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Douglas County, Nebraska
Genealogy and History

Clubs, Societies & Organizations

Father Flannigan's Boys Town

BOYS TOWN, 11 m. (open 8-5, known also as Father Flanagan's Home, is dedicated to homeless boys.)

There is a main building, an office building and gymnasium, a trades building and assembly hall, a power building, the home of Father Flanagan, a teachers' home, and dairy barns. Most of the buildings are of red brick trimmed with white Stone.

The town, situated on 320 acres of farm land, has a population of 275 boys. It is supported by contributions, numbering among its benefactors Jack Dempsey, William Randolph Hearst, and the late Will Rogers.

During its history the home has befriended more than 4,000 boys. Shortly after his ordination, in 1912. Father Flanagan started a hotel for penniless and transient men. In December 1917 he borrowed $90 from a friend to pay the rental on a house in midtown Omaha. Two newsboys who had been sleeping in the men's hotel came to live with him. Three more were placed in his care by the Juvenile Court. Soon this refuge for the homeless was filled beyond capacity.

The chief food of the first Christmas dinner was a barrel of sauerkraut donated by a friend. Later the home was moved to the old German Civic Center on South 13th Street.

With difficulty Father Flanagan was able to finance purchase of the present land. Here wooden shelters were built to house the increasing number of boys, and the site was named Overlook Farm.

In August 1936 the home was incorporated as a village. Dan Kampan, 17, the town's first mayor, visited New York City in November 1936 as the guest of Mayor LaGuardia.

A motion picture, Boys Town made in 1938, starred Mickey Rooney and Spencer Tracy.

Nebraska, A Guide To The Cornhusker State

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Tour Planned by Boys Town

Road Show, Choir to Travel Country

Plans for a tour of the east this fall by the Boys Town road show and a cappella choir were announced today by Mgr. Edward J. Flannagan, who revealed written in New York by Will J. Harris.

Rough edges will be worked off in a number of Nebraska appearances during the summer, Mgr. Flannagan said. Tentative plans are to take the show as far as the west coast and begin the eastern tour September 1. Mr. Harris, who visited Boys Town 10 days ago to line up the cast, will return to Omaha in two weeks to begin active preliminary direction.

Approximately 55 boys, four teachers from the home and a stage crew will make the trip.

The tour will be directed by Wayne W. Dallard, who served as executive manger of the San Diego exposition and who created "Enchanted Lands," and exhibit in Paris exposition last year. It will be under management of Richard F. Berger, Chicago, and lighting effects will be supplied by Otto K. Olesen, Hollywood studio lighting expert.

Evening World Herald: Omaha, Nebraska, Wednesday, June 22, 1938

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Answers to Questions

Readers can get the answer to any question of tact by writing The Times-Dispatch Information Bureau, Fredric J. Haskin, Director Washington, D.C.. Enclose 3 cents for reply.

Q: Please give some information about the town in Nebraska run for boys.--H.R.F.

A: The idea of having a Boys Town for homeless boys was the conception of Father Edward J. Flanagan of Omaha, Nebraska. The town is situated 10 miles west of Omaha and comprises a million dollar plant with 320 acres of farmland, 11 modern buildings, and accommodations for 200 boys. It is a self governing community with the control completely in the hand of the boys. There is a boy mayor and six commissioners comprising a city council. The board of advisers consists of members of the school faculty.

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Tuesday, July 19, 1938

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In Truth A Home

That was a very remarkable statement Father Flanagan of Omaha was able to make to the Denver Judge who trusted to his keeping 15 year old Billy Meagher, confessed patricide.

Said Father Flanagan: "Four thousand four hundred and forty six boys of all races, colors and creeds have lived with me in my home at Boys' Town in the past 19 years and have gone out into the world. All are today self supporting, successful, respected citizens of their communities. Not a single one is in jail or penitentiary."

