Department of Education grant to the Lincoln Public Schools, this year's institute will provide two weeks of training to LPS teachers in using historic places, photographs, documents, artifacts, and the wisdom of elders to connect Nebraska history to larger American history stories. Nebraska Wesleyan University is the academic partner and will provide graduate credit to participating teachers. Study units produced by the teachers as a result of the institute will be made available online for use by teachers statewide.


Cheyenne Outbreak Barracks Ribbon Cutting

Participants in the ribbon cutting ceremony at the June 7 dedication of the Cheyenne Outbreak Barracks (1874 Cavalry Barracks) reconstruction at Fort Robinson State Park near Crawford are Allison D. Petersen (left), president of the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation board of directors; Burt Setovaatse Medicine Bull, community coordinator, Chief Dull Knife College/RSI, Lame Deer, Montana; and Lawrence J. Sommer, Society director. At right is Deb McWilliams, Society executive assistant.


In observance of the Society's 125th anniversary, treasures from the collections are on display at the headquarters and museum buildings in Lincoln, and during the summer months, at historic sites statewide. Ranging from the edifying to the notorious to the mystifying, these remarkable artifacts exemplify the spectrum of human experience preserved in the Society's holdings. Check the summer hours elsewhere in this newsletter.

Museum of Nebraska History, Lincoln

Headquarters, 1500 R Street, Lincoln

Chimney Rock, near Bayard

Fort Robinson, near Crawford

Kennard House, Lincoln

John G. Neihardt State Historic Site, Bancroft

Neligh Mill State Historic Site, Neligh

Senator George W. Norris State Historic Site, McCook


Free admission is a benefit of your Society membership. Hours are valid through August 31.

Chimney Rock, Bayard:
9:00-5:00, daily. Closed all state holidays.

Fort Robinson Museum, Crawford:
10:00-5:00, Tuesday-Sunday. Closed Monday and all state holidays.

Willa Cather State Historic Site, Red Cloud:
8:00-5:00, Monday-Friday; 1:00-5:00, Sunday.

Neligh Mill State Historic Site, Neligh:
1:00-5:00, Wednesday-Sunday. Closed all state holidays.

Senator George Norris State Historic Site, McCook:
1:00-4:30, Tuesday-Saturday. Closed all state holidays.

Thomas P. Kennard House, Lincoln:
By appointment only.

John G. Neihardt Center, Bancroft:
9:00-5:00, Monday-Saturday; 1:30-5:00, Sunday.

Museum of Nebraska History, Lincoln:
Hours may vary after July 1.
Please call 1-800-833-6747 or visit our website at www.nebraskahistory.org for current schedule information.


The Museum of Nebraska History is featuring a collection of material related to Weeping Water, Nebraska, native Charles R. "Joe" Sterling's participation in the infamous 1968 incident involving the USS Pueblo off the coast of North Korea. Sterling was a crew member on the Pueblo, a navy vessel on an intelligence mission, which was attacked and captured by North Korean forces. One sailor was killed, and the remaining eighty-two, including Sterling, were incarcerated in North Korea for eleven months, touching off a storm of controversy.

Among the items on display are Sterling's prisoner-of-war medal, Purple Heart and Purple Heart certificate, Geneva Convention identity card, leather jacket, and photographs documenting his career and time in captivity. This collection was acquired by the Historical Society with funds provided by the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation through the Gladys Lux Acquisition Fund.


The Nebraska State Historical Society's popular History Adventure Center (a hands-on activity room on the third floor of the Museum of Nebraska History) is in need of bags from the 1900s and 1910s and small suitcases from the 1920s and 1930s. The 1900 to 1910-era bags will replace our well-worn current bags in the "Immigrant Station," where kids pretend to be an immigrant from a specific country. Canvas or leather bags with a handle and clasps on either end­like an old-fashioned doctor's bag­would work well. The 1920s to 1930s suitcases will be used in the "Auto Touring Station" to hold reproduction clothing the kids wear as they set up a tent and make camp.

Please contact Jessica Stoner, jstoner@mail.state.ne.us or 402-471-4757, if you have any questions or a bag you wish to donate. Thank you.


