I am deeply grateful to all who have had any part in the making of my book, THE 1950 HISTORY OF PLATTE COUNTY, NEBRASKA. This book, a record of nearly a century of history, would not have been possible without the help of many people.
I wish to thank in a special way the children and the grand-children of the Founders of Columbus, the first settlers in Platte County, who have contributed material and verified historical facts on the founding of Columbus, and the years prior to i86o.
Among this group (from 1946 to 1950) were: George Louis, Emil Held, Albert D. Becker, Mrs. Albert H. Gehner (Helen Browner), Mrs. John Pittman (Mary Guter), Mrs. Ellsworth Weaver (Minnie Becker), Mrs. Albert Klug (Mary Held), Mrs. William Stevenson (Katherina Louis), Mrs. Clinton Stevenson (Margaret Reinke), Mrs. George Bradshaw (Emma Reinke), Mrs. Gerhard Loseke (Minna Lusche), and Mrs. Herman Muhle (Bertha Lusche).
Grand-children, Frederick Gottschalk, III (F.O.), Mrs. Harold Kramer (Irma Gottschalk), Edwin Bremer Coolidge, Mrs. Frank Justus (Mary Fairchild), Samuel P. Drinnin, Mrs. Gordon N. McColley (Margaret Drinnin). Helen Curry, Mrs. Reynolds J. O'Donnell (Kathleen Curry), Otto Held, John Jacob Louis, III, Carl Lusche, Edward F. Lusche, Henry Hunteman, Eliza Hunteman, Mrs. Charles DeLand (Alvine Lusche), Mrs. Theodore Kaufman (Emma Lusche), William S. Becher, Mrs. E. Stockham (Estelle Becher), Mrs. Oliver Richards (Anna Becher), Eula Rickly, Mrs. W. L. Chenoweth (Ruby Rickly), Courtney Dale, Marguerite Burke, and Mrs. J. J. Erwin (Louise Rickly Wagner).
I am grateful to the large number of descendants of the early settlers in Platte County who have so generously given of their time and effort, in filling out Questionnaires on their families, also to those who through their interest in the War Heroes of World War II, have contributed names, addresses, and biographical material to the same.
In appreciation of their kindness, encouragement, advice in the furthering of plans, and contribution of writings I wish to thank the Honorable Edgar Howard, Otto F. Walter, Harold Kramer, Charles Samuel Gass, Doctor Paul Brandt Roen, Reverend Richard Malloy, and Harry Hill, Jr.
Others to whom thanks are due for their interest, historical writings, special references, pictures and art work include: The Columbus Journal, M. K. Turner, Editor; The Era, W. N. Hensley, Editor; The Art Printery, O. H. Walters; The Columbus Daily Telegram, Edgar Howard, Editor; Zella H. Loomis, Francis Dischner, Adam Smith, Doctor Reynolds J. O'Donnell, Mrs. Reynolds J. O'Donnell (Kathleen Curry), The Board of Supervisors of Platte County; Carl Hoge (County Clerk), Albert J. Galley (City Clerk), Mrs. Albert J. Galley (Grace Woods), The Platte County Pioneer Association; The Nebraska State Historical Society; James E. Lawrence, A. E. Sheldon, Martha Turner, James Olson, Mrs. A. H. Barth, Mrs. John M. Thayer, Jr., Frank J. Burkley, The Honorable Judge James A. Donohue, Mrs. Edwin H. Chambers (Stella North), Mrs. C. D. Evans, Sr. (Rose North), Doctor J. North Evans, Mrs. Henry F. J. Hockenberger (Emelié Metz), Philip R. Hockenberger, Mrs. Philip R. Hockenberger (Ruth Albert), Fred Albert, Mrs. William R. Neumarker (Metta Hensley), Mrs. G. Alexander Young (Abigail Keating), Mrs. William S. Evans (Florence Whitmoyer), Mrs. C. A. Allenburger (Emma Wake), Mrs. A. M. Gray (Clara Lehman), Alfreda Post, Alfred E. Becher, Gustavus Becher Speice, George Rambour, Jr., C. J. Garlow, Judge Louis N. Lightner, Mrs. C. N. McElfresh (Ethel Elliott), Mrs. S. L. Whitney (Louise Echols), Clara Reeder, Mrs. William A. Curry (Olga Oehlrich), Mrs. G. H. Rucklos (Olga Hopfer), Horatio Adams, Clarence C. Sheldon, Eugene T. Miessler, Samuel Gass, Jr., Fred C. Luchsinger, Walter