BLAINE COUNTY  NEBRASKA Named for James G Blaine


NEGenWeb Project

 Named for James G Blaine (1830-1893), an American Statesman. 
Established 5 March 1885. 


Blaine County Photographs


Old timers in Blaine county may recall these faces belonging to Blaine County officials in 1908. The picture, taken shortly after the present courthouse was built in Brewster, was loaned to the Chief by Mrs. Gertrude Riggs, whose husband, E. H. Riggs, was county attorney at the time. Left to right, back row: Dan C. Norris, county clerk, who once was CB&Q station agent at Dunning; Al Sandal, county treasurer; Miss Etta Brooks, county superintendent; County Judge William Turner; and Pete Wilson, county commissioner. Front row, left to right: John Ferguson, county commissioner; Tom Burke, commissioner; Bill Crouch, county assessor; Robert Blakely, sheriff; and E. H. Riggs, county attorney. Most of the officials also owned ranches in the Dunning and Brewster vicinities. Many of them have descendants still residing in the Sandhills area. The picture was taken shortly after the present courthouse was built.

This article was contributed by Larry Wilson, and appeared in the October 11, 1951 Custer County Chief newspaper.


 Main Street, Brewster, Nebraska

  Welcome to 
Brewster, Nebraska 
Population 22
"Smallest County Seat in Nebraska"
  Blaine County Court House
Brewster, Nebraska

Click on the "thumbnail" photo to view a larger - - and in much greater detail photograph.

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Photographs by Donna Collier Dietrich - - May 2003
Copyright of Blaine NEGenWeb - 2003

  Photograph is courtesy of Larry Wilson
Blaine County's Home State Bank and the Wilson Hotel, with its 16 rooms to accommodate travelers - - as they looked in 1919

The Wilson Hotel, Dunning, Nebraska

. . . and the Home State Bank

The building next to the bank was a 16-room Hotel. It was built in 1919 (the bank was built in 1918) by my grandfather, William Pearson "Pete" Wilson and had steam heat and running water. My dad, Lawrence E. Wilson, helped run the hotel (making beds, sweeping the rooms and halls, running the desk, etc.) until he left for University in Lincoln while my grandfather worked next door in the bank that he helped to establish. The room rate was $1.25 per night, fresh daily linen was advertised, and most of the time the hotel was booked solid. People in Dunning knew my grandfather as "Pete Wilson." He served as Blaine County Commissioner and also as Mayor of Dunning.

  My grandfather moved his family from Georgetown and homesteaded and farmed a section of land near Dunning not too long after my grandmother, Elva Melissa Wilson, died in 1906 while visiting Broken Bow (both are buried in Broken Bow). The oldest daughter, Bessie, helped raise the other kids in a two-room sod house. Later, when the other kids had left home, he moved with my dad (who was the youngest to the town of Dunning and started the bank and hotel.
- - - Larry Wilson

  Photograph from Nebraska's Omaha World Herald, September 22, 2002

This is the Home State Bank in 2002. Its future is that of becoming
the Sandhills Heritage Museum for Blaine County.


   The vision of a Sandhills Heritage Museum for Blaine County was begun in 2000.  In the beginning, the Sandhills School gave use of their old Superintendents house for the museum to refurbish and use.  When re-modeling was just about completed on the house, lightening struck (literally!); and quite a bit of damage was done to the house.

     The Two Rivers Wellness Center in Dunning then offered part of their building to be used as a temporary home for the Museum; and the Museum finally got off the ground there with their first function during the Christmas Holidays of Dec. 2001. 

      In February of 2002, the McMullen Family donated the 1920 built Home State Bank building to the museum to use as a permanent home.  We hope to begin re-modeling of the bank building in the spring of 2003.  Our goal is to collect, documents, preserve and educate others on the history and people of Blaine County Nebraska.  Plans to incorporate the new with the old are well underway.

     We have a newly completed technology room with computers to be donated by Consolidated Telephone.  The technology room will be for the use of community members who want to learn to use a computer, or perhaps work on genealogy.

       If you have any old pictures, newspapers, artifacts, books, etc, about Blaine County of Nebraska, that you would like to DONATE that would be so wonderful in helping us with preserving the history of Blaine County. Donations are always welcome!

     The museum also has  gift shop with consignments by local artisans.

      If you find yourself at the junction of Highway 2 and Highway 91 in Nebraska, you'll be in Dunning; and we hope you'll stop in and visit awhile.

                                     - - - Sharon Kelley, Sandhills Heritage Museum Committee


Sandhills Heritage Museum, Dunning, Nebraska
Photograph by Donna Collier Dietrich, 27 November 2002


West side of former Home State Bank  & future home of 
Sandhills Heritage Museum

Photograph by Donna Collier Dietrich, 27 November 2002

Updates on the Sandhills Heritage Museum will be posted here - - 
Stayed "tuned" for more information.

