Coryell Park: Nemaha Co. NEGenweb







The Coryell Chapel

(The following is taken from a booklet prepared for the opening of Coryell Park in April, 1934, and revised sometime after 1949.)

It is the wish of the donors of this park that the public may, without money and without price enjoy its privileges. It is given for the social, intellectual and spiritual development of him who comes. We only ask civility, decency and good order from all that may enjoy its blessings. Given to the public by:

Mr. and Mrs. L.L. Coryell, Sr.
Mr. and Mrs. L.L. Coryell, Jr.
and Lorraine Leland Coryell

Lincoln, Nebraska

April, 1934

"To our friends of many years' standing-- The Coryells:

We ask that you accept our testimonial relative to the beauty, the charm and the utility of the Coryell Park. The Treasure House provides opportunity to view changing collections from the world's masterpieces of art. In the wonderfully reproduced log cabin, well-appointed reading quarters are at hand where one may leisurely peruse a half hundred of the best magazines. Too, one may find diversion in games of varied choice. In the same moment his ear may catch the appealing strains from the musical tower, with variations from the tinkling falls of the fountain. What could be more dear than a birthplace, a homestead house which is so perfectly reproduced and the wedding home will never lose its sentiment and its charm. Climaxing our picture, is the chapel as we see it atop the hill. This edifice embraces the qualities incorporated in the entire park development -- rest, beauty, happiness and permanency".

Dr. and Mrs. J. Ray Shike
Lincoln, Nebraska."

The third (revised) publication of this Coryell Park Booklet is lovingly dedicated to the memory of Leland L. Coryell, Jr. Because of his love for the Coryell Park, he so generously set up a trust fund which will maintain the Coryell Park for all time.


August 30, 1836, Richard Coryell, father of L.L. Coryell, Sr., was born in the state of New York. At an early age he moved to Wisconsin where he married Sarah F. Carl and with his young wife and baby, George, moved to Nebraska. The six-hundred mile trip was made with a covered wagon and a little team of mules. They arrived at the scene of the Coryell park, June 6, 1867. The wagon box was set off exactly where the present wagon box sits and this was the first Coryell home in the state of Nebraska. They lived in this wagon box until the home was built. It was here they dug the hole for the cellar. From the neighboring hills they gathered stones which they laid in as a cellar wall and these same stones still remain as a foundation for the present structure.

Atop this wall they built a house 12 by 16 feet which is reproduced and is now the southeast room of the homestead house. It was in this home that L.L. Coryell, Sr., and his sister, Mrs. Frank Bailey were born. The lumber for the house was hauled from Nebraska City. Here for many years they endured the hardships of the pioneer -- drouth, hot winds, grasshoppers and blizzards. The land for the homestead was granted to them by President Ulysses S. Grant. After a time homesteaders moved within a mile.

Soon social organizations, in keeping with the times, were formed. Mrs. Richard Coryell began social work. She went from school house to school house organizing Women's Christian Temperance Unions and other reform work. She was appointed on the original board of the Home for the Friendless, which is now the Home for Dependent Children located in University Place.

In 1934 the Coryells conceived the idea of converting the Coryell homestead into a free park. The old homestead house was reproduced out of lumber grown on the farm. This house is now arranged so that a large dining room can easily seat forty people. A large range has been placed in the kitchen. In this way, if the weather is not fit, the visitors may use this homestead house. Of particular interest will be the asparagus bed just south of the homestead house. For its protection we have put around it a concrete wall. This asparagus root was brought in the covered wagon by Mrs. R. Coryell in 1867. The original plant at that time was old and brought somewhat as a keepsake. The root was cut, carefully wrapped in a wet cloth and put in a brass kettle in the back of the wagon and upon their arrival the first thing to come out of the wagon box was this asparagus. It is still thrifty and has provided many, many meals for the Coryells.

