William Maloney

Written By: nppladmin - Apr• 30•21
Originally published to Facebook.com/NorthPlattePL on 4/30/2021.

William Maloney was born in Green County, Iowa on September 18, 1882. He came to Nebraska with his family. When he was 16 years old (1898), the family moved west to North Platte.

In 1902 William went to work for C.A. Howe in his furniture and hardware store, located at 413 North Dewey Street. By 1905, Maloney became Howe’s business partner. Howe sent Maloney to the Hohenschuh School of Embalming in Omaha to improve his skills as an undertaker.

After Mr. Howe’s death in 1914, William took control of the business and changed the name of the business to: W.R. Maloney Co. In 1918, Maloney built a new store building; at 214 East 5th Street. The new building was two stories high, with an elevator. Both floors had metal tile ceilings and hardwood floors. The windows on the second floor had religious themed panels, as the second floor had both a chapel and his mortuary. The first floor was dedicated to his furniture business. He sold the finest furniture in North Platte for many years.

In 1938, he sold the building after having a new building constructed at 102 North Dewey Street. The new business was just undertaking, and he no longer sold furniture. Throughout the years that Maloney was in business, he was a well-respected member of the community and very involved in all matters of the city, county, and state.

William Maloney passed away on June 1, 1945, at age 62. It is worth noting that the lake located south of North Platte was named Lake Maloney in honor of William Maloney being the first president of the North Platte Valley Public Power and Irrigation.

This link will give you more information about the purpose, construction and naming of Lake Maloney: https://www.lakemaloneyinformer.com/lake-history

Oldest Standing Downtown Building: Dixon Building

Written By: nppladmin - Apr• 23•21
Originally published to facebook.com/NorthPlattePL on 4/23/2021.

Today’s History looks at the oldest standing building in the downtown—Dixon building, 516-518 North Dewey Street.

“In June of 1879, Louis Thoelecke bought the two lots that comprise the Dixon Building site. He built two brick buildings right away and opened up his jewelry store. He leased the second store to various businesses. In 1883, Dr. Nelson F. Donaldson bought the 518 North Dewey building and moved his offices to the second floor.

In 1886, Harry Dixon began his career as a jeweler in the 518 North Dewey building after he bought the building from Donaldson. The Dixon Optical Company was established in 1899 at the same location.

In 1920, Dixon bought the 516 North Dewey building from Otto Thoelecke. The building had been home to a shoe store for many years. Dixon expanded his optical business into this building.

In 1924, a major remodeling was done and a music shop was included in the business. The music store was gone in 1934 and the 516 North Dewey building became Dedmore Studio with Dixon Optical still sharing space. While in the building, Dedmore cut a hole in the roof to up in a skylight for “available light.” E.J. Wilson Studio took over Dedmore’s in 1950. Many of Dedmore’s old photographs are still seen around North Platte hanging in various businesses. Wilson’s son, Bill eventually became owner of the studio. Wilson created a garden spot behind the building for outside photos. The courtyard I still there, in the back of what is now the Art and Gift Gallery. Dixon Optical and Wilson’s Studio were there until 1978, when Farmer’s Insurance moved in.

The “Dixon Jewelers” sign was displayed at 518 North Dewey for seventy-seven years prior to its removal in 1963. The Dixon Optical Co. sign can still be seen on the front of the building.

Dixon had a large jeweler’s clock that stood in front of the building for many years. During WWII, Dixon threw the clock in the scrap pile of metal donated for the war effort. The clock was found by men who were separating the metal and the story about the clock made the front page of the local paper.

Today the Dixon Building is the oldest building standing in the downtown area.”

Anderson, K., & Olson, S. (2012). The Dixon Building: 516-518 North Dewey Street. In City Bones: Landmarks of North Platte, Nebraska (2nd ed., pp. 7–8). Lincoln County Historical Museum.

This historic post is reprinted reprinted from “City Bones: Landmarks of North Platte, Nebraska” by Kaycee Anderson and Steve Olson. 2012. Second edition. Publisher: Lincoln County Historical Museum.

Please note that the photo inside the Dixon building is courtesy of the Lincoln County Historical Museum.

Young Love Turned Tragic

Written By: nppladmin - Apr• 19•21
Originally published to facebook.com/NorthPlattePL on 4/16/2021.

