EARLY REMINISCENCES OF KEARNEY
L. B. Cunningham
August 18, 1872, I arrived at Lowell, the then terminal point of the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad
in Nebraska, about 5 P. M. One other man beside myself desired to get to Kearney and a third desired to reach the
Union Pacific Railroad as soon as possible.
Lowell was then a flourishing railway station, crowds coming and going, business lively, hotels full, cow boys,
whiskey and roustabouts galore. We three hired a livery rig and driver to take us to the south and east terminal
of the Burlington Railway bridge across the Platte River. We had learned that the main pillars of the bridge were
laid across and that one could walk over. We arrived at the bridge about dark. The night was starlight but no moon.
The third man proved to be well acquainted with directions and locations; he knew about where Kearney Station (now
Buda) was and we gladly permitted him to lead the way. The meadows north of the rivers were luxuriant with grass,
some of which was higher than our heads. After wading the high grass and over buffalo grass sod, carrying our grips,
we arrived at the station and found a lodging house conducted by Mrs. Johnson and her son, Wm. C., the latter a
lad of about fourteen, who died in Kearney about four years ago. His mother later married M. W. Benschoter. The
traveling man rose at 3 A. M. and boarded a passenger train for Omaha. Years after I met him in Iowa, only once.
My remaining companion and self took a tie path late Sunday morning for Kearney. When about half the distance a
brother of Jacob Gabriel drove up with a wagon and team and asked its to ride, which kind invitation we gladly
accepted. We were directed to the Smith Hotel (sometimes called Junction House sometimes Hotel Collins - then
located in the center of section 2-8-16, later removed to south part of town and used as a hotel. We found there
James A. and George E. Smith, also Frank Woods, each of whom, with a fourth man we now disremember his name, each
a homesteader (pre-emptor) holding down a quarter of that section. The house was four big rooms below and also
above, one room by survey on each quarter of the section, thus questionably complying with the law. James A. Smith
and wife kept public house for the accommodation of travelers.
CHURCH SERVICES HELD
We were surprised to see almost immediately on our arrival, homesteaders coining in for church services and
two gray haired preachers present, Rev. Win. Morse, a pioneer, Methodist, and Rev. Nahum Gould, likewise a pioneer,
Presbyterian, both homesteaders. Then there was Asbury Collins whom we subsequently learned was a minister also,
and his good wife, Mrs. Louisa Collins, whom I believe is still living.
We had church services, preaching and singing; James A. Smith and wife, and James Jenkins were each fair singers,
and they with others and an organist made the building ring with melody. C. S. Greenman and wife, also daughter
and son, the daughter now Mrs. T. N. Hartzell, then a pretty young girl blooming into womanhood, Herbert the son,
then five years of age. Roswell Gould was present, a prominent figure then, and I believe still living. Judge and
Mrs. F. G. Hamer were there, which was, of course, my first sight of them. I went to Kearney with the intention
of starting a newspaper, and had not thought of taking land, but on Monday most all were taking land, homesteads,
and Frank Woods saddled two ponies and induced me, I having taken the homestead fever, to mount one of the ponies
and accompany him on a hunt for a claim. He took me out to where is now Riverdale the Fort Kearney reservation
not then being open for settlement where I selected the northwest quarter section 6-9-16 and filed upon the same
the next day at the Grand Island land office. J. R. King, C. Cisco, Peter Calhoun, and Win. Stevenson had already
settled on section 8. Jake Bunnell had located on the cast half of section 6; Cosmo Hill, and father, Charles Porter
and W. F. Piercy were further east and John Sammons, John Henning, Fred Cuddebeck, Wilson Hewitt, J. F. Chase,
James Carson and others were settled in the neighborhood of where now is Glenwood Station. On returning to Kearney
Frank Woods refused to accept a cent of pay for his time and trouble in assisting me to select a claim: he said,
at the time, it was the best claim then untaken within twelve miles of Kearney and thereafter I proved by my crops
that he prophesied truly.
F. G. Hamer, Rev. N. Gould and Roswell Gould were located north of the present electric light plant, Rev. Win.
Morse, James Jenkins and others two miles north of the hamlet called Kearney, while Wm, Schram, L. D. Forehand,
and George N. Smith were six or seven miles northeast. Of these early homesteaders the following named have passed
to their rewards, Rev. N. Gould, Rev. Wm. Morse, C. Cisco, J. R. King, C. Hill, Sr., W. F. Piercy, J. F. Chase,
and James Carson, but I believe the others are still living. Aside from the Smith House, which was in reality westward
from the town site, there were six houses in Kearney. John Mahon, the oldest settler, had a cottage and blacksmith
shop on the south of the Union Pacific track. Simon and Dr. J. T. Murphy were constructing the Harrold Hpuse which
still stands. David Anderson, later sheriff of the county, lived with his family in a little cottage upon what
is now West Twenty fourth Street, then or soon after, known as Smith Avenue. F. N. Dart and brother in law, W.
H. McClure, had a shanty well filled with a general stock of goods located on almost the extreme southwest corner
of section No. 36. Charley Christenson was the drayman of that day and lived with his horses in an adjoining stall.
