Sunday, July 1, 2018

EXPLORER! - The Story of Sutton's own Walter Wellman

We've had earlier posts about Walter Wellman, who, among other things, was the publisher of Sutton's first newspaper. Among those posts is:

A book about our local hero was published about two years ago. It is historical fiction, that is, the author used Wellman's incredible story as a basis for his book but took the liberty to tell the story with fictional dialogue and detail to give us a credible adventure story. And, as far as I can tell, stick to the historical basis of Wellman's story very well.

Recommended. Available at for $15 for the paperback or $2.99 for your Kindle. Amazon's blurb is copied below this image of the cover.


Explorer!: The Adventures of Walter Wellman, Journalist, Explorer, Aeronaut by [Bissonette, Evans]

Explorer! is historical fiction. That is, the dialogue is fictional, but events and many of the people mentioned were real. 

Certainly, Walter Wellman was a real person who had vision, determination, and leadership—all traits needed during his attempts to be the first to reach the North Pole. When that goal could no longer be realized, he regrouped his forces and set his sights on being the first to fly across the Atlantic. He conceived this idea right after Beloit, in an aircraft that was little more than a kite with an engine, succeeded in being the first to fly from Calais, France, to Dover, England—a distance of about thirty-five miles. 

Explorer follows in the wake of The Ice Age Saga trilogy—The Shaman’s Song, The Sojourner’s Tale, and Crooked Foot. Similarities between The Ice Age trilogy and Explorer! are due to the fact that they are all written as action-adventure stories and are meant to entertain readers of all ages.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Paying for WWI, a nickel a day.

Every little bit helps...

The King Newspaper Story - 1968

The many, possibly as many as 80 different newspapers survived and consolidated into one company, The King Newspapers and eventually into one, The Clay County News.

Higgins Hardware - Harvard Incubator

The poultry business was huge in Clay County way back then. M. M. Johnson had a major manufacturing plant in Clay Center. Emil Ochsner made his version in Sutton. There were two fellows in Fairfield making incubators and another Sutton source was by the wife a bar owner.

And here is a 1918 ad from Higgins Hardware in Harvard with a model they were offering - though there doesn't seem to be any evidence Mr. Higgins was manufacturing his Queen Incubator

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Dr. Nuss and his three, make that four baby deliveries in one night 75 years ago.

This item appeared on the front page of The Sutton News on June 24, 1943. The unnamed girl was Wanda Hornbacher. She, Bob and I all graduated with the Class of '61 at Sutton High School.

Dr. Nuss reminded us often of that night over the next 18 years.

Dr. Nuss was one of many small town doctors who provided the complete health care package to generations in their towns. Dr. Asa was a similar contributor in Ong and others developed their own reputations in their home towns.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Monday, April 23, 2018

Castle Garden NY Immigrant Center became an Aquarium

Everyone has heard of Ellis Island and may have visited the museum where immigrants were processed into the United States. And we talk about when our ancestors came through Ellis Island.

May of our ancestors actually did come through Ellis Island, but many others came into Boston, Philadelphia, Charleston, New Orleans and other points of entry. 

But many who came into New York did not enter through Ellis Island. The Ellis Island processing center only opened up in 1892. Before that time, Castle Garden in lower Manhattan processed immigrants.

This item in the Harvard Courier in April, 1893 discloses what happened to that earlier big part of our history - it became an aquarium in the New York park system.

Buying Power of WWI War Bonds

The public was tapped often and hard for money to support the U. S. entry into World War I. There were multiple war bond drives with business, schools, scouts and churches participating in the sale of bonds. Celebrities volunteered to promote bond sales.

Interest rates were normally 5% but varied at times. 

1893 Railroad Time Tables

The development of early settlements depended on access to water, rivers being the best but a good creek would work (School Creek).

But very quickly, the railroad became even more important. The Harvard Courier newspaper carried this railroad time tables weekly for the two railroads through their town. The top time table is for the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad, the lower one is for the Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley route.

The Burlington came through Sutton. The F. E. & M. V. went through York, Henderson, Harvard and Hastings. 

It's easy to see how our people were able to travel comfortably via rail. My great, grandfather went to Chicago to visit his son often. Newspaper ads promoted vacations on the west coast or to Chicago at reasonable prices, even for those days.

We have items showing that merchants, the Stevens & Curtiss millinery shopkeepers made seasonal trips to St. Joseph, Missouri to buy stock, normally down and back in two days - one account makes it sound like the left early in the morning, conducted their business and were back in Sutton that evening.

