Flashback Friday Encore: Town of Lemoyne Sacrificed for Lake McConaughy, 1941

Lemoyne Pop. 110

Lemoyne population sign, ca. 1938 [NSHS RG5995.AM, B22, V1]

This year marks 75 years since the the completion of Kingsley Dam and the creation of Lake McConaughy just north of Ogallala, Nebraska.

Several different festivities are happening this weekend to commemorate the anniversary. For information about events happening this weekend, July 23-24, at Lake McConaughy and Lake Ogallala to celebrate Kingsley Dam’s 75th anniversary, click here.

If you’re looking for a more enduring way to learn more about one of Nebraska’s greatest feats of engineering, we can help.

This spring the NSHS received a large collection of research files on the history of the building of Kingsley Dam and the moving of the town of Lemoyne. The collection was compiled over a 50 year period by Cora Baumann, a local historian and former resident of Lemoyne. Lemoyne was in the area that would become Lake McConaughy, so the entire town had to be moved to higher ground.

It became Baumann’s mission to document the history of Lemoyne and the families displaced by the flooding of Lake McConaughy. Cora Baumann passed away in 2006, but through the generosity of her son Loy, Baumann’s collection was donated to the NSHS Archives in Lincoln where it is available for public research. For more information about the collection, see the full inventory on our website.

Over the next several months we hope to provide you with various selections from the Baumann collection. But, for now, I will leave you with this poem by Lemoyne resident Julius Hoffman:

Old Lemoyne Is Gone

Old LeMoyne is gone
The dwellers moved on
Down in the deep
There lays the street
We used to walk upon

Now for the fish
And Kingsley’s wish
No more mail
Nor grocery sale
Men had to relinquish

Tis wrong not right
To put out of sight
Tis gone for ever
There ranchers never
More spend the night

How time will change
And so arrange
No street no alley
Down in the valley
To us seems strange

It came it went
By man’s consent
Tis no more there
And those that care
Experienced the event

I sympathize with those
That had to dispose
Of their real estate
Had to evacuate
Before the water arose

In the later years
The traveler hears
Beneath the lake
They used to take
Freight on running gears

Some may look
In a history book
Of what some made note
And some that wrote
Of what the reservoir took

Or it wouldn’t be long
Forgotten and gone
Lemoyne and we
That used to be
The earth rolls on

And Kingsleys he
That used to be
Thought it worth
To rebuild the earth
And all is vanity



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Flashback Friday: Employee Spotlight – The NSHS ‘Lady MacGyver’ Exhibits Curator


Exhibits Curator Tina Koeppe and Exhibits Artist Jennifer Graham work on the display for Ruth Diamond Levinson’s jacket. Levinson wore this jacket (nicknamed “GI Josephine”) during her service in World War II. The artifact is part of the “Nebraska Unwrapped” exhibit on display now at the Nebraska History Museum.

What will you be when you grow up if you have the soul of a poet, the hands of a carpenter, and the heart of a storyteller?

An exhibits curator, of course.

“There’s an old saying to look at the things you loved as a child to help you find what you want to do when you’re an adult,” Nebraska History Museum exhibits curator and coordinator Tina Koeppe said. “The things I loved as a child were storytelling and old things and being creative.”

Those elements shape her current day-to-day activities, which include sending emails, leading a public tour, climbing ladders, printing panels, and designing displays to hold saddles or motorcycles or dolls.

“We provide support for the entire museum,” Koeppe says, explaining that while other staff collect and maintain historical artifacts, the exhibits staff works to display the items and interpret them for the public.

Facilities staff members Bryce Darling and Charley McWilliams do the carpentry on big exhibit projects and numerous other NSHS staff provide additional expertise and support. But Koeppe and Jennifer Graham, the exhibits artist and only other full-time exhibits staff member, nurture an exhibit from its inception to its completion.

Koeppe has a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in Textile History, both from University of Nebraska-Lincoln, but she has a less academic and more down-to-earth view on how she succeeds in her job.