After filing on my claim in Grand Island, on Tuesday, August 21st, I returned to Iowa, arranging my affairs, and
again landed in Kearney on a Burlington freight at midnight September 6, 1872, the passenger train not yet running.
During my two weeks' absence Kearney hamlet had moved some, almost to the character of a village. Union Pacific
trains did not stop at the town proper but would let off passengers and mail at the Smith House. Freight had to
be hauled from Kearney Station (now Buda). D. N. Smith, of Burlington, Iowa, a Burlington Railway right of way
man and construction agent, had played snap judgment upon the Union Pacific Railway Company and had slipped in
and purchased as a private citizen, several sections of railroad lands in that vicinity, of the Union Pacific Company,
knowing that the Burlington would form a junction with the Union Pacific at some point very near, hence the Union
Pacific would not stop its trains at the new hamlet (Kearney Junction) until some satisfactory arrangement could
be made about lands and lots. This logger head business went on for some weeks while the new corners suffered inconveniences.
L. R. MORE STARTS A BANK
L. R. More and Will C. Sunderland started lumber and coal yards. L. R. More soon started a little bank, first
doing business in his coal and lumber office and later erected a small frame on a corner on Main Street, then called
Colorado Avenue and Twenty first Street, where now stands the opera house. This corner has practically been the
foundation and support of a banking house ever since. Charles W. Dake removed his family from Mount Ayr, Iowa,
and soon started another bank in the north part of town, later known as the Buffalo County National Bank. Owing
to grasshopper depredations, drouth and general hard times this bank failed some years later and Mr. Drake went
Mr. St. Clair started a bank, he having moved from Schuyler, Nebr.; he failed inside of a year, but he proved strictly
honorable and paid every cent of indebtedness. L. D. Grant came from Schuyler about August 25th and removed his
wife and daughter the following January. S. S. St. John came in October from Wisconsin. Peter W. Wilson from Mount
Ayr, Iowa; Samuel Wenzell accompanied the latter, each with their families. H. C. Andrews came the following December
from the same place as the latter two. V. B. Clark soon started a hardware store in October; T. J. Parish and Byron
Marsh came some months later as did C. J. Burke, the latter the tinner, the former two clerks for Mr. Clark. Mr.
Williams came from Lincoln, built a frame building on Smith Avenue and placed therein a stock of groceries. James
O'Kane built on the south side just north of the Harold House and kept groceries and produce. J. S. Chandler of
St. Joe built in the corner where the Presbyterian Church now stands; Doctors D. A. Vance and C. T. Dildine came
in June, 1873. Doctor Bolton came from Illinois and started a drug store and practiced some and had a partner in
the store, the firm known as Bolton and Barlow.
I built a two story building on Smith Avenue for a printing office and under the firm name of Mendel, Clapp and
Cunningham started the Kearney Junction Times, the first issue being dated October 12, 1872, and the first paper
in Kearney. Messrs. L. D. Gant, L. D. Forehand and perhaps Judge F. G. Hamer, each has a copy of the first issue.
For a couple of months the paper was printed at the Union office in Albia, Iowa, until we could establish our material
in the upper rooms of the building above referred to. Webster Eaton, of Red Oak, Iowa, started the Daily Press
in January or February following (1873), and in a few months was joined by his brother, Rice Eaton.
A SCHOOL ESTABLISHED
Families of children came and a school was in demand. I leased the lower room of the Times Building to James
A. Smith, director of the newly organized school district for a term of six months school and Miss Fannie Nevins,
now deceased, was employed as the first teacher in Kearney, who immediately started in to teach the young hopefuls.
This room in the Times Building was also leased to the Methodist and' Presbyterian Church people, a few of each,
who held union services during the winter (1872-73), and to a literary society organized, called the "Philomathean,"
at the instigation of F. N. Colwell, J. C. McAdams, Walter Colby, S. S. St. John and the writer and we held weekly
debating societies therein on Saturday evenings. The Methodist people had a preliminary church organization. Rev.
L. B. Fifield built Walworth Hall on corner of Smith Avenue and Colorado Street (now Central and Twenty fourth)
in which he continued to preach and later organized a Congregational Church. The Baptist people organized the following
summer (1873) with V. B. Clark and family as principal force.
PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH ORGANIZED
About March 7th (1873) the synodical missionary with Rev. Nahum Gould organized the first Presbyterian Church
of Kearney in the Times Building with a membership of eight beside the minister, as follows: Dr. J. T. Brown, Roswell
B. Gould, Eddy Lloyd, Mrs. Smith, Mrs. George E. Smith, Emma Greenman, Mrs. C. S. Greenman, and L. B. Cunningham,
and the former two named were elected elders.
A SOUVENIR OF EARLY DAYS
E. B. Carter came in the fall of 1872 and started a jewelry store in a small building near where the Downing-Bartlett
Block now is. We have in our home a pleasant reminder of my old friend Carter. In June, 1873, I bought a plain
walnut case eight day alarm clock of him for which I paid $7. We still have this clock in good condition, keeps
perfect time and it will awaken you at any hour if you but set the alarm right. It now times our cook in egg boiling
and biscuit making. E. B. Carter was a veritable yankee, sharp and shrewd, always active in the upbuilding of the
town. He was a member of the early town council and third mayor, Marsh (D. B.) being the first and Nathan Campbell,
a settler coming in June, 1872, being the second. (NoteThe records disclose that E. B Carter was chairman of the
board of trustees of the Town of Kearney Junction when organized in November, 1872, was elected a member of the
board of trustees May 5, 1873, and served as chairman of the board when the City of Kearney was incorporated in
December, 1873, and served as mayor of the City of Kearney until the first election held in the city when Nathan
Campbell was elected mayor.)
