Timeline Tuesday: Free Auto Camps

Two girls stand beside “Uncle John’s motor home,” circa 1930. RG3542.5-3

Long distance travel in the early days of the automobile was difficult, and comforts along the way were few. Motorists pitched their own tents and cooked their own meals in the auto tourist camps that soon sprang up along the nation’s roads. Some were free; others were operated by a commercial businessman. Pay camps, with more conveniences, soon became common.

The relative advantages and disadvantages of the free auto camp for its sponsoring town were discussed by the magazine Trade Exhibit (Omaha) on October 1, 1926: “There is a great difference of opinion about the merits of the free camp. Some towns have gotten away from it, claiming that it brought motor tramps who hung around, in some cases even living on the town. . . .

“Certainly in a town of any size, where many tourists stop, it is almost essential to have some sort of supervision. This costs money. If the town feels that the benefits derived offset the expense and the undesirable features, then it undoubtedly pays to continue the free camp.

“There is no question but that a nice camp does make a favorable impression on the large number of tourists who are not of the ‘tramp’ variety. The majority of them reciprocate by making purchases in the town-gasoline and oil if nothing else, but usually groceries as well. Some of them would rather pay and have the benefit of the added protection. Others would rather seek the free camp.”

The Trade Exhibit closed its article on the advantages and disadvantages of the free auto camp with the following poem skewering the typical “Flivver Hobo”:

He owns a dented tin machine,

A roll of ragged bedding,

Perhaps sufficient gasoline

To last to where he’s heading;

Some pots and pans, a dirty tent,

Some rusty spades and axes-

He needs no home, he pays no rent,

He never heard of taxes!

The Flivver Hobo is a tramp

I met in hordes last summer,

At many a town’s Free Auto Camp-

A most accomplished bummer.

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Marker Monday: Winter Quarters

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.

 winterquarters

Location

8300-8398 N 30th St, Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska

View this marker’s location 41.335636, -95.96041

Marker Text

Here in 1846 an oppressed people fleeing from a vengeful mob found a haven in the wilderness. Winter Quarters, established under the direction of the Mormon leader Brigham Young, sheltered more than 3,000 people during the winter of 1846-1847. Housed in log cabins, sod houses and dugouts, they lacked adequate provisions. When spring arrived more than six hundred of the faithful lay buried in the cemetery on the hill. Winter Quarters became the administration center of a great religious movement. In the spring of 1847 a pioneer band left Winter Quarters to cross the Plains to the Great Salt Lake Valley. Thousands of other followed this trail. In 1855, Young was forced to utilize handcarts for transportation. The first company, comprising about five hundred persons, left here on July 17 and reached the Valley on September 26, 1856. The town of Florence, established in 1854, was built upon the site of Winter Quarters. James C. Mitchell and Associates of the Florence Land Company established a thriving community. The Bank of Florence, built in 1856, stands today as a symbol of our historical past.

Further Information

Read more information about the Winter Quarters here

Nebraska Marker Project

The Nebraska Marker Project is for the repainting, repair and in some cases, replacement of state historical markers throughout the state. Nebraska’s markers share our exciting history for generations to come. Please consider donating by visiting the Nebraska Marker Project webpage at http://nshsf.org/the-nebraska-marker-project/.

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Timeline Tuesday: Fuel and Water — The Housewife’s Needs

Four women stand in a kitchen setting, date and place unknown. RG2343.18

By the late 1800s, new household conveniences were available to lighten some of a homemaker’s manual tasks. Examples are the sewing machine, first patented in the 1850s, and the carpet sweeper, which came into vogue during the 1880s. However, chores that involved the use of water and fuel-usually wood-were particularly demanding.

Living standards and the general level of health for late nineteenth and early twentieth century Nebraska farm wives depended heavily upon the availability of wood and water for household needs. “A water supply and fuel are two things which enter prominently into the domestic economy of every home,” said the Western Rancher and Brand Recorder (Ainsworth) on February 1, 1905, “for water and fire every house-wife must have, whether she presides over a shanty or a mansion. In lieu of providing these two essentials in domestic economy some very heavy and unless [useless] burdens are often placed upon wives and mothers, who have enough to do even when these essentials are made as convenient as possible.

“We know of well-to-do farmers who have gone to a great deal of expense and trouble to pipe the water from their well to their barns, so that a water supply may be handy for their use by just turning a faucet, who indifferently permit their wives to get the supply of water for the home as best they may from a well located ten rods from the house, men who will have their barns guttered and leave their wives to depend upon an old board and a rain water barrel for a supply of soft water.