Friday, April 20, 2018

You can Support the Sutton Downtown Restoration Project

Join your friends and neighbors; help save our unique downtown business district.

Sutton south side business district. Can you date the photo?

The Sutton Community Foundation is administering a fund for the Sutton Downtown Restoration Project. A brief description appears on the "PROJECTS" page. And most importantly, the "HOW TO DONATE" page offers the opportunity to become a part of this worthwhile effort to preserve Sutton's unique downtown.

The north side, again, can you date the photo? The photos were taken the same day.

Thanks in advance from the Downtown Restoration Committee for your consideration.

Monday, March 5, 2018

NYTmes Magazine 1937 Sod House Photo

Among material dropped off from the Sheridan family was a yellowed copy of the New York Times Book Review section from  September 19, 1937 reviewing The Sod-House Frontier by Everett Dick.

The photo was credited to the Nebraska State Historical Society in the New York Times Book Review section in 1937.

Professor Dick was on the faculty of Union College in Lincoln. His surname raises some interest as there were a couple of "Dick" families among the Germans from Russia in Sutton.

The photo deserves some study. First, the team and wagon on the roof/prairie are conspicuously posed. The two animals constituted an appreciable portion of the fellow's net worth.

Second, the annex, lean-to, summer kitchen or whatever to the right of the house is something I'd not seen before. It looks to be a really useful and valuable addition to a soddy. Especially the boy's swing hanging from the primary beam. Gotta love it.

The house is technically a dugout with soddy-like exposed construction

These photos tip us off as to what the family deemed to be important to them. The team is foremost. Mom and Dad are seated in chairs brought out for the photo shoot and their is a spare to the left just in case you missed it. The women, Mom and two daughters, perhaps near, or young teens are dressed up well. Dad's work clothes are elsewhere. 

The house is technically a dugout with soddy-like exposed construction.

The front of the house faces somewhere between east and near south, depending on the time of day. We all should have sufficient imagination to get some feel for what the family's life must have been like.

The article doesn't give a clue as to the location of the dugout.

Monday, February 26, 2018

1918 Car List from Willard Batteries

The Fairfield Auxiliary newspaper was running an ad in February, 1918 for W. A. Lewis & Co. who must have been the owners of the Willard Service Station. They advertised the Willard batteries listing the auto manufacturers who used Willard batteries naming well over 100 car manufacturers.

So, here is that list...

That's fun. There were more than that - list anymore car manufacturers that you know, ideally American made in 1918 but knock yourselves out...

Adding "modern" models - related trivia would be the sponsors of the Ed Sullivan Show - Plymouth, Dodge, Desoto, Chrysler and the Exclusive Imperial all by Chrysler Corporation

G. M. matched those five with Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick, Oldsmobile and Cadillac. 

And then remember Ford Motors had Ford, Mercury, Lincoln, Continental - may have been a Lincoln thing, and they did that Edsel experiment with the grill that was shackled by a bad nickname.

Packard, Hudson, and lots others. The Maxwell didn't make that list - it was a contemporary at least.  This has gotten out of hand........

March 1943 - 50 Clay County Men Inducted

March 1943 saw the army build-up call for 50 men from Clay County. In an article at the same time, an Army official was quoted as saying the country would have to reverse the policy of not drafting fathers if a 10,000,000-man army was to be a reality. 

Do you have anything to add about any of these men...if so, please post a comment below...

Sunday, February 25, 2018

1993 Spring Ranch, Tom Jones and Elizabeth Taylor

This is kind of a fun thing we ran across while writing the CCN column. Spring Ranch was getting ready to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Oregon Trail. Their fundraising scheme was to contact singer Tom Jones and actress Elizabeth Taylor to get publicity photos to auction off.

Do you know why they did this...  answer below

Left to Right Joni Jones, Hastings Convention and Visitors Bureau; Robert Siemsen; Robert Matticks; Kelly Kahman, field representative for Nebraska Department of Economic Development; Becky Matticks; Marion Fike, Jr.; Sonnie Fike and Rick Matticks.

The major historical story about the Spring Ranche area is the 1885 lynching of two of their local citizens, one named Elizabeth Taylor and her brother Tom Jones.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Invention of the IRS Form 1099

Lincoln had implemented a federal income tax in 1861 to pay for the Civil War and an income tax was collected during the 1890's.

The 16th Amendment was passed in 1913 to clear constitutional issues with such a tax and the first 1040's came soon after.

The features of the income tax that we know today were quickly part of the system. This early 1918 article warns people receiving money from others that their payers would be telling the federal government about that money. The IRS Form 1099 was the culprit.