Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Sutton in 1890

We’re going to look at life in 1890 this month, life in Sutton, in Nebraska and beyond.

The Sutton Museum received several items from the estate of Jim Griess including copies of very early Sutton Register newspapers. We’ll tap into one of those now. The bound volume contains all 52 issues of the Register in that year, four pages per issue – a good resource.

1890 was the fourth year that F. M. Brown had been publishing The Sutton Register. He and his son Charles would operate that paper through the 1930’s.
Register publisher F. M. Brown had a joint subscription offer
with the Detroit Free Press. How'd that happen?

Benjamin Harrison was president in 1890. His was a one-term presidency between the two terms of Grover Cleveland – the only time that has happened to us. His grandfather was the ninth president, barely, dying just 31 days into his term.

The governor of Nebraska was John Milton Thayer, a Civil War general who had organized the 1st Nebraska Infantry Regiment and later switched to the cavalry.

Some tidbits from early in the year included:

The Sutton Post Office was moved to the north end of town, likely where it was within the memory of many off us, next to City State Bank (Cornerstone to the young folk.)

Roy Clark and Rubben Schwab sold subscriptions to purchase a flag for the school – delivered with much celebration.

County Treasurer B. H. Dunn sold his farm three miles west of Saronville along with 26 horses, 89 head of cattle and 60 stock hogs.

The Sutton Building and Improvement Company, owner of the Opera House was upset that their insurance rates were 60% higher that the folks in the Central Block, I. N. Clark was an investor and he was sure their taxes were higher that other downtown businesses. The Opera House was also assessed $10 a year for a license to operate. They were looking to lease the building much of the year.

Clay and Thayer County undertakers formed a professional society with George Honey as the president.

Mr. I. N. Clark planned to put up 5,000 tons of ice in early 1890 – he was harvesting Glen Lake, now called Clark’s Pond. This was another family business. Son Albert (Bertie) continued providing ice for years.

Officers of The First National Bank (north) were Henry Grosshans, president; George A. Tenny, V.P.; M. L. Luebben, cashier and Theo. Miller, assistant cashier. Bank capital was $50,000 with $6,000 surplus.

Directors of the Sutton National Bank (south) were J. B. Dinsmore, J. J. Bonekemper, A. K. Marsh and Cashier F. C. Matteson. Their capital was $50,000, surplus $3,500.

The Palace Stables were on the south side of Grove Street. I'm guessing you
could still move that merchandise today.

Farmers were up against some tough economic conditions. Early in the year there were reports of Pender farmers had stopped moving corn to market at 15 cents a bushel but were burning it instead of coal at $8 per ton. Ton for ton, corn generated about the same heat as coal at half the price for soft coal, one fourth the cost of hard coal. By later in the year, the practice had spread, widely.

Hastings authorities began shutting down that town’s bawdy houses.

The Willow Springs distillery in South Omaha was believed to be among the largest in the U. S. The owner later was the first investor in the Omaha Stockyards.

Mobs in the U. S. had executed 175 people during 1889, all were negroes. In 1890 Mississippi authorities executed a white man for killing a black man – the first time that had happened in the south.

Nellie Bly landed in San Francisco aboard the steamship Oceanic, took the Southern Pacific rails to Philadelphia arriving 72 days, 6 hours and 11 minutes after she’d left on her round-the-world trip. She beat the time of Jules Verne’s fictional character Phileas Fogg in the book “Around the World in 80 Days.”

There were eight newspapers in Hastings though a few had failed in the past year but another was about to start publishing.

The Goodspeed Publishing Co. released its “Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Hall, Hamilton, Adams and Clay Counties.”

Good for what ails ya.
A band of Omaha Indians camped on the creek bottom east of Sutton and visited Sioux Indians who were “on exhibition” at the Opera House. The Sioux were part of The Kickapoo Indian Medicine Co. staying for two weeks offering free consultation and advice from Indian doctors before moving on to new hunting grounds. Check out http://www.bottlebooks.com/kickapoo.htm  for further info. Open question: was the patent medicine company using the Sioux, or the other way around?

Rail service for Sutton was robust. The Burlington had three trains each way (five stopped) and the U. P. had two each way. Tickets included 150 pounds of luggage. Less than 23 hours to Chicago, San Francisco by the third morning and a weekly sleeper car to Portland in three days (a berth added $3 to the price of your ticket.)

Sutton promoters were courting the Kansas City, Wyandotte and Northwestern Railroad to come through Sutton as they headed northwest out of Beatrice.
Prohibition was a hot topic with women’s groups and a political party lobbying for complete elimination of alcoholic beverages in society.

             Edgar had gone “dry” in 1889 but two saloons were planned for ’90.

The Clay County Prohibition Party sent 32 delegates to the state convention.
Harvard prohibitionists accused their saloons of peddling adulterated liquors. That was also a Carry Nation tactic. (There’s a bar in San Jose called Carry Nation’s Saloon with a motto, “Temperance in Moderation” - cute.)

Speakers received up to $100 for speeches in county towns.

Grafton had a social drinking club with beer and liquor available only to members – just like Wichita, Kansas when I was stationed there in the late 1960’s.

Opponents of prohibition offered high license fees and strict regulation as an alternative.