Today’s History Friday takes a look at a story of young love that turned tragic.

June Andrews was born on September 19, 1911, in Bonners Ferry, Idaho. She had four sisters and two brothers; and June was the eldest child. Before June was set to graduate from High School, she fell in love with a man named George St. Clair. With her mother’s consent, they got married on February 13, 1929 in Michigan. Although her father did not oppose the marriage, he was concerned about the character of her fiancé, because St. Clair was a divorced man, and he urged June to continue her education.

By June of 1929, the newlyweds moved away from June’s parents, to North Platte, Nebraska. George quickly found work icing down rail cars at the Pacific Fruit Express Company. They moved into a quaint small home. By late summer, June confided in George that she was pregnant and due in November.

Shortly after 10 o’clock on Monday, September 30, 1929, George St. Clair reported to Lincoln County Sheriff Salisbury that his wife was missing. In fact, he suggested to the Sheriff that perhaps she had run off with another man. The Sheriff thought this quite odd, given her pregnant condition. The Sheriff took June’s disappearance seriously, but thought that perhaps, the young couple had a quarrel and that she had gone to visit relatives for a while. Sheriff Salisbury inspected their home and found that almost all of her clothes were still hanging in the closets and very little was out of place.

George was emotional when speaking about how much he loved his wife and her fragile nature. He painted a story of a loving husband who acted truly perplexed that his wife had just up and disappeared. As Sheriff Salisburg continued to question George, his story started to change and become inconsistent. The Sheriff began to systematically check stores they had visited, as well as speak to family and others who may have seen her. And after speaking to their landlady, George’s stories about his perfect marriage began to unravel. The Sheriff confronted George about the discrepancies in his stories and put him in jail whilst the police continued their investigation. Three days after reporting the disappearance of June St. Clair, Sheriff Salisbury got a full confession from George St. Clair.

“I knew I would be out of a job in November and I had to do something. Nobody wanted me. There wasn’t any use in looking for another job. I knew the only way out was to kill June so things would be easier for her.”

George confessed that he had tried to kill her several times over the past two months, but just couldn’t bring himself to commit the act. But finally, he found the strength to kill her. They drove out into the country by the airport on East 4th Street, because they were going to pick apples for June to preserve. They pulled off the road and when June refused to give him a kiss, George grabbed her by the throat and began strangling her. Once she was lifeless, he shoved her body into the back seat and decided to bury her on June’s parents’ homestead farm, some 25 miles north of North Platte. Once he confessed, he took the Sheriff straight to where he buried her body in the dead of night.

St Clair signed a full confession. He plead not guilty by reason of insanity. His trial began on October 21, 1929, and lasted eight days. The jury found him guilty and sentenced him to life imprisonment at the State Penitentiary in Lincoln. George died in March of 1939 in the prison’s hospital.

June St. Clair died September 28, 1929, at age 18. Her grave was unmarked until her story was highlighted in the North Platte Telegraph and North Platte Bulletin newspapers during the first Cemetery Tour in 2006. Between public donations and her family’s contributions, enough money was finally raised to give June St. Clair a proper headstone.

It is of note that this story was so sensational in 1929, that three different Detective magazines wrote feature stories during the 1930’s.

Editors Note: George St. Clair died August 18, 1937 in the State Prison Hospital from tuberculosis at age 30.

The Mighty Dandelion!

Written By: nppladmin - Apr• 09•21
Originally published to facebook.com/NorthPlattePL on 4/9/2021.

Today’s historic look back looks at the most common, invasive weed: the mighty dandelion! We hope you enjoy this humorous, and informational look at eradicating dandelions over the years!

Now, we Nebraskans know a thing or two about getting rid of dandelions. Before herbicides and chemicals, townspeople became very inventive on how to eradicate the “yellow plague,” as it was called. Dandelions are incredibly prolific and during wet springs, the entire town would be covered by the yellow weeds.

COOKING OPTIONS

The earliest report found was in a cooking column in the North Platte Semi-Weekly Tribune dated 5-22-1917. “By placing boards over spots where the dandelions were coming in thick would cause the plants to turn white (yes those little buggers still grow with no light). Cooks discovered that when the plants turned white, that they were especially tender. Serving them uncooked with shredded onion and French dressing seemed to be a good way to use the weed.