Here is a glorious, a wonderful record of service to the lost and drifting waifs of the country, and to the country in which they are to live their lives. It should be incentive and inspiration to the homes that have boys to rear; to the boys that have homes. It tells the story of what the understanding mind, the sympathetic heart, the helping hand, can do.

Contrasting Father Flanagan's Home for Boys with the many failures of private homes, with the scandalous shortcomings of publicly supported and managed reformatories and institutions, Courtney Ryley Cooper, in his revealing book, "Here's to Crime," says:

"One wishes that there might be such places everywhere as adaptations of Father Flanagan's Boys' Home, just outside Omaha, Nebraska, which, while it is in truth a home, not for unregenerated but for homeless boys, gives a faint idea of what private work may accomplish. In this place only a handful of supervising adults guide the activities of children, who otherwise govern themselves. More than four thousand boys have been given an understanding of how to seek out the green lights on a straight path ahead. The same sincerity of planning, of freedom from statutory red tape, from political interference might achieve the same results for errant boys."

Telling of an Ohio reformatory which has succeeded in building "a high standard of honor in the minds of the inmates," Cooper refers again to the Omaha home, saying: "There are self governing inmate committees, built upon something of the same principles which prevail in the Boys' Brotherhood Republic and Father Flanagan's Boys' Home."

The devoted priest, who has given his life to a noble work, little needs these acknowledgments and onconiums. But the world needs to know about them; every father and mother with a boy's or girl's character to influence and mold need to know. The world could so do much better than it does do for the boys and girls to whom it owes the most solemn of duties. Industriously, perseveringly, devotedly, never yielding to doubt or discouragement, Father Flanagan, for a fifth of a century, has been pointing the way. More than four thousand boys who once were homeless, and today are "self supporting, successful, respected citizens"--these are the living evidence of what we might do to make ours a better society if only we would try.

Evening World Herald: Omaha, Nebraska, Friday, April 9, 1937

Kappa Delta

Kappa Delta Luncheon

Mrs. F. R. Goodman will entertain members of Kappa Delta Sorority Alumnae Saturday at luncheon at her residence. Mr. L. M. Bradfield, Mrs. Paul Whithey and Mrs. K. E. Lynn will assist the hostess.

Sunday, World Herald: Omaha, Nebraska, February 15, 1942
Contributed by: Margie Etheridge

Kappa Psi Delta

Dramatic readings will be given by Mrs. Thomas Walker at the meeting Tuesday at 6 p. m. of the alumnae chapters of Kappa Psi Delta Sorority of the University of Omaha. Miss Enid Lindborg will play piano selections and a representative of the civilian defense office will speak.

The meeting will be in the form of an informal dinner at the Wellington Hotel. Presiding will be Miss Pauline Hanicke, alumnai president. Mrs. William Wencel, chairman of the social committee, is making the arrangements.

Sunday, World Herald: Omaha, Nebraska, February 15, 1942
Contributed by: Margie Etheridge

Lindenwood College Club

Club to Work for Red Cross

Lindenwood Group Will Do Knitting

Red Cross knitting is on the docket for the meeting Tuesday of the Lindenwood College Club. The event will be at 7:30 p. m. at the home of Mrs. Harold A. Kottman. Dessert supper will be served.

Sunday, World Herald: Omaha, Nebraska, February 15, 1942
Contributed by: Margie Etheridge

Old Settlers Association of Douglas County

The Pioneers of Douglas County Organize

The Constitution Adopted and Principal Officers Elected Last Evening

An adjourned meeting of the old settlers was held last evening at the court house for the purpose of organizing the Old Settlers' Association of Douglas County.

The meeting was enthusiastic and the attendance remarkably large considering the weather.

Upon motion of Hon. A, J. Poppleton, Hon. P. W. Hitchcock was chosen chairman and Mr. Peter Gibson secretary.

The report of the committee on constitution was presented by Mr. Alf. D. Jones. In making it Mr. Jones said that the report was not exactly in accord with the views expressed at the last meeting, but was shaped by the conversations he had with old settlers since that time, and was more with the popular voice.

