Dr. Nicholas McCabe

Written By: nppladmin - May• 21•22
Originally published to facebook.com/NorthPlattePL on May 20, 2022.

Welcome back to another Facebook Friday History! 

Have you ever wondered about some of the names on streets or buildings?  Well, today we are looking at Dr. Nicholas McCabe and next week, we will look at the history of the McCabe Building at 400-402 North Dewey Street and the McCabe hotel.  But let’s start with the man, Dr. Nicholas McCabe.

Nicholas F. McCabe was born on December 25, 1854 in County Louth, Ireland to John and Margaret (Murphy) McCabe.  His father lived his whole life in Ireland and had a large successful farm.  The family was devout Catholic, and Nicholas was the second child out of ten children born to John and Margaret.  Of the ten children, all of them stayed in Ireland, except for Nicholas and one sister.

Nicholas came to America in 1881 and landed in New York.  He eventually made his way to Buffalo, New York and began his medical studies. His father paid for his medical school tuition, but Nicholas worked on farms in New York to pay for the rest of his living expenses. He graduated in 1884 from the University of Buffalo with his Doctor of Medicine degree. After college, he practiced in New York state in the towns of Lockport and Niagara. 

In 1886, Dr. McCabe came west to North Platte Nebraska, one of four physicians in the area. Dr. McCabe built up a large medical practice and gained a reputation as an excellent physician and surgeon. He served as a railroad surgeon and was also the medical examiner for many insurance companies.  And by the late 1890’s, McCabe was also elected as county coroner and served in that capacity for several years. In addition, he owned a ranch with 2,000 acres of good land; he also owned the McCabe Hotel building; as well as owned two drug stores in North Platte.

Through his appointment as County Coroner, Dr. McCabe also had an interest in politics and served three consecutive terms as the Mayor of North Platte (1906-1909). More on that later on in this post.

Dr. McCabe was a member of the Knights of Columbus and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.

In 1888, Dr. McCabe married Mary “Mollie” O’Connor. Together, they had four children:

1. Arthur William McCabe (1893-1971). Arthur enlisted in the United States Navy and served as a radio specialist. In 1953, Arthur (age 50) married Grace Myrtle Devine and they lived in Ashville, North Carolina. They had no children.;

2. Clara Marie McCabe (1895-1986). She graduated from Saint Mary’s College at Notre Dame, Indiana, and became a teacher. Eventually, Clara had a higher calling and became Sister Mary Clare Assisi McCabe. She passed away in Ventura, California.;

3. Clarence James McCabe (1897-1948). Clarence graduated from the University of Notre Dame. He then served in the First World War in the Signal Corps. Clarence was in France on the Marne during WWI and took an active part in five major engagements. He later graduated the American Expeditionary University in France. Clarence married Andree Marie Louise Charmoille in Beaune, France on July 30, 1923. In 1924, the couple emigrated to America, landing at New York City, New York. Their first child, Marie Louise McCabe was born in Denver Colorado. After a few years, the family moved back to France, where they had a second daughter, Nicole Jeanne McCabe and a son, John Henry Pierre McCabe. The family moved back to the states in 1928 and settled in Washington D.C. Clarence is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.; And,

4. John Nicholas McCabe (1901-1978). He married Winifred A. Quinn in Kansas City Missouri. He was a professor of Journalism at Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon, as well as Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. The couple had two daughters and a son together.  He and his wife died in Ashville, North Carolina. Winifred passed away on July 1, 1978 and John N passed away on November 23, 1978, some four and a half months apart.

Politically, Dr. McCabe was a member of both the Democratic and Populist Parties. In 1904, the big decision before the City Fathers was to decide if the City of North Platte should own and operate municipal utilities. McCabe has strong opinions in favor of good drinking water supplied by the City and started actively attending City and County meetings.

In 1906, Dr. McCabe was elected Mayor of North Platte.  He served as mayor until the Fall of 1909, at which time Thomas Cartwright Patterson succeeded him as Mayor.

McCabe’s political career was seriously damaged when he went through a scandal in which he personally was accused of selling alcohol in the Pharmacy that he owned. It should be noted that alcohol was prescribed by doctors for all sorts of ailments (flu and cold symptoms, sore throats, high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, tuberculosis, and cancer). As much as one ounce of whiskey would be prescribed, and half an ounce for children.  In his defense, he noted that the sale of the liquor was not done personally by him, but a clerk at the pharmacy.  Still, Judge Grimes found Dr. McCabe guilty of selling alcohol  and fined him $400.00 for the offense.

After McCabe paid the fine, he combined his pharmacy with another pharmacist. They advertised that “children sent to fill prescriptions would be given very close attention.” Meaning that children would not be sold alcohol, even if it was prescribed.  Only adults could pick up the alcohol. 

It should also be noted that prohibition did not occur until 1920, however, the “war” against gambling and alcohol was a popular political issue in the early 1900’s. Although the scandal killed Dr. McCabe’s political career, he was still valued by the community as a knowledgeable physician and surgeon.

During Dr. McCabe’s tenure as Mayor, one of his proudest achievements was to bring a Tuberculosis Exhibit to North Platte in December 1908. Very little was known about tuberculosis at that time and the opportunity to educate the public on the disease was a proud moment in McCabe’s life.

During the late 1880’s through 1902, the McCabe family lived on West Second Street.  Then in about 1903, the family moved and resided at 820 West 5th Street.

Dr. Nicholas McCabe (age 67) died of heart trouble on August 8, 1922, surrounded by his immediate family.

McCabe Avenue is a prominent North/South street on the southeast side of North Platte.

Thank you for reading!


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