by: Kevin Brown
County Centennial Book 1883-1983
transcribed by: Melody
The Gracie territory covers a large
portion of northeast Loup County. In addition to sandhill, the area
is made up of some excelllent wet meadows or hay flats. Early
homesteaders called the area the "Gracie Flats". The predominant
feature of the locale, however, is Gracie Creek itself.
clear stream has its origin in Rock County, but the bulk of its course is
in Loup County. Eventually, the creek joins the Calamus River in the
Valleyview area. According to Lillian Fitzpatrick's Nebraska
Place-Names (1925,1960) Gracie, nebraska, was named for Gracie
Creek. The creek was in turn named for a little blind girl named
Grace. "Her people were traveling through the country and camped on
the bank of the creek for several days. This is the story told by
local, old ranchment with regard to how Gracie Creek was named"
(pg98). Perkey's Nebraska Place Names (1982) says the office was
named for a daughter of Dick Ray, the first postmaster (p.132). This
cannot be true because Ray (whoever he was) was never a postmaster at
Gracie according to the U.S. Postal records.
Although the Gracie
area was among the last parts of Loup County to be settled by
homesteaders, it had long been known and used by the Indians and later by
the cattlemen. Cattle often grazed on the lush grasses and many a
herd were pastured here in the 1890's. It wasn't until the early
1900's that any real settlement began.
At one time (about 1910)
Gracie was expecting an extension from the CB&Q Railroad at Burwell to
be built on up to South Dakota. Another crushing blow in the
Twenties was the loss of the KSP (Kearney-Springview-Pierre) Highway,
known as U.S. 183 today, which area promoters hoped would pass through
their village. Thus Gracie never truly developed.
One of the
early homesteaders at the southern end of the community was John Fisher
who came from the East. Fisher was a distinguished looking gentleman
and well educated with a degree from Princeton University. Fisher
was much in demand at the local literaries where he was a polished speaker
and debater. His aunt, Mary Terrell, also had a claim on Gracie
Creek. The Kinkaiders hoped that Fisher would represent them in
Lincoln, but apparently he never ran for state office. He left the
country before 1920.
Gracie Post Office was established March 17,
1905. The tiny, unincorporated village had a champion in Robert T.
Williams, the first postmaster and founder Williams was instrumental
in nearly every facet of the community's early days. He donated land
for the Gracie Cemetery about 1910, established a country store, and
helped form the famous Kinkaid Fair and Picnic (held at Hartford Grove) in
1908. Williams served as an official on the fair board, too.
According to Wilma (Scherbarth) Scherzberg, Williams ran a well stocked
little store, helped to drill wells and erect windmill towers, and
sponsored community gatherings at his village. In fact, Gracie was
sometimes referred to as "Bob town" at that time in honor of
Williams. The Gracie correspondent in the Burwell Tribune (July 13,
1911) reported a crowd of "400 at the July 4 doings at Bob Town."
Mr. Williams and his wife were Catholic. They had only one child, a
Under Williams' direction, the village expanded to
serve many homesteaders in Loup, Rock and Garfield counties. The
Oct. 20, 1910 gave this account of Gracie's growth:
" A wide
veranda has been added along tow side of R.T. Williams' two story store
and residence, and a new barn is completed. W.D. Verley's feedmill
is reported as good-sized. He also carries pumps, windmills, and a
well-boring machine with plans to stock a line of hardware. George
Zeller has the blacksmith and repair shop. Central City Creamery Co.
has erected a structure for cream reception and testing. Cream is
received every Saturday and tested, with checks issued in payment.
R.T. Williams has added a 50 barrel water tank and 600 feet of piping to
the cream station and residence. Mr. Conrad trades vegetables each
Saturday, and W.T. Craven (father of Mary Hesselgesser) conducts a butcher
shop on the weekends."
