St. Patrick’s Catholic Schools

Written By: nppladmin - Jun• 08•21
Originally published to on June 4, 2021.

Although this history story is about a month late, I am happy to bring you today’s North Platte History, which focuses on St Patrick’s Catholic schools in North Platte. Because there is such an extensive history, we have chosen to start with McDaid Elementary School history and will have another segment focusing on St. Patrick’s High School later this year.

Readers should know that our library researchers found conflicting information about the “true” date/year that our parochial school opened. We consulted with Bill McGahan and he agreed that the date below is what the Church recognizes as the official opening of the Catholic school in North Platte.

On Saturday, September 12, 1891, the North Platte Telegraph announced that St. Patrick’s Catholic Church opened the first parochial school in North Platte. The newspaper stated that it opened with one hundred and five students. When the school opened it was named “Nativity Convent School”. The Sisters of Saint Joseph of Concordia, Kansas were sent here to run the school. The frame building of the Nativity School was sold to Mrs. Joseph Donegan and moved to B and Sycamore Street where it continues to exist as a private residence. <See photograph of a large house operating as a school, with nuns as teachers>

In 1902 the school closed. When it reopened in 1903, it was operated by the Dominican sisters until 1912. During this time, the school was called “St. Patrick’s Catholic School.”

Patrick McDaid was born September 18, 1881 to Michael McDaid (1856-1940) and Annie Doherty McDaid (1857-1931) IN Londonderry, Northern Ireland. He had eight sisters (Annie, Elizabeth, Jane, Mary, Isabella, Ellen, Margaret, and Martha) and two brothers (Michael and John). His brother Michael, also became a priest. He joined the Priesthood and studied in St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Kildare, Ireland. During his priesthood, he served as a priest of the Omaha Diocese, and he worked with Father Flanagan to set up “Boy’s Town,” and devoted his life to the service of others. Father McDaid and Father Flanagan remained friends their entire life. Father Flanagan often brought Boys Town groups to North Platte to perform (and likely raise money for Boys Town). <see photograph of a young Father McDaid>

On October 10, 1910, Father Patrick McDaid arrived from Londonderry, Ireland and became the first resident priest for St. Patrick’s parish. When he arrived in North Platte there were about 65 families in the parish and 47 children in the Catholic school. His missions in 1910 included: Willow Island, Gothenburg, Brady, Maxwell, Gandy, Keystone, and Sutherland. One should remember that this was an era when travel was very difficult: roads were not well-developed and travel was by horse and buggy.

During Father McDaid’s time in North Platte, his legacy was to build a new school and a new rectory. He also arranged the purchase of a large residence to be used as a large Convent for the sisters. The entire block where St Patrick’s church currently sits, was paved. All debt had been retired; and he began a building fund for a new church before leaving the parish. It should be noted here that St. Patrick’s parish was under the direction of the Diocese of Grand Island as of March 8, 1912, with Bishop James A. Duffy presiding. Prior to Bishop Duffy, North Platte was a part of the Diocese of Omaha.

Bishop Duffy encouraged Father McDaid to erect a new parochial school. In 1913, Father McDaid went back to Ireland for a three week vacation. While there, he had the plans for a new three story brick school drawn up. The plans were given great publicity in Ireland for their architectural and educational triumphs. On this visit to Ireland, he also made a trip to Rome and was granted an audience with Pope Pius X (Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, (1835-1914), Italian pope from 1903 to 1914).

The Holy Father was greatly interested in St. Patrick’s congregation, and asked many questions about the parish, providing His blessing to impart on the parish, upon McDaid’s return. Plans were developed for the new structure directly east of the church in the same block. The cost of the new brick building was $52,000. When the new three story school was erected in 1916, the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville, Kentucky were placed in charge of the grade and high school. Enrollment had increased considerably and the faculty consisted of seven sisters.