“There are a few things which every farmer’s wife has a right to demand. They are a hardwood floor for the kitchen or at least a lineolum [linoleum] cover for it, a good cistern, accessible by a pump in the kitchen sink; a supply of hard, or well water, under pressure where there is a windmill on the premises, and a convenient and ample supply of fuel, conveniently located. This making a woman lug water and split wood or hunt for fuel is a relic of barbarism. A young lady with a farmer on the string as a prospective husband will do well to have these things settled right before the parson gets in his work.”

By the 1920s many Nebraskans enjoyed new household conveniences, including hot and cold running water, gas stoves, automatic washing machines, refrigerators, and vacuum cleaners. In 1927 Mrs. Will Minear, president of the Nebraska Federation of Women’s Clubs, noted that “electricity, gas and the telephone have made great Progress in our state because of the interest of the menfolk.” In an article reprinted from the Omaha Bee by the Rushville Recorder on February 11, 1927, she still urged that “energy-saving and health conserving home conveniences” that directly benefited women, be given an equally high priority.

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Marker Monday: Elm Creek

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.

 elmcreek

Location

119-149 W Calkins Ave, Elm Creek, Buffalo County, Nebraska

View this marker’s location 40.719324, -99.37343

View a map of all Nebraska historical markers, Browse Historical Marker Map

Marker Text

Elm Creek siding was established in August 1866 during construction of the Union Pacific Railroad. The nearby creek provided both water and timber for the railroad’s locomotives. By 1872 a school-church building, a saloon-restaurant, a store, and a post office formed the nucleus of a town. The railroad brought settlers to the area, many of whom were Irish emigrants and railroad workers. They acquired homesteads and timber claims from the government or purchased land from the railroad.

About 1880 the Union Pacific constructed a depot one mile to the east of the original town and the village soon followed in 1883. Elm Creek was incorporated on January 12, 1887, and boasted a population of 300. In 1906 the village survived a major fire which destroyed fourteen buildings on Front Street. Elm Creek’s location in the fertile Platte Valley helped make it an agricultural center for sugar beets, alfalfa, livestock, and corn. In its centennial year of 1987 the population was 862.

Further Information

Search results on NSHS web site for “Elm Creek”

 Nebraska Marker Project

The Nebraska Marker Project is for the repainting, repair and in some cases, replacement of state historical markers throughout the state. Nebraska’s markers share our exciting history for generations to come. Please consider donating by visiting the Nebraska Marker Project webpage at http://nshsf.org/the-nebraska-marker-project/.

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Late 19th Century Divorces in Seward County Claim Adultery, Cruelty, and Name-Calling

Main Street, Seward, Nebraska. NSHS RG2536-5-154


On April 19, 1890 Maggie Devore filed a petition for divorce from her husband James Devore, initiating what proved to be among the most complex divorce procedures in Seward County. Maggie charged James with extreme cruelty, accusing him of striking and knocking her down. She asserted that he held a violent, ungovernable temper, aggravated by intoxication, and used vile and abusive language toward her, such as “damned old whore.”

James answered that Maggie engaged in adulterous conduct, claiming that she was “willing to lie down in the street with any man.” He accused her of giving him a disease  in January of 1890. She  denied the charges, arguing that he wanted to humiliate her. Maggie, the plaintiff, moved to dismiss the case on October 13, 1890 for unknown reasons.

The car above drove around South Omaha Monday as Frank Rehmstedt, 27, celebrated the obtaining of a divorce by his wife, Darlene, 17. The machine dragged a dishpan and a wash-boiler. -Omaha World Herald, August 22, 1934.

The following year, James filed a divorce petition. James charged his wife for committed adultery with an unknown man at the Commercial Hotel in David City, Butler County. Maggie responded denying each allegation and repeating her previous charges against him. Furthermore, she claimed that he refused to provide her with support and maintenance.

James Devore replied to his wife’s answer, denying each charge. Referring to Maggie’s 1890 divorce petition, he noted that he and his wife had requested a dismissal in that divorce suit. She had continued to cohabit with him until March 2. By doing so, he contended, she forgave the charges she had made against him earlier. He admitted that he had contracted a “loathsome venereal disease,” again claiming that he could have contracted it only by cohabiting with his wife.