“We are Lady MacGyvers,” Koeppe said. “It’s a lot of troubleshooting and problem solving. Random problems you never expected to have. We do a little bit of everything all day long. We order supplies for maintaining exhibits, we get bids for supplies, we keep exhibits running. Visitors are rough on exhibits so we make sure things are maintained.”

But administrative duties are a very small part of being an exhibits curator.

“It’s not very glamorous. People imagine curators wandering through esoteric archives but there’s a lot of dirty work. Installing exhibits is a really physical job,” Koeppe said. “You are climbing ladders and crawling around on the floor. You’re lifting, pulling, hanging. You can’t be afraid to get dirty. I wear a titanium wedding band because my hands get so beat up.”

Even deciding what she wears to work can be a challenge.

“You have to be presentable to the public, and you have to be able to climb around. We wear jeans and very sensible shoes. Then there’s days we’re painting so we wear hospital scrubs to keep clean or clothes from dollar days at the thrift store,” Koeppe said.

Koeppe did not see herself in an exhibits curator role when she was in college.

“I was going to be a poet,” Koeppe said. “But since there aren’t a lot of jobs for poets, I worked in project management and with administrative stuff. I wanted to do something more creative. I went back to school and interned here in collections. I just love historic clothing and quilts, and I love distilling the stories.”

Koeppe is a Lincoln native and


The “Our People, Our Land, Our Images” exhibit is on display at the Nebraska History Museum until August 11, 2016.

remembers visiting the Nebraska History Museum as a child.

“I grew up going to this museum and to Morrill Hall and the capitol,” Koeppe said. “It’s a childhood dream to go back behind the scenes and build the exhibits.”

She also credits her high school theater experience, where she worked behind the scenes, for preparing her for her work at the museum.

“This is a lot like theater in ways,” Koeppe said. “You’re telling a story in 3D.”

Her work even spills into her time off.

“I go to museums when I go on vacation,” Koeppe said. “I’m the worst person to see exhibits with. I’m on my hands and knees to see how their displays are made. I’ll call in advance and see if I can meet their staff. I’m more interested in how things are built. I’ll ask them, ‘How do you store your plexiglass vitrines?’ Or I’m on Pinterest looking at designs. It’s a creative subculture exchanging on this forum for free, and it’s public.”

Along with being a researcher, writer, and designer, Koeppe has to be a bit of a chemist and understand how artifacts react with the materials used to display them. Everything that touches artifacts has to be conservation quality.

“We carve our own mannequins out of a material called Ethafoam. It looks like Styrafoam but does not off-gas chemicals that can cause damage if locked in a case with an artifact,” Koeppe said. “We use a lot of acid-free mat board, unbleached fabric, and polyester quilt battling to build mounts.”

Koeppe and Graham work with their conservation colleagues at the Gerald F. Ford Conservation Center in Omaha to make sure the exhibits do not harm the artifacts. Koeppe’s also on a budget, so she has to use materials wisely and recycle whenever possible. The exhibits staff also does as much work as possible in-house. Koeppe prints, cuts, and mounts exhibit labels, posters, panels, and vinyl letters and does repair work to exhibits. She and Graham have a cart stocked with everything from screws to jars of paint. Stealth painting is often a priority.

“We touch up paint all the time, but we need to do it without a group of 4th graders getting in the way,” Koeppe said.


Exhibits Curator Tina Koeppe melts shrink tube around a metal mount. The shrink tube protects an artifact from getting damaged from its stand.

But long before Koeppe and Graham can touch up paint, an exhibit needs to be born. Even finding the right kind of idea for an exhibit can take years. An exhibit has to focus on a Nebraska story and needs to be the right kind of topic that incorporates both text and artifacts.

“No one wants to read a book on a wall,” Koeppe said. “People want to see stuff. They want to see a particular object. We also have to ask – how will 4th graders respond? Is it family friendly?”

During the five years Koeppe has worked in this position, two of her favorite exhibits have been Nebraska’s Own Terri Lee: The Best Dressed Doll in the World and Willa Cather, A Matter of Appearances. These exhibits showcased Koeppe’s love of textiles and fashion.

Her work on both exhibits demonstrates the diverse skill set Koeppe is required to have. For the Cather exhibit, she started with archival research. She then wrote a “script” that included labels for each of the items in the exhibit. She selected artifacts, photos, and anecdotes to tell the story of Willa Cather based on her clothing.

