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Historical Newsletter

June 1999


A model of one of Nebraska's best examples of a Victorian French Second Empire style house is currently on display on the second floor of the State Historical Society Headquarters Building at 1500 R Street, Lincoln. Appropriately it is located outside the offices of the State Historic Preservation Division, whose mission is to preserve historic structures in Nebraska and which nominated the original house for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.

The original house was built in Friend, Nebraska, in 1886 by Richard Kiddle, a local carpenter. The model was built by the late Dr. W. Frank Loomis of Ogden, Utah, whose grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. John S. Sherdeman, moved into the house in 1907. Dr. Loomis, whose hobby was woodworking, first visited the house in 1981. Using photographs, measurements, and floor plans provided by the current owners, Eugene and Enola Martin, he worked on the model for eight years, cutting tongue depressors into shingles with a miniature saw and turning the intricate trimmings on a small lathe converted from an electric shoe polisher.

Dr. Loomis's wish to donate the house to the Nebraska State Historical Society, was fulfilled in March when his wife, Cora, presented it to the museum along with over 170 miniature accessories and pieces of furniture they had acquired to furnish it. Although the house is not now completely furnished and illuminated, it will be so displayed when it is exhibited at the Museum of Nebraska History later this year.

(image) The late Dr. W. Frank Loomis and his miniature house.


Dr. Martin Massengale of Lincoln has been appointed by Governor Mike Johanns to fill an unexpired term on the Society Board of Trustees. The term, representing the First Congressional District, runs until December 31, 2001.

Dr. Massengale is president emeritus of the University of Nebraska System and currently director of the Center for Grassland Studies and Foundation Distinguished Professor of Agronomy at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Julie Reilly, associate director for the Society's Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center in Omaha, will lead a Colonial Williamsburg Art Trip from October 29 through October 31. The trip is sponsored by the Joslyn Art Museum of Omaha. Up to six seats on the tour may still be open by early June. Participants must be members of the Joslyn Art Museum.

In addition to Colonial Williamsburg, the tour includes stops at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Gallery, the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Accommodations are at the five-star Williamsburg Inn. The trip cost of $1,265 includes round-trip air fare from Omaha, ground transportation, lodging, museum admissions, and some meals.

NSHS members who are interested in learning whether space on the tour is still available should contact Sally Lusk immediately at 402-342-3300, ext. 251.



The new exhibit, Drawing on the Beat: John Falter's Jazz Portraits, has renewed interest in one of the Society's most important acquisitions, the John P. Falter Collection. Falter, born in Plattsmouth and raised in Falls City, became one of America's best-known illustrators. He is most famous for his 185 Saturday Evening Post cover illustrations and his more than 300 World War II-era recruiting posters. Falter's personal interests led him to complete almost 300 paintings of western historical themes and a series of jazz portraits, which serve as the basis for the exhibit currently on display at the Museum of Nebraska History.

After his death in 1982, his wife, Mary Elizabeth Falter Jones, donated objects and furnishings from the artist's studio, numerous works of art, and his papers to the Nebraska State Historical Society. The artifacts alone number more than 4,600. Since the donation some portion of the Falter Collection has been in nearly constant use.

As soon as the collection arrived at the Society, Falter's studio was recreated on the third floor of the Museum of Nebraska History. The chaotic studio remains a fond memory for many people who came through the museum during the early to mid-1980s. Many Falter Collection objects are being used in the What Did You Do in the War? exhibit detailing Nebraska's involvement in World War II and in the recreated General Store. Falter Collection objects formed a significant portion of the Nebraska in the Atomic Age 1945-1963 exhibit. The most recent use of the Falter Collection is the current exhibit based on Falter's jazz portraits.

In addition to the extensive use of the Falter Collection in museum exhibits, many of Falter's works of art have been seen on the walls of the Society Headquarters Building, the Gilmore Room in the museum, and on the pages of Nebraska History, the Society quarterly. One Falter image served as the basis for a Society holiday card.

The constant and varied use of the objects in the Falter Collection points to its continued importance to the Nebraska State Historical Society. Our thanks go to Mary Elizabeth Falter Jones, who recognized the importance Falter's Nebraska heritage played in his career and saw the appropriateness of donating his materials to the Nebraska State Historical Society. Through her donation John Falter continues to be memorialized as one of Nebraska's foremost artists, and the Society continues to reap the benefits of access to this most remarkable collection.
If you would like more information on the collections of the Nebraska State Historical Society or if you have artifacts you might be interested in donating to the Society, please call 1-800-833-6747.

