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Historical Newsletter

May/June 2002


The next time you visit Fort Robinson you might be surprised to find a new, rather large structure being constructed, or rather reconstructed. The Nebraska State Historical Society is currently reconstructing an 1874 cavalry barracks located next to the reconstructed 1874 guardhouse and adjutant's office.

This particular barracks had an exciting, if short, lifespan. It was originally constructed in 1874 to house a company of the Third U.S. Cavalry, which had arrived from Fort Laramie to guard the Red Cloud Indian Agency. In late 1878 and early 1879 the building was witness to an infamous incident that gave the building its colloquial name, the Cheyenne Outbreak Barracks.

In 1877 the Northern Cheyennes had been forced from their home territory to a reservation in Oklahoma. After a year of hardship and disease more than 350 Cheyennes, under the leadership of chiefs Dull Knife and Little Wolf, decided to leave the reservation and return to their homelands. After crossing the North Platte River in Nebraska, they split into two groups. Those that stayed with Dull Knife chose to seek refuge with Sioux chief Red Cloud at the Red Cloud Agency.

When the cavalry captured Dull Knife and his followers, the Cheyennes learned the agency had been moved to Dakota Territory and only soldiers remained in the area. In October 1878 Dull Knife and 149 men, women, and children were imprisoned in the 1874 cavalry barracks. By December the army was coming under increasing pressure to return the Cheyennes to Oklahoma, but the Cheyennes were determined not to return.

On the night of January 9, 1879, the Cheyennes broke out of the barracks and, using weapons hidden earlier, fought a running battle with the soldiers along the White River valley. The Cheyennes were finally captured on January 22. Sixty-four Cheyennes and eleven soldiers lost their lives in the escape attempt.

For the next several years the building was used for soldiers' quarters and storage. In the 1890s it was divided into living quarters for seven or eight families of noncommissioned officers of the black Ninth U.S. Cavalry, sometimes called "Buffalo Soldiers." On March 22, 1898, there was one more tragedy involving the barracks building. The structure burned to the ground and two children of Sgt. Harry Wallace, Troop C, Ninth Cavalry, died in the blaze.

The Society reconstructed the 1874 guardhouse and adjutant's office, next to the site of the cavalry barracks, in the late 1960s. In the summer of 1987 the Society began an archeological investigation of the barracks site, which concluded in 1989. The excavation revealed the outline of the foundation and traces of interior walls along with numerous artifacts, mainly dating from the final occupation of the building.

In 1999 the Society received a legislative appropriation of $150,000, matched by donations to the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation, for the planning and reconstruction of the 1874 cavalry barracks building. Reconstruction began in October 2001, and the building should be completed during the summer of 2002. The building is being built on a steel foundation that rests on poured concrete footings, and the roof trusses were manufactured to meet today's building codes. Otherwise, the construction of the walls, floor, ceiling, windows, doors, and the hardware used are faithful to the original 1874 techniques.

Along with financial support from the Nebraska Legislature and the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation, the Society has received help from the logging company Pope and Talbot, which provided the lumber at a reduced cost; the Chadron High School Building and Construction Class of 2002, which built the roof trusses as a class project; and Herb Fricke and his son, Shawn, who procured the logs and are constructing the barracks.

By fall 2002 some initial interpretive panels will detail the daily life of a soldier, the early history of Fort Robinson, and the tragic story of the Cheyenne Outbreak. The displays will be expanded in the future to add to the Society's interpretive efforts at Fort Robinson.

For further information about this project please contact the Fort Robinson Museum at 308-665-2919 or visit the Society website at www.nebraskahistory.org/sites/fortrob/outbreak.htm


The Nebraska State Historical Society has awarded three, $1,000 grants to support research into the history of White Clay, Nebraska; prehistoric cultural migrations as evidenced by Plains archeology; and the history of Nebraska's Mexican-American Commission.

