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Houses of Ill Repute


Kearney Hub - June 1889 – Arrested

            Cora Osborne arrested for keeping a disorderly home. 

            A Kearney man petitioned police court to do something about it.

            She plead guilty and was fined $29.70

            Five men were fined $5 each but their names were not published

December, 1889 – 7 arrests

Kearney Hub - Dec 26, 1889

---John Gabriel filed a complaint in Justice Nichol’s court to-day charging the proprietor of one of the south side bawdy houses of selling spirituous liquors without a license.  A change of venue was taken and the case is set for trial on next Monday afternoon in Judge Learn’s court.  The sympathizers with the accused are very indignant over the matter as this is the first case of the kind brought up in this city.  That the violators of the law will be brought to a sense of the law need not be gainsaid.

Kearney Hub - Sept. 27, 1890-

An Appeal

            As a citizen of Kearney, I ask in the name of our proud little city, why the ordinances regulating the bawdy houses have not been enforced.  I have time and again complained to the mayor and police of the nuisance which is uncomfortably near my home, and no attempt has ever been made to rout the offenders.  If we as citizens and taxpayers must submit to these nocturnal and inhuman nuisances being almost at our thresholds, why not destroy all of the city ordinances.     W. A. McDonald

Kearney Hub - Sept. 29, 1890

A Reply

ED. HUB:  A reply to the “Appeal” published in Saturday’s HUB regarding the bawdy houses I will say that if any or all of the city officials fail to uphold the law, they can be indicted for malfeasance in office.                                           Reader

Kearney Hub - March 2, 1892

Case Postponed

            The case which was brought up this afternoon charging Emma J. Sewal with keeping a house of ill fame in the north part of the city, was postponed until next Saturday at 1 o’clock p.m.  About twenty witness were subpoenaed, for the trial this afternoon,  and the courtroom was full of spectators.

Kearney Hub - March 5, 1892

            There was quite an interesting case brought up in the police court today, which had been postponed from last Tuesday, and a large crowd of spectators was present.  It was the case of Emma J. Sewal who was charged with keeping a house of ill fame in the northeast part of the city.  Several witnesses were examined, and some of them gave very damaging testimony against the defendant, who was fined $5 and costs, which was about $20 altogether.  She paid her fine and was discharged.

Kearney Hub - March 3, 1893

---The police made twenty-six arrests during the month of February, eleven of them being for visiting houses of ill fame.

Kearney Hub - Dec. 9, 1893

Bank Burglar Bagged

Officer Walker Locates Him in a Cellar

and Bid Him Come Forth

[Two young men broke into the Dawson County National Bank in Lexington and only took a box with $100 belonging to one boy’s mother who was the postmistress.]

            The next morning one of the boys was caught but his pard got away and was tracked to Kearney by an officer who came there Thursday.  He reported the matter to Chief Overmier and Officer Walker was detailed to assist in ferreting(sic) out the boy’s hiding place.  After doing some very clever detective work the burglar was located  at Maud Gebhart’s house of ill fame and the officers commenced watching the place.

            Yesterday they were rewarded by seeing their bird go into the house and they at once followed.  The woman who answered the knock said no such person was there, but the officer knew better and walked in.

            After searching the house thoroughly Officer Walker determined to go down to the cellar and drew his gun as he did not know what he might come in contact with.  Seeing this the woman admitted he was there and said she would call him which she did and the youthful burglar came forth.  He was immediately turned over to the officer from Dawson County and taken back home last night.  He afterwards admitted he was armed and would have “plugged” the officer if he had gone down in the dark after him.

Kearney Hub - Apr 10, 1894 - [report given to City Council, bold type mine]

            The annual report of the police chief was read and showed the number of arrests made during the year and causes for same to be as follows: 

     fast driving, 3;

     inmates in houses of ill fame, 99;

     keepers of houses of ill fame, 41;

     disorderly conduct, 11;

     petty larceny, 20;

     grand larceny, 4;

     disturbing the peace, 28;

     vagrants and crooks, 415;

     street walking, 11;

     running hack without license, 1;

     shooting within city limits, 1;

     defrauding hotel keepers, 2; 

     perjury, 1;

     peddling without a license, 1;

     carrying concealed weapons, 1;

     trespass, 1;

     obscene language, 1;

     seduction, 1;

     adultery, 1;

     assault and battery, 7;

     burglary, 4,

     riding bicycle on sidewalk, 1;

     forgery, 1;

     keeping gambling rooms, 5;

     false imprisonment, 1;

     prostitution, 3;

     draying without license, 1;

     riding on sidewalk, 1;

     fugitives from justice, 2;

     sent to reform school, 4;

total 724;

number of dogs killed, 110;

amount paid for burying dogs, $58.25;

amount paid for boarding prisoners, $37.75.