Seward County Courthouse NSHS RG2536-5-142

This complicated story is but one of the 294 divorce cases that were filed in the Seward County District Court from 1869 to 1906. A study recently published in Nebraska History examines all of those cases, describing the major causes of divorce and the outcomes of the complaints. It examines several facets of the divorce process—sex of petitioners and awardees of decrees, length of marriage prior to divorce, alimony, awards of child care and custody, and restoration of maiden names. Finally, it moves beyond statistics, as useful as they are, to examine the “human” experience of fractured marriages as revealed in petitions, answers, and court proceedings.

The surprising outcome of this story can be found in “Divorce in Seward County, Nebraska 1869-1906″ by Jerrald K. Pfabe. It appears in the Fall 2016 issue of Nebraska History.

 

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New artifact has ties to “The School Children’s Blizzard of 1888”; today is 129th anniversary

The Nebraska History Library recently received a donated book from a University Library in Kansas that was inscribed by Minnie Freeman Penney.  Minnie is of course associated in Nebraska with the infamous  January 12, 1888 blizzard that struck the Nebraska and the Midwest 129 years ago today. The following is the text that appears on the NSHS Marker located south of Ord in Valley County:

“On January 12, 1888, a sudden fierce blizzard slashed across the Midwest. The temperature fell to between 30 and 40 degrees below zero. A howling northwest wind swept the plains. The storm raged for 12 to 18 hours and is probably the most severe single blizzard to have hit Nebraska since the settlement of the state.

“Sometimes called “the school children’s storm,” the blizzard caught many children away from home. Many acts of heroism were performed by parents, teachers, and the children themselves.

The story of Minnie Freeman has become symbolic of these many acts of heroism. Miss Freeman, still in her teens at the time, was teaching at a school near here. When the wind tore the roof off the sod schoolhouse, Miss Freeman saved her pupils by leading them through the storm to a farmhouse a half mile away.

Many other teachers performed similar acts of heroism, and at least one lost her life in the attempt. No accurate count of the total deaths from the storm is possible, but estimates for Nebraska have ranged from 40 to 100.”

The exploits of Minnie were later recorded in the popular Victorian parlor song, “Thirteen were Saved, or Nebraska’s Fearless Maid.”

Minnie married Edgar Byron Penney in Omaha in 1891, but they made their home in Fullerton.  She was politically and socially active in Nebraska.  Although they maintained their legal residence in Fullerton, they moved to Chicago in about 1923 where her husband became president of the C.A. Mosso Chemical Company. She passed away in Chicago on November 1, 1943.

 

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Timeline Tuesday: Friday the Thirteenth Superstitions

Evelyn Sharp, a Nebraskan who was an aviatrix like Nellie Willhite, is pictured here with her Curtiss Robin OX-5.

January 13 in 2017 falls on a Friday, offering an opportunity to examine a superstition that still lingers. “At first glance, Friday the thirteenth, seemed much like any other day,” said the Kearney Daily Hub on Friday, January 13, 1922, “and had it not been for the furtive expressions of ancient superstition here and there, little would have been thought of this as a fateful day.” A reporter who interviewed a number of Kearney residents on their beliefs regarding the day, found that “the superstition still carries power, even though only imaginative.”

Few people would admit openly that they believed Friday the thirteenth to be unlucky, but a review of the columns of early Nebraska newspapers reveals that some were reluctant to schedule a journey or other important event or activity on that day. The Omaha Daily Bee reported on Saturday, August 14, 1915, that on the previous day, not one marriage license had been issued at the Douglas County Courthouse: “One prospective bride . . . . declared she could not think of getting married on Friday, the 13th.”

Those born on Friday the thirteenth did not usually view themselves as unlucky. Roy Worley of Kearney told the Hub on September 13, 1929, “I have never had any bad luck on Friday the thirteenth [his birthday] and I have no reason to think that it is different from any other day,” adding that “the superstition that has grown up about the day is what Henry Ford said history is.”

Some professed to believe that Friday the thirteenth could actually be a lucky day. A Rulo area farmer in 1907 advertised a public sale for Friday, December 13, maintaining that the thirteenth would be “his lucky day and he expects a big crowd, and everything will go at the top price. We [the Falls City Tribune, November 29, 1907] await results, and if all turns out as he says we will forever bury this old superstition. Either 13 or Friday have been considered unlucky, but as a combination it is more than our pessimistic nature can swallow. Attend this sale and watch the outcome.”

