Archives for December 2012

Lee’s 3rd Birthday

Christmas 2012

New Virginia Cemetery

To organize a community cemetery, the families in the area met at the New Virginia school house on the 23rd of April 1887. The Otto Cemetery Association was organized, with Richard T. Payne elected as president. It was located in the northwest corner of section 34 and was called “Otto” cemetery, after the first name of Otto Skjelver. Following the land dispute the cemetery was called the “Payne” cemetery. On May 4, 1925, the name was officially changed to “New Virginia” cemetery.

Source:
Webster County: Visions of the Past
By Mabel Cooper Skjelver
Published 1980
Page 66


District 65 – New Virginia School

District 65 was called “New Virginia” which in turn gave that name to the Methodist Episcopal church nearby. Henry W. Lambrecht remembered the sod school house as having a flat roof. A sod schoolhouse was in use before the school district built a frame house in 1884. The carpenters were Robert McCallum and J.P. Braynard. Sabbath school was held in the school house before the New Virginia church was built in 1907. In July 1882 the Webster County Argus reported that there was a [farmer’s] alliance held in District 65, called New Virginia. In 1927 a modern two-room school house was built, the old frame having served its time.

Source:
Webster County: Visions of the Past
By Mabel Cooper Skjelver
Published 1980
Pages 78-79


District 65, New Virginia, a one-room school house built in 1884

District 65, New Virginia, a one-room school house built in 1884

District 65, New Virginia school house built in 1927

District 65, New Virginia school house built in 1927

Photographs courtesy of Henry Peterson and Margaret Lambrecht Votipka (Mrs. Ed.)

Source:
Webster County: Visions of the Past
By Mabel Cooper Skjelver
Published 1980
Page 79


This is the location of the New Virginia school house. It is situated in the middle of the section one-half mile East of the New Virginia Church. The original school building burned down in early 2003, but the foundation can still be seen in the satellite imagery.

New Virginia Methodist Episcopal Church

The Virginians and other early residents in the southeast area of Catherton precinct built a church seven and a half miles north of Inavale in the northwest corner of the SW 1/4 of section 26. The present church is the second structure that was built. It is one of the two remaining country churches left in Webster County. The other one is the Dane church, or St. Stephens, in Batin precinct.

The Bladen Enterprise reported on September 15, 1905 that the New Virginia church construction was being “pushed right along.” Svend Lindquist was the carpenter, a Danish farmer-carpenter, then living in Batin precinct. The church dimensions were 28×40 feet. The roof was being put on and the congregation hoped to have it ready for dedication in November. Its cost was $1,652 and was erected under the superintendency and guaranty of Ed Payne and Clarence Wilson. These two men had contributed the two largest sums to the building fund, with John Wilson, Mrs. Marker and E.J. Peterson also large contributors. At that time the New Virginia church was thought to have the largest and most expensive rural church edifice in the county. It had a membership of 30 and an attendance of 75, with a Sunday School of 50.

Unknown problems delayed the dedication for the Bladen Enterprise on August 10, 1906 reported that the dedication of the New Virginia church building which was to have taken place the past Sunday, (August 6) had been postponed until Sunday, August 19, 1906. A fire of unknown origin destroyed the new church Saturday night before it was to be dedicated the following day – Sunday. *

John Marker then lived across the road from the building site and had gone by the church about dusk and had not noticed anything unusual. However, one mule of his team became frightened and difficult to handle. He got the team quieted down and went on home. When he came from the barn, the church as ablaze. While help was called there was no means to put out the blaze, so the structure was entirely destroyed.

On Sunday morning, the congregation gathered at the school house (District 65) and after a short sermon by the District Superintendent, who had come for the anticipated dedication, the congregation discussed their loss. They decided to use the $1,000 insurance monies and to request the balance needed by subscription.

