Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Inquiring minds still want to know...

Nearly three years ago, in 2018, we posted the above photo from the 1950's and a short story with several questions – but one important question that we didn't ask.  

Who were these two officers?  In that earlier story, we remembered Hugh Oliver, who ran the tobacco shop that stood between the old Pace Theatre and the Chadron Volunteer Fire Department headquarters, and we recalled several police officers from back in that era.  Butch Foster, Vernon Story, Robert Beers, Burt Holmes, and Lester Jensen, among others.  In fact, we think the fellow on the right in the above photo might be Story.

Would be pleased to hear from anyone who can identify these fellows.  Of course, we're continuing our quest for a good photograph of the Newsy Nook.  That would be a most valued photo, indeed!

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Another Pioneer of Dawes County – a 1909 Profile


     The name of Harry L. Bartlett is a familiar one to the residents of Dawes county, Nebraska, where he has lived for many years, locating here when this region was practically in its infancy, and has taken a leading part in its development and growth from its early settlement. He owns a well improved and valuable estate in section 6, township 29, range 47, and enjoys a pleasant and happy home.

     Mr. Bartlett was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1865. His father, Alfred E., married Rebecca Putnam, also born and raised in Massachusetts, and they afterwards came west and were among the oldest settlers in Nebraska, where the father engaged in the farming and ranching business. The subject of our sketch was but three years of age when his parents settled in Audubon county, Iowa, and he was reared and educated there, attending the country schools during his boyhood. At the age of twenty Mr. Bartlett came to Nebraska and settled on a homestead in the southeastern corner of Dawes county, "batching it" for several years, living near a brother who had settled here some years before. He. proved up on his claim, and was in the cattle business from the first, farming a small portion of his place, and during the hard times working in the Black Hills in the mines. He spent a short time at Deadwood. He filed on another homestead in section 12, township range 48, and remained for four years, farming during that time, but proved up also and located on his present farm in 1893. Here he bought land, put up buildings and developed a good ranch and has been most successful in every venture, the place consisting of thirty two quarter sections, a large part of which he along the Pepper creek. He has it all fenced and cross fenced, and devotes his time to the sheep raising business principally although he has about thirty horses and a few head of cattle. One hundred and fifty acres are devoted to farming purposes, raising small grain, corn, oats, etc., for feed for his stock.

     In the early days of Mr. Bartlett's residence here he went through many rough experience in traveling by team through the wild country, surrounded by wild beasts and spending many a night sleeping on the snow covered ground. For some time he was employed as a stage driver, carrying the mail from Hay Springs to Nonpareil in Box Butte county, and at that time there were only three dwelling places on the road between these two towns.

     Mr. Bartlett was united in marriage in 1893, to Miss Bessie Fenner, daughter of Bradford Fenner, an old settler in this state. Prior to her marriage Mrs. Bartlett was a teacher in the schools of Dawes county. Mr. and Mrs. Bartlett are the parents of two children namely: Arthur, aged fourteen years, and Raymond, aged ten years.

     Mr. Bartlett is a Republican in his politic views and takes a keen interest in party affairs.


NOTE:  From the "Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska"

Thursday, December 17, 2020

A 1909 Profile of a Dawes County Pioneer


     William Clark, one of the leading old settlers of Dawes county, Nebraska, deserves prominent mention for his aid in the success of western Nebraska as an agricultural and commercial center, and in doing so has incidentally built up a good home and farm for himself by dint of his industry and good management.

     Mr. Clark was born in Green county, Ohio, in 1846. His father was Samuel Clark, of mixed nationality, a farmer by occupation and for many years followed that work in Ohio, Illinois, Minnesota and Nebraska and has been on the frontier all his life. When our subject was but a baby the family moved to Iowa, then to Nebraska, but most of his boyhood years were spent in Minnesota, where they lived for some years in Freeborn county. He learned to do all kinds of hard farm work up to his eighteenth year, then enlisted in the Second Minnesota Cavalry, Company C, and saw service in the west mostly, fighting against the Indians.

     After the war he went back to Minnesota, locating in Martin county, and was there married to Miss Louisa Connic, daughter of Howard Connic, a harness maker, of Pennsylvania and an old settler in Minnesota.

     In the spring of 1881 he came to Cuming county, Nebraska, and was among the pioneers in that section, but only remained for three years. In 1884 he came to Dawes county, driving here with a team and covered wagon, and as soon as he located here built a shack and lived in that for some time, batching it" up to the spring of 1885, when he was joined by his family, who drove from Valentine. They were then located on section 26, township 31, range 47, and went through pioneer experiences, often meeting hardships and privations, one winter being spent in Pine Ridge, logging with ox teams to make a living for the family. During the dry years he had many losses from partial crop failures, although he was able to raise some crops during all that time. 

