could be Buffalo's crossing the platte

 Research Papers

Today is:

Bus Service Inside Kearney

 A. Street Car
(as remembered by him in 1915) A H Boltin and some other businessmen organized a tram line – the horse drawn streetcar – in 1887

Route went from the courthouse to the Midway Hotel
     West on 25th to the lake
     East  on 25th to Ave E, then north to old fairgrounds
Cost $27,000
4 cars
Converted to electricity when power plant was completed in 1889
Operated to mid-1890’s shortly after the Boom

C. Bus service including to the air base
June 1, 1922 – Homer Graham Starts a Bus Line

Had been operating a taxicab for several seasons
Decided to start a street omnibus line
Route from the court house to the Kearney State Teachers college
To run on a regular schedule. 
          Large Ford Trucks, fitted with bus bodies, will be used,
Will stop anywhere to take on passengers or permit them to alight. 
Fare to be ten cents
     If the passenger traffic is sufficiently heavy it may be reduced in the future.
The first schedule will be half hourly from both terminal points. 

Two busses will be used on the route,
     Third kept always in reserve, to replace any that may get out of order.

Don’t know if service was continuous or started again in 1925
July 14, 1925 – "Bus Line Had A Good Start"

Cornhusker Bus line to start its service on Monday
Long gray trucks
Carried 400 to 500 the First Day
6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. 
Half hour service - Pass any point on the route every 15 minutes. 
Route from court house on Central and out West Lincoln Way to the TB hospital. 
Single fare 10 cents. 
Weekly passes for $1 are encouraged. 
     Can be used by anyone in the family or circle of friends. 

Sept 25, 1928 - Cornhusker bus line, aka Cornhusker Stage line

        Operating from Kearney to Lexington and North Platte and Grand Island
        Expanding to carry express at rates lower than parcel post.
            [and so began competition with the PO?]
1942-1949 – Bus Service between the Air Base & Kearney
            Nothing in City Directories
            Nothing in Archives file of news clippings
            Nothing in bound copies of the Duster – the base newspaper
            Bus was operated by the military
                        Take a load in to town
                        Pick up at drop off point
                    Also came into Kearney to pick up civilian employees and take them back after work
All other bus service was between Kearney and other town/cities
B. Jitney
1. Definition:

Bus, especially a small bus or van
Carries passengers over a regular route on a flexible schedule. 
A small motor vehicle, such as a bus or van,
An unlicensed taxicab or illegal taxicab operation
A share taxi
A dollar van

An ancient name, a slang term, for a nickel (from the original 5 cent fare)

For those who rolled their own,
Prince Albert advertised little red bags of tobacco for “the price of a jitney ride”, 5 cents.
Dist. 24 had a program and box supper to raise funds for an organ.
    L.A. Koeppe, auctioneer, auctioned off the boxes, one going for as much as $4. 
    A jitney counter was set up in the back where those who did not buy a box supper
        Buy sandwiches, cake and coffee for 5 cents each.
Original Jitney Car – Man in Minneapolis wanted a motorcar so he saved buffalo nickels for 3 years. When he had $461.45 worth, 9,229 nickels, he brought them to the dealer and drove away in his new car.

2. First Appearance

First Jitney Bus appeared in London in1830. 
It was steam powered;
Carried 28 passengers inside and 22 outside. 
Railroads stopped it from operating by getting a law passed that required a man to be 100 yards ahead of it with a red flag in daylight and a red lantern in dark.

3. In US - 1915

March – Jitneys were popular on the west coast.
     L A had 1,050
     San Francisco had 300
     Seattle had 300.
April – The first jitney bus made its appearance in Minneapolis.
    In St. Paul [MN] the jitney fever is epidemic. 
        More people want to jit than the jits can accommodate.
May – First annual convention of the National Jitney association
    Held in Kansas City. 
    Those who addressed the convention said it was a growing business.
[Jitneys providing competition to street cars in large cities like Philadelphia]
Oct. – Philadelphia had legislated jitneys out of business
    Jitney drivers reorganized themselves as “club cars and sold memberships
        5 cents each which entitled the member to a ride on any of the jitneys in the pool.
4. In Nebraska – 1915
March  – Attorney general ruled the “jitney” to be a common carrier.
            Regulated by the state railway commission
April – Received its 1st application from a jitney company for permission to issue auto stock. 
        Made by the Grand Island Jitney company and is for $10,000 worth of stock.
May – Lincoln passed an ordinance for licensing jitneys. 
        Three had been operating about three months, none at a profit. 
        License could be for a 4-passenger bus or for 20 passengers or more
June – Omaha was requiring a liability insurance bond of $10,000. 
        A local bond company said that would cost jitney men $15/month.
4. In Kearney
March 1915 –

