By a 69 to 51 vote a new town site was chosen in a special election as the Logan County seat. Jim Gandy, a Broken Bow business man, donated a section of land, and promised to bring a lot of business and capital to the town if it was named for him.
Gandy's plat, designating two parks and a "courthouse square" in the center, was filed in November 1885. County officials moved from their sod offices into the two-story frame courthouse in 1888. A small block building housed the vault and a two-room block structure served as the jail. Shops and businesses quickly filled the space around the square, and the sandy streets needed to be "hayed down" frequently.
Passage of the Kinkaid Act in 1904, and rumors that a branch line of the Union Pacific Railroad was coming through Logan County, made Gandy flourish.
In 1911 -- rumor became reality. Rails were being laid!
Then one day someone noticed that the grade was being built along a line two miles north of town, and that a new town site was being laid out several miles further down the track. A disagreement about the cost of the right-of-way adjacent to Gandy resulted in this arbitrary action by the railroad.
Undaunted, "Gandyites" incorporated that November and included a narrow strip of land running from the northeast corner of town to the railroad. Since Gandy was the county seat the railroad was eventually forced to put in a siding and depot.
Soon there was an elevator, stockyard, lumberyard, and several residences in "North Gandy." However, the town did not grow to fill the void, and would not move. Gandy's dream of greatness dimmed as many buildings and businesses moved to Stapleton. Some new businesses came in, but times were changing.
At the special election called in 1929 to re-locate the county seat, voters favored that "other town" of Stapleton. The election was contested, but on February 24, 1930, the county records were removed. Gandy went from a population of over 300 to about 100, with only a few businesses.
But they had memories!
Why, this was the town where the notorious Parker, the outlaw and murderer wanted in many states, was captured by Sheriff Doan. Everyone knows that Gandy was the first town, had the first school district, and the first churches in the county.
Gandy would survive!
The first school was organized and a one-room schoolhouse built on "the hill" in the southeast part of town. Another room was added when enrollment increased. When state law required it, Logan County High School was organized in 1918, and a two-story building, to accommodate both grade and high school students, was built. It burned to the ground on a windy March night in 1923. So a new brick school was built for high school students with a similar structure four blocks west for the grade school.
The Catholic, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches were all at Gandy, and the Presbyterians had just rebuilt after their first church burned in 1906. They moved their church to Stapleton in 1912, and the Catholics built a new church over there the following year.
Gandy was still here, but it was smaller than before. The population fluctuated in the next two decades, and school enrollment fell. The high school closed in 1957 and the grade school in 1960. The big event of the year, however, is the Logan County High School alumni banquet held every June.
Methodist Church services were discontinued in 1965. Their church was purchased by the Berean congregation in 1971. Visitors are always welcome to attend their services.
The town's centennial in 1985 was climaxed with a three-day celebration, July 25-27, bringing over 1,000 former residents and friends back to enjoy the festivities, barbecue, ice cream social, participate in tours, shop in a centennial store, and reminisce. An outdoor stage play, "Parson John," with a cast of 50, was presented each evening.
The current population of Gandy is less than 50. Jay's Trading Post, open by appointment, is the only business in town. The building built for an attorney's office and used as the last post office, is now a home, while an attractive new residence occupies "the square."
Gandy is still here! But, do you think that perhaps the price of that right-of-way might have been a little too high?
By Alice Rockwell, R.R. 2 Box 48, Stapleton, NE 69163