(image) Sundown, by John Falter. Representative of Falter's interest in Western History, this painting hangs on exhibit at the Ethel and Christopher J. Abbott Visitor Center at Chimney Rock National Historic Site.


Chief Red Cloud, Crazy Horse, and Dull Knife's desperate Cheyennes will be remembered this spring when Fort Robinson, one of the most important--and colorful--military posts of the Indian wars, celebrates its 1874 founding, 125 years ago. All of them lived at the Nebraska landmark, and their lives--and the deaths of some of them--are recounted in a new book.

The Nebraska State Historical Society is pleased to present Fort Robinson and the American West, 1874-1899, by Thomas R. Buecker in time for the fort's anniversary celebration June 4, 5, and 6. The author, curator of the Fort Robinson Museum, Crawford, Nebraska, has researched the fort's history for fifteen years. His in-depth investigations, many of them done at the National Archives in Washington D.C., have brought to light new facts about the old cavalry post. The result is the first of a projected two-volume history.

Notwithstanding Fort Robinson's important role in opening the West to settlement, no comprehensive history has previously been written. According to Buecker, "The time has come--125 years after its founding--to give Fort Robinson proper due for its role in the Western experience and America's military past."

Buecker had a wealth of information from which to draw, including many photographs that accompany his text. Chapters shed light on such topics as Fort Robinson's first days, Crazy Horse's last days, the Cheyenne Outbreak of 1879, and the African American "buffalo soldiers" who protected the fort for many of its turbulent years.

Funding for the printing of Fort Robinson and the American West, 1874-1899, came from the Ronald K. and Judith M. Stolz Parks Publishing Fund established at the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation. Available now in bookstores for $40, ($36 for NSHS members) hardcover edition only, the book can be ordered by calling the Nebraska State Historical Society, toll free at 1-800-833-6747.

(image) With the Red Cloud buttes in the background, artist Frederic Remington witnessed this charge of the Ninth Cavalry "buffalo soldiers" at Fort Robinson.


Heading for a wedding this summer? The Museum of Nebraska History is celebrating weddings in a special event on Sunday, June 13, and a year-long exhibit opening June 1! See for yourself the beautiful gowns, gifts, and accessories used by Nebraskans throughout our state's history. Experience "the rest of the story" behind these dresses at a family event on June 13, 1:30-5, at the Museum of Nebraska History.

During the June 13 special event only, visitors can experience bridal shower games from the 1950s, create wedding crafts from the 1910s, and taste wedding cakes from the 1920s, 1960s, and today. At 2:30 Kari Ronning, a local wedding dress collector, will give a slide presentation on the evolution of wedding dress styles and display some of her favorite dresses.

Don't miss this opportunity to learn more about Nebraska's historic and living wedding traditions, gowns, and more at the Museum of Nebraska History, 15th and P streets on Sunday, June 13. For more information about this family event, please contact Jessica Stoner, 471-4757 or 1-800-833-6747.

(image) Violinist Jason DePue (left) and violin maker David Wiebe celebrate the inaugural performance of a Wiebe violin commissioned by the Nebraska State Historical Society. The performance was held April 9 at Kimball Recital Hall in Lincoln as a part of the Great Plains Music and Dance Festival. The violin is now on display at the Museum of Nebraska History.



The city of Lincoln is just completing a year-long study of historic properties associated with African Americans in Lincoln. Kathy Colewell, an intern with the city's historic preservation program, has used the African American study as her master's thesis. The study, which has included an archeological investigation, was sponsored in part by a Certified Local Government grant to the city of Lincoln from the State Historical Society's Historic Preservation Office.



The following list consists of interesting titles from or about Nebraska that the Society was pursuing on eBay (the online auction house), and alibris (out-of-print and rare books online). In each case we failed to win the bid, the item had been sold, or the price was too high for our budget. If you are aware of the availability of other copies of these titles, please contact Library Curator Cindy Drake, 402-471-4786.

The Family of Hy-Vee. Sixty Years of Tradition. A History of Hy-Vee Food Stores, by E. Mae Fritz, 1989. (Nebraska references)

Missionar Fredrick Fransons Lif och Verksamhet af, by Josephine Princell, 1909. (Swedish missionary works in Colon, Nebraska . . . ).

