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Historical Newsletter

September 1998


Nuestros Tesoros (Our Treasures) A Celebration of Nebraska's Mexican Heritage is a new, bilingual publication that combines essays on the history and culture of Mexicans in Nebraska with a report on the oral history and folklife interviews conducted within four Nebraska communities over a two-year period through the Mexican American Traditions in Nebraska project. Jointly published by the Society and the Nebraska Mexican American Commission, the publication is intended to serve as an introduction to Mexican American culture as practiced in Nebraska and as a guide for teachers and others who may wish to conduct their own folklife or oral history interview projects.

In addition to the essays and summaries of the fifty interviews conducted by project volunteers, the publication contains an annotated bibliography on Mexican American culture and a list of resources for designing and conducting similar projects.

Copies of the publication have been distributed to all Nebraska schools, public libraries, local museums, and historical societies. A few single copies are available to the public free of charge upon request. Copies are limited to the supply on hand and will be sent on a first-come, first-served basis. To request a copy, send your mailing address and a check for $3 (please indicate on the check or in your letter that it is for a copy of Nuestros Tesoros) to cover postage and handling to Jennifer Little, Nebraska State Historical Society, P.O. Box 82554, Lincoln, Nebraska 68501-2554.


Dr. T. Lindsay Baker, a nationally-known expert on the history of windmills, will present "Windmills on the Western Range" at the October 2-3 history conference in Valentine. Baker, director of the Texas Heritage Museum, is author of A Field Guide to American Windmills, and edits the Windmiller's Gazette.

A full schedule of tours and programs address the theme of "Cowboy Country" during the two-day conference. All Society members will have received registration materials, but non-members are welcome and encouraged to register for the History Conference. The deadline is September 18. For more information contact Deb McWilliams, 402-471-4955.



Society archeologists were notified this spring when artifacts were discovered in a housing development near Bellevue. Upon further investigation it was determined the site was that of an Indian village dating to the early decades of the 1700s. Society staff and volunteers have been conducting excavations at the site intermittently throughout the summer. Over fifty storage or refuse pits have been excavated to date. Materials recovered are of both Native and European manufacture and include stone tools, clay vessel fragments, animal bone, charred botanical material (corn, acorns, walnuts, bark, and woven grass), Catlinite (pipestone), iron knives and axes, glass trade beads, copper ornaments, and stoneware.

The village is tentatively identified as having been built by the Oto Tribe. The date of occupation is based on the type of Native pottery found, as well as on characteristics of the European trade material. The Oto were living along the lower Platte River during the early eighteenth century and were in contact with the French. Trading arrangements between the Oto and French are the most likely source of the European-made goods discovered at the site. The Oto had a number of villages along the lower reaches of the Platte River in Cass, Sarpy, and Saunders counties from the early 1700s until the tribe moved to a reservation in Gage County in the 1850s. This village site was unknown to archeologists until the construction project revealed it.

While archeological investigations have been conducted at several Oto sites in the past, this is the first opportunity to work at such a site using modern archeological recovery and analysis techniques. Consequently, the study of materials from this site may reveal a great deal about Oto history and ecology, as well as yielding information on early contact between Native Americans and colonial Europeans in Nebraska.

(image) NSHS archeological technician John Swigart excavating a refuse or storage pit.



Who says teachers have the summer off? On July 8 teachers from across the state took time to attend the first annual meeting of the Educators Advisory Council. This meeting brought seventeen teachers, administrators, and Dr. Sara Crook, an NSHS trustee, to the museum to evaluate and inform educational projects at NSHS. Teachers came from Lincoln, Omaha, Norfolk, Albion, Grand Island, Randolph, and Taylor to give us a much-needed teacher and student perspective on current projects. Elementary teachers evaluated the new activity backpack for self-guided tours, and middle and high school teachers made suggestions for improving the History Day program. We benefitted greatly from the "reality check" of teacher input, and will be implementing many of their recommendations and suggestions during the next year.


On July 1, 1998, a brief ceremony was held at Fort Robinson State Park to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the post's abandonment by the army and its transfer to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Several local veterans who served at the fort in its active years helped with the ceremony, which featured the reading of greetings from Gov. Ben Nelson and Gen. Henry Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Chadron resident Ed Bieganski, who enlisted at Fort Robinson in 1938, read the formal order that ended Fort Robinson's military service in 1948. Appropriate salutes and honors were rendered by the Veterans Honor Guard of Chadron. A number of park visitors and area residents attended the ceremony, as this milestone in the fort's colorful past was remembered.

