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Historical Newsletter

March/April 2003

125th anniversary emblem


Here Open to All is the History of This People: 125 Years of the Nebraska State Historical Society opened at the Society headquarters building, 1500 R Street, Lincoln, on March 1, Nebraska Statehood Day. The exhibit, curated by Society historian Jim Potter, uses historic photographs, documents, and artifacts to recount the development and growth of the Society. This account of how the Society has safeguarded your history will be on display through 2003. Building hours are 8:00-5:00, Monday-Saturday.


As part of the Society's celebration of its 125th anniversary, a yearlong changing exhibit of Nebraska Treasures, highlighting the Society's century-plus collecting history, is underway. Artifacts are currently featured at the Museum of Nebraska History and headquarters building in Lincoln, but items will also be highlighted at the historic sites during the travel season.

Treasures related to Abraham Lincoln were displayed in February, including the certificate that reappointed Alvin Saunders as territorial governor of Nebraska and was signed by Abraham Lincoln on April 13, 1865. The certificate was found on the president's desk the morning after his assassination and may represent one of his last official acts.

A bronze sculpture cast from the life mask of Abraham Lincoln taken by artist Leonard Volk in 1860 was also displayed. An early photograph of Lincoln was displayed in the rotunda of the Society headquarters building, 1500 R Street. The ambrotype of Abraham Lincoln was taken in Springfield, Illinois, in May of 1860. 

In addition to the Lincoln memorabilia, the Society Museum exhibited eighteenth-century Spanish pottery from Sarpy County. Historical Society archeologists discovered these ceramic sherds during 1998 excavations at the Eagle Ridge Site near Papillion. Eagle Ridge was occupied by a small band of Oto or Ioway Indians during the 1730s. Distinctive circular marks in the interior indicate the sherds were made on a potter's wheel. Experts in colonial ceramics suggest they are fragments of Spanish olive jars, made either in Spain or Mexico. They are the only known examples of eighteenth-century Spanish pottery found in Nebraska or the surrounding central Great Plains.

The Nebraska Treasures exhibits will continue through the year, with objects on display at the Museum of Nebraska History at Fifteenth and P Streets and the Society headquarters building at 1500 R Street, both in Lincoln. During the summer season, displays will also be on view at several Society historic sites throughout the state. Museum hours are 9:00-4:30, Monday-Friday, and 1:00-4:30 Saturday and Sunday. The headquarters is open 8:00-5:00, Monday-Saturday. For more information call 402-471-3270 or visit the Society's website at www.nebraskahistory.org.


An unusual stone pot found along the Niobrara River in Cherry County is becoming more fully understood, thanks to its display in the lobby of the Historical Society's Museum of Nebraska History in Lincoln.

The vessel, carved from steatite (commonly called soapstone), and possibly of Shoshonean origin, is the only stone pot ever reported from Nebraska. Its age and function are poorly understood. It was on display through the month of January as part of the Nebraska Treasures exhibit, a yearlong, changing exhibit designed to highlight the Society's 125-year history of collecting.

A Wyoming archeologist, Dr. Kerry Lippincott, who was passing through Lincoln in late January, saw the vessel when he stopped to make a purchase at the Museum Store. Upon his return to Casper, Lippincott contacted NSHS archeologists and informed them that recent research on these vessels, several of which have been found in Wyoming, indicates they were all made with metal tools (which suggest post-1700 dates), and may have been used as crucibles to melt lead for bullets and musket balls. The Nebraska vessel will be taken to Laramie this spring for closer examination by experts at the University of Wyoming.


Patrick Kennedy, chair of the Nebraska State Historical Society nominating committee, is seeking candidates for election to the Nebraska State Historical Society Board of Trustees. Individuals may run for the board by becoming members of the Historical Society, and obtaining the signatures of twenty-five Society members. Meetings of the board of trustees are held quarterly at various locations across the state. The board of trustees consists of twelve individuals elected by the Society membership, and three appointed by the governor of Nebraska. The board of trustees assists in setting policies, provides guidance in strategic planning, and offers overall support to the director, staff, Society members, and volunteers.

Individuals interested in running for the board must contact Kennedy by May 30, 2003, at 350 North Forty-first Street, Omaha, Nebraska, 68131, 402-553-6828, or by e-mail pmkennedy41@aol.com. For further information about membership contact the Nebraska State Historical Society at 1-800-833-6747 or 402-471-4955.

