Allen Wilson Tout – Lincoln County’s Ornithologist

Written By: nppladmin - Feb• 11•22
Originally published to on February 4, 2022.

Welcome back to Facebook Friday History! Did you know that February 18-21, 2022 is the Great Backyard Bird Count? Click here for more information:… And read on for a fascinating North Platte bird lover who would have counted his birds, for sure!

Allen Wilson Tout was born in 1876 to Joseph Allen and Celestia (Gray) Tout) in Sutton, Nebraska. Allen was the oldest of eight children, and his father was a carpenter. Allen always went by his middle name, “Wilson”.

From: RG5117.AM Wilson Tout, 1886-1951 at :

“As a young boy, Tout had collected large numbers of birds’ eggs from the prairie near his home, but as he grew older, he began to realize how much damage his collecting had caused to the bird population. He resolved to teach his young students about birds and wildlife in the classroom. He hoped that this would satisfy their natural curiosity and that understanding would prevent them from destroying nests and killing the adults.

In 1894, Tout answered an advertisement laced by Isadore S. Trostler, who was trying to establish an ornithologists’ organization in Nebraska, but the Nebraska Ornithologists’ Association was not formed until May 1899. Two months later it joined with the Nebraska Ornithological Club, and in December of 1899, the name Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union was chosen for the combined group. Wilson Tout was a charter member and lifetime supporter of the organization. Among the charter members was his future wife, Eva Nell Harrison, a teacher from York, Nebraska. The courtship had begun in high school in York. Nell shared Wilson’s belief that education would provide the best protection for birds, and also taught nature studies in the classroom. They married on July 30, 1903.”


Wilson Tout graduated from York High School in York Nebraska, and then went on to York College, where he graduated with a teaching degree. During summer breaks at York College, Wilson attended the University of Nebraska. He taught school in Utica public and Clay Center schools for two years (1899-1901), then to Dunbar, Nebraska, where he remained for six years (1901-1907).

In 1907, Professor Tout came to North Platte as principal of the high school. Nell and Wilson had a son, Harrison, who was born in July 1905 and Nell was pregnant with their second child, Rebecca, born in October 1907. In 1908, Wilson was promoted to Superintendent, a position he held for the next twelve years. At that time, North Platte had six separate schools with fifty-two teachers under Tout’s management. The enrollment for the North Platte public Schools at that time was about 1,800 students.

During his time in North Platte, Wilson Tout was not simply a School Superintendent, but a very community-minded individual. By 1908-1909, He was a supporter and secretary for the North Platte Chautauqua Association. He served as judge at a state declamatory contest (Speech/Debate). He conducted County Teacher institutes; and attended County Superintendent and Teacher Association meetings all over western Nebraska. In 1910, Tout dedicated the newly constructed Lincoln School.

Wilson Tout remained the Superintendent until July 1, 1920. He resigned to purchase the Lincoln County Tribune from Ira Bare, who had operated that newspaper for about 35 years. The entire Tout family helped in the production of the newspaper and Wilson served as editor-publisher for twenty-nine years, until he retired at the age of 74.

From 1920-1949, the Tout’s passion for birds (ornithology) was clearly evident. The North Platte Bird Club was organized April 7, 1934. In 1954, the club name was changed to honor Mr. Tout, and became the Tout Bird Club. The Tout Bird Club dissolved in 1982. In 1938, Wilson began publishing “Lincoln County Bird” segments and articles in his newspaper. By 1947, Wilson Tout published a book, “Lincoln County Birds.”
Tout was a member of the Free and Accepted Masons in North Platte. He was also a member of the Musicians’ Union and played in both the band and orchestra.

Mrs. Nell Tout was equally as accomplished as her husband. Before she was married, she too taught in both the elementary and high schools in York, Nebraska. During World War I, she was chairman of the surgical dressing division of the Lincoln County chapter of the American Red Cross. She served as president and various officers in the North Platte Bird Club, Travel and Study Club, Sioux Lookout chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and North Platte Woman’s club. She was active in the Methodist church and taught Sunday school. She also served as president of the Nebraska Ornithologists Union. Nell also maintained a bird banding station of the USDA Biology survey.

During all their years in North Platte, the Tout family lived at 621 West 3rd Street.
Eva Nell (Harrison) Tout died on June 26, 1942, age 64.

Allen Wilson Tout died June 18, 1951, age 75. Approximately one month earlier, The Nebraska Bird Review had taken a photograph of Wilson and it was featured in the July issue of this periodical.

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