History of Seward, Nebraska
From: General History of Seward County, Nebraska
BY: John H. Waterman
Beaver Crossing, Nebraska - 1914-15


In those interesting days in the birth of the county and the country in general in which it is located, Seward was not a town. It got its name about the time that Camden and Milford were springing into prominence, but as the party who owned the real estate desired for the new town site hesitated about having a town built upon his property, the city of Seward was somewhat like the "chicken counted before the egg was hatched." And the town not only had a name, but it got a post office before it had a location which was almost forced into the log residence of Lewis Moffit and that gentleman conscripted into Uncle Sam's service as postmasster by the enterprising citizens. These matters together with the little log school house, serving the purpose as church, school and county court house have been previously dealt with in the reminiscences of pioneer days in this history, and we have now before us Seward, a modern city.

Seward today with a population of between three and four thousand inhabitants is supplied with numerious daily mails by railway. The Chicago Burlington & Quincy rail road, known as the B. & M., enters the city from the east, west and north, and the Chicago & North Western passes through it from north-east to south-west. While the weekly mail - carried a distance of twenty miles in an army haversack by a man on foot - has been supplanted by the daily mails as stated, the log house postoffice has been replaced by an improved structure at an expense of several thousand dollars supplied with a complete set of modern post office fixtures, including eight hundred and forty private mail boxes at an expense of three thousand five hundred dollars. In addition to these facilities for handling the city mail there are six rural mail routes, upon which mail is delivered daily from the Seward post office to several hundred of the farmers' homes now occupying the old homesteads of pioneer days.

To meet the requirements of advancing changes in the city, new and expensive high school houses have come and gone smewhat in line with the appearing and disappearing of the sod and log school houses of pioneer days, until the third commodious school building has recently been built at a cost of fifty thousand dollars.

The modern public improvements in the city of Seward consist of a fine county court house, one of the best in the state, a jail in line with it, a public park, high school building, seventeen thousand dollar city hall and fire department, twelve thousand dollar Young Mens' Christian Associotion building, Carnigie Library building, cost, eight thousand dollars, forty five thousand dollar city water works, twenty five thousand dollar light plant. The city has fifty two blocks of street pavement and more being added, and twenty miles of brick and cement sidewalks. The streets, which in the days of street grain buying, were outlined with invisable corner stakes and a few wagon ruts, are now lined with large forest and ornamental shade trees, telephone and electric light poles while fine, commodious residences fronts them on all sides.

There are eight church buildings in the city. The German Lutheran is perhaps the finest church building in the state of Nebraska outside of the large cities. It was erected at a cost of twenty five thousand dollars. The M. E. church is also a very fine and imposing edifice, built at a cost of fifteen thousand dollars. The Catholic church was built at a cost of six thousand dollars, and the Congregational near the same amount. The Prysbeterian church was originally built in. 1872 and although it has been removed from its first foundation and rebuilt in later design, it can still be called a pioneer church building. And notwithstanding this it is one among the fine church buildings of Seward county. The Adventists, United Breathern and Evangelicals all have good, substantial houses of worship.

One of the most interesting and laudable enterprises in the city of Seward is the German Normal College, which was instituted in 1894 by members of the German Evangelical Lutheran Church throughout Nebraska, led by such prominent business men of Seward as Herman Diers, John F. Goehner and O. E. Bernecker. The school was opened in the fall of 1894 in one brick building built that season, with an enrollment of but sixteen students. There has been a gradual growth in this institution and it is now occupying six large school buildings, including a training department and music hall four stories high where several pianos and pipe organs are in daily use. In addition to the six school structures there are eight beautiful private residences occupied by the instructors. The estimated cost of this enterprise is one hundred thousand dollars. The increase in number of students brought the 1916 enrollment up to one hundred and forty.

An artificial ice plant, installed in 1912 by Graft Stevenson & Company at an expense of thirty two thousand dollars, marks the progress of times from the pioneer days. This enterprise is said to be of the greatest benefit to the largest number of people of any establishment in Seward.

Among the many expensive public buildings within the limits of the city is the B. & M. railway depot which was built at an expense of eighteen thousand doilars. It occupies historic ground, within the boundaries of the pioneer grain market - from the ground upon which it stands, out across the still remaining, well remembered bridge, upon the bottom, mounted grain buyers watched for the approach of wagons loaded with grain, each eager to get in the first offer for the load; at the first appearance of a team they were off under whip and spur to meet it. About twenty rods north: west of where the depot now stands, a little tip the incline, was the grain office and weighing scales of E. C. Carnes, and just south of it at the track were the two elevators. Upon the site of the depot stood what wads known to farmers as a "shoveling elevator" where they elevated their loads of grain with a scoop shovel, generally upon an empty stomach after a ride of eighteen or twenty miles. Farmers didn't ride in automobiles in those good old times, and felt mighty proud to have a spring seat to ride on. But the "good old times" are gone and with them the pioneer grain market of Seward.