A. Boettcher, Mark A. Boettcher, John Armstrong, Bert Brian, Clara Weaver, Mrs. C. L. Gerrard (Mary Lynch), Agnes Haney, Herman Kersenbrock, William Henggeler, Mrs. Richard Adamy (Louise Schroeder), Mrs. Frank Dietz (Lillian Berney), Ivan Kinsman, Ernest Frazer, Arlo Ewert, Mrs. Fred A. LeMar (Rose Alderson), F. Nelson (Woodville Township), Mrs. William Finch (Cornelia Clark), Albert Tessendorf (Platte Center), Mrs. Harry Nicholson (Wattsville), Mrs. E. Johnson (Edith Keeler), Mrs. Ben Nelson (Hattie Keeler), The Franciscan Sisters, St. Mary's Hospital; Hedwig Bokelmann, Superintendent, Lutheran Hospital; The Pastors of the churches of all religious denominations in Platte County, 1947-1949; Reverend Eugene Hagedorn, O.F.M., Daniel's Studio, V. Amadio, Frontispiece; James W. Douglas, Township Map; L. Frederick Gottschalk, copy of city map of Columbus; and John Browner, for facsimiles.
In the manufacturing of the book I wish to thank the publishers, Murray & Gee, Inc., and their employees.
I am grateful to those who were engaged for short periods of time in research, rearranging of material, typewriting, filing, and proof-reading. They included: James Morrow, Arlo Ewert, Shirley Morris, Mrs. James W. Douglass (Darleen Michaelson), Mrs. Lawrence Torczon (Berniece Maier, Mrs. Milton Lueke (Evelyn Dietz), and Mrs. Walter Gregorius (Florence DeLand).
To my secretary, Mrs. Louis F. Shank (Ruth Kallweit), I especially wish to give thanks for her interest, loyalty, efficient and untiring work from May, 1946, to September, 1948; and again from October, 1949, to January, 1950.
For my great interest in, and appreciation of the History of Columbus and Platte County, Nebraska, I am indebted to my father, John M. Curry, and our old neighbors, Mrs. H. P. Coolidge (Theda Wheeler), Mrs. W. N. Hensley (Margaret McAllister), and Mr. and Mrs. M. Brugger (Mathilde Stenger), all early pioneers.
And at long last I wish to thank those near to me, my mother, Mrs. John Curry (Nelle Fleming), my aunt, Mrs. Albert H. Gehner (Helen Browner), and my sisters, Helen Curry and Kathleen Curry O'Donnell, without whose patience, encouragement and help, this work would not have been possible.
The story of Platte County, Nebraska, has been told over and over again in the histories of other counties and states of the Midwest. In such works, talented writers have pictured the pioneer days, the early settlements, the hardships and dangers, the struggles for survival, and the joys and sorrows of frontier men and women. They have used both the mediums of fiction and nonfiction. Yet there still remain thousands of facts that have never been told --- never will be told.
In this treatise on Platte County, I have made no particular attempt to color or dramatize. The effort was one of chronology and interpretation. The writing required a tremendous amount of research in addition to a first-hand knowledge of the community and its background.
In this historical account of the origin and development of Platte County, a touch of color will be found here and there but, all in all, it has been left to the imagination of the reader to conjure up the drama, the conflict and the dangers that entered into the lives of those who pioneered in Platte County. Many who read these pages will picture in their own minds the exploits of those who lived in the eventful days of the past. The reader will discover that the characters live and breathe because they are familiar to him. He will find names of people that are close of kin; names of families that figured prominently in the early struggle for existence; names of those who contributed to the building of his enterprising community and made notable sacrifices whenever there was the need. Herein lies much of the interest.