The bridal home of Mr. and Mrs. L.L. Coryell, Sr., which was the birthplace of L.L. Coryell, Jr., was moved from Brock to the park and converted into a party house. This building is kept open at all times and may be used for dances, parties, and social gatherings of all kinds. In one of the smaller rooms are located the instruments for the singing tower. In what was formerly known as the dining room is a stove which the Coryells purchased and brought with them from northern Norway. It is a cook stove and heating stove combined. It is built according to the height of the room, extending as it does from the floor to the ceiling.

The piano, which was purchased in 1900 by Mr. and Mrs. L.L. Coryell, Sr, now sits in the room which was then the parlor. The piano was moved to Auburn, then to Lincoln, traded, retraded and lost for about 20 years, but was finally found in 1938 and repurchased for the Park. A facsimile of the original deed to the homestead is now shown in metal in the Party House.


The homestead house of Mr. and Mrs. C.B. Parker, which was the birthplace of Mrs. L.L. Coryell, Sr., was reproduced from logs of the trees under which she played as a little girl. This log cabin is now used for a self-serving library and reading room. It has been furnished with eastern maple furniture. Here are many volumes, including the Encyclopedia Britannica, contributed by the Coryells. Likewise the tables are loaded with the most up-to-date magazines. People may take these books or magazines to their home with the simple request that they by returned for the use of others.

In this log cabin is a large three-cornered, walnut cupboard, built in 1855 by Phillip Starr, grandfather of Mrs. L.L. Coryell, Sr. Phillip Starr, with his family, came from Illinois in 1855 and was one of the very first settlers of eastern Nebraska. The homestead was three miles north of Brock. The back of the cupboard had been entirely destroyed but was renewed by walnut from the Coryell Park; otherwise the cupboard is just as it was built. The original door stone used by the Parkers for fifty years is immediately in front of the east door of the log cabin. The old dinner bell, used for about forty years, swings on a post immediately east of the cabin; the same position which it occupied in previous days.

Immediately east of the log cabin is a suspension bridge. The four cement pillars of this bridge extend eight feet into the ground and, like the fountain, shrine, and the chapel, it should endure time.


The Coryell summer home about a half block north of the log house is for the exclusive use of the Coryells who usually spend week ends in the park. The home is equipped with four bedrooms, each with a bath. It is just as modern as can be built. The power, of course, is electricity which pumps all water and furnishes the heat for the cook stove. The home is finished throughout with knotty pine, painted, and rubbed to represent the pine in its natural state. In front of the home is a bridge made of richly colored cobble stone from the nearby hills.


This chapel was donated, free from all encumbrance, to the public by Mr. and Mrs. L.L. Coryell, Senior, Junior, and little Lorraine of Lincoln, Nebraska, August 30, 1936, the one hundredth birthday anniversary of Richard Coryell, father of L.L. Coryell, Sr. The chapel, itself, was the idea of Mrs. L.L. Coryell, Sr. Its design, its architecture and its setting were carefully worked out by her. In superintending its construction, L.L. Coryell, Jr. gave orders that no profanity or obscene language should be used by the workmen, that no smoking or drinking would be tolerated. Thus the chapel has been sacred from the first stone in its foundation and that sweet atmosphere seems to radiate to those who enter.

It was the idea of the donors that this chapel should be so constructed that it would last for ages. The front wall is twenty-eight inches thick, the side walls are two feet thick and the outer portion of the walls are built of cobble stones gathered from the near-by hills. The inner walls are Nemaha County limestone. The cut stone is the Bedford, Indiana limestone, the same as is used in the contruction of Nebraska's Capitol at Lincoln. The foundation extends five and one-half feet below the surface of the ground. The building is re-enforced throughout with steel and the mixture of concrete is of the best. The roof is slate from the state of Maine, selected from different quarries to give the mottled effect. The floor has a base of seven inches, re-enforced, solid concrete, covered with clay-burnt tile from Lincoln, Nebraska. The seats were made especially for this chapel out of five-ply oak from Grand Rapids, Michigan. The windows were designed and set by the Lincoln Art Glass Company.