Recently elected to serve three-year terms are new board members Jason Kress, Sterling; Bev Wilhelm, Unadilla; Ann Marsh, Grand Island; and Charles Trimble, Omaha. Other members of the board include: Margaret Allington, Lincoln; Keith Blackledge, North Platte; Dr. Peter Bleed, Lincoln; James Denney, Omaha; Dr. Herb Grandbois, Omaha; Joyce Hillman-Kortum, Gering; Patrick Kennedy, Omaha; Dr. Martin Massengale, Lincoln; Pat Phillips, Omaha; Jack Preston, Lyman; and Sally Vifquain, Kearney.

This photograph of a woman and child
will be part of the exhibition.

This photograph of a woman and child will be part of the exhibition.


Another Nebraska: A Look At Our Black Heritage is a series of events set for April 26 and 27 at the Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center, 1326 South Thirty-second Street in Omaha. An exhibit of works by Nebraska African-American artists, a daylong history conference, a dance and jazz performance, and family activities featuring gospel music are slated. Mark your calendars and watch your mailbox for the full program announcement and registration materials.


The reconstructed 1874 Cavalry Barracks at Fort Robinson, also known as the Cheyenne Outbreak Barracks, will be dedicated and opened to the public at 11 A.M., Saturday, June 7. More details will follow in the May/June issue of this newsletter, but mark your calendars now.


The first printing of Fort Robinson and the American West, 1874-1899, was so popular it sold out quickly. Now the book is being reprinted in paperback, and will be available for purchase April 1. In this, the first of a two-volume history of Fort Robinson, author Tom Buecker tells how the fort played a vital role in the history of the Indian wars of the American West in the late nineteenth century. A U.S. Army post from 1874 to 1948, Fort Robinson was the site of the surrender and death of Crazy Horse in 1877 and the tragic Cheyenne Outbreak in 1879. In the 1880s and 1890s the fort was home to the army's black cavalry, the famous "buffalo soldiers." Volume two of the fort's history, Fort Robinson and the American Century, 1900-1948, was published in 2002 and is currently available.

The paperback reprint of Fort Robinson and the American West will cost $19.95, plus $5 shipping and handling (IA, SD, KS, MN, and NE residents add tax). Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express are accepted. The book will be available at all NSHS museum stores. Contact the Museum Store at 1-800-833-6747 or 402-471-3447. Order your copy now!

Andres Svoboda Andres Svoboda


Just what does a typical Nebraska farmer look like? That's what Omaha radio station KFAB wanted to find out in 1943. The station teamed up with the Macdonald Photo Studio of Lincoln on a "Typical-Looking Nebraska Farmer" contest at the Nebraska State Fair. Each contestant stood before Macdonald's camera and received a free copy of the portrait for his trouble.

The photographs of about thirty of the nearly one hundred farmers who participated in the contest were exhibited in 2002 at the Society's headquarters building. Visitors were encouraged to examine portraits of Nebraska farmers dressed in everything from double-breasted suits to overalls.

So who was the typical-looking Nebraska farmer? The 1943 contest winner is unknown, but our visitors' favorite was Andres Svoboda, a farmer from Ceresco. As part of the 2002 contest one voter, Alden Sabatka of Valparaiso, was randomly selected to win a Nebraska State Historical Society tote bag. Thank you to everyone who participated in this special election.


Senator Don Pederson (District 42) has introduced a proposed constitutional amendment - LR2CA - in the 2003 legislative session. If passed by the Nebraska Legislature, LR2CA would go to a vote of the people in November 2004.

The intent of the constitutional amendment is to enable future legislation that would establish a property tax policy to assist owners that rehabilitate historic properties. This would provide a major boost for historic properties, older neighborhoods, "main street" business districts, and historic town centers.

LR2CA was voted from the Revenue Committee on January 29 and has moved to the floor. For more information contact: Bob Puschendorf, State Historic Preservation Office at 402- 471-4769, or e-mail dshpo@mail.state.ne.us



February 19 was graduation day for sixteen new volunteers who completed the Nebraska State Historical Society's Docent Education Series, the classroom component of docent training, prior to their becoming active docents at the Museum of Nebraska History. The education series features guest instructors, tour models and advice from current docents, discussion, time in the exhibits, homework, and handouts. The next steps in becoming an active docent include developing tour plans and "team teaching" until the volunteers feel ready to give tours on their own.

We are excited to work with each of these new docents and for the educational impact they will have on Nebraska's young people visiting the museum. Newly retired, currently employed, full-time students, teachers, artists, administrators, ranchers, grandmothers and grandfathers ­ each of these volunteers brings a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to the museum.

