Volume 6, No. 9                Buffalo County Historical Society        October, 1983


by Gene E. Hamaker

         The Depot House was listed in the first issue of the Times with E. E. Clark as proprietor, otherwise it and its owner remain a mystery.  Clark's name appears among the voters in 1872 but not among the town lot sales so the location of the hotel is suggested only by its name.  Neither the hotel nor its proprietor is mentioned in 1873.

         What was to become the Grand Central Hotel was only in the process of construction late in 1872.  James and Antoinette Riley began erection of the two story frame building and the adjoining barn and stable on two lots on the east side of Nebraska Avenue (Avenue A) where the avenue met North Railway street.  The Rileys must have over-estimated their resources as two liens were placed on their property and More & Sunderland took over their enterprise in May of 1873.

         Simon and John T. Murphy were the proprietors of Kearney Junction's first hotel, The Harrold House.  Simon was a surveyor and John perhaps a doctor, although, as we have seen, it is not certain he practiced medicine while here.  The background of these two men is not known.  Their hotel was begun in late July or early August and completed in September.  One report says it was open by the 5th of September, but another indicates that only the restaurant was operating in mid-September.  The hotel appears to have been a two- and-a-half story frame structure located on a 25' x 130' lot on the west side of Wyoming (Central) between 7th and 8th.  The site was about a block and a half south of the track.
The Harrold House

        Two other hotels may have made their appearance in 1872.  The two story frame building in the middle of Section 2, variously called the Smith-Collins hotel, was moved to Kearney Junction and used as a hotel.  An old settler recalled in 1909 that the move occurred in 1872, but it may well have been later.  The second possibility is more tangible.  Nichols, Hoagland and Co. built a two story frame hotel, the Metropolitan, which was open by the end of February, 1873, thus probably begun in 1872.  It was built on two lots on the west side of Nebraska Avenue, the third and fourth lots from North Railway street, and directly across from the site of the Grand Central Hotel.  The owner of these lots, and a number of others, was Dr. F. W. Wilms, a homeopathic physician from Lincoln, and was likely the "Co." of Nichols, Hoagland & Co.
Sylvester S. St. John
Sylvester S. St. John

         Sylvester S. St. John was a printer by trade and was publisher of a newspaper in Wisconsin when he decided to seek his future in the Platte valley of Nebraska.  Having resolved to locate at Kearney Junction, St. John initially invested in an agricultural implement business.  The St. Johns came in mid-October and established a residence on the south west corner of Colorado and 11th (22nd).  The implement business was most likely situated on the north half of the third lot from the north west corner of Wyoming and 11th.
         Enoch B. Carter, practical watchmaker and jeweler, came to Kearney Junction in October of 1872.  He contracted for the third lot above the north east corner of Wyoming and 10th (21st) and built his store, thereafter advertised as being on Wyoming between 10th and 11th.  A month after his arrival, Carter became a member and the chairman of the board of trustees for the town of Kearney Junction.
Lumber Yards
         The first lumber and coal yard of which we know with any degree of certainty was that established in August or September of 1872 by Luman R. More and William Sunderland. They located on lots on the east side of Wyoming just south of the railroads.  More & Sunderland will continue in business until 1876 and will furnish much of the lumber for the construction of residences, business houses, bridges and other constructions in Kearney Junction and the general vicinity.
        Baker Brothers, perhaps with a yard in Lincoln, will open a lumber yard the 1st of October 1872. Charles H. Baker was its manager.  The yard was located at the Union Pacific switch.  At some time in 1873, the firm was sold to Hobart E. Swan.

         The Times of October 12, 1872 says there were four lumber yards in Kearney Junction. Only the two above have been identified.
Meat Market
         All that we know of such an enterprise is that, without identifying the proprietor or location, a meat market is among the businesses listed in the Times of October 12, 1872.
         Every town of any size and prospect required a newspaper and Kearney Junction was no exception.  The first issue of the Kearney Times rolled off the presses in Iowa October 12, 1872, indeed the first several issues of the Times had to be printed in Iowa.  Lyman B. Cunningham was the editor, Chas. Clapp the printer, and the firm of Mendel, Clapp, and Cunningham the publishers of this fledgling venture.  Cunningham was a college graduate, had taught school, but had no experience as an editor.  He had come to Kearney Junction in mid-August expressly to start a newspaper; he also took out a claim on 160 acres.  Following two weeks in Iowa to make final arrangements, Cunningham returned to town aboard a B&M freight on September 6th, there being no passenger train yet.  He then chose a site and had a two story frame building erected upon it.  The building was located on the north east corner of Smith (24th) and Fifth; later it was moved to other locations. Cunningham says the printing office was on the second floor.  The first floor will, at various times, house the first school, the first literary society, the Presbyterian Sunday meetings, and so on.
Post Office
Lyman B. Cunningham
Lyman B. Cunningham

