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Oak continues historical reenactments

A terrifying day on the Platte River

Annual 4-H Night held at county fair

Annual sandcastle contest planned at Lovewell


Oak continues historical reenactments

The village of Oak has been hosting reenactments of the 1864 Native American raids since 1967, as a result of a dream of an Oak resident by the name of Clayton Johnston.
With the raids occurring in 1864,the synchronization of the raids orchestrated by the Native Americans was fascinating.They organized a large series of raids to occur consecutively of each other, not just around the Oak area,but from near Oak to as far west as Julesburg,Colo. Today, a feat of such magnitude would be a challenge with current technology.
On July 26,near Oak, four reenactment sites will be narrated and relived.
They include the Narrows, Little Blue Station, Robert Emery Station and Oak
Grove. Other historical sites will also be driven by on the 20 mile route, including the William Bowie Ranch,where the family 's dugout can still be located by an indentation in the ground.
Oak, having a population of approximately 50 residents, relies on the volunteerism of those residents throughout the entire area. Former residents return to Oak to either interact in the reenactments or to show their family members a heritage they experienced watching as a youth. Every four or five years, Oak brings back the reality of the settling of the village, frontier and country. The reenactments are not to label the Native Americans or the pioneers as "bad guys," as if playing Cowboys and Indians. Instead, it's the telling of a real story of the hardships all people endured to settle the frontier.
Native American tribes have come to witness the activities. There have been protests, but once the Native Americans witnessed the reenactments, they came to terms that the raids depicted were not slanderous or inaccurate. Instead,they realized the reenactments share the fact that the pioneers were taking the Native American land without permission.
A local historian, Jack Montgomery, who died 10 years ago, remembered his mother feeding Native Americans who stopped by their house. One hundred fifty years sounds like a long time ago, but to many of us who have known someone who knew the Native Americans as part of their daily life style, makes the heritage become even more personal and real.
For those not on the trail, history will carry on in the town of Oak featuring a wheelwright, buggy rides, blacksmithing, antique tractors, broom making, threshing, the Heritage Room, which is filled with museum artifacts, a craft fair, face painting, old time photography, kids games (including inflatables), and live afternoon music in the park.
A National Oregon Trail member from Arizona will be hosting an informational booth. Right next to him,will be a Pony Express representative available with information regarding that organization and the trail which also passed directly through Oak.
Also on hand will be "War Pony," a full blooded Native American who trav-
els with his horses and wolf dogs. He speaks of the Native American traditions and customs. He also offers the chance of having a photo opportunity with him.
The evening activities will begin at 5 p.m. with Oak's beef barbeque. There will be a drawing for a Henry 45LC rifle. Other prizes to be drawn for include a handmade long bow with arrows and a handmade knife. A second rifle, a Henry 44 magnum, and two handmade knives will also be auctioned. Both guns are adorned with a commemorative lasered stock. After the auction there will be a dance under the stars. The evening will conclude with a fireworks display at 10:30 p.m.
One statement War Pony makes is that he did nothing to hurt us, and we have done nothing to hurt him. Our ancestors had the battle, not us. We now should live together in harmony and remember the past so it doesn't reoccur. Both sides were at fault and now we can live peaceably together.


