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Nebraska...Our Towns

Primrose

Boone County

Primrose, as it appeared in the early 1900s.
Some of the devestation seen as a result of the May 8, 1965, tornado which destroyed Main Street.
Primrose, looking north, summer of 1988.

The Village of Primrose actually started between 1874 and 1876 as an Irish settlement called "Dublin," named for the city of its founders. It had only a blacksmith shop, general store, and post office. A fort had been built in the vicinity in the 1870s, manned by local volunteers, and are said to have made one march on the Sioux Indians, who had stolen some horses.

On June 27, 1876, residents organized the Clontibret Presbyterian Church of the Cedar Valley. First services were held in the home of George Patterson. In 1880 Patterson gave four acres of ground from the corner of his homestead for the church and cemetery. The homestead is still owned by the Patterson family.

About the year 1900 the Union Land Company of Omaha, a subsidiary of the Union Pacific Railroad, was seeking a site midway between Cedar Rapids and Spalding on which to locate a station. David C. Primrose entered into an agreement whereby the company acquired one half interest in the sale of lots in return for developing the town. This land, owned by "Auld Dave" as he was known, was in the northeast quarter of section 16-19-8 of Boone County, a mile and one half south and east of Dublin.

The new town site, named in his honor, was laid out in 1902 and soon residences, businesses, and churches were erected. One of the first houses, built by Rufus Pryor, is still owned by the Primrose family.

A committee soon presented a petition to the county commissioners asking that the village be incorporated. This was granted in 1905. The first trustees were R. Pryor, Sid Clark, Joseph Davis, David Primrose, and R. G. Roberts, Sr.

Soon thereafter, the railroad line was extended through Primrose and on to Spalding. The railroad also built and owned a stockyard and holding pens. Primrose is said to have been one of the largest shipping centers on the Union Pacific line from Spalding to Columbus.

Gradually the original Irish settlement of Dublin merged with Primrose. One by one, buildings were moved into the new town and the former village disappeared. The Dublin Cemetery, however, still serves the Primrose area.

The town flourished in the early 1920s. Businesses of all sorts thrived, including an opera house, hotel, dentist and doctor's offices, and two lumber yards. Primrose, like many other small towns, had an active Ku Klux Klan organization about this time that sort of "screened" newcomers to the community.

In 1923 electricity came to the town and in 1924 a water system was installed. A volunteer fire department was also formed about that time. During the depression of the 1930s, some of the businesses closed their doors, but a city auditorium was built by the Public Works Administration.

On May 8, 1965, a devastating tornado roared down upon the town and severely damaged the business section. Many buildings and homes were flattened and four residents of Primrose lost their lives. The storm destroyed or closed many businesses. A number of the inhabitants left the community rather than try to rebuild, however, a smaller core of residents remained to clean, repair, and smooth the scars.

The Primrose high school closed in 1966. Secondary students now go to other area high schools to complete their education. Reorganized as a Class I school, District #41, K-8 students are still educated in Primrose.

In spite of droughts, depression, an early-day bank robbery, and the tornado, there is still an active town of Primrose. The town boasts a busy and growing co-op elevator and grain storage system, two bars, a grocery store, an antique shop, gas station, several car repair shops, beauty shop, post office, two churches, library, carpenter shop, Masonic lodge, and a propane branch office.

The quiet little town has 88 residents and a host of neighboring farmers, all of whom make Primrose a tight-knit community.

By Art Primrose, Rte 2 Box 105, Cedar Rapids, NE 68627. Sue McIntyre, local coordinator.

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL: Boone County History , 1871-1985.