NAMING THE NEW TOWN
At a meeting in the lumber office of More and Sunderland, it was voted to lay out (incorporate) the town four
miles square sixteen square miles thus putting down on paper a big foundation for a big city. On account of
there being so many places and things called "Kearney," such as, Kearney County, Kearney City (in Kearney
County). Fort Kearney and Kearney Station (now Buda), it was seriously discussed to change the name of the new
town. I do not recall all of half a dozen names proposed, but one gentleman (Commercial Hotel proprietor) very
much desired to name it ''Inter Ocean" half way between the oceans thus you see that "Midway City"
was thought of as early" as October, 1872. I remember distinctly that I wanted "Permanence," as
I believed we were laying the foundation for a permanent city, and how surely my early ideas are coming true, you
citizens of Kearney best know. But there were too many present, of whom L. R. More, a very positive sort of man,
who had the Kearney fever very badly, and they outvoted us and Kearney it is and no doubt Kearney it will remain
while time lasts.
Attorneys E. C. Calkins and Warren Pratt came, if I mistake not, in June, 1873. These gentlemen were partners in
law for a number of years and now still living, and as separate attorneys, are prosperous. James Harron and Thomas
C. Roberts came from St. Joseph, Mo., and conducted a store for a while; the former branched off into farming and
the latter returned to St. Joseph; both have passed to the unknown. F. J. Switz came from Ohio and established
a furniture store and is still a very prominent figure in Kearney. W. J. Perkins was a '72 recruit. A. H. Connor
with F. G. Hamer made a strong law firm. Nightingale and F. G. Keens opened the first drug store. J. P. Johnson,
the "inevitable" as I used to advertise him, came from Mount Pleasant and Red Oak, Iowa; he engaged in
various occupations, among them, hardware and also a general stock of clothing and dry goods. Hiram Randall should
not be overlooked nor Robert Haines now an honored councilman. John J. Bartlett, W. A. and R. L. Downing, all time
honored early pushers for Kearney. Doctor Hull, Joseph, Samuel and Charles Black, C. B. and E. B. Finch and Jack
Crocker were on the ground a little later, as were Wm. H. Roe, John H. and Dan W. Roe. Col. John H. Roe did a nice
thing for Kearney; which deserves a special mention: as agent for Union Pacific lands and lots lie secured the
handsome block of lots where the Kearney High School now stands as a permanent school ground for the city.
Misses Libbie Wilson and Ella Grant were the first, or among the first, young ladies of the place. Charles W. Porter
and Miss Osterhiel were the first to get married in Kearney although George E. Smith and Miss Clemm were married
in Logansport, Ind., and came to Kearney before the Porter Osterhiel wedding.
Frank Kearney Clark, son of Mr. and Mrs. V. B. Clark, was the first child born in the city. I was married September
3, 1872, to Mary E. Clapp at Fairfield, Iowa, and arrived home in Kearney, September 30th. But I must find a stopping
place; from hamlet to village, Kearney grew rapidly, having three hundred or four hundred people by Christmas,
1872, and one thousand within twelve months from that time, and her magnificent growth has been, in the main, gradual,
steady, and permanent ever since.
Having a fire in my newspaper office in 1890, all my newspaper files were burned and now I have not the record
of a single issue from which to copy, and neither have I a line or word anywhere with which to refresh my memory
in gathering together these events of long ago days, hut if any old or new friend or neighbor becomes interested
in what I have here contributed of early events, early history of Kearney I will feel amply repaid for the time
(Note Mr. Cunningham and son are in the newspaper business at Glenwood, Iowa, and in the year 1911, at the request
of the writer (S. C. Bassett) contributed this very interesting and valuable history of the founding of Kearney
Junction and reminiscences of those early days.)
SEDGWICK POST NO. I, G. A. R.
Sedgwick Post No. 1, Department of Nebraska, Grand Army of the Republic, has the distinction of being the first
G. A. R. post organized in Nebraska.
Past Post Commander A. H. Boltin furnishes the following history of the post: Sedgwick Post was organized at Fort
Kearney in the year 1870, under jurisdiction of the Department of Illinois. In 1874, at Kearney, the post was reorganized
under jurisdiction of the Department of Iowa. On December I, 1879, the post was again reorganized and chartered
as Sedgwick Past No. I, Department of Nebraska.