COMPETITION AND COMMUNITY PRIDE

On May 16, 1919, the newspaper declared that a drive was on, to rid our city of the “yellow peril”. The Twentieth Century Club was asking every patriotic citizen and all clubs to join in the drive. Camp Fire Girls, Boy Scouts, school children and teachers were asked to join in. The drive was to start on a Saturday and continue for one week. Prizes would be given to the school that brought in the most dandelions. They stressed for all to work together for a more beautiful North Platte by removing every trace of the “yellow paint” that nature has covered the city with. A week late it was announced that Washington School had won the battle of the “yellow pest” by collecting 1,357 POUNDS! Jefferson School got second place with 1,266 pounds! Kids showed up with gunny sacks filled, long knifes in hand, and armed to the teeth. Parents complained that children were spending all night out in the dark digging away. Two cash prizes, of two dollars and fifty cents each, were given the boy and the girls bringing in the most dandelions. A picnic was held for all the children. Each school also received a peck of peanuts for their efforts.

PUNISHMENT

On May 7, 1921, the Evening Telegraph reported that five young men who staged a party, during which somebody was assaulted, were all sentenced to jail for thirty days of hard work. Part of their punishment was picking/digging up dandelions off of the court house lawn!

HIRING KIDS AND WOMEN TO DIG OUT DANDELIONS

In 1921 you could hire the Boy Scouts to dig dandelions. They charged 25 cents per hour to dig. On April 16, 1932, the Evening Telegraph printed an article stating that a local women who had boasted of digging 15,000 dandelion plants was getting even more phone calls requesting her services. She turned all them down with a stern “no,” because she was digging dandelions every night in her sleep!

DANDELIONS FOR A FREE MOVIE SHOW!

In the spring of 1936 the Fox Theater and KGNF radio station offered the youth of the city a free pass to a show at the theater for every 10 pounds of dandelions they dug up and brought to the radio station. According to the Lincoln County Tribune dandelions arrived in toy wagons, gunny sacks, and paper bags. Much to the delight of several homeowners, many yards had dandelions “stolen”. A total of 4 ½ tons (some 9,000 POUNDS) of dandelions were delivered. Due to the “overwhelming proportions of dandelions received, the station and theater found themselves, “on the spot.” They made good on their word and the kids of North Platte were treated to a “dandy party.” The Fox Theatre Corporation held a “dandelion matinee for the children. They came in droves and “whooped and hollered and stamped their feet.” See photograph and article on this.

NPHS FRESHMEN

In 1941 the freshmen of the North Platte Senior High School were assigned to digging dandelions. The boys were divided into two groups. Both groups started at each end of the field digging to the fifty yard line. When they got to the center, Coach Wilson didn’t think they worked hard enough; so he had them move to the sidelines of the field and keep pulling those weeds. If they were caught fooling around they had to rake up all the pulled plants laying on the field.

We hope you enjoyed our tribute to the mighty dandelion weed. May they not show up in your yard!

Salute to Nellie Snyder Yost

Written By: nppladmin - Apr• 02•21
Originally published to Facebook.com/NorthPlattePL on April 2, 2021.

Today’s North Platte History Story is a belated salute to Women’s History Month, which just ended on March 31st. We are highlighting a wonderful, inspirational North Platte woman, historian and author — Nellie Snyder Yost. She was only 4 foot 8 inches tall, but she was mighty woman who loved life!

Nellie Snyder Yost was born on June 20, 1905 in a sod house in northwestern Lincoln County to Albert and Grace Bell Snyder. Within 2 weeks of her birth, her family moved to McPherson County. As an infant, Nellie suffered a childhood illness that permanently damaged her spine and slowed her growth, resulting in her diminutive height.

When Nellie was 14 years old, the Snyder family moved to Maxwell (1919). Nellie was a sickly child and although she missed about a month of school each year; she still managed to graduate from Maxwell High School as class valedictorian in 1923. Nellie’s sister, Billie Lee Snyder wrote “We called Nellie the GREAT BRAIN because she knew many words and the meaning of them all – even how to spell them. I remember hearing her say, “I like words. I like the way they feel when they roll off my tongue.” From “Sandhills Kid in the City 1927-1938” by Billie Lee Snyder Thornburg.

