HISTORY – Ashland NE

 HISTORY – in detail – of Ashland NE

We wish to acknowledge, with grateful appreciation, the following:
Publications, photos of the past & current; and countless contributors, including:
The First 100 Years * Ashland NE * 1857 – 1957
The First 150 Years * Ashland NE * 1857 – 2007
Looking Over Our Shoulders Volume I : The Saline Ford Saga : Ashland History
Looking Over Our Shoulders Volume II : The Saline Ford Saga : Ashland History
Looking Over Our Shoulders Volume III : The Saline Ford Saga : Ashland History
Looking Over Our Shoulders Volume(s) I, II, & III : The Saline Ford Saga : Ashland History

Were authored by Graham, Alice Gilkeson Copies of these books are available in limited supply; You may contact the Webmaster for availabilty & pricing They are also currently available at Willow Point Gallery and The Ashland Gazette

NOTE:  The First100 Years * Ashland Nebraska * 1857 – 1957  is out of print; The Ashland Historical Society  has acquired the rights of this publication and will be making it’s copyrighted  © edition – AHS available for sale soon; in CD/DVD form


US GEN NET Organization:

The history contained on their website was compiled and written in about 1987 The “copy” below will be edited and newer information added to reflect the history of Ashland NE to the current date of 2012

The Ashland Historical Society page / link describes interesting history of all of the many churches in Ashland on the  Ashland NE Churches  page of this site ^ ^ click here to go to that page

The Ashland Gazette  < a complete history of the local newspaper of Historic Ashland since 1879 is contained in the link above – we sincerely appreciate their cooperation and their extensive archives have been and continue to be an invaluable resource The Ashland Public Library – their collection of books, articles, memorablia, etc. is extensive

    Below, we have included (2) ‘editions’ of the history of Ashland    

Each contain similar details – each have their ‘author’s take’ in their stories The first is a collection of information gathered for a 1983 /1987 publication The second is a personal historical recollection, written by Mrs. May Wiggenhorn in 1947

Editors Note: We invite you to enjoy & learn from
 the histories, articles & pictures contained in these pages;
The “history” & “stories” contained in these pages are gleaned
from Historical Records contained in Public Records from
Saunders County, the State of NE, US records, genealogy websites;
as well as, collections of personal memories, legends, etc. of the author
and may differ from what your ‘personal story’ might have reduced to writing.
The definition of the word “history” is both ‘subjective’ & ‘objective’
the word comes to us from the combining of 2 words: “his” & “story”
This does NOT mean that the ‘personal histories’ are inaccurate !
It simply means that the author took the time to share  their ‘histories’, memories, legends, etc.
We sincerely invite  YOU  to share  YOUR  ‘histories’, memories, legends, etc.
We invite you to share those – together with your family photo collections            
 We WILL publish them to ‘correct the record’ , so to speak !                         
Our E-mail address is:
We Wish You a Historically Good Day ! !      sm

Ashland Historical Society – Ashland NE

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     TRIBUTE to a ‘latter day’ Hero of Ashland      
We wish to acknowledge the tireless efforts of
Art Riedesel, former Owner & Publisher of the Ashland Gazette.
Art was born October 6, 1921, passed away February 23, 2010, a memorial service was held at the United Methodist Church,
March 1, 2010 in Ashland NE and he was laid to rest March 2, 2010 in the Ogallala Cemetery of his hometown of Ogallala NE
Art’s passion & persistence in the gathering of information, accuracy in editing and publishing
of the of the The 1st 100 years and The 1st 150 years history of Ashland NE have been truly heroic
We invite you to visit the  Ashland Gazette History  page < link
to see more information about Art & the other publishing heroes of Ashland



Ashland’s history is unique in the county because it was the first to be formed.

The name of Ashland was given to the town by Mr. Argyle, the man credited with organizing it He was a great admirer of the statesman, Henry Clay. Ashland was the name of Clay’s home in Kentucky.

However, the area had its beginnings as Saline Ford, where the old Government Trail crossed Salt Creek. It became a depot of supplies for the freighters and emigrants. This vicinity was the site of the first settlement in what later became Saunders Co. The fame of this rock-bottomed ford spread throughout the country and was heavily used until the U.P.R.R. was built.

The first cemetery in Saunders Co. was established in 1859 just north of Ashland. In 1870, there was only one newspaper in the county – The Ashland Times, with a circulation of 600. Ashland is the smallest precinct in the county, composed of about 14 sections of land, but it’s only city, Ashland, is second largest. At about the turn of the century, the largest herd of purebred Herefords found anywhere were on a ranch owned by the Riverford Cattle Co. ( later the Riverside Ranch )

Precinct officers 1983-87 are: Chairman – Sanford L. Walkow; Clerk – Orval D. Thiessen; Treasurer – Steven Novotny, Jr.


Ashland as a town and Ashland as a precinct did not come into being with Calhoun County.  Nor were they a part of the county when its name was changed to Saunders during the Civil War.  Ashland Precinct was a part of Salt Creek Precinct of northwest Cass County and was so designated in 1857.

Cass County came into a full functioning county status in 1855 as a part of the Nebraska Territory.  So Ashland Precinct pre-dates all of Saunders County.

A two-mile strip of land was detached from the six-mile square Salt Creek Precinct of Cass County and was set into Saunders as an act of the Nebraska Territorial Legislature in 1866.

Thus 12 sections of land were added to the area of Saunders.

Voting, designated roads, along with election officials, were all in place or functioning. Cass County commissioners had taken care of these items of organization. Earliest land records, court proceedings, and the first marriage licenses were all recorded in Plattsmouth before the 12 sections joined Saunders County. The early population came almost entirely from the eastern states, from Iowa, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana and others The history of the town is the history of the precinct. They grew together.

The roads were laid out in the earliest days of settlement and are still used and have been improved through the century. The only cemetery is Ashland Cemetery.  There were two early cemeteries that were abandoned.

* * The Ashland Cemetery & nearby Sheffer Cemetery histories & current directories are detailed on – link >  Ashland & Sheffer Cemeteries  page

The D.L.D. Highway came across Salt Creek out of Cass County to the west side of Ashland Cemetery, turned, and went down Silver Street to 14th. There again, it turned and went north into Clear Creek Precinct to the National Guard Camp and into Sarpy County.

