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Nebraska...Our Towns

Brock -- Nemaha County

The MP Depot at Brock, built 1881. [Bentley]
Brock's main street in 1883, one of two floods that year that caused many businesses to move to the hill which they called "South Brock." [Bentley]

George Shroaf built a home near the timber on the north side of the Nemaha River in 1854, and the families of Jacob Delay, Lawrence Kinnison, and Phillip Starr arrived the following year. As a settlement grew, it was known by many names: Shroaf's Ford, Bradley's Bridge, Pinhook, Clinton, Dayton, Howard, and Podunk (the last three were postal addresses). A crude dam and grist mill, powered by the waterfall of the Nemaha, was built in 1867, and a sawmill was added in 1870.

The first store, established on the south side of the river, was built in 1871. A town was platted in 1878, when it looked like a railroad was coming! The Missouri Pacific, involved in the relocation of the county seat to a central location, was building a line across the prairie to Crete. The tracks and depot were built in 1881.

The railroad, which disliked the name "Podunk," chose "Brock" in honor of the superintendent of the line. In just one season the town had 26 stores, a large number of homes, and 200 people. It incorporated in 1882.

In the spring of 1883 the Nemaha River flooded the valley two different times. The post office and many businesses moved to the hill in "South Brock." Gradually they moved back. In 1884 an established nursery four miles north of town, which specialized in fruit trees, donated many trees to the town, some of which still stand in the Lafayette Cemetery. A bank was established in 1889, and in 1891 an evaporator was built near the railroad to dry fruit. Several destructive fires resulted in the construction of brick buildings on main street.

School was first held in the Starr home in 1858. A schoolhouse was built west of town in 1866; another one soon after the railroad arrived. A larger school, built in 1905, was replaced by a three-story brick building in 1926. The facility includes a ball diamond, playground, separate volley, tennis, and basketball courts.

The town reached its peak population of 543 in 1900. Board walks were replaced by concrete, and oil lamps gave way to electricity from the town's light plant. There was an opera house, movie theatre, dance hall, and numerous clubs and organizations. The "Brock Enterprise," first published in 1883, was changed to the "Brock Bulletin." It continued until 1944.

With the coming of the automobile, wars and depression, changes in farming and in the local job market, Brock's population fluctuated, then slowly dwindled. In 1931 there were still 300 people, and the K-12 school with nine teachers.

In 1990 a population of 143 was recorded. The largest business is the grain company. In addition to the post office, there is a cafe, beauty shop, and several repair shops. A mini-park with gazebo, trees, shrubs, and flowers now occupies a section once covered with business buildings. The Methodist church, built in 1883, and the Christian church, established in 1893, have made improvements through the years and still hold regular services. The Masonic Lodge and Eastern Star, built in 1940, also remain active.

The shift in population does not mean that Brock is going to dry up and blow away! In 1965 the "Brock Bugle" was established as a 4-6 page newsletter, typed, printed, and delivered by volunteers. The school, consolidating with Johnson in 1969 to better serve kids, continues to house grades 1-6 in Brock.

In 1981 a new fire station and community center was completed. Available for social gatherings, it is used by senior citizens, Kensington, extension, and pinochle clubs, as well as for board and youth meetings. The fire department puts on an annual "Ground-hog Feed" in February, which features nearly 100 pounds of whole-hog sausage, pancakes, with butter, and warm, homemade syrup.

On the Fourth of July, everyone gathers at the school, where entertainment varies from band concerts to ball games. Homemade pies and cakes are served with ice cream. (Homemade ice cream was made when there were enough dairy cows in the vicinity to furnish the milk and cream.) After dark the firemen and village board set off the big community fireworks display.

Dirt streets were replaced by pavement long ago, and city water was installed in 1931. There are new homes south of Highway 67. The Nemaha County sheriff provides the needed law-enforcement, and nearby Coryell Park is utilized for weddings, picnics, and reunions.

Our town, Brock, is a nice friendly town of good people.

By Helen Bentley, P.O. Box 95, Brock, NE 68320.


ADDITIONAL MATERIAL: Nemaha County , 1902, Dundas; History of the State of Nebraska, 1882, Andreas; Beauty - Bounty Nemaha County, Centennial 1867-1967; Nebraska State Genealogical Society, "A Research Guide to Genealogical Data in Nemaha County, NE, 1983; History of Nemaha County , 1987; and the "Brock Bulletin" stories by pioneers and Sorosis Club in 1976.