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A terrifying day on the Platte River
By "The Cowboy" Jim Gray
Ed. note: Following is the third of four guest articles by Mr. Gray intended to help spread the word about the annual Oregon Trail reenactments scheduled for July 26 in Oak. This marks the 150th anniversary of the raids that occurred in Oak and across the region.
The Nebraska City Cutoff connected eastern Nebraska to the California-Oregon Trail by a direct route westward from the Missouri River to a point along the Platte River southwest of present-day Grand Island, Nebraska.
George Martin settled his family along the cutoff Aug. 2, 1862. Fort Kearney provided protection for the area about thirty miles further west although Indians had been friendly in that area. Pawnee Indians often camped near Martin's ranch and welcomed the Martin family into their camp.
By the summer of 1864 the Martins were becoming seasoned plainsmen. Trade along the trail increased, which called for great amounts of prairie hay to feed the draft animals that drew the heavy freight wagons over the trail. As the long hot days of August materialized, Martin and his sons busied themselves each day in the grueling task of cutting the tall prairie grass and hauling the hay from the river bottom to their ranch. They little suspected the treacherous eyes that were upon them. There is some disagreement as to the date. Accounts indicate that on Aug. 8 or perhaps 9, George tied down a load of hay, binding it securely with a pole from front to back. He started his team of stallions for home as the boys, Nat and Bob, were preparing their load.
George was three-quarters of a mile from the hay field, lazily swaying along on top of the load of prairie hay when the peaceful surroundings were suddenly shattered by war whoops and a volley of arrows from nine warriors racing toward the wagon.
George fell back onto the binding pole into a trench-like depression in the hay, grasping the rifle that was never far from his side. As he looked over the edge of the breastwork of hay, his rifle was at the ready. The first shot wounded one warrior. The second shot crippled a war horse and although the third shot had no effect on the attackers, they became unexpectedly aware that George Martin was shooting a repeating rifle, a rare item on the plains in 1864.
Most of the attackers pulled up but one warrior maneuvered in close enough to the wagon to launch an arrow that struck George in the base of his neck. As the frightened team raced past Martin's sod house, George jumped from the hayrack and rolled to a stop in front of the sod house. Anne Martin rushed to the aid of her husband. The persistent warrior turned for the kill just as Martin's oldest daughter, Hepzibah, raised an old shotgun menacingly in the warrior's direction. That was enough to change his mind.
Meanwhile Nat and Bob unhitched the lead mare and oxen from their wagon. Bob jumped aboard the horse. In an instant Nat was hanging on behind his brother. The warriors abandoned the Martin Ranch in favor of an attack on the defenseless boys.
Nat and Bob raced the brown mare toward a hill that would allow them to be hidden from view at least for a few moments, but the warriors had seen them and one rider maneuvered his war horse to cut off the mare. The daring mare bared her teeth and reached for the enemy saddle blanket. Nat tried to grab the warrior's bow three times but narrowly missed each time.
Tiring of the game the warrior strung an arrow to the bow and fired. The arrow sunk deeply into Nat's elbow. Nat frantically broke the shaft and flung it into the Indian's face.
A second arrow split the air and tore into Nat's back. The force of the arrow carried it from just below Nat's shoulder blade, through his liver, exiting his chest and finally lodging in Bob's backbone. The two boys were miserably pinned together and Nat knew he wasn't going to make it. His world began spinning and suddenly grew dark as he and Bob crashed in an awful heap upon the ground.
The boys were left for dead. As suddenly as they had arrived, the prairie grew silent and the warrior band was gone. The Martin family had fled as well, believing their sons to be dead.
Miraculously the blood streaming from Nat's chest had pooled and clotted under his shirt. He came back to consciousness in about an hour. The arrow that pinned them came broke free in the fall. Both boys were alive but too weak to stand. They crawled a quarter mile to the barn and collapsed in the hay where they were found when their parents returned home. The family had been badly frightened but no one lost their lives that terrifying day that one arrow nearly killed two young boys on The Way West.
"The Cowboy," Jim Gray is author of Desperate Seed: Ellsworth Kansas on the Violent Frontier and also publishes Kansas Cowboy, Old West history from a Kansas perspective. Contact him at Box 62, Ellsworth, email, or phone 785-531-2058.