This road became Highway #6 in 1931 and then was re-routed close to the C.B. and Q. Railroad tracks, making a diagonal path across the corner of the precinct.

State Highway 66 has a segment discontinued along the south edge of the Clear Creek Precinct. It is called the County Line Road, dating from 1863. A few miles in Cass County are not paved. This road begins at Central City, Nebraska. It runs the entire width of the Saunders County border and ends up at the Mississippi River.

It follows closely the wagon road many an early Nebraska homesteader used to come west after the Civil War. It was the Civil War Veterans’ road to their new homes on the Prairie.

Following this route, the C.B. and Q. Railroad came to Saunders County in 1870 as did the first telegraph lines.  In Ashland Precinct the railroad and telegraph lines turned toward Nebraska’s very new Capitol, Lincoln.

Ashland was the first sizable town in Saunders County.

Its Centennial History was published in 1957.


Ashland celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1957, which was neither the town’s true anniversary nor a date of Ashland’s townspeople organizing a village.

1957 was the 100th year of the arrival of the Aughe, Warbritton and Stambaugh families to their wilderness home north of Wahoo Creek about a mile outside Ashland and in a different county than Ashland at that time. The 100th anniversary of the town formation of Ashland went unobserved.

The area of Saunders County was not originally plotted as it is in the 1900s.

It was first called Calhoun County and its southern boundary was a straight line westward from the Platte River on the road called the County Line Road. Ashland Precinct, a strip of land 2 miles north and south and 6 miles long east and west was detached from Cass County in 1866 and set over into Saunders County.  During the Civil War (1862) the people of Saunders County changed the name of Calhoun to Saunders (for Gov. Alvin Saunders) because Calhoun was a Southerner.

This has been characteristic of Ashland area to change its name of political position. It was first called Saline Ford, a name appropriate to its geographical significance.  Fording mud-bottomed and dirt-banked rivers or creeks were great problems for travelers going west in the great rush of migration of the late 1840’s, 1850’s, and 1860’s.  Saline Ford was the only natural low water bridge with a lime stone ledge base in the whole trail system to the Rocky Mountains in SE Nebraska Territory.  Military shipments and troop movements were routed across Saline Ford.  A military supply post was established at about what is now 18th and Clay Street in Ashland in the 1850’s.  It served the Utah Indian squabbles of that decade. The 49’ers used Saline Ford on their way to California.  Later Colorado miners crossed the rocky ford.  Finally the overland freighters whose headquarters were in  Plattsmouth, Nebraska City, Rock Bluff, and Brownville used the crossing on what was then called the old Freighters Road or the Ox Bow Trail.  Tens of thousands of tons of freight in huge, especially constructed overland freighting wagons pulled by lengthy teams of oxen, wended their way diagonally across what is now Saunders County, cutting deep ruts in the native prairies in broad trails the entire length of the county.  Many of those old bull whackers, as the drovers were called, later came to claim land in Cass, Lancaster, and Saunders Counties as they had seen the favorable farming terrain as they had crossed the counties on their long hauls – Moses Stocking, John Miller, John Graham, Austin Smith, Abe Fuller, T.T. Young, and others.

The settlement that was later to become the town of Ashland began in 1850 and 1851. It was a seasonally occupied area. When the winter snows were gone, a huge migration of people began the westward gold rush. Enterprising tradesmen, wheel rights, blacksmiths and hotel keepers set up temporary businesses at the rock crossing on Salt Creek. These men serviced the westward travelers who used Saline Ford as an overnight stopping place. The shoeing of animals and repairing of harnesses and wagons were brisk businesses from April to October. Food and shelter were sought. These people usually went to Nebraska City or to Glenwood, Iowa, to spend the winter months and returned in the spring.

In the summer of 1854 a family, whose surname was Decker, lived and raised watermelons on the Platte bottom near today’s National Guard Camp.  They had to guard the melons from Indian thievery and coyote depredations in the fall as the melons ripened.  They sold melons to the freighters who were returning from the mountains on their fall trek homeward.  The Decker family lived in Plattsmouth settlement in the winter time.  Decker descendants married into the banker Simington family in Ashland and Petersons of Wann. There is a Decker Creek named for this family in Cass Co.  They took up summer residences in several spots in the 1850’s.  There was enough commerce and smithy work to have held a permanent settlement in 1856.  But the fall Indian scare drove most settlers and trail servicing people to the larger towns or over into Iowa.  No one remained at Saline Ford.  The Stambaughs, Warbrittons and Aughes spent the 1856-1857 winter in Plattsmouth.  But William Sheffer and several other families did remain on Salt Creek about 3 miles above its mouth.  It was a very severe winter.  In 1853 or 54 a family did construct a dugout in the hills east of Saline Ford.  Some one killed all the family members.  A 12 or 13 year old girl was away from the farm yard picking berries.  When she returned home she found her family slain, mother, father, and small brother.  She walked to Plattsmouth down the wagon trail and reported the tragedy.  She was sent back to her Missouri relatives.  People wintered over in the Saline Ford area in 1857 – trappers, people who took to the trails westward in early spring, idle men and maybe others.

1858-59 and 60 saw more people arrive. George Border, T.M. Marquette’s brother-in-law, built a mill. He died of pneumonia, leaving a widow and two small children.  His mill was purchased and made operational by Dennis Dean in 1863.

Once a mill was operating at Saline Ford, it became a center of commerce. Other early first residents of Saline Ford were Abe Fuller, Sid Parks, Austin Smith, Israel Beetison (Senator Hazel Abel’s grandfather), a man named Wiggins and Moe, Warbrittons.  The town of Ashland was formed in March 21, 1866. School District No. 1, as a free public school, was opened in September 1866. There had been earlier terms of schools held in several places, but these were subscription schools. The first public school teachers in Saunders Co. were Gertrude Clark and Emma Throckmorton.  The first post office in Saunders County was Ashland – Nov. 13, 1866, in the rear of Jack Staat’s store. Robert Hinkley was the first postmaster in Ashland. Saline Ford was one of the names submitted for the post office, but Ashland was chosen instead of the first choice name. There was a Salt Creek P.O. and a Saltillo P.O. (south of Lincoln). The telegraph lines came to Saunders County in May 1869. The railroad in 1870. From 1867 thru 1870, a stage line ran from Plattsmouth to Lincoln. Ashland was an overnight stop-over. This gave rise to a brisk early hotel business to service the stage line.  * *A portion of the land for the railroad was part of the Dennis Dean farm and was sold to them by Dennis Dean.