The recipients are Shannon Smith Calitri of Gordon, Lauren W. Ritterbush of Kansas State University, and Roger Davis of the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Calitri, a graduate student in history at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, will examine the impact of the history of White Clay, Nebraska, on contemporary Native and Anglo-American relations through a project entitled "No Man's Land." Ritterbush, a professor of anthropology at Kansas State, will examine archeological materials in the collections of the Nebraska State Historical Society to determine the processes and effect of late prehistoric migration of Oneota peoples onto the Central Plains. Davis, a professor of history at UNK, will investigate the forces leading to the establishment in 1970 of the nation's first state Mexican-American Commission and the subsequent history of the agency.

Research will be conducted over the next year, and each scholar will complete a manuscript for possible publication in the Society's quarterly magazine, Nebraska History. Funds for the grants are provided by the Gladys Marie Lux Nebraska History Education Endowment Fund and the Tom and Marilyn Allan Fund, both administered by the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation.

For further information about the research projects contact Don Cunningham, associate director for Research and Publications, Nebraska State Historical Society at 402-471-4748 or visit the Society's website at www.nebraskahistory.org/oversite/whatsnew/newgrant.htm


More than three hundred people braved a late winter storm to take part in the grand opening celebration of Building the State: Nebraska, 1867-1916, on Statehood Day, March 1. Secretary of State John Gale, Lincoln Mayor Don Wesely, and Society Director Larry Sommer presided over the joint 135th birthday party for Nebraska and exhibit opening.

In addition to a first look at the new exhibit, visitors enjoyed numerous children's activities, music provided by strolling minstrel Chris Sayre, and birthday cakes featuring historic photos from the Society's collections. If you missed the grand opening don't worry, Building the State: Nebraska, 1867-1916, the newest permanent gallery at the Museum of Nebraska History, is open for viewing 9-4:30, Monday-Friday, and 1-4:30 on Saturday and Sunday. Bring your family and walk through a life-size sod house, visit the Goehner Brothers General Store, listen to songs from the Victorian era, crank a coffee grinder, hoist a sadiron, practice your penmanship on a slate, and learn about the decisions Nebraskans made while they were building a state from scratch.

For group tours or more information call 402-471-4754 or visit the Society website at www.nebraskahistory.org/sites/mnh/tour.htm.


During June, the George W. Norris State Historic Site will host a spinning, weaving, and needlework display. Examples of tatting, counted cross-stitch, quilting, weaving, and many other needlecrafts are planned. The "Norris women," including George Norris's mother, Mary Mook Norris; his first wife, Pluma; second wife, Ellie; and daughters Hazel, Marian, and Gertrude, were skilled at redwork embroidery, crochet, ric-rac lace, and quilting. The work by the "Norris women" supplements many related items from local collections and artisans. The Norris house with its original furnishings is a perfect backdrop for this needlework exhibit.

The exhibit can be viewed during the hours of 9:30-12 and 1-5, Tuesday through Saturday, at 706 Norris Avenue, McCook. For further information about the exhibit contact Linda Hein at 308-345-8484 or visit the Society website at www.nebraskahistory.org/sites/norris/quilts.htm


The Nebraska State Historical Society's Archeology Division, will be conducting two projects this spring in the Omaha area. The first is sponsored by the Nebraska Department of Roads and will involve excavations at the territorial townsite of Rockport. A small portion of Old Rockport will be damaged during improvement of a county road. Excavations will focus on determining the locations of former homes, commercial buildings, and related features. Research questions that can be addressed involve architecture, subsistence, and technology. Rockport contains a Native American occupation (circa A.D. 1000-1400) that will also be investigated. The area under investigation is also the approximate location of Manuel Lisa's early nineteenth-century trading post. To date, archeological ruins associated with this important historic site have not been identified. The Archeology Division will be working with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Archeological Field School on this project.

We are sorry to report that due to adverse conditions at the dig site, the Old Rockport dig has been cancelled, as of May 14th, 2002.
The division will sponsor a dig at Old Rockport, for Society members only, on Sunday, June 9 (rain day, June 16). The cost is thirty dollars per person, and space is limited to thirty people. Participants should be prepared to deal with mosquitoes and poison ivy. If interested, contact Michelle Furby at 402-471-4760.