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Annual 4-H Night held at county fair
4-H Night was last Wednesday at the Nuckolls County Fair, led by Celia Fanning, 4-H Night superintendent. The evening began with reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance and 4-H Pledge. Stephanie Thayer sang the national anthem.
The Little Blue NRD recognized individuals, organizations and agencies for their outstanding tree planting efforts and management. This year's LBNRD tree planter award has two recipients this year ­­ Kim and Larry Kucera and Craig and Amy Mazour, all of Lawrence.
In 2009 the Kuceras planted a livestock windbreak consisting of four rows of red cedar to protect livestock during calving season. There are 300 trees, thriving and doing well. Approximately 2,500 feet of fabric mulch was also installed which has aided in an excellent growth rate. The Mazours planted 150 red cedar and 35 Colorado blue spruce. This three row windbreak has been well cared for and is growing rapidly.
The Little Blue Conservation Farm Photo Award goes to a farmer in the district who has displayed an active interest in the conservation of our natural resources. The 2014 winner is the Franklin C. Walters Trust, Jason Ray, farm manager, Central National Bank. Since 2009, there have been 11,135 feet of terraces installed and 2,607 feet of underground outlets. Over a four year period 190 acres were treated for ephemeral and gully erosion. The farm is in excellent condition now. They also utilize conservation crop rotation, no-till and variable rate fertilizer application.
Angie Gardner, Nuckolls County Ag Society president, presented the Pioneer Family Farm Awards. These AK-SAR-BEN awards are given to families who have maintained ownership for the family farm for more than 100 years.
History of A&W Acres, Inc., and The Jagels Family: Dietrich Jagels, son of Gerd and Catherine (Meyer) Jagels arrived in Nebraska in 1912. The Jagels family immigrated to the United States from Hannover, Germany in 1852, first through New Orleans, La., then to Cole Camp, Mo. Dietrich Jagels purchased the original half section from the Wolcott family on March 4, 1914. Dietrich farmed the land along with his son, Edward G. Jagels. On Nov. 23, 1920, Dietrich and his wife Louisa (Schnakenberg) Jagels transferred the property to Edward and his wife Ella Marie (Heimsoth) Jagels. Edward and Ella built the second house on the home place in 1922 and their children, Harold, Verona, Lera and Wayne were born and raised in that house.
Wayne Jagels enlisted in the Air Force in 1950 and served in the European Theatre. He married Anita Ruth Moore of Carleton and returned to farm with his father in 1953. After the tragic deaths of both Edward and Ella in a car accident in 1957, Wayne and Anita purchased the entire Jagels farm and continued to reside in the 1922 house, raising four daughters, Debra, Pam, Rebecca and Brenda.
Wayne and Anita formed A & W Acres, Inc., in 1981they also included their daughter in the corporation. Since that time, the farm has enjoyed a successful family operation. Wayne retired from farming in 1996 but continued to help around the home place until his death in 2007. Wayne and Anita's son-in-law, Douglas Harms, continues the day-to-day operations as president of A & W Acres, long with his Wife, Pam.
History of John Horst Farm: On Feb. 28, 1914, John Horst purchased the original section of land in the South East quarter of section 18-3-5. It was then purchased by his son, John B. Horst, on March 31, 1965. After the death of John B. Horst in 2005 the farm was transferred to his sons, James Horst, Jeff Horst and Jerry Horst.
History of Anne Schroeder Farm: In January 1914 John and Lydia Schroeder purchased the South West quarter of 2-3-5, Nuckolls County from Lydia's brother-in-law and Sister, Dietrich and Louise Jagels for the sum of $15,800 or $98.75 per acre. John and Lydia had bought the South East quarter of 2-3-5 in 1899, so this gave them the opportunity to own the South half of 2-3-5 on which the raised their four children, Linda, Ida, Edwin and Norbert. After John's death in 1939, Linda and Edwin were each given 80 acres of the South West quarter, with Edwin and his wife, Anne, eventually purchasing his sister Linda's 80 acres. After Edwin's death in 1956 and Anne's death in 1980 their four children, Lowell, Russell, Patricia and James inherited the farm, and still own it today.
History of Lee and Charlotte Clabaugh: The Clabaugh family farm is located in section 35-3-6 in Nuckolls County. Ela W. Brainerd deeded the property to brothers Simon M. Kelly and Edward Kelly on Jan. 10, 1900. The purchase of the amount was $10,000. Upon the death of Edward Kelly the land was transferred to his brother, Simon Kelly, and Edward's son, Fred Kelly, on Aug. 13, 1923. Jan. 11, 1927, the estate of Simon M. Kelly transferred the land to Fred R. Kelly. The Fred R. Kelly estate deeded the land to daughters, Charlotte Clabaugh and Donna Walker, with life estate to his wife, Winnifred Kelly, on Dec. 26, 1958. On April 15, 1968, Donna Walker deeded her share of the property to Lee Clabaugh, Charlotte's Husband.
History of Wehrmann Sisters' Farm:
In 1846, at the age of 12, Henry Christian Wehrmann left Germany and came to America with his parents and siblings. Henry and his wife, Elizabeth, moved from Ohio to Nebraska in 1857 and settled along the Ox Bow in Nuckolls County where Henry broke sod with a pair of oxen. Within a couple of years, they established a home and farm two miles west of Nelson. Henry was a successful stockman and, with three other businessmen, founded the Commercial Bank of Nelson in 1894. He served as its first president until his death in 1911.
Henry and his son, James B. Wehrman, purchased this farm on July 8, 1909, which has since been passed down through subsequent generations of the Wehrman family. The Current owners, Jacqueline Wehrman Davis, Patricia Wehrman Whitely Melroy and Deborah Wehrman Larson received the farm from their uncle, Robert H. Wehrman. It is currently farmed by their cousin, Joe Wehrman, All three Wehrman sisters are public school librarians, and have continued to be involved in agriculture. Deb and her husband, Tom Larson, were organic farmers in Boone County for more than 30 years, and Pat has a cow-calf operation in Madison County, Iowa.
