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Historical Newsletter

May/June 2000


The Preservation Association of Lincoln (PAL) presented its year 2000 Stewardship Award to the Nebraska State Historical Society. The award recognizes the Society's ongoing maintenance and interpretation of Lincoln's Thomas P. Kennard House. Society Director Lawrence Sommer and Education Associate John Lindahl accepted the award at the PAL annual meeting, March 1.

Each of Nebraska's three capital commissioners built imposing mansions on the site they selected in 1867 to be Nebraska's new capital city. Only Secretary of State Thomas P. Kennard's house survives today. Following its renovation during the state centennial, the Kennard House was dedicated as the Nebraska Statehood Memorial in 1968.


The state paid tribute to Nebraska photographer Earl McWilliams in a ceremony held in the Warner Legislative Chamber at the State Capitol in Lincoln on March 22. McWilliams's exceptional photographs of Lincoln's African American community in the 1910s and 1920s have received the attention of the press, including an article in Newsweek magazine.

Nebraska Governor Mike Johanns and State Senator David Landis led the event in honoring McWilliams's photographic contribution, the historical legacy of six generations of McWilliams family members in the state, and the important contributions of the African American community to the history of Nebraska. The event was hosted by the Nebraska State Historical Society.

Plans for the McWilliams photographs include a national exhibition, a major publication, and a national television documentary.


After reviewing twelve applications, the Society announced the award of three, $1,000 research grants for the year 2000. The recipients were David Wishart, UN-L; Donna L. Roper, Kansas State University; and Mark Ellis, UN-L. The research grants are provided by the Gladys Marie Lux Nebraska History Education Endowment Fund and by the Tom and Marilyn Allan Fund, both administered by the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation.


The NSHS has joined other Nebraska government and private nonprofit agencies to form the Community Cultural Development Partnership (CCDP). The CCDP provides funding and other assistance for rural community and urban neighborhood development projects that focus on cultural heritage, the arts and/or the humanities, and that include a community or economic development component. The other member agencies are the Humanities Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the Nebraska Arts Council, the Nebraska Humanities Council, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, the Nebraska Rural Development Commission, the School at the Center, and the Urban Community Improvement Program at the UN-L College of Architecture.

The goal of the program is to combine agency resources to assist rural communities and urban neighborhoods in improving their quality of life, their local economy, and their sense of the meaning of their community. The agencies are convinced that community development should not only include economic development but should also give particular attention to cultural or ethnic heritage, history, art (dance, theater, music, literature, the visual arts), architecture, the environment, traditional folk knowledge and crafts, and other things that make life unique.

The CCDP will be offering three to five planning and/or seed grants of up to $5,000 each in FY 2000-2001. The grant money cannot be used to construct or renovate buildings nor can it be used to benefit a sole business or contractor. In addition to planning and seed monies, the grants will include hands-on assistance from the CCDP partner agencies as necessary or requested. To apply for funding, your rural community or urban neighborhood group must first draw up a short preproposal in the form of a letter, due by June 30, 2000. For information on what needs to be included in the letter and for assistance in developing project ideas, contact any of the partner agencies. At the NSHS contact John Schleicher, 402-471-2634, or Gwen Meister, 402-471-6642. Both can also be reached toll-free at 1-800-833-6747.


The NSHS invites Society volunteers to a kickoff appreciation on May 8 at the Society's headquarters, 1500 R Street, Lincoln. The event begins at 1 P.M. with a reception and a program on the history of Memorial Stadium at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Following the program volunteers will be provided with a walking tour of Memorial Stadium.

Family and friends are also invited. The event is to congratulate and thank the many volunteers who assist the Society in carrying out its mission to "safeguard and interpret Nebraska history." Please contact Deb McWilliams at 471-4955 for further information.


Otto Klima, who first donated an artifact to the Society in 1945, died in Lincoln on March 31 at age eighty-three. Since that initial donation, Klima and his late wife Dorthye contributed more than 6,000 items to the Society's museum, library, and photographic collections. In 1987 Klima received the Society's Addison E. Sheldon Memorial Award for outstanding contributions to the preservation of Nebraska history.