Welcome to Dunning, Nebraska
Photograph by Donna Collier Dietrich, 27 November 2002


Dunning Post Office, Dunning, Blaine County, Nebraska
Photograph by Donna Collier Dietrich, 27 November 2002


North side view of Dunning, Nebraska's Main Street
Photograph by Donna Collier Dietrich, 27 November 2002


March 12, 1940
Unknown Newspaper - - three articles  contributed by Donna Collier Dietrich

   Photograph courtesy of Donna Collier Dietrich
        Source: Blaine County Booster Newspaper, Dunning, NE, January 11, 1940.

          The winter of Nineteen thirty five January was the beginning of the forming of our Village Auditorium.  Ted (sic) on what a benefit could be had dream as the various ones commented on what a benefit could be had from such a building. Next days gathering was a little more serious.  A dance was sponsored by the men, which was successful.  Then the Ladies Bridge Club didn’t want to be out done, so they sponsored a Card Benefit Party, which was for the helping to propose such building, and later the Kensington Club divided in two parts to help raise funds.  One part by a dance, the other sold numbers on fancy work.  Then the men in the spring put on a minstrel show.  The proceeds of this, with what they had from the dance was used to sponsor the beginning of the application of this building.

Application for application was sent in the spring of Nineteen thirty five first, through W. P. A.  After several months had passed, we were turned down without any particular reason offered.   Then a few months later we were offered a chance to get P. W. A. application which we asked for, and after a few more months we were unable to get a favorable reply.  Then one bright sunny morning an architect came to town.  Mr. Hugh McClure had heard about our dream of a village auditorium.  After a few minutes visiting, getting acquainted, he proposed and showed to us he had obtained a building similar to what we wanted, in other places, and offered to submit his services providing we pay filing cost.  And then things went humming a while.

                                               BONDS WERE TALKED (Unknown Date)
The financial support of funds to build, to float bonds.

Election came. Returns counted, Bonds carried.  What a big night for a few.  The Bond Purchasing Companies sent out letters, and representatives to purchase bonds, but weren’t offered for sale until approved of W. P. A.  And we were ready to go to work.  The village board made a trip to Lincoln and sold them to the state of Nebraska for full value of seventy seven hundred dollars to draw three and one half percent interest, which was an exceptionally good deal according to sales of some other town Bonds, drawing four and one half percent interest.   Work actually began in June, nineteen thirty eight, moving trees in park (which was a shame?)

     The Village Board was asked to go to Rapid City by a lumber company mill that made their own lumber, “Notty Pine”.  After spending a big half day going through this mill, seeing logs from fallen trees to sawed lengths, cut sizes, and shapes put in kiln, dried and loading and bargaining with this company through our own local lumber yard the board purchased three carloads of lumber for this building.

                               Unknown Date on Article (Later than the above one)

      Dealing with W. P. A. after our return, they purchased through our local yard and gave us a carload and some more cement for this building, besides paying for labor of local men that was on W. P. A. payroll.  And one of the big things furnished was by our local people—gravel donated to the Village by Frank B. Moore family, from up the Dismal River.  This is and has been appreciated by the members of the Village Board, as well as the donation from the Ladies Bridge Club and Kensington Club that helped purchase the Monks-cloth, the inner lines of the stage.  Also the very rich in color and quality stage front curtain.

     Just recently the Kensington young ladies have purchased a P. A. Loud Speaker System for this building and expect to have a program to try out to get the public approval. 

     One of the noticeable things that stands out is a comment, “how did they ever get along without it?”  An answer could be, “Now everybody sees and helps to support.”  Isn’t it great to be a local supporter.  Booster and help boost.

     The Community Library was organized about a year ago through donation of one dollar by several people.  Nine board members were elected.  Mrs. E. Gage, President, Mrs. M. O. Patterson, Librarian.  These people with the Town Board, have secured N.Y.A. assistance for help to operate—three being employed and on pay.  The Library Board should be given a vote of thanks for their untiring efforts and success of this job, giving their time, those that did through the summer when the N.Y.A. payroll stopped.  The help stopped also and several of those interested, members of the Board and some of their families also helped.  They have received several large donations:  Geographic Magazine by the Houders for several years back, without a missing number.  They have a good quality and quantity of books, besides being connected with a state traveling Library for borrowing books.

     The Village Park was a part of this building project and improved by W. P. A. labor, with supervision of Ed Doud, who worked along with this crew, but was not paid for this extra work.  For those that were not connected enough to know the facts Mr. Doud, spent a lot of his own time preparing this ground and caring for the  park from beginning.  It was a rather large undertaking and has come out very successful.  A good grass crop and all citizens are to be thanked and your Village Board appreciates your cooperation of staying off the grass and onto the sidewalks that were built for that purpose.  The shrubbery has done real well, as well as the gift of the bed of roses.

     The Village Board has acted in your behalf in care of all of the public property, and the Village Board today is as was during this improvement as follows: E. N. Whitescarver, Chairman, Fred Wegener, Clerk, H. G. Zutavern, Treasurer, and Geo. Gravley and Raymond Parker, Trustees.


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JOD's Old Fashioned Black and White Clip Art Collection

Blaine NEGenWeb - Patricia C. Ash - 2002.
Updated: 19 December 2003