Friday, July 29, 2005

Colfax County Landscape

Unlike the forested hills of Wisconsin, the plains of Nebraska were covered by tall prairie grasses. With the coming of the settlers, the prairie was eventually replaced by crops, especially wheat and corn.

The land surrounding Schuyler in Colfax County is gently undulating (OK, mostly flat) and almost entirely under cultivation. Trees line the Platte river and are clustered around farm buildings.

It must have been a great adjustment for the Kolm and Luneburg families, who moved to Schuyler in the 1870s from Wisconsin. It must have been even more difficult for Nellie (Bernitt) Kolm, who arrived in Schuyler in 1911 as the new bride of Will Kolm. Nellie grew up in Marshfield (Coos Bay), along the rugged Oregon coast.

Highway 15 in Colfax County looking south towards Schuyler (Schuyler is barely visible in the distance).
Highway 15 North of Schuyler

(click for full size photo)

Highway 15 in Colfax County looking north across the Platte River towards Schuyler.
Platte River South of Schuyler

(click for full size photo)

More Nebraska Landscapes
Fertig Family Tallgrass Prairie outside of Schuyler (land of Clarence and Ruth (Kolm) Fertig)
Nebraska in single frames (video photo montage of driving across Nebraska)
Barns of Nebraska

(photos copyright 2004 P. Kolm, all rights reserved)

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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Luneburg and Kolm Move to Schuyler, Nebraska from Wisconsin

The first of our relatives to settle in Nebraska were two sons of William and Anna (Klauck) Luneburg: the civil war veteran Henry J. Luneburg (1841-1880) and family, and his brother Fritz Luneburg (1838-1895) and family. The moved from Middleton, Wisconsin to Schuyler in Colfax County, Nebraska between 1871 and 1875.

In October 1878 both William and Anna Luneburg died in Middleton, Wisconsin. About a year later, in November 1879, their youngest daughter Doris, her husband Henry Kolm, and their children joined the Luneburg brothers in Schuyler.

When Henry and Fritz arrived in Schuyler, it was a young town. The railway station was built in 1868, and the first general store opened in 1869. In 1870, the year Schuyler was incorporated, Texas cattlemen started driving thousands of head of cattle into the newly established stockyards. Businesses were opened to serve the cowboys, and many newcomers settled in town. The population reached population of 600 by the end of that year.

This initial prosperity did not last long - grasshoppers and drought plagued the settlers during the mid-1870s, causing the cattle to be moved further west. Times were tough until the rains returned in 1877. The occupations of Henry and Fritz Luneburg during this period are unknown. In 1880 Fritz was a laborer living in Shell Creek Precinct, northeast of Schuyler. Henry died before the 1880 census was taken. Fritz died in 1895.

When Henry and Doris (Luneburg) Kolm arrived in Schuyler in 1879, Henry worked as a carpenter, as he had in Wisconsin. By 1888 he was breeding cattle and horses on a farm owned by the Wells and Nieman Flour Mill Company, just north of Schuyler along Shell Creek. Doris and her daughters cooked for the ranch hands. When the 1900 census was taken, it appears they were living on this ranch, in Grant Precinct.

Later, son Charles Kolm had a farm in Richland Precinct, closer to the Platte River. This farm was located two miles north of the Platte River, near Schuyler, which was mostly pasture and hayland at the time.

In about 1905, Henry Kolm retired, and he and Doris moved into the town of Schuyler. Even after Henry retired he was supposedly asked to come out to the ranch to look after machinery.

Henry Kolm died in 1909 and was buried in Schuyler cemetery. The widow Doris eventually returned to Middleton, Wisconsin to live with one (or both) of her married daughters, Anna (Kolm) Orth or Lena (Kolm) Staack. She died in 1924, and her body was returned to Schuyler, where she was buried next to Henry.

Herny & Doris Kolm grave

(Information about living on the ranch taken from a letter from Ramona “Mona” Staack Gray to Leland “Lee” Kolm, 1976. “I’m sure Mother said she was two when they moved to the ranch.” (her mother, Lena Kolm, was born in 1886). Mona indicates it was either the Fuller range and or the Wells-Nieman ranch.)

