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Nebraska...Our Towns

Nebraska...Our Towns

Lushton -- York County

A canal was cut with a fresno or "slip scrap" to divert water from the west fork of the Big Blue that runs through the southwest corner of York County just south of town. The power plant brought electricity to Lushton. [Valda]
A family portrait taken in front of their home on the prairie. [SCHS]
Airplane rides at Lushton in Sloniger's airplane, August 24, 1918.

In the southwest corner of the county is the small village of Lushton. The town was laid out in the spring of 1887, when the Kansas City & Omaha Railroad, (originally a subsidiary of the Union Pacific, and later the Burlington) came through from Sutton to McCool. Land for the town was given to the railroad by W.J. Walters.

A post office was established on August 6, 1887, and named for William Lush, an official on the railroad. The town grew slowly and apparently did not incorporate until after 1910 when 205 residents were recorded. The first ordinances found for running the village were recorded on December 19, 1917.

Even before there was a town, there were community worship services in the Darling schoolhouse, two miles to the west. Peter Pursel, who came to York County in 1872, gave land for the Lushton cemetery across the road north of the schoolhouse, and a United Brethren church was built. This building was moved into Lushton in 1888 after the town was established, where it remained active until 1983. A Methodist congregation, formerly known as the Fairview Church located three miles east of town, moved into Lushton to a site just south of the railroad on Gilbert Street. These buildings have also been sold and torn down.

The little cemetery, whose first burial in 1872 is that of a Mr. Clark (grandfather of Myrtle Babcock, Mable Thomas, and May Sloniger), was incorporated in 1926 and given the name "Lushton Cemetery Association." The G.A.R. erected a statue in honor of C.W. Hayes, and to the memory of all our military men. In 1952 lot 15 was given as a burial plot for any members of the armed forces needing a burial space, regardless of nationality, color, or religious belief. According to an article published in a magazine in 1960, it was thought that the Lushton Cemetery was the smallest National Cemetery in the United States. To date there are the graves of 24 veterans of the Civil War, Spanish American War, and World Wars I and II.

The Lushton school, organized early in our history, was held in high esteem. In 1908 the director recorded a special meeting for the purpose of discussing bonds for the building of a new school. Of the 66 "legal voters" present, 55 voted in favor of the proposition. The 11th grade was added in 1915 and the 12th grade in 1925. The last high school graduating class was in 1949, with the final elementary classes in 1961. Students now attend school in McCool Junction or Henderson. The school was torn down and in 1964 Lushton's District 94 was officially dissolved.

When the town was new, the Modern Woodmen of America Hall provided a welcome place for social gatherings, dances, roller skating, talent shows, box socials, and community dinners. Other community organizations included Royal Neighbors and the Red Cross. Lushton's Woman's Club organized in 1920, Lushton Laughing Lasses 4-H Club organized in 1926, and a dramatics club organized in 1934. Business places lined the street and included a complete array of shops, stores, eating and drinking establishments, and of course two elevators. At the main intersection was a bandstand, lighted with gasoline lights, where Lushtonites enjoyed weekly band concerts.

A fire on March 3, 1913, destroyed an entire block on the west side of the street. A large brick building was built by Jacob Epp & Son in its place. Another fire in 1926 burned the hotel, general store, meat market, and cafe on the east side of the street. Brick also replaced these stores.

In 1916 Albert Garbe built a power dam on the Blue to generate electricity. He furnished power for the village until it connected with Consumer Electric of York.

Driving through the town now, which once had an unofficial census of nearly 350, one sees a few remaining buildings. The town now consists of six businesses: an irrigation company, a grain company, the co-op, Golden Valley Apiaries, a seed corn outlet, and an auto repair shop. The post office, a rural branch of McCool Junction in 1965, was discontinued in 1981.

On August 29, 1987, Lushton celebrated its centennial. Approximately 1,200 people enjoyed the barbecue, horseshoe pitching contest, garden tractor pull, bingo, concessions, and square dancing. The saga of the first 100 years of the Village of Lushton ended happily with 33 good residents and thousands of wonderful memories. Who knows what the next 100 years will bring.

By Beulah Bredenkamp of Lushton, and Darlene Larson, 12 North Circle Drive, York, NE 68467. Additional pictures courtesy of Loris Valda.

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL: Lushton's Centennial Book, 1887-1987, published by the centennial committee.