Phelps Helps Newsletter Spring 1996

Phelps Helps Newsletter
Holdrege Area Genealogical Society

To Subscribe, Write:
The Holdrege Area Genealogy Club
P.O. Box 164
Holdrege, Phelps County, Nebraska

Vol. 5-1
Spring 1996
The Holdrege Area Genealogy Club
meets at the Phelps County Historical Museum
on the first Monday of the month at 2:00 PM.
The public is welcome!



Recently, two news items from the Holdrege newspaper entitled Elizabeth Valley School News and Elizabeth Valley Church News caused some questions. What area of Phelps County was this community located? A search of our rural schools information did not list an Elizabeth Valley School and neither did our church listings.

When this happens, one starts asking questions in the hope someone can answer your questions. In this case Eileen Schrock knew someone who was married in that church and it was somewhere in northeast Phelps County. Two weeks later we received a package from one of our members, Ara Sanders. Included in the package were two photographs of Elizabeth Valley Church. She had gone to school at Elizabeth Valley School.

Now after some additional research we have found this information.

Elizabeth Valley Community was located in the northeast corner of Phelps County in Cottonwood Township. Part of the reason we did not find the school name was because sometime between 1909 and 1913 school district 35 changed it's name from Frank School to Elizabeth Valley.

The "Phelps County History" by Doover written in 1980 gave this information about Elizabeth Valley Church:

"The Elizabeth Valley Sunday School was founded in 1882 by W. H. Frank. He moved to Phelps County, Nebraska with his wife and family from Iowa. The need for religious services was realized and Sunday school was held in school houses. Ministers came from Kearney occasionally and conducted services.

The new church was built in 1907. It was named Elizabeth Valley Church after Mrs. Elizabeth Blackburn, who was instrumental in having it built. It was located in the southeast corner of section 14 in Cottonwood Township, Phelps County, Nebraska.

Mrs. C. A. Moore was the oldest member of the Sunday school. She worked with the school from the beginning. In 1920 the Sunday school was closed for one year but through the untiring efforts of many faithful persons it was reopened. Services were held there until 1956-1957 when the church as abandoned and moved to Phillips, Nebraska. Many fond memories were gathered by all who worshipped there.

Another story in the Phelps County History book 1973 -1980" entitled Elizabeth Valley Kensington. This organization started during W.W.I. It's original purpose was to make sweaters, mittens and gloves for the servicemen. The club was formerly organized in 1933. The members raised money through annual Bazaars, farm and bake sales which was given to several charities. The club raised money for church maintenance and gave many baby and wedding showers through the years. It was still active in 1980."

Because of this community's location in north east Phelps County, more information probably could be found in the Kearney, Nebraska newspaper. Probably some of the early pioneers of this area were buried in Kearney or Buffalo County, Nebraska.










District 35 was started in August of 1882. The school district included 15, 14, 13, 22, 23, 24, 27, 26, 25 of cottonwood township. Later sections 34, 35 and 36 were added.

The school was a wood frame building. The first teacher was Ila Altmeir. In 1883, there were 5 female students. School was open two months with a total of 39 days taught. By 1886-1887 there were 18 students with nine girls and nine boys being taught. The school term was from December 6th to March 4th.

Below are some of reports from the Phelps County School superintendent when visiting district 35. The report given in the 1880s and most of the 1890s were all good and favorable. About 1899 condition of the school and school supplies were deteriorating.

Dec. 9, 1890 - Visited the school in district 35,Leon Spaulding teaching with an enrollment of 18 students, seventeen present.

Dec. 10, 1891 - The school in Dist. 35 was visited. Katie Savin the teacher had an enrollment of 15 students, twelve present. Pupils advanced in work beyond their ability.

Oct. 4, 1899 - The work in this school is not good. Mr. E. R. Maxey the teacher lacks purpose in his work.

Jan 21, 1902 - Found this school in charge of Mrs. E. H. Gregory. A great deal of confusion on account of small children not having enough busy work. Schoolhouse in bad repair. Outhouses in very poor and bad condition.

