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T H E  P R A I R I E  C A P I T A L

Chopping wood

Chips of the Block

   NO ONE has yet compiled a complete list of the sons and daughters of the Prairie Capital who have reached distinction. If one such were made it would soon need amendment. "A New Headliner Every Morning" is a truer slogan than the one about the skyline.

   Some of the famous names associated with Lincoln, it is true, are not those of sons by blood. Bryan and Dawes were born of a different ancestry. But they found in Nebraska an atmosphere congenial to the ripening of their genius. They became her sons in spirit. Their great contemporary, the General of the Armies of the United States, is more nearly native by birth. And while it was the routine of his service, and only partly choice, that first brought Pershing




T H E  P R A I R I E  C A P I T A L

to the University and to Lincoln, he now, with the world to choose from, calls Lincoln home.

   To these have been added on the roll of fame many names truly native to the city. The most famous of them all is Roscoe Pound. He is teacher, linguist, writer. He has international rank as a botanist. He is more widely known as a jurist. In the opinion of men competent to judge, his is the finest legal mind yet produced in America. The "Bessey Boys" as Lincoln likes to name the sons of the famous doctor, hold high rank in engineering and in science.

   Benton Dales, son of the first Nebraska alumnus and grandson of tile first Nebraska chancellor is a distinguished chemist. Leonard Robbins, columnist of the New York Times, is a son of the pioneer doctor. Herbert Johnson, Claire Brigge, Fred Ballard are national names. Dan Wing is a Boston banker. Burt Whedon is a New York lawyer. Willa Cather is at least of Lincoln by adoption. By these and by many more has the renown of the city been enlarged.

   The men and women who stayed at home and to build the town their fathers founded have done more for the city than have those who so widely advertised it. It is they who have carried on in the sprit of the pioneer to make the material, professional, social, artistic and intellectual life of the city what it is. They are to be found in every department of the city's life. Judge Shepherd, Judge Broady, Judge Frost are all of the tribe of pioneers. Frank




T H E  P R A I R I E  C A P I T A L

Zehrung has for fifty years been a leader and has four times been mayor. "Had" Sidles began with bicycles, graduated to motor cars and has now taken to the air with planes. George Holmes, who began fifty years ago in a frame cottage at Tenth and M streets where the new auditorium is, has moved north two blocks to be president of the First National bank. Leonard Chapin, whose mother, Mary, was a true heroine of the early days, is a vice president in the same bank. Hardy's, the largest and oldest establishment of its kind, is carried on by Will and Emory, sons of the founder. Doctor Louise Pound and Olivia Pound, sisters of the famous Dean have made such contribution to the educational life of the state as you would expect Pounds to make. Molly Baird Raymond, daughter of the first postmaster, long has been a leader in the musical and artistic growth of the town. Grace Mason Wheeler, daughter of the great judge, has left her definite impress on the political and intellectual life of the city and the state. The pioneer names of Ledwith, Lau, Raymond, Harley and many more have their active living representatives.
   These, to name but a few of many, are some of the chips of the block. By them and their like has the seed the Sower scattered been brought to harvest. May their days be long in the land, and may their tribes increase.




T H E  P R A I R I E  C A P I T A L

 Street lamp

The Homecomer

   THE Prairie Capital of 1930 bears little outward likeness to the village of the days when it yearned to be a city and jubilantly numbered its 13,003 souls. The old timer who has lived his life in and about the town, is only at times aware of the great change that has come over the crude hamlet of his boyhood. The old timer who returns after long absence is shocked by the unfamiliar scene. He sees everywhere evidence of city ease and city sophistication. O street at Thirteenth, once truly called "East O," is now deep in the heart of the city. Where the diagonal paths once led across lots to the State House, modern skyscrapers rise. What is left of University Hall is lost among the grouped temples of the modern campus. The old Capitol that he knew is gone and in its room rises the masterpiece that Goodhue dreamed.




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On the hills to the east and south of the town, where once in spring the prairie fire raged are great residential districts. On the field where once he shot prairie chickens, Shrine devotees of the ancient game shoot golf. The caddies (of course only the caddies) shoot craps. Here and there about the town he may find some familiar building but not often. It is to him the old story of development in its stereotyped form. Lincoln is just like any other young modern thriving town an has lost for him at least the personality that once made it charming.

   And then as he looks a little longer at the town he finds that much of the individuality he thought lost, still in fact survives. City facilities have made life easier, safer, healthier. But the city has not wholly supplanted the village. It is of vast extent because its people keep the village habit of building their house with enough elbow room for a garden and a lawn. The congestion of the modern apartment dwelling is suffered by comparatively few. The city has kept much of village kindliness. There is still a real interest in the neighbors. There is still a lot of village gossip. No censorship yet devised is as effective as village gossip. The town's immunity to political and administrative scandal is perhaps in large part due to this restraint. The town has a more even distribution of wealth and leisure than a real city can have. It has no slums which is impossible in a real city. Boosters in the 80's tried to make it a factory town. They failed and some of them went




T H E  P R A I R I E  C A P I T A L

broke. But their failure kept out an alien population and a lot of social problems that the village does not have. The police force is still of village dimentions. Crime is still of a village volume. Society while more formal, still retains the genuine early hospitality. The University and the Town still live together in harmony, neither dominated by the other, and each contributing to a common stock of cultural well being.

   The old timer takes comfort to his soul. The town he knew so long ago is gone. But the city that has taken its place is not merely another city. It has succeeded in combining the good points of both village and city, and in excluding many defects of each. The result is a place of unusual charm, not likely to be lost.

September, 1930
Arbor, Nebraska


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© 2000, 2001 for NEGenWeb Project, submitted by Kathie Harrison <>
"I'd like to dedicate this to the memory of the early people of Lincoln, Nebraska
in honor of my Grand Aunt Ellen Hogan Keane"