In the life of this post thirty three comrades have served as post commanders in order as follows: E. C. Calkins,
J. W. Wilson, Joseph Black, Robert La Fountain, James Jenkins, A. H. Boltin, J. W. Parker, W. J. Perkins, R. M.
Grimes, J. M. Tisdell, W. Smith, D. A. Dorsey, I. A. Arnold, I. B. Wambaugh, John Barnd, Dr. H. S. Bell, Dwight
Phelps, Henry Seaman, W. W. Dye, J. C. McKeene, Phil Bessor, B. H. Goulding, John Hoge, T. C. Beswick, E. W. Thomas,
George N. Smith, George C. Ray, Freeman Merryman, J. A. Larimer, Rev. Henry Wood, Simon Landis, A. D. Rice, Lorenzo
In the year 1915 the post was in a flourishing condition, with seventy members. There are buried in the cemetery
at Kearney 162 soldiers of the Civil war.
SEDGWICK WOMAN'S RELIEF CORPS NO. I, G. A. R.
Sedgwick Woman's Relief Corps No. I; Department of Nebraska, G. A. R., was organized at Kearney in January,
1884, with the following charter members: Josephine Gillespie, president; Julia McKelvey, Mary La Fountain, Maria
Miles, Mrs. Lacy, Laura Perkins, Sarah Parker, Mrs. Fields, Mrs. Fitch, Mrs. Vanhorn, Mary Lotterman, Mrs. Harding,
Sarah Hoge, Mrs. R. M. Grimes, Mrs. Shiers, Mrs. William Hunt, Martha Goulding, Mrs. J. W. Wilson, Mary Jenkins,
Mrs. Bicknell, Harriet Worley, Mrs. Wilks.
In the year 1915 the corps had a membership of thirty five. Its officers: Grace Hardy, president; Lucinda Ball,
S. V. P.; Melissa Wiley, J. V. P.; Effie Boltin, chaplain; Phoebe J. Lancaster, secretary; Aurelia Whitney, treasurer;
Anna Kilgore, conductor; Louisa Lowe, A. C.; Louisa Haase, guard; Mary Bailey, A. G.; Effie Boltin, patriotic instructor;
Anna Kilgore, press correspondent; color bearers, Elizabeth Smith, Jennie Shiers, Maria Reed, Mary Harper.
This was the first corps organized in the Department of Nebraska.
SMITH GAVITT POST NO. 299, G. A. R.
Smith Gavitt Post No. 299, G. A. R., of Kearney, received its charter March 4, 1890, with the following charter
members: John Tottersman, L. O. Hyatt, James P. Tucker, James M. Duley, Franklin W. Nichols, John Larimer, Stewart
W. Calhoun, Joseph McKain, William M. Woodruff, H. II. Wade, Benedict Streigel, Joseph Worsley, J. A. Larimer,
William B. Ray, John H. Boatwright, Andrew J. Snow, John R. Mote.
The officers elected and installed were: John W. Totterman, commander; James M. Duley, S. V.; John Larimer, J.
V.; Andrew J. Snow, Q. M.; Franklin W. Nichols, surgeon; William M. Boatwright, chaplain; H. H. Wade, O. D.; J.
J. Boatwright, O. G.; Joseph Worsley, adjutant; S. A. Hyatt, S. M.; W. B. Ray, O. M. Sergt.
In 1915 the post had a membership of fifty three. Its officers: M. Hopkins, commander; S. Bell, S. V.; J. S. Wiley,
J. V.; W. H. Marshall, O. D.; Robert Haines, chaplain; J. A. Larimer, O. M.; F. J. Switz, adjutant; D. T. Hostetter,
SMITH GAVITT WOMAN'S RELIEF CORPS NO. 106, G. A. R.
Smith Gavitt Woman's Relief Corps No. 106 at Kearney received its charter March 18, 1890, and was instituted
with the following officers and charter members: Marie Y. Miles, president; Mary J. Tottersman, S. V.; Hattie J.
Worsley, J. V.; Lucy A. Willoughby, secretary; Estelle Rogers, treasurer; Maggie McKain, chaplain; Frances Woodruff,
conductor; Sarah A. Seaman, G.; Kate A. Tucker, A. G.; Nancy Murphy, A. G.; May Demar, Jennie Coleman, Mary A.
Webbert, Mary J. Triggs, Hannah N. Hyatt, Mattie O'Kane, Jennie Wood, Martha E. Tague, Eva Uhrig, Lucy Willoughby,
Jennie Calhoun, Victoria Brundage, Marion Steigle, Cleronne Ray, Eleanor Hawk, Ada Caswell. In the year 1915 the
corps had a membership of twenty five. Its officers: Mrs. Barbara Scheduling, president; Eddie Bonser, S. V.; Elizabeth
Marshall, J. V.; Emma L. Hostetter, treasurer; Nellie M. Stimpson, secretary; Mary M. Page, conductor; Celia Talbert,
chaplain; Olie Springer, G.; Amanda Green, Emily McKinney, Henrietta Pickerel and Costelia Rogers, color bearers;
Emma L. Hostetter, patriotic instructor; Melissa Hemmingway, press correspondent.
PHIL KEARNEY CIRCLE NO. 4, LADIES OF THE G. A. R.
Phil Kearney Circle No. 4, Department of Nebraska, Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic, was organized at
Kearney, May 12, 1904, with ten charter members. The first officers were: Lizzie Trimble, president; Christie Hoge,
S. V. P.; Lizzie Wambaugh, J. V. P.; Josephine Stephenson, secretary; Jane Larimer, treasurer; Mary J. Stear, chaplain.
In 1915 the membership of the circle was seventy five. The officers: Flora Rawell, president; Fannie Wilson, S.
