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Historical Newsletter

October 1998


The 1998 Pioneer Farm Family Awards Program is sponsored annually by the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben and the Nebraska Association of Fair Managers. The program honors farm families in Nebraska whose land has been owned by members of the same family for one hundred years or more.

This makes the forty-third year for the statewide award; almost six thousand families in ninety-one of the ninety-three Nebraska counties have been honored since the program started in 1955. Each honoree receives an engraved plaque and gatepost marker as permanent recognition of this milestone. This year 125 honorees received this award.

Library Curator Cindy Drake, along with husband Kirby, son Quentin, and parents Arthur and Clara Steinhoff were one of the Cass County farm families honored this year at the Cass County Fair on August 13, 1998. Henry and Alvina Kehlbeck, Cindy's maternal great-grandparents, purchased their farm near Avoca on January 3, 1898. Henry and Alvina continued to reside on the farm until their deaths with William, their only child; Minnie, his wife; and Rosie and Clara, twin granddaughters. After William and Minnie retired in 1946, daughter Rosie and husband Fritz Rohlfs resided on the farm until 1975. Cindy and Kirby have resided on the Kehlbeck farmstead since 1978.


The sixth volume of Central Plains Archeology, a joint publication of the Nebraska Association of Professional Archeologists and the Nebraska State Historical Society, has been published. It contains two studies, the first on a Sand Hills hunting camp from the Archaic period and the second on prehistoric settlement patterns in the Glenwood, Iowa, area, just to the east of Nebraska. This is the fourth issue of the journal to be jointly published by the two organizations since 1994. Individual copies of this issue and previous ones are available through the Museum Store, Museum of Nebraska History (1-800-833-6747) for $9 plus $3 postage and handling.


The Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial has received two grants: a $4,850 tourism grant from the Department of Economic Development to develop a brochure for the Cather, Neihardt, Sandoz, and Aldrich sites and a $10,000 Greenspace Grant from the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum to landscape the one-quarter block space at Grace Episcopal Church in Red Cloud. The church space will be known as the "Willa Cather Memorial Garden" and will feature native plants as well as plants found in Cather's short stories and novels. Plans are well underway and planting will probably begin next spring.


Jordan Schlake of Fairbury was the recipient of a Nebraska State Historical Society Certificate of Achievement acknowledging his scrapbook on Nebraska at the 1998 Nebraska State Fair. Jordan prepared his scrapbook for the "Explore Your Heritage" 4-H project. Along with the certificate Jordan received a one-year complimentary Society membership.



Bees, bison, bluestem, architecture, and photography were the topics of four new NSHS workshops attended by fifty-three six-to-twelve-year-olds this summer. Jessica Stoner, museum educator, developed and led the workshops with Jill Koelling, assistant curator of photographs; Ed Zimmer, city historic preservation planner; and volunteers Susan Rice, Tami Matson, and Meredith and Holly McWilliams. Demand for the state symbol workshop, "Bees, Bison, and Bluestem," was so great a second session was offered. Activities for this workshop included stories, games, projects, and field trips to the Nebraska State Capitol and Lincoln's Pioneers Park.

In the "Kids and Cameras" workshop, eleven young photographers built their own pin-hole cameras, learned about "reading" and taking photographs, and created a photo album. The final week of workshops included "Adventures in Architecture" and the "Haymarket Mystery." Twelve students learned about architecture with walking tours, a construction day, and hands-on learning about elements and styles of architecture. Eight students solved their "Haymarket Mystery" with investigation of primary sources and exploration of the Lincoln Haymarket district of today. We look forward to offering these workshops and perhaps several new ones next year.

Those attending the morning session of "Bees, Bison, and Bluestem" show off the state capitol they built with volunteer Holly McWilliams (right) and Jessica Stoner, museum educator.


The quilt exhibit at the Museum of Nebraska History, Nebraska Quilts: A Patchwork History, will be extended through December 27, 1998. Originally scheduled to end October 31, the exhibit has been so well received that the display will continue through the holiday season. Please take advantage of this opportunity to view twelve exceptional quilts from the Society's collections. Highlights include Grace Snyder's famous Flower Basket Petit Point quilt, composed of more than 85,000 pieces, as well as the oldest surviving quilt known to have been made in Nebraska, a Wreath of Roses pattern made by Martha Allis Hollins in 1860. Also on display are an 1858 Baltimore Bride, four Crazy Quilts, and a Lone Star made in 1895 by Mary Mook Norris, the mother of Nebraska U.S. Senator George W. Norris.


More than one hundred years after Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West show first made a hit with Nebraska audiences, the great western showman is back. Buffalo Bill's Wild West, featuring twenty-four original full-color Wild West posters, photographs, documents, and objects illustrating the history of the shows opened September 1, 1998, at the Museum of Nebraska History, 15th and P streets, in Lincoln.

The Wild West show began in Nebraska when Cody presented the "Old Glory Blowout" on July 4, 1882, in North Platte. This simple exhibition of skill soon expanded into a carefully staged show with trick riding, sharpshooting, gunfights, and Indian exhibitions. Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show thrilled audiences at the Trans-Mississippi Exposition in Omaha in 1898.