(image) Claude Lewis (l.), Ed Bieganski, and James Stratton lowered the flag at Fort Robinson during the July 1 anniversary ceremony.


Chimney Rock National Historic Site, Bayard:
9-6 daily, through September 30;
9-5 daily, October 1-March 1
Fort Robinson Museum, Crawford:
8-5 Monday-Saturday, 1-5 Sunday, through September 30;
8-5 Monday-Friday, closed weekends, October 1-April 30
John G. Neihardt State Historic Site, Bancroft:
9-5 Monday-Saturday, 1:30-5 Sunday, year round
Neligh Mill State Historic Site, Neligh:
8-5 Monday-Saturday, 1:30-5 Sunday, through September 30;
8-5 Monday-Friday, closed weekends, October 1-Memorial Day
Senator George Norris State Historic Site, McCook:
10-12, 1-5 Wednesday-Saturday,
1:30-5 Tuesday and Sunday, year round
Thomas P. Kennard House, Lincoln:
9-12, 1-4:30 Tuesday-Friday, closed weekends,
Labor Day-Memorial Day
Willa Cather State Historic Site, Red Cloud:
8-5 Monday-Saturday, 1-5 Sunday, year round



Omaha will host an all-day session of the State Historical Records Advisory Board (SHRAB) on Wednesday, September 16. The Omaha gathering is the fourth of five meetings to be held in Nebraska during 1998. The meetings are being funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

After a brief overview of the SHRAB's historical records strategic plan titled Insuring Nebraska's Documentary Heritage, the morning session will feature a seminar on writing grant proposals. The afternoon will be devoted to a program on paper preservation.

The Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center, 1326 S. 32nd St., Omaha, is the site of this meeting, which begins at 9:30 A.M. For more information about this or other upcoming SHRAB meetings, or to obtain copies of Insuring Nebraska's Documentary Heritage, contact Andrea Faling at 402-471-4785.

By Cindy S. Drake, Library Curator

New Acquisitions of Interest to Genealogists

Balbach Family History: Including Balbac, Balback, Balbaugh, Ballbach, Ballback, by William J. Balbach. (Family in Douglas County).

The Blowers Connection: A Blowers Family Newsletter. (Family in Gage and Dixon Counties).

Alla Lizzie, by Helen Eichstaedt. (Maser family in Lancaster County).

The Times I've Seen: A Familyography, by William E. Ramsey. (Family in Douglas County).

The Schutz (Scheetz) and Uhlig Families of Nemaha and Adjoining Counties, Nebraska: Forebears of Lillian Belle (Lilly Bell) Romero Harrity, Includes Origins and Settlement in the United States From 1847, [compiled] by Rodney M. Sherard. (Families in Hall and Loup counties).

The Descendants of Merle Adam Sherard and Ida Eleanor Waddington, [compiled] by Rodney M. Sherard. (Families in Hall and Loup counties).

Guide to Naturalization Records of the United States, by Christina K. Schaefer.

When the Midwest and I Were Younger: The Story of a Pioneer, by Christina C. Ernst. (Family in Dixon County).

The Croesen Families of America: Kroesen, Krewsen, Krewson, Cruzen, Cruser, Crusen, Cruise, Cruse, Krusen, Kroes, Croes, Kruser, by Warren D. Cruise. (Families in Buffalo and Cheyenne counties).

A Collection of Pictures & Stories of Union, Nebraska, by Larry Cook.

Parkin's Guide to Tracing Your Family Tree in Missouri, edited by Jeannine T. and Joseph A. Preston.

Producing a Quality Family History, by Patricia L. Hatcher.

Genealogical & Local History Books in Print: U.S. Sources & Resources, Volume 3 & 4, compiled and edited by Marian Hoffman.

Where the Wind Blows Free, by Burhl Gilpin. (Family in Furnas County).

History & Descendants of John Howland . . . , booklet compiled by Betty W. Acker with the help of Dorothy H. Miller. (Family in Chase County).

"A Good Place to be From": The Story of the Milford Mennonite Experience, 1873-1997, by Eldon Hostetler.

Chris P. Ostergard Family in America, [compiled] by Albert J. Ostergaard.