Housing had not yet been arranged for the nuns, so the Reverend Anton Link offered them the hospitality of St. Patrick’s Academy in Sidney, Nebraska, which was spacious enough to accommodate them. The sisters returned to North Platte to take residence in Father McDaid’s parish house, which he vacated for them until the school quarters could be furnished. When completed, the third floor of the school building housed the dormitories, community room and chapel, while the kitchen, refectory, and laundry were in the basement. The school building opened after the celebration of Mass in honor of the Holy Spirit on September 17, 1917. The High School was accredited by the state of Nebraska in 1920. On April 22, 1918, Mass was celebrated on the third floor in the school chapel for the first time with Father McDaid as celebrant. Mr. and Mrs. William Jeffers and daughter Eileen, who were donors of the altar were in attendance. Bishop Duffy blessed and erected the Stations of the Cross. The building became known as the St. Patrick’s School building. <See photograph of the three-story brick building that many readers will remember>

Father McDaid served the parish for thirty seven years. He was a prominent and popular figure in North Platte. He revived the parochial school and pushed for the development of the brick school building, which eventually bore his name. After he resigned, he returned to his homeland of Ireland, making his home with relatives in Londonderry, Ireland. In 1960, Father McDaid did return to the North Platte parish for a visit and received a warm welcome from his former parishioners and friends. He was in poor health and after his return to Ireland, he died January 18, 1961. <See photograph of his headstone in Ireland>

The Catholic School was renamed to “McDaid Elementary School” in 1968, in honor of Father Patrick McDaid.

In 2013, this brick building was torn down to make room for a new Family Life Center and improvements to St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. See article written before it was torn down:…/article_e97adab2-02bc-5387…

The current McDaid Elementary School is located at 1002 East E Street and was built in 2000. <see color photograph of the current school>

Thank you for reading about our North Platte history!

Thomas C. Patterson

Written By: nppladmin - May• 28•21
Originally published to on Friday 5/28/2021.

Thomas Cartwright Patterson was born on February 3, 1846 in County Down, Ireland. He came to America with his parents, W. J. and Mary Patterson, in 1854. Thomas received most of his education in Chicago’s grammar schools. At the age of sixteen, he enlisted in the Illinois Infantry and served thirty-two months for the Union Army during the Civil War. He was involved in numerous Civil War Battles: Mission Ride, Chickamauga and Buzzard Roost Gap.

In 1868, Thomas moved with his parents to North Platte, Nebraska, where he went to work for the Union Pacific Railroad as a fireman, and then in the shops.

He taught school in 1870 and then served as postmaster from 1871 to 1882. During this same time he also opened and ran a general store and studied law. He became a lawyer in 1883, started the Mutual Building and Loan Association of North Platte in 1887, the first of its kind in Nebraska, and opened a real estate business in 1890. Through smart and diligent investing he owned (clear of any debt) five farms in Lincoln County which he sold in 1919 for nearly $100,000 and making him one of the wealthiest men of North Platte.

Thomas was intelligent and had excellent business sense. Sadly, his personal life was filled with tragedy; most of his children died at a very young age, usually before their 30th or 40th birthday.

In 1871, Thomas married Mary Virginia Morris. They had two children: Col. George T. Patterson (son, 1872-1919; he died of Spanish Influenza) and Ruth M. Patterson (daughter, 1876-1962). In December, 1881, his wife, Mary died at age 31.

On September 15, 1884, Thomas married his second wife, Mary Trumbull Bradley. They had five children together and all of the children died at young ages. Edith Lindsley (daughter, 1885-1920, age 35, teacher at NPHS-died of smoke & gas inhalation); Marcus Grant (son, 1885-1886, age 1 year); Sidney (son, 1890-1890); Thomas Clinton (son, 1891-1892, age 1 year); and Lindsley Searle (daughter, 1892-1892).

If you have ever wondered who built and is buried in the only mausoleum on the west end of the North Platte Cemetery, well, that individual was Thomas C. Patterson. The Patterson mausoleum was built in July 1919 to honor the memory of his son, George T. Patterson. It was built by Chas. G. Blade & Company of Chicago, Illinois and contains over 60 tons of materials. The exterior consists of New England gray granite and the interior is embellished with very fine imported Italian marble. The doors to the mausoleum are bronze. There are ten bodies in the vault.

Thomas was a lifelong member of the Episcopal Church, served three terms as mayor of North Platte and was responsible for pursuing a grant to build the 1912 Carnegie Library in North Platte. The house he built and lived in still stands today at 515 West 4th Street.

The History of Lincoln County remembered Mr. Patterson this way… “Thomas C. Patterson is one of the names deserving of most frequent repetition in connection with the history of North Platte during a period of more than half a century. “See-est thou a man diligent at his business; he shall stand before kings.” Diligence seems to have been the keynote in the career of Mr. Patterson. There has never been a time in the past fifty years when he has not been engaged in some line of useful service, and much of it in behalf of the community. His is a rare instance of a man achieving individual prosperity after passing the prime of his years.”

Thomas Cartwright Patterson died November 18, 1929 at the age of 83.

