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Tuesday, March 26, 2013


A member of the Mangold family sent us an old photograph of Bennington that we haven't seen before.  Actually, it not only provided us a view of the business district we hadn't seen before; it provided us the name of a business owner.  

I was especially excited because it showed my great grandfathers livery stable in its entirety.  I've only seen small portions of the front from other photographs.  It was where you "parked" your horse if you took the train anywhere.  The depot was only a block further south.
Oft's Livery Stable, Bennington, NE.  ca. 1900
The photograph didn't have any information but it is obvious it was taken out of the loft of the Mangold elevator which was located on the south end of town by the railroad tracks.  

You are looking at the businesses on the east side of Stark Street.   That is Oft's Livery Stable located in the left center and the white building further to the left was originally Fredrichsen's Store.  The sign on the side says; "Nick Witt."  Nick apparently operated the store at this time and we know he was  the Chairman of the City Board in 1913.  We know this photo was taken prior to 1906; that is when the Woodmen of the World (Legion Hall) was built and its absent in this photo. 

We want to express our appreciation to the Mangold family.  Thanks!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Easter Sunday Tornado of 1913

Easter Sunday Tornado of 1913

This is the centennial of the Easter Tornado of 1913.  This storm still represents the greatest lost of human life of any storm in Nebraska history; 168 were killed.  Nebraska Educational Television showed a special on the storm this Sunday.  They reported the storm ranged from Yutan to western Iowa and a minimum of 7 major tornado.  They missed the one came very close to Bennington; just 1½ miles to the northwest.  That tornado damaged Adolf Mueller’s and Otto Gottsch’s homes and totally destroyed Alex Gordon home.  

The Alex Gordon Home called "Hollyrood," Bennington, NE  

Roy Gordon recounted how the family survived.  Their family home was located on top of a hill and they saw the funnel cloud approaching from the southwest.  Roy and both of his parents ran west down the hill and laid flat in the creek.   The tornado howled by; totally destroying their home and farm buildings.  Following the tornadoes it snowed, adding more misery for the survivors.  

The Alex Gordon home destroyed by the
Easter Sunday Tornado, 1913

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Oral History Presentation-"The Hardware Store"

Three decades of hardware business in downtown Bennington. 

The Bennington Historical Society interviewed Robert Dornacker and Dale Mohr who operated hardware businesses in one of Bennington's historical buildings; the Simonsen and Schmitt Building (1888).  
Bennington Historical Society;
(l-r) Gordon Mueller, Dale Mohr, and Robert Dornacker
Robert operated from 1947 to 1968.  Dale took over and started a Gambles business which eventually moved where Chubby's is now located.  Both gentlemen described the challenges of owning and operating a businesses.  They described Bennington's downtown business district; the other businesses and their owners and how competition from businesses grew with western Omaha.  They shared a lot of good stories and fond memories

About 35 guests attended and a few contributed memories of their own about the old hardware store.  Coffee, punch and cookies and other refreshments were served and everyone had a good time.

Julie Dunn and Gordon Mueller (great cookie)

The chocolate mint cookies were especially good. 

Next month the Society is going to hold an antique appraisal fund raiser on April 3rd at 6:30 at the Library Community Room.  If you have an antique you would like to know more about, bring it.  We'll have the talented Mr. Jeff Spencer, a locally renown expert on antiques and Omaha history and Gene Mueller who have volunteered to appraise antiques.  

Limit of 2 antiques per person.  Donations are requested and  refreshments will be served.  If you have any questions, give Gordon a call:  402-614-7509.   

Saturday, March 2, 2013

May Museum Tour

Jeff Kappeler, Director May Museum
Linda Klabunde, Archivist Bennington Hist. Soc. 
Linda lined up a marvelous tour for the Bennington Historical Society this weekend.  We had a personal tour by Jeff Kappeler, Director of the May Museum which is located in Fremont, Nebraska.  

The May Museum is a beautiful home built by Fremont's first Mayor, Theron Nye in 1874.  In 1901 it became the home of Mr. Nye's son Ray who remodeled the interior.  The museum is administered by the Dodge County Historical Society.

Mr.  Kappeler gave our group a seminar on museum and conservation techniques and principles.  We discussed the need and responsibility of accurate record keeping and storage of archived material.  It was a very informative presentation.   

We then were give a tour of the facility.   The woodwork, furnishings, stained glass and antiques are simply a must see.  The house has been beautifully preserved and the hardwood interior furnishings are stunning.  

The Museum develops and offers specialized displays, tours, photo opportunities and use of their facility by groups.  When you get a chance, take the time to go see this marvelous facility.      
May Museum Tour:  (l-r) Jeff, Lyle, Linda, Julie, Dee, Gordon, Linda, Diane, Ginger, Jan.
THANKS Jeff for a wonderful and informative time.

May Museum,  1643 Nye Avenue, Fremont, NE  68025