More information, stories & many pictures about Dennis Dean are available; See our  Historic Homes – Ashland NE  page

The county seat was at Ashland for 8 years.  An election in 1873 ended in a 3 way split of the county vote to move the courthouse.  Due to the very large number of homesteaders who had moved into the Mead area, it became obvious that a new election would have easily resulted in Mead (Alvin as it was then called) winning the 1874 election to legally have the Saunders County seat. Some residents of Wahoo illegally removed the county records to Wahoo and then blocked all other attempts to vote again on a regular county seat.  Part of the records were sneaked out of the courthouse at 19th Silver St. and taken by buggy to Wahoo.  But, most were removed by lumber wagon during a December night in 1873.  Ashland became a boom town as soon as the railroad went through on its way from Plattsmouth to Lincoln and beyond (C.B.& Q.).  It became a three county rail head for immigrants.  Lumber, coal, tools, merchandise, harness stores, livery stables, hotels, and groceries were big sale items. Wagon freight or dray systems were developed to Wahoo.  The 1870’s were a time of drought, privation, and the grass hopper years.

INSERT of a new find  from our research >   SCOTT GROCERY 1874 – 1945 The link to the story above provides great detail of the Scott Grocery’s 74 year history in Historic Ashland  The building that housed the gocery is now Willow Point Gallery

SO MUCH HISTORY in this photo . . with descriptions !  The tall brick building to the right of Scott’s Grocery was the Simington Opera House . . later named  the Sears Opera House & currently the NAPA store . . the blue building
2012 saw new owners of the NAPA business & the building; the stage and many other things left over from “opera house” days remain.
We remain hopeful that the new owners will provide access for tours soon.

This picture was taken around 1915. The man in the middle is William Clement Scott Jr.

left – Art Brown, driver, photo prior to 1918 – Scott Grocery delivery date unknown –
right –
YEPPERS ! they DELIVERED your grocery’s, back in the day !continuing . . . .Many early settlers sold their holdings and migrated elsewhere.  The 1880’s saw a new wave of migration, new businesses and a renewed building of railroad mileage. This enlarged the switching tracks and rail head facilities at Ashland.Two huge ice handling facilities were installed on the newly laid Schuyler Railroad line in the early 1890’s. Memphis Ice House was built on Ab Williams pond and it was enlarged with dikes.  A natural lake bed just north of Ashland became Swift’s Ice PlantSwift’s boasted it was the largest ice house in the world. The ice was used by the developing and expanding meat packing industry of South Omaha. Some 150 to 300 men were employed in the winter months harvesting ice.These industries thrived for about 25 years. Chickerings of the Chickering Piano Company were an Ashland based firm of the 1890’s.Bion Arnold, the world renowned electrical engineer, grew up in Ashland. He developed the electrical systems to light cities, electrify railroads and street cars.
He built the elevated railway system of Chicago. George Shedd, one of Hollywood’s first movie script writers also grew up in this era and went to Ashland’s schools.
Marble and Brownell became famous barristers. Brown & Cooley of Houston, Texas fame were first bankers in Ashland. Other bankers were Simington, Wiggenhorn, and White. Silver Street got its name in the early 1870’s because so many men doing business in the “upper” town had used the profits they had gained from the silver mines of
Colorado and Utah to start and finance their businesses. Ashland’s first business district had sprung up on Salt Creek bottom at about 11 to 12th and Birch streets. It was called the “Bottoms.”
After a flood or two a new business district developed on higher ground and these merchants were nicknamed the Silver Street Gang. The name Silver stuck to the street and became the center of the town’s commercial activity for the next century. Merchants who moved from the “Bottoms” to Silver Street were Scotts Grocery, Snells Dry Goods, Nichols Furniture, Brush Drugs, Johnsons Meat Market, Huck and Solly’s Restaurant, and Vollentine’s Mdse. Ashland’s peak growth came about 1910. During the late 1920’s and 1930’s the population declined and it took until the 1970’s for it to regain its population figures of 50 years earlier.Some parts of Saunders County were settled by European migrants coming directly from Europe, but Ashland area was settled by people from eastern United States. North of Ashland four or five miles was the settlement called the New York Settlement. Near Memphis was the Tennessee Settlement. North of Memphis was the Illinois Settlement. But others came from Connecticut (Chamberlins), or Indiana, or Michigan, or Iowa. Ashland had a broom factory, a brick kiln, a cigar factory, a harness factory, two flour mills in addition to the early rail head activities. The ice harvest and storage generated lots of activity.From 1957 to 1980 there was thriving limestone quarrying that employed about 250 men.  The sand and gravel quarrying began about 1890 and still continues. It supplies the raw products for the thriving pipe manufacturing plants northeast of Lincoln.  Grain and livestock have from the beginning been the farm’s production.  Duff, Railsback, Kuhl, Reece, Snell, Farmers Co-Op, and now Scoular dealt in grain marketing.  Farm machinery dealers have been Forrest Raikes, T. Kiddle, Laune’s, Harnsbergers, Jack Hull, Martin, F. Graham and Dean.Auto dealers were R. Barta, Forrest L. Raikes, Charles and George Gade,C.B. Laune, Andrews, Sapp Bros. and Laughlin.  Bankers were Wiggenhorns, Harnsbergers, Brown,  F.E. White, Walton, Frickes, Darst, and Lee Sapp.  Silas Nichols began a furniture business about 1868 or 69 on Salt Creek bottom  near 11th and Birch St. He moved to the corner of 15th and Silver and sold his business in the late 1870’s to the family that still runs it in the 1980’s, Marcy’s.It is unique in that its family maintenance has been through a daughter’s inheritance, Florence Harford, Clara Louise Marcy, and Pat Perryman.  Ashland had a number of newspapers.  Pickett began in Ashland and ended up in Wahoo.Early editors were W. E. C. Becker, Howard, Coroll, Howe, and Art Riedesel who has been in Ashland now for a quarter of a century.  Oscar Hoffman and John Scott dominated the grocery business for long years.  Later ones were Carl Poggemeyer, Deb Lacey, Don Seabeck, Harold Cooperman, and Kent’s.  Druggists were Brush Bros., Cones, Keedy, Mullen, Harris, and Jack Reece.  Doctors were Von Mansfelde, McClung, Reynolds, Baer, Packer, Williams, Clark, Freiday, and Kirkpatrick.  Dentists were O. Ziegenbein, Starns, Henry, Cooper, and Fahey. INSERT:       only 2 of the churches were featured in a 1983 history of Ashland complied below:The AHS provides a much more complete historyincluding current items on our web page – link >  ASHLAND NE CHURCHESFIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH IN ASHLAND, NEBRASKA L.C. Barrow and D.R. Dungan, prominent evangelists of the early Eighties, were instrumental in establishing the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Ashland.  This little band of Christians met in different homes or other available places until 1884, when they decided to build a church; which was dedicated in April 1885. It cost $2908.80.