The memorial window was made in Denver, Colorado. Its painting was done by a Chicago artist who was called to Denver to complete the work. The picture itself is taken from the scripture: "Suffer little children to come unto me." The child standing is taken from a photograph of Miss Lorraine Leland Coryell, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. L.L. Coryell, Jr. Of special interest will be the large Bible around which there is a lot of family history, presented to this chapel by Mr. and Mrs. Sterling Mutz of Lincoln, Nebraska. They have written the following on the fly-leaf: "To Mr. and Mrs. L.L. Coryell, Sr., whose material success has not dimmed their vision of Him without whose help this chapel could not have been built. May the memory of their philanthropy last as long as the Christian doctrine set forth herein.

Cordially yours,
Sterling and Jessie Mutz."

Also on the pulpit is a Bible, printed for a church in Boston in 1828 where it was used for about fifty years, then sold in a rummage sale and went to Florida. After many years it was again sold for a mere pittance. Later it was donated to the Coryell Chapel by Mr. W.L. Greenslit of Lincoln. The Bible is cherished because of its antiquity and because of the clearness of its type and comments on each chapter. It is the wish of the donors that this chapel may ever be kept sacred for the worship of God. No charge shall be made for its use. It shall be entirely non-denominational and it particularly welcomes special services such as weddings and funerals.

We appreciate, more than words can tell, that the chapel has so frequently been used for weddings. To us this is a mark of supreme respect. It confirms our thought that the people believe in this chapel, that it will stand for hundreds of years, that it is a monument of physical permanency and an enduring spirituality. The chapel will be open every day from morning until night for the quiet hour. We are indeed gratified to know that this quiet hour is enjoyed by many, many people. Scarcely a day passes without someone's coming for the spiritual uplift which is gained by this sacred, solemn, quiet, restful retreat.


Like the chapel and the shrine, the fountain is built to endure time. The motor will throw three thousand gallons an hour. The fountain itself is an antique which was purchased in Washington, D.C. It throws eighty-two sprays and operates during the entire summer. It has three plates extending twelve feet high. In the pool there is a collection of stones, one from the Coolidge Park in Vermont and other mineral stones from different states.


The Shrine Building is constructed similar to the chapel. Its foundation extends five feet into the ground. It is built to last for ages. It is constructed of Bedford, Indiana limestone. Its floor is of Lincoln tile. Over the east entrance, cut into the limestone, is the Coryell family crest dating back to the fourteenth century. In the Coryell family tree we find the following description of this family crest which was written in a province of East Holland in 1620: "In gold a jumping black ram. The helmet in profile with black and gold coverings. The shield sign is an Ambulent woman in a close fitting blue dress, the hair tied with a ribbon of which the ends float in both directions, in her right hand she holds a shallow drinking bowl by the foot." Likewise, over the door on each side fo the four sides are the following inscriptions: "Make a living, but to make a life is greater." "An honest man is the noblest work of God." "As he thinketh in his heart, so is he." "We live in deeds, not years."

The particular cause for the construction of this building is to house the Jerusalem stone, plainly shown in the picture on page 27, and the church bell around which there is much local sentiment. The Jerusalem stone weighs twenty-five hundred pounds. It was purchased by the Coryells from what is known as Solomon's Quarries some six hundred feet back under the city of Jerusalem. Archeologists give us definite information that the cutting on this stone is of the Herodian period which means approximately one hundred years before Christ. The stone itself is carved on two sides which clearly indicates that it has been used for a corner stone. The Herodian method was to cut the stone its entire length, sometimes one hundred feet, and then cut channels around at the depth of four or five inches and then, by some power, break off the stone. This is clearly shown on the south side of the stone. There was a hole or pocket cut in the bottom of the stone which may have been used for papers as we use them at the present time. The peculiar type of cement which still adheres to the stone is unknown to this period. The stone itself undoubtedly came from the home of free masonry. The picture on page 29 is the actual photograph of the natives of Jerusalem crating the stone for shipment to the Coryell Park. The authenticity of the stone is absolutely certain.

