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Old 11-21-2013, 09:08 AM
 
1 posts, read 1,996 times
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I am writing a fictional novel. The novel is fictional but I would like to incorporate nonfictional facts on early Nebraska and pioneer life. I would be interested in comments from other forum readers concerning unique and interesting incidents handed down in families in reference to early pioneer life. This will help me form interesting aspects to my novel. Thank you
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Old 11-28-2013, 03:16 AM
 
Location: Lincoln, NE
84 posts, read 110,604 times
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It sounds like you're writing 'historical fiction.' I'd suggest carefully researching the time period that you're placing your characters into. For example, you could read digitized versions of old Nebraska newspapers made available online by UNL, some of which are from the 1870s. In addition, a large number of history books regarding pioneers are available as well, just visit your local library. Conducting that research ought to provide a wealth of ideas for interesting scenes and also show how to accurately describe your setting.
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Old 11-29-2013, 04:14 PM
 
Location: Looking over your shoulder
30,343 posts, read 27,804,382 times
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Lightbulb .

There are two museums that come to mind for some good history of Nebraska. The Stuhr museum in Grand Island and the Pioneervillage in Minden Nebraska, if I remember correctly both have many items of interest from the past and personal stories of the families that used them or had them at the time. Most items were donated to these locations for the interest of Nebr history and the pioneering days.

As I said, itís been a number of years that I last visited them so things might have changed a little and my memory is poor but Iím sure if youíre in the area or close by you could find many interesting facts to help with your book. If nothing else it can provide ideas for the book and a wonderful days enjoyment visiting the museums.

Pioneer Village

Stuhr Museum
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Old 01-20-2014, 07:22 PM
 
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There are non-fiction books available on early Nebraska history. I'd suggest reading some.
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Old 01-22-2014, 06:39 AM
 
Location: Midtown
152 posts, read 182,544 times
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Read Willa Cather.
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Old 02-19-2014, 05:39 AM
 
Location: Central Nebraska
553 posts, read 480,332 times
Reputation: 562
I grew up in Maxwell near North Platte back in the 1960s. According to local legend Maxwell was named because a man named Max had a well. But no one seemed to know quite where that well was, and that was strange because the old men around town would have been young boys around 1900 and so would have seen Old Man Max and there should have been quite a few stories about him fresh in everyone's mind. There are no historical accounts of him, which is also odd because Buffalo Bill Cody would have known him quite well and Buffalo Bill was well-reported on. The Truth is Mr. Maxwell was an important official on the Union Pacific Railroad and Maxwell was to be the location of a switching yard. It would take weeks to cross the country if every train had to stop at every little town along the way. So Big Trains would only stop about every 50 miles. Little Trains would bring the commerce from that area to be switched, so any townb with a switching yard would become the center of commerce and a big city. This one was named for Big Boss Maxwell. Eager to bring in settlers and all the commerce and profits they would mean the Railroad printed maps that were distributed all over the world and Mr. Maxwell's city appeared on them. No one could imagine anything beyond the Railroad so for the next thousand years people would stop at Maxwell, stay at the Maxwell Hotel and dine at the Maxwell Restaurant. They would no doubt pass a statue of Mr. Maxwell in the City Square and his portrait would look down from the walls of every public building. This is not to say Mr. Maxwell was a vain person, merely that that's the sort of Honor that would be bestowed upon the Big Boss.

Then the Bad News came.

It began with the rain up in the Sand Hills. It filtered down through the sand and bubbled up in groves known as Pawnee Springs or ran as an underground river right below Maxwell. This made the ground around Maxwell too soft to support the heavy traffic of a switching yard. The ground at North Platte was much more solid. Thus, the fortunes of North Platte and Maxwell were reversed. North Platte became the Big City and Maxwell remained a dinky little town.

"Barefoot Bill" Dietrich had a vision. He built a factory in Maxwell about 1910 just south of where the watertower now stands. His Plan was that the railroad could bring cloth in and his factory would turn it into clothing which the railroad would carry to markets all over the country. Then Barefoot Bill learned the same thing the railroad had learned 40 years earlier: the ground around Maxwell was too soft and the vibrations from the machinery would cause his factory to collapse within six months. So Bill Dietrich came up with Another Plan: If the people around Maxwell would raise vegetables he could make soup out of it and Dietrich's Soup would take it's place alongside Cambell's on grocery store shelves all over the country. But corn and cattle werre a lot less work and brought in more money, so nobody was interested. So here was this big empty building with an excellent wooden floor: Dietrich's Hall became the best roller skating rink in the area. But a flat-roof is a leaky roof and by the 1950s the western end of the floor had rotted and the skating rink was closed so children would not fall through. (Some continued to break in and skate anyway.) During World War II it was used as a warehouse for war supplies. In 1972 Lincoln County Judge Sam Dietrich invited my folks to help him dismantle his dad's old building as falling cement blocks had become a potential liability. My Dad noticed that the boards had no knot holes in them for knotholes did not make acceptable lumber back when it was built. "Barefoot Bill" Dietrich was an eccentric man who resembled an Old Testament prophet. He never shaved his beard and went barefoot all year long except that on the VERY COLDEDST (but only the VERY coldest) winter days he wore a pair of rubber galoshes. He was a vegetarian and when he went to a restaurant he would order potatoes and gravey. Folks joked about that (didn't he know what gravey was made from?) but he was doing the best he could. He home-schooled his son Sam Dietrich who then had to get a real education to become an attorney. When FDR outlawed gold coins Bill Dietrich burried all of his gold near his factory and could be seen setting on the porch of his home with a shotgun and looking that way. After dismatling the old factory Sam Dietrich was seen in the area with a metal detector, but his father would have to have burried the gold at least three feet deep because otherwise freezing and thawing would have worked it to the surface.

