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Historical Newsletter

November / December 2005

weird nebraska, strange stories and amazing facts

Coming in January 2006
at the
Museum of Nebraska History



On October 14 the Nebraska State Historical Society recognized the important contributions to Nebraska history made by the following organizations and individuals. The awards were presented during the Society's 127th annual meeting in Lincoln:

Keith Blackledge and Senator Don Pederson, North Platte, and George Haecker, Omaha, are recipients of the 2005 Nebraska Preservation Award. Their significant and successful efforts resulted in a Nebraska state constitutional amendment so that owners of historic buildings could receive tax incentives for rehabilitation work on their properties. Amendment One was approved by Nebraska voters in 2004, and subsequently LB66, under the leadership of Senator Pederson, was passed in 2005. The amendment and bill allow economic encouragement for owners financing historic preservation projects.

George Haecker, Omaha, and Keith Blackledge, North Platte, received the Nebraska Preservation Award for their efforts to pass Amendment One, which amended the Nebraska constitution to make economic incentives for historic preservation possible. Senator Don Pederson of North Platte was also presented the award in absentia.


The Douglas County Historical Society is the winner of the Addison E. Sheldon Memorial Award for outstanding contributions to the interpretation and preservation of Nebraska history for its transcribing, editing, and publication of letters by English immigrant Joseph Barker. "The Barker Team" editors, Dr. Del Weber, Barry Combs, Bob Marks, and Don Snoddy, undertook the two-year endeavor of transcribing the one thousand pages of handwritten letters.

Jackie Spahn, Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation, presents the Addison E. Sheldon Award to Betty Davis, director of the Douglas County Historical Society, for its transcription and publication of Their Man in Omaha, the letters of early settler Joseph Barker.

The Quivey-Bay State Foundation, Scottsbluff, received the Robert W. Furnas Memorial Award for significant contributions to the Nebraska State Historical Society. The foundation contributed more than $20,000 towards the reconstruction of the 1874 Cavalry Barracks at Fort Robinson. Funds helped support both the construction of the building and the furnishing of the structure with appropriate artifacts and historically accurate reproductions.

Gregory Bond, a doctoral candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, won the James L. Sellers Award for the best article published in a volume of Nebraska History. Bond's "'Too Much Dirty Work': Race, Manliness, and Baseball in Gilded-Age Nebraska" appeared in the Winter 2004 baseball-themed issue of the magazine. Winners of the Sellers award are selected by judges from a Nebraska college or university history department which is not represented by an article in the judged magazines­this year, from Nebraska Wesleyan University. Articles are evaluated on use of primary sources, quality of research and writing, and reader interest. A cash prize from the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation accompanies the award.


An attorney, a history professor, and an attorney who also teaches history were among successful candidates for the Nebraska State Historical Society Board of Trustees. Two current board members will serve a second term in election results announced October 14 at the Society's annual meeting in Lincoln. New board members include:

Ken Bunger, Omaha, a former city attorney now affiliated with Kutak Rock LLP. Bunger represented the Omaha Landmarks Commission and helped develop local historic preservation ordinances. He is active in the Omaha Corral of Westerners and the Civil War Roundtable and is writing a book on the eighteenth-century military.

William Pratt, also of Omaha, a UN-O history professor. A labor historian, Pratt was a Fulbright lecturer in American history at Moscow State University in 2000. He served on the NSHS board from 1993 to 1999.

James Hewitt, Lincoln, former general counsel of Nebco, Inc. and adjunct to the history faculty at Nebraska Wesleyan University. He is the author of a forthcoming book on the Nebraska Supreme Court. Hewitt served as president of the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation from 1999 to 2003.

Franklin Pothoff, Palisade, who spent his career at the Southwest Public Power District. The son of immigrants, Pothoff has served on the Nebraska Rural Development Commission and the Palisade Village Board and is former chair of the Southwest Nebraska Resource, Conservation, and Development District.

Board members reelected to a second three-year term include: Annabelle Broadbeck Marsh, Grand Island, who also serves on the Central District Health Department Board, and Bev Wilhelm, Unadilla, who farms in addition to teaching Spanish and writing.

The Nebraska State Historical Society is governed by a board of fifteen members, twelve of whom are elected by the membership of the Society and three of whom are appointed by the governor. Nancy Haney, Lyman, is the new board member appointed by Governor Dave Heineman. Haney has been active in development of the Farm and Ranch Museum near Gering and in historic preservation efforts statewide, having served on the Nebraska State Historic Preservation Board.

