Monday, March 31, 2014

Sutton Annuals On-hand

The Sutton Museum has been slowly accumulating old annuals of Sutton High School making them readily available to everyone in the community. We have the following annuals on hand.

If you have a copy from one of the missing years and would be willing to part with it, we would appreciate your gift and will be proud to add it to the collection.

Contact Jerry Johnson or any other member of the Sutton Historical Society. You can stop at the museum on Sunday afternoons or call to have us meet you there.


1926 (book of senior pictures)
1941 (copy of the Spring issue of the Mustang Round-Up

Friday, March 28, 2014

1941 Sutton High Mustang Round-up

The Mustang Round-up school newspaper of May 23, 1941 was devoted to the senior class of that year. We're not sure if there was an annual that year. People who graduated during World War II have told us that the tradition of publishing an annual was discontinued during the war but our recent receipt of the 1942 annual calls that into question.

The "in lieu of" replacement for the annual was the last issue of the school newspaper in which the normal senior stuff would appear. We received such a paper from Beth Bartell which is consistent with that story, except, May, 1941 was before the war.

Dunno. I'm confused.

Here ya go:

The major traditional items about the graduating seniors appeared in this last issue of the Mustang Round-up for the year. There is the Class Prophecy, Will, the graduation photos with class activities listed on a separate page and the Class History. They even had a Class Poem, though...

The lead story was Sneak Day. That was always a deal. The Class of '41 spent the day in Lincoln. Twenty years later, the Class of '61 followed the tradition of that period with a trip to Chicago. As I recall, we left on the train on Friday evening for the overnight trip arriving in Chicago in the morning. We had a bus whisk us about town to the big tourist attractions: the Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum and the Museum of Science and Industry as I recall. I don't think we made it to the Art Institute, now my favorite Chicago attraction. If we did go there it made zero impression on me at that time.

Here are the senior photos with some easily recognizable faces. This was a crummy year to be eighteen years old if you were a male. December 7th was not far off. A separate and interesting look would be to see how many of these fellows or gals were on active duty.

Annual ads are not at all interesting at the time of publication, unless you are upset with someone who didn't pony-up. There weren't many this year. Wonder what the "Mustang Special" sundae at the Central Café might have been; don't want to guess. Even stranger was "Jungle Bread" at the Nuss Bakery.

There you have it...

Monday, March 24, 2014

From the Golden Age of Chickens

This ad appeared in the Sutton News newspaper one hundred years ago touting the local Sutton manufacturing business of Emil Ochsner with his egg incubator and other poultry related products.

The Sutton Museum has one of Ochsner's incubators on display. Not sure how many of the younger generation actually
understand what it was used for. Explanations generally seem to be reflected back from glassy eyes.

Clay Center had the reputation for some kind of Poultry Capital for Nebraska as the Old Trusty manufacturing plant of M. M. Johnson dominated the industry. The Clay County Sun newspaper annually serialized the story of publishing the catalog for that business over multiple weeks each spring. It was a large format and thick publication with a subscriber list numbering tens of thousands and coast to coast.

The Old Trusty plant was a huge compound employing several hundred. One story was about a traveling salesman who came to Clay Center and part of his sales pitch was that he represented a business so large that it employed nine stenographers. One Clay Center businessman listened patiently to the salesman then asked him to come along with him. The two went to the edge of downtown Clay Center and upstairs at the plant where the salesman stood in awe of a room with 90 stenographers pounding away on their typewriters supporting the various business functions of Old Trusty.

The poultry incubator was the signature product of the Old Trusty line. Emil Ochsner's Sutton operation was in competition with the Clay Center operation but much, much smaller. I've also heard that Fairfield had a third poultry incubator manufacturer but I do not know the name or any other information about it.

February, 2016 addendum:

Why blogs are superior to newspapers, magazines and other printed matter:

The Fairfield Auxiliary newspaper on February 27, 1941 ran, in their "15 years ago" section, the story of the B & H Incubator Co. that had just shipped a 120-egg incubator to Greece. The 1926 paper had applauded the company for their international outreach. The gentlemen in the "B & H" name were identified as Bayles and Hayes. ...