V. P.; Mary Webbert, J. V. P.; Effie Sullivan, secretary; Anna Warren, treasurer; Lillie Rahn, chaplain; patriotic
instructor, Emily Stark; Sophia Brown, guard.
FORT KEARNEY CHAPTER, D. A. R.
Fort Kearney Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, was organized at the home of Mrs. Charles Oliver
Norton, Kearney, May 16, 1908, with the following charter members and first officers: Mrs. Lottie Cove Norton,
chapter regent; Mrs. Florence Valentine Miller, vice regent; Mrs. Henrietta Bearce Roby, historian; Miss Isabel
Amanda Tabor, secretary; Mrs. Maybelle Nye Miller, treasurer; Mrs. Anna V. A. Peterson, registrar; Mrs. Irene HolbrookClark,
chaplain; Mrs. Elijah Atwood Gove, Mrs. Frederick R. Kingsley, Miss Arathusa Calkins, Mrs. Leroy V. Patch, Mrs.
Harry J. Reed, Mrs. E. St. Claire Snyder, Miss Agnes M. Tabor, Mrs. Henry Gibbons, Miss Catherine A. Nye, Mrs.
Robert A. Moore, Miss Alice Ruth Miller, Mrs. Burton Lothrop, Mrs. Joseph Plumb.
Since organization 15o members have been admitted to the chapter, which now (1916) is the third in size in the
Among the patriotic work accomplished by the Fort Kearney Chapter has been the placing in the Union Pacific Park
in Kearney of a granite monument to mark the "Oregon Trail," which had its beginning in the Valley of
the Platte River in the year 1811, this monument being the first stone to mark this historic trail erected in the
State of Nebraska.
BUFFALO LODGE NO. 38, I. O. O. F.
Buffalo Lodge No. 38, I. O. O. F., was instituted at Kearney, May 31, 1873, by Grand Secretary John Evans, with
the following charter members: N. H. Hemiup, Henry W. Morse, James P. Johnson, I. B. Wambaugh, D. B. Marsh, Philip
H. Allison, W. F. Marsh, Hugh Stotler, H. A. Wakefield.
In the year 1915 I. B. Wambaugh, a soldier of the Civil war, is the only one of the charter members living.
In the year 1915 the lodge had a membership of 275. Its officers: T. A. Pickerell, N. G.; A. G. Barlow, V. G.;
J. A. Larimer, secretary; W. A. Miller, treasurer.
In the year 1907 the lodge erected, on a lot owned by the lodge, a substantial brick building at a cost of $15,000,
the upper rooms of the building being used for lodge purposes.
KEARNEY ENCAMPMENT NO. 18, I. O. O. F.
Kearney Encampment No. 18, I. O. O. F., was instituted at Kearney, September 3, 1881, by Grand Patriarch J.
W. Walters and Grand Secretary D. A. Cline, with the following charter members: A. T. Cannon, Swan J. Johnson,
L. L. Ketchum, William Schram, W. F. Pickering, James Wallace, H. C. Andrews, W. H. Bushell, C. R. Clapp, L. D.
Forehand, C. D. Ayres, H. W. Morse, Theodore Wilhelmy, C. J. Burke, I. B. Wambaugh, W. H. Hunt, Thomas H. Ayres.
In the year 1915 the encampment had a membership of seventy five. Its officers: T. J. Scott, chief patriarch; E.
E. Gardner, senior warden; E. A. Miller, scribe; M. N. Troupe, treasurer.
NAOMI REBEKAH LODGE NO. 12, I. O. O. F.
Naomi Rebekah Lodge No. 12, I. O. O. F., was instituted June 26, 1887, with a charter membership of twenty.
G. H. Cutting, N. G.; Emma Haines, treasurer.
In the year 1915 the membership of the lodge was 203. Officers: Margaret Webbert, N. G.; Nellie Wilkins, V. G.;
Aurelia Whitney, secretary; Frances Whitney, treasurer.
ROBERT MORRIS LODGE NO. 46, A. F. & A. M.
Robert Morris Lodge No. 46, A. F. & A. M., of Kearney, was organized at Gibbon soon after the completion
of the courthouse, the lodge meetings being held in the courtroom of the building. The preliminary organization
was early in the year 1873, the date of the charter June 26, 1874. The charter members were: A. H. Brundage, Frank
S. Trew, L. Worthington, Christopher Putnam, George S. Thomas, Benjamin Sartoria, Michael Coady, Rollin L. Downing,
Simon C. Ayer, Alva G. H. White. Officers: Christopher Putnam, W. M.; Frank S. Trew, S. W.; Simon C. Ayer, J. W.
On the removal of the county seat from Gibbon the lodge was removed to Kearney.
In the year 1915 the lodge had a membership of 215. Officers: Daniel Quinton, W. M.; J. D. Hawthorne, secretary.
KEARNEY CHAPTER NO. 23, R. A. M.
Kearney Chapter No. 23, R. A. M., was organized September 13, 1881. The charter members were: H. P., A. L. Webb;
K., James H. Davis; S., H. L. Strong; treasurer, F. J. Switz; secretary, T. N. Hartzell; Ross Gamble, Reuben E.