Schuyler Links
Obituary of Doris (Luneburg) Kolm (note that there are many typos and phonetic spellings in the original!).
Township map of Colfax County, Nebraska, from the 1885 Atlas of Nebraska
History of Schuyler, Nebraska (from the from the Nebraska "Our Towns" site)
Andreas' History of Nebraska, 1882 - Colfax County (including a description of the business of Wells & Nieman's Flour Mill).
Information about Schuyler from 1892 History (scroll to bottom of page)
History of the First Presbyterian Church of Schuyler (organized in December 1869. Minnie, Marie and Anna Kolm, daughters of Henry Kolm, jr., were members of this church)
A methodist minister in Schuyler (where the people apparently drank too much) from A Frontier Life: Sketches and Incidents of the Homes in the West, by Charles Wesley Wells, 1902.
Satellite Map of Schuyler
Schuyler today

Related Links
Railroad map of Nebraska, 1874
Prairie Settlement (Library of Congress exhibit about the settlement of central Nebraska - Custer, Buffalo, Dawson and Cherry counties - west of Colfax County.)
Ranchers and Farmers Collide in Nebraska, 1884 (homesteading in Custer County)
Nebraska State Historical Society Photographs, 1850-1938 (photos from all over Nebraska, including Colfax county).
Wessel's Living History Farm in York, Nebraska. Focus on the 1920s-1940s. At this time our ancestor Will Kolm was living on the west coast. His brother Charles was running the Kolm family farm in Colfax County.

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Monday, July 18, 2005

Location of Kolm Brothers Furniture Store?

Will Kolm was working as an embalmer for the Kolm Brothers Furniture Store in Schuyler, Nebraska from 1910 to 1912. The location of the store at that time is unclear.

Where was the Kolm Brothers Furniture Store and Undertaking Parlor located?

Kolm Brothers Ad

The above ad, probably dating from 1911 or 1912, indicates that the undertaking parlor was located in the "Sun building [by?] Folda Bank".

According to the "Schuyler Nebraska: Walking Tour of the Downtown Historic Disctrict" (GFWC Schuyler Civic Club), Henry purchased a building at 1123 C Street,in Schuyler, which was formerly the Banking House of Folda, 1915). Where he operated the Kolm Furniture Store with his daughters Anna and Minnie. This building is presently American Legion McLeod Post 47. It should be noted that this description indicates the purchase was in 1924, which was after Henry's death in 1918. It is unclear whether the date or purchasers are incorrect.

The description sounds very similar to the location of the parlor in the above ad, which mentions "Folda Bank". It is possible that Henry had a parlor in or next to this building before he purchased the property.

A 1912 postcard indicated that the "Kolm Brothers" store was adjacent to the Opera House, which was on the corner of 12th and C Streets. Again, this location is C street between 11th and 12th; very close to 1123 C St.

This was not the only location of the Kolm furniture store in Schuyler:
"Schuyler Municipal Building, 1103 B STREET - The "Municipal Building" was acquired by the City of Schuyler in 1992 and was constructed in 1978 by the Security Federal Savings and Loan Assn. of Schuyler. The new building structure replaced three former buildings at the location. The first building originally was the First National Bank. [...] Two adjacent buildings to the north had been occupied by Chase Drug Store, Kolm Furniture Store, Johnson Men's Clothing Store and a tavern. Prior to 1978, Security Federal Savings and Loan Assn. acquired the three various sites, tore the two north buildings down, and removed the second floor of the corner building which after building construction resulted in the building as it is now." (from Schuyler Nebraska: Walking Tour of the Downtown Historic Disctrict, Organized by GFWC Schuyler Civic Club)

It is unclear whether the Kolm Furniture Store was located in this building before or after it was located on C St.

Previous post: Kolm Brothers Funeral Store and Undertaking Parlor.

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Kolm Brothers Furniture Store and Undertakers

Our ancestor Carl Heinrich Christian "Henry" Kolm was a carpenter and joiner by trade. Only of his sons, Henry William (born 1863) continued his trade. Shortly after the turn of the century, Henry William opened a furniture store in Schuyler, Nebraska. Because the store provided coffins, it had a second business as an undertaking parlor.

According to Alice Kolm Stibal the embalming was done by a Jack Stovicek from the Gass Funeral Home in Columbus, Platte County. Henry's brother Charles briefly worked in the undertaking business, then took over the Kolm farm when his father retired, about 1905.

Kolm Brothers AdIn February 1910 Henry's youngest brother (and our ancestor) Will returned from Oregon and joined him in his business, doing the embalming. Will returned briefly to Marshfield, Oregon in June 1910 to marry Nellie Bernitt. The young couple returned to Schuyler, where Will recieved his embalmer's license.

Will had gone into debt to buy one half of the furniture/undertaking business and found the interest payments to be a heavy burden. Furthermore, he did not like working as an undertaker, especially when he had to embalm a child for burial. By 1912 he had become terribly discouraged in Schuyler. Henry bought his brother out and he and Nellie with baby Leland returned to Marshfield, Oregon. (Will maintained his embalmer's license even after returning to Oregon).

Will's Embalming License

When Will left to return to Oregon, Henry’s daughter Anna (who had been a rural schoolteacher), went into business with him. Anna carried on the business many years after Henry died in 1918.

Information about the Kolm furniture store/undertakers was from correspondence between Lee Kolm and his cousins Alice Stibal and William Roether.

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