         The first post office at Kearney Junction was at the Smith-Collins house on the center of Section 2 with Asbury Collins as postmaster.  George E. Smith apparently served as Collins' assistant for some time and became postmaster officially October 29, 1872. By that time, the post office seems to have been moved to a part of Dart's store where it probably remained until 1873.
Railroad Depot
         As with so many things in this period, solid evidence concerning the erection of a depot at Kearney Junction is missing.  We can be reasonably certain that shortly after completing the connection to the town in September, the B & M used a box car as a temporary depot.  Too, we know that the Union Pacific ran on past the town site to the Smith-Collins or Junction House until half of the town lots were sold to the Union Pacific by the B & M in mid-September.  It is probable that the two companies then agreed on a Union Station, the construction of which was at least begun in the fall of 1872.  However, the B & M seems to have owned the structure.  The B & M also erected a round house and a water tank.  The depot was situated just east of the Wyoming Avenue crossing and between the two railroad tracks.  The round house and water tank were further east.
Real Estate
William W. Patterson
William W. Patterson

         While there are a number of people engaged in real estate activities in 1872, such as John Mahon and William W. Patterson, who were agents for the railroads, and Asbury Collins, the one firm with major interests in the town, was that of Perkins & Harford.  Having purchased the east half of Sec. 35, T9, R16W from D. N. Smith (i.e. the Eastern Land Association, an affiliate of the B. & M.), in July for $16,000, the company platted a part of the land as the Perkins & Harford addition to Kearney Junction in August.  The partners, whose home was in Minneapolis, built a two story frame office and residence building on the far south east corner of their holding; according to the plat, the north west corner of Smith and Dacota (2nd). Thomas H. Perkins will manage the firm's interests in Kearney Junction with the assistance of N. H. Hemiup and Philip Allison.
     We know the Harrold House was serving meals in September and that an Edwin D. Johnson built a frame restaurant on Nebraska Avenue behind More & Sunderland's lumber yard which was open in November.  L. R. More took his meals there as partial payment for lumber and hardware Johnson had used in erecting the restaurant building.  His "trade" was not enough as mechanic's liens filed in January and February of 1873 probably ended Johnson's business.  P. W. Wilson may have provided for boarders as early as November, but we can not be certain of that nor if there were other purveyors of food in the fall of 1872.
         We may not know just how many saloons there were but no one in Kearney Junction in 1872 need suffer for a lack of access to intoxicants.  There were at least three saloons in operation in the fall of 1872 and, perhaps, others as well.

         Max Boetsch built a saloon and beer garden just to the east of the Perkins & Harford's office, which was probably open in November.  This may have been the first saloon in town and one source called it a very tough place.  What may have been the second saloon was owned by W. H. H. Fogg and was located on the second lot from the north west corner of Nebraska Ave. and North Railway street, thus very close to the depot.  The frame building was fulfilling its function in December and possibly as early as November.  Thirsty travelers unable to find a place at Fogg's bar had only to walk a few paces to C. R. Stimpson's establishment, a one story frame building on the north east corner of Wyoming and North Railway street.  Known as Stimpson's Billiard Parlor, it offered both a bar and billiards.  The building went up in December, thus may not have been open for business before January, 1873.
Shoe Shop
         Kearney Junction's first boot and shoe maker was James Jenkins, an immigrant from Wales and a homesteader living two and a half miles north of town.  Jenkins had followed his trade in Wisconsin prior to coming to Nebraska in March of 1872.  The Rev. William Morse, who may have been Jenkins' brother-in-law, put up a building in September on the north side of Smith and a few doors west of Perkins & Harford's office.  Whether by design or not, Jenkins opened his shop there while continuing to live on his homestead.
     Kearney Junction Times, Kearney Times, Central Nebraska Press, The Western New Era, The Kearney New Era, The Kearney Enterprise, The Kearney Hub;  Buffalo County Minute Books, Deed Books, and Lien Books; Minute Books of the City of Kearney; Andreas, History of Nebraska, 1882;  Edmunds, Pen Sketches of Nebraskans, 1871; Bassett, History of Buffalo County, vols. 1, 2, 1916;  Where the Buffalo Roamed, 1967; Biographical Souvenir Of Buffalo, Kearney and Phelps Counties, 1890; Come Back Letters, 1923.

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revised 3/10/2003/2:50 p.m.