First Christian Church Ashland, NE Original bldg. (top)
Picture below; after education building added and before steeple removed
Both pictures are before May 17, 1925, when the buildings were destroyed

This building was used for Church and Bible School until 1911; when it became too small for the Bible School.  So, a wing was added to the west side.  It was dedicated January 7, 1912, by Charles Cobbey. Bert Wilson was the minister.  The following ministers have served the Church with distinction and honor: Husband, Williams, Monroe, Henry, Hussong, Kirschstein, Cresmer, Schell, Huyck, Jones, Divine, Lemmon, Hilton, Derry, Gregg, Beattie, Wilson, Lemmon, Ogden, Snapp, Shellenberger, Bicknell, Dennis, MacFarlane, Willson, Stevenson, Dyer, Utterback, Parnell, Foust, Irons, Dubbs (interim) and the present incumbent, Phillip Hayes.

It is the opinion of many, that the most outstanding service was rendered by C.A. Huyck, who remained steadfast through many difficult years of the Church’s life. Reverend Huyck was identified with the congregation from 1891 until his death in 1914. During that time he rendered an uninterrupted service either as Adult Bible Class teacher or pastor of the Church.

First Christian Church, Ashland, NE
“Present building” above in 1983

First Christian Church, Ashland, NE
Present building (2007 photo)

The Church has been served by many noble women during her time. The Ladies Aid Society was organized in 1896, with Mrs. F. E. Marcy as its first president. Her term of office lasted 10 years.  During this time, the ladies bought the property just west of the church and presented it to the congregation for a parsonage.  Mrs. J.M. Moss followed Mrs. Marcy as president. She served for 16 years.  Many other women served shorter terms.  The Women’s Missionary Society was organized April 9, 1891, by Mrs. W.A. Collins, state secretary.

The officers chosen were Mrs. A.P. Camp, president; Mrs. C.W. Fuller, vice-president; Miss Addie Marsh, secretary; and Mrs. F.W. Murphy, treasurer.  The Society has rendered a great service to the Church by emphasizing the world-call of evangelsim The Aid Society and the Missionary Society functioned as separate organizations until 1932; when they merged under the name of Women’s Council.

Mrs. Dean MacFarlane was the first president.  In June 1950, it voted to change the name to Christian Women’s Fellowship.  Mrs. Josephine Ziegenbein was the first president; Mrs. Flora Olson was recording secretary At 3:45 a.m., May 17, 1925, the church was discovered in flames.  In less than thirty minutes the sacred and tender memories of almost half a century were gone up in smoke.  The building and furnishings, valued at more than $15,000 were a total loss.   It was covered by only a small amount of insurance.  That same afternoon the members met in the Methodist Church and discussed plans for rebuilding.  After prayerful consideration the members voted unanimously to rebuild.  A building committee headed by Ed Hoffman was elected.  Other members were Earl Chamberlin, L.C. Raikes (Forrest L Raikes father), Ralph Dean, W.H. Blair, E.F. Steinhaus, and E.R. King.  A contract to rebuild was signed June 28, 1926. Ground was broken on July 4th.  The cornerstone was laid October 31, 1926.  The new church was dedicated April 3, 1927, at a cost of $33,582.25.  The old parsonage showed the ravages of time; so members decided to build a new one.  Accordingly, land was purchased just across the street;  where a house was built almost entirely of donated labor.  This was in the summer of 1956. The cost of the lot and material was $10,400.  This new parsonage was dedicated February 3, 1957.  In the early 1950’s it had become apparent that more Sunday School space was needed.  As a result of this, the Crusader’s Class (young adults) several of whom were parents of young children did more than talk about getting that extra space.  They began a Building Fund of their own – adding to it each Sunday.  Over $3,200 was collected by this class.  As near as could be determined, it was prior to April 8, 1956, when they started their building fund.  In February, 1958, the first money was deposited with the Board of Church Extension at Indianapolis.

This fund grew until in July 1965, there was $27,834 in the Building Fund, the amount necessary before a contract could be let.  Excavating began on June 12, 1965, for the long-planned Educational Unit.  Building progressed at a slow pace – due to an enormous amount of rain during the summer.  Nevertheless, on January 9, 1966, the Nursery and Beginner’s departments began moving into their newly assigned quarters in the new unit.  The approximate cost $51,557 plus interest on a loan of $21,000 plus cost of the kitchen $4,169 which was paid for by the Christian Women’s Fellowship.


The photos above are of the restoration of the church to date; 2010 We invite you to learn more on our Ashland Arts Council pages of this website

The unique pioneer building is over a century and 10 years old. A variety of native woods were fashioned into an unusual building on the frontiers of Nebraska.  It has what is called a barn slant exterior. The boards, as siding, run perpendicular instead of horizontal, a style used when only crudely sawed boards are available.  It is supported by buttresses, a style of European cathedrals.  The windows were curved as cathedral arches by individually hand-sawn blocks being fit into arches.  The re-enforced biased-fit front door has never known a lock or a lock and latch.  Yet it has had a very secure fitting – a timber barrack.  Hand wrought irons hold a wooden securing device of about 7 ft. long by 6 in. by 2 inches.  This timber fits snugly across the inside of the front door. The back door of the church has a lock.  The original benches, kneeling pads, deacon benches, organ pad, and lighting devices are in place.  All but two of the original stained glass windows are intact.  The hand designed trefoil patterns in pew ends, deacon benches, and choir railing have been nicely preserved.  The original organ still stands at the right of the pulpit.  It was purchased in Chicago and delivered via river steamers to Nebraska City.  Two Episcopal men drove a team and wagon to Nebraska City and brought the organ to the newly completed church.  It cost $150.00.