The Archeology Division will also be conducting a surface survey of five thousand acres of Douglas, Sarpy, and Washington counties. The goal of this project is to gain a firmer grasp on the archeological resources in the Omaha area that may be threatened by future expansion of the city. Field efforts will focus on creek valleys south of Papillion and along the Missouri River from Florence to Fort Calhoun. The project is a joint effort of the Archeology Division and the State Historic Preservation Office.

By Cindy S. Drake, Library Curator

Ainsworth I Remember: A Moment in History, 1930 to 1950, Ainsworth, Nebraska, by Richard Mohanna.

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

Early Pioneers of the Midwest, by Leola Brownell. (Schill Family in Box Butte County.)

History of the Samuel Blackstone Jr. and Mary Jane Williams Blackstone Family, written by Carle K. Rigby. (Family in Burt County.)

Jacobson Family History: Jacob, Jesse and Eugene Jacobson, 1722-1998, [compiled] by Dorry Rice. (Norwegian-American Family in Douglas County.)

1884 Pioneers of the Nebraska Prairies: An Account of the Lives of Otto Jensen, July 26, 1857-June 24, 1918 and Ane Katrine Andersen, September 16, 1859-May 27, 1942 and Their Family, compiled by DeLoye Jorgensen Wilson (Jensen and Andersen Families in Webster and Nuckolls counties.)

Fairdale Sunrise Cemetery: Howard County, Nebraska; Fish Creek Cemetery, Greeley County, Nebraska; Mt. Carmel/Paplin Cemetery, Howard County, Nebraska; Mt. Hope Cemetery, Scotia (Greeley County) Nebraska. Separate booklets of individual cemeteries surveyed by Susanne Milbourn.

Genealogies of Pascoe, Scheid, Maunus of Welsh, German, Finnish Descent, compiled by Patty Dahm Pascoe. (Families in Sarpy County.)

George Myron Hartford and Lillian May (Walker) Hartford: The Story of Their Lives; Including the Hartford, Rosenberger, Walker, Williamson, Byron and Leatherman Ancestral Families, by Lyle Stephen Hartford. (Families in Valley, Madison, Knox and Holt counties.)

History of District No. 84 Hardscrabble School, 1887-2000: Elementary Grades K-8: A Rural School Located Eight Miles Southeast of the Village of Whitney in Dawes County, Nebraska, by Carol J. Lange Doyle, 2000.

History of the Center of Knox County, 1901-2001, by the Center Book Committee, 2001.

The History of the Kerchal Family in the U.S., by D. Ray Kerchal. (Czech American family in Valley and Hayes counties.)

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

International Vital Records Handbook, 4th ed. by Thomas J. Kemp, 2000.

Lord of Avenel, by R. Charles Waymire. (Waymire, Reed, Biart, Zimmerman, Ingersol, Day, Gottsch, and Glesmann families in Saline, Otoe, and Sarpy counties.)

Mary, Edgar and Truman Morsman and Their Ancestors in the United States of America. (Morsman & Buck families in Douglas County.)

Moseman Family Pioneer History: The Heritage of Families From the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg Through Their Pioneer Homesteading Days in Nebraska, compiled by Dale K. Moseman. (Families in Dodge, Washington, Burt and Dixon counties.)

One Family's Story: Cretsinger, Crutsinger, Curtsinger, Cutsinger, Kretsinger, Krusinger, by Janette B. Cusinger and Garland H. Lacey. (Families In Washington, Nance, and Burt counties.)

Ostrander: A Genealogical Record, 1660-1995 by Emmett & Vinton P. Ostrander. (Ostrander, Gourley and Dille Families in Sheridan, Cherry, Johnson, Otoe, and Nance counties.)

Ray Search Remembers McCook, by Ray Search, 2000.

Rosenow Family History, [compiled by Berdena Rosenow Koehler Samuelson]. (German American family in Cass County.)