On March 16 and 17 representatives of eight tribes from Nebraska, Kansas, and South Dakota met in Omaha with staff from the Nebraska State Historical Society, Nebraska Arts Council, and Nebraska Humanities Council to discuss cooperative efforts in cultural preservation. Participants toured the Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center to explore how the Ford Center could be used by the tribes for both care and treatment of materials and as an educational facility.

Organized by Charles Trimble, former Society president, this meeting was made possible by a partnership between the Society and the Arts and Humanities Councils called "Nebraska Traditions," and with a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Among the tribes represented were the Omaha, Ponca, Santee, and Winnebago tribes of Nebraska; the Oglala, Sicangu, and Yankton tribes of South Dakota; and the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska.

National Trust logoMay 14-20: "Taking America's Past Into the Future"



For the third time in as many years, the Historical Society's Library/Archives Division has received a film preservation grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation. Altogether, twenty-three nonprofit and public organizations in twenty states and the District of Columbia will be helped by these federally funded cash awards. The Society's award will go toward the preservation of five early reels of "home movie" film.

The five reels are particularly rich in visual quality and have high research value. They include a promotional film for the church-affiliated Cotner College in Lincoln (c. 1923), amateur footage documenting a 1929 air tour around the state, and domestic home and travel movies from Lincoln and from Richardson and Cherry counties. These films were chosen because they are historically valuable and at significant risk because of their age.

The National Film Preservation Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving America's film heritage. Created by the U.S. Congress in 1996, the NFPF is the charitable affiliate of the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress. For more information on the NFPF and a complete list of the projects awarded, visit NFPF's website at www.filmpreservation.org.

(image) College co-eds perform calisthenics in a promotional film for Cotner College, c. 1923.


Staff in the Library/Archives Division recently finished eighteen months of work on "Prairie Settlement: A Story of Determination," an American Memory Project funded by the Ameritech Corporation and administered through the Library of Congress. Through the project, high quality digital images of more than three thousand photographs by Solomon D. Butcher and 318 letters of the Uriah W. Oblinger family will be available for research and browsing on the Library of Congress's American Memory website. Transcripts of the original letters will also be available, and both photographs and letters will be searchable by subject. The Library of Congress staff will require several months to process the project. At this time no date has been set for online availability for public browsing. Look for further announcements as more information becomes available.

By Cindy Drake, Library Curator

County Records

County records are found in most local courthouses throughout the United States. The most commonly used records for genealogists include vital, marriage, deed, and probate records. The original records are found in county courthouses, except when they have been transferred to local historical societies or state archives. Usually this occurs after they have been commercially or privately microfilmed. Many county records have been microfilmed by the LDS Church, making them available in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and its branches worldwide.

Copies of official vital records such as births and deaths may be available at the county level, but many states (including Nebraska) maintain them only at the state level. Marriage records are usually located in the counties, but may also be on file at the state level (as in Nebraska) after a certain time. They are usually found in the county where the couple was married or in a neighboring county. There should be a Direct Index (to names of the grooms) and an Indirect Index (to the names of brides) in the same or separate books.

Deeds transfer title in real property from one owner to another. Researchers use the Grantor (Seller) and the Grantee (Buyer) Indexes to locate individuals in these records. Tax and assessment records also record property information. Probate records are created at the time someone dies to settle the estate. If they include a will they usually mention the deceased's children, which helps identify family members.

In early years, variant spellings of surnames should be checked. Place names were misspelled, and political boundaries were changed, so one might have to search the courthouses of two or more counties to find a particular record. County seats also changed, and a courthouse may have been burned or flooded. The Handybook for Genealogists by Everton Publishers provides information about county formation and specific county records.

