History of Ainsworth, Nebraska

That portion of Ainsworth lying west of Main Street was platted on the homestead of Mrs. Nannie Osborn. Leroy Hall platted an addition on his land on the east side of Main, extending as far north as Fourth Street. North of that, Henry Woodward’s addition on his homestead. On the corner of Main and Fourth was the Woodward store, the first business house in the town. It was a log building put up in 1880, and was located on the freighter’s trail.

Among the early business houses were Tracy add Glover’s store managed by J. D. Crawford; Munson and Secor, later Munson and Ackerman, John DeBrown, George Reed, general stores; Frank Sellors, real estate; H. J. Sutton, jewelry; Dr. O. H. Crane, drugs; W. D. McCord, elevator; Orcutt house and Burns hotel; P. D. McAndrew, L. K. Alder, Alex Altschuler and S. E. Benton, lawyers; Ed Enderly, Frank Gillette and the Davisons; Alton and Sherwood, and Burns bankers; Dr. Kenaston, physcian; Hall and Chaney, hardware; Merithew, restaurant; Ainsworth Lumber Co.; Grave and Co., lumber; Leroy Hall, proprietor Journal, Morgan and Miller, publishers; Western News, T. J. Smith, publisher; P. P. Shade, livery owned by E. Loeb; Bridgeford’s saloon.

Ainsworth was incorporated as a village soon after the county was organized. The petition was presented to the commissioners on December 10, 1883, and was granted the next day. Among the signers were William H. Orcutt, Frank Sellors, P. P. Shade, Nannie Osborn, R. M. Munson, P. 1). McAndrew.

T. J. Smith was the first postmaster after the office was changed from Bone Creek to Ainsworth. He was succeeded by Clark Barnes. The first F. E. & M. V. agent was O. B. Rippey, followed by L. A. Rodwell.

The first child born in Ainsworth was the little son of Leroy Hall and wife in 1882. The first death was Mrs. Young.

The Congregational church of Ainsworth was the first religious edifice in the County, built in the spring of 1884. The church organization was perfected on August 12, 1883, by Mrs. O. B. Rippey, Mrs Henry Woodward, Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Alden, Mr. and Mrs. W. T. Alden and Rev. J. Herbert. The first pastor was Rev. N. L. Packard.

The first Fourth of July celebration was held here in 1882, on the depot platform before the depot was built. A twenty-foot flag was offered as a prize to the neighborhood sending the largest delegation. The Grand Prairie community won the prize, which was accepted by Dan Carpender on behalf of that neighborhood and the flag is still the property of his daughter, Mrs. P. J. Holst. For years this flag figured prominently in all celebrations held in this section. Mr. Carpender rigged a platform on a wagon and with the, flag flying from a pole erected in the center of the platform, many of our matrons of today, the girls of those days, rode to celebrations.

On Christmas of the same year, the first Christmas exercises were held in the waiting room of the depot. A beautiful cedar tree which Lee Gould and Went Conway brought from the banks of Bone creek, 12 miles away, was the main feature of the occasion.

In 1883, the first fair was held on Nannie Osborn’s claim southwest of town, Glen Nesbit took the prize as the prettiest baby, and Millie Cheney received a special prize, a gold thimble given by H. P. Sutton, as the most accomplished young lady in the county.

The first newspaper, The Western News, was established by T. J. Smith. Mr. Smith was later identified with, the Ainsworth Star and afterward with the Star Journal. He took a prominent part in all county and local affairs. It is said that he selected the route for the road from here to Springview. The second newspaper, The Journal, was established July 3, 1884, by Leroy Hall.

A Sunday School was organized. It was held in the home of L. W. Gould and afterward in the waiting room of the depot. Rev. W. W. Thomas, an itinerant, preacher at Ainsworth and Rev. Elias Frame, a homesteader, held occasional services. A Sunday School organizer, Frady, by name, assisted in the work all through this section. These religious services were graced by a choir and an organ loaned by Birdie Bridgeford. Among the singers were W. D. McCord and Birdie Bridgeford. Mollie Stockwell presided as organist.

Jones, Lillian L. Days of Yore: Early History of Brown County, Nebraska. Ainsworth, Nebraska. November, 1937.

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