The communion rail was made of hand wrought iron and hand fashioned wood.  Skilled workmen of both iron and wood had to live locally and use their skills effectively to have copied the English Gothic designs of the church and even the spire.  The entire east worship area was a donation of Ernest Wiggenhorn and his sisters in 1940.  The woods of that shaded part of the building were in a state of collapse from decay when replaced at that time.  The north service and storage room was added about 1890.  The first rector was Rev. Samuel Goodale.  The first wardens were O.M. Carter and Richard Gray.

The first five Vestrymen were: J.B. Leininger, A.B. Fuller, C.H. Walker, William Haynes, and G.H. Bascom. Dr. R.H. Clarkson was the Bishop.  It had 40 members in 1871. It grew to about 140 communicants before 1900.  This edifice is on the Nat’l Registry of Historical Landmarks.


This photo is from the 1913 era – Notice the Wiggenhorn mansion in the left hand corner

The Ashland Women’s Club was organized in 1895 for the expressed purpose of founding a library.  The club was entirely without funds, and the project was postponed.  Late in 1903 Mrs. B.H. Clark joined the effort and related the success story of a library in another town being started under similar circumstances.  On Dec. 2, 1903, the club adopted a resolution to begin a library.  A library was opened on April 9, 1904, over Fowler’s Barber Shop.  This building was located on the south side of Silver Street in the block between 14th and 15th streets.  In 1905 the club rented and later purchased a little building which stood on the south side of Silver Street between 16th and 17th streets.  In 1908 the city accepted the library without the building under the condition that the Women’s Club continue to support the project.  In 1911 E.A. Wiggenhorn gave property on the corner of 15th and Boyd streets for the building of a public library.  A building 44 feet by 30 feet was erected at a total cost of $7,000.  The Andrew Carnegie Foundation gave a grant of $5,500, and H.A. Wiggenhorn donated the clay tile roof at a cost of $500.

The picture below is a reprint of the painting done by local Artist, Kim Cooper of Cooper Studo & Gallery

A portion of the proceeds of the sale of this print (available at Cooper Studio & Gallery) are being donated to the construction, maintenance & endowment of the new Ashland Library and Community Resource Center

Carnegie Library
Ashland, Nebraska

Photos above are an old postcard from the Dick Harnsberger collection, a current day winter photo & a wonderful print of local Artist Kim Cooper’s painting of the Ashland Public Library – prints are avilable for sale.

The exterior appearance of the building remains the same as when it was erected.  However, through the years more shelving has been added, the lighting has been upgraded, and the windows and front door have been replaced.  Stained glass windows and the light fixture in the entrance are original.  In 1982 the clay tile roof was carefully removed, new felt and copper metal work were put in place, and the original tiles were re-installed.  In the early days of the library it was operated by volunteers. Miss Vera Railsback (Mrs. R.R. Towne) assisted by Miss Augusta Harnsberger (Mrs. F.A. Jones) were the first regular volunteers.  Miss Jessie Scott (married to Mr. Millener) followed Miss Railsback and became the first paid librarian at a salary of $5 per month.  At that time the building was open two afternoons and evenings per week  and was heated by a wood stove which seemed to be either red hot or stone cold.  The library holdings have grown from 288 volumes in 1904 to 6,500 in 1957 to more than 10,000 in 1982.  Through the years a number of services have been added. Many current periodicals have been added.  The library is served by the Metropolitan Network van and the Interlibrary Loan Network.  In 1980 a collection of microfilms of The Ashland Gazette was started,  and the paper is being indexed for births, marriages, and deaths as volunteer time allows.  On Jan. 27, 1983, it was announced by Marvin F. Kivett, State Historic Preservation officer that this library was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


The photos above – Dick Harnsberger postcard collection (left) current photo 2008 (right)

The National Bank of Ashland was organized in 1883 and a building was constructed on the corner of 15th and Silver Streets in Ashland in 1889.  The building was designed by I. & I. Hodgson, Jr., Architects of Omaha.  They had designed and planned the City Hall of Indianapolis, the Exposition Hall in Minneapolis and had moved to Omaha in 1914 where they designed the United States National Bank Building.

The National Bank building is a 2-story brick and stone structure.

When built, there was an outside entrance to a basement barbershop.  The second floor was occupied by the Lincoln Telephone & Telegraph Co. as their local exchange until 1957 when they moved into a new building.  At that time the second floor was made into an apartment which is its present status.  The National Bank occupied the main floor offices until 1933.  The Citizens National Bank  occupied the building until 1947 when they were purchased by the Farmers & Merchants National Bank and moved across the street.  The building was renovated in 1935 at which time the basement exterior stairs were eliminated and the front entrance was enclosed.  The basement housed a barber shop until 1930 and is now the Max Carter Photo Studio.  The Olson Insurance Agency and Lutton Law Office moved into the building in 1948.  The Insurance Agency changed hands several times and was finally sold to the Ashland Agency who moved to their own building in 1977.  The main floor was renovated in 1982 to make offices for Claude and David Lutton who joined his father in the Lutton Law Office.

On Jan. 27, 1983, it was announced by Marvin F. Kivett, State Historic Preservation Officer that this bank building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Submitted by Claude Lutton

Ashland State Bank was founded by Lee and Helene Sapp on June 7, 1977.

The site was purchased and the ground breaking ceremony was held, with the original stock holders present.  The charter was approved and in early August of 1977 construction began.  The planned completion date was November, 1977.  A grand opening was held November 20, 1977 with 380 guests attending, including Governor Charles Thone, Mayor Deb Lacey, and Marvin Killion who was our bank president.  A brief ribbon cutting ceremony was held outdoors on a cold and damp day.  Everyone was anxious to continue the festivities indoors, with cake and coffee being served.  On Monday, November 21, 1977 our doors were open for business.  Mr. and Mrs. John Fundaburg were our first customers and we are proud to say he is still doing business with us today.  We feel we have come a long way toward meeting banking needs of customers in Ashland as well as the surrounding area.  Without the continued community support we could not have grown.  But, as our motto suggests, we still remain “small enough to know you and big enough to serve you”.
Ashland State Bank is known as Centennial Bank, circa 2010

The Lee Sapp Family
The Lee Sapp Family


A group of people met at the Ashland school on Oct. 18, 1949 to organize a garden club.  Twenty-three persons signified their interests in the project, 15 of whom are still active participants.  In November a constitution and by-laws were drawn up and later adopted, and the Ashland Garden Club came into being.