The Williams family held a clean-up auction
in October 1911 and eventually moved to Edgar, NE., and later to LaJara,
CO, in 1913. George W. Zeiger, succeeded Williams in the mercantile
business at Gracie. Mr. Zeiger finished a new store building on the
C.W. McAllister place less than a half mile south of the old location in
1914. Gracie Post Office was also moved to the new site.
George Galley was postmaster at this time. The new store building
was 20x40 with two stories. The second floor was used as a dance
hall. In april 1914 the store was burglarized and in January 1915
the store burned to the ground. The losse was estimated at $3000.00
in the Tribune. Zeiger carried insurance, so he was able to start
In the summer of 1915, J.C. and Sophia Phillipps bought out
Zeiger and moved the store building east of the Phillipps'
homestead. The Zeiger's then moved over on Dry Crek but soon left
the area. (Taylor Clarion, July 1, 1915) Mr. Phillipps also became
postmaster. J.C. (Dad) Phillips moved to Burwell around 1923 where
he built that town's first gas station. Mr. Phillipps' daughter
Freda and her husband Raymond (Dutch) Simpson later moved on the place,
remaining for many years. Apparently the Gracie store business ended
with the Phillipps' although Goerge Maxson (Valleyview store keeper
between 1916-1928) operated a sister store at the Malsbury Ranch in the
At some point--1924 perhaps--postal recrods are confusing
on this matter--Gracie Post Office was moved into Rock County on the Jack
Hughes ranch where it was discontinued in the Thirties according to Mrs.
Paul (Bessie Hughs) Lanz of Bassett. The Gracie maile route is an
interesting case study in Dandhills mail service. Mail was carried
to and from Gracie in several directions. The
Burwell-Valleyview-Gracie route was the most predominant. In 1915, a
westerly route statring at Ballagh was begun, serving Cedar, Carson, Blake
and Gracie. Then, in 1921 a tri-weekly mail route originating at
Gracie was established which then went to Butka aand Aksarben in Rock
Chronologically, the Gracie postmasters included (as near
as I can determine): Robert T. Williams, appointed March 17, 1905; Lewis
C. Banker, appointed January 24, 1912; George F. Galley, appointed October
23, 1913; George W. Zeiger; Julius C. Phillipps, appointed January 22,
1915; and Jack Hughes, 1924-1925?. Some of the carriers who brought
mail to or from Gracie Post Office included Harry Mattern, Jack Hughes,
Ray Birch, Reed Hurst, Mrs. William Whittington, Elmer Hesselgesser,
Everet Allan, and Frank and Bill Graham. Today the area is served
out of Route 5 from Burwell.
In September 1913 a Gracie Community
Club was organized for boosting Gracie and the Sandhills in general.
The whole family attended the meetings, and the club continued on for many
years. First officeres elected in 1913 included: President-L.C.
Banker; Vice President-William Whittington; Secretary-George F. Galley;
Treasurer-J.H. Fay; Corresponding Secretary-William T. Craven; Board of
Trustees- Uriah B. Craven, 3 years; William Martens-2 years; Mr.
Hook-1year. Other families involved included the Phillipps',
Schroder's, Cornwall's, Harris', Ferbee's, Barton's, Herbert's, Ryans's,
Conrad's, Veach's, and Hugh's. The club exhibited vegetables at the
Kinkaid Fair. Some ladies in the area were active in the Blake
Women's Club about this time, and in the 1930's the White Wing Club had
members in Loup County from the Gracie area including Vera Dittmar, Hattie
and Leila Flowers and Freda Simpson.
The Gracie Farm Loan
Association of southern Rock County was established at Elmer Graham's in
January 1917. W.T. Craven was first secretary; Jack Hughes, Jim
Berryman, and George Schubert were the appraisers. This organization
aided and benefited the people of both counties for many years.
first Luthern church services in this part of the county were conducted
between 1904-1908 at the Christian Scherbarth home. Catholic mass
was heard at Gracie between the early 1900's and 1932, often in the
McDermott home. The Burwell priest came here and then went on to
Duff. Non-denominational Sunday School and church services were
conducted in the schoolhouses of this vicinity. Gracie Sunday
Schools were members of the Northeast District of Loup County.
