Anders Otto Kocken

Written By: nppladmin - May• 17•21
Originally published to Facebook.com/NorthPlattePL 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 Facebook.com/NorthPlattePL 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.

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.