The Platte County Agricultural Park adjoins Columbus on the east. Its main entrance is on the Fifteenth Street Road, one half mile east of the Monastery Road.
This beautiful park, the Browner Farm, formerly owned and improved by James C. Browner, was given to the people of Platte County in May, 1941, by Mrs. Albert H. Gehner, of St. Louis, Missouri, and Theodore Friedhof. Mrs. Gehner, a member of one of the first Platte County pioneer families, was the daughter of John Browner. Mr. Friedhof was a prominent, retired Columbus merchant.
The gifts, put in trust at the Central National Bank, were made known through a committee of responsible Columbus men who were interested in the furtherance of agriculture in the county. They met on May 14, 1941, and worked out a plan for the acceptance of the gifts of the farm, and cash donation. Serving on the committee were: M. M. Taylor, president of the Central National Bank until January, 1943; E. M. Nielsen, M. H. Van Berg and Otto F. Walter.
The early history of the Platte County Agricultural Park is closely allied with the organizational history of the Platte County Agricultural Society which dates back to June 2, 1941. On that afternoon, a group of fifty Platte County farmers, business and professional men assembled in the District Court Room of the Platte County Court House, where announcement of the munificent gifts was made and ways and means of procedure for their formal acceptance planned. At this meeting, M. M. Taylor, as acting chairman, made the following explanation of the gifts:
"On May 14, Mr. Friedhof purchased from Mrs. Gehner for five thousand dollars* the eighty-four acre well improved Browner farm adjoining Columbus on the east. The deed was placed in the Trust Department at the Central National Bank, together with the five thousand dollars received by Mrs. Gehner for the property, on May 14, all to be delivered to the Board of Directors of the Platte County Agricultural Society when the organization was completed and, if and when the public should provide an additional five thousand dollars and place it with the Central National Bank for delivery to the Board. This trust provided eighty-four acres, of well improved and conveniently located land, together with ten thousand dollars, of which five thousand dollars was provided in the trust and five thousand dollars was to be raised locally for the additional improvements and equipment."
Upon hearing the announcement of the gift of Mrs. Gehner and Mr. Friedhof, and in accordance with the terms of the trust, the group of representative men present formulated plans in order that the people of Platte County could accept the generous offer. Whereupon, the organization of a Platte County Agricultural Society was effected and ways were devised for the collection of a public purse.
The meeting was called to order by M. M. Taylor and George Soden was named temporary chairman. Otto F. Walter, attorney, who had investigated the Nebraska State laws pertaining to the establishment of a county agricultural society to manage county fairs, suggested the election of eighteen members to comprise a board of managers.
On this board, six directors or one-third of its membership were elected for a three-year term; six directors for a two-year term, and six directors who served until the first annual meeting in November, 1942. The membership of the board being thus staggered assured a permanency of program.
George Soden, chairman, appointed Fred C. Luchsinger, D. C. Gammel, and William Lloyd as a nominating committee. This committee placed in nomination the names of eighteen men to serve as a board of managers. The report of the nominating committee was accepted by the assembly, and the following eighteen men were elected to the First Board of Managers of
* Cash value twelve thousand five hundred dollars.
The History of Platte County Nebraska
Morton M. Taylor
Mrs. Albert H. Gehner
Marion H. Van Berg
Edward M. Nielsen
Otto F. Walter
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the Platte County Agricultural Society: For a three-year term: George Soden, Columbus; A. P. Peterson, Lindsay; George Engel, Columbus Township; Paul Gertsch, Oconee Township; G. H. Leenerts, D.V.S., Humphrey; and M. H. Van Berg, Columbus Township. For a two-year term: E. M. Nielsen, Columbus; Henry Buss, Jr., Bismark Township; M. M. Taylor, Columbus; Julius O. Nyffeler, Columbus Township; Walter T. Matzen, Columbus Township; and W. F. Conyers, Creston. For a one-year term: Otto F. Walter, Columbus; William Smith, Columbus Township; Henry Wurdeman, Creston Township; Walter Loseke, Columbus Township, Theodore Jepsen, Lost Creek Township; and Harry Gustafson, Walker Township.
Otto F. Walter explained the procedure under which Agricultural Societies are organized. He noted that a county Agricultural Society is set up by the signing of a constitution by at least twenty legal voters in the county, who would be representatives of the county as a whole. He recommended the incorporation of the Agricultural Society.
The assembly voted unanimously to accept the gift in accordance with the terms of the trust made by Mrs. Gehner and Mr. Friedhof. They set up a constitution and adopted by-laws, and the formal articles of incorporation were filed for record at the Platte County Court House.
A COPY OF PLATTE COUNTY AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY---CONSTITUTION
The name of this society shall be known as the Platte County Agricultural Society, and the principal place of business to be Columbus, Nebraska.