Upon motion of Mr. Hugus the constitution was read section by section and discussed.

The following is the text:

Mr. Chairman:
Your committee appointed to draft a constitution most respectfully submit the following as the result of their investigation and duties performed, with the recommendation that the drafts, herewith presented may be adopted as the constitution of this association.

Alf. D. Jones, Chm.
John Evans, Committee

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Constitution of the Old Settlers' Association of Douglas County Nebraska


The subscribers, pioneers, squatters, early settlers and inhabitants of Douglas County, Nebraska, being desirous of the promotion of social intercourse, by meeting together at convenient times to compare notes, consider reports, listen to studied addresses, to preserve and perpetuate the remembrance of the interesting facts and reminiscences in reference to the early pioneering, settlement and history of our frontiersmen, who braved the dangers and endured the hardships of a squatter life in the wilds of Nebraska, but more particularly of Douglas County, our adopted home, and to many our place of nativity, we have agreed to form ourselves into a society, to be designated and known as the Old Settlers' Association of Douglas County, Nebraska.


Section 1.
The association shall be composed of members who are residents of Douglas County, and who were twenty-one years of age, end lived in the territory of Nebraska at the date of the organization of the city government 0n March 5th, 1857.
Sec. 2.
Each person making application for membership shall be required to give a statement of the date of arrival, preparation for settlement, and the time of acquiring a residence, together with such other corroborating facts, as may be deemed essential by the association or its committees having the subject of membership under consideration.
Sec. 3.
All the facts presented in reference to membership shall be referred to appropriate committees to ascertain the true status of the questions and data to be considered, and the result of the investigation shall be reported in writing by the committee to this association at the first regular meeting to be held after the making of such reference.
Sec. 4.
The members shall pay such initiatory fee and quarterly dues as may be required by the Association, to pay current expenses.
Sec. 5.
The officers of the Association shall consist of a President, one vice-President for the city of Omaha, a vice-president for each voting precinct beyond the city limits, and a Secretary, who shall also act as Treasurer, all of whom shall be elected annually at the regular meeting in January, to serve until their successors are chosen, and take charge of their respective official positions
Sec. 6.
The following named committees to consist of three each, shall be appointed by the chair to serve as standing committees until their successors are appointed: Executive, Membership, Squatter, Occupation, Incidents, Miscellaneous.
Sec. 7.
Tee officers and committees shall perform tee usual duties of their respective positions, and the Society will be governed by the generally accepted parliamentary law.
Sec. 8.
Quarterly meetings of the association shall be held on the first Monday evening of January, April. July and October for the transaction of general business, and to which all officers and committees shall submit reports in writing for the consideration of the association.
Sec. 9.
At the meetings to be held in April and October general addresses shall be delivered by selected speakers for those particular occasions.
Sec. 10.
All meetings shall be open to the public, and ladies and gentlemen invited to attend.
Sec. 11.
All members will be required to sign the constitution.
Sec. 12.
The executive committee shall have charge and transact all business during the interim of the meetings of the association.
Sec. 13.
This constitution may be amended at any regular meeting by two-thirds of the members present.

On the reading of the first section, Mr. Poppleton moved an amendment, showing that under the section as it stood the membership must dwindle away and finally become extinct. He would substitute for it a qualification of twenty-one years actual residence in the state and present residents in Douglas County

Mr. Jones said the objection to the broader qualification was that at least eight hundred members would join at the start, and young men would be admitted whose ideas would be in conflict with those of the older men. Messrs. Woolworth, Swift, Dr. Miller, Peter Gibson, Hugus and J. S. Gibson also participated in the discussion.

Dr. Miller inquired if a continuous residence were considered necessary.

Mr. Peter Gibson moved as an amendment to Mr. Poppleton's amendment, that all persons residents of Nebraska prior to January 1, 1837, and now residents of Douglas County be eligible to membership.

Mr. J. S. Gibson did not see why a continuous residence should be essential, and moved that any person who has been a resident prior to a certain date for any time in Nebraska should be eligible.

