History of the Buffalo County Historical Society
legend, the Buffalo County Historical Society was first organized
in the 1920’s under the leadership of Samuel Bassett of Gibbon.
This was the same man who had come to the county with the Gibbon
Homestead Colony in 1872, had written many columns in the newspaper
about various aspects of the history of the county and in 1915 was
the author of the two-volume History of Buffalo County. Unfortunately,
present day local historians have been unable to find any record
of this organization so it remains just a legend.
County Historical Society was organized (again?) in the 1960’s
and even obtained its incorporation papers from the State of Nebraska.
The president of the organization died in office, the vice president
never got around to calling a meeting and once again the organization
As the saying
goes, “The third time's the charm.” As the city of Kearney
prepared to celebrate its centennial in 1972 a dedicated group of
people under the leadership of Dr. Phil Holmgren and Alice Howell
renewed the incorporation and breathed life into the organization.
The Buffalo County Historical Society has been an active organization
since that revival. Once the flurry of the centennial celebration
was past the organization moved on to other activities. Monthly
meetings were held which featured programs about historical events
in the county and surrounding area. There were also tours of the
county, region and even other parts of the state which are organized
and sponsored by the BCHS.
and members of the college history department were recruited to
write articles about historical events and people in Buffalo County
and the Buffalo Tales was born. Starting with ten publications a
year and now published bi-monthly, this newsletter has been collected
and republished in six volumes. Since all issues of the Buffalo
Tales are now available on our website, no new volumes are planned.
However, all issues are now available on a CD.
With so much
history being collected in the form of artifacts and many, many
county records when the new courthouse was built and the old one
torn down, a home was desperately needed. In 1974, with the generous
gift of land from Mr. & Mrs. Jack Hammer, Dr. & Mrs. Francis
Richards, and Ruth Dier, Trails and Rails Museum was established
at 710 West 11th Street in Kearney and opened the following year.
As a member of the Buffalo County Board of Supervisors, Jack Hammer
was instrumental in persuading that board to grant funds annually
to be used in the operation of the museum. A campaign headed by
Alvie Payne a few years later enabled the Society to purchase the
lot to the south to extend the site to 10th Street. Several historic
buildings have been moved to the site so that now our history is
being preserved with these buildings as well as the exhibits within
Next the Historical
Society established an Archives to house and preserve the many county
records which continue to accumulate. The Historical Society works
closely with the Fort Kearny Genealogical Society in answering the
many genealogy questions which come our way.
In March 2000
the Society purchased 3.65 acres of land at 910 W 11th St. west
of Trails & Rails. The property is a farmstead which includes
a house and several outbuildings. The grassland was planted with
native prairie grasses and flowers. Plans for developing a farmstead
museum were being developed. Then the opportunity arose to trade
the part of the land containing the buildings for the land directly
west adjoining the Trails & Rails grounds. Watch for future
developments and plans.
We invite you
to explore the areas which are highlighted here to gain more information
about our activities. We also encourage you to contact us by e-mail
if you have questions or want more information. If you are traveling
through this part of Nebraska, by all means do stop in for a visit.