Cody called North Platte his home for many years. Nebraska's other Wild West show personalities, including "Omaha Charlie" Bristol, and "Diamond Dick" Tanner of Norfolk, are also featured in artifacts and photographs from the Historical Society's collections. The career of Nebraskan "Doc" Carver, whose diving horse show inspired a feature-length Disney movie entitled Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken, is also highlighted. Buffalo Bill's Wild West is on loan from the Buffalo Bill Memorial Museum and Grave in Golden, Colorado; it continues through November 20, 1998, during regular museum hours. Admission is free. For further information on the exhibit, contact the Nebraska State Historical Society in Lincoln at 402-471-4754, toll-free at 1-800-833-6747, or visit the Society's homepage at www.nebraskahistory.org.


On Sunday, November 1, from 1:30 to 5:00 P.M., the Nebraska State Historical Society will host "Buffalo Bill Day" at the Museum of Nebraska History, 15th and P streets, Lincoln. Attend this free family event to learn about William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody and experience the spirit of the Wild West shows through activities for all ages and the temporary exhibit, Buffalo Bill's Wild West.

The afternoon will begin with a slide presentation by Tom Morrison, superintendent of the Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park in North Platte from 1:30 to 2:30 P.M., followed by the western music and stories of the Smith Family Band from 2:30 to 3:30, and family tours of the Buffalo Bill's Wild West exhibit from 3:30 to 4:30.

Hands-on activities include designing your own Wild West posters, stick horse and lasso races, and a Buffalo Bill look-alike contest. Visitors are encouraged to dress up in their own Wild West duds. Supplies will be available for creating your own mask and beard.

Don't miss this opportunity to learn more about Buffalo Bill, one of Nebraska's most famous celebrities, and his Wild West show on Sunday, November 1, from 1:30 to 5:00 P.M. For more information about this free family event, call the Nebraska State Historical Society in Lincoln at 402-471-4754, toll-free at 1-800-833-6747.


Laura Barss will begin her employment with NSHS on October 13 as the collections department's new registrar. Laura graduated from the UNL Museum Studies program in May 1998 with the M.A. degree. Laura has worked at the Midwest Archaeological Center, the Museum of Nebraska History, and the Portland Art Museum. She is currently employed at the Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site.



The Society, the Nebraska Department of Roads, and the Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma cooperated in sponsoring internships in Nebraska archeology for three Pawnee students. The program grew out of a series of lectures NSHS archeologist Rob Bozell presented in Pawnee, Oklahoma, last winter. Participants included Kay Tefertiller, Ed Echo-Hawk, and J. P. LaVenture. Kay and Ed are students at Northern Oklahoma College and Oklahoma State University respectively, and J. P. is a high school student in the St. Louis, Missouri, area.

The program was designed to give the students broad exposure to archeological sites and research in Nebraska and was particularly relevant to the Pawnee because Nebraska is their ancestral homeland. Fieldwork included assisting with excavations at an early 1700s Native American village near Papillion and an 800-year-old village near Gretna. The students were involved with excavation and soil processing. They also were trained in artifact cleaning, cataloging, and analysis. The visit included a one-day field trip to the Genoa area to see a series of Pawnee village sites dating between 1600 and 1870. Pawnee historian Roger Echo-Hawk visited with the students and discussed oral tradition and archeological approaches to the past.

Working at an early eighteenth-century Native American village near Papillion are Ed Echo-Hawk (left), intern; Trish Nelson, NSHS archeological technician; Gayle Carlson, NSHS curator of anthropology; Rob Bozell, NSHS associate director, archeology; and J. P. LaVenture and Kay Teffertiller, interns.


By Cindy S. Drake, Library Curator

Nebraska Mortuary/Funeral Home Records

Mortuary/funeral home records generally have the same information about a deceased individual that appears on the death certificate, as well as some additional information. The mortician or funeral home director usually obtains the information for the required death certificate and turns it over to the Vital Statistics Division of the Nebraska Department of Health. The funeral home may be in charge of contacting selected newspapers with information from the family that will appear in death notices. Information requested by the funeral home for its records may include full name of deceased; address; date and place of birth; relatives of deceased; if a veteran; spouse or next of kin, perhaps with addresses; information provided by the attending physician for date, time, and cause of death; illnesses leading to the cause of death; where the body was picked up; pallbearers; perhaps a copy of the obituary; and details about the funeral, including costs, type of casket, when and where buried, which church (if any) held services, and the person officiating at service.

Morticians and funeral home directors contact the cemetery sexton to arrange for the interment of the deceased. Their records may include information about cemeteries in their area that might otherwise be difficult to obtain. If a mortuary or funeral home changes ownership the records almost always are transferred with the business. In a small community it is not difficult to determine whether the previous funeral homes' records are available. In communities the size of Lincoln or Omaha it can be more difficult. Usually the mortuary or funeral home will help you secure information. They may also know which funeral homes own the records of earlier funeral homes in the area.

