Sunday, September 1, 2019

Caught in the Past! #1

Who exactly were these luminaries?

A.  Actors Anthony Quinn and Bill Cullen visiting Crawford in 1947 considering Crow Butte as a movie location. 

B.  State Senators A. V. Cunningham and Jim Beaufort at NSTC in 1950 reviewing plans for a new Student Union at the college.

C.  Lawman Bob Beers and City Manager Ken Kyle conferring in 1955 at Chadron City Hall.

D.  Movie mogul Darryl Zanuck and State Game Commission member Oliver Durham prior to Zanuck's 1951 speech at Ft. Robinson.

NOTE:  If you think you know the answer, take it to the Frontier Drive-Inn in Chadron for a free "Beef-in-a-basket with fries and a Coke."  In Crawford, swing by Saddle Rock Lanes in the Knapp Building for four free lines of bowling!


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

"Through the Years" exhibit at Chadron State

Daniel Binkard with early photo of CSC's first building
An exhibit featuring vintage memorabilia and photographs of Chadron State’s history since 1911 will be on display Aug. 5 to Aug. 26 in Memorial Hall’sMain Gallery. “Chadron State through the Years,” is free and open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The display includes an Elmo mascot costume, wool blanket, cheerleading outfit, letter sweater, and slide show of archived photographs designed by Digital Graphic Designer Daniel Binkard.
Binkard created the slideshow for the show from photos in the College Relations historical photo archive.

“This archive is an ongoing project to catalogue the photos that are in Con Marshall’s collection, plus photos in the College Relations collection that have been taken by myself, Dewayne Gimeson, Justin Haag, and Jerry Ingram, among many others. I’m glad to have an opportunity to showcase some of the photos in the archive as I continue to add to it and refine the information in it,” Binkard said.
The collaboration included the Chadron State Foundation and Alumni Office, the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center, the Galaxy Series Committee, the Conferencing Office, Art Professor Laura Bentz, and College Relations Director Alex Helmbrecht.
“We’ve received a lot of items through the generosity of alumni and their families. This show gives us the opportunity to display some of these items where more people can see them and enjoy them. It’s remarkable to walk through the show and compare the historic photographs to the campus today,” Director of Alumni and Development Karen Pope said.

-- Story courtesy of Chadron State College Relations

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Fur Trade Days – History, Friends, Food & Fun!

Fur Trade Days is to Chadron, Nebraska, as Mardi Gras is to New Orleans.  Oh, sure, the Mardi Gras "krewes" throw a lot more stuff from the floats – and they definitely do have a wider variety of music venues across the city – but hey – Fur Trade Days' "Bordeaux Creek Fur Trade and Muzzleloading Association’s Rendezvouspays homage to the fur trade and its value to this region of North America.  And, of course, the Fur Trade parade "throws" includes the World Championship Buffalo Chip Throw!

Fact is, for the difference in size, the Chadron community hosts more events and activities than you can shake a stick at.  Carnivals, music, historical walks, treasure hunts, story telling.  Our favorite venues this year included the Greenwood Cemetery Tour and the events on the Courthouse grounds.  On parade day, Saturday, there's food, music from bygone eras, including "Songs and Dances of the Lakota."  

Visits to the Dawes County Museum and the world-class Museum of the Fur Trade are "musts" for newcomers.  And they remain high on the list for returnees.  We always see something new.

Topping our list, though, is crossing paths with folks who return year after year – many of them "youngsters" who attended Chadron Assumption, Chadron High, Chadron Prep, Chadron Prep, and even Chadron State College (perhaps a few attended when it was Chadron Normal.)  We've discovered over the years that the Courthouse grounds is a favorite place to chat with fellow ex-students, their families, and others who visit this event.  Of course, the cake and ice-cream served across the street at the Congregational Church is an added incentive! 

At the American Legion Club in Chadron on Friday evening, July 12th, a few dozen alums from 1957, 1958, and 1959 at Chadron High gathered for a "picnic" buffet and an evening of reminiscing.  They're shown in the photo below – but if you want a closer look, we invite you to take a moment and visit our "Dawes County School Gallery," where you'll also find their names. 

The were among many CHS grads attending "Fur Trade Days" in Chadron this year. 

Of course, there's so much going on during Fur Trade Days, one can't attend everything, even though some of us try.  We know there were a similar "alumni" gathering for Chadron Prep – and likely Chadron Assumption.  Alas, we couldn't make them all, but we're hoping one of our good neighbors will contact us and share any photos that we could post.

One Fur Trade Days event we were delighted to witness this year was the Cemetery Walk at Greenwood Cemetery on Saturday.  Despite being outnumbered by mosquitoes, a few dozen folks partook the event, which featured nine people from the "early days" of the region.  

Rex Cogdill portrayed area pioneer William Martens
Among the characters portrayed were Frank O'Rourke, Harvey Anderson, Faye and Ray Graves, William Martens, Josiah Gillespie, the Waltz family, along with "Rattlesnake Pete" and "Opportunity Hank."  

It was Ray and Faye Graves who operated an early Chadron photo studio that preceded the old "O'Neill Photo Company."  Of course, a few returning to Chadron will remember the Marten's place not far from town.  They grew delicious watermelons. Late-night visits to the Martens watermelon patch was almost a rite of passage for more than just a few area youth – present company excepted, of course!

This was the 43rd year for Fur Trade Days.  We suspect next year's event will be well worth the wait.  You can check out the Fur Trade Days website for the countdown.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Remembering the Howard family of Whitney

It was four years ago today – 31 May, 2015 – that long-time Whitney resident Naomi Howard McCafferty passed away at age 90.  Her husband, Jim McCafferty, died in 2012. 