The efforts of one woman, Mrs. Chas. Gade, were largely responsible for this civic organization. She became the first president of the club and her interest has never flagged.  The Club is unique because it had money in the treasury before it was organized.  A float in the Stir-Up parade in September 1949, was entered in the name of this projected group and was rated third, thus earning $5.  Through her column, “Garden Chatter” a weekly feature in the Ashland Gazette, Mrs. Gade had stimulated enough interest in a garden club among the local residents that a number of people, headed by Miss Sheralee Coatman and Miss Marion Barta, decorated and entered the float in the competition.  To make the Club more efficient, it was separated into Day and Night groups with their own leaders. Meetings are held monthly.  Plant sales, flower shows, African violet exhibits, civic plantings, and projects for each group.  A flower show has been held annually by the club since 1950.  Flower arrangements are shown in classes and individual specimens of garden flowers, perennials, shrubs and are rated by certified judges and ribbons awarded.  A plant sale is held each spring and fall.

Plants are furnished by members of the clubs, which enrich gardens in the surrounding territory.

The African Violet exhibit is an early spring event, grown by the members and sold to visitors.  Local growers have exhibited over 200 varieties at one time.  Members who raise 100 or more different varieties include Mrs. Carl Parks, Mrs. Frank Backstrom, Mrs. Marion Dimmit, Mrs. Ted Linquist, Mrs. Bert Rager, and Mrs C.E. Barnes. The Garden Club and the Ashland Chamber of Commerce jointly sponsora Christmas outdoor decorating contest yearly, with the Chamber (of Commerce) furnishing the cash and judged by the Garden Club.  The Ashland civic planting at the east end of Silver Street catches the eye of the visitor as he enters the town.  Petunias were planted in 1953. Since then lilacs, iris, mums, cannas have been planted and cared for by the club members.  The Garden Center at 15th and Silver Street is open to the public with potting soil, fertilizers, flower arranging equipment pots, wren houses and other garden items. A library of books, bulletins, and magazines is available.  The center opened in 1951 furnished through the courtesy of the Farmers and Merchants Bank.

In 1950 the Club affiliated with the Federated Garden Clubs of Nebr.  The oldest member, Mrs. Arthur Kellogg, has attended three National conferences:  Biloxi, Miss. in 1952; San Francisco and Hawaii, 1953; and Charleston, S.C., in 1954.  Another tour took Mrs. Kellogg into Canada, Massachusetts, and New York in 1955.  The club has 41 members at this report. The charter members are: Mrs. Leonard Allen, Mrs. Frank Backstrom, Mrs. Elmer Buck, Mrs. C.D. Carey, Mrs. Roy Coatman, Mrs. Marion Dimmit, Mrs. Carl Erickson, Mrs. Chas. Gade, Mrs. George (Carolee) Grauerholz, Mrs. Glen Keetle, Mrs. Lucy Kellogg, Mrs. G.E. Mamsfield, Mrs. Chas Narber, Mrs. Raymond Nelson, Mrs. Lloyd Scott and Mrs. Fay Gilkenson.  Of the chartered members that have passed on since 1957 are Mrs. C.D. Carey, Mrs. Roy Coatman, Mrs. Lucy Kellogg, Mrs. Raymond Nelson and Mrs. Fay Gilkenson.

At present the two Clubs are:   The Ashland Garden Club that meets at night and The Town and Country Garden Club that meets in the daytime.

The Ashland Garden Club has thirteen members.

The club maintains the Rose Circle at the new Wiggenhorn Park and the flower beds at Bethesda Care Center (now known as the Ashland Care Center).  In the last few years the club has planted two cottonless cottonwood trees, a blue spruce and a Hopa Crab, at the Bethesda Care Center.  The club takes care of the lilac planting as you enter Ashland from the east.  The Garden Club and Ashland Chamber of Commerce jointly sponsor a Christmas decorating contest yearly, with the awards furnished by the Chamber and judged by the Garden Club.  The Club has given an agricultural $100. Scholarship the last nineteen years.  When the Ashland Garden Club discontinued their Executive Board, and the two clubs became individual clubs, the afternoon group chose the name Ashland Town and Country Gardeners.  Each club has their own projects, the Gardeners have three main ones.  At the Ashland Cemetery they have two projects with plantings of evergreens, shrubs, tulips and annuals.  At Bethesda Care Center there are two areas, one by the entrance and two smaller ones in the inner court, consisting of roses, tulips, grape hyacinths and various kinds of annuals.  The third project is at the Ashland Clinic where the Gardeners have set out  three locust trees, five white candle crabapple trees, bulbs and annuals, etc.  Minor projects are scrapbooks for Children’s Hospital and gifts to the Rescue Unit and orphanages. The present membership of the Ashland Town and Country Gardeners is 10 members and one associate member.

Taken from the Ashland FIRST 100 Years 1957

ASHLAND GARDEN CLUB at dedication of Blue Star Memorial at rest stop on I-80 at Gretna: Mae Allington, Denise Harpin, Pauline Miller, Evelyn Backstrom, Laura Riecken, Bertha Smith, Eloise Spech, Peg Scott, Ruth Lindquist.


The Ashland Lions Club was chartered September 26, 1956.  The new group was sponsored by the Wahoo Lions Club, George W. Haessler, president.  The organization’s program is civic betterment, and it is hoped to institute a youth program.  The first officers were: B.L. Perryman, president; Kenneth Harris, first vice-president; Ed Ballou, second vice-president; Abe Stoker, third vice-president; Charles Box, secretary-treasurer; Jerald Bates, Lion tamer; Robert Fricke, tail twister; and four directors: Don Hart, Earl Hurst, Don Parks, and Harland Schulz.