After High School graduation, Nellie taught country school in McPherson County, riding horseback to her assigned school, some six miles every day! After teaching for one year she moved to Oregon and worked in a department store. In 1929, Nellie moved back to Nebraska and on July 6, 1929, she married Harry Yost. The couple lived on a ranch in Box Elder Canyon, south of North Platte for 30 years. Harry and Nellie had one child; a son, Thomas Snyder Yost.

In 1949 Nellie published her first book, “Pinnacle Jake.” The book is a recounting of her father’s stories about the west and ranching.

Harry’s health declined during the latter years of his life and he spent his last five years in the Grand Island Veterans Hospital. During those years, Nellie spent about 10 days out of each month sitting by his bedside, writing manuscripts in long hand. When Harry died in 1968, Nellie moved back to North Platte where she was very active in the Lincoln County Historical Society. She was part of the driving force to build a Lincoln County Historical Museum in 1976. She was also active in the Nebraska Writers guild and the Riverside Baptist Church. On August 30, 1984, Nellie married Frank A. Lydic. He was a longtime friend and fellow writer.

Shortly before her death, Nellie wrote her last book, “Evil Obsession: The Annie Cook Story.” It was also probably the book she became most famous for, at least locally. North Platte Telegraph editor, Keith Blackledge called the book a work of history that looked at the darker side of North Platte. The book was about a woman named Annie Cook who ran the Lincoln County Poor Farm. Annie was the true definition of evil. She was a corrupt woman, mentally and physical abusive to everyone she knew, and was accused of murder. It was a book about greed and power. And it was all true. Nellie had changed the character names to protect the people and the families that were still alive and living in the area; as well as some of the locations and directions around North Platte and Lincoln County. Of course, shortly after it was published, many lists surfaced with the real names of the people matching each character in the book.

Nellie spent many years doing research on the book, interviewing people who knew Annie, digging through the information to get to the truth. And when things got hard to bear, she put the manuscript aside. When she finished finally writing the book, the process had taken its toll on Nellie’s health. One can only imagine the inner turmoil and stress she felt when writing about community people she knew personally (townspeople, politicians, doctors, businessmen, church people, and more).

On November 9, 1991, Frank died. Soon after, while finishing a trip to promote “Evil Obsession,” Nellie developed pneumonia and was hospitalized. She was transferred to a Lincoln Nebraska hospital, where she died on January 16, 1992. She was buried beside her first husband, Harry Yost at Fort McPherson National Cemetery. The Lincoln Star Journal wrote, “Yost often said that her epitaph should read “she loved life”. Nebraskans are the richer because she lived it so fully.

Awards and honors:

  • Tenth Annual Spur Award for Boss Cowman, 1969
  • Eyes of Nebraska Award, Nebraska Optometric Association, 1970
  • Golden Saddleman, 1975
  • Western Heritage Wrangler Award, Cowboy Hall of Fame, for Buffalo Bill, 1979
  • Nebraska Foundation Pioneer Award, 1982

Bibliography of her books:

  • “Pinnacle Jake”. Caxton Printers, Ltd. Caldwell, Idaho. 1951.
  • “The West that Was”. Southern Methodist University Press. Dallas, Texas. 1958.
  • “No Time on My Hands”. Caxton Printers Ltd. Caldwell, Idaho. 1963.
  • “The Call of the Range”. Ohio University Press. Athens, Ohio. 1966.
  • “Medicine Lodge”. Ohio University Press. Athens, Ohio. 1966.
  • “Boss Cowman”. Nebraska University Press. Lincoln, Nebraska. 1969.
  • “Before Today”. Holt County Historical Society. O’Neill, Nebraska. 1976.
  • “Buffalo Bill: His Family, Friends, Fame, Failures, and Fortunes”. Ohio University Press. Athens, Ohio. 1979.
  • “A Man as Big as the West”. Pruett Publishing Company. Boulder, Colorado. 1979—biography of Ralph Hubbard.
  • “Back Trail of an Old Cowboy”. University of Nebraska Press. Lincoln, Nebraska. 1983.
  • “Keep On Keeping On”. Self-Published. 1983.
  • “Pinnacle Jake & Pinnacle Jake Roundup.” J.L. Lee Publishers. Lincoln, Nebraska. 1991.
  • “Evil Obsession: The Annie Cook Story”. Westport Publishers. Lincoln, Nebraska. 1991.