Enough money was obtained by subscription at great sacrifice to the members, so that rebuilding could begin immediately. A new structure was built by Fred Gaverka, and Inavale carpenter, at a cost of $1,650. Masonry work on the chimney was the work of Allen A. “Al” Cooper. The new church was dedicated April 14, 1907. While the church’s name came about because many of the original congregation came from the Shenandoah Valley area of Virginia, many German and Swedish families were charter members. Family names connected with the New Virginia Methodist Episcopal church include: The Wilson Brothers, Clarence, Albert and John; Alford Marker and sons, John and Ford; J.B. Wisecarver; Richard T. Payne and sons, Frances E. “Ed” and Bruce; A.A. Cooper; William Matheny; Henry Williams; Daniel Lovejoy; Eric John Peterson; Henry and Carl Lambrecht; Swan Johnson; with the Jay Lovejoy and Rolly Brooks families becoming members sometime later.

Pastors of the New Virginia Methodist Episcopal church were recalled by Ray Wilson, a longtime church superintendent, who generously served the New Virginia church with his time, energy and money.

Before 1905 New Virginia was part of the Bladen charge, and Rev. T.C. Priestly was the first minister after the second church was built. He was followed by Folden John Bean, E.A. Van Dyke, McVey Hancock, Blackwell Wilson, and Priestly Bromwell.

R.B.E. Hill served from September 24, 1905 to July 18, 1909. The following pastors served the New Virginia Church in later years: H.M. Bassett, Sept. 1910-1911; M.C. Smith 1911-1914; Scott Blunt, 1914-1915; A.E. Murless, 1916-1917; J.W. Borden 1918-1919; Charles E. Schofield 1920-1922; David Simpson 1922-1923; M.E. Henry 1923-1925; Glen W. Marshall, 1925-1928; O.L. Bebb 1928-1929; H.B. Lansing, 1930; C.O. Freeman, 1931-1932; C.C Warriner, September 1933; P.J. Kirk, 1934-1935; O.R. Kleven, 1936 as an evangelist, with C.C. Eston as pastor while Rev. Kleven was holding revivals; Earl L. Russell, September 1937-February 11, 1938; W.A. Mansur, February 11, 1938-September 1939; Ralph Good, 1940-1942; Leslie Moore, 1951. In 1942 ministers were not plentiful, and Inavale became part of the Red Cloud charge. New Virginia then did not have a pastor, but community church services and Sunday school continued with Ray, Norva and Mayme Wilson, Rollie and Veda Brooks, Grace and Margaret Lambrecht and others in the community doing what they could to keep the church active. In 1950 the New Virginia charge was reopened for a short time. The families in the community gathered for a carry-in noon meal, that was followed by a religious service conducted by lay people in the community or by a minister from Red Cloud that was willing to accommodate a rural congregation on occasion.

Lloyd Crabill was the first Sunday School Superintendent of the New Virginia church, and it was he who suggested the name for the new church. The congregation participated in annual Sunday School conventions which included the congregations at Plainview, District 66, Pleasant Prairie and New Virginia – District 65. The New Virginia Ladies Aid was organized in 1907 and is still an active organization.

* Many thought the fire was connected with Rev. R.B.E Hill’s attempt to remove boot-leg liquor from Inavale.

Source:
Webster County: Visions of the Past
By Mabel Cooper Skjelver
Published 1980
Pages 80-82


New Virginia Methodist Episcopal church second structure built 1906-07

New Virginia Methodist Episcopal church second structure built 1906-07

New Virginia Methodist Episcopal Church

New Virginia Methodist Episcopal Church 1955


1907-04-13_New_Virginia_Methodist_Episcopal_Church_Program_Page_1 1907-04-13_New_Virginia_Methodist_Episcopal_Church_Program_Page_2

New Virginia Church

In simplicity the New Virginia church stands upon wide Nebraska prairie land. Nothing special in its outward appearance would prompt a stranger passing by to stop and make a careful study of its structure. Built of wood, it is painted white with three old-fashioned glass windows on each side. From the belfry atop its gray slanted roof a battered lightning rod shows evidence of fighting survival against stormy winds. Its location is about six and on-half miles north of Inavale.

New Virginia Church is named for the people who came to Nebraska from the state of Virginia and filed timber claims in this section of Webster Co. These claims entitled them to an additional 160 acres if they agreed to plant and care for groves of trees upon their land. Courageous, hard working people, they soon realized the value of a church in their community. Included among these Virginia settlers were families of Cooper, Payne, Lark, Wilson, and George Cather, uncle of Willa Cather. They homesteaded here between 1873-1878. The first church was built sometime prior to 1907. This was a community project and each family helped in whatever way they could. Upon completion of the building, some new furnishings, including an organ, were made. These prized possessions were moved into the new church on a Saturday evening as special dedication services were to be held next morning. This honored day had been happily anticipated for a long time. The completion of the building and its readiness for public worship was the realization of a cherished dream.