Someday we'll maybe dig into census and other records from the 20's and 30's to locate more info on the gentlemen - first names, for instance. But, later...

The poultry business, mostly chickens but including ducks and geese was a big deal 100 years ago through at least the 40's. A typical farmstead may have had a hundred or two laying hens and a diminishing number of roosters providing protein for the farm family and selected friends in town. The county newspapers, the Clay County Sun, Harvard Courier, Sutton Register, Fairfield Auxiliary all carried weekly columns with advice to the chicken and goose growers. There were ads for feeding supplements, medicines, equipment, etc. Large poultry shows attracted growers from a wide area. One account told of stacks and stacks of crates containing show chickens and ducks sitting on the depot platform in Sutton as farmers waited for the train to take them and their birds off to a show.

Chickens and a few milk cows produced enough eggs and cream for a small and steady revenue stream that covered the weekly grocery bill for many a farm family.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Early Sutton High Annuals - 1940 and 1942

Received a call recently from Washington State. Seems our caller was going through the belongings of a relative and found copies of the 1940 and 1942 Sutton High annuals. Having no direct connection with the flatlands, she offered to send the two volumes.

The first striking thing about the annuals are that they are in great condition. One visualizes that they have spent much of the past 70+ years packed away in something approaching a sterile environment.

Secondly, both volumes are of a physical size differing from most annuals we have from earlier and later though the 1947 is similar. These are 6 X 9 inches as you can see in the photo. Both have 40 pages. And they are hard-bound unlike the annuals of years just prior to 1940 which had cloth covers which have generally not held up well.

The 1940 and 1942 Sutton High annuals in their distinctive appearance - 6 X 9" with textured hard covers. Attractive and in great condition - a gift from a friend in Washington State.
The third thing was a surprise which I expressed in the phone call. I had the impression that the school did not publish annuals during WWII. The 1940 preceded the war but 1942 came out months into the conflict. The 1946 annual is a full format hard-bound volume with a lot of pages which I remember being told was produced in response to the long dry spell. In fact, while I was on the phone the copy of the Mustang Round-up school newspaper dated May 23, 1941 was on my desk. It has the class prophecy, will, senior photos, sneak trip story and other features about the 1941 seniors. Yes, this was also before the U.S. entered the war in December but this is the format I've seen for mid-war end-of-year papers that were published in lieu of a regular annual.

So, what unusual thing do you notice about these annuals, at least the one on the left?

What is this "Blue and Gold" thing? I've been commenting that those were the school colors in 1940 though it might have been the colors for the senior class (do classes still do that? I was somewhat baffled by that tradition.)

Okay, onto the innards. Senior pictures are what these things were all about, right.

The first dozen - alphabetically. There's Fritz Bender: "If arguing were money, I'd be a millionair." Always fun to catch a 74-year old typo, isn't it. Studious fellow, Fritz. Samuel Carney would have been Sam III, his father and grandfather ran a hardware store bridging I. N. Clark and Les Bauer in that business.

Lorene Griess married Rolland Johnson ('42), a successful farming couple on the road to Harvard.
The Heinz name was quite common in Sutton with 30 graduates listed in the Sutton High rolls through 1959.

Group 3:

Here is Artis Johnson, later Lemkau and brother of Rolland Johnson (my cousins). Levander was a common name
as was Lohmeier (17 grads of our school), both names fading out. The Nuss name however persists.

and Group 4

Another distinguished looking group including down in the lower left, Mr. Roger Sheridan.

and to Zimbleman, an even dozen per page for five pages, good planning.

Gloria Yost (Griess) was President of S. N. T. (Sutton Normal Training) for her senior year.
That's the senior class of 1940. Oh, and they did have underclassmen that year:

The Juniors:

The Sutton High School Junior Class of '40. You may spot a few familiar faces here. I'll start you off with an
easy one there in the second row toward the left side, Wayne Erickson.