“I went to the UNL and NSHS archives and started reading for references to dress and material culture in Cather’s letters,” Koeppe said. “I got pretty good at reading Willa Cather’s handwriting. And then I got to actually handle Cather’s clothes. She was about my size and height. It helped humanize her and helped to know that such a serious, serious writer loved luxurious fabrics and purples and teals and embellishments and that she had a softer side. I loved that exhibit because it was history and literature and fashion.”

The life cycle from idea to display can take years, and the ideas come from a variety of sources.

The "Nebraska Unwrapped" logo

The “Nebraska Unwrapped” exhibit is currently on display at the Nebraska History Museum.

“We have an executive exhibit committee, but anyone can submit an idea on the web site,” Koeppe said. “The Terri Lee doll exhibit was inspired by an idea from a patron.”

Some of the pre-renovation exhibits were four-year projects. All exhibits have to be extensively researched, artifacts have to be considered and prepared for display, labels and scripts need written, and then everything has to be fact-checked.

“We are looked at as the experts so we have to be right,” Koeppe said.

Then, if multiple people write the script, the text needs to be re-written so the writing styles all match. If an artifact is fragile, it might have to travel to the NSHS’s Ford Conservation Center in Omaha for conservation work before the public can see it.

While this process takes a lot of time and work, exhibit staff had additional challenges recently because all of the artifacts were in storage and the galleries were under construction. Koeppe and Graham could not test out the design in the gallery space, and had just three months to build exhibits in their current spaces. They use Google Sketchup to create intricate, detailed designs so the actual installation of the exhibit goes more smoothly.

After all, they can’t push around artifacts in display cases like you would do if you’re rearranging the furniture and you don’t like the way the couch looks next to the recliner. The artifacts are sometimes three-hundred-pound highway markers or bulky mail coaches.

They also have to make sure that the gallery spaces are compliant with the American with Disabilities Act, and that the lighting and display techniques will not hurt the artifacts.

“People say, ‘Why is it so dark in here?”’” Koeppe said. “The answer is that we don’t want to fade our paper or our textiles. So when you install an exhibit, you have one person on a ladder and one person running around with a light meter.” The light meter measures how bright the lights are. The new lights in the museum are much less damaging to artifacts.

“These LEDs don’t get as hot,” Koeppe said. “The lights before the renovation were halogens and got really, really hot and you had heat rising to the ceiling which meant our HVAC system was always running. These bulbs aren’t as damaging.”

While the newly-renovated galleries are much better for displaying Nebraska’s past, Koeppe said that visitors have been disappointed that former exhibits are no longer on display. Installing a new vapor barrier required that all of the exhibits be disassembled as part of the renovation process.


This saddle and wagon are on display as part of the “Nebraska Unwrapped” exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum.

“Filling the gallery spaces is a priority,” Koeppe said. “But developing, designing, and building exhibits isn’t like waving a magic wand. It’s time consuming and expensive.”

Eight people used to be on exhibit staff, but budget cuts have shrunk the staff. While all NSHS staff members fill in if needed (everyone worked together on exhibits right before the museum re-opening), Koeppe and Graham are largely a two-person team.

“I would like to build an earth lodge that people could actually walk through. But if just the two of us were going to build an earth lodge, it would take us six months and all we would have is one earth lodge,” Koeppe said. “Ideally, we’ll raise funds or receive donations so we can pay some people to help us do things.”

Koeppe said that even people associated with the museum sometimes don’t realize the huge process behind the launch of an exhibit.

“I’ve been in meetings where folks say things like “when the exhibit crew comes” or “when they bring the exhibits” and I’m like, ‘You mean me and Jen.’ There’s not a mysterious giant crew. There’s just us,” Koeppe said.















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What Is It Wednesday Revealed – July 20 – Luella’s Lightning Shoe

Yesterday we changed up What Is It Wednesday. This artifact is obviously a shoe, so instead we asked: what KIND of shoe? In other words, why is this random shoe a part of our collections?