Unexpected disaster struck during that Saturday night. Family members living in a nearby sod house were wakened by the sound of skyward shooting flames. Too late in rounding up enough help to put out the fire, the people watched helplessly as flames ended their community project. The cause of the fire was never determined. There were various opinions as to its origin, but no positive proof ever made. In the courageous spirit of the early settlers, the church was rebuilt. Upon its completion it was dedicated in 1907. For many years, Sunday School and church services were held each week. A minister from Bladen was in charge.

Now, 68 years later, the tiny church survives. About twenty members attend church services which are held once each month. They have a cooperative dinner at noon time and hold services during the afternoon. A visiting church superintendent made the remark that New Virginia was the only congregation in his district that observed, “Eat before preach.” The Rev. John Baker of Blue Hill is the present minister. It is an ordinary appearing building, yet its distinctions are unique. In the June 16, 1961 edition of Life Magazine its picture appeared in a feature article, “Weddings Around the World”. An Inavale girl, Sherita Lambrecht, was married here and her rural wedding made part of the story. Willa Cather refers to this church in her book “O’ Pioneers.” It is also included in Red Cloud’s Cather Land Tour. Perhaps its greatest distinction is the fact that the people of this community have cared enough to keep the church door open to serve the spiritual needs of a community.

(From Tribune, June 2, 1975): By Marjorie Blankenbaker

Source:
Webster Atlas by Doover
Compiled 1983


Skjelver Brothers

The two Skjelver brothers, Hans and Otto, filed on homesteads, Hans on May 18, 1873 and Otto in the fall of 1876. Both brothers worked in the lumber camps of Wisconsin before coming to Webster County. Otto came to America in 1869 and Hans came in 1871; however, it was Hans Skjelver who first decided to join a group of Norwegians in Webster County. Both men helped to establish the Norwegian Zion Lutheran church and a religious school that was eventually to be District 66, “North Star,” a name selected because of the many Scandinavians within the community. Otto Skjelver was the first teacher of District 66,  and the Otto post office was named for him. Both brothers were well educated, but Otto, who had a more outgoing personality, became the spokesperson between the Scandinavian and English-American community. He helped interpret American laws, customs and their usage to his fellow countrymen. It is ironic that some of these laws worked against his best interest and deprived him of land that he thought was rightfully his.

Source:
Webster County: Visions of the Past
By Mabel Cooper Skjelver
Published 1980
Pages 63-64

Note:
This citation notes Otto Skjelver filing homestead in the fall of 1876, but Otto filed homestead in December of 1883, as documented here.

Note:
The last sentence is likely referencing the court battle between Peterson & Skjelver that ultimately ended up in the NE Supreme Court in 1895.

Merry Christmas

2012_Christmas_Card

Nebraska Hereford Assn. 2012 Commercial Breeder of the Year Award

Rob & Diana Wilson were recently presented with the 2012 Commercial Breeder of the Year Award from the Nebraska Hereford Association. The banquet dinner and awards ceremony was held at Fonner Park  in Grand Island on Saturday, November 17, 2012. Ron Schutte presented the award.

The Wilson Hereford Ranch located in Webster County is owned and operated by Robert Wilson. Rob’s grandfather, Con Wilson, bought the first registered Hereford cattle in 1922, beginning with only four bred heifers and a bull. Rob’s father, Johnny, started operating the ranch after WWII and sold Hereford seed stock for years. Rob came back to the ranch in 1973 and now runs a commercial Hereford cow/calf and yearling operation of around 190 head. His heifers are sold privately all around the country and he markets his steers at local sale barns.

Rob is an active member of the Webster County Fair board and sponsors the Champion British Breeding Heifer each year. He has also been a 4-H leader for more than thirty years and sells club calves to local youths. Rob and his wife, Diana, along with their children and grandchildren continue the family’s longstanding tradition of raising quality Horned Hereford cattle.