The Sophomores:

The note that went home to Moms on dress code met with mixed results. I am sincerely partial to the fashion statement
represented in the white shirt, tie and overalls. That's a young man just oozing self confidence.

And the Freshman Class of '40 to graduate in 1943.

What we have here is a photographer with strong feelings about style and form or maybe design. That, or maybe a
frustrated choreographer with dreams of working a major musical stage production, one with a train theme perhaps.

And there were sports in 1940:

This is the Sutton High Basketball Team for the 1939-1940 season. The back row: Mr. George Clark, a graduate of Doane College; Morris Schneider, Junior; Milton Scheerer, Senior; Jim Barbee, Junior; and Mr. Jess Weyand, U of N grad and School Principal. Front row: Gerald Sharkey, Junior; Roger Sheridan, Senior; Frederick (Fritz) Bender, Senior; Melvin Levander, Senior and Wayne Lohmeier, Sophomore.


The write-up for the football team from the fall of 1939 mentioned injuries to Roger Sheridan and Leon Scheideman as though that affected their season. Maybe so. Check below.

The 1939 Sutton football team had a serious Jekyll and Hyde season.

Opponent                      Sutton               Opponent

Fairfield                           32                         0
Hebron                             22                         0
Exeter                              40                         0
Clay Center                     41                         0
Friend                              14                         0
                 (pretty good so far, don't you think?)
Superior                             0                       48
Geneva                              0                        19
Nelson                               7                        21
Harvard                             3                        19
                 (kinda took a turn for the worse there in mid-season. May need to flesh out this story.)

There had been girls' athletics in the schools decades earlier but that disappeared and was not revived until the '70's. Athletics and physical activities in general were seen to be unladylike, I guess. Though can you explain cheerleaders in that context?

There was a Pep Club and this may be the highlight of the post, they were called the Ponies. Isn't that just worth the effort to get this far down the page?

The girls of the Pep Club were called the "Ponies" back in the day. Did not know that.

"Saddle your blues to a wild Mustang,
And gallop your troubles away."

Nothing personal regarding the person or persons who wrote or chose that epigram, but I think they could have worked on the question for another hour or two with good results. Just sayin'.

There were 60 graduating seniors in 1940, 60 juniors, 56 sophomores and 48 freshmen by my count, or 224 in high school enabling the music department to excel in gross numbers at the very least.
Gertrude Traeger, a grad of Wisconsin was responsible for the vocal music teacher;
W. O Sanberg, NU had band and orchestra.

Sutton Normal Training was still going strong in 1940. These were the prospective rural school teachers destined for the dozens and dozens of schools in the surrounding area (67 in Clay County alone.)

Miss Anna Moehring, far right, was the Normal Training teacher and a graduate of Midland College.

And finally, the group that put the annual together had to take a bow. This is the Applied English Class which likely was or included what we later called Journalism.

Unsure how today's graphic designers would react to this collage but it does identify the folks, tells us they were responsible for the school newspaper and likely they produced this annual. The advisor and English teacher was Marlys Bell who is pictured in the upper right hand corner and a graduate of Hastings College. And yes, she is quite young looking but that is the same photo that appears on the faculty page.

This post covers most of the 1940 Sutton High annual. We received the 1942 annual at the same time and we have quite a number of the collection but with major gaps. Stop in the Sutton Museum or contact us to learn what we have and which annuals are missing from our collection. We would like to accumulate as many as we can and make them readily available to graduates and friends and especially the offspring and grandchildren of graduates. Nothing brings a smile to a kid's face like a picture of 17-year old grandmas and grandpas. Deal with it.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sutton Businesses - 1917; extract from Polk Directory for Omaha

Stumbled onto an unexpected treasure recently. While searching for a Sutton business name it cropped up in what I thought was an Omaha Polk Directory. Turns out, that's what it was. The 1917 Omaha Polk Directory had sections for many Nebraska small town businesses including Sutton.

