I’ve begun looking for events for the summer of 1857 to include in my follow-up novel to Life in a Casket. This has brought me to the pages of the Nebraska News, published in Nebraska City, which settlement was, apparently, in competition with nearby Kearney City, along the Missouri, and South Nebraska City.
In the paper, the elders of Kearney City, where 30 large oxen and 15 milch cows were for sale at low rates, warned future homeowners not to purchase lots in South Nebraska City. Apparently, their counterparts in the latter settlement had included in their townsite lots belonging to Kearney City.
One wonders why Kearney City did not supersede Nebraska City. Its citizenry seemed very intent on promoting the settlement. A certain Henry Sands bought and refurbished the Kearney Hotel, modestly naming it after himself. “The House,” he advertised, “is beautifully located on the bank of the Missouri River and within a short distance of the steamboat landing.”
To get to and from Hotel Sands, if one hoped to venture up to Nebraska City and beyond, one could rent out a horse and buggy from the livery stable.
According to the livery advertisement, scoundrels existed in early Nebraska just as now. The owner (his last name appears to be Fooks, but I’m betting that’s wrong) not only required pre-payment, he also warned renters that they would be liable for damages as well. No exception, he added, “as I know no man.”
Other scoundrel problems dealt with men, presumably men, who cut and hauled timber from another person’s lot, and men who attempted to encroach upon another’s claim. Mr. F. Sanbar went to the pains to warn Richard Noe that he planned to prove up his claim. And Mr. L. Clark stated plainly that his trees were to be left standing. Maybe he was an early advocate for Arbor Day.
And what of women? Could they be scoundrels? Apparently.
“What makes a woman now a days?” asked a contributor. “Intelligence? good looks? A mind where all the virtues dwell? No—dry goods hung on hoops!”
If I’m reading this right, in years of yore, a woman made herself known by her education, her good looks, and virtuous living, but now, sadly, she sought attention through fashionable dress.
Nevertheless, not all were scoundrels. There yet existed the young maiden, who, by her piety and integrity attracted admiration. She could be the redemption of the lesser sort, if only the latter would emulate her.
To see this angelic figure rise from bed in the morn to kneel and pray forgiveness of her Lord, ought not this inspire us all? The poet N. P. Willis indeed thought so: “Oh, God! If souls unsoiled as these, need daily mercy from Thy throne…what far, far deeper need have we!”
Newspapers of 1857 carried some very serious stories as well as a column of jokes. Today, it's not always clear which variety amuses us more. In any case, this blog is dedicated to analyzing the pages of the Nebraska Advertiser newspaper of 1857. Chime in if you've run across some interesting stories from the time period.