New board members will begin their three-year terms January 1, 2006.



Recent catastrophic events have raised awareness of the importance of caring for family and community treasures. Nebraska has more than six hundred museums, historical societies, and libraries scattered across the state, with few training opportunities for staff and volunteers. Thanks to a $249,837 grant awarded to the Nebraska State Historical Society, families, museums, and libraries across the state will learn more about how to save Nebraska's material heritage. The Partnership for a Nation of Learners, a collaboration of the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services and the nonprofit Corporation for Public Broadcasting, announced its first-ever community collaboration grants, and Nebraska was one of only seven projects to receive funding. The Nebraska State Historical Society will partner with Nebraska Educational Telecommunications and the Nebraska Library Commission to create resources families, museums, and libraries can use to preserve their heritage. Community workshops, a television program to be broadcast on the statewide NET network, and a website will feature "how-to's" from professionals at the Society's Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center and the State Library Commission, and will provide practical and effective methods to help ensure artifacts, photographs, and documents survive into the future.

For further information visit or


Kellie DeJong of Pierce was the recipient of a Nebraska State Historical Society Certificate of Achievement acknowledging her scrapbook titled Murder in Cold Blood: The Story of the Breyer Murders, 1902, Pierce County, Nebraska at the 2005 Nebraska State Fair. Kellie prepared her scrapbook for the Explore Your Heritage 4-H project. Along with her certificate Kellie received a one-year complimentary Society membership.



The Nebraska State Historical Society's State Historic Preservation Office just completed a historic buildings survey of Sioux and Dawes counties in the Panhandle. Consultants drove every public road in the counties looking for properties fifty years old and older that still look much as they did when they were built. Since the counties had last been surveyed in 1977, a large number of properties "came of age" in the last twenty-eight years. In Sioux County, surveyors identified 336 properties that had not been previously surveyed, including 83 properties in Harrison and 247 rural properties. In Dawes County, our contractors found 1,142 newly identified properties. In addition to the reconnaissance survey, we also asked our contractors to write a history of ranching in Sioux and Dawes counties, which is also included in the survey reports. Survey reports are available at the SHPO office. Contact Jill Dolberg if you would like a copy. The reports are available in a pdf format on the Nebraska State Historical Society website at



The Museum of Nebraska History will be decked out in its holiday finery from Tuesday, November 22, to Tuesday, January 3. An animated Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus will greet visitors on the museum's first floor near a 1950s aluminum tree lit by a revolving color wheel. The Carson Parlor will depict an 1860s Nebraska Territorial Christmas, complete with tabletop tree, toys, and gifts. The World War II living room, the Goehner Brothers General Store, and the sod house will also feature seasonal decorations. Museum hours are 9:00-4:30, Tuesday-Friday, and 1:00-4:30, Saturday and Sunday.


The Thomas P. Kennard House, a Nebraska State Historical Society historic site at 1627 H Street in Lincoln, will celebrate Victorian Holidays Past, featuring Victorian toys, decorations, and historic photographs, Monday, November 28, through Friday, December 30. The house will be open Monday through Friday by appointment. Regular admission will be charged. Nebraska State Historical Society members are free. There will be a free open house on Sunday, December 11, from 1 to 5. Also that afternoon the Ferguson House, 700 South Sixteenth Street, and the Atwood House, 740 South Seventeenth, in the same neighborhood, will be decorated for the holidays and visitors will be welcome, 1-5, with no admission charged. For additional information on the open house and Victorian Holidays Past at the Kennard House call 402-471-4764. The Ferguson House telephone number is 402-471-5409. The Atwood House number is 402-438-4567.


The fourth, and final, rotation of quilts in the exhibit Patchwork Lives is now on display at the Museum of Nebraska History. For the past eighteen months the exhibit has featured quilts from the collections of the Nebraska State Historical Society and the International Quilt Study Center. Patchwork Lives illustrates how women of Nebraska and the Great Plains region strove to achieve beauty and structure in the midst of the social, political, and artistic changes of the 1850s to the 1920s. The exhibit is scheduled to end April 1, 2006.

Album Quilt
Maker unknown, possibly made in Battle Creek, Michigan
Circa 1869-1880
89 inches by 77 inches
International Quilt Study Center, James Collection, 1997. 007. 0308

Album quilts made by friends and family commemorated the relationships being left behind as women departed for the West. Many of these types of quilts were treasured as mementos of the women's lives. Called albums because each block was unique, as in a photo or autograph album, these quilts often incorporated floral patterns that women found in their own gardens or in the natural landscape of their homes.



