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Historical Newsletter

September 1999


The Society recently obtained forty additional pieces to an important silver service set through a bequest from Elizabeth Schutt. She had previously donated five items from the set in 1980. Both gifts are to serve as a memorial to her great-grandfather, railroad contractor Lewis Carmichael, the original owner of the silver.

In 1865 the Union Pacific selected Carmichael to serve as one of its grading contractors during construction of the transcontinental railroad. Carmichael and his men faced numerous daunting challenges during this endeavor including the Sherman Hill area of southeastern Wyoming, the Bitter Creek region of southwestern Wyoming, and the canyons of northern Utah. Carmichael was engaged in this work until the railroad was completed on May 10, 1869.

On the evening following the railroad's completion, Carmichael attended a special celebration where he received the silver service set as a gift. According to the May 18, 1869, edition of the Utah Daily Reporter newspaper, "On the 11th inst. at the Jenks House, at Echo City, Mr. Lewis Carmichael, the king of graders, was presented with an elegant set of solid silver worth $5,000.00 by his companions and employees of the road."

The hollowware from the set was manufactured by Tiffany & Co. of New York. The flatware, made by New York silversmith John Polhemus, was sold by Tiffany and carries both the maker's and seller's marks. Unfortunately the showpiece for the set, a large tray with scenes from the railroad's route etched into it, was not included in the bequest to the Society. In a 1964 letter Elizabeth's mother, Clara Schutt, mentioned that she owned a number of items from the set but did not have the large tray. For now, the tray's location remains a mystery.


Watch your October Historical Newsletter for a new catalog from the Society's Museum Store. The catalog will include books (including many published by the Society), as well as gifts relating to Society historic sites or collections. The catalog will also list guides and videos for several of the Society's historic sites.


Ballots for the 1999 election to the Society Board of Trustees have been mailed, and the deadline for their return is September 15. Announcement of the newly elected trustees will be made September 25 at the Society's annual meeting and history conference.


John Carter, curator of photographs, Nebraska State Historical Society; Jill Koelling, head, Digital Imaging Laboratory, Nebraska State Historical Society; and Joe Steinbach, electronic media editor, University of Nebraska Press, will speak at the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) annual meeting in Baltimore. The session presentation is entitled "Digital Technology and Historical Collections: A Match Made in Heaven?" Topics will include recovering lost information from deteriorated negatives, digital imaging as a research tool, digital imaging's impact on conservation treatments, and electronic publishing. The AASLH annual meeting is September 29 through October 2, 1999. For more information, please call the AASLH at 615-255-2971.


The exhibit Drawing on the Beat: John Falter's Jazz Portraits will continue at the Museum of Nebraska History through 1999. Best-known for his Saturday Evening Post covers, Nebraska-born illustrator John Falter also completed a series of works based on his lifelong interest in jazz music. Over fifty of Falter's jazz-related drawings, prints, and paintings are included in this exhibit. Museum hours are Monday-Friday, 9-4:30; Saturday, 9-5; and Sunday, 1:30-5. Admission is free. Funding for this exhibit is provided by the Berman Music Foundation of Lincoln.


In the summer of 1915 Willa Cather and Edith Lewis visited Mesa Verde in southwestern Colorado and spent several days with the Smithsonian archeological expedition that was excavating the cliff dwellings built into the walls of the mesa's southern canyons. These cliff dwellings - abandoned since the thirteenth century - and the story of their "discovery" in 1889 made a lasting impression on Cather. Ten years later she wrote them into "Tom Outland's Story," at the center of The Professor's House.

About eighty-five Cather scholars and readers will gather on Mesa Verde for a three-day symposium in October of 1999. Jointly sponsored by the Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial and Educational Foundation and Occidental College, the symposium is based in the Far View Lodge, on the mesa about four miles north of the canyon rims whose network of abandoned "little cliff-hung villages" Tom Outland describes. It will provide a forum for new scholarship on The Professor's House, Cather's Southwest, and her career in general. But it will also be a place for informal discussion and exploration of the extraordinary landscape that she described as "a world above the world."

A website has been established for the Willa Cather on Mesa Verde Symposium at http:/webhome.crk.umn.edu/~tkelly/cathermesa/Cather.html and its full program will be available there. Space is limited at the Far View Lodge, and most participant places have been filled already. Those interested in finding out about remaining places should contact John Swift, ECLS, Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA 90041; e-mail swiftj@oxy.edu; phone 323-259-2804.