The Ashland Rotary Club organized on May 20, 1935, in a meeting at Ashland, with its parent organization, the Lincoln Rotary Club The charter presentation meeting was then held on June 7, 1935.  The charter members were Edwin A. Fricke, Carl Panzer, Rev. S.B. Thomas, M. Lynn Judy,Elmer Craig, J.L. Irwin, H.V. Noland, Dr. B.H. Baer, Fred Bontz, W.E. Harnsberger, Roy Churchill, O.J. Lohr, C.D. Lutton, Sr., Kenneth Marcy, Emerson Mead, Earl Miller, James Ziegenbein, Dr. O.H. Ziegenbein, E.F. Burke, E.W. Keedy, John A. Scott, and G.R. Darst.

The Ashland Rotary Club sponsors the local Boy Scout movement,co-sponsors a boy to Boys’ State, the March of Dimes drive, and the yearly Boy Scout Drive.  In May, 1955, the Ashland Rotary Club celebrated its 20th anniversary at a banquet held at the First Congregational Church.

HISTORY OF Ashland by Mrs. May Wiggenhorn – 1947

“In the early history of Ashland begins the history of Saunders County.”  The old government trail from Plattsmouth to Nebraska City to Fort Kearny, Fort Laramie, Fort Bridger, passed through the present site of Ashland, crossing Salt Creek at this point.

In those days it was called Saline Ford and was the only rock bottom ford on the creek  and the only available point at which freight could cross.  Many immigrants crossed this ford and it was a common sight to see the canvas covered wagons of emigrants and freighters slowly plodding their weary way over the ridge that now hems in the City of Ashland.  About here there were no trees, only tall grasses but the ridges along the river, near where Yutan now stands, were covered with trees.

In 1856 came Joseph Stambaugh and wife and three children, Reuben Warbritton and John Aughe looking for a home in the west. In 1857 they took up claims here and were soon followed by many others.  All of their supplies had to be brought by teams from Plattsmouth, a several days journey.  They tell how Mrs. Warbritton, when alone, was so annoyed with the Indians, who, it is said, were thick as grasshoppers, that she took an ox goad and whipped one of them into obedience, to the delight of his companions.  She at once became a heroine in their eyes and was considered “a much brave squaw”.

In 1857 a new settler arrived who built a brush dam across the creek and six years later came Dennis Dean who built a mill and whose stone house still  stands on a hill across the creek.

See more pictures of the Dennis Dean Mill, his farm and pictures of his home & stories about Dennis& family, on this link to >  HISTORIC HOMES page
Photos of the Dennis Dean Dam & Mill & home are courtesy of Marti (Bailey) Fritzen, daughter of Lillian (Dean) Bailey

During 1858 and ’59 Ashland was a well known point and great quantities of freight went through and the early settlers were able to sell their stock and produce at good prices, till the Union Pacific was built.

When the boundaries of the county were settled, it was named Calhoun in 1856 but later was renamed Saunders in honor of the last territorial governor.

To me it is very interesting to notice that the names of the first three settlers in the county are familiar names here today, Stambaugh, Warbritton and Aughe and the first white child born in Ashland was a Stambaugh. Their first house was burned down by the Indians.

Their granddaughter, Betty Scott, tells that they had one boy with curly red hair who had to be watched closely to keep the Indians from carrying him off as they thought he was something supernatural.

The old name of Saline Ford was first used, then Flora City in honor of the Warbritton’s daughter, Flora, a very attractive young lady.  Finally in the early sixties, a petition was circulated by J.H. Snell and the name was changed to Ashland.

Ashland being the first town in the county became the county seat in 1867 and a courthouse was built in 1870 on the hill overlooking the town.

It was used by all organizations and the Congregational Church held services there before they had a church.  Later it was sold to Dr. Mansfelde for a sanitarium and was well known as ““Quality Hill”” for a long time.

The first county clerk was Mr. Hobart Brush who, with his brother had come in 1867.  He was the present Mrs. Butler’s father.  In 1873 after much agitation and opposition the county seat was moved to Wahoo which had become a thriving young town and was in the center of the county, but unfortunately it left a trail of bitterness, which dies hard.

From time to time Mrs. John Aughe and Miss Throckmorton gathered the children together for a few weeks school in their sod houses or old log cabin.  The first school house was an imposing brick building on the site of the present school, built in 1871 and destroyed by fire in 1919 after 48 years of service.  The first teachers here were Albert Nichols and Luisa Nancy Tower.  I used to hear much of them from my husband, Bion Arnold and the Scott Boys.

INSERT: We provided Information about the SCOTT GROCERY with pictures & links above. The Scott family was one of Ashland’s leading grocers for 74 years.

The Joseph Arnold family, with 12 children, homesteaded south of Ashland.  One of their sons, Bion, graduated form Ashland Schools. Bion went on to a very successful career in engineering. George Mink II has owned & lived on the former Arnold homestead and has researched the Arnold family genealogy in great detail.

The BION ARNOLD story, a 1913 biography & recent presentations by the family, may be found at the bottom of this page.

continuing . . . .

The first church in Ashland was the Baptist

There are many interesting stories told of the early days, such as the one of a Justice of the Peace in Saunders County who married a young couple with a license from Cass Co.  The next day someone told them their marriage was not legal and when they hurried to the Justice, he said he could make that all right.

For them to just jump into their buggy and drive over to Cass Co. two miles away.  There he married them again, none of them knowing he had no jurisdiction there.  Some of you will remember the old bridge across Salt Creek, two blocks south of the present one.  It was on Main Street and all the business houses were there where the town started.

In 1870 Mr. Ernest Wiggenhorn came to Ashlandfrom Plattsmouth and opened a lumberyard.  He built a house where the bank now stands and had his office in the front room.  He started some buildings and persuaded some of the people to move up to what is now Silver Street and gradually that old street was abandoned.  But when my people came in 1884 there were still a few buildings on that lower ground.

He bought the Dennis Dean mill and an interest in a mill on Wahoo Creek, ran a general store, was on the school board and served the town in many ways.  It might be interesting to recall the names of some of the early businessmen.

After Dennis Dean whose mill had made Ashland an important milling point, came A.B. Chamberlain, whose daughter May still lives in Lincoln, and J.A. Jury whose daughter Jessie has recently retired from teaching Latin in the Lincoln High School, W.B. Morris, Henry Johnson, J.G. Whitlock, Ben S. Clark who had a hardware store and J.A. Watts, jeweler.

