Most of Cottonwood Township in Adams County was settled when the Kansas City & Omaha Railroad came through and platted the village of Holstein in 1887. Two years later, when it incorporated, the boundaries embraced a tract of land six miles long and three miles wide. Some said they expected the town to grow, but others explained that the large area was necessary in order to get enough citizens to sign a petition for a liquor license.
The village was named "Holstein" in honor of Schleswig-Holstein in northern Germany, former home of many early settlers. In 1915 the village boundaries were amended to contain only portions of four sections.
A one-room schoolhouse may have existed as early as 1872, however the first school reports were filed in 1876 for District No.11, later known as Holstein School. When the town included 18 square miles, an additional school, known as West Ward, was built. That school closed in 1936. There was a two-story frame building prior to the construction of the present brick structure in 1908. The old building was moved south of the railroad on Depot Street and used as an opera house for several years. W.G.Hargleroad built "a fine brick building" in 1914 called the "Opera House." Originally it housed a drug store and theater, later was used as a gymnasium since the school did not have one, and finally the building was converted into a tavern.
The Class of 1909, consisting of one student, was the first high school graduating class. In 1970, when the enrollment had dropped, grades 7-12 were discontinued.
The Holstein post office was established in 1888 with A.S.Thompson as postmaster. The office was located in his combination drug-grocery store and served a population of about 150 area residents.
A grain elevator was also built in 1888. During the 1890s there were as many as three elevators. The Farmers Union Co-op Association organized in 1919. A concrete elevator was built in 1958. In 1967 Juniata Farmers Co-op purchased the Holstein Co-op's assets.
A flour mill was established about 1890 by Schellhemer and Clark but did not operate for long. A second mill, located about 200 yards west of the railroad station, was started about the same time by Nicholas Metzer. It was a steam roller mill with a capacity of 40 barrols of flour per day. That mill closed in 1894 and the equipment was moved to Alma.
A series of newspapers attempted to publish out of Holstein, with none lasting more than a few years. They included: the Holstein "Record," "Nonpareil," " Weekly Expositor," "Herald," "Reporter," and the "Adams County Independent."
Most banks in Holstein also did not last long. The Holstein State Bank, in operation in 1890, closed in 1897. The Farmers & Merchants Bank operated in 1890 for a short time, while another bank lasted only a few months in 1899. The First State Bank of Holstein was established in 1902 and continued until 1931. No bank has operated since then. The bank's brick building constructed in 1914 remains in almost original condition and is currently occupied by Lewis Upholstery.
Holstein churches include St.Paul's Lutheran Church, organized in 1899, and the United Methodist Church, that built its first church in 1897. The latter, started as an Evangelical Church, became an Evangelical United Brethern in 1946. It merged with the Roseland United Methodist in 1969.
Holstein reached its official peak population in 1910 with 323 residents. Like many small towns, Holstein was hit hard by the drought and depression of the 1930s. Improved roads and cars made it easy for people to get to "the city" so they no longer need to depend on the small town shops for their necessities. The official 1980 population was 241.
Compiled from material submitted by Catherine Renschler, Box 102, Hastings, NE 68901
ADDITIONAL MATERIAL is available at the Adams County Historical Society, Box 102, Hastings, NE 68901