The answer: This is a LIGHTNING SHOE. Luella’s Lightning Shoe, to be more specific.

Luella's Lightning Shoe NSHS 13290-1

Luella’s Lightning Shoe NSHS 13290-1

The Story

Carol Pearson was browsing an estate sale in California when she found an old shoe containing a yellowed newspaper clipping and a handwritten slip of paper. In the article, an elderly Mrs. Luella Brown of Chico, California, recalled the day in 1904 when she was struck by lightning near Lakeland, Brown County, Nebraska. The slip of paper read, “I was born in 1894. This happened 1904.”

Brown said the family had gathered for her grandfather’s birthday. She was inside sitting on a cousin’s lap when suddenly “the house was in shambles” and she “was on the floor covered with plaster.” The lightning apparently followed a clothesline to the house, passing through Brown and her cousin and exiting through her left foot. Her foot was blistered and the shoe damaged. Brown said she was once offered $100 for the shoe but refused to sell it.

Pearson donated the shoe to the NSHS in August 2013. We’ve learned that Brown’s paternal grandfather, Frederick Albert Cox, had a June 8 birthday. Hoping he was the correct grandfather, we searched the June 1904 (and 1902) issues of Nebraska newspapers. We found plenty of lightning strikes, but not this one.

June 1904 was a stormy month. On June 10 the Red Cloud Chief claimed that “Probably more than a score of persons have been killed or dangerously injured by lightning the last two weeks in Nebraska alone.” A day earlier the Valentine Democrat reported one dead from lightning in Fullerton and four killed by lightning or drowning during flooding in Greeley and Nance counties. Other Nebraska papers reported horses killed, fires started, and a rancher named Sam Lane struck dead while riding fence near Hay Springs; he was still mounted on his dead horse when neighbors found his body.

Maybe we’ve been searching the wrong date. Or perhaps the story simply didn’t make it into print until many years later.

If you know anything about the correct date for this story or have more wild Nebraska weather stories to share, email kylie.kinley@nebraska.gov.

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What Is It Wednesday – July 20: If The Shoe Fits

Today we’re changing up What Is It Wednesday. This artifact is obviously a shoe, so we’re not asking you what it is. Instead we’re asking: what KIND of shoe? In other words, why is this random shoe a part of our collections?

Do you think someone famous wore it? Do you think it witnessed a famous event in Nebraska history? Post your guess in the comments and share the photo to let other people guess, too!

We’ll reveal the shoe’s story tomorrow.



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Marker Monday: Logan Fontenelle

Welcome to Marker Monday! Each Monday we will feature one of Nebraska’s hundreds of historical markers. If you’d like to see a specific marker featured, send an email to kylie.kinley@nebraska.gov.



Front St., Petersburg, Boone County, Nebraska; 41.855964, -98.08386

Marker Text:

Logan Fontenelle, an interpreter and Omaha chief, was born at Bellevue in May, 1825. His father was Lucien Fontenelle, a noted fur trader both on the lower Missouri River and near Fort Laramie, Wyoming. His mother was a daughter of Big Elk, noted chief of the OMaha. Logan, the eldest of four sons and one daughter, was educated at a private school near St. Louis, before joining the family at Fort Laramie in 1837. Two years later the family returned to Bellevue, where the father soon died. Little is known of Logan’s life for the next decade, but in the early 1850’s he became recognized as a chief of the Omaha by both the tribe and the U. S. government. As both chief and interpreter he went with the Omaha chiefs to Washington, D.C. where they signed a treaty on March 16, 1854, selling most of their land to the government and restricting themselves to a reservation in northeast Nebraska. This opened the Nebraska Territory to settlement. In 1855, Logan Fontenelle accompanied a party of Omaha on a buffalo hunt near here in present Boone County. The party was attacked by Sioux and Logan was killed, probably on July 17th. His body was returned to Bellevue, where he was buried.


Read on:

Search results for “Logan Fontelle” on nebrasakahistory.org

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Flashback Friday – New album showcases Nebraska history and culture through song

Dan Holtz1What do Bruce Springsteen, Justin Bieber, the Zac Brown Band, and Peru State English professor Dr. Dan Holtz have in common?