The Archeology Division conducted fieldwork at various western Nebraska projects from late May through mid-July. Members of the University of Nebraska archeological field school also assisted. Division staff monitored highway construction south of Chadron and south of Gering in addition to inspecting several other Panhandle projects for the Department of Roads and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. A five-thousand-year-old Native American campsite was partially excavated near Walgren Lake. That site will be impacted by development of camping facilities and recreation roads, and further excavations may be required. In conjunction with the Historic Preservation Division, archeology staff evaluated sites in Sioux, Banner, and Box Butte counties for possible eligibility to the National Register of Historic Places. The most promising work was that in Sioux County, where over sixty new sites were discovered within five hundred acres during work at a ranch north of Scottsbluff. This suite of sites encompasses occupations from ten thousand years ago up through nineteenth- and early twentieth-century stagecoach trails and early sheep and cattle ranching operations. Portions of the ranch may be nominated to the Register as a Historic District.

(image) Archeology Division staff excavating Native American camp on the shore of Walgren Lake, Sheridan County: Amy Koch (foreground), John Swigart, and Kerri Springer (standing).



The Nebraska State Historical Society is pleased to announce that the Getty Grant Program has awarded the Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center a $54,000 grant for conservation training. The grant will support two one-year postgraduate training internships from 1999 through 2001. The internships will focus on the treatment of three-dimensional objects in the Objects Conservation Laboratory at the Ford Center and will provide an opportunity for recent graduates from conservation training programs to gain experience in the practice of the latest techniques in the treatment of objects from public and private museums, historical societies, and other institutions in the region.

"We are delighted to provide support for conservation training at the Ford Conservation Center," said Deborah Marrow, director of the Getty Grant Program. "Conservation Training Grants are designed to strengthen the practice of conservation worldwide. They are awarded to institutions, such as the Ford Conservation Center, that demonstrate a long-term commitment to training in conservation. The grant will provide critical support for professional conservation training at the early stages of the conservators' careers."

The Getty Grant Program, a part of the J. Paul Getty Trust, funds a diverse range of projects that promote research in the history of art and related fields, advancement of the understanding of art, and conservation of cultural heritage. Since its inception in 1984, the grant program has given over $83 million to support over 2,000 projects in more than 150 countries. Recent grants have supported the scholarly reinterpretation of the Maya murals of Bonampak in Chiapas, Mexico; the development of interpretive materials for the Denver Museum's American and European art collections, and the architectural conservation of Aachen Cathedral in Germany.

The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts and the humanities that includes an art museum as well as programs for education, scholarship, and conservation.


By Cindy Drake, Library Curator

Cemetery Records

Cemetery records are one of the first sources genealogists should check when researching death dates to locate obituaries. The two major forms of these records are (1) sexton's records (kept by the person responsible for the records of a cemetery) and (2) tombstone (monument, headstone, or gravestone) inscriptions. Other cemetery records that may exist include church burial registers, cemetery deed and plot registers, burial permits, and grave opening orders. These records may be the only information available regarding the birth and death of an ancestor.

Sexton's records may or may not exist for individual burials, and for small or medium sized cemeteries (as in most of Nebraska). Large city cemeteries usually have comprehensive indexes to all burials. Information in sexton's records should provide death dates and plot location, while other data (such as date and place of birth, spouse's name, other family members, dates lots were purchased, and who paid for the lot) may vary.

Tombstone inscriptions are copied mainly by volunteers and compiled into books that are often published by local historical or genealogical societies. The information on tombstones may give only the birth and death dates by years, though complete dates (month and day) are sometimes available. Inaccuracies can exist for birth dates. Women's maiden names are not usually given. The arrangement of the graves in a lot may not have been recorded. This information could be helpful in establishing relationships. Tombstone inscriptions generally can be located in local and state genealogical and historical society libraries as well as in public libraries. For online cemetery transcriptions check the USGenWeb site at http://www.usgenweb.org. Select USGW Tombstone Project, View Registry, and than select your state to see what is available.

A major published source to use in locating cemeteries is Cemeteries of the U.S.: A Guide to Contact Information for U.S. Cemeteries and Their Records (Washington, D.C.: Gale Research, 1994). This source lists 22,644 cemeteries in fifty states. Local publications are more comprehensive. An example is Nebraska Cemeteries and Known Burial Sites, compiled by Georgene Sones and Dennis Norvell for the Nebraska State Genealogical Society in 1996. Another online source for cemeteries (and transcriptions) is "Cemeteries & Funeral Homes" at http://www.cyndislist.com/cemetery.htm (Cyndi's List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet).