Thomas Reed, speaker of the US House of Representatives closed the saloon on his side of the capitol building in D. C. forcing house members to the senate side.
William Gold began advertising his Close-Out sale on July 4, 1890. He would move to
Lincoln where he first opened The People's Store and later Gold's, the largest department
store in the Capitol City later purchased by Brandeis, the largest operation in the state.

These items appeared in mid-year newspapers:

The Frederick & Wentz clothing store was in the Merrill building in the Central Block.

P. T. Walton’s confectionary was just north of Wm. Gold’s dry goods store.

Stevens’ grocery store was one door north of Grice’s Harness Shop.

The Register charged its competitor newspaper The Advertiser with bad grammar and articles filled with untruths. The Hastings Tribune was also no fan of The Advertiser.

Owners of a Fairfield foundry were looking for a site in Sutton.

Bradshaw was wiped out in a tornado with 6 dead and more than 100 injured. It was described as the “Most destructive storm to life and property that ever visited Nebraska.”

The 90 remaining Iowa Indians sold their 230,000 acres on the eastern border of Oklahoma for $1.25 an acre. That land plus more from the Sac, Fox, Pottawatomie and Shawnee was opened in September, 1891. The Oklahoma land rush continuted from April, 1889 through 1907.

A Stockham fellow brought his horse to Sutton challenging Sutton’s fastest and lost. Significant wagering was involved. One-on-one horse racing challenges were recurring entertainment.

Much of the 1890 news involved politics and elections. It took up a lot of space just to list the contenders. There were the Prohibitionist Party, Farmers Alliance, Independent Party, a People’s Independent Party and Fusionists. The Democratic Party was shaking off the stigma of the Confederacy while the Republican Party of the Union had aligned with Big Business and the railroads costing them support from farmers. The Farmers Alliance met in Omaha in 1892 to become the Populist Party. There was a National Reform Party that met in St. Louis but did not have an impact in Nebraska. A fragmented political picture, but regardless of party names and affiliations, state issues were still rural vs. urban.
Dr. Martin Van Buren Clark started his medical practice and a pharmacy in Sutton in 1872. He and his brother Isaac Newton
Clark played a big part in the early development of downtown Sutton, the Clark Addition in the north and west part of town
and in various retail stores. He was the first physician in Sutton and a pioneer in the medical field for the county.

The fall term at Sutton Schools was headed by Prof. Alex Stephens, superintendent; Miss H. R. Brewer, high school principal; Miss Manis, grammar; Miss Clara Lake, 2nd Intermediate; Miss Evion and Miss Nettie Greer, 1st Intermediate; Miss Nellie Copsey and Miss Fink, 2nd primary and Miss Mollie Braun, Miss Stepler and Miss Kittie Hann, 1st primary.

Steel & Stevens, a Colorado company was buying hundreds of acres of corn, stalks and all for 5 to 10 dollars an acre in parts of Nebraska. They were building silos on farms and storing chopped up stalks and corn to feed 7,000 head of cattle during the upcoming winter. The article did not use the words silage or ensilage.

And late in the year, these were some of the items in The Register;

York secured the United Brethren College – today’s York College.

All Nebraska towns over 1,200 had a water and fire protection system except Sutton. A special election in September approved a $16,000 bond calling for a 75-foot water tower in the Fowler addition – we called it the “standpipe” didn’t we?

A group planned to build the Kansas City stockyards.

Chicago’s new masonic temple was to be 20 stories tall – 302 feet – the tallest building in the world from 1892 until 1905.

Drought had almost wiped out the corn crop locally forcing small farmers to sell small pigs, or even take a hammer to them. F. M. Brown’s comment, “Wanted at this office! A well matured ear of corn of the vintage of ’90. It will be properly labelled with the producer’s name and laid away in our collection of rare curiosities.”

The November general election dominated late-year news.

Sutton voters defeated a prohibition measure 208-174.

Independent Party candidates McKeighan and Horn drew the most Sutton votes for US congress and state senate. Independents won both state representative seats defeating Republicans.

Independent candidate Powers received the most votes for governor in Sutton but Democrat James Boyd won the post state-wide. Outgoing governor Thayer refused to relinquish the office on the grounds that Boyd was not a citizen (he was born in Ireland.) The Nebraska Supreme Court advised Thayer to step down but later reversed itself after Boyd served a short time. It was a year before that the US Supreme Court ruled that Boyd was eligible to be Nebraska’s governor. Thayer had served more than a year of Boyd’s two-year term.

Sioux Chief Sitting Bull was killed at the Standing Rock Reservation in north-central South Dakota on December 15, 1890 as the army tried to arrest him. When Chief Big Foot heard of Sitting Bull’s death, he attempted to find protection at Wounded Knee Creek on the Pine Ridge Reservation. He and about 300 Sioux were killed by army troops on December 29, 1890.

And that’s how 1890 ended.


The Sutton Register ran a weekly business directory. This is one from mid-year:

This article appeared in the September, 2016 issue of Sutton Life Magazine. For further information about the magazine contact Jarod Griess at 402-984-4203 or P. O. Box 454, Sutton, NE 68979 or mustangmediasales@gmail.com

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