For more information about county records consult The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy by Val D. Greenwood (several chapters, including one titled "Court Records"); The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy edited by Lou Scuzs and Sandra Luebking (still in print as well as available at http://www.ancestry.com/search/rectype/inddbs/3259.htm. See the chapter titled "Research in Court Records"); County Courthouse Book by Elizabeth Petty Bentley. (This title covers the type and availability of key courthouse records and their services. It is also available on CD-ROM under the title The Genealogist's All-In-One Address Book and includes Bentley's other two books, The Genealogist's Address Book and Directory of Family Associations.)

New Acquisitions of Interest to Genealogists

Bryant-Fisher Family: Dozens of Cousins, 80th Reunion, August 8-10, 1997, [prepared by Arlett M. Brooks]. (Families in Douglas County.)

Ancestors and Descendants of the Edwards, Mathis, Delozier, and Related Families that Pioneered Through Virginia, Carolinas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, descendants in thirty-seven states, authored, compiled, edited, and published by Richard L. Edwards. (Families in Clay, Nuckolls, and Richardson Counties.)

The 1995 Genealogy Annual: A Bibliography of Published Sources, by Thomas J. Kemp.

The Motherals of North American and Allied Families, compiled by Bruce and Jennie Motheral. (Family in Douglas County.)

We Woolen: Woollens, Woolling, Wooller, Woolen, Wollen, Wallen, [compiled by Keith C. Woollen]. (Family in Gage County.)

Falconer of Halkerton: A Genealogy of a Scottish Family and its Branches in England, the United States, and Jamaica, Including Those Spelled "Falconar" and "Faulkner," by Paul McKee Gifford et al. (Scottish American Family in Douglas, Dodge, and Holt Counties.)

The Howe Family: 10 Generations from England to America, [compiled by Betty H. Kluttz]. (Families in Gage and Otoe Counties.)

Robert Hutchins of Colonial America: The Historical Hutchins Family Records, by Jack R. Hutchins. (Families throughout Nebraska.)

Our Remmers Family Ancestry, 1633-1995, [compiled by Hertha O. Remmers]. (Family in Nemaha and Gage Counties.)

The Changing Winds: One Family's Czech American Experience, Circa 1875-1955, by Hazel U. Devine. (Czech American Families of Uhlir, Donat, and Houzvicka in Knox County.)

I am making a one-time appeal for donations to purchase the book Meyers Ors-und Verkehrs-Lexikon des Deutschen Reichs (with researcher's guide and translations of the introduction, instruction for the use of the gazetteer, and abbreviations by Raymond S. Wright III). This massive gazetteer was originally published 1912-13. It "describes approximately 210,000 cities, towns, hamlets and dwelling places in the German Empire prior to WWI. It is an essential tool for locating information about every inhabited place in the former Empire." Because of the number of German immigrants to Nebraska, this would be a useful source in our Reference Room. A special price of $259 for the three volumes is available through June 15. If you wish to contribute towards this purchase, send your donation to my attention at our address with the notation "Meyers." Thank you.


The following list consists of interesting titles from or about Nebraska we were unable to acquire for our library collection. If you are aware of the availability of copies of these titles please contact Library Curator Cindy S. Drake at 402-471-4786 or E-mail to: nshs05@www.nebraskahistory.org.

Better Gardening, Easy Manufacturing Co., Lincoln, Nebraska. (Catalog of garden machinery from the early 1930s.)

Cedar Rapids, Nebraska, 1884-1984. (We have one copy in our collection and would like to locate a second copy.)

Country Kids Cookbook, Wallace District #60, Hastings, Nebraska, 1993.

Dawson County, Nebraska, Atlas and Plat Book, 1979-1980.

The Disguised Wayfarer and Other Stories of Swedish Pioneer Life in America, by Just Adolph. (Published in 1926 by the Covenant Book Concern of Chicago. There are references to places in the Midwest including Nebraska.)

Favorite Recipes. Published by The Ladies Aid of Our Saviour's Lutheran Church, Twenty-third and N Streets, Lincoln, Nebraska. (Danish recipes, date not given.)