Monitor and Ceremonies, Ancient, Free, and Accepted Masons Nebraska, by George Thummel, et al., 1912. (We have other material in the library on this organization, but not this particular title.)

The library is seeking donated copies of Lincoln City Directories from 1996 to the present.

Donations to purchase the two parts of the 1999 Supplement to the Passenger and Immigration Lists Index totaled $175 as of April 27, 1999. Donations are still being accepted. Please indicate this title with your monetary donation. Thank you.


The 1999 West River History Conference will be held September 16-18 at the Keystone, South Dakota, Community Center. Sponsor is the Keystone Area Historical Society. Papers on all aspects of the history and cultures of the Dakotas and Northern Plains are welcome. Western South Dakota topics are particularly encouraged. Paper titles and a short description of presenter and paper should be sent by July 15 to Keystone Area Historical Society, P.O. Box 177, Keystone, South Dakota 57751. For information contact 605-666-4630 or 605-666-4824.


June 7, 8, 9, 10, 11: Bees, Bison, and Bluestem, NSHS summer workshop for kids (ages seven through nine). For information and registration form, call Jessica Stoner at Museum of Nebraska History, 471-4757 or 1-800-833-6747 in Lincoln.

June 11-13: Mari Sandoz Heritage Society 1999 Annual Program Meeting, Student Center, Chadron State College. This year's theme is the fur trade in the West. Speakers include Helen Stauffer, Diane Quantic, Karen Lone Hill, Dennis Mihelich, Gail Potter, Richard Stenberg, Katherine Walter, Michael Cartwright, Brad Retchless, and Gary Moulton. Register at the door or call Don Green (308-432-6276) or Leona Wilkins (308-432-6246).

June 13: Dearly Beloved: Nebraska's Wedding Traditions, free family event, Museum of Nebraska History, 1500 P Street, Lincoln, 1:30-5. Event will include exhibit, bridal shower games from mid-1900s, crafts, historic wedding cakes, and entertainment. For information call Jessica Stoner as above.

June 14, 15: Sod House Summer, NSHS summer workshop for kids (ages seven through nine). For information call Jessica Stoner as above.

June 14, 15, 16, 17: Adventures in Architecture, NSHS summer workshop for kids (ages ten through twelve). For information call Jessica Stoner as above.

June 16: Little Known Nebraska Natives: Camels and Other Mammals, NSHS summer workshop for kids (ages seven through nine). For information and registration, call Jessica Stoner as above.

June 17: Brown Bag Lecture, "The Pawnee War of 1859," by John Ludwickson, curator of anthropology, Archeology Division, NSHS. 12 noon, Museum of Nebraska History, 12th and P streets, Lincoln. Free and open to the public.

June 17, 18: History Eyewitness, NSHS summer workshop for kids (ages ten through twelve). For information call Jessica Stoner as above.

June 20: Evelyn Sharp Days, at Evelyn Sharp Field, North Highway 11, Ord, Nebraska. Activities will include flea market, model airplane construction and competition, displays, and radio controlled model plane airshow. Free and open to the public; bring your own lawn chair. Sponsors are the Valley County Historical Society and the Evelyn Sharp Days Committee.

June 21, 22, 23, 24: Kids and Cameras, NSHS summer workshop for kids (ages ten through twelve). For information call Jessica Stoner as above.

June 21, 22, 23, 24, 25: Nebraska "Kidstory" News, NSHS summer workshop for kids (ages ten through twelve). For information call Jessica Stoner as above.

July 15: Brown Bag Lecture, "The Gehrkes of Lincoln," by Jill Koelling, assistant curator of audio-visual collections, NSHS. 12 noon, Museum of Nebraska History, 12th and P streets, Lincoln. Free and open to the public.

August 21-22: Genoa Indian School Reunion, Genoa. Open house with displays. Free and open to the public. For information contact Jerry and Nancy Carlson, 402-993-6055.

In observance of Independence Day, the NSHS Headquarters Building (Library/Archives) in Lincoln will be closed Sunday, July 4 and Monday, July 5. The Gerald R. Ford Center in Omaha will be closed Saturday, July 3, through Monday, July 5.
The Museum of Nebraska History and historic sites will be open regular hours.


May 1999 Issue

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Last updated 10 June 1999

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