These directories are linked to though for how long, I don't know. Will now have to spend some more time to see how many of these directories are linked in and do they all have Sutton business listings?

Watch this space. Or, look into it and let me know. -jj

Rev. William J. Bonekemper died 75 years ago, March 18, 1939

The Sutton Register newspaper of March 23, 1939 carried the story of the death of Rev. William J. Bonekemper in Long Beach, California. Rev. Bonekemper was the pastor in one of the Reformed churches in Sutton from 1876 through 1908.

The Bonekemper story begins on page 265 of Jim Griess' book on the Sutton Germans from Russia.

Clipping from the March 23, 1939 issue of the Sutton Register newspaper.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Suffrage Petition Submitted 100 Years Ago - March 14, 1914

Nebraska’s largest ever petition was delivered to the state house on March 14, 1914 by a delegation of women with a film crew recording the event. The petition with names of 42,523 voters called for a suffrage vote in the November election. Clay County contributed 599 names to the document.
The Sutton Register: “The suffrage fight is now on.”

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

NORMAL TRAINING and the 1924 Sutton High School Annual

The cover of The Champ, the Sutton High School
Annual of 1924.
The Sutton Museum has a growing (slowly) collection of the annuals of Sutton High School. We are still well short of having one half of the years representing the years for graduating seniors that began in 1884. Certainly the school did not produce books those earliest years; our oldest annual is the 1912 edition which is actually a common possession of Sutton residents. That was the year that the "new" school building was built southeast of downtown which served as a high school into the mid-1960's and as a grade school for additional years.

That 1912 annual was a "half-page" nicely bound volume that was dedicated to the new school by that year's graduating class which "just missed" the new school.

The annuals for the next decades were cloth-bound publications and while modest in external appearance were still quality products in terms of content and professionalism in design and execution.

This posting uses the 1924 Sutton High annual as a representative example of the era.

There are a number of interesting things in this '24 annual and we will update this posting to add more later. The initial version of the post addresses the Normal Training program at Sutton High in 1924.

Normal training was the term used to describe programs to train school teachers. The term comes from the notion that prospective teachers were taught established teaching standards, or norms. Some areas established separate normal schools but for much of the early days in our area high schools had a normal training program that produced teachers to meet the demand of the rural schools.

I was surprised by the size of the normal training program in Sutton in 1924. I had envisioned that a small number of the high school students, mostly girls were enrolled in the program. The vast majority of the rural school teachers were young women so it seemed logical that normal training was a girls' thing. Most of the literature spoke of women teachers seeming to confirm that idea.

There were men teachers in the rural schools but they were rare enough that I thought I knew them by name: Henry Vauck, Roy Oakley, Albert Nejezchleb appear in articles about county schools. We had a male teacher, Dick Anderson in 1953-1954, our last year at District #16 northwest of Sutton.

So imagine my surprise to learn that in 1924 fully 26 of the 33 graduating seniors including seven boys were listed as in the normal training program. It was not a minor part of the high school curriculum and it was not a girls-only program.

The 26 Normal Training students in the senior class at Sutton High in 1924. Yes, there are 27 in the photo. I'm guessing
that that is Miss Hawk, the Normal Training Instructor there front and center. The annual did not identify the individuals
in the photo but we list those below who were identified elsewhere as normal training students. Your challenge is to match 'em.
One 1924 Normal Training graduate, Clemens Chambers was listed as "Post Graduate." We also find him listed as a 1923 grad in the Alumni Directory. I'd seen references before to normal training post grads and guessed that some graduates came back for another year, the fifth I suppose probably to get that teaching credential, just guessing.

The 1924 graduates who listed Normal Training among their high school activities were: Frances Baass (later Mrs. Earl Vauck), Helen Bauer, Ralph Bauer, Blanche Bishop, Mabel Case, June Easley, Catherine Elfring, Marie Ebert, Marie Griess, Frieda Grosshans, Frances Hanson, Edna Hansen, Ethel Johnson (my Aunt Ethel Nelson), Kathleen McLaughlin, Wilbert Nuss, Ralph Nolde, Clinton Ochsner, Sara Perlenfein, Martha Rath, Helen Swanson, Mary Wells, Elizabeth West, Gilbert Wieland and Eva Zimmerman.