The book progresses chronologically from the very early days when the Spanish explorer Coronado and his little band of men reached the banks of the Platte River, to the present when the streamlined train flashes through the county and the airplane speeds overhead. It is a story unfolding more than four hundred years of endeavor. There were many Indian Wars and dangerous skirmishes with the dauntless Red Men of the plains and desert, who resented the intruders and the caravans of covered wagons headed West ever West. Many of these wagons passed through or very close to the present site of Columbus. Other wagon trains from various points farther East met at the confluence of the Platte and Loup Rivers, and joined together for the long trek across plains, mountains and desert.
Later, the more modern system of transportation, the railroad, linked the East with the West at Omaha. Thus an empire in the plains country was given its first pulse of life. From eastern states came more enterprising and resourceful people of many nationalities -- men and women of vision --- engineers, builders, craftsmen. Another great empire arose from the virgin territory beyond the Rockies.
It was more than three hundred years prior to the coming of the railroad that Coronado had ventured from the Gulf of California, up the Colorado River and thence across those same Rockies headed East, looking for the fabulous Seven Cities of Cibola about which the Indians had told him --- only to have his quest end in disillusionment and failure at the Platte River. Little did he realize then, nor did anyone else, the possibilities and wealth of the Platte --- Loup country. It was left for the hardy pioneer spirit of those who came later and settled there to discover the resources of that virgin territory. They were destined to develop the fertile land, utilize the waters, establish businesses and make the ground yield abundantly.
Not all were hardships, struggle and danger. There are many incidents that reveal the happier, brighter side of those early days, and picture the joys of living in the freedom of a new land, the enterprises of the ambitious and far-sighted and the victories that came as a result of surmounting great obstacles. There are glimpses of the happiness of those who emerged from the wilderness of despair into the promised land of hopes realized.
Agriculture was the chief occupation in those early days but industry soon began to assume a promising outlook, and finally grew into a colossal business. Natural water resources were utilized to turn the wheels of progress.
Power and progress! These two words are symbolic of what has contributed so largely to the present strategic importance of Columbus in the state, for much of Nebraska depends upon the power developed and generated by the waters of the Loup and Platte Rivers.
Cultural aspects of the community were not neglected by Platte County pioneers, and contemporary residents have always recognized that the community life must be adequately organized in the interests of progress and happiness. Consequently, law and government were two of the very first developments in the evolution of the community's varied activities and interests. There followed the inevitable political moves and problems of leadership.
This book reveals the Platte County of contemporary times, whose culture is manifested far and wide throughout the area. As is true today, the churches played a leading role in community life. Not only were they temples for the worship of God, but they also served for a time as the educational nucleus of the towns. The press contributed an important part and the Arts and Sciences were not neglected in the natural flow of cultural progress.
The large section of this book devoted to Biographies added greatly to the volume of work. Gathering of the data was no small task, yet it was deemed a worthy addition. Therein lies information that is strictly factual and which will be of most interest to those whose families are involved. This part of the book reads much like a volume of "Who's Who," and to Platte County residents of today, it will serve somewhat the purpose of a family album. Many, sometimes two and three generations of those listed, have gone on. Others are nearing the sunset of their lives. But for those who remain, this Biographical section should be of very special interest.
The early caravans of the covered wagon symbolize a period in Platte County's history that is gone forever, and will live only in memory. Those who now enjoy the harvest of that pioneering will not forget. As the modern streamliner streaks across the expansive plains and along the winding rivers to its destination East or West, they will remember and be grateful ... pausing in their busy lives to thank God for their heritage. . . and thinking back with compassion on all who endured the privations of the prairie schooner days. They will remember the stage coach and the pony express. Those hardy folk of a lusty, robust yesteryear made possible the happiness and the fullness of living as we know it today, and kept alive the promise of an ever wider and more complete vision for tomorrow.
© 2005 for the NEGenWeb Project by Ted & Carole Miller