The object and purpose of this society is to encourage and improve those things pertaining to agriculture in Platte County.
The affairs of the society are to be managed by an eighteen-member board of managers.
Their work is to promote and operate a county fair in 1942 and annually thereafter.
The annual membership fee shall be one dollar.
Dated June 2, 1941.
Signed: Paul Gertsch, Otto H. Ewert, August Ewert, J. E. Meyer, M. D., Julius P. Nyffeler, Paul Nyffeler, Thomas VanDyke, G. H. Leenerts D. V. M., Joe B. Meyer, A. P. Peterson, W. T. Matzen, Theodore Jepsen, Ernest Lusche, Henry Wurdeman, Allen Eggert, Harold Oppliger, Francis M. Dischner, E. L. Mueller, Wm. Smith, Clarence E. Gates, M. M. Taylor, George F. Rambour, John W. Neater, Jacob Kupp, Harry Gustafson, Ferd. Pearson, W. F. Conyers, Henry Buss Jr., Raymond Arndt, J. E. Wilke, Emil Mueller, C. B. Fricke, D. C. Gammel, Walter Lueke, George W. Soden, Otto F. Walter, O. N. Allen, Ralph A. Benton, George Engel, E. M. Nielsen, Alfred Berchtold, Paul F. Terry, Wm. E. Lloyd and J. H. Moeller.
Filed for record at the Platte County Court House June 9,1945.
According to the minutes, after the adjournment of the meeting on June 2, in the District Court Room, the group drove to the Browner Farm to inspect the six modern farm buildings and beautiful grounds.
The first board of managers convened in the farm home and perfected its organization. At this first meeting of the board of managers, George Soden, of Columbus, was elected president; A. P. Peterson, of Lindsay, vice-president; M. M. Taylor, of Columbus, treasurer; and the board named John H. Moeller, of Columbus, as its secretary.
After its organization and election of officers the board of managers formally voted to raise the five-thousand dollars in accordance with the terms of the trust agreement.
Under the guidance of E. M. Nielsen as general chairman, and his committee, substantial contributions to this fund were made by the business and professional men of Columbus, and many throughout the county gave generously.
The Platte County Agricultural Society, in accordance with the Nebraska State laws, is a nonprofit society which forbids the division of any dividends or benefits to any of its Members.
SECOND FIVE THOUSAND DOLLAR GIFT
On June 12, 1941, Theodore Friedhof and Mrs. Albert H. Gehner, who gave the eighty-four acre tract of land and five thousand dollars in cash, added another five thousand dollars in a cash gift to the Agricultural Society to be used for improving the Platte County Agricultural Park.
Formal presentation of the second five thousand dollar cash gift of June 12th was made at a meeting of the board of directors of the Platte County Agricultural Society on June 17, 1941, at the Agricultural Park, at which time officials of the Central National Bank, as trustee of the gifts, delivered title to the property, together with the ten thousand dollars in cash.
Enthused about the gifts of the Browner Farm, and the cash donations received from Mrs. Gehner and Mr. Friedhof, the board had
The History of Platte County Nebraska
voted to raise an additional five thousand dollars making a total of ten thousand dollars or five thousand dollars more than the minimum required in the trust. This money was to be used to provide the funds necessary to erect buildings, and to carry on a constructive program.
The contributions reported by Chairman E. M. Nielsen, shortly thereafter, had reached eighty-two hundred dollars or thirty-two hundred dollars over the amount required in the trust agreement.
On June 23rd E. M. Nielsen, chairman of the contribution committee, reported that the ten thousand dollar mark was passed, and on July 12th, at the meeting, contributions in the amount of three hundred and ten dollars turned in brought the total subscribed to thirteen thousand dollars. The Platte County Agricultural Society then had the deed to the eighty-four acre Browner Farm, a cash gift of ten thousand dollars from Mrs. Gehner and Mr. Friedhof, and public contributions from Columbus and Platte County of thirteen thousand dollars, making a total of twenty-three thousand dollars in cash, besides the farm, which was valued at twelve thousand, five hundred dollars.
STATEMENT OF PRESIDENT
From a formal statement concerning the Platte County Agricultural Society by George Soden, President, which read in part:
"We believe the forming of the Platte County Agricultural Society and the magnificent gifts made by Theodore Friedhof and Mrs. Albert H. Gehner of the Browner farm and a substantial sum in cash together with the generous cash gifts on the part of the business interests in Columbus and Platte County are important milestones in the development of ways and means for the promotion of our basic agricultural resources in this territory."
"The total cash contributions from all sources equal $23,051.00; the value of real estate and buildings, $12,500.00; total assets to 4 P.M., July 23, 1941, $35,551.00."