Okay, if you've been counting along with me you are rightfully telling me I have some wrong info here. I wrote that 26 of the 33 grads were in Normal Training. The class photo has 27 faces but I came up with a plausible, perhaps correct hypothesis that the instructor is in the photo and I guessed which one she might have been. But I just listed the 24 names of graduates who listed Normal Training among their activities. I did not list Mr. Chambers as he was a post grad and was listed as a 1923 grad. That would make 25.  However, Miss Helen Swanson was also listed in 1924 annual as a post graduate and her name does appear with the Class of 1924 in the Alumni Directory.

So, I guess someone in the picture of 26 senior normal training students (plus instructor) did not graduate to make the Alumni Directory. Suppose?

Point being: this historical research thing veers off of the straightforward path especially when you are working with two sources, here the 1924 annual and the current Alumni Directory. There is a sound saying from the information technology world: never put your data into two databases; they will so quickly diverge and you will expend a lot of time and energy determining which is right and which is wrong. The real disgusting thing about that illustration is that too often both of your databases will be right as the purpose of each will also diverge from the other in the slightest way.

Just so in the case of the number of normal training seniors in 1924. The photo of the class was the snapshot of the group at some point in the school year. The senior pictures in the annual were a similar, but not exactly the same group at another point in the school year and the 1924 high school annual is the historical record of the members of the group who also received a diploma that year, at the end of the school year.

These are the kinds of things generate coffee shop discussions and bar fights. At another level, these kinds of things make reading Daily Kos and World Net Daily such unlike experiences.

But I digress.

Here is the image of the Normal Training page of the 1924 Sutton High Annual where the curriculum and the requirements for completion of the program are listed.

This page from the 1924 Sutton annual gives us the four year curriculum for normal training
and college preparatory work at Sutton High. Twenty-six of the thirty-three graduating seniors
appear to have followed this program and were identified as normal training students.

Here's hoping that you enjoyed this article and that if you were interested in knowing more about Normal Training in Nebraska schools in the 1920's we have helped you better understand that topic. If you do not have an interest in this topic, then howjaheck did you get this far in the post?

Thanks for visiting the Sutton Historical Society blog.

Sutton Historical Society
P. O. Box 92
Sutton, NE 68979

Monday, March 3, 2014

Our Blog Activity

Blog hosting sites provide statistics on how many visits the blog is attracting and from where. These are interesting statistics even if it is hard to figure out why or how people from all over the world stumbled upon your blog.

As of March 1, 2014, we have had over 33,000 "page views" on this site. We began very quietly and modestly in 2008 and there had been 12,000 as of October, 2012.

Certainly the bulk of our visits come from the U.S. - about 21,500 as of March, 2014. But there have been over a thousand page views from Germany and China. Russia, Canada, the U.K., France and Ukraine are next followed by Malaysia (380 visits?) and The Netherlands.

We can offer some explanations for these visits. Sutton has a large population with connections to the Germans from Russia with about a half of those from villages near Odessa in Ukraine. Certain related searches will lead to this site. And well, China has a large population and will logically show up on a list almost anywhere I suppose.

We see stats for the day, week, month and all-time so the shorter intervals reveal individual visitors from less common locations. This week's visits include folks from Brazil, Indonesia, Indonesia, Poland and Spain.

We hope that our postings about the history of the Sutton community communicate an interesting and useful picture of rural America over the past several decades. The relatively recent (a century and a half) of settlement and development of the Great Plains while not unique (Canada, Australia, South America and parts of Africa are not dissimilar) this story does contrast with the millennia of history in Europe and Asia. Just as Americans are struck by standing in the Pantheon with its 2,000+ years of history we can try to appreciate the reaction of someone from Rome to cities and towns located where small isolated American Indian villages stood fewer than 130 years ago.