Nov 18, 1902 - Visited this school, found Miss Amy Moore teaching. School at a disadvantage because district does not furnish text books. The work is poor. Teacher does not seem to be able to arrange her work. A slackness in government also.

Dec. 17, 1902 - Visited this school. Mrs. H. E. Gregory teacher. More or less noise and confusion. Pupils seemingly indifferent and careless with books and property belonging to district. School house in bad shape and district too poor to repair it.

Mar, 2, 1904 - Miss Maud Hucka is teaching successfully here. School house is in poor shape and text books are not furnished by district. Sadly in need of maps, globe and good blackboard. Enrollment 15, present 13.

Jan 21, 1909 - Visited this school, found Mrs. H. E. Gregory teaching in the place of Miss Vina Wolfe, the regular teacher. Conditions in schoolroom bore evidence that good work had been done. Attendance had been and was good. Text books have this year been placed in the school.

Mar. 15, 1910 - The schoolhouse in this district is poor. Furniture is also in poor condition. Textbooks are new. Miss Dora Howery, the teacher is a conscientious worker, however does not seem to have the respect and confidence of her pupils which is necessary to get results in the school room. Enrollment 13, present 9.

Nov. 2, 1910 - Miss Alta Veeder was teaching her first term of school in this district. She had the good will of the pupils and members of the board spoke highly of her work. An examination of language was being conducted during my visit. Questions arranged by teacher showed that careful work had been done. Papers were fair.

Sep. 17 1913, Frank - Valley School - Miss Iva Prime is earnest and anxious but really doesn't know. People satisfied. Teaching under difficulty.

Oct. 27. 1914 Valley or Frank - Good work here under very unsatisfactory conditions. Heating plant not satisfactory. Good grammar work. History studied by topics and note books. Good spirit in school.

Oct. 14, 1915 - Miss Nevada Boyer a new teacher also new to the county is teaching here. No program posted. Children depend almost entirely upon the teacher. Discipline no problem at all. Hattie Johnson finished the term. Miss Boyer did not return 2nd. semester.

Sep. 20, 1916 - Miss Lula Sunderman is new to the county. 13 pupils enrolled. Miss Sunderman is much interested in the home work. The pupils have canned vegetables at school the day before we visited. We were present only a little while but good spirit apparent.

April 5, 1917 - Teacher Lula Sunderman. Rather inviting outside. not clean inside. No pictures.




Carol Davis Kevin Olson

Holly Hodge Mike Mossop




President - Sandra Slater

Vice President - Mary Louise Freed

Secretary - Al Achterberg

Treasurer - Ada Hinson

Publisher of the Phelps Helps - Patti Simpson


One of our members Ara (Shirar) Sanders has a sent history called "Shirar Family, 1862-1995". This Phelps County family lived in Cottonwood township in 1919. Below is Ara Sander's biographical sketch. She lives at Grass Valley, California.

I, Ara L. (Shirar) Sanders was born in the northeast part of Phelps County in 1923. Holdrege was our County Seat, but it was about 30 miles from our place so we only went there on graduation day or to pay our taxes and then on Memorial Day we went to the Industry Cemetery near Atlanta, Nebraska. Our mailing address was Rt. 4, Kearney, Nebraska. We lived 8 miles from Kearney so we sold our grain and did our shopping in Kearney.

I went to Dist. 35 School until the 7th grade. All of my brothers and sisters went there also. My sister Viola Shirar won the spelling contest in Phelps County one year. She was very proud of that.

We had wonderful teachers, I can remember the name of everyone. I also remember when Mabel Lundberg was the County Superintendent from 1923 to 1935. I remember her visiting our school that was the highlight of the school year.

My grandparents homesteaded in Industry Township in 1878, and are buried in the industry Cemetery. My Grandmother worked for the Rowlands' after her first husband died. She walked from her homestead to their place and back each day. Her brother Lew Sealing/Seiling worked for them also.





This post office was located in the NE 1/4 in Section 23 of Cottonwood township. First postmistress, Mary C. Frank. Established 3 Apr 1883; name changed to Romeyn 7 Oct 1889 with William F. Frank as postmaster. Romeyn discontinued 23 Jun 1902. Mail route taken over by Hayden Post Office.

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