In 1890 George Coryell, brother of L.L. Coryell, Sr., united with the Baptist church in Brock. His first spurt of religious enthusiasm was to collect money to purchase a bell for the church building. For more than a year he solicited the community, gave the then popular ice cream and strawberry socials and all other sorts of amusements and entertainments peculiar to the time and after about three hundred and fifty dollars had been raised this bell was purchased and swung for over forty-five years in the belfry of the Baptist church at Brock, Nebraska. Later it was purchased by the Coryells and brought to the park and now finds its home in the Shrine Building, directly over the Jerusalem stone.

Located near the Shrine Building is a sun dial, given to the park by John P. Haag, M.D., of Williamsport, Pa. This dial was cast in 1852 and for many years was located in the door yard of a Coryell family. The red rock near the shrine building was used for a hitching post for fifty years by Richard Coryell, who homesteaded the park.


The Singing Tower is the last word in instruments of is kind. It is operated from the original kitchen in the party house, and can be attached to the chapel, fountain or outdoor pavilion. The records are made particularly for the instrument. It automatically lifts one record off and puts on another. It is operated by an electric clock which can be set to give forth the music seven times a day. If the visitors of the park prefer any particular song or music put over the Singing Tower, kindly ask the caretaker for the favor and he will grant it if possible. A concert of sacred music will be given over the Singing Tower from 1:00 until 2:00 p.m. each Sunday. You may listen while you eat your picnic dinner.

During the winter we are glad to know these concerts have been heard as far as Auburn which is nine miles distant. It is the custom of the management, beginning in early spring, lasting through the summer until late fall, to ask the ministers of different churches for a radius of 50 miles around the park, to take charge of the programs on Sunday afternoons at 3:00 o'clock. Each minister is entirely responsible for his special Sunday, bringing his own chuch choir and other interesting features of his church in addition to giving a short sermon. These services are broadcast through the Singing Tower which does not interfere with the amusements but everyone in the park may enjoy these programs.


The construction of the Treasure House is the last word of like buildings. The outer wall is of Indiana lime and sand stone. Then there are two dead air spaces formed with hollow tile. The inside has been boarded up with soft pine, covered with rubberized monks cloth so nails can be driven anywhere. The building is entirely water, weather and fireproof. The Treasure House has no windows and the lighting is the fluorescent type which gives a brilliant daylight, yet without shadows. The building is heated with electricity. It has forced ventilation. The object of the building is to house traveling art exhibits. We have asked for and received very favorable cooperation from the leading art galleries of the United States in the loaning of their paintings. We try to change these exhibits twice a month with the view of giving the patrons of the park something new.

We are particularly indebted to the University of Nebraska, Joslyn Memorial of Omaha, Nelson Art Gallery of Kansas City, Robert C. Vose Galleries of Boston, E. and A. Silberman Galleries of New York, Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa, University of Kansas, University of Oklahoma and hundreds of individual artists who have contributed much to the success of this idea.

In the Treasure House is a long bench made from the walnut in the Coryell Park. Also on display in the treasure house is the famous world cruise Doll Collection of Mrs. L.L. Coryell, Sr. which was made in 1930. These dolls were selected by Mrs. Coryell personally with the idea of personality, character and native dress of each country. Dolls from almost every country in the world represent the collection. The aged Italian couple (shown in picture) are expertly crafted for realistic facial expression. Other dolls in the collection also reflect many hours of skillful work in an effort to make them realistic reproductions of the people they represent.