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The Platte County Agricultural Form in June, 1941.
CONTRIBUTIONS TO PARK FUND
Those who contributed to the general fund in 1941 included:
$500 CONTRIBUTORS: John Randall, Gerhold-Matzen Company, Marian H. VanBerg, M. M. Taylor, Nielsen Chevrolet Company, Swift and Company, Doctor Christian A. Allenburger, Anonymous.
$250 CONTRIBUTORS: Becher, Hockenberger and Chambers Company, Walter, Flory and Schmid, George Schwesers Sons, Mead Lumber and Coal Company, Heynen Lumber Company, Consumers Public Power District, J. C. Penney Company.
$200 CONTRIBUTORS: The Columbus Telegram, Charles B. Fricke, A. E. Trowbridge, Name Withheld.
$150 CONTRIBUTORS: Curry Clothing Company, by William A. Curry.
$100 CONTRIBUTORS: Columbus Brewing Company, Columbus Bank, Irene Shoppe, by Ben Teller, Otto F. Walter, Columbus Grain Company, Doctors Maurice C. James and Julian E. Meyer, August Ewert, John Neater, Vivian Brian, Columbus Laundry Co., Sam Gass Furniture Company, Levine Brothers, Henry Ragatz Company, Jackson's Dry Cleaning and Laundry, Miessler Drug Store, T. B. Hord Grain Company, Harold Kramer, Speice, Echols, Boettcher Company, United Finance Corporation, Smith Dairy, Nebraska Continental Telephone Company, Columbus Gas Company, J. H. Moeller; Kaufman Hardware Company, Gass Funeral Home, Platte County Implement Company, The Thurston Hotel, Doctors Frank H. Morrow and William R. Neumarker, H. C. Groetke D.V.S., Hinky-Dinky Store, Shearer Motor Company, The Harding Company, Anonymous, Eppley Hotel Company, Safeway Stores, Lund Planing Mill, Gamble Stores, Beatrice Creamery Company, Oberg Hatchery, Coca-Cola Bottling Works, Boyd Hardware Company, Montgomery Ward and Company, H. Leroy Stires, Baltimore, Maryland.
$50 CONTRIBUTORS: Louis Lightner, P. F. Luchsinger Company, Chris Wunderlich, Miller Allied Securities Company, Adams Cafe, Doctor Reynolds J. O'Donnell, Glur Cement Works, Mac Betterton, Clarence N. McElfresh, Columbus Theatre, Walker, Luckey and Hunter, Council Oak Stores, Peter Pan Bakery, Carberry Seed Company, Columbus Meat Market, by Ernest Hauk, Tooley Drug Company, Harry Kaplan, Brown Derby, by A. F. Brown, Anton Moschenross, Art Printery, O. H. Walters, F. W. Woolworth Company.
$25 CONTRIBUTORS: C. A. Weil, Gutzmer Grocery, Columbus Eat Shop, by N. M. Pavey, Blaser Produce Market, Dussell and Son, Luschen Grocery, Gerhold's Dairy, Palm Garden, by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Hlavka, West End Grocery, Pfeifer Brothers Garage, Greiner's Market, John N. Umland Machine Shop, Columbus Hatchery, Pawnee Grocery and Meat Market, Bordy's Store, Anderson Floral Company, R. C. Boyd and Son, Carl Roelle, Buck's Booterie, Doctor C. H. Campbell, Doctor D. E. Maxwell, Doctor G. H. Rucklos, Doctor H. P. Ziegenbein, Doctor F. G. Rohde, Doctor H. E. Snyder, Doctor F. W. Leonard, George Johansen, Harry Lohr, Kaplan's Fruit Market, Pokorny Oil Company, Scottie's Super Service, Gass-Bideaux Mortuary, Mielak Brothers, Daniel Studio, by M. L. Daniels, Phillips Petroleum Company, M. Venger and Sons.
$20 CONTRIBUTORS: Twelfth Street Cafe, by Charles Lunney, River View Inn.
$15 CONTRIBUTORS: Leonhard Service Station, Edward C. Kavanaugh, Fred Gattermeyer, A Friend of 4-H Clubs, Monroe, Carter Shoe Store, Anonymous.
$12.50 CONTRIBUTORS: Royal S. Clark.
$10 CONTRIBUTORS: G. H. Leenerts D.V.S., Humphrey, Bank of Monroe, Storz Supply Company, Micek Brothers Billiards, Glur's Tavern, Carl Hoge, Fred Lecron, Clarence Gates, Herbert Person, Jacob Louis, Mom's Super Cream, by Otto Hasselbalch, Herky's Bar, Columbus Auto Tinners, Bovey Motor Supplies, Politis Shoe Shop, Jordan's Bakery, The Grace Shoppe, Corner Grocery, by A. W. Yonkie, The Blue Bird Shop, Doctor L. A. Proskovec, Teller's Book Store, Lovell's Auto Salvage, by Chas. Lovell, Walter Allison Beauty Shop and Tourist Camp, Baumer's Dairy, Eoettcher Brothers Service, A. P. Peterson, Lindsay, J. A. Borg, Williams Monument Company, G. H. Gray.