Barney, Paul Kalmuk, Charles B. Finch, Lawrence Ketchum.
In the year 1915 the chapter had 130 members. Officers: J. O. Pierce, E. H. P.; J. D. Hawthorne, secretary.
MOUNT HEBRON COMMANDERY NO. 12.
Mount Hebron Commandery No. 12 was organized in January, 1882. The charter membership: Henry Gibbons, E. C.;
Rheuben E. Barney, Gen.; Sylvester S. St. John, C. G.; Frederick J. Switz, prelate; Paul Kalmuk, S. W.; Lawrence
Ketchum, J. W.; A. L. Webb, warden; James H. Davis, Sent.; William C. Villson, Rec.
In the year 1915 the commandery had 117 members: Officers: John Wilson, E. C.; G. E. Haase, recorder.
TUSCAN CHAPTER NO. 35, O. E. S.
Tuscan Chapter No. 35, O. E. S., was organized June 12, 1890, with a charter membership of twenty five. The
officers: W. M., Francis B. Burkhead; \V. P., George W. Kern; secretary, A. S. Potter; treasurer, R. M. Rankin.
In 1915 the membership of the chapter was 160. The officers: W. M., Mrs. Dorothy Clifton; W. P., C. B. Manuel;
secretary, Bessie Manuel; treasurer, Mrs. Minter Todd.
KEARNEY LODGE NO. 984, B. P. O. E.
Kearney Lodge No. 984 of. the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks was instituted on June 30, 1905 by the
initiation of a class of ninety. At this same meeting the following officers were elected:
L. M. Welsh, Exalted Ruler.
N. P. Hansen, Esteemed Leading Knight.
K. R. Andrews, Loyal Knight.
G. E. Haase, Lecturing Knight.
E. S. Chadwick, Secretary.
J. A. Miller, Treasurer.
On July 21st of the same year the lodge secured the top floor of the City National Bank Building for lodge rooms
and have held them ever since. In connection with the lodge room a fine suite of club rooms are maintained for
the convenience and comfort of the members. Under the supervision of a steward these rooms are always open to members
and visiting brothers.
The following men have served as exalted ruler and secretary of the lodge since its inception:
1905-06 - L. M. Welsh; E. S. Chadwick.
1906-07 E. S. Chadwick; T. B. Garrison, Jr.
1907-08 - K. R. Andrews; A. E. Faidler, T. W. Maus.
1908-09 - J. A. Miller; Chas. O. Swan.
1909-10 - J. A. Miller; Chas. O. Swan.
1910-11 - Arthur A. Scoutt; Chas. O. Swan.
1911-12 - Warren Pratt; Chas. O. Swan.
1912-13 Clyde W. Norton; Chas. O. Swan.
1913-14 H. B. Watson; Chas. O. Swan.
1914-15 H. B. Sammis; Chas. O. Swan.
1915-16 Clark Thomas, Chas. O. Swan; H. B. Watson.
KEARNEY COMMERCIAL CLUB
H. B. Watson
On Saturday evening, April 2, 1881, a delegation of citizens met in Mores' Hall and organized the first business
men's association in Kearney and gave it the name of the Kearney Board of Trade. Mr. J. N. High was chosen chairman
of the meeting and Mr. J. H. Roe was chosen secretary. The following gentlemen were elected to form an executive
committee: H. C. Andrews, C. F. Bodinson, N. Campbell, E. C. Calkins, R. L. Downing, R. R. Greer, J. N. High, F.
G. Keens, J. H. Roe, J. D. Seaman, F. J. Switz, G. R. Sherwood, S. L. Savidge, J. J. Saville and J. Fred Wiley.
On the following Thursday, April 7, 1881, the above committee met in the Nonpareil office and organized by electing
E. C. Calkins president and J. J. Saville secretary. At this meeting Mr. J. N. High presented suggestions for a
plan to organize a company and raise funds for the purpose of building a canal from the Platte River to supply
water to the City of Kearney and water power for manufacturing purposes. After a careful discussion of the subject
a committee was appointed to procure an estimate of the cost of the work, and another committee to draft a plan
for forming a company and devise a method to be used in raising money for the project.
At this meeting Mr. Hodges, a citizen of Sweetwater, appeared before the executive committee and made a statement
regarding the bridges over Cedar Creek and the Loup River. It seemed that the bridges were in very poor condition
and would require piling and lumber to repair them and the people in the vicinity were not in a financial position
to buy the material. A committee of five was appointed to raise the needed funds and the results of their efforts
were explained at the following meeting held on April 9, when Mr. Andrews reported that the committee had obtained
five piles from the B. & M. Railroad Company and had telegraphed the agent of the Union Pacific Company requesting
a donation of five piles from them, and by circulating a subscription paper had secured from the citizens of Kearney
cash subscriptions amounting to $113.95 with which to purchase lumber.
On April 11, 1881, the Board of Trade met again and at this meeting J. J. Saville reported that the estimated cost
of the canal was: Dam, $1,000; excavation, $14,448; survey flumes, $3,000; bridges, $1,500; survey and right of
way, $1,500, making a total cost of $21,448.