Naomi was the granddaughter of Dawes County pioneer John F. Howard and his wife Elizabeth.
Howard family marker - Whitney Cemetery
According to a Howard family profile that was written by Naomi for the 1985 book, Dawes County Nebraska – The First 100 Years – John Howard first came to Dawes County in 1885. He "batched" it before bringing his family to the area south of Whitney two years later.
It was there that John  established a successful farming operation and raised his family. His son William would later take over the place, marrying local school teacher Irene Goodell.  The Howard family donated a parcel of land to Whitney for a cemetery.  Mother Elizabeth Howard died in 1905 and was the first person to be buried in the new cemetery.

In March of 1925, John Howard died.  Five months later, his granddaughter Naomi Joyce was born to "Will" and Irene Howard and was their only child.

What follows is a biographical sketch of John F. Howard as it appeared in the 1909 publication Compendium of History, Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska.


John F. Howard, residing in Whitney, Dawes county, is one of the oldest settlers in western Nebraska, and by his efforts he has aided materially in the development of the agricultural and commercial resources of his county. Mr. Howard is a gentleman of most estimable character, highly respected in the community and one of the leading old-timers of the section.

Mr. Howard was born in Clark county, Missouri, in December, 1839. His father, Isaac Howard, was of old American stock, born and raised in Virginia, who married Miss Elizabeth Morris, of Kentucky, the latter dying April 7, 1907, at the advanced age of eighty-nine years and five months. At this writing the father is still living in Iowa and is ninety years old. Our subject's grandfather and great-grandfather were also American born, the latter serving in the Revolutionary War.

When our subject was twelve years of age the family moved to Iowa, where he grew to manhood on a farm, helping his parents in all the hard work of building up a farm and home in a new country, and attending the country schools where he received his early education, later attending college at Birmingham, Iowa. Our subject enlisted in Company H, Third Iowa Cavalry, August 15, 1861, served during the war. being first mustered out January 1, 1864, and then re-entering the service was finally mustered out August 9, 1865. 

Mr. Howard, was truly a war veteran, seeing service though Georgia and Alabama and all through the south and west. He started farming in Iowa in 1866 and remained there up to 1885, then came to Dawes county, filing on a homestead in section 1, township 32, range 51. At that time the railroad was only laid as far as Chadron. He spent three years here, starting his farm, and "batching it," part of the time working at the carpenter's trade, his first house being a plank shanty 12 x 14 in size and lived in this shack for two years, then his family joined him here and they built up a good home and farm. 

In Iowa Mr. Howard was a pioneer and handled ox teams, leading a regular frontierman's (sic) life, then came to Nebraska and went through the same experiences, so that nearly his entire lifetime has been spent in building up a new country. In Iowa he lived in different counties, - Van Buren, Madison and Warren county. 

After coming to Nebraska he met with failures of crops, caused by drouths, and had many discouragements, but has succeeded in accumulating a nice property, and owns one thousand two hundred acres of land, which includes a son's homestead. He cultivates sixty acres, and has a seventy-acre field of alfalfa, engaging quite extensively in stock raising, running seventy head of cattle and fourteen horses. His place is well improved with good buildings, fences, etc., and he has plenty of timber, water and fruit.

Mr. Howard is now serving as assessor for his district. He has been justice of the peace for several years, also on the school board for sixteen years, and was one of the organizers of different schools in his section. He is a strong Republican.

Mr. Howard was united in marriage in Iowa in 1867, to Miss Elizabeth Moore, daughter of Littleton L. Moore, a retired farmer and old settler in Van Buren county. Mrs. Howard was born in Ohio in 1845, and she died in Dawes county May 28. 1905. leaving a family of seven children, named as follows: Walter C., Minnie M., Lula M., Arthur E., Earl V., William N., and Mabel (deceased).

(NOTE:  Thanks to Jim Sheaffer of Chadron for the photograph of the Howard family marker located in the Whitney Cemetery – and for the thousands of other photos he has provided over the years to the Nebraska Gravestone Photo Project, now containing more than 326,000 images!)

Sunday, May 26, 2019

The Great American Rail-Trail....coming soon!

by Larry Miller

The "Rails to Trails Conservancy" is spearheading a nationwide trail that will stretch some 3,700 miles across the United States – from Washington, D.C. to Washington state. More than 52 percent of the trail – more than 1,900 miles – is already complete.

And Chadron, Whitney, Crawford, and Fort Robinson will be right in the center of all the action!

Nebraska's "Cowboy Trail" and the "White River Trail" in western Dawes County are among stretches of the trail that are already familiar to many folks in the region.

The Great American Rail-Trail undertaking will span 12 states and the District of Columbia. Some years ago, while living in Pennsylvania, we became fans of the "rails to trails" program and continued to pursue them after we retired and moved to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Bicycling the Mickelson Trail from Deadwood to Edgemont is a terrific experience, allowing riders to see much of the Black Hills up close and personal! It's a beautiful ride.

A few weeks ago, the Rails to Trails Conservancy launched their national campaign to gain more support for the project. This video captures that event.

Picture yourself … pedaling across the entire country on a safe, seamless and scenic pathway—or walking a local trail that connects along historic routes. Imagine the incomparable experience of exploring America’s heritage by trail—its potential, its beauty and bounty, its people and places. And it should spur economic opportunities and the benefits for communities along the route of this multiuse trail that stretches more than 3,700 miles from Washington to Washington. 

We'll be writing more about this project in the months to come.