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Nebraska...Our Towns

The G.L. Osborn Blacksmith & Rapair Shop, Edison, 1910.


Thomas Edison may have been a very famous man and invented many things, but he is not the person for whom the town of Edison, Nebraska, is named.

Edison, in the eastern part of Furnas County, was named for the son of R.H.Rohr, one of the owners of the first store at that location. Rohr and Charles Draper established a general merchandising business. When Rohr was named postmaster, he needed to supply the name that was to be used. He chose to call it "Edison," for his son "Eddy."

The first white baby born in Furnas County was Rene Rohr White in Edison. Some names of early settlers in addition to Rohr, Draper, and White, include Osborn, Parmeder, Jones, Bard, and Shafer.

This settlement just kind of "happened" as western expansion pushed into Furnas County. The railroad also came through, but this was not what you would call a railroad town.

Edison was just a frontier town, with all businesses designed to attract travelers and newly-arriving settlers. Described as "a thriving town," it had an opera house, two hotels, a blacksmith, hardware store, and three churches.

Of the original churches, only the Christian Church, organized by Brother William Winters in 1889 has survived. The first pastor was John Stewart Miller. In recent years a new denomination called Holiness Church was organized.

In earlier times, many Indians passed through the area on their annual migration from their winter to summer hunting grounds. Some times they would set up their teepees in an encampment near the town and stay for a considerable time. They used the healing mud and water of Turkey Creek to care for wounded warriors.

After one battle, one Indian squaw found her way to the Osborn home, where she just sat by the stove. Later more Indians also came, causing some concern as to their intent. Finally one of the Osborn children put a bullet in the stove, which of course exploded. The Indians ran from the house and never came back.

The smallest schoolhouse in Nebraska was located south of Edison. It measures only 14-feet by 16-feet. Known as District 10, it was built in 1896 and closed in 1935. The building was moved into Edison and restored so it can be enjoyed by citizens and tourists.

The town was officially incorporated on January 3, 1907. Edison's peak population of 334 was recorded in 1910. The present count is near the 200 mark.

Edison's Farmers & Merchant's Bank opened in 1926. It weathered the Depression and hard times. Last year it purchased the Arapahoe Bank.

Every town located on the Republican River has horror stories to relate about the terrible flood of 1935. Since Edison was down stream, there had been some warnings, but people ignored them. They didn't believe that the water could get as high as it did. No one in Edison lost their lives, but the streets were under a foot or more of water.

In 1955 the Edison Co-op elevator was established. It has now merged with Beaver City, Oxford, Holbrook, Elwood, and Hendley to form a larger co-op.

Most of the original businesses that were established when Edison was young are now gone. Some of them were no longer needed, like the blacksmithing and livery stable, while others burned down or just closed.

Edison has an active volunteer fire department. The electrical system operated by the village is supplied by NPPD. The natural gas system is supplied through Kansas-Nebraska Gas Company. The town is still "on the line" of the railroad through the area, operated by Burlington-Northern.

Edison had a homestead centennial in 1972, and celebrates "Market Days" on the second Saturday in September every year. This event brings a lot of people to town. Consider this your invitation to stop by.


By Ida Shafer, Box 214, Edison, NE 68936

"The Land Where the Meadow Lark Sings," by Merlin R. Ganey, 1967