They’ve all sung songs about Nebraska.

But Holtz has outdone his fellow musicians on this list. He and the band Flatwater Highway recently released not just one song about the Cornhusker state, but an entire album. All Original, All Nebraska includes twelve songs that praise the state in a project that is part Holtz’s brain child and part invitation for Nebraskans to learn more about their state for the 150th birthday celebration.

Holtz is a long-time folk music enthusiast and Humanities Nebraska artist. He’s been writing songs about Nebraska since 2000 and released his first CD of folk songs in 2002.

Holtz decided to record a CD of original songs about Nebraska to help recognize Nebraska’s 150th birthday in 2017.

“The idea was that I wanted to be able to tell more stories about Nebraska,” Holtz said. “I have college students who tell me they’ve never read a book. This is intended for people who don’t like to read. But everybody likes music.”

The twelve tracks cover a wide variety of historical and current Nebraska topics and showcase several music styles.

“It has folk sounds, waltz rhythms, rock flavors, and country rock,” Holtz said. “I wanted to get songs that were different.”

Tracks like “Blue Water, Little Thunder,” tell Native American history, “The Rider’s Refrain” and “The Gentleman’s Outlaw” cover cowboy and outlaw stories, and “Back to the Sandhills” and “Sail Away” celebrate the state’s diverse landscape.

Holtz said that using song to teach Nebraska history is an important part of the project.

“It’s a different way to look at history,” he said. “It’s a different way into some stories you might not know about. You can learn them in a pretty quick way.”

The album includes short explanations of the songs on an insert that comes with the case, and Holtz introduces each track with background information. Since the songs are just windows into these stories, Holtz wants listeners to use them as springboards into history exploration.

“Even if it’s a story that’s sad, maybe it’s intriguing, and they’ll want to explore Nebraska history,” Holtz said. “If people say, ‘I had never heard of Susan La Flesche Picotte’ or they say, ‘I didn’t know Nebraska had a pioneer aviatrix!’ – then we met the goal.”

Holtz described his creative process as he wrote the songs as sporadic, but it closely tied to his teaching experiences and his childhood growing up in Ord, Nebraska.

“I teach Nebraska literature. I teach Cather, Neihardt, Sandoz, and Aldrich. Sandoz and Neihardt get into Native American stories, and I wanted to include those as well,” Holtz said. “I probably knew about the Battle of Blue Water, well the Massacre of Blue Water, because of Sandoz. It just struck me as a story I’d like to write a song about.”

Holtz said that even though Ord is on the edge of the Sandhills, his interest in that region did not develop until he was an adult.Dan Holtz2

“I came to love and appreciate that kind of lifestyle. I once did an artist-in-residence for a week and went to schools in the Sandhills. A school would have a barbed wire fence around it to keep the cows out. Even though I wasn’t born there, I have that appreciation now,” Holtz said.

Members of Flatwater Highway share that appreciation. They assembled from across the state to provide their vocal and musical talents. The way they came together to make a band for this specific project is typical to Nebraska – everybody knows everybody else.

Holtz met Steffan Baker because Baker is also a native of Ord. Baker sings and plays the guitar and mandolin on the album. Baker then introduced Holtz to his cousin Julie Baker-Anderson, who sings. He also knew Cindy Huebert, who plays the violin, and her husband Martin Huebert and son Eli Huebert, who play electric bass and electric guitar, respectively. Baker also knew drummer Ralph Brown. Brown is also an artist, and he drew the artwork for the album cover.

They were all interested in the project, but they lived scattered across the state. The name of the band was a result of the way they came together.

“We wanted to use the name Flatwater, but we needed something after it or something before it,” Holtz said. “As I was driving up to Wisner, I thought about how Nebraska was and still is a highway, first for Native people, then with railroads running across, then highways. The name recognizes all the miles we put into driving to practice.”

Baker, Baker-Anderson, and Holtz met last June to practice, then the full band met in November. They did an informal concert in North Loup in February and then polished the songs right before recording them later that month at Power Base Studio in Wisner.

The musicians volunteered their time, and Holtz self-funded the production costs.