Saline County Centenarians and Marriages of 65 Years or More, 1854-2001, indexed by Rose Marie Hulse, researched and compiled by E. A. Kral, 2002.

Ten Year Index to the St. Louis Genealogical Society Quarterly: Volumes XXI-XXX, 1988-1997, [indexed by Audrey Flavin, Ed Mochel, George Wilson], 2001.

A Westward Migration, the Cyrus W. Harvey Family, by Barbara J. Harvey. (Harvey, Rohr, Unland, Gather & Gilmore families in Furnas, Gage, Saline, Jefferson, Nuckolls, and Lancaster counties.)

William Blackstone and Abigail Varney Descendants, compiled by M. Wiley Smith with sources by Carla Rigby. (Families in Burt and Scotts Bluff counties.)

The Wittwer Family, 2000: The Sesquicentennial Anniversary of the Arrival of the John Wittwer Family in America, 1850, compiled by Bernard F. Oakes. (Family in Richardson County.)

Zabokrtsky Family in Kansas and Nebraska, 1870-1980, compiled by Gary Mitchel Zabokrtsky. (Czech American family in Gage, Jefferson, and Cheyenne counties).


May 10: Lincoln Corral of Westerners, "History of Lincoln's Sunken Gardens," by Steve Nosal, horticulture director with Lincoln Parks and Recreation. Meet at Holiday Inn, Ninth and P streets, Lincoln, at 6:30, dinner at 7, program at 8. For reservations (required) or more information, call Margaret Allington, 402-488-5698.

May 16: Brown Bag Lecture, "Kitchens of Our Cultures: From Smorgasbord and Sauerbraten to Fajitas and Falafel," by Clarice Carlson Orr, Lincoln. 12 noon, Museum of Nebraska History, Fifteenth and P streets, Lincoln. Free and open to the public.

May 16: Omaha Corral of Westerners, "A Pictorial History of Omaha Through Post Cards," by Cathy Lynn. Meet at Caniglia's Restaurant, 1114 South Seventh St., Omaha, at 6 P.M. For reservations (required), call Bob Savage at 402-391-3252.

May 21: Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, Mouth of the Platte chapter, "A Tale of Two Corps," by Jeannine Nauss, U.S. Corps of Engineers. Meet at Caniglia's Restaurant, 1114 South Seventh St., Omaha, at 6 P.M. For reservations (required) call 402-331-7241 or e-mail mouthoftheplatte@aol.com

June: Lincoln Corral of Westerners. Mary Anne Bede will demonstrate what life was like for a Montana pioneer woman in the 1880s. Date and location to be announced. Reservations required as above.

June 18: Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, Ann Addison will speak on surviving a pirogue trip down the Missouri with an all-male crew. Meet as above.

June 20: Brown Bag Lecture, "Beef in Nebraska," by Gail DiDonato, professor of history, University of Nebraska at Omaha. 12 noon, Museum of Nebraska History, Fifteenth and P streets, Lincoln. Free and open to the public.

In observance of Arbor Day, headquarters offices, the Library/Archives, the Gerald R. Ford Center in Omaha, and the historic sites (except Cather and Neihardt) will be closed Friday, April 26. The Library/Archives will be closed Saturday, April 27. The Museum of Nebraska History will be open both days. Call for holiday hours at the Cather Site (402-746-2653) and the Neihardt Site (402-648-3388).

In observance of Memorial Day, headquarters offices and the Gerald R. Ford Center in Omaha will be closed Monday, May 27. The Museum of Nebraska History and the Historic Sites (except Cather and Neihardt) will be open. For holiday hours at Cather and Neihardt call as above.

In observance of Independence Day, headquarters offices, the Ford Center, and the Library/Archives will be closed Thursday, July 4. The Museum of Nebraska History and the Historic Sites (except Cather and Neihardt) will be open July 4. For holiday hours at Cather and Neihardt call as above.

March/April 2002 Issue

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Last updated 17 June 2002

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