    For three years he was in the Sand Hills engaged in the stock business, and as he was able, bought more land, until he is proprietor of six and a half sections, in partnership with his son-in-law, Fred J. Stinchfield. Mr. Clark now lives on section 28, township 31, range 47, where he has built up a fine farm and home. The place is supplied with plenty of good living water, and he has a very fine grove of trees near his house, one of the best in the county. He has seven wells and windmills, and is largely engaged in stock raising, running from four to five hundred head all the time. His ranch is all fenced and cross fenced, having in all about fifty miles of fencing . He has a fine young orchard and garden, and everything to make a well ordered home and comfortable rural life.

     Mr. Clark's family consists of nine children, named as follows: Charlotte, Melissa and Eva, Rosella, Jennie and Belle, born in Minnesota; and Lorenzo, William and Grace, born in Nebraska. The family are highly esteemed in their community and enjoy a happy and peaceful life, surrounded by a host of warm friends and good neighbors.

     Mr. Clark is active in school affairs in his district, and takes a leading part in local political matters, voting the Republican ticket. He is a member of the school board, and has held local office, serving as road overseer.


NOTE:  From the "Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska"

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Memories of Bill Rice (1943-2020)

Bill Rice, an outstanding athlete at Chadron High School and the University of Montana who became a lieutenant colonel in the United States Marine Corps, died at his home in Beaufort, South Carolina, on Monday, November 9, a week before his 77th birthday.

Rice was born in Chadron on November 16, 1943 to David and Kathryn Rice.  Among his many achievements was becoming an Eagle Scout in 1959.  As a Chadron High senior in 1960-61, he was a starting end on the Cardinals’ undefeated football team, the starting center on the Class B state championship basketball team and won the Class B high jump by clearing 6-foot-3 at the state track meet.

He then attended the University of Montana, where he majored in wildlife biology and was a letterman on both the basketball and track and field teams.  He once held the Grizzlies’ triple jump record. That’s also where he met Jackie Cooper, who has been his wife the past 55 years.

Rice joined the Marine Corps in 1966, and served in Vietnam, the Philippines and Okinawa as well as on various U.S. bases.  He retired from the military in 1989 and he and his family had lived in South Carolina since then. 

He was preceded in death by his parents and brother David, who was the state high jump champion while attending Chadron High in 1957.  Survivors include his sister Sandra Vassar of Bellevue and brother Larry of Glenrock, Wyoming, as well as his wife, their three children and their families. 


A memorial service is planned for the summer of 2021.

Thanks to Con Marshall for sharing the above information


It seems that as we wander into the realm of "senior citizenry," we become more reflective about our lives – our joys, regrets, accomplishments, and our failures.  We embrace our families and close friends as we stumble into an era of increasingly sophisticated technologies that many of us don't fully understand.  And, thankfully, we begin placing greater value not on things, but on relationships:  our parents, "though they be gone," our spouses, children, and extended families......and our friends.

Those relationships are what many of us come to realize really count in our lives.

Bill Rice was a classmate at East Ward elementary school all the way through high school.   We didn't live in the same neighborhood, so we weren't close friends, but by about third and fourth grades, we often found ourselves together.  I recall playing in Bill's backyard at 810 King Street in March of 1953.  I don't remember who all was there or what games we were playing.  But the big news event of the day (allowing me to remember that day) was the death of Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin.  The Cold War was a big deal in those days, and even 9-year-old kids knew of the Russian leader.

Young Bill Rice (1958-1966) school until the Marine Corps

It was sports that allowed Bill and I to get to know one another better.  Grade school basketball, summer baseball, and sandlot football.  By Junior High we became closer because of sports.  Bill participated in both football and basketball – but he was also involved in track and field, likely because his older brother Dave was good at it, too.   Bill and I both had big brothers involved in sports, and I suspect that we tried to emulate them.

Bill was quite involved in Boy Scouts, too, and became an Eagle in 1959; he seemed to have a real passion for hunting and fishing as well.

It was in high school that Bill really began to blossom as an athlete.  A "late bloomer," his athletic prowess peaked during his senior year.  He was our tallest player (at 6'3") and a leader in the Cardinals winning the Class B State Basketball Championship in 1961.  That spring, he also won the Nebraska State High Jump Championship!  

After high school, Bill went to the University of Montana on an athletic scholarship  He was a standout athlete in basketball, as well as track and field. He graduated from Missoula in 1965.

Bill met his wife, Jackie Cooper, in Montana, and they were married for 55 years.  In 1966, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps, serving in Vietnam, as well as the Philippines and Okinawa, among other assignments.  He retired in 1989 as a Lieutenant Colonel, and the Rices made their home in Beaufort, South Carolina.

In 2010, the Chadron High classes of 1960 and 1961 held a joint reunion in Chadron.  For the reunion booklet, Bill reported that Jackie was working as a teacher/counselor and that he had sold the lawn maintenance business he'd operated for several years after retiring.

"We spend as much time as we can with our family...a week at the beach with all and also get together at Christmas for a couple of days...Jackie and I try to make a trip out west to see our families in Nebraska (Sandy), Wyoming (Larry), and Montana (Jackie's sister and dad)."