The number thirteen has long been considered unlucky, even when not paired with a Friday. Hotels sometimes skipped the number when designating rooms, and hostesses routinely avoided seating thirteen guests at dinner parties. The thirteen members of the graduating class of North Platte High School in 1895 brought the class mascot to the ceremony with them “to break the possible ill-luck that might arise. In this the class showed itself to be more superstitious than Gov. Holcomb who has just accepted an honorary membership in a Thirteen club organization in New York City.” [North Platte Semi-weekly Tribune, June 4, 1895] Nebraska Governor Silas A. Holcomb was enrolled in May 1895 as an honorary member of New York’s Thirteen Club, organized in 1881 to combat superstition, especially fear of the number thirteen.

Aviatrix Nellie Willhite took advantage of the many instances of the number thirteen in her life, to advertise herself as the “Thirteen Girl” during her participation in the All Nebraska Air Tour in 1930 during which her monoplane carried a large “13” as an emblem. She told the Hub on June 28, 1930, that she considered thirteen to be her lucky number. Her first solo flight had been made on Friday the thirteenth. She enrolled in an aviation school in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, as the thirteenth student, and she was the thirteenth student to graduate after thirteen hours of instruction.

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Marker Monday: The Flight of the Cheyennes

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.

flightofcheyennes

Location

U.S. 20, Harrison, Dawes County, Nebraska

View this marker’s location 42.667451, -103.4663

Marker Text

Just before 10 P.M. on January 9, 1879, the 130 Cheyennes held in the cavalry barracks made their desperate bid for freedom. After disabling the soldier guards, they fled across this ground to the White River beyond. Under heavy fire from pursuing troops, they followed the river and climbed the high buttes several miles to the west. During this initial fighting, twenty -seven Cheyennes and five soldiers were killed. The Cheyennes were buried in a mass grave near the post sawmill.

Further Information

Search results for “Cheyenne Flight” and “Cheyenne Outbreak”

Nebraska Marker Project

The Nebraska Marker Project is for the repainting, repair and in some cases, replacement of state historical markers throughout the state. Nebraska’s markers share our exciting history for generations to come. Please consider donating by visiting the Nebraska Marker Project webpage at http://nshsf.org/the-nebraska-marker-project/.

 

 

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Flashback Friday: The Fight Over Nebraska’s State Seal and Flag

By James E. Potter

Florence Hazen Miller of Crete, right, with the Nebraska state flag for which she was the leading advocate. The woman on the left is unidentified. RG3753-01

A 2015 poll conducted by the North American Vexillogical Association (NAVA) ranked Nebraska’s state flag dead last out of all fifty states. It is little consolation that the Montana flag came in forty-ninth, the Kansas flag forty-eighth, the South Dakota flag forty-seventh, and the Minnesota flag forty-sixth. One thing these flags have in common is that each features a circular state seal on a national blue background. From a distance, hoisted on a flagpole, there is little to distinguish one from another. This combination of a nearly unreadable seal on a plain background probably accounts for the flags’ low ranking in the world of vexillology. Montana, Kansas, and South Dakota may have edged Nebraska in the poll only because the state names also appear on their banners separate from the seals. (See the article here.)

The state flag of Nebraska.

A list published by the Nebraska State Historical Society in 1920 indicated that each of the other forty-seven states had already adopted a flag. Nebraska finally got its flag in 1925. The story of how that happened begins in 1921 with the introduction in the legislature of a bill to create a commission to redesign the Nebraska state seal adopted in 1867 (the same seal we use now). The bill also called for the new seal to be used as the primary feature on a state banner. Rep. George A. Williams of Fairmont introduced the bill at the urging of the Nebraska Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), whose main interest seemed to be the flag.

The Nebraska State Journal in Lincoln commented about the state seal when it learned that Williams had introduced the bill to redesign it. “It must be conceded that it is archaic in conception and mediocre in drawing, but the fact remains that it is an interesting creation and that its main features still have vital significance. . . . Agriculture, transportation, and the mechanical trades remain our greatest industries. The steamboat has disappeared. The Rocky Mountains never belonged in the picture, perhaps, but in view of the importance they held to the plainsmen of fifty and seventy-five years ago, their presence is easily accounted for.”[i]

Bertram Goodhue, the architect of the Nebraska State Capitol, designed a new state seal that was more symbolic in nature.

When the legislature met in January 1925, Mrs. Florence Hazen Miller of Crete, a staunch advocate of a Nebraska flag, prevailed upon Rep. J. Lloyd McMaster of Lincoln to introduce HR 67, a bill to create an official state banner. The bill specified that the banner would be national blue with the seal of Nebraska in the center. It said nothing about the redesigned Goodhue seal, so if it were to pass, the original and still official state seal would appear on the banner.[ii]

The state seal designed by Bertram Goodhue, architect of Nebraska’s state capitol.