A source that is available only in our Library/Archives reference room is "Cemetery Holdings for Nebraska Cemeteries Held in the Library/Archives of the Nebraska State Historical Society." This source lists transcriptions for Nebraska cemeteries that we have in our collection. This includes material from published and unpublished sources, such as books, periodicals, manuscripts, and public records.

We are pleased to announce the microfilming of interment records of Lincoln's Wyuka Cemetery. The records should be available in our reference room by the end of this year.

Genealogy Tip of the Month

Cyndi Howells, creator of Cyndi's List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet (http://www.cyndislist.com) has authored another book titled Cyndi's List: A Comprehensive List of 40,000 Genealogy Sites on the Internet. This book provides a printed version of the site to help researchers prepare in advance for the time they spend doing their research online. Here in print is the organized, cross-referenced index to genealogy and family history sites on the Internet. This title is available from various sources including Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1001 N. Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD 21202-3897 (1-800-296-6687 or http://www.genealogybookshop.com). The price is $49.95 plus $3.50 postage and handling.

The ninth edition of the Handy Book for Genealogists has arrived in our library. If you would like to purchase your own copy it is available from Everton Publishers, P.O. Box 368, Logan, UT 84323 (1-800-443-6325 or http://www.everton.com/ads/9-handy-book.htm). The price is $34.95 plus $1.50 shipping.

New Acquisitions of Interest to Genealogists

John and Mary (Jones) Airy and William and Mary (Jones) (Airy) Pray, [compiled] by John M. Airy. (Families in Jefferson, Seward, and Morrill counties).

Letters from William and Mary Brockmeier's Grandchildren, [compiled by David C. Buman]. (Family in Pawnee County).

George Michael Eller and Descendants of His in America: Including Information on Related Families of Vannoy and Van Noy, McNiel, compiled by James W. Hook. (Families in Washington, Hitchcock, and Clay counties).

Early History of the Cozad Community: Pioneer Families, 1873-1998, by Charles E. Allen.

Stolte Family History: The Descendants of Wilhelm and Elizabeth Stolte, compiled by Bethel Stolte. (Family in Hitchcock County).

The Ridder Family History, 1646-1996, [compiled by Mary V. R. Heinrich]. (Family in Cuming County).

Research Guide to Genealogical Data in Seward County, Nebraska, compiled by Patricia G. Collister, published by the Nebraska State Genealogical Society, 1999.

Memories: Esther Tonner, by Esther Tonner. (Tonner, Nielsen, and Christensen Families [Danish-Americans] in Boyd County).

Index to Butler County, Nebraska, Cemeteries, consolidated index compiled by Margie Sobotka, published by the Eastern Nebraska Genealogical Society, 1996.

Skeedee Cemetery, Nance County, Nebraska: Also a Brief Fodlesong Genealogy, [compiled by Chester Fleetwood]. (Families in Boone and Nance counties).

Immigrant George Hoos, 1802-1891, of St. Joseph County, Indiana, and Known Descendants: Including Charles Christian Hoos and George Peter Hoos, Early Pioneers of Richardson, Madison, and Antelope Counties, Nebraska, [compiled by Dave and Liz McCord].

Twelve Generations of Lewises in America, 1634-1997: Edmund Lewis (1601-1651) to David Franklin Lewis (1992- ), [compiled] by Delbert F. Lewis. (Family in Red Willow County).

Wayne County, Nebraska, Newspaper Abstracts 1876-1899, compiled by Maureen M. Lee. (Family in Wayne County).

Praest Family History, [compiled by Mary V. R. Heinrich]. (Families in Cuming and Stanton counties).

Smock, Bryan and Bush Genealogical Family Histories, compiled by Betty A. W. Carter. (Family in Nuckolls County).

Blowouts, Blizzards, and Bunk, by Freida M. Steenrod. (Todd Family in Morrill County).

The Woerners: History of the Woerner Family, 1700-1995 [compiled] by Betty A. W. Carter. (Families in Nuckolls and Dakota counties).


Effective September 7, 1999, the Library/Archives Reference Room will be open to the public 9:30-4:30, Tuesday through Friday; 8-5, Saturday; and will be closed Sunday and Monday. Headquarters administrative offices will be open 8-5, Monday through Friday.



Nebraska Quilts: A Patchwork History, featuring quilts spanning a century of Nebraska history, will be on exhibit at the Senator George W. Norris State Historic Site, McCook, during the month of September. Dating from the 1840s through the 1940s, some of the quilts came West with their makers, while others were made in Nebraska.

