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     The interior of the Phil Smith building showing the post office section in the rear with postmaster Phil Smith standing in front of the letter boxes. Herb Taylor is to the right of the picture standing behind the display cases. Part of these post office boxes and the letter window have been preserved and are on display in the Butler County Historical Society museum in David City.


Joe Rose, first rural mail carrier from Bellwood.


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   The post office made its way to its present home in 1912, during Whitney's term. At that time it was a millinery shop, managed by Kate Yanike Powers.
   In the early days, mail was brought in twice a day on the Burlington Railroad. Later, during the mid-40s, mail was delivered on a truck route. The office opened at 7: 00 a.m. and closed at 8:30 p.m. Until 1912 it was open during the noon hours, also.
   Postmaster's pay during those early days depended upon what he sold. Stamps were two cents each and the penny post card really cost a penny.
   Postmaster L. F. Kreizinger reported on Dec. 25, 1936, that four days earlier $40.03 postage was cancelled, a 60 percent increase over the heaviest day a year earlier. More than $37.00 in stamps were sold, 503 letters or cards, with three cent stamps, and 1,062 letters or cards with one and a half cent stamps and 120 penny post cards were handled.
   About 1913, the postmaster received a salary of $868.00 per year, that amount being increased to $1200 per year in 1920.
   Mrs. Margaret Peters became Postmaster on March 1, 1950 upon the retirement of Louis Kreizinger. She was postal clerk for five years before receiving her appointment.
   Mrs. Peters retired on April 30, 1968. Mrs. Edna Hiller postal clerk, filling in at the Post Office until the appointment of Thomas McCawley as Postmaster. Janice Bykerk is now the postal clerk and substitute carrier and Gregory Scholz is the rural carrier.
   Bellwood is listed as a third class post office, with an

early morning delivery of mail by truck and dispatch of mail in the evening at 6:15.
   Bellwood Nebraska Post Office Resume Information received from National Archives Gen. Ser. Adm. Washington, D.C. Rural Route established 7-15-03 Carrier- Joseph Rose 1903-1917, Ivan Harris 1917-no record, Allen Whitney 1921-1961, Christy Napier 1961-1962, Maurice Benedict 1962-no record. Rural route No. 2 established 7-15-03. A carrier by the name of Bryant Buffalo 1903-1913.

Postal Records Show
E. F. Hutchinson, 1883
M. Warren, 1889
C. S. Burch, 1893
Philip Smith, 1899-1911
Henry Whitney, 5-9-13 - 1922
Minnie Burch, 1922 - 1935
Louis Kreizinger, 1935 - 1950
Margaret Peters, 1950 - 1968
Tom McCawley, 1968 -
Philip Smith, 1902  1-13-1916
Allen Whitney, 1916-12-31-16
Irving Weyand, 1917-1951
James Moyer, 1951-1952
Maurice Benedict, 1952-1962



The Bellwood Post Office, 1915. Henry Whitney, Postmaster.


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Daniel and Postmistress Minnie Burch.



Adeline Burch delivering mail in Bellwood.



History of Railroad

   Regarding the history of any railroad branchline, there's usually as many facts and/or anecdotes to relate as there are ties in its roadbed. The 70-mile Burlington Northern Railroad branchline from Lincoln, Nebr., to Columbus, Nebr., is no exception.
   The Columbus branchline, as it has been referred to for years, was still 10 years away from existence when the first train chugged into Nebraska's capital city in July, 1870, over the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad line from Plattsmouth. The nation had just been linked in 1869 by the completion of the Union and Central Pacific transcontinental railroad. Now other railroads such as the B&M (later known as the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy) would lay tracks across the vast expanses that remained and make access to it by settlers much easier than before.
   Incorporated in April, 1879, and organized that September, the Lincoln and North Western Railroad Company was the name used in constructing the Columbus line. Taking advantage of an apparently mild winter, track laying commenced in Lincoln in September, 1879. The rails arrived at the future site of Bellwood on or about Feb. 1, 1880, having built through such towns as Milford, Seward, Ulysses and David City. Completion of the line into Columbus was delayed until May, 1880, as a trestle was constructed across the Platte River. One of the first trains over the newly-finished line was a special from Lincoln on May 18th, carrying delegates and guests to a Republican State Convention being held in Columbus. The line was leased to the B&M in May, 1880, and was sold to the CB&Q in February,

   The first throaty howl of a steam locomotive's whistle resounding over the Bellwood area likely came from a construction supply train engine as it followed the tracklayers over its newly-laid path. The first names given to the townsite by the L&NW was apparently Platte Station. The name was later changed to coincide with a decision to name the town after local property owner Jesse Bell. He provided the L&NW with ground on which to construct a depot, one of the first structures erected at Bellwood. The frame, two-story building featured a passenger waiting room and agent's office on the first floor while upstairs were living quarters for the agent.
   About 40 homes constructed at Bellwood during the L&NW's first five years of service exemplified prosperity brought by the railroads. Besides the regularly-scheduled passenger and freight trains that were put on, special trains that rambled over the Columbus branch were as numerous as their causes, whether it was to deliver happy picnickers to a Chautaqua, delegates to a political rally for William Jennings Bryan or weary soldiers home from a war.
   Situated near the Loup and Platte Rivers' junction, the railroad crosses the Platte on a bridge which initally provided CB&Q maintenance forces with a seemingly annual task of repairing damage done to it by flooding. Local newspaper subscribers became accustomed to a sure sign of spring by reading that the Burlington's Platte River bridge had "gone out."
   The hardiness of some travelers over the branch was noted in a March, 1905, issue of the Columbus Telegram:
   "Miss Helen Shannon returned last Saturday from a visit with her sister in Colo. From Lincoln she came over the Burlington line on Saturday night. Owing to the Platte River bridge being out, the train was unable to come any closer than Bellwood. Miss Shannon was accompanied by her father, and in order to get home, they had to walk across the damaged bridge, in one place of which the track had no support underneath for a distance of several feet, then pick their way over a field of solid ice chunks for nearly two miles until they reached a farmer, who was engaged to bring them to Columbus in a carriage."
   The situation improved after the CB&Q replaced its wooden trestle in the 1920's with a steel span relocated to higher ground by having one span cross the Platte via Buck Island.
   The Burlington's most recent and serious trouble with the bridge came with the river ice of March 28, 1960, which demolished one whole span. Train service to Columbus was suspended for over two months until repairs were made.
   The gravel pits near the Platte River made for some service spurs and considerable summertime business. The most recent gravel spur north of Bellwood was established in the late 1930's as Moll Spur. The pit is now owned by Central Sand and Gravel Company, which utilizes its own fleet of gravel cars. The amount of increased tonnage from loaded Moll Spur gravel cars in recent years forces train crews to frequently "double the hill" while traversing the grade out of the Platte Valley between Bellwood and David City. The crew must uncouple the front half of the train and proceed with it to David City where it is left while they return with the locomotives for the remaining cars.
   The machines on the Columbus branch that hissed and hooted but still did the bidding of men in their cabs were diminutive at the outset. Their wheel arrangement were likely of the then-standard 4-4-0 design, consisting of four guide wheels and four drive wheels, but no trailing wheels. The size and power of the branch's steam locomotives increased over the years, though the largest classes of engines were restricted from serving on the line because of weight limits on bridges. Railroad water towers to replenish the engines were located at Seward, David City and Columbus. Coal for fuel was available first at Columbus and later David City.
   Though their sounds and appearance provided for many artistic and romantic feelings, smoke and cinder-belching steam locomotives did have drawbacks. The Butler County


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© 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 by Ted & Carole Miller and Carolyn Wilkerson