Kearney's Mayor Brady

Kearney Hub - May 12, 1894

            Mayor Brady continues to be the subject of a great deal of unfavorable comment because of his continued refusal to enforce the law for suppression of gambling and the continued partnership for revenue with houses of ill fame.  The small boy who climbed on trains has been called down, there has been a crusade upon the surplus canine population of the city, and the slot machines had to take a tumble, but the gambling rooms have not been disturbed and there has been no change in the policy toward bawdy houses.  It is, of course, understood that boys, dogs and slot machines do not have votes but that is not supposed to make any difference in a matter of enforcement of law, and the mayor cannot afford to ignore law or public sentiment in respect to these things.  Even if he should there is a City Council that is supposed to have a voice in the matter and are not free from responsibility.

Kearney Hub - June 4, 1894

Mayor on a Tear

Has a Big Time With the Maidens of the Burnt District

A Row That was Nearly a Riot – Defies the Sheriff and Other Officers to Arrest Him

            There has been great excitement in this city since Sunday morning over a reported disgraceful occurrence at the bawdy house of Maud Gebhart last Saturday night in which the mayor of the city is alleged to have taken a prominent part, and as the affair is generally discussed on the streets and a warrant was sworn out for the mayor’s arrest, it is due to the public that the facts should be stated as explicitly as possible.  In  doing so, however, THE HUB does not wish to be misjudged as making a personal attack on the chief executive of the city because it has previously opposed him twice for mayor and has been making war on his policy with reference to gambling and prostitutes.  Indeed, it would be a great deal more agreeable to say nothing, to shield his estimable family, and not advertise the city’s shame; but the offense is so great, coming from this official source, that public policy demands both exposure and punishment.

            To make the long story short.  Mayor Brady came home from Omaha Saturday evening under the influence of liquor, to an extent quite noticeable during the evening.  Between nine and ten o’clock he got into an altercation with Ed. Cutting in Brock’s saloon, and abused him to the extent of all the profanity and billingsgate he could command, and which few men will endure.  Leaving Brock’s he took a hack and drove to the notorious resort of Maud Gebhart on the south side.  Constable Julian who had kept an eye on him during the evening to “look after” him and keep him out of trouble, followed in another hack accompanied by Ed. Cutting.

            What transpired at the Gebhart house is too revolting to print, suffice it to say that the mayor and inmates held high carnival, a portion of the time in a nude condition.  Julian tried to get the mayor away but was blackguarded and abused for his pains and given to understand that he (Brady) was the chief magistrate and couldn’t be molested. 
Sheriff Nutter and his deputy, Tom Gass, were then called in, and for a few moments there were indications of a fight, the inmates declaring they had paid their license and had been guaranteed protection from interference by officers of the law.  They were somewhat violently squelched by the sheriff and the deputy, who in turn came in for their share of Mayor Brady’s abuse.  The sheriff being uncertain as to how far he could go in proceeding against the mayor, and the jail being filled with desperate prisoners, he started out in search of legal advice.  Meantime, at a little past midnight the deputy sheriff loaded the mayor into a hack and took him home.

            Police Judge Brown was called out of bed about midnight and issued a warrant on a complaint by Ed. Cutting.

            Up to noon today, the warrant had not been served for two reasons.  One, that a deputation of citizens intended to wait on Mayor Brady and give him his choice between resignation and arrest, prosecution, and impeachment proceedings.  The other that the sheriff was not decided whether to have the complaint brought in police or district court.

            A number of citizens got together this afternoon and talked the matter over but did not decide on any plan of action.

            Constable Julian was seen at 4:30.  He had not served the warrant but stated that he would do so this afternoon.

            It is rumored, however, that Mr. Brady quietly plead guilty in Justice Beeman’s court, but when a reporter called Mr. Beeman was out and the record was not accessible.

            Further developments will be watched with interest.

Kearney Hub - July 17, 1894

[City Council meeting minutes reported]

            At this point the Council was about to adjourn when O’Kane arose and asked if anything had been done by the police to suppress the giving away or sale of liquor at the houses of ill fame as directed five or six weeks ago.  The chief of police was present and said he had ascertained that these houses were provided with a government license and consequently had the right to sell beer by the “package.”  The chief said he had consulted with the city attorney in the matter and that official declared that these houses had been living up to the law.  Thereupon, O’Kane offered the following motion:

            To the Mayor and City Council:--As the keepers of houses of ill fame have defied the city council for four or five weeks past and refused to obey the order of said council in relation to selling and giving away intoxicating liquors, I move that you the police be ordered by this council to arrest any man found visiting these houses of prostitution and bring them before the police magistrate of this city to be dealt with as the law provides and that no man’s name be suppressed.

            The motion carried by a vote of seven ayes and one nay.

            The council then adjourned.