At this meeting a committee was appointed consisting of Messrs. Calkins, Savidge and Roe, which secured the co-operation
of Mr. F. G. Hamer, with instructions to correspond with the Nebraska delegation in Congress, with the secretary
of the interior and the law department at Washington and procure from them charter, department regulations and
laws relating to subsidised railroads and especially those relating to the St. Joe and Denver and the obligation
of that company to build their road to Kearney.
This meeting was adjourned to meet Thursday evening, April 14, 1887, when the canal subject would again be discussed.
Of this meeting there are no records, neither of any subsequent meetings. However the Board of Trade remained in
existence for some time after this date and was directly responsible for the initial work on the Kearney Canal.
Several years passed by before another organization of this nature was perfected in the city. On March 21, 1887,
the second Kearney Board of Trade was launched with the following officers: President, C. B. Finch; first vice
president, Homer J. Allen; second vice president, F. J. Switz; treasurer, E. C. Calkins; secretary, K. O. Holmes.
This organization was perfected in the third story of the Buffalo County Bank Building, now known as the Porterfield
Building. Afterwards rooms were taken in B. D. Smith's office in a building near where V. C. Chase's store now
The records and minutes of this organization have been destroyed and the actual progress of the association as
revealed by substantial records is not known. Several members of this organization are still in Kearney and many
of these will be found among our leading merchants. Upon their recollection and upon the newspaper files of that
epoch I must rely for data of its activities.
At that time Kearney was in a transitory period. She was expanding very rapidly and growing from a small town of
the plains into a city of business and a mart of trade. Eastern capital was flowing into the town in large quantity
and expansion was the watchword. Business became rushing, money was easy and the spirit of enterprise filled the
air. With these conditions it was natural that the newly organized Board of Trade found much to do. The business
men represented on its directorate worked until the early hours of the morning planning new methods to attract
capital and to advertise Kearney. There was no lack of funds flowing into the treasury and with these, alluring
literature telling of "Kearney's Gait" was prepared and mailed broadcast over the land. Committees were
appointed to follow up every tangible prospect and money was spent freely but judiciously in interesting such prospects.
This organization during 1887 and 1888, under the leadership of C. B. Finch and K. O. Holmes accomplished much
good and was instrumental in securing many enterprises for the city. At that time Mr. Finch was mayor of the city
and much of the success of the Board of Trade was due to the harmony that existed between it and the city council.
During the summer of 1888 many real estate promoters from the east formed a combination in Kearney and in March,
1889, secured control of the organization when a reorganization was effected under the name of the Kearney Chamber
of Commerce. The officers elected were: President, O. S. Marden; first vice president, George W. Frank; second
vice president, Homer J. Allen; treasurer, E. M. Judd; secretary, K. O. Holmes. The membership of the new organization
was 108 and the meetings were held in room 11 of the old Midway Hotel. By this time Kearney had developed a portentous
boom and the men at the head of the Chamber of Commerce were directly interested in the boom, consequently the
efforts of the association were directed to that end. The cotton mill was built, factories of various kinds and
on an elaborate scale were secured, subsidised and built, street railways were constructed, steam railroads were
projected and bonds voted to assist them in building. Men of affairs had wonderful visions; they saw Kearney a
second Chicago, the. big city of Nebraska. Times were feverish. The people became aquiver with expectation, a wonderful
city was in the making and then the crash came. The Chamber of Commerce was forgotten, its officers moved to other
parts and at last the organization passed into history. Later on an effort was made to resuscitate the association,
but the move failed and it went the way of the boom.
The present Commercial Club was organized during 1907, but the first minutes of its meetings now available are
dated March 3, 1908. At this meeting Mr. Henry Gibbons served as chairman and W. W. Barney was elected temporary
The organization of this Commercial Club, like the inception of the others, was demanded through an exigency arising
that effected the people of Kearney. The first club was organized to build the Kearney Canal and thus furnish Kearney
with a water supply, the second club was an outgrowth of a necessity that furnished a medium through which the
boosting of the city could better be accomplished, while the organization of this present association was demanded
to furnish a co-operation of the business men in a struggle to secure just and equitable freight rates into and
out of the city.
Mr. J. W. Patterson was elected its first president and Mr. J. G. Lowe was chosen secretary of the newly organized
club. During the succeeding years the following men have served as president and secretary:
1908 - J. W. Patterson; J. G. Lowe.
1909 - J. W. Patterson; W. F. Bailey.
1910 - W. H. Roe; W. F. Bailey.
1911 - C. W. Kibler; C. E. Oehler.
1912 - Warren Pratt; C. E. Oehler.
1913 - J. W. Patterson; W. F. Bailey.
1914 - J. W. Patterson; F. W. Brown, H. B. Watson.
1915 - A. C. Killian; H. B. Watson.
1916 - C. B. Manuel (elected); H. B. Watson.
During these years the club has been actively engaged in the fight for better freight rates for the city. It launched
the Buffalo County Fair, it has consistently advocated better roads, it has promoted street paving, and during
the last three years its scope of action has broadened until it has developed into the community forum. Every question
effecting the city and its environs is brought to the club for discussion. Its attitude on public questions is
For several years the club has maintained a Monday noon lunch for its members, which service has become very popular.