The business of Seward at the present timed is conducted in ninety two establishments. Three hardware stores, one operated by J. F. Goehner, who has been in the business since 1879. S. C. Oaks, an 1870 settler in the county has been in the hardware trade since 1891, and Rupp & Dietz have the hardware business established by John Zimmerer.

Five grocery stores are in opperation. The business of W. R. Davis & Sons was established in 1879, and although the elder member of the firm passed to his eternal reward many years ago the business is still conducted in the original firm name; T. C. Sampson has the next oldest grocery store, having been in the business since 1901; the other three more recently established stores are conducted by C. T. Joren; J. E. Croy; and T. H. Feary.

Three drug stores dispense medicine for the city and surrounding districts. They are conducted by M. J. Douglas; A. Schuler; and H. J. Cooper.

Two furniture stores are in operation, one by W. H. Moore was established in 1898; and Fred. Goehner has been in the business since 1906.

(I wish to digress here to make correction of an error in regard to the location of E. C. Carus' grain buying office, mentioned on preceding page. It stood a few rods north-east instead of north-west of where the B. & M. depot stands.)

Parks & Willis conduct a wholesale and retail feed store which was opened by the first named gentleman in 1889.

Henry Campbell is the proprietor of a prosperous business in the buying and selling of seeds. He is established on fifth street; has an extensive trade every year.

The city is supplied with two first class hotels, two up to date cafes, and a number of lunch rooms which make the eating facilities equal to the ordinary demand.

There are three first class blacksmith shops in operation in the city; Chris Vogel is conducting one of the highest grade shops in the state of Nebraska. His welding of iron is done by electricity, and all other work by the latest modern system. This shop has a floor space of four thousand five hundred feet. It was established in 1887. George Knipple has a fine shop on the corner of Eighth and Main streets, and A. R. McCord is doing a good business on Seward street.

Five automobile garages are in operation in the city and each doing good business.

One of the oldest established shoe stores perhaps in the state of Nebraska, is conducted by C. F. Kroeger who has been continually in the business in Seward forty one years, it being a pioneer trade of 1875.

Three grain elevators and two alfalfa mills are located in the west part of the city. Harrison & Son are operating an elevator on the Columbus branch of the B. & M., and the Updyke Grain Company have one on the Northwestern. Imig, Graff & Hentzen run a large elevator in connection with their alfalfa mill. This mill has a capacity of thirty tons a day. Nelson & Tigard are operating the second alfalfa mill which has an equal grinding capacity with the former.

The two flouring mills of pioneer days are, with improved appliances and modern machinery, grinding "away. The old Banner Mill, established in 1869 by Hiram L. Boyes, is now owned and conducted by Bayes & Hulshizer. It has a grinding capacity of one hundred and twenty five barrels of flour per day. The mill built in the seventies by Cooper & Henderson, two miles south of the city, is owned and run by Heuman Borthers and is doing excellent work. It has a capacity of fifty barrels of flour per day.

Two lumber yards are in operation in the city. One is run by the Pauley Lumber Company and the other by the Seward Lumber Company.

In the way of clothing stores Seward is certainly on the map, there being four different exclusive clothing establishments in the city. William P. Berdolt has been in the business since J882; the Graff Clothing Company since 1888; Curry Brothers since 1906 and Hershberger & McCoy established their business in 1914.

Ed. Woods, proprietor of the cigar store and news stand was born in Seward in 1877, and has been in business nine years.

Four first class drygoods stores are doing business in the city. Pete Goehner is a pioneer in the trade, having been continually in it since 1873. M. C. Miller has been doing business eighteen years. The Seward Dry Goods Company have been in the city about six years, and D. S. Chappel, successor to Diers Brothers, two years.

J. F. Geese is proprietor of the one tailor shop which he has conducted nineteen years.

Three meat markests furnish the city with meat. Brown & Salsbury may be found on Seward street, George Rapp on the east side of the square, August Blenderman near the corner on Seward street.