Of course the best thing about reunions is seeing old classmates and getting reacquainted while sharing stories about all the special moments we enjoyed while growing up in Chadron.

Bill recalled his time in scouting, exploring "C" Hill, King's Chair and the many trails in the pine hills south of the CSC campus, "skinny dipping" in the swimming pool, and re-visiting the many great experiences we shared as youngsters. 

Since we rarely, if ever, can maintain contact with all our old classmates throughout our lives, it's gratifying to live with the memories of those moments we shared as youngsters – and bask in the comfort of having known and having shared an important part of our lives with one another.

Those of us fortunate enough to have crossed paths with Bill Rice are all the richer for having known him.

     ~~  Larry Miller                                                      

Monday, July 20, 2020

Henry's Bus

(Editor's noteMany thanks to Chadron native Larry Smith, a 1954 graduate of Chadron High School, for sharing the following story – a fun step back into time!)
by Larry Smith
I attended Chadron schools K-12 in the 1940s-1954.  One memory of the time involves the long time school superintendent, Henry Schroeder.
H. A. Schroeder, Superintendent
Chadron Public Schools 1947-67
Henry was a huge man, well over six feet tall and tipping the scales well past 250 pounds, but he was also a very jovial and kind man who was generally well liked by students, faculty and the community.
He would come to watch football practice.  No one could kick a football higher and farther than Henry. We used to joke that when he kicked the ball it came down with frost on it.
When I started high school we didn’t have school buses that delivered students to school.  We did have a school bus that was basically an activity bus for transporting teams to out of town games or the band to out of town parades.  That bus was a 1947 Ford bus with a small V-8 engine.

Henry always drove the school bus, wherever it went.  How many school districts could ever claim the superintendent drove the activity bus?  The old bus was painted Cardinal red with black lettering on the sides that read Chadron High School.
It labored to climb any hill.  Driving south with a full bus of football players to a game in Hemingford I remember Henry telling us all to blow towards the windshield to help get the bus up the hill to the table south of the state park.
The old red bus was noisy to ride in and on cold days very underheated.  You could see  your breath on some trips…inside the bus.
In the summer of 1953 the school board purchased a used Greyhound bus to be used as the activity bus. Wow, was that a jump in style and comfort.
It was a thing of pride and joy for Henry.  And, of course, he was the only designated driver.
Henry had a daughter in high school, also in the band.  There is a story, for which I can’t verify since I was not a participant, that his daughter, Susan, talked Henry into taking the new bus and the band to the drive in theater on a dollar a carload night.  The band members all breaking out folding chairs to watch the movie on an August evening.
My most vivid memory of the new, luxury bus was the first trip with the football team to Gering, the first out of town excursion for a team and the bus.  It was a very comfortable ride. We rode to Gering, and, alas, lost the game.  
On the way home, south of Alliance in the sand hills, the bus suddenly lost power.  Henry pulled to the shoulder and got out with the coaches to inspect the engine.  It was burned up. Apparently the oil drain plug had not been tight, and the engine lost all the oil.
It was a rainy night. The whole team got off and pushed the bus up the highway a few  yards to a wider turnoff on the side.  Someone flagged down a passing semi truck with a flat bed trailer loaded with cement blocks.  The whole team climbed on top of the load, in the rain, and rode into Alliance where we were dropped off downtown at a hotel. There, parents were called, and a convoy of parents in cars came to rescue us.
My wife remembers a trip when Henry was driving the band to a parade, as she remembers, in Sidney. The bus began running poorly, so in some town along the way Henry pulled the bus off to get some mechanical help.  Ward Rounds, the beloved long time band director, got the whole band off the bus, and they performed an impromptu parade while the bus was being repaired.
I am sure other ex Cardinal students have memories of Henry and his bus. 

Two views of the used Greyhound "pusher" bus in different years.  Above in about 1953 – below in 1958 – and still functioning!  To see a larger version of this and other photos, along  with more information, go to our:  Dawes County Schools Gallery.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Newsy Nook, Oh, Newsy Nook, Where Art Thou?  This view of downtown Chadron – looking north – reveals a nice bit of Main Street greenery in 1949 or early 1950.  Too, it provides a nostalgic glimpse of quite a few 1940's era automobiles.  On the left, we also see the L.B. Murphy Co., a cafe, and perhaps Saults or Service Drug-store near the center left.  Alas, about all we see of our dear old Newsy Nook on the right is the Coca-Cola sign attached to the south side of the building.  Before the Pace Theatre created its own in-house concession stand, a quick trip to Newsy Nook, movie ticket stub in hand, was almost obligatory.  The shop was a treasure of newspapers, magazines, comic books, popcorn, pop, and a wide variety of penny, two-cent, and nickel candy treats.  Cherry Bings, Licorice Snaps, Big Hunks, Cinnamon Bears, and well, need I go on? 

Take a closer look at this image in our Early Chadron Gallery