The History of Platte County Nebraska
Gateway to the Agricultural Park
Winter scene at the Agricultural Park
The barns completed at the Agricultural Park
An air view of the Platte County Agricultural Park
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$5 CONTRIBUTORS: A Friend, Duncan, F. W. Scholz, Duncan, Pearson Oil and Hardware Company, Monroe, Johnston Conoco Service, Ternes Grocery, County Judge C. L. Stone, Evans Barber Shop, A. O. Lieber, Ward's Standard Service, Ideal Grocery, Con H. Keating, Fred Boehm, H. A. Rinder, Jesse L. Dougherty, Polish Club, by Michael Mimick, George Winslow, O. L. Farnsworth.
NOT CLASSIFIED As To AMOUNTS GIVEN: Modern Cleaners, Harry Gustafson, Newman Grove, Cora Mae Briggs, Person Sport Shop, Edd Kelly, Monroe, Reece Wooden Sole Shoe Company, J. A. Borg, White Owl Cafe, Arden D. Wolf, D. J. DeBoer.
From the personal comments of M. M. Taylor, Trust Officer, and the Treasurer on the first Board of Managers of the Platte County Agricultural Society, June 2, 1941.
The Browner farm has too many constructive possibilities to be used only once a year for a fair. It is now a show place and should not only be kept as such, but developed as an agricultural show and experimental farm. . .
Among the larger donors was Doctor C. A. Allenburger, well known Columbus surgeon, whose statement showed the great importance of the agricultural industry to the people of Platte County.
"I deem it a privilege to be allowed to assist in such a worthy enterprise. Agriculture is our basic industry. To promote agriculture is to promote our general welfare. The newly formed agricultural society with this splendid tract of land and ample funds for its improvement, should in future do much to stimulate general interest in better and more productive farming, and thus contribute to the happiness, prosperity, and good citizenship of our people in this area."
Excerpts from two letters made public by Secretary John H. Moeller of the Platte County Agricultural Society
Mr. Friedhof wrote in part: "I am pleased that Platte County citizens approve of an agricultural society for our county, and I have been glad to help in this worthy enterprise. As you may know, for over fifty years, I was engaged in the general merchandising business in-Columbus and during that time a large percentage of my business came from the people on the farms. I was always appreciative of the patronage from my farmer friends, and now to assist in this program for the benefit of 4-H boys and-girls and others on the farm, is a pleasure."
Mrs. Gehner wrote in part: "I do not want anyone to thank me and do not deserve more thanks than the many who are helping in one way or another to make this farm, the Browner farm, a place where rural boys and girls, as well as others, can derive real benefit and pleasure. Many of my happiest years were spent on a place also known as the 'Browner farm,' located in Platte County, two and one-half miles northeast of Columbus. I am sincerely interested in anything that may be of benefit or a source of pleasure to the rural boys and girls. I think the old saying is quite true, 'A farmer once, a farmer always at heart.'"
ACQUIRE ZINNECKER LAND
In the course of the first year the Platte Agricultural Park Board bought the thirty acre tract of land lying to the north of the park from Louis Zinnecker for five thousand dollars, on which a five hundred dollar payment was made at the transfer of title.
REPORT OF TRUST OFFICER
The report of M. M. Taylor as trustee of special gifts for the development of Platte County Agricultural Park dated July 29, 1942, read in part:
"On or about July 1, 1941, a special fund of twenty-five hundred dollars was provided by Mrs. Albert H. Gehner for the development of the Agricultural Park, and the furtherance of its program. This gift covered the expense of labor at the farm prior to the date -the manager assumed his duties; paid the five hundred dollar payment on the transfer of title of the Zinnecker land; and the remainder was used in landscaping the grounds. The cash gifts received from Mrs. Gehner in 1942 totaled six thousand dollars. The first of these dated April 14, 1942, was a gift of fifty-five hundred dollars of which five thousand was used for general improvements, and payment on the Zinnecker land, and five hundred dollars was designated for riding stable improvements, including the expense of building a riding ring. -
In August, 1942, Mrs. Gehner gave five hundred dollars for buildings for the 4-H Fair.
Five-years later, November 6, 1947, Walter L. Loseke, Columbus, was elected president of the Platte County Agricultural Society at the annual meeting of the board of managers held November 6, 1947, in the district court room of the courthouse. He succeeded Walter T. Matzen of Columbus.
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