The meeting of its board of directors is held weekly, directly after the Monday lunch.
The original board of directors was composed of fifteen members. This number was soon increased to twenty five
and at the annual election of 1916 vas raised to fifty. This allows a large percentage of the membership a voice
in the weekly deliberations of the directors and creates added interest in the activities of the club.
The club's activities are rapidly multiplying and instead of being an organization working alone for the interest
of the merchants it is striving to become a community builder, a city builder, where the farmer, the city dweller
and the business man can meet on mutual footing and work harmoniously for the advancement of the entire community.
KEARNEY AERIE NO. 1489, F. O. E.
Kearney Aerie No. 1489, F. O. E., meets every Wednesday at Eagles Hall. Its officers in 1914 were: A. M. Franks,
president; Joseph Kauer, secretary; J. F. Ackerman, treasurer.
LOYAL LODGE NO. 14, K. OF P.
Loyal Lodge No. 14, K. of P., history seems to disclose, was the first fraternal lodge instituted in Kearney,
in the winter of 1872-73.
Its officers in 1914 were: G. E. Haase, C. C.; M. A. Moody, V. C.; E. P. Hamilton, P.; P. T. Lambert, M. of W.;
C. D. Ayers, M. of E. and K. of R. and S.; W. H. Bettinger, M. of F.; A. P. Paulson, M. of A.
FORMAN LODGE NO. 12, A. O. U. W.
Forman Lodge No. 12, A. O. U. W., was organized August 13, 1883, with a charter membership of twenty five. Officers:
Byron D. Smith, P. W. M.; J. A. Resell, M. W.; W. H. Hurst, foreman; W. M. Knutzen, overseer; S. M. Nevins, Rec.;
H. Fred Wiley, Fin.; J. C. Philbrick, Treas.; P. Lindgren, guide; G. A. Olson, I. W.
In the year 1915 the lodge had 35o members. Officers: C. E. Bloomfield, P. W. M.; T. A. Pickrell, M. W.; C Lancaster,
foreman; E. A. Miller, Fin.; John Frasier, overseer; E. F. Winn, Rec.; A. T. Olson, Treas.; George Clark, guide;
A. M. Sherman, inside watch.
KEARNEY LODGE NO. 43, DEGREE OF HONOR, A. O. U. W.
Kearney Lodge No. 43, Degree of Honor, A. O. U. W., was instituted March 316, 1893, with a charter membership
of sixty eight. The names of its first officers could not be obtained.
In 1915 the lodge had a membership of 703. Its officers were: Ella Killgore, P. C. of H.; Maggie Dority, C. of
H.; Lena Olson, L. of H.; Carrie Richard, C. of C.; Mary LaCornn, R'dr.; Ida Haynes, Fin.; Emma M. Hibberd, Rec.;
Phoebe Lancaster, usher; the minor officers being Fern Lancaster, Ada Holmes, Nellie Fenton, Lucy Hall, Etta Temple,
Rilla Flannery, Elsie LaCornn.
HOPE CAMP NO. 316, M. W. A.
Hope Camp No. 316, M. W. A., was instituted at Kearney in April, 1887, with seventy six charter members. Its
first officers were: W. A. Howard, V. C.; J. R. Churchill, W. A.; C. H. Henderson, clerk; Ira Johnson, banker;
C. A. Bartz, escort; C. O. Jackson, W.; W. Wilson, S.; A. L. Fitch, B. F. East and W. C. Holdem, board of managers.
In the year 1915 the camp had 220 members. Its officers: J. A. Al'hands, V. C.; Roy Jacobs, W. A.; Charles Shahan,
banker; G. E. Haase, clerk; T. A. Tollefson, escort; John Mannins, W.; C. Knorig, S.; T. J. Scott, William Lantz,
James Cleary, trustees.
KEARNEY COUNCIL NO. 12, LOYAL MYSTIC LEGION
Kearney Council No. 12, Loyal Mystic Legion, is located at Kearney. Its officers, elected for the year 1916,
are: Rachel Jenkins, W. C.; Olive R. Springer, W. V. C.; H. T. Clark, secretary; J. N. Jenkins, W. P.; F. E. Hutchinson,
W. P. C.; Dr. M. A. Hoover, J. N. Jenkins, P. E. Hutchinson, trustees.
KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS
St. James Council No. 1728, Knights of Columbus, was organized with a charter membership of ninety, April 21,
1914. The first officers: Dr. E. A. Watson, G. K.; Prof. B. H. Patterson, R. S.
The object of the order as stated: "To perpetuate and keep alive the memory of Columbus by fitting and appropriate
ceremonies on October 72th of each year."
Membership, 1915, 120. Officers: R. B. Daugherty, G. K.; A. H. Berbig, F. S.
TRIBE OF BEN HUR
Kearney Court No. 708, Tribe of Ben Hur, was instituted September 16, 1903, with a charter membership of thirty
five, the officers being: Dr. M. A. Hoover, chief; E. A. Miller, scribe.
In the year 1915 the membership was ninety five. The officers: E. E. Gardner, chief; Laura M. Berbig, scribe.