The bill moved ahead in the Nebraska House, where it passed 91 to 4 on February 9 without amendment, and was sent to the senate.[iii]

There, HR 67 was assigned to the Judiciary Committee, where it languished until late March; then it was amended to substitute the Goodhue seal for the old seal and reported to the floor. The Lincoln Star noted that the amended bill would probably pass the senate and go back to the house, “where it is understood that there is some opposition to the adoption of the new seal. . . . [T]hough there may be some difficulty encountered over the seal, it is believed the banner will not be molested.”[iv]

But there was opposition to the new seal designed by Goodhue in the senate. On March 27 the Lincoln Evening State Journal reported that in a vote “that was never recorded,” the senate failed to pass the amended flag bill but before the vote could be announced, Sen. Charles Meacham Jr. of Dorchester, representing Mrs. Miller’s district, asked for the bill to be returned to the committee of the whole “to strike out the senate amendment which on the previous day had substituted the seal designed four years ago for the old state seal to be used in connection with a state banner.” The amendment was promptly stripped from the bill, which then passed the senate on a vote of 32-0. Only Sen. Henry Behrens, a Beemer banker, offered remarks recorded in the senate journal, though other senators must have shared his sentiments: “The Great Seal of the state has served the people so well in the early days of this great State of Nebraska I am not ready to discard it now.”

On July 16, 1925, the new Nebraska banner, four and one-half by five and one-half feet with a gold fringe and the state seal in a field of national blue, was unveiled and presented to Gov. Adam McMullen. It had been manufactured by the National Permanent Decoration Company of Mason City, Iowa, at a cost of $100. A state banner of the official design had already been flown, however. At one second after midnight on July 1, 1925, the day the banner law took effect, a small Nebraska flag with a fifteen-inch-diameter state seal embroidered in gold and silver was hoisted on a pole in Crete, probably by Mrs. Miller, and it remained flying until 8 a.m.[v]

Then, in 1963, State Senator Eugene Mahoney of Omaha sponsored the passage of LB 556, which designated the banner as the “official state flag” and further provided that it could be flown on such occasions and in such places where the U.S. flag would be flown. Having succeeded in giving the state flag more visibility in 1963, some nine years later Mahoney decided to try more drastic measures to rectify what he saw as this Nebraska symbol’s shortcomings. During the legislative session of 1972, he introduced a resolution to study changing the flag’s design. Newspaper articles quoted Mahoney as saying that the Nebraska state flag was “the homeliest in the nation” and “a poor symbol for the state.” Both the Lincoln and Omaha papers invited readers to weigh-in, the Journal soliciting designs from the public and the World-Herald printing a ballot that readers could mark and send in.[vi]

The response could not have been what the senator expected. Samples of new flag designs that the Journal-Star illustrated (of some two hundred received) seemed uninspired or graphically obtuse. The World-Herald’s ballot tallied 2,091 votes against changing the flag’s design and only 342 in favor, a seven to one landslide. Elizabeth G. Hall, the granddaughter of Isaac Wiles, the state seal’s originator, could not understand why the legislature would waste time and money redesigning the flag because the current one “is very appropriate. There’s no reason to mess around with screwy little things like that. We could spend our money in far better places.”[vi]

Sen. Eugene Mahoney of Omaha in 1961. RG2141-1410

After all was said and done, Nebraska’s state seal has remained unchanged since 1867, and the state flag is still just as it was adopted in 1925. Nebraskans have been steadfast in clinging to the state symbols they have grown used to. Yesterday, on Jan. 5, 2017, Omaha State Sen. Burke Harr introduced Legislative Resolution 3, which would establish a task force to design a new state flag and submit a recommendation.

The comments on the Omaha World Herald’s article show that Nebraskans have a lot of strong opinions that the flag should remain as it is. Read their article here.

We’ll have to wait and see if 2017 brings change that failed in 1921 and again in 1972 because, as we all know, history loves to repeat itself.

To read the rest of the story of how Nebraska adopted its seal and flag, please read “The State Flag and the Great Seal: The Historical Ups and Downs of Two Nebraska Icons” in the Winter 2016 edition of Nebraska History magazine. You can purchase your copies at any of our Landmark stores, or by visiting this web site.