“Making money isn’t the aim of the project,” Hotlz said. “I enjoy doing the music, and they were all neat people to work with.”

Holtz hopes that the album will make connections with a variety of Nebraskans through its music.

“It’s for more of an adult audience, but kids might enjoy some of the songs,” Holtz said. “People interested in Nebraska history, or people excited for Nebraska’s 150th birthday will enjoy the music.”

All Original, All Nebraska will be available at various retail stores and on CD Baby, an online music site. It sells for $15 or two for $25. Holtz will also sell and ship the CDs himself. Contact him at DHoltz@peru.edu.

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What Is It Wednesday: July 13 – Butter Mold

“What Is It Wednesday” Revealed – every Wednesday we post an unusual artifact from our collections and encourage viewers to guess the object.


9154-214  Butter Mold

From the Hazel Gertrude Kinscella family of Lincoln

Jul13_top Jul13_bottom

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What Is It Wednesday – July 13 – Wooden round thing with a stick

Welcome to “What Is It Wednesday”!

We’ll post a photo of an unusual artifact from our collections every Wednesday morning. Post your guess in the comments, and share when you figure out what it is!

We’ll identify the artifact and its uses on Thursday.

Jul13_bottom Jul13_top

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Marker Monday Encore: Kobs Cemetery, one of NSHS’s newest markers

Kobs Cemetery Marker

Kobs Pioneer Cemetery Marker, Douglas County, installed 2015

Marker Monday Encore: Kobs Cemetery Marker

Nebraska Historical Marker enthusiast Butch Springgate sent in these pictures from his most recent historical marker trip. He writes,

“Friday, June 24th, 2016, I rode my motorcycle to a new NSHS Marker (Kobs Pioneer Cemetery) located in Douglas County, 144th and State Streets. To my enjoyment, the cemetery is located in the northeast corner of 424 acre Glacier Creek Preserve.

The marker is not accessible by motorcycle or cars, but the 1.5 mile trail walk was amazing. I got caught up in the natural Nebraska grasslands and native plants. At one point the trail crosses Glacier Creek, and the sounds of the babbling creek, songs birds and summer breeze was so soothing. What a jewel to find on the edge of the urban Omaha area.”

Butch has visited over 500 Nebraska Historical Markers. Read about his travels in a previous blog post, “Flashback Friday: Fremont Man Visits All of Nebraska’s 500-plus Historical Markers.”

Glacier Creek Preserve 5

Glacier Creek Preserve is a 130 hectacre (320 acre) preserve dominated by restored tallgrass prairie, but also with stream, woodlands and seep habitats in Douglas County, Nebraska.

Glacier Creek Presrve Omaha Daisy

Flowers at the Glacier Creek Preserve in Douglas County, Nebraska.

Kobs Marker 3

The Kobs Pioneer Cemetery Marker, Douglas County, was installed in 2015 and is located next to the Kobs Cemetery.

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Marker Monday: Lewis and Clark Campsite

Welcome to Marker Monday! Each Monday we will feature one of Nebraska’s hundreds of historical markers. If you’d like to see a specific marker featured, send an email to kylie.kinley@nebraska.gov.



648A Ave, Brownville, Nemaha County, Nebraska; 40.395042, -95.65187

Marker Text:

The members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition camped a short distance south of here on the Nebraska side of the river, on July 15, 1804. They had covered nearly 10 miles that day, most traveling in a 55-foot keelboat, two pirogues, and dugout canoes. Clark and two men, however, walked along the river surveying the land. Clark noted in his journal that they had to cross three small streams, including the Little Nemaha River. He described it as “a Small river, about 100 yds. above the mouth it is 40 yards wide.” He swam across, recording the extensive prairies between the hills marking the Missouri River floodplain. He noted the abundance of fruit: “I Saw Great quantities of Grapes, Plums, or 2 Kinds wild Cherries of 2 Kinds, Hazelnuts, and Goosberries.” Soon after embarking the next morning, the expedition’s keelboat caught on a snag in the river. Despite the delay, the explorers traveled 20 miles on July 16.

Bibliography/Read on:

Search results for “Lewis and Clark” on nebraskahistory.org

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