The motto, "A Small Town With A Big Heart," is quite befitting this clean, quiet, little village of 14 businesses and 61 households. Located on 80 acres in the northern section of Cedar County along Highway 15, the town was named for William F. Fordyce, a railroad official.
The town was established in 1907 when the railroad was extended from Hartington to Crofton, but it did not become incorporated until August 4, 1913.
A typical railroad town, Fordyce had a complete nucleus of businesses by 1910. In addition to the depot, there were two elevators to handle the volume of grain, a bank, hotel, hardware, grocery, meat market, clothing store, blacksmith, and a post office. Soon a lumberyard, pool hall, garage, drug store, and hospital were added.
In 1912, with no water pressure with which to fight fires, a blaze destroyed the hardware and clothing stores. The citizens of the town immediately initiated steps to establish a water system. It was finally installed in 1915. The elevated water tower continues to be a beacon of pride to anyone who calls Fordyce "home."
It wasn't until 1922 that electricity helped illuminate the streets and modernize many homes and businesses. A sanitary sewer system was installed in 1974.
With the population consisting primarily of German Catholics, much of life is centered around the church. For this reason, St.John the Baptist Church, with its 18-foot steeple built in 1901, has become a striking symbol of the village. The original rectory, built before 1909, was replaced in 1954. The church was renovated in 1987 and a parish center built in 1980.
Education was established in a two-room schoolhouse soon after the town was started. The public school included grades K-10 until it closed in 1966. Students then commuted to Crofton or Hartington schools to attend classes. A parochial elementary school was built in 1920. In the late 1960s, it consolidated with two neighboring parishes to form West Catholic Elementary. Presently, grades 1-5 are taught at Fordyce with grades 6-8 held in the Menominee Parish School.
Entertainment originally took place on the main street, but with the construction of a dance hall in 1922, the focus was moved one block to the west. Expansion to the northwest part of town was made in 1983 with the construction of a large park with a play ground and space for picnics. A meeting room and new fire hall were added to the dance hall in 1984.
Fordyce remained a self-supporting community for many years. However, with the modernization of transportation, shopping and trade drifted to larger communities, many local businesses were forced to close their doors.
Fortunately, residents adapted instead of abandoning their town. They began commuting to work in nearby cities, keeping their homes in Fordyce.
Although it has become primarily a residential town, there are still a number of thriving businesses. The post office, a bank, and a dozen or more shops and services take care of the day-to-day needs of its citizens and neighboring rural families.
The 180 residents of Fordyce take pride in their town. They continue the work and dreams of its founders in keeping their neighborly community alive and flourishing.
By Pat Suing, City Clerk, Fordyce, NE 68736
ADDITIONAL MATERIAL: History of Cedar County , by Twila Anderson, Hartington; 1984 St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 75th Jubilee Book, Fordyce, NE.