The Auditorium, like all the other buildings, was constructed with the view of stability and firmness to last for ages. The outer walls are of Indiana lime and sandstone. The floor is of sugar maple wood and is highly polished. This building is gladly let to the public, free of charge, on application for dances, conventions or other public amusements. It is equipped with proper heating facilities and has a piano and a nickelodeon. There is a dancing capacity of about fifty couples.


The Coryell Mausoleum was erected in 1949 and is to be the final resting place of the Coryells. It has been erected as nearly as possible to withstand the ravages of time. The highly polished outside walls are of marble which was shipped from Vermont. The granite came from Minnesota and Georgia. The building is substantially set together with hot lead. Twenty tons of cement compose the foundation. In due respect to L.L. Coryell, Jr., who was one of the moving spirits from the beginning of the Coryell Park until he passed away on November 7, 1948, we will say that upon completion of the mausoleum, he was immediately laid to rest on May 29, 1949 with a large number of relatives and friends attending the ceremony.

In many respects the Coryell Park is different from any other park in America. It is one place where your money is not good. It is now a common practice for the government to build a park or place of amusement and give it to the public but in this instance the Coryells are giving the park to the public. We have not accepted or solicited one dollar of WPA work, private or public money of any kind. Our desire is to build something for the public that will be of benefit to him who comes.

We want to honor the early pioneer and particularly do we want to extend our sweetest memory to Mr. and Mrs. Richard Coryell, father and mother of L.L. Coryell, Sr., and Mr. and Mrs. C.B. Parker, parents of Mrs. L.L. Coryell, Sr. We have tried to meet the public demand for wholesome amusement for which we have built the fireplaces, the shelter houses and established all the usual park amusements in the way of sand piles, swings, teeter totters, shuffle board, etc. There is a government-tested rain gauge kept in the park for the benefit of farmers who wish to call in about the amount of rainfall. The amphitheatre and shell are located near the north end of the park. This is well lighted and serves for outdoor meetings when the weather permits. We have tried to meet the cultural, sentimental appetite with our Treasure House, the Shrine, etc., and at the extreme west of the park we have established the chapel for spiritual and religious uplift.

The only price we ask is perfect decency and perfect behavior. We allow no profanity, no vulgarity, no liquor. We do this for the protection and pleasure of all. We allow no charge for any entertainment and we allow no collections or subscriptions to be made. We are adding buildings and improvements as fast as our finances will permit and we are very happy, indeed, at the patronage the park is receiving. The Coryells extend a special invitation to family reunions. During the entire existence of the park nothing has been more successful. We have one German family that has two hundred and fifty people. Many other families have a hundred and some of them are now setting the date for their reunions a year ahead. One family came from seven states. If you will let us know in advance we will make every reservation possible. We are particularly interested in this feature.


The little chapel on the hill,
Amid the prairie sod,
Through all the year, in sun and shade,
Sings love and praise to God.
Here soft winds play His symphonies
Throughout the starlit night,
And waking birds chant hymns of joy
To greet the morning light.
The springtime flowers that gayly bloom
The cornfields myriad spires,
And winter hills in shining white
Sing with the chapel choirs.
All beauty is God's hidden thought
Whose melody we tell
In loveliness of stone and wood,
Though silent hangs the bell.
Oh hallowed place of memories,
Where pioneers have trod,
We join their voices, singing still
In love and praise to God.
--Flora Bullock.

(The above was written and set to music in reference to and in honor of the
Coryell Chapel by Miss Flora Bullock of the Nebraska State University.)


From Lincoln--via Dunbar.
From Dunbar: 13 mi. south, 4 mi. east to Brock, 3 mi. south.

From Omaha -- via Nebraska City.
From Nebraska City: 14 mi. south, 1 mi. east, 1 mi. south, 6 mi. west to Brock, 3 mi. south.

From Beatrice, Tecumseh and Pawnee City via Johnson. From Johnson: 2 mi. east, 2 mi. north.

From Falls City--via Auburn. From Auburn: 6 mi. west, 3 mi. north.

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