Percy Ost manages the electricial supply store. Two city photograph galleries are conducted by W.D.Givens and J. H. Walford. The former has bad a gallery in the same Location for thirty five years and it was established in the pioneer period. Mr. Valford has been in his present location about four years. The. Seward brick yards are owned and managed by J. W. Turner. This business is am ng the best up to date brick works in Nebraska. A pop factory and bottling works are managed by H. M. Wiese. Two cigar factories are in operation in the city, by H. F. Busche and F. Kaufman. H. G. Dunphy has been in the business of repairing and painting buggies and carriages for twenty five years. The city has five coal yards. John Fleener and W. H. Whiteneck are each in the poultry trade. R. G. Buchanan is proprietor of the city steam laundry.

Three bakeries supply the city with "the staff of life," excellent bread, pies and cakes. They are opperated by Wm. Leibhart, W. T. Mickleson and J. H. Feary.

J. F. Gereke, Seward's artistic musician, repairs and sells all kinds of musical instruments. Also deals in sewing machines, wall paper etc. Mr. Gereke has been a Seward business man for thirty six years, being a pioneer druggist and jeweler for several years, and was successor to Cyrus Chapin in the music trade in 1887.

E. A. Polley is one of two early pioneer merchants in Seward, Pete Goehner being the second, and both gentlemen established their business in 1873. Mr. Polley deals in jewelry.

There are three banks in Seward. Two of them are outgrowths of pioneer enterprises. The State Bank of Nebraska was the first bank in Seward county and was founded by Claudius Jones in 1873. The Frst National Bank was organized as the Seward County Bank by S. C. Langworthy in 1876. It merged into and was chartered as a national bank in 1882. The Jones National Bank was established in 1884 by Claudius Jones who was its first president, being succeded by his son, H. T. Jones in 1895.

Six rural mail routes lead out from Seward ranging in length from twenty seven to twenty nine miles each. Devoe Konkright is the regular carrier on route number one. Has carried the mail on said route since 1910. D. C. Work, the original carrier on route two, started in 1901 and is still performing that service. John C. Konkright is carrier on route three, has been in the service since May 1st, 1906. S. H Beaver is the carrier on route four. Has been running regular since April 1st, 1904. Alfred Hiller who drives on route five started it November 2nd, 1903. Maurice Leger started route six December 15th, 1903 and is still in the service.

Two racket or variety stores are run by Kolterman and Wilson, late additions to the corps of Seward business men.

The Noxall Grain and Seed Cleaner and Grader was invented by T. J. Hatfield and F. N. Wullenwaber in the fall of 1907 and patent issued December 22, 1908. A manufacturing company was organized and incorporated under that name by Seward business men in February 1909 with a capital stock of fifty thousand dollars. This factory employs several men. The company manufacture the Noxal machines which are sold throughout the north-west, also window screens, screen doors and medicated chicken perches.

The following are professional men of Seward at the present time, and some of them may be numbered with the pioneers of the county while one of them is a Seward born citizen. L. H. McKillip, son of Daniel C. McKillp, Seward county's first attorney at law, was born at Seward, January 21, 1879 and commenced the practice of law in 1903. T. L. and R. S. Norval are pioneers, and have been practicing law since 1873. J. J. Thomas, Roy Schick, Edwin Vail, H. D. Landis and S.C.Stoner are additions to the city's legal practitioners from 1891 to 1911

Dr. H. B. Cummins has practiced his profession in Seward for thirty one years, was for some time associated with Dr. J. H. Woodward. Has served on the pension examining board for many years, has held a prominent place on the state medical board, and laid aside his M. D. in 1900 and became a politician and was elected to the state senate where he served one term and then returned to where he was the most needed, the practice of medicine. Dr. J. Morrow, successor to Dr. J. H. Woodward, built an up to date hospital in 1901 and has associated with him in practice his two brothers, Drs. M. and B. Morrow, the former in 1907 and the latter in 1913. Dr. S. E. Ragan entered the practice as a physician in Seward in the spring of 1902. He also has a hospital. Dr. C. F. Stockert and Dr. R. S. Hirsch commenced practice in the city in 1913. Dr. O. H. Kent, Osteopath, commenced practice in Seward in 1907. Drs. R. P. Belden and C. K. Porter, dentists have practiced since 1904. Drs. S. D. Atkins and C. D. Kenner since 1905.

The only second hand store in seward is still conducted by its original owner, Jake Goehering, who started it more than twenty years ago.

The business buildings of Seward are nearly all modern structures, some of them having been erected at a cost of thirty thousand dollars, while there are many less expensive houses which are of value to the city.

There are one hundred and twenty five artistic dwelling houses in Seward, built at a cost of several thousand dollars each, one recently built by John Zimmerer, cost thirty five thousand dollars. It is modern in every respect, entirely fire proof and is one of the most beautiful dwellings in the state. The city has an estimated number of six hundred less expensive, modern and valuable dwelling houses.

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