Also Joseph Arnold, whose son, Bion, is Ashland’s most famous son.

After farming his homestead a few years he came to Ashland and later was admitted to the bar and was the second lawyer in the town.  The first lawyer was T.B.Wilson, Veda Grebe’s father, who was at one time County Attorney and practiced law here 45 years.  A prominent citizen was J.H. Snell who built the first brick residence, which was recently torn down to make room for the Lohr Lockers.

He also built the Snell Block where Lien’s Hardware now stands, for a hotel, -with A.B.Fuller, the first landlord, followed by Mr. And Mrs. Snell and a Mr. Patton who gained fame by the use of a large farm bell which he would ring violently at meal time.

The boys played many tricks on him.  After the Snell house was changed from a hotel into a business house in 1884 the Exchange Hotel was rented by my father, H.K. Dunbar.  In 1887 it was destroyed by fire and Mr. E.A.Wiggenhorn built the Selma Hotel with the bank on the corner.

There were two others, the Clifton House where Hoffman’s store now stands and the Platte Valley farther down the street.  These hotels were places of much interest and entertainment and were the gathering places for the town.

Other well known names are those of John Scott’s grandfather who opened Scott’s Grocery in 1874, H.W.Curtis who built the brick home where   Mrs. Ledwith lives, A.H.Gould, Wm. Hardin engineer and surveyor who marked out many of our houses and was long known as Dad Hardin, George Hoffman whose descendents still live here, Samuel Stratton whose daughter married Dick Scott, J.R. Hayward, James Danley, Dr. Mansfelde, Silas Nichols and James Thomas.

A.B. Fuller came in 1862 and engaged in the overland freighting to the mountains.  He was land agent for the Burlington and Union Pacific, was a member of the Legislature from the territory and the State.  There were many others too numerous to mention.

Some of the postmaster’s names are well remembered:  Palmertson, Young, Chamberlain, Picket, R.M. Scott, A .Laverty, Picket again, Mrs. DuBoise, Hall, Oliver

The Library was built in 1911 through the efforts of the Womans Club, Victor Clark (pastor of the Congregational Church) and Edwin Wiggenhorn.

It cost $7000 of which $5500 was secured from the Carnegie Foundation, the rest being given by friends.The ground was given by Ernest Wiggenhorn, Jr.

The photo below is a rare photo of the Wiggenhorn mansion, lookng west, showing the carriage entrance, the yard in foreground & the First Congregational Church in the background.


The Ashland Historical Society is very grateful to MJ, for her recent donation of over 100 of these timeless treaures Mrs. Wiggnehorn continues;

” The Platte River bridge, built also in 1911, cost $17,000.00 and we were sorry to see it torn down when the new bridge was built at Linoma. ”

insert: We have learned that the bridge was built by a private group of investors; They formed a company known as the Ashland Platte River Bridge Company

The advertising above appeared in the 1911 map book of the original “US 6”, as we know it  now, produced by Heubinger at the opening of the original “White Pole Route” See the link >  ROUTE 6 – Historic Route 6 page for more information and maps. They secured financing for the project from the Farmers & Merchants Bank of Ashland. The AHS is hopeful that Farmers & Merchats Bank will be able to provide copies of the documentation from their extensive archives

History provides us with so much . . including a little humor !
The 1911 “map book” shows the White Pole Route route on Silver Street.
It also provides us with information, including hotel rates at the Selma Hotel:

” HOTELS – Hotel Selma, AM. $2 ” for the younger generation ” . . . . .”AM” was NOT your wake-up call . . it stood for “American Plan” . . meals included !  . . and you thought ‘ continental breakfast ‘ in the morning is a big deal !

The “Brick House” noted on the map was the Stambaugh Home, just before the right turn onto today’s “Guard Camp Road” took the highway east, across Ashland Platte River Bridge  Today the home was the Delmar Kolb home with a ranch style addition on the west side of the original house Delmar’s daughter Sharon resides there today (2012) after extensive restoration & renovation, following a fire.

Mrs. Wiggnehorn continues;

” Ashland has had several newspapers but only the Gazette has survived all the changes.  It was started in 1879 by John Richhart and then was owned by T. J . Picket, W. N. Becker,L. Carroll and Glenn Howard and daughter Dorothy til Mr. M.C.Howe bought it in November 1945.  Some of you perhaps attended a service just north of the town where in 1927 was dedicated a government trail marker.

The project was carried out by the Women’s Club when Mrs. Ziegler was president.  The trees and shrubs have so grown up around it that it is difficult to see it.  And when the new highway is settled I am sure this fine marker can be located in a more fitting place.  Of course, in 1927 it was on the highway.

Ashland does not grow very fast though we have had two fine business buildings put up recently as well as several smaller ones.  The latest is the Memorial Stadium at the High School grounds, which is being built with the willing labor of many of the citizens young and old, men, boys and women, and farmers far and near.  Ashland has had several bad floods but the one most talked about was in 1908, when all the surrounding farms were under water and you could go in a row boat three miles north of town.  It came up unexpectedly in the night and many people were rescued out of trees and off the roofs of their houses.  The month of June 1947 set a record with four floods in three weeks, the second of which rivaled in extent that of 1908. ”

We conclude Mrs. May Wiggenhorn’s written history, compiled in 1947
picture – postcard scenes from the July 7th 1908 flood, above, are from the Dick Harnsberger collection.

We are now featuring more information about

BION ARNOLD, mentioned above.

Click here to veiw the > NEW  Bion J Arnold  < page
George Mink II of Ashland has spent a great deal of time tracing the history of the Arnold family in Ashland.

On June 12th of 2010, Bion Arnold’s Great-Great Grandson, Grant Shepard of Dallas TX, made a presentation to the AHS – SFHPS at a luncheon, held at Oxbow Living Center in Ashland

Click here to see the > Ashland Gazette article of June 17, 2010, described above – reprinted with grateful acknowledgement to Teresa Livers and the Ashland Gazette

George Mink II made another presentation of information about Bion Arnold at our AHS meeting in January of 2011 You may learn more by going to  AHS Quarterly Meeting Recap  page < Link