With this new class, our docent team will increase from ten to twenty-six. This spring, we hope to be able to meet all requests for guided tours (compared to 50 percent last year) and to divide school groups for more intimate tours. To find out more about becoming a docent, or nominating someone as a potential docent, please contact Jessica Stoner, 402-471-4757 or jstoner@mail.state.ne.us

2002-03 DES Graduates: Carole Barnes-Montgomery, Jack Chaffin, Tom Curran, Evelyn Hastings, Gladi Helm, Glen Houtz, Jim Kendrick, Leona Kolbet, Dorothy Neill, Linda Oehlerking, Rich Oehlerking, Kathy Plessman, Amanda Ray, Penny Stovall, Don Swing, and Jeanne Vannorsdall.

Current Docents Participating in the Series: Phyllis Fischer, Don Hogg, Don Humphrey, Mary Lienemann, and Jerry Tharp.


The Museum Store in Lincoln is looking for volunteers interested in greeting and assisting museum visitors with store sales. Important qualifications include being friendly, dependable, and able to operate a cash register and credit card machine but don't worry, we are more than happy to provide training. The rewards include meeting great people from a variety of states and countries, learning more about Nebraska history, and receiving a store discount.

Volunteers are needed on the second and fourth Wednesdays, 1:00-4:30, Fridays 1:00-4:30, and on Saturday and Sunday, 1:00-4:00. If you, or anyone you know, are interested in volunteering at the store, please contact Deb McWilliams at 471-4955. Volunteers are essential to the Society and store volunteers are key to continuing the educational experience of museum visitors.



The John G. Neihardt State Historic Site, Bancroft, will host the Annual Neihardt Spring Conference on Saturday, April 26. The conference theme is "Neihardt and Black Elk: Reconciling Cross-Cultural Identities: Philosophy, Theology, Education and Society." Key speaker will be Dr. Martin E. Marty of the University of Chicago. Additional speakers: Dr. Martin Brokenleg, Augustana College, and Dr. Bruce Forbes, Morningside College. Registration required. For information call the Neihardt Site at 1-888-777-4667.


The Post-World War II Quilt Display will be held during the month of March at the Senator George Norris State Historic Site, 706 Norris Avenue, McCook. Hand- and machine-stitched quilts, wall hangings, clothing, and other quilted articles pieced or quilted from the mid-1940s to the present are featured. The exhibit can be viewed during regular hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 9:30-12:00 and 1:00-5:00. For questions or special tours contact Linda Hein, curator, at 308-345-8484.


By Cindy S. Drake, Library Curator

Czech Culture at Wilber, Nebraska, in the 20th Century and Biographies of Irene Worth and Charles H. Purcell, by E. A. Kral, 2002.

Gerald's Story, by Gerald Wayne Mathews, 1999. (Matthews, Lutreil, and Shively families in Omaha and Merrick County.)

Charles Dana Wilber: Scientific Promoter, Pioneer of the West, and Town Founder, by E. A. Kral, 2000. (Wilber family in Saline County.)

The Hellerich's Coming from Korb, Germany, compiled by Janice Mae Hellerich, 2001. (German-American family in Lancaster County.)

A Brief Record of the Hunt Family of Nance County, Nebraska, compiled by Evelyn Tolley Buckingham, 2002.

John Mohon of Lunenburg County, and his Descendants, by James L. Mohon, 2002. (Mohon and Warford families in Douglas County.)

The Stolzenburg Story, by Steve Hunt, 2002. (Stolzenburg family in Lancaster, Cherry, and Fillmore counties.)

The Descendants of Martin Werbelow and Christine Krause and Carl Fredrich Schwartz and Caroline Werbelow: including the Biehle, Borgelt, Heinold, Hartmann, Legband, Lehmann, Leitzke, Matthes, Moritz, and Prawitz Families of Stanton County and Cuming County, Nebraska, compiled by Douglass G. Adams, 2001.

Dawn of the Millennium: Elmwood at a Glance, compiled by the Elmwood Millennium Book Committee, 2002.

Douglas County, Nebraska, Marriages 1854-1881, compiled by Greater Omaha Genealogical Society and Friends, 2002.

Dundy County Veterans, 1947-2002, compiled by Lucille Edwards, 2002.

Index for the Chapman Brothers 1888, Portrait and Biographical Album of Gage County, Nebraska, by Judy L. Gibson, 2002.

Index for the 1983 Gage County, Nebraska History Book, by Judy L. Gibson and Willa Faris, 1991.

Index for Denton, Nebraska Centennial Book, 1871-1971, by the Denton Community Historical Society, 2002.