Last edited by CAllenDoudna; 02-19-2014 at 05:59 AM.. Reason: accidently posted in the middle of a sentence
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Old 02-20-2014, 06:52 PM
 
Location: Central Nebraska
553 posts, read 480,332 times
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My mother's family left Bergen, Norway. A whale came so close to the ship they were afraid it would capsize the vessle. Must have been pretty close if the sea-faring Norwegians were concerned. They went first to Quebec because it was cheaper to go by water on the St. Lawrence and Great Lakes than to take an overland route. They settled in Wisconsin. Three of the Lind brothers served in the Union Army. One was killed at Vicksburg and the other two were wounded at Gettysburg (one of them had been wounded the year before at Gains Mills). After the Civil War Carl and Ingrid Lind moved to Nebraska. He was old enough to be her father. In those days when people were not plugged in 24/7 the arrival of a train was a Big Event so everybody went to the depot. When they arrived at Maxwell Ingrid called out to the crowd at the depot if anybody knew her cousin Mandy Lind. A man just a couple of years older than Ingrid answered, "Mandy Lind? She married a soldier and they went West and haven't been heard from since." That man was none other than Buffalo Bill Cody. (No, there was no romance between them.) Carl and Ingrid then took a homestead in the clay hills between Brady and Farnam. When her grandchildren would complain about all the hard work they had to do putting up hay in the fields of Nebraska Ingrid would tell them about how in Norway she had to carry the hay down from the mountains so they had it easy.
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Old 02-20-2014, 08:29 PM
 
Location: Central Nebraska
553 posts, read 480,332 times
Reputation: 562
My Mother's family continued to use horses, live in sod houses, and had no electricity till the 1930s. A couple of times a year my grandfather Adolph Lind would hitch the horses to a wagon and take his wife and children to visit her sister who had a store with her husband in Brady. It took the horses several hours to make the trip that today only takes twenty minutes. Adolph bought the tools and other supplies he would need for six months while the sisters talked and the kids got the only candy they'd have all year. It would be long after dark before they got home and they'd light coal oil lamps on the wagon for headlights.

Of a morning the morning glories would be in bloom on the roof of the soddy and the sight of a roof in full bloom was quite beautiful. The floor was dirt--but it got swept and kept clean anyway. There was no excuse for a dirt floor being dirty. Now a sod house was made of dirt and it attracted the creatures of the dirt and centipedes a foot long were a common sight. One of the boys killed a bull snake, tied a string on it and drug it across the floor to play a trick on his mother. But in the dim light she thought it was just a rope and kicked it out of the way.

For toys the children had cans and oddly-shaped bones. They walked a mile and a quarter to school. One time a boy saved the wrapper from some gum. They cut a piece of grey cardboard, wrapped it up, and gave it to another boy as a stick of gum. One time some girls penned a love letter from a certain boy to a certain girl. They put it in an envelope and put a stamp on it. Then they took a lead pencil and drew the wavy lines of a cancellation mark over the stamp and delivered the mail to her. Mothers advised their daughters to look at a boy's pants: If he wore his knees out then he was a hard worker and would provide well for her. But if he wore the seat of his pants out first then he was lazy and would be no good.
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Old 02-23-2014, 05:20 AM
 
Location: Central Nebraska
553 posts, read 480,332 times
Reputation: 562
My great-grandfather Bob Doudna was a carpenter by trade. One day circa 1900 he fell and broke his hip. A doctor pronouned the Medical Wisdom of the day: He would never walk again. But Bob Doudna was said to be the most stubborn man ever. Taking a stick he began poking his toes to move them. Inventing his own physical therapy routine as he went along (the idea really didn't exist at the time) he taught himself to stand and to move his feet. It took a long time, but he taught himself to walk. After that he made it a point to every day walk past the office of the doctor who had told him he would never walk again.
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Old 02-23-2014, 06:33 AM
 
Location: Midtown
152 posts, read 182,544 times
Reputation: 99
^ A stubborn Norwegian? No way!
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