Mr. Peter Gibson saw that he was one of the many who would be shut out by the section as reported, and while they would abide by the decision, still felt it not right to be shut out.

Mr. Jones said be had been in favor of a proposition something like Mr. Gibson's, but had feared it would make the association too large.

The chairman remarked that the spring of 1837 brought many settlers to Nebraska, whom Mr. Jones proposition would rule out, and who felt they had a right to be considered old settlers.

Mr. Swift said it seemed as if any honor to be had should belong to the people who had stayed through the storms and the ups and downs of the country. He remembered how in '59 and '60 many left and the people who went away came back only because they could not sell their property and get their money out of it.

Dr. Smith could not see how we who had stayed should arrogate to ourselves any great glory because we had not the facilities for getting out of the country, [laughter and applause.]

Gen. Estabrook thought that a residence in the country in some era - say, the era of claims, should be made the requisite for membership. It should be that time when men went with a large, strong force and dropped a man into the Missouri river for jumping a claim. He does not regard an old settler a man who came here after the Union Pacific Railroad bill passed and the future of the place was settled. He believed that the purpose of this society was to gather up the history of that peculiarly early period.

Dr. Miller said he would fall back upon Gen. Poppletons amendment, with the qualification that persons residing here prior to '56 and residing here now should be eligible.

Mr. Woolworth did not agree with the proposition of Mr. Jones that young persons who were here at an early day but not of age should be excluded.

Two principles were to be conserved in this organization - the historical and the personal, and the idea of Gen. Poppleton's proposition with Dr. Miller's suggestion he thought the best.

The vote was then taken on the amendments to section first.

Mr. Gibson's proposition to embrace all residents of Nebraska on July '67 was lost. Geo. Poppleton's proposition to make eligible all residents of Nebraska for 21 years previous to their application, and who now are residents of Douglas County, was adopted.

Section first as amended was adopted, and each succeeding Section and then the preamble and constitution as a whole were adopted.

On motion of Gen. Poppleton the Secretary was instructed to have published in the newspapers the qualifications, and invite persons eligible to send in their names before the next meeting in July.

The election of officers was next in order and the following were elected:
President - Dr. Enos Lowe
First Vice President - Gen. E. O. Estabrook
Secretary - Alf. D. Jones

The further election of vice presidents was postponed to give members in the country precincts the choice of their own.

President Lowe was escorted to the chair, amid applause, and gracefully made his acknowledgments.

Mr. Peter Gibson read the following, and upon motion of Dr. Miller thanks were returned:

Nebraska City, June 9, 1870.

Thos. Gibson, Secretary Old Settler Association, Omaha, Neb.

Dear Sir - In behalf of the Old Settlers Association of Otoe county, I take pleasure in extending to the pioneers of Douglas County a cordial invitation to be present at our annual picnic to be held Thursday, June the 10th, 1870.

Hon. D. H. Calhoun, of this place, will deliver the address, and a real old fashioned reunion of the pioneers of Nebraska will be held.

Respectful yours,
J, W. Pearman, Secretary.

The charter members came forward and signed the constitution, and then the association adjourned to meet on the first Monday in July.

The roll is as follows:
Alf. D. Jones
Enos Lowe
Wm. P. Snowden
George L. Miller
Experience Estabrook
Richard Kimball
John Evans
J. T. Allan
Walter Walker
John Logan
Thomas Gibson
Chas. Childs
Chas. Powell
Chas. P. Birkett
Henry A Kosters
Thos. Swift
M. Robling
John A. Horback
Henry Livisey
Geo. Smith
G. M. Conoyer
F. H. Latoy
J. B. Gibson
Dominick Scherrer
Julius Rudowsky
James P. Peck
James L. Woolworth
Henry Grebe
P. W. Hitchcock
J. M. Winship
John H. Logan
Charles R. Radick
Frederick B. Lowe
James Smith

The Omaha Daily Herald - June 13, 1879

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