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Capitol (First) of Nebraska

Nebraska's first state capitol building was completed in Lincoln by December l, 1868. In a reminiscence published by the Nebraska State Historical Society in 1902 in its Proceedings and Collections series (Vol. 10, No. 5), Thomas Malloy, one of the surviving stonecutters, gave his memories of that event:

"In the month of November, 1867, I was hired in Chicago by contractor Joseph Ward, who had the contract of building the first state capitol. There were also twelve other stone-cutters who came west to Lincoln, Neb., along with me. We were to receive $4.50 per day as soon as we began work. . . .

Malloy expected to start work immediately after he and the other stonecutters arrived in Lincoln but later recalled: "There was no material in the way of stone for us to go to work at. So we were badly discouraged. What could we do, out in the wilderness of Nebraska, and our families in Chicago? At this time the contractor was on his way from Chicago to Lincoln, three days behind us. We patiently waited for him to come, and when he did come we met him determined to do something desperate. In fact we were going to hang him.

"When he saw the material was not on hand for us to go to work at, he there and then told us not to be uneasy; that he would see that we would get our wages, work or play, according to agreement, as the State was good for it. So that pacified us. We were idle two weeks before the rock came in. He paid us full time."

The first capitol building cost $75,000 but was replaced after only a dozen years of service because of poor construction.

(April 1998)



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