could be Buffalo's crossing the platte

 Research Papers

Today is:

                                         Leap Year

Occurs every year divisible by 4 except the turn of the century years, every fourth is a leap year.
        So 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not leap years but 2000 was. The next one will be 2400.

The chance of being born on Feb. 29 is about 1,461 to 1.

A person born on Feb. 29 is referred to as a “leapling” or “leaper”

A. Leap Year History, Traditions & Customs

Ireland (legend) – In 5th century St Bridget made a deal with St Patrick to allow women to propose to men;
        possibly introduced to balance traditional roles of men and women like leap year balances the calendar.

Scotland (legend)
– Queen Margaret brought in a law setting fines for men who turned down proposals by women
        in a leap year.   Sceptics pointed out she was 5 years old and living in Norway at that time

Leap Day also known as “Bachelor’s Day” – A man was expected to pay a penalty if he refused a woman’s marriage proposal on Leap Day. This could be a gown or money.

        In European countries, esp. upper class, if a man refused a proposal he had to buy the woman 12 pairs of gloves so she could hide the fact that there was no engagement ring on her finger.

Also called St Oswald’s Day – in memory of the Archbishop of York who died on February 29, 992

On February 29, 1692 – the first warrants were issued for the Salem witch trials.

B. Celebrating Locally


        1932 – A Kearney boy celebrated his first birthday. (He was 4, born in 1928)

        March 1952 – A Kearney boy and a Sumner boy were honored at their 3rd birthdays at two different parties.
            Each had 12 candles on his cake. (born in 1940)

        [2016 – My cousin’s son is celebrating his 8th birthday this year although he will be 32, born Feb 29, 1984]


        Marriage licenses issued in Buffalo County in the late 1930’s

            1936 – 259 Leap year
            1937 – 204
            1938 – 192
            1939 – 182

Ways of celebrating Leap Year’s tradition of role reversal

        Dances – the most popular activity

            January 1892 – Leap Year party at the Midway Hotel where ladies and gentlemen’s roles were reversed.
                Ladies tucked their gentlemen into their buggies with buffalo robe.
                Upon arrival at the Midway the gentlemen were escorted to the dressing room where they were presented,+
                    not with corsages, but with buttonhole arrangement of roses or carnations with a piece of greenery.

                They were then escorted to seats in the dance hall away from drafts.
                Their ladies then stood over them with fans and complimented them on the elegance of their attire.
                    The gentlemen blushed and hid their faces in their lapels.

            February 12, 1903 – Ladies gave a Valentine’s dance at the Armory.
                                           Not Leap Year but the ladies were in charge

                Although it is difficult to decorate the Armory they put red shades on the lamps and arranged one corner
                    with rugs and soft pillows & put pillows in front of the stage.

                One of the rules of the event was that among the married couples, each lady would bring someone else’s

                On the first trip through the hall for the grand march, each lady received a pink carnation which she then
                     presented to her partner for a boutonniere.

            Other Leap Year Dances put on by the girls – Midway Hotel, Normal School girls, dance in Pleasanton,
                KSTC had a leap year dance. Music by Roland Morris and his all-girl band.

            A Picnic

            June 1896 – Leap Year picnic enjoyed by about 40 of Kearney’s young people.

                The ladies furnished the rigs for transportation to the picnic grounds at Eagle’s Grove on the Wood River.
                They also furnished hammocks and two cases of ginger ale.
                [But] The gentlemen arranged for the lunch.

         A Bowling Party
             January 1904 – Several young ladies entertained their gentleman friends at a bowling party.

                Afterword they went to a café for supper at tables the ladies had previously decorated

        Other Parties & Socials

            January 1908 – Ladies of Elks members were planning a Leap Year party for Valentine’s Day.
                This was to be “one of the swellest affairs of its kind that Kearney has ever witnessed.”

            December 1908 – Necktie Social held by United Brethren Church youth.
                Boys were to bring two neckties, one to wear and one to place in an envelope.
                The girls paid for the envelopes to determine who would be their supper partner.
                The boys had to pay for the meal.

            Feb 1944 – Sadie Hawkins Day party at the USO on Tuesday, [Feb 29th] attended by 200 service men,
                    junior hostesses in costume, and chaperones.

                 The American Legion and Project club of Gibbon served sandwiches, pie, and coffee at the close of the

                They also awarded two free telephone calls to soldiers who used them to call their mothers.
                A Private whose birthday was on Feb. 29th received a birthday cake.

            January 1940 – Hub Spokes - A young lady working at the court house said she had already made her marriage proposal and been accepted. She proposed on New Year’s Day.

“heard on the street: being a bachelor in leap year, I know how a turkey feels before Thanksgiving.”


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Revised: 02/04/2018