Denison was looking at an electric auto bus for carrying passengers from the depot to the Midway Hotel. 
        International Harvester had a representative bring one to Kearney to demonstrate.
Other cities were establishing “Jitney bus” service and it was being suggested for Kearney. 
No street car service in Kearney
No regular and defined method of transportation
No efforts to establish a service of this nature since the ‘boom day.’ 
Some older citizens thought a “Jitney” service would be practical
It could be operated by individuals
At certain parts of the day when the service was most needed. 
Practical points of service - Normal School, the court house and the heart of the city. 
A good business for “some enterprising young auto man”.
[Less expensive to operate than a streetcar]
[D?] Wort and Minton were rigging an auto bus to be used by the Midway Hotel.

1916 –

Talks about jitney service have not gotten anywhere. 
A Grand Island man was looking at the possibility of putting in a number of jitney busses
Nov. 1916 – Operates Jitney Line
            Charles H Ledbetter (a car salesman) started the first real jitney service in the city,
Two large autos for the regular jitney trade.   Enclosed in times of need
Mr. Ledbetter to drive one machine
Another competent man in charge of the  other. 
Headquarters at the Midway garage.

1917 –
        April 20, 1917 – The new jitney of the Midway hotel is on the job now
                Truck is built on a Republic chassis, the top being made here.
World War I & the Buffalo Co. Fair
Had been transp. by railroad from depot to fairgrounds
With the war RR rolling stock not available
Fair Week Laws for autos, especially Jitneys
    All auto traffic east to the fairgrounds must use Lincoln Highway,
    Westbound traffic to use 31st street. 
        Only jitneys are available. 
        Effort made for the charge to be 10 cents each way. 
        Car owners wanted to charge 25, some willing to go with 15.
Also the city wanted to put a tax on the business.
        The early applicants were charged $3.50, same as a taxi permit for 6 months.
        Later it was suggested that one dollar be charged since he fair only lasts 3 days.   
            But city officials were afraid changing the rate would result in a “roarback”

                        so they should stick to the letter of the law.
Meeting of Officials to arbitrate the problems
            Mayor, city clerk, city attorney,
            Representatives of the fair association
            Representative of the taxi cab owners & drivers
        The ordinance had set the rate at $5/year by local drivers and $20/year by nonresidents. 

        Past admin was issuing permits for 6 months at a time instead of a year for $3.50. 
        Finally agreed on the $1 for three days. 
        Those under this special permit mostly charged 15 cents because the fair association paid for their permits

                to assure there would be enough autos. 
The taxi drivers kept their old rate of 25 cents to any part of the city.
Jan 1918
– City council asked to develop a plan for allowing short period jitney service during fair week.
June 1918 – Mid-Summer racing meet – July 3-4-5 at the fairgrounds. 

        No train service, will have to rely on jitney service who charged 15 or 25 cents
Sept 1918 – All jitney drivers had to have their city licenses displayed properly, according to the police who rounded them up to tell them..  The average charge was 25cents for one person.
1920’s – 1940’s
Term jitney came to mean an old, run around vehicle
April 1920 – About the assessors in the county –
 “A dozen chickens are worth ten dollars in the eyes of the assessor
One jitney regardless of vintage, is worth a like sum even though it might not be junked for that amount.”
May 7, 1921 – The city acquired a jitney when an ”alleged booze car” was abandoned.  To be used for responding to calls around the city and providing taxi service to department members on certain occasions.


Copyright ©   All rights reserved


You may use content from this web site for your personal, not-for-profit purposes only. 


 Search Our Site

Please send Mardi Anderson your comments/feedback

Revised: 02/07/2018