Women Wrestlers Come to North Platte

Written By: nppladmin - May• 24•21
Originally published to on May 21, 2021

Today’s history Friday is about lady wrestlers that broke barriers. The history of women’s wrestling pre-dates the 1980’s by decades; in fact, the Golden Age of Women Wrestling took place in the 1940’s and 1950’s; and North Platte actually hosted several female wrestling events! Today, we salute those female athletes!

On March 28, 1947 the North Platte Daily Telegraph announced a first in sporting events for North Platte. The Lion’s Club was hosting a “Rasslin’ Show” at the Fox Theater and for the first time, female wrestlers were coming to the North Platte wrestling ring, according to the newspaper.

White women wrestlers, Nell Stewart and Violet Viann, were scheduled to fight three bouts as the main event of the evening. Nell Stewart was better known as the “Marilyn Monroe of Wrestling”. <see photographs>

In August of 1951, wrestlers Donna Marie and Betty Hawkins came to North Platte to put on a show for the wrestling fans. The match was held at the Jeffers Park behind the Jeffers Pavilion. The Union Pacific Athletic Club sponsored the match.

On November 13, 1953, it was announced that the North Platte Baseball Association was opening a new boxing and wrestling arena above the Hinman Garage on the corner of Bailey and 4th Streets. Four ladies from the Australian Tag Team were scheduled to battle it out. They were Barbara Baker and Donna Marie Dieckman as one team, and Ruth Boatcallie and Carol Cook as another team.

Then in January of 1955, North Platte had another first in sporting events. On January 29th, four black women were coming to tussle in a match. Ethel Johnson, Marva Scott, Babs Wingo, and Kathy Wimbley were scheduled to fight in the best two out of three bouts. Of the four wrestlers, three of them were sisters. Babs Wingo, the oldest, Ethel Johnson was the middle sister, and Marva Scott, the youngest, hailed from Decatur, Georgia. The fourth woman, Kathy Wimbley, was from Columbus, OH. By the time they were wrestling, they were calling different places home from Atlanta, GA to New Orleans, NJ and many places in between. <see photographs>

The four women became professional wrestlers in 1950. Ethel was considered the heroic figure, and Babs the villain when they performed together. Ethel was also the most athletic of the three sisters. Ethel retired in 1976 and passed away on September 18, 2019. Babs (Betty) and Marva passed away in 2003.

According to the Daily Telegraph a few days after the January 29, 1955 North Platte debut, the wrestling match was a huge success. Due to the good turnout the ladies were brought back to North Platte on October 22, 1955 to grapple again. That match, deemed “Rassle Royal”, brought back Kathleen Wimbley, Babs Wingo, Ethel Johnson, and they were joined by Louise Green and Betty White. All of the events also had male wrestling matches, but the ladies became more popular and were a big draw for many years throughout the country.

According to an article written by Neil Genzlinger on November 25, 2019 for the New York Times, the story of the three ladies became part of a documentary called “Lady wrestler: The Amazing, Untold Story of African-American Women in the Ring.” This new documentary released in December 2020 is available from Amazon. Clips of various historic matches throughout the country involving these barrier breaking women can also be found on YouTube.

All of the black lady wrestlers braved racism and sexism in a white, male-dominated sport during years that segregation was still in effect. At the peak of their wrestling careers, they were among the highest paid black athletes in the United States.

Anders Otto Kocken

Written By: nppladmin - May• 17•21
Originally published to on 5/14/2021

Today’s look at history looks at a Swedish immigrant who became a business owner and raised his large family here in North Platte. Enjoy!

Anders Otto Kocken (pronounced Kō-ken) was born October 11, 1840 near Linkoping Sweden. He married Christine Mylander in 1861 and came to America in 1868.

Once in America, Anders first lived in Waukon, Iowa, then Omaha, Nebraska; finally moving to North Platte in 1874. Anders and Christine had a large family: six girls and four boys: Edith, Lotta, Paulina, William, Margaret, Adda, Otto, Walter, Arthur, and Arta.

After arriving in North Platte, Mr. Kocken made his living as a merchant tailor. He was known for his fine tailoring and made clothing for Buffalo Bill. As one of North Platte’s early citizens, Anders was a charter member of the IOOF and the First Evangelical Lutheran Church. Mr. Kocken was a man of integrity and honor.