James E. Potter (1945-2016) worked for the Nebraska State Historical Society from 1967 until his untimely death earlier this year. He served variously as an archivist (1967-1985), as editor of this journal (1985-2002), and as senior research historian (2002-2016) while remaining on the editorial staff. Along the way he earned a reputation for broad and deep knowledge, careful scholarship, generosity, and good humor. This is his final article for Nebraska History, written in anticipation of the state’s sesquicentennial in 2017.


[i] LR 75, Journal of the Nebraska Legislature, Eighty-second Legislature, second session (1972), 1357, 1712; “Ideas for New State Flag Requested,” Sunday Journal-Star, Apr. 9, 1972, 1B; “Cast a Ballot in ‘Flag Poll,’” Omaha World-Herald, Apr. 15, 1972, 1.

[ii] “New State Flag now on Display,” Lincoln Star, July 16, 1925, 2; Mrs. B. G. Miller account, Nebraska DAR Scrapbook, 1924-26, RG 3823, Nebraska DAR, Box 3, f. 5, NSHS. This “first” state banner was hanging in the Secretary of State’s office in the capitol as of January 2012.

[iii] HR 67, House Journal, Legislature of Nebraska, Forty-third Session (1925), 114, 476

[iv] “State Banner Bill Advanced,” Lincoln Star, Mar. 26, 1925, 1.

[v] “The State Seal,” Nebraska State Journal, Feb. 3, 1921, 4.

[vi] “Deadline for State Flag Ideas Extended,” Sunday Journal Star, Apr. 23, 1972, 1B; “Vote 7-1 Against New State Flag,” Sunday Omaha World-Herald, Apr. 23, 1972, 1; “Miss Hall: Changing Flag Plan ‘Screwy,’” Sunday Journal-Star, July 2, 1972, 2B.

 

 

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Timeline Tuesday: A Fortune in Spain – Maybe

Photographer Solomon D. Butcher depicted a street in Kearney in 1910. NSHS RG2608-2500

Modern attempts to defraud the unwary via the internet by offering cash rewards in exchange for helping someone recover funds (with the helper required to make an upfront payment for “minor expenses” or to prove good faith) are nothing new. The Kearney Daily Hub on March 29, 1933, reported that several Kearney residents had been offered the chance to earn $120,000 in return for sending a cablegram and a few twenty dollar bills to Spain.

The Hub said: “At least a number of the residents of this city have received through the mails a mysterious letter, promising a third share in a $360,000 fortune. The catch in the scheme, a version of a confidence game worked successfully for decades, is this-the seekers of the ‘fortune’ must aid the writers of the letters by advancing a ‘certain sum’ to pay minor expenses.

“Here is a copy of the anonymous letter received by several Kearneyites: ‘Dear Sir: Being imprisoned here by bankruptcy I beseech you to help me to obtain a sum of $360,000 I have in America, being necessary to come here to raise the seizure of my baggage, paying to the Register of the Court the expenses of my trial, and recover my portmanteau containing a secret packet where I have hidden two checks payable to bearer for that sum. As a reward I will give up to you the third part $120,000.’

“‘I cannot receive your answer in the prison, but you can send a cablegram to a person of my confidence who will deliver it to me.'” The letter furnished a Spanish address to which communications should be sent and promised to reveal “all my secret” after receipt of the cablegram. It was signed “S.”

The Hub said: “An unusual feature of the ‘message’ was the fact that it evidently had been run off by mimeograph or other mechanical means. Two of the Kearney folk who received the letter compared them, and they were identical line for line.

“Just why a man would offer $120,000 to anyone in this country, to pay expenses of a bankruptcy trial, the letter did not say. Despite the almost admitted out and out ‘con game’ there will probably be many persons over the state and country who will dig down in their pockets and send to Spain a good share of their savings.

“All letters received in Kearney from ‘Mr. S.,’ the mysterious Spaniard-or maybe a plain American swindler stranded in Spain-bore Spanish stamps but postmarks were undechipherable. Strangely enough, none of the letters have ‘United States’ in their addresses, all of them simply bearing the address ‘Kearney’ with Nebraska added in parenthesis. Perhaps the letters were mailed in this state, though most of the recipients were agreed that the missives were probably sent from Spain. How much money the perpetrators of the new hoax will collect, from their probable thousand or more similar letters, sent to all parts of this country, no one knows.

“One interesting and strange feature of the letters addressed to Kearney was that in almost every case, they were addressed to street numbers which the residents had left many years ago. . . . It was thought that the swindler or swindlers had obtained an old city directory, or an old newspaper of many years ago, and copied down a list of addresses from this source.”

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