Highlights include a Lone Star quilt made in 1895 by Mary Mook Norris, the mother of Senator George Norris, and Grace Snyder's famous Flower Basket Petit Point quilt, composed of more than 85,000 pieces. The oldest surviving quilt known to have been made in Nebraska, a Wreath of Roses pattern made by Martha Allis Hollins in 1860, and four crazy quilts are among pieces on display. All the quilts are part of the museum collection of the Nebraska State Historical Society. See article below for the Norris Site's hours.


Summer visitors to Fort Robinson included actor Anthony Zerbe pursuing his longtime interest in Crazy Horse. Fort Robinson Curator Thomas R. Buecker gave a presentation about Fort Robinson on Senator Bob Kerrey's television series Kerrey & Company. Buecker spoke at a weekly program series at Scotts Bluff National Monument on his recent book, Fort Robinson and the American West, 1874-1899. The book is available for $40 ($36 for NSHS members), hardcover edition only, by calling the Nebraska State Historical Society, toll free at 1-800-833-6747.


During September the historic sites of the Nebraska State Historical Society will begin shifting to their winter hours. Please note the hours below if you are planning to visit one of the sites:

Chimney Rock National Historic Site:
9-6, Monday-Sunday; April 1-September 30
9-5, Monday-Sunday; October 1-March 31

Fort Robinson Museum:
8-5, Monday-Saturday; 9-5, Sunday; Memorial Day through Labor Day
8-5, Monday-Saturday; 1-5, Sunday; May and September
8-5, Monday-Friday; closed weekends, October 1-April 30

Senator George Norris State Historic Site:
9:30-12 and 1-5, Tuesday-Saturday, year round

Thomas P. Kennard House:
9-12, 1-4:30, Tuesday-Friday; 1-5, Saturday-Sunday; Memorial Day-Labor Day;
9-12, 1-4:30, Tuesday-Friday; closed weekends, September-May

Neligh Mill State Historic Site:
8-5, Monday-Saturday; 1:30-5 Sunday; Memorial Day-September 30
8-5, Monday-Friday; closed weekends, October 1-Memorial Day

Willa Cather State Historic Site:
8-5, Monday-Saturday; 1-5, Sunday; year round

John G. Neihardt State Historic Site:
9-5, Monday-Saturday; 1:30-5, Sunday; closed weekends, January and February


September 12: Sunday at the Museum series, by Elkhorn Valley Fiddlers. 2 P.M., John G. Neihardt State Historic Site, Bancroft.

September 16: Brown Bag Lecture, "Just Plains Dirt: Sod Houses in Nebraska," by Carol Ahlgren, former architectural historian, NSHS, now with the National Park Service, Omaha. 12 noon, Museum of Nebraska History, 15th and P streets, Lincoln. Free and open to the public.

September 24-25: NSHS History Conference, Lincoln. Theme is "Innovation and Ingenuity in Nebraska History." Tours, papers, displays, and annual Society awards for writing, historic preservation, and contributions to the preservation of Nebraska history and archeology. For information, call Deb McWilliams at 471-4955 or 1-800-833-6747.

October 10: Sunday at the Museum series, "Hell on Women and Horses," by Lyn DeNaeyer. 2 P.M., John G. Neihardt State Historic Site, Bancroft.

October 13-16: Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International. Genealogical/cultural conference in Lincoln. For information call 612-595-7799 or check website at http://members.aol.com/cgsi.

October 14-16: Midwest Archives Conference/Society of Rocky Mountain Archivists. Joint meeting in Lincoln. For information, call Paul Eisloeffel at 402-471-4750 or e-mail pje@www.nebraskahistory.org.

October 21: Brown Bag Lecture, "Multnomah Plantation, the Home of Major John Dougherty: An Exercise in Historic Archeology," by Mark Kelly, attorney/archeologist, Lenexa, Kansas. 12 noon, Museum of Nebraska History, 15th and P streets, Lincoln. Free and open to the public.

During the Columbus Day holiday weekend, the Society Headquarters Building (Library/Archives) will be open Saturday, October 9, and closed Sunday and Monday, October 10 and 11. The Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center will be closed Saturday, October 9, through Monday, October 11. The Museum of Nebraska History will be open regular hours Saturday and Sunday, October 9 and 10, and closed Monday, October 11. The Society's historic sites, except for Cather and Neihardt, will be closed Monday, October 11. See article elsewhere for the historic sites' weekend winter hours.

August 1999 Issue

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Last updated 13 September 1999

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