Beginning November 1 the Library/Archives Reference Room will be open as follows:

Tuesday: 1-4;
Wednesday - Friday: 9-12 and 1-4;
Saturday: 8-5.

The Reference Room will return to summer hours on March 1.

By Cindy S. Drake, Library Curator

[Allen Family Handout, compiled by John L. Faison]. (Allen family in Douglas County.)

The Barada Story: Pioneers in a New Land, by Joel Brink. (Barada family in the Nemaha Half-Breed Tract, Richardson and Nemaha counties.)

Bertie and Me: Growing Up on a Nebraska Sandhill Ranch in the Early 1900's, by Billie Lee Snyder Thornburg. (Snyder family in McPherson County.)

Hero of the Rhine: The Karl Timmermann Story, by Ken Hechler. (German-American family of Timmermann in Cuming County.)

Krems: Germany, Illinois, Nebraska, compiled . . . Norma (Hobrock) Babcock . . . in collaboration with William H. Krems. . . . (German-American families of Hobrock and Krems in Adams County.)

On the Tenth Wave: Holt County Nebraska, 1931-1945, Growing Up American in the Old Irish Colony, by Ellen Higgins Young. (Irish-American families of Higgins and Withers in Holt County.)

Sommerhalder Family History [compiled by Orma R. Paulson]. (Swiss-American family in Pawnee, Lancaster, Richardson, and Webster counties.)

Three Scheinost Brothers, Joe, Charles, Frank, Marry Three Zoubek Sisters, Katie, Anna, Josie: Genealogy, History, Pictures From the Scheinost Family and the Zoubek Family with Related Busek and Kotab Families, researched and compiled by Phyllis M. Bunnelle, assisted by Philip R. Bunnelle. (Czech-American families in Valley and Boyd counties.)

The Zoubek and the Kotab Families: Genealogy, History, Pictures from the Scheinost Family and the Zoubek Family with Related Busek and Kotab Families, researched and compiled by Phyllis M. Bunnelle. (Czech-American families in Saunders and Knox counties.)


The library is requesting donations to purchase the following titles:

If you would like to donate funds for the purchase of any of these titles or purchase them for the library, contact Cindy S. Drake, 402-471-4786 or


November 13: Sunday at the Museum Series, Michael Murphy, singer-songwriter and player of Native American flute music. 2 p.m., John G. Neihardt State Historic Site, Bancroft. Free and open to the public; reception following. For information call the John G. Neihardt Site, 306 W. Elm Street, Bancroft, at 1-888-777-4667 or

November 17: Brown Bag Lecture, "Topics in Conservation." Join staff members from the Nebraska State Historical Society's Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center in Omaha for topical information about conservation projects in the state. 12 noon, Museum of Nebraska History, Fifteenth and P streets, Lincoln. Free and open to the public.

November 27: Community Holiday Concert, including the Wayne State Madrigal Singers, the Bancroft Holiday Choir, and other ensemble and solo performances. 2 p.m., Bancroft Community Center, Main Street, Bancroft. Tickets are $5 each; proceeds will benefit Neihardt/Black Elk Sculpture Project. For information call the Neihardt Site as above.

December 15: Brown Bag Lecture, "Treasures from the Collections." Tom Mooney, curator of manuscripts, Deb Arenz, senior museum curator, and Paul Eisloeffel, curator of photographs and audio/visual collections, will present an entertaining program focusing on some of the "treasures" found in the collections of the Nebraska State Historical Society. 12 noon, Museum of Nebraska History, Fifteenth and P streets, Lincoln. Free and open to the public.


Indian on horseback logo
at the
Museum Store


The NSHS museum stores invite you
to shop with us during this holiday season!
Members will receive a twenty percent discount
on items purchased December 1-8.


Internet and museum store catalog shoppers can place orders by calling the Lincoln museum store at 402-471-3447 during these dates.

The holiday discount applies at any of our museum stores, located at the Museum of Nebraska History, Fifteenth and P streets, Lincoln; the Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center, Omaha (402-595-1180); the Fort Robinson Museum, near Crawford (308-665-2919); the Chimney Rock National Historic Site near Bayard (308-586-2581); Neligh Mill State Historic Site, Neligh (402-887-4303); and the Senator George W. Norris State Historic Site, McCook (308-345-8484).

Shoppers outside of Lincoln, shopping at the Ford Center or one of the historic sites, should call for hours or visit our website at Not all items can be found at all of our museum stores; however, if you call the Lincoln museum store we will be able to locate the item(s) for you.


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


September / October 2005 Issue

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