The Mullen Roundup: The Local History of Mullen, Nebraska, 1884-1917, a Collection of Stories About the Pioneers of this Sandhills Frontier, by students of the Mullen Public Schools.

Descendants and Ancestors of Consider Wood and His Wife Mary Adams of Middleborough, Massachusetts . . . , compiled and written by Norris P. Wood. (Families in Sioux, Otoe, Saline and Douglas counties).

Family History of Herman F. and Lisette Merten Diekmann Stiegemeier: United States and Germany, compiled by Norma H. Babcock. (Family in Hamilton County).

Utts (Utz) and Allied Families, [compiled] by Darilla U. Matthews. (Family in Douglas County).

Bible Records

We have recently finished cataloging photocopied pages from family Bibles that once were in our collections. In most cases the residences of the families are not given, and information about the Bible may no longer be available. The following family pages have been copied and cataloged: Alfred and Anna Anderson; Birky Family; Samuel and Peggy Haycraft; Pehr and Mari Hedman; Oliver and Abbie Humphrey; Samuel and Katherine Thorington; Uriah W. Oblinger Family; Kaspar Schmidt Family; Schutz Family; August and Wilhelmina Speth; James and Sarah Sullivan; Tibbles Family; Henry and Emily (Hale) West; John and Rachel White.

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.

Dress in American Culture, edited by Patricia A. Cunningham and Susan V. Lab, Popular Press, 1993. $17.95.

Empire By Default: The Spanish-American War and the Dawn of the American Century, by Ivan Musicant. $29.95.

Folklore of the Winnebago Tribe, by David Lee Smith, University of Oklahoma Press, 1997. $26.45.

The Forgotten Heroes: The Story of the Buffalo Soldiers, by Clinton Cox, Scholastic Inc., 1993. $6.24.

Growing Up in the 40s: Rural Reminiscence, by Jerry L. Twedt, Iowa State University Press, 1996. $16.95.

We would like to thank the following donors: Lucy Ann Bean for donating funds to purchase Burning the Hymnal; and Patricia and James Taylor for donating funds to purchase Cheyenne Memories (2d. ed.). A donation to the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation from The Willer Foundation of Omaha enabled the Library/Archives to order twenty-six new titles as of August 1, 1998.


The 42nd Annual Missouri Valley History Conference will be held in Omaha, Nebraska, March 11-13, 1999. Proposals for papers and sessions in all areas of history are welcome. Proposals, consisting of a cover letter, abstract(s) and vitae, should be sent by November 15, 1998, to Oliver B. Pollak, MVHC Program Coordinator, Department of History, University of Nebraska at Omaha NE 68182. Inquiries can be made by e-mail to opollak@cwis.unomaha.edu. Please do not submit proposals by e-mail.


September 10: Lincoln Corral of Westerners. Program by Dave Wells, "The Trans-Mississippi Exposition of 1898." At Ramada Plaza Hotel, Ninth and P streets, Lincoln, 6:30 P.M. Call Margaret Allington, 488-5698 for reservations (required).

September 12, 13: Old Trusty Antique and Collectors Show, Clay County Fairgrounds, Clay Center. Show includes antique autos, engines, flea market, crafts, threshing and shelling, and draft horse/mule show. For information contact Clay County Historical Society, Box 201, Clay Center NE 68933.

September 17: Brown Bag Lecture, by Mark Ellis, doctoral candidate, UNL History Department. "Thieves, Thugs, and Murderers: Crime and Criminals in Lincoln County, Nebraska," 12 noon, Museum of Nebraska History, 15th and P streets, Lincoln. Free and open to the public.

September 19: Willa Cather Celebration: A Storytelling Day celebration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of Cather's winning of the Pulitzer Prize. 10 A.M.-5 P.M., Museum of Nebraska History, 15th and P streets, Lincoln. For more information contact Jessica Stoner, museum office, 402-471-4757.

September 26: Collectors Saturday Lecture Series, by Roger Sharpe and Julie Reilly. "Native American Materials," 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.

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

November 1: Buffalo Bill Day, l:30 to 5 P.M., Museum of Nebraska History, 15th and P streets, Lincoln. Special exhibit on Buffalo Bill's Wild West, games and activities for kids, Buffalo Bill look-alike contest, talk by Tom Morrison (curator of Buffalo Bill Ranch, North Platte), and Smith Family Band. For more information contact Jessica Stoner, as above.

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 December 1998

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