Kearney Hub - Aug. 8, 1894

[City Council meeting minutes reported]

            The police court report was interesting.  There were sixteen fines during the month for keeping or being an inmate of a house of ill fame.  Two fines of one dollar each for street walking.  Eight fines of one dollar each for creating a disturbance.  One fine, one dollar, for harboring dogs.  Total $107.00  [$107 – 11= 96; 16 fines x $6 = $96]  [plus costs]

Kearney Hub - Oct. 5, 1894

[City Council meeting minutes reported]

            The police court report for September was nine fines for keeping or being an inmate of a house of ill fame and one fine for fornication.  The fines amounted to $61.  [plus costs]

Kearney Hub - Nov. 16, 1894

[City Council meeting minutes reported]

The police court report for October was nine fines for keeping or being an inmate of a house of ill fame and two for intoxication.  The fines amounted to $59 [plus costs]

Kearney Hub - Dec. 5, 1894

[City Council meeting minutes reported]

The police court report for November was ten fines for keeping or being an inmate of a house of ill fame.  The fines amounted to $70 [plus costs]

Kearney Hub - Feb. 5, 1895

[City Council meeting minutes reported]

The receipts of the police department for January, were $136 fines, $36 costs; total $172.  There were two fines for intoxication, 9 for houses of ill fame, 4 for gambling and three for disturbance of peace.  

Kearney Hub - Aug. 16, 1895

[City Council meeting minutes reported]

            The police judge reported having received  $53 in fines and $18 in costs, a total of $71.  Seven of the fines to the amount of $50 were collected from inmates of houses of ill fame, one for street walking, one for visiting house of ill fame, and one for fast driving.

Kearney Hub - Feb. 10, 1896

[Suggestions by the Hub for city government that citizens would approve]

6. Enforce the law.  Close up gambling places.  If gamblers will gamble then hedge their profession about with so many strands of barbed wire that the youth of the city cannot gain access to a gambling room.  Close the bawdy houses.  If they exist at all, drive them out of the corporations, where they will be the least injury to the public.  As to saloons, simply enforce the law as to hours of closing, Sunday traffic (back door), and the maintenance of good order, and permit no gambling games or wine rooms in connection with them.

Kearney Hub - Apr. 17, 1896

[City Council meeting minutes reported]

            The police judge reported having received  $10 for fines and $12 for costs, a total of $52.  The fines were all received from inmates of houses of ill fame.

Kearney Hub - Apr 13, 1897

[Annual Report of the year given to city council]

            The city marshal submits in his annual report an inventory of arrests, and charges on which arrests were made, as follows:

Bawdy Houses inmates…………68



Street Walking………………….13

Tramps – arrested without

            warrants & walked out…321

Vagrants kept over night……….148

Horse stealing…………………….1

Number of dogs killed………….124

Kearney Hub - Sept. 17, 1897

A Shelton Man’s Antics

            A man who lives near Shelton was in the city Thursday evening, and started out in the evening to visit a house of ill fame.  He got directions mixed and tried to enter a house on the south side where a respectable family lived.  The man was home and he pounced on the fellow and a lively scrap ensued.  The Shelton man was driven away.  Whether he was suffering from the affects of drink, or was crazy is unknown, but hereafter when he comes to town the police will keep a weather eye on him.


Early 1898 there was a strong Anti-Saloon League movement against “scarlet women” and gambling as well as drinking.  By spring gamblers and scarlet women were gone.  New mayor, Bruno Hostetler was elected.  Houses of ill repute “on the bottoms” closed and owner & wife moved to Hastings.

Kearney Hub - Apr 12, 1898

[new mayor, Bruno Hostetler, outlined his policies]

The Bawdy House

            “The bawdy house and the private resorts of like character Will not be recognized or licensed.  “He prostitutes” and “she prostitutes” will receive no protection from my administration.”

Kearney Hub - April 10, 1900

[Hostetler apparently was reelected and made the same statement about bawdy houses.

But after he left office they returned.]

Kearney Hub - Jan. 17, 1903

---In police court Saturday afternoon, Mrs. H. L. Buckley, Sadie White, and Sadie Green, charged with conducting and being inmates of a house of ill fame, appeared by their attorney, paid the costs in the case and agreed to leave town at once.  The complaints were accordingly withdrawn.

Kearney Hub - March 31, 1905

The proprietors of two bawdy houses were supporting the political ticket supported by the New Era-Standard but not the Hub.

Kearney Hub - Sept. 26, 1905

[Child custody case, parents divorced two years ago, girl is now five]

            In his petition Russell alleged that the mother had been convicted in the police court of the city of Kearney of keeping a house of ill fame and that she was not a proper person to have the care and education of a child in her hands.  Russell is at present a lineman in the employ of Farmer’s Home Telephone company of Shelton.  A large number of witnesses both men and women in the court to testify a to the character or lack of character of the parties in the suit.  After listening to the testimony and arguments, Judge Hostetler concluded that neither mother or father was a fit person to have custody of the child and placed it in the custody of Mrs. Clara Marti, the mother of Mrs. Russell, until further orders of the court.


[Winsor Hotel – Recognized as “red light” probably in 30’s]

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