Iowa Beef Processors, Inc. An Entire Industry Revolutionized!, by Dale C. Tinstman and Robert L. Peterson, 1981.

Nebraska American Legion Auxiliary Culinary Gems, 1989.

New Reconstructions in the Yale Peabody Museum. Merycoidodon gracilis Leidy, Merycoidodon culbertsonii Leidy, Daphoenus vetus Leidy, 1923. American Journal of Science, Vol. VI, No. 32, pp. 91-99. (Offprint of the American Journal of Science regarding oreodonts and the rich paleontology of the Nebraska Tertiary fauna.)

Saline County, Nebraska, Plat Book, 1949. (Published for the Saline County Farm Bureau.)

Some Principles and Rules for Right Eating Formulated From the Teachings of Viola Mizell Kimmel, 1922. (Mrs. Kimmel was from Creighton, Nebraska.)

United Methodist Church Cookbook--Members and Friends, Aurora, Nebraska, Community Cookbook, 1995.

Woman's Club Cook Book, compiled by the Bassett Woman's Club, Bassett, Nebraska, 1930.



Find out what the Brownell Elementary fifth graders see in Lincoln in the new exhibit Lincoln: A Kid's Eye View. The grand opening will be on Saturday, June 3, at the Museum of Nebraska History. The Brownell Elementary fifth graders visited five of Lincoln's community centers and heard stories from people who immigrated to Lincoln from other countries or grew up as minorities in Lincoln. To share their new vision of their city, the students created Lincoln: A Kid's Eye View.

The first component of the exhibit is a kiosk and interactive computer featuring student artwork, poetry, models, interviews, a creative story, photographs, reflections, and objects. The second component will give the visitors a chance to learn more about the forty-eight curators of Lincoln: A Kid's Eye View. The students have chosen personal objects to exhibit and have written stories about themselves, their objects, and their heritages.

Come for the fun on Saturday, June 3, as we celebrate the grand opening of Lincoln: A Kid's Eye View from 1 to 4 P.M. at the Museum of Nebraska History. The afternoon will be filled with a special cultural presentation, music, multicultural door prizes, and foods. We hope to have many if not all of the forty-eight Brownell Elementary fifth grade curators on hand. The Lincoln: A Kid's Eye View exhibit will be on display through August 2000. Please call Jessica Stoner, 1-800-833-6747 or 471-4757 in Lincoln for more information.


The Pioneer Gallery on second floor of the Museum of Nebraska History will be closing May 31 to make way for a new permanent exhibit. The Nebraska Experiment will record the successes and failures that have marked the settlement and development of Nebraska from 1867 to 1940. Through period settings, artifacts, documents, and photos, this third phase of the museum's permanent exhibits will illustrate the growth of Nebraska's towns, government, agriculture, ranching, industries, and inventions, along with changing technology, political and social movements, and the state's rich ethnic heritage.

The Nebraska Experiment is expected to open in early 2002, so please bear with us during this construction phase. From time to time, we will bring you updates on the progress of the exhibit, and may ask for your help in acquiring specific objects needed to help tell the story of Nebraska's past.

(image) Bryce Darling works to prepare The Nebraska Experiment exhibit.


Are you taking a Nebraska vacation this year? Consider purchasing Nebraska-oriented items from the Society's Museum Stores to make the trip more exciting and memorable. The Museum Stores can provide you and your family with fun and entertaining ways to keep busy in the car while traveling those Nebraska (or other state) highways. For example: Nebraska Trailblazer activity packet, student-oriented newspapers with crosswords, coloring pages, and informative text about Nebraska, $7.95; Roadside History of Nebraska, a guide through five historical and geographical regions, $18; Reading, Writing, & Riding Along the Oregon-California Trails, An Educational Activity Book, $6.95; Nebraska Trivia book, $6.95; The Story of the Oregon Trail audio cassette, $9.95.