The fair board is comprised of volunteers who give many, many hours to plan, promote and make sure the Nuckolls County Fair is successful. Members of the 2014 fair board are Angie Gardner, president; Darren Ostdiek, vice president; Nick Elledge, secretary; Scott Meyer, treasurer; Ivan Anderson, Neil Bouray, Dustin Cassell, Edd Epley, Ben Hanson, Blythe Herbek, Beth Himmelberg, Jeff Kathman, Dan Laughlin, Brent Rempel and Katie Williams.
President Angie Gardner thanked former Nuckolls County Fair Board members, and recognized Jerrod Hajny for his nine years of service on the fair board.
The 4-H Council is made up of people with an interest in 4-H. The council sets the policies and guidelines for the 4-H program for the entire year. The 2014 council members are John Dolnicek, president; Kandy Williams, vice president; Leslie Biltoft, secretary; Jennie Schultz, treasurer; Deb Adams, Celia Fanning, Susan Karmanzin, Kim Kucera, Jill Lanham, Sara Mertens, Renee Miller and Nicole Skinner.
The council voted to recognize long-time 4-H members at the county fair each year, members who have been in 4-H for six years or more and graduated this spring. President Dolnicek present plaques to the following graduates and long time members:
Cole Epley - Cole is the son of Ethan and Dana Epley. In the fall, Cole plans to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln majoring in wildlife management. Cole's favorite 4-H project was showing poultry.
Joshua Himmelberg - Joshua is the son of Duane and Sherry Himmelberg. In the fall, Joshua plans to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Joshua's favorite 4-H projects were woodworking and showing sheep.
Lane Schroer - Lane is the son of Lavern and Kelly Schroer. In the fall, Lane plans to attend Central Community College in Hastings majoring in carpentry. Lane's favorite projects were the ice cream contest, woodworking and showing dairy and chickens.
Michael Jacobitz - Michael is the son of Bruce and Becky Jacobitz.
Horse competiton high point belt buckles were presented. The junior high point buckle, given in memory of Drew Cassell and presented by Donny and Dustin Cassell, was presented to Ella Gardner. The intermediate high point buckle, sponsored by the James Watts Memorial and presented by Jim Watts, was awarded to KaLee Fanning. The senior high point buckle, sponsored by the Circle C-T-N Saddle Club and presented by Jim Watts, was presented to Emet Fanning.
Two new buckles were presented. The overall trail buckle, sponsored by the Danny Jacobitz Memorial for high overall trail )all divisions) was awarded to Brooklyn Kohmetscher. The beef champion rate of gain buckle, sponsored by the Frank Jones Memorial, was presented to Chelsea Kucera.
Supreme market animal awards were given for each large animal species. The recipients were: supreme market swine, sponsored by Superior Pharmacy, Joshua Himmelberg; supreme market lamb, sponsored by C&M Supply, Joshua Himmelberg; supreme market beef, sponsored by Little Lip Land and Cattle, Chelsea Kucera.
KRFS Radio in Superior in conjunction with the Brownfield Ag News Network presented two ag youth awards to individuals for their leadership and achievement and their enthusiasm in promoting agriculture. This year's recipients were Cole Epley and Lane Schroer.
This year's outstanding leader award was presented to Larry Kucera, a great behind the scenes volunteer the office staff depended on to get anything and almost everything done. Larry Kucera was involved with the Nuckolls County 4-H program for more than 20 years, including three terms on 4-H council, beef superintendent for several years, helped with trail and gate at the horse show for many years. He was always around to help a 4-H member saddle a horse or wash a calf. Larry was missed by more than his family at this year's county fair; his impact on the Nuckolls County 4-H program will extend for many years through the donation of a new portable sound system used at the horse show and in the large animal show area.
This year's Friend of 4-H award was presented to Kile Veterinary Clinic. "They are always willing to host the beef weigh-in and tagging day, and come to do vet checks at the fair whenever they're asked," said the presenter. "Doc Kile and his staff are helpful when 4-H members are at the clinic and provide encouragement and education in a friendly manor."
Clover Kids is a 4-H division for youths between the ages of 5 and 8, or kindergarten to first grade. These youngsters can be involved in 4-H by participating in 4-H workshops, project bonanza day, Clover Camp, pre-small animal show, ice cream contest, pre-4-H swine show, speech contest and more. They are involved in non-competitive events. This year's Clover Kids are Cody Brockman, Sydney Biltoft, Claire Himmelberg, Clay Williams, Tye Ward, Oakley Ward, Mia Gardner, Josie Hajny, Jessica Sole, Harley Beale, Jack Watts, Grayce Beck, Addison McCloskey-Cassell, Jackson Williams, Grayhm Beck, Brienna Osten, Aubry Blackburn, Emma Corman and Hadley Osdiek.
The 2014 Nuckolls County Ambassadors may be of either gender and are selected by an impartial out-of-county judge. This year there was one ambassador for Nuckolls County, Bailey Williams. Bailey has been in 4-H since she was eight years old. She excels in clothing construction and enjoys riding her horse. She has been a great volunteer in the extension office and when needed for 4-H program activities. She received a jacket and a $25 check from the 4-H Council.






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Annual sandcastle contest planned at Lovewell
The annual sand castle and sand sculpture contest at Lovewell State Park is scheduled for Sunday at the Southwinds Beach area of the state park.
Teams of up to five persons can register at the state park office from 8 a.m. to noon on Sunday. Entries will be judged at 2 p.m. and prizes will be awarded to both the top sand castles and sand sculptures. Those who do not enter the contest are invited to view the sand masterpieces.

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