Saline County, Nebraska's 101 Centenarians and 160 Marriages of 65 Years or More, 1854-2001, by E. A. Kral, 2002.

Saline County Old Settlers, 1929-1983, compiled by Rose Marie Hulse, 2002.

Wayne County Cemeteries, compiled by the Genealogical Society of Wayne County, 2001.


March 1: Exhibit Opening, Here Open to All is the History of This People: 125 Years of the Nebraska State Historical Society, NSHS headquarters building, Lincoln. See separate article above.

March 16: Sunday at the Museum Series, presentation by Irish poet Desmond Egan. 2 P.M., John G. Neihardt State Historic Site, Bancroft. Free and open to the public; reception following. For information contact the Neihardt Site at 1-888-777-4667. Winter hours at Neihardt during March, M-F, 9:00-5:00. Closed weekends except for special programming.

March 18: Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, Mouth of the Platte chapter. Jeanene Wehrbein and Jim Swenson will relate the successful efforts of Plattsmouth's Shallow River Society to have the mouth of the Platte River made a prime viewing location during the Bicentennial. 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.

March 20: Brown Bag Lecture, Nebraska's Moving Image Treasures, by Paul Eisloeffel, NSHS curator of audio-visual collections, Library/Archives Division. Excerpts from these treasures range from promotional films to amateur and home movies. 12 noon, Museum of Nebraska History, Fifteenth and P Streets, Lincoln. Free and open to the public.

March 20: Omaha Corral of Westerners, Stu Lynn will present himself as "Buffalo Bill" Cody. Meet at 6 P.M. at Original Caniglia's Restaurant, 1114 South Seventh St., Omaha. Call Stu Lynn, 402-558-7209, for information or reservations (required).

April 15: Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, Mouth of the Platte chapter. Skip Meisner, Sioux City coordinator, will relate his group's past accomplishments and future plans relating to Lewis and Clark. Meet as above.

April 17: Brown Bag Lecture, "Walt Behlen, Cornbelt Edison," by Jill Ebers, NSHS Historic Preservation Division. Behlen combined a talent for invention and innovation with a brilliant business and marketing mind. 12 noon, Museum of Nebraska History, Fifteenth and P Streets, Lincoln. Free and open to the public.

April 17: Omaha Corral of Westerners, "The History of Fort Robinson," by Tom Buecker, curator of the NSHS Fort Robinson Museum. Meet as above.

April 26: Annual Neihardt Spring Conference, John G. Neihardt State Historic Site, Bancroft. See separate article above.

April 26-27: Another Nebraska: A Look at Our Black Heritage, Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center, Omaha. See separate article above.

June 7: Cheyenne Outbreak Barracks dedication, Fort Robinson. See separate article above.

Get the Hang of It!
A Workshop on the
Safe Display of Art and Collectibles

A Workshop for Artists, Framers, Collectors, Museum Staff, and others
interested in the proper display and exhibition of precious and important objects.

Thursday, April 10, 2003
9 A.M. to 3 P.M.
The Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center

Learn About:


9:00-12:00, lectures, demonstrations;
12:00-1:00, lunch/ Ford Center tour;
1:00-3:00, hands-on lab workshops (two different one-hour sessions).

Workshops limited to fifteen participants per session.


$25 for the morning session (including lunch);
$25 for each of the afternoon lab sessions;
$55 for the entire day.

Discounts available for students, seniors and NSHS members.

For further information or to register, please contact Kristin at:

The Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center
1326 South Thirty-second Street
Omaha, NE 68105


15th & "P" Streets 402-471-3447

March Markdowns

March 10 - 17, 2003
10:00 - 4:30, Monday - Friday
1:00 - 4:00, Saturday and Sunday

Stop by the Nebraska State Historical Society Museum Store at the Museum of Nebraska History, Fifteenth and P Streets, Lincoln, for our inventory clearance sale.

In observance of Easter, Society headquarters will be closed Saturday, April 19. The Museum of Nebraska History and the Historic Sites operated by the NSHS will be closed April 20. Call for holiday hours at the Neihardt Site (402-648-3388) and Cather Site (402-746-2653).

In observance of Arbor Day, Society headquarters, NSHS offices in the Lincoln Children's Museum, and the Ford Center will be closed Friday, April 25. Society headquarters will be closed April 26. The Museum of Nebraska History will be open. The Historic Sites operated by the NSHS will be closed April 27. Call for holiday hours at the Neihardt Site and Cather Site as above.


January/February 2003

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Last updated 17 April 2003

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