Monday, September 21, 2015

Nebraska City – North to Plattsmouth NE

On the last morning before arriving at our grandson’s (and parent’s) home in Omaha, we checked out a couple more sites that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places…

As you can see, this is the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) Memorial Hall and Museum.  It’s located at 901 1st Corso in Nebraska City.  This building was built in 1894 in the Richardson Romanesque style.  The G.A.R., which was formed in 1866, was a nationwide movement composed of Union veterans of the Civil War.  (Comparable to today’s American Legion, VFW, etc.)  Aside from the considerable political influence it wielded, the association worked to increase patriotism and it provided an environment of fraternity and comradeship for its members. This building is one of only three existing free-standing halls that were built exclusively for the G.A.R. in Nebraska.


·       The last surviving G.A.R. member that actually saw combat in the Civil War died in 1953.  He was 109 years old.  The last surviving member of the G.A.R. died in 1956 at 109 years of age.  He was a drummer boy who’s unit never saw combat.

Unfortunately, the G.A.R. Memorial Hall and Museum is only open on the weekends.  The on-line photos of the exhibits look very interesting and we will have to come back for a visit.  To learn more, just go to

This is St. Benedict's Catholic Church which is located at 411 5th Rue at the summit of Kearney Hill in Nebraska City.  The rear portion of this Romanesque Revival style church was built in 1861 and it’s believed to be the oldest brick Catholic Church in Nebraska.  The church bell came from the wreck of a paddlewheel steamboat on the Missouri River. 

Part of the reason for this church’s listing on the Register is its association with Father Emmanuel Hartig, a missionary and Benedictine priest.  Father Hartig, who was a native of Germany, served St. Benedict's for 40 years. (1861 – 1874 and 1881 – 1908) He was responsible for the erection of 6 Catholic churches and the establishment of several parishes in southeastern Nebraska and northwestern Missouri.

As a tourist destination at its current location in Nebraska City since 1937, the Mayhew Cabin and "John Brown's Cave" were a commercial enterprise created by Edward Bartling.  However its importance to the state of Nebraska is more complex.  With its connections to known abolitionist John Henry Kagi and a location that facilitated easy access across the Missouri River into Iowa, whether real or imagined, this property provided Nebraskans with an easily accessible connection to significant symbols of American History, such as John Brown and the Underground Railroad.  With skepticism and intrigue surrounding the property, the cabin and cave serve as a unique piece of Nebraska folklore.

The Mayhew Cabin itself was built in 1855 by Allen Mayhew in 6 weeks.  He used mostly cottonwood logs for the construction, which he hewed and squared.  Then the ‘chinking’ and ‘daubing’ were placed in between the logs and a wood shingle roof was added to finish the construction.
To learn more about this historic site, tourist attraction and museum, go to

Next…North to Plattsmouth Nebraska…

This is the Captain John O’Rourke House at 424 North 6th Street in Plattsmouth Nebraska.  Constructed in 1881, this is a fine example of an Italianate house.  The timing or popularity of building styles in Nebraska do not fit neatly into nationwide architectural trends, with stylistic trends tending to reach Nebraska approximately 10 years late and persisting about a decade after they had fallen out of fashion nationally.  Nebraska was only 13 years old in 1880.  Settlers could rightly describe themselves as a success if they just managed to eke a sufficient enough living to stay.  Consequently, in those early years, the few who were extremely successful might construct a substantially built and designed house of such a recognizable style.
John O'Rourke emigrated from Ireland and almost immediately joined the Union Army.  He fought in the Civil War, was wounded, was a prisoner of war, escaped several times and he achieved the rank of Captain by the time he was mustered out of the army.  He is reputed to be the subject of the song or ballad “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”.  His brother-in-law, Patrick S. Gilmore wrote the song… To learn more about Captain O’Rourke, just go to

Constructed in 1896, the Paul Gering House is located at 423 North 6th Street in Plattsmouth.  The two-and-one-half-story wood-frame structure was designed in the Colonial Revival style.  Gering was a German emigrant who became an obviously successful pharmacist.  The home cost $4,500 to build back in 1896…that would equal more than $500,000 in today’s dollars.  Interestingly, the Gering family lived in the O’Rourke home across the street prior to moving into their new house. 

Plattsmouth is located on the Missouri River just a little south of Omaha.  It is the county seat for Cass County Nebraska.  Currently, this attractive small city’s population is about 6,500.  Although the number of residents seems to have stabilized in recent years, at its peak in 1890, the town counted about 8,400 citizens.


·       Famous mystery/crime story author Raymond Chandler is from Plattsmouth.  His most famous books include “The Big Sleep”, Farewell, My Lovely” and “The Long Goodbye”.  

That’s all for now… Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for yet another series of history snippets! 

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

1 comment:

  1. Love the little Mayhew Cabin and also the Gering House. It's hard to fathom that some Civil War veterans lived to 109. Wow.