Gracie community was long know for its love of sports, particularly
baseball. Gracie had a team for many years, right up through the
1930's. In fact, the Gracie nine were participants (against Ericson)
in the first Garfield county Frontier Fair at Burwell in 1921. Some
of the teams Gracie competed against over the years included Ballagh,
Ovitt, Valleyview, Thurman, Sybrant, Chambers, and Duff. At one time
the Gracie diamond was located at the Malsberry Ranch. Some of
Gracies palyers included the Ben Harris sons; the Pages; Jude, Louis and
Bum Phillipps; Hunk Simpson; and many others. In the Twenties, the
burg also sported a basketball team, and in 1922 they defeated teams from
Long Pine and Burwell. Playing roundball for the Gracie team were
the following: Elmer (Bus) Johnson, Wlater and Bill Williams, Jude
and Bum Phillipps to name a few. Mrs. Dutch Simpson was a loyal
Gracie sports fan.
Several telephone lines served the area.
By 1909 there was a Gracie Creek Telephone Company attempting to serve the
homesteaders. In northeast Loup County, the Dry Creek, Gracie Creek
and Calamus Telephone companies all existed until about 1926 when at least
part of them joined Farmer's Mutual in Burwell. Gracie patrons are
currently served by the Rodeo Telephone Co. from the burwell
The Kinkaid era which began in 1904 and lasted until
approximately the 1920's was the busiest time for the Sandhills and
Gracie. Families were living on nearly every section. School
districts were orgainzed to accommodate the homesteaders' children.
The first Gracie area school was District 27, known as Longview.
This district originated November 29, 1901. It was also called the
Daddy Axford, Ben Harris, or Whittington school. Emilie Scherbarth
was a primary force in this school's creation.
District 30 was
organized november 4, 1907. It was located near the Loup-Rock county
line about two miles west of Gracie. It was first known as the
Ballard school. U.B. Craven's (who operated the Calamus Post Office
in their home between 1913 and 1917) and the Bill Martens family were
among those living in the district. A frame schoolhouse 18x24 was
ereected on the H.B. Marshall section in the fall of 1913. Meta
Brown was the first to teach in the new facility. For many years the
McDermott family kept this district organized when there were few patrons
and students. The district dissolved in 1948 and was attached to
Finally, on October 1, 1913, District No. 40 (the Gracie
School) was established from Districts 27 and 30. district 27 gave
two sections from its west boundary and No. 30 gave 1 1/2 sections from
its east side. the old Bob Williams store building was used as
a school room and Lucy Beyers of Valentine began a winter term there in
January 1914. The fall term of 1914 began October 1, in Henry
Scherbarths house a half mile south and a half mile east of Gracie with
Meta Brown as school marm. The long awaited Gracie Schoolhouse was
finally completed during the end of 1915 and early 1916.
ranches became the more economical mode in the Sandhills, the resulting
depopulation was particulary noticeable at Gracie. Amos Grant of
Omaha by the late Thirties owned a good sized portion of Gracie
lands. The school aged children swindled and soon the schools had
few or no students. Some of the final teachers at Gracie District 40
included Virginia Perkins, Olive Zalud, and Ted Scherbarth. District
27 was merged with No. 40 about 1948, and by the 1950's No. 40 had been
absorbed by C-1 at Taylor.
In 1956 however, District 40 was
completely reorganized to serve the Bud Phillips family who was living on
the Lhotak Ranch, miles away from the closest operating district.
Sharon Welton (Hopkins) of Taylor taught in the Phillips home in 1956-57
and 1957-58. Her students were Bert and Charles Phillipps and later
during '58, Kitty Lee Garska, daughter of Nolan and Belva Rose
Garska. By 1959 the district had again been dissolved, and the
Phillips children began driving to school at Nunda over Sandhill
trails. A serious car accident permanently disabled one of these
children on one of the long trips to Nunda School. The family then
left the area. Families with school age children have long found it
a problem getting their children to school in the Gracie
Many times when there were no school at Gracie, the
students went to Valleyview, especially in the 1960's and early
1970's. In 1963-64 Valleyview hired a teacher for the Gracie
area. Pupils were the children of families working on the old Grant
Ranch. School was conducted in the bunkhouse at the ranch. All
students in Loup County now attend a K-12 district in Taylor and are
bussed each day.
The Seventies and Eighties have seen some center
pivot irrigation development in the Gracie region. The Jim and Bob
Price Ranch (called Gracie Creek Ranch), and their employees provide the
only inhabitants left in 1983.
back to settlements index page
back to Loup County index page
Copyright © Genealogy Trails
All Rights Reserved with Full Rights Reserved for Original Contributor