By Cindy S. Drake, Library Curator

Addendum to Backenstoss-Baggenstoss Family History, compiled by family; edited by Elwood B. Backensto. (Family in Cass and Douglas counties.)

Ancestors & Descendants of Hiram G. Lacey & Sophia Sell . . . , compiled and published by Garland Howard Lacey. (Lacey and Francis families in Lancaster County.)

Bonebright-Wegener Family Story, [compiled] by Betty B. Wegener. (Families in Lancaster and Gage counties.)

Burda Family Tree: Genealogical Records & References, researched and published by Charles F. Burda and Charles J. Burda. (Czech American family in Saunders and Holt counties.)

The Dunn Family Cookbook, 1994. (Family in Harlan and Franklin counties.)

Ferguson Genealogy, 1737-1908, by [Delmar Kentner]. (Ferguson and Stouffer families in Sarpy and Richardson counties.)

Fuchs-Fox of Germany & America. Report, by Richard F. Mueller. . . . (German-American families in Nance County.)

I Seat Myself to Write You a Few Lines: Civil War and Homestead Letters from Thomas Lucas and Family, collected and edited by Dona B. Sauerburger and Thomas L. Bayard. (Family in Merrick County.)

Index to Selected Information from 1903 Lincoln Evening News, [compiled by Teresa Sullivan, et al.] and published by the Lincoln-Lancaster County Genealogical Society, 2002.

Index to Selected Information from 1904 Lincoln Evening News, [compiled by Teresa Sullivan, et al.] and published by the Lincoln-Lancaster County Genealogical Society, 2002.

Ireland, Imogene and Omaha: Autobiography of Joseph L. Leahy, by Joseph L. Leahy. (Family in Douglas County.)

Isaac Moody and Eliza Williams: Their Ancestors and Descendants, by Marlene A. Moody. (Moody, Williams, Barker and Negley families in Washington and Greeley counties.)


July 15: Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, Mouth of the Platte chapter. "Exploration/Discovery, 1803/2003," by Robert Phillips. Meet at 6 P.M. at Caniglia's Restaurant, Seventh and Pacific Streets, Omaha. For information and reservations (required): mouthoftheplatte@aol.com or 402-331-7241.

July 17: Brown Bag Lecture, "'No Better or Braver Soldiers Can be Found': Researching Nebraska's Civil War History," by Jim Potter, senior research historian, NSHS Research and Publications Division. 12 noon, Museum of Nebraska History, Fifteenth and P Streets, Lincoln. Free and open to the public.

August 3: Annual Neihardt Day celebration, John G. Neihardt State Historic Site, Bancroft. Main program, beginning at 2:00 P.M., will feature performance artist Bobby Bridger. Art by Myron Heise and Nebraska Treasures from the NSHS will be displayed. For more information call the Neihardt Center at 1-888-777-4667.

August 9-10: Genoa U.S. Indian School reunion, Genoa. Speakers, tours, Indian tacos, and banquet. Open to the public. For information and reservations (required for banquet): 402-993-6636 or 402-993-6055 or nfcarls@megavision.com

August 21: Brown Bag Lecture, "General Alfred Sully's Nebraska Indian Scouts of 1864­Fact and Fallacy," by John Ludwickson, curator of anthropology/highway archeologist, NSHS Archeology Division. 12 noon, Museum of Nebraska History, Fifteenth and P Streets, Lincoln. Free and open to the public.

September 11-12: Nebraska Lied Main Street program, Scottsbluff. "New Strategies for Building the Heart of Your Community," including workshops and tours. See separate article above.

September 26: Nebraska State Historical Society 125th Anniversary celebration. See separate article above.

From the Museum Store
For Your Summer Road Trips

Activity books:

Audio Cassettes and CDs:


MUSEUM of NEBRASKA HISTORY, 15th & "P" Streets, 402-471-3447
10:00 - 4:30, Monday - Friday
1:00 - 4:00, Saturday and Sunday

In observance of Independence Day, Society headquarters, NSHS offices in the Lincoln Children's Museum, and the Ford Center will be closed Friday, July 4. The Library/Archives will be closed Saturday, July 5. The Museum of Nebraska History and the Historic Sites operated by the NSHS will be open. Call for holiday hours at the Neihardt Site and Cather Site as above.

May/June 2003

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Last updated 26 August 2003

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