About Nebraska...Our Towns
How our towns got their names is an interesting study in itself. Every post office needed "a name." But, who decided what constituted an "approved name?" Postmasters submitted the proposed name, but it was the federal authorities that approved or rejected them. Many names were refused, in the event of duplication, or if they felt it might be "confused with another address."
The vast majority of our towns were named for railroad officials, honored in the hope of winning a favor, or in appreciation for putting a station at a certain location. Other towns were asked by the railroad to shorten or "Americanize" its name. Many towns were named for their founders others by the founder for the place they came from, or a person they admired. Several towns have Biblical or political connotations and still others were chosen quite democratically, by a vote of the (male) citizens.
Organizing the Stories...
Since activities in one town often sets off a chain reaction that is felt in the next town, and the next on down the line, NEBRASKA...Our Towns was compiled and published by geographic areas. In addition, towns within a county also have a distinct relationship. Each county has been assembled and is presented as a unit - putting the county seat first, then the other towns in alphabetical order.
Compiling the series with these political and geographic parameters illuminates the relationships and contrasts that have contributed to the development of the larger community - NEBRASKA. This collection of stories presents a unique opportunity to see the history of the state through the events and happenings of individual communities.
The process of settlement is ongoing - from the oldest post office, dating back to 1848, to towns incorporating as late at 1974 - a span of 126 years! Interestingly, one of the last towns to incorporate is located in the same county as the oldest town.
The initial geographic areas, established by the Nebraska History Network (an association of historically oriented groups and individuals) divided the state into five areas of approximately the same size. These were the basic area parameters used in the series. With the majority of our towns in the eastern one-third of the state, it was obvious that two volumes would be needed in Area 1 and Area 2.
The first volume, The Panhandle, containing the 37 towns in Area 5, was published in June 1988. The second volume, containing the 82 towns found in Area 4's South Central region, arrived in December 1988. The third volume, Area 3's big Central & North Central region, included 80 towns and was published in July 1989. Area 1A, called the North Northeast edition, included 80 towns in a wedge of counties along Nebraska's "northern shore" from Boyd to Dakota, and arrived in May 1990. Area 1B, completed very late in 1990, was identified as the Central Northeast, and included 81 towns in the remaining counties north of the Platte, plus Saunders County.
The two volumes in southeast Nebraska were divided vertically. Area 2A included the 87 towns found in the ten more-central counties. Identified as Central Southeast, the stories were completed, for the most part, in 1991.
Area 2B, is the seventh and final book in the series. Scheduled for publication in 1992, it is titled East Southeast, and contains the remaining 87 towns in the nine counties in Nebraska's southeast corner.