Anders built the brick home, which still stands at the corner of 6th Street and Sycamore in 1875 (220 W 6th St). <see photograph>

While roofing the house on September 11, 1875, two of the roofers were struck by lightning. The lightning struck the east end of the house and cracked the wall down to the window and continued on down to the foundation. The crack is still in the wall today. The house was originally built in an L-shape. Most of the walls are 16 inches thick. The evergreen trees in front were given to the Kockens by relatives living in the state of Washington. The sidewalk is Colorado Sandstone slabs. The home is now a private residence. <see color photograph from 2019>

Anders died of acute kidney problems in 1927, at age 86. He was preceded in death by his wife, who passed away in 1917.

Dr. John Twinem

Written By: nppladmin - May• 10•21
Originally published to on 5/7/2021.

Today’s Facebook History series looks at some of the early hospitals in North Platte, all created by one man, Dr. John Twinem.

Dr. John Twinem was born in Northern Ireland on April 12, 1871. In 1893, Twinem came to America to further his education. He enrolled in Wheaton College in Chicago. Upon graduation, he enrolled in Hahnemann Medical College graduated in 1903. After graduation, Dr. John Twinem moved to North Platte to set up his medical practice. On April 7, 1904, John Twinem married Martha Jane Armstrong in Glidden, Iowa. They had four children together (3 sons and 1 daughter); Linn, Mary Jane, Bill, and John Robert “Bob”. Dr. Twinem’s first office location was 218 W 4th Street. That was originally the James Belton home. Today it is a thrift store.

In 1912 he moved his practice to the second floor of the McDonald State Bank on the corner of 6th and Dewey. By 1914, his medical practice had grown so much that he bought a lot at 1008 West 4th Street; and opened the Nurse Brown Memorial Hospital. He owned the building but also kept his doctor’s office at the bank building. <see photograph of the Nurse Brown Hospital and advertisement>

On January 23, 1917 the North Platte Semi-Weekly Tribune announced that Dr. Twinem had awarded a contract for the erection of a two-story brick building at 108-110 East 5thStreet in the downtown. The second floor would have his offices while the first floor would be leased to the Golden Rule Department Store. The “Twinem building” still stands and “Once More with Style” currently occupies the building. <See photograph and advertising>

That same year he bought the big pink house at 502 West 4th from the widow of Leicester Walker. He converted the house into a hospital. It was a hospital for only one year.

In 1918, the Nurse Brown Memorial Hospital changed the name to the Twinem Hospital.

On October 3, 1919 the North Platte Semi-Weekly announced that Dr. Twinem had bought a lot from Dr. Brock in the 700 block of West Fifth Street. He had signed a contract for the erection of a hospital on the lot. The hospital would have enough rooms for eighteen patients at one time. There would also be rooms for offices, matron’s quarters, a kitchen and a sun parlor or lounging room. This hospital opened on April 20, 1920 as The “New Twinem Hospital”. By July 2, 1920, Dr. E.W. Fetter took possession of the new hospital and its name changed to Platte Valley Hospital. At that time Dr. Twinem decided to semi-retire and took a rest from practicing.

The hospital was closed down in 1923 and remained vacant until 1926 when it re-opened as Platte Valley Hospital again. In 1938, Wesleyan University bought the hospital naming it General Hospital. The hospital closed down in 1940 for the last time. All the patients moved to St. Mary’s Hospital. At that time, the building sold and was converted into an apartment house and remains an apartment today. <See photograph and advertising>

From “A History of Lincoln County”:

Politically, the doctor is a republican, and, while his professional duties precludes his takin a very active part in politics, he exhibits a keen and intelligent interest in the public affairs of the locality, for he consistently gives his support to every movement having for its object the advancement of the community along material, civic, or moral lines. Fraternally, he is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, while he and his family are earnest members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He is a member of the Douglas County Medical Society and the American Institute of Homeopathy. Doctor Twinem has had a splendid record as a physician and as a citizen, he is numbered among the progressive and enterprising men of the community. Genial and approachable, he has easily made friends and is deservedly popular among those who know him.

Bare, I. L. & McDonald W. H. (1920) An illustrated history of Lincoln County, Nebraska, and her people, a narrative of the past with special emphasis upon the pioneer period of the county’s history, particular attention also given to the social, commercial, educational, religious and civic development of the county from the early days to the present time. American Historical Society.

Dr. Twinem remained in practice in his Twinem building on East Fifth Street until approximately 1943. Dr. John S. Twinem died June 28, 1948. Both John and Martha Twinem are buried in the North Platte Cemetery.