Many of these records were kept prior to the time that death certificates were filed in Nebraska (1904) and can be the key to additional information for your research. When contacting a funeral home, ask what time would be convenient for them to check their records. If you are writing for information, ask if there is a fee and always send a S.A.S.E.

Funeral homes should have a copy of The National Yellow Book of Funeral Directors, which will help locate a funeral home location in the United States. The name of the funeral home is included, along with the address and phone number, alphabetical by state and then by town.

(Cynthia Monroe, NSHS reference assistant, supplied the information for this article.)

New Acquisitions of Interest to Genealogists

Genealogical History of the Amiotte and Labuff Families, [compiled by Wallace E. Amiotte]. (Dakota Indians Genealogy and Pine Ridge Indian Reservation).

American Place Names of Long Ago: A Republication of the Index to Cram's Unrivaled Atlas of the World, as Based on the Census of 1890, assembled, with an introduction by Gilbert S. Bahn.

Fillmore County, Nebraska Probate Listings, 1872-1989, published by the Nebraska State Genealogical Society.

By Cindy S. Drake, Library Curator

The following are high priority titles we wish to purchase for the library. The title and author are given, along with the approximate price (including postage if known). Members are encouraged to donate funds toward the purchase. Please direct monetary donations to me with a note on your check specifying "L/A Wish List" to alert our accounting staff.

Gendered Justice in the American West: Women Prisoners in Men's Penitentiaries, by Anne M. Butler, 1997. $33.45.

Hollow Victory: The White River Expedition of 1879 and the Battle of Milk Creek, by Mark E. Miller, 1997. $30.50.

Archaeology on the Great Plains, edited by W. Raymond Wood, 1998. $32.95.

Indians, Bureaucrats, and Land: The Dawes Act and the Decline of Indian Farming, by Leonard A. Carlson, 1981. $59.00.

The Irish in the West, edited by Timothy J. Sarbaugh and James P. Walsh. $16.74.

The Farm and Home Publishers of County Farm Directories and Plats distributes free copies of yearly updated township directories for most of eastern and central Nebraska. We are requesting donations of these township directories for our library. Old and new editions may be sent to my attention at our address.

We would like to thank K. Roy Bailey for donating funds to purchase A Common Land, A Diverse People: Ethnic Identity on the Prairie Plains.

(image) William Kehlbeck at the Kehlbeck farmstead about 1910.



Individuals interested in something fun should contact Deb McWilliams at 471-4955 in the NSHS Volunteer Services office. The NSHS has several volunteer opportunities to make your day not only fun, but interesting, and best of all, your assistance will make a long-lasting contribution to the preservation of Nebraska's history.

Volunteers are needed in Lincoln in the Museum Store, the History Adventure Center exhibit, and the Thomas P. Kennard House. A camera operator is needed to assist with the filming of the NSHS Brown Bag lecture series. These are only a few of the important areas for which volunteers are needed.

Volunteers support the Society by working with staff and enjoy many benefits, not the least of which is a fun day and lots of satisfaction. Other benefits include a twenty percent discount at all NSHS museum stores, free parking validation for downtown Lincoln garages, valuable experience in a variety of fields, and interaction with great people in an interesting atmosphere. Call now to join in the fun!


October 8: Lincoln Corral of Westerners, "Artists of the Early Nineteenth Century and their Interpretations of the West," by Brandon Rudd, Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha. Meet at Ramada Plaza Inn, 9th and P streets, Lincoln, 6:30 P.M. Call Margaret Allington, 488-5698, for reservations (required).

October 15: Brown Bag Lecture, "George and Sarah Joslyn," by Dennis N. Mihelich, history professor, Creighton University. 12 noon, Museum of Nebraska History, 12th and P streets, Lincoln. Free and open to the public.

November 12: Lincoln Corral of Westerners, "World War II Comes to Nebraska," by Gary Repair, University of Nebraska-Omaha. Meet at Ramada Plaza Inn, 9th and P streets, Lincoln, 6:30 P.M. Call Margaret Allington, 488-5698, for reservations (required).

November 19: Brown Bag Lecture, "Lincoln Suburban Documentation Project," by Mark Elliot, Lincoln, and Frank Martin, Minneapolis, Minnesota. 12 noon, Museum of Nebraska History, 12th and P streets, Lincoln. Free and open to the public.

November 21: Collectors Saturday Lecture Series, "Firearms," by Jim Potter and Debbie Long. 10 A.M., Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center, 1326 South 32nd St., Omaha. Free and open to the public. To schedule a twenty-minute appointment with speaker ($25), call 402-595-1180. Appointments can be scheduled between l:30 and 4 P.M.

In observance of Columbus Day NSHS administrative offices and museum offices will be closed Monday, October 12. The NSHS Library/Archives will be closed Sunday, October 11, and Monday, October 12. The Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center in Omaha will be closed October 10 through 12. Museum of Nebraska History exhibits will be open regular hours all three days.

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Last updated 10 November 1998

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