Westward Bound with William Henry Jackson is a two-sided puzzle in a twelve-by-sixteen-inch box, $8.95. Cookie cutters (bison, windmill, state of Nebraska, or prairie dogs) $8.95 each.

You can purchase these great vacation items from stores at the Museum of Nebraska History, Fifteenth and P Streets, Lincoln, 402-471-3447; Chimney Rock National Historic Site, 1.5 miles south of Hwy. 92, Bayard, 308-586-2581; Fort Robinson Museum, 3200 W. Hwy. 20, Crawford, 308-665-2919; Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center, 1326 South Thirty-second Street, Omaha, 402-595-1180. If you can't make it to one of these locations, order from NSHS by calling 1-800-833-6747 or 471-3447. Have a great vacation!


May 2-12: Pastimes and Playthings, festival of old toys and games for children, Thomas P. Kennard House, 1627 H St., Lincoln. Hours: 9-12 and 1-4:30, Tuesday through Friday; and 1-5, Saturday and Sunday. For tour registration and information call the Kennard House, 402-471-4764.

May 18: Brown Bag Lecture, "The Halls of Hallmark," by Bob Puschendorf, deputy state historic preservation officer, NSHS. 12 noon, Museum of Nebraska History, Fifteenth and P Streets, Lincoln. Free and open to the public.

May 31: Dearly Beloved, Gifts and Gowns from Nebraska Weddings exhibit closes, Museum of Nebraska History, Fifteenth and P Streets, Lincoln.

June 1-30: Spinning, Weaving, Needlework Display, Senator George W. Norris State Historic Site, McCook. Norris family spinning wheels, crochet, redwork, drawn work, tatting, netting, knitting, embroidery, needlepoint, and counted cross stitch. For hours call the Norris Site, 308-345-8484.

June 3: A Kid's Eye View of Lincoln exhibit opens, Museum of Nebraska History, Fifteenth and P Streets, Lincoln.

June 15: Brown Bag Lecture, "Grand Duke Alexis and the Buffalo Hunt of 1872," by Dr. Douglas Scott, Midwest Archeological Center, National Park Service, Lincoln. 12 noon, Museum of Nebraska History, Fifteenth and P Streets, Lincoln. Free and open to the public.

June and August: Summer Workshops for Kids. Call 1-800-833-6747 for a brochure or visit the NSHS website at www.nebraskahistory.org

June 19-July 1: Trails and Tales Tour and Institute 2000, Forts and Fables. Sponsored by Peru State College with support from Nebraska Humanities Council, Nebraska State Historical Society, and Peru State College Foundation. Up to six hours graduate credit available in history or English. For information contact Dr. Sara Crook, P.O. Box 10, Peru State College, Peru, NE 68421; 402-872-2237.

July 3: Old Mill Days, Neligh Mill State Historic Site, Neligh. Chris Sayre performance of folk music on a variety of instruments, 6:30-8:30 P.M. on mill grounds; free to public. Bring a lawn chair or blanket. For information call 402-887-4303.

July 9-21: Nebraska Institute for K-12 Educators: Teaching Nebraska History and Culture Through Social Studies and the Humanities. Call 1-800-833-6747 for a brochure or visit the NSHS website as above.

September 21-23: Fur Trade Symposium, Fort Union NHS, Williston, ND. The theme is "Indians and Traders: Entrepreneurs of the Upper Missouri." For information, call 1-800-434-0233.

In observance of Memorial Day the Ford Conservation Center in Omaha will be closed Saturday, May 27, through Monday, May 29. Society headquarters will be closed May 29. The Museum of Nebraska History and all historic sites except Neihardt and Cather will be open regular hours on May 29. Call for holiday hours at the Neihardt Site (402-648-3388) and Cather Site (402-746-2653).

In observance of Independence Day, Society headquarters and the Ford Center will be closed Tuesday, July 4. The Museum of Nebraska History and all historic sites except Neihardt and Cather will be open regular hours. For holiday hours at Neihardt and Cather, call as above.

March/April 2000 Issue

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