April, 1991 THE TOWN THAT WAS NANTASKET by Rochelle A. Hunt
(graduated from Ravenna High School.
Attended Kearney Sate College, receiving her B.S. Degree in May 1991)
In 1880’s the town of Nantasket arose in Garfield township, Buffalo
County, – two miles east of Ravenna
Czechs, original settlers of the
area, mid-1880's to the early 1890's.
Came from an area of religious persecution, economic hardship and political
Originally called Trocnov (pronounced
Trots'-nof) after the hometown of John Zizka, a famous Bohemian soldier of
the sixteenth-century Hussite wars.
One of the first buildings was a
meeting hall/post office for the Western Bohemian Brotherhood-ZCBJ, or more
properly known at the time as "Zapadne Cesko-Bratrska Jednota".
1886 - Two Races:
1. Towns - Erastus Smith, the promoter of nearby Beaver Creek (now Ravenna),
vs. Dr. McKinney promoter of Nantasket
Began when railroad officials from the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad
(C.B.&Q.) came in the early 1880’s to decide where the division point of the
railroad should be laid.
The story goes that Dr. McKinney was called away to Kearney on false
C.B.&Q. officials met with Erastus Smith and decided to change Beaver
Creek's name to Ravenna and make it the division point of the new railroad.
2. Railroads –
a. Grand Island and Wyoming Central –
Burlington line from Grand Island to Broken Bow and on northwest
Entered Buffalo County near St.
Followed the South Loup River to Nantasket (on south side of
Crossed the river, entered Ravenna. (Ravenna is on north side of
Followed Beaver Creek to Sweetwater and on into Sherman and
Custer Counties to Broken Bow and on northwest.
Omaha & Republican Valley RR – (1886)
Union Pacific line north from Grand Island to St. Paul.
One branch to Ord, other to Loup
City via Boelus.
Branch from Boelus (Howard City) west into Buffalo County at St.
Also cross to the north side of the South Loup River through
Poole to River View (Pleasanton).
Plan was to run it on up the South Loup through Sartoria, Pilot, Cumro, &
Georgetown in Custer County to Callaway but that never happened.
Two tracks would have to cross
each other two miles east of Ravenna at Nantasket
Apparently the rule was that the company
that laid the track across the crossing first would get the right of way
and would lay tracks on the ground, other on had to build an overpass
The story is told that one bitterly cold night the Burlington won the
"lining the stomachs of the guards
posted by the Union Pacific line with an ample supply of liquor; so
ample, in fact, that the guards were unwilling, or unable to do
anything when the Burlington crews laid their track through and
beyond the crossing, thus earning the right of way."
Union Pacific had to give up control of
that point - Determined to make the village into a station.
Town was platted and called Nantasket (named after a New York or
Massachusetts town of the same name).
shows Nantasket as more than three times the original plat of Ravenna.
A few lots
townspeople named the streets after trees and called them Willow, Elm, Oak,
Maple, Cedar, and so on.
buildings, including a school, depot, grain elevator, two hotels, a dry
Had a doctor,
(Dr. Fletcher was the local physician and druggist),
a dentist, and
a post office (Post Office opened in Nov. 1887??)
W. W. Hurd
ran the general store which sat between the two Union Pacific tracks located
there at the time.
operated a livery stable.
He owned land the town was platted on.
Nantasket is also known as "Bottle Town" for its "unsavory reputation" it
earned from the four or five saloons it boasted and through the "exuberance
of the patrons" of a large dance hall and bar.
Nantasket lost - "Early day promoters believed a town would flourish
at the crossing of the Union Pacific and Burlington railroads at that point.
But the Burlington established Ravenna a little further west and when St.
Michael was started to the east, the town of Nantasket was squeezed out.”
1889 - pop 100 according to the Nebraska State Historical Society
1895 - mail service was transferred to Ravenna. (or 1908 or 1909)
1901 - sections of the plat were vacated.
Fritz Stark, a local farmer.
Stark moved to the area that later
became Nantasket in 1876,
His farm showed "thrift and good
management ... and his residence and barns" were "large frame structures,
surrounded by fine orchards and groves."
Jacob L. Blue, M.D., who was the hotel proprietor of Nantasket in
He was a man of many professions
throughout his lifetime
Millwright – Physician – Farmer –
librarian. - Civil War hero - businessman.
He first came to Nebraska in 1875 and
returned a second time in 1876 with his family and colony, numbering
forty-three in all. Settled in Buckeye Valley.
He then settled in Garfield township in 1883 , located homestead in the
vicinity of Nantasket.
Besides Hotel property in Nantasket,
had a flour and feed store.
Dabbled in real estate and owned over
twenty-eight town lots
Elder of the Presbyterian church and
held offices including treas. and secretary.
Justice of the peace; active in
Deputy postmaster of Nantasket in
1890, the post office being located in his store and his son-in-law was the
1959 - marked the town's official demise
Final twelve lots of what used to be
Nantasket were sold by Buffalo County School District #96
to Frances O. Fiala for $25.
Building moved to Ravenna, used as a hay barn by the Ravenna Livestock
Hotel building was moved a
quarter-mile west of Hankins Comer on Highway #2 and became a home.
The bridge across the South Loup River one-half mile north of the townsite
is still called the Nantasket Bridge by the local people.
As of 1990, one house still remains abandoned across the road.
Garfield Precinct Officers elected in 1890 –
Clerk, S. Urwiller, Nantasket
Treasurer, J. C. Bruckner, Nantasket
Justice of Peace, G. M. Hawkins,
Road Overseers: district 67, Frank
In the news:
The Ravenna News –
Thursday, August 2, 1888
Sodtown Items: Miss May BUSH, of
Nantasket, visited the Misses BERNET's Friday & Sat.
Legal Notices: F William BOHEING,
filed his intention to make final proof in support of his claim for NE l/4
Section 22, Town 12, Range 14, and witnesses to prove his residence and
cultivation there included Fred LYTLE of Nantantasket P O & Frank WATT of
Nantasket P O
Buffalo County Sun –
January 16, 1897
The case of Hannah HAEKER against Ed
WELLMAN of Nantasket, charging him with being the father of her baby was
tried to a jury this week, and the verdict rendered in favor of the
plaintiff. The court assessed a fine of $500 and costs against Wellman, $25
down and $25 every six months until the fine is paid in full to go toward
keeping the child. [20 payments; 10 years. 20 divided by 6 = 3.33/mo]
January 23, 1897
George FLEIBIE, of Nantasket, charged
with the larceny of ties from the railroad at that point, was tried to a
jury this week and acquitted.
October 16, 1897 - County Teachers
Dist. 96 - Miss Hattie Wartnaby...Nantasket
Delayed Birth Records
born 20 September 1881, Nantasket,
Buffalo Co., Nebraska
son Peter Gehrt, born 1824, Holstein,
Margaret ALPEN, born 1836, Holstein, Germany
GRAMLY, Luther William
born 17 June 1891, Nantasket, Buffalo
son William Luther Gramly, born 1862,
Lizzie Catherine BLUE, born 1872, Rockaway, New Jers.