Before there was a town, Patrick Murphy had a sheep-feeding ranch and hay trade center in the southeast corner of what later became Rogers. He owned several houses for his workers, and long rows of corncribs edged two sides of Murphy's land, giving it much the appearance of a small village.
The records show that US President James Buchanan signed a land grant patent for the village site in 1860 to Joseph Clark. (Early abstracts also contain entries for Union Pacific ownership of right-of-ways.) A post office named "Buchanan," established in 1856, and located near the junction of Shell Creek and the Platte, was discontinued for a time, then re-established in 1883 as "Rogers." The name is that of a Union Pacific Railroad official.
Rogers was platted on October 4, 1886, and approved as an incorporated village in 1894. Besides Patrick Murphy, early board members were John Murphy, John and Frank Henry, George Schlemmer, Peter Vetter, and M.J.Costello.
Among the first ordinances were rules prohibiting the leaving of horses attached to unhitched wagons, and racing or fast driving within the village limits. There were evidently some "lively steppers" in Rogers because in June 1899, the clerk was instructed to "...notify the marshal to enforce the ordinance relative to racing horses within the village."
The citizens of Rogers got their water from a common pump located in front of the implement company, where horses were also watered at a large trough.
A Catholic church served the Murphy and Henry families and employees that worked on the sheep ranch. Later, parishioners joined churches in neighboring communities and the church was converted into a home. An early church, serving Rogers' Baptists, was later purchased by the Methodist trustees. There are, however, no churches in the town today.
Electricity got to Rogers in 1920. Between the turn of the century and 1927, in addition to the depot, Rogers had a hotel, shoe shop, restaurant, blacksmith shop, two saloons, livery stable, two hardware stores (one with furniture), a creamery and butcher shop, a garage, power house, pool hall, barbershop, and a general store.
The original school was built to educate the Murphy Sheep Ranch children. While Rogers' peak population of 162 came 35 years later in 1960, there were 78 children in grades 1-10 in 1927. The two old schoolhouses are owned by the village, and one of them, complete with play equipment and picnic grounds, serves as the village hall and park. Rogers' 26 students presently attend District 4R elementary or Schuyler High School.
The town's oldest residents, 100-year-old Anton Kracl and his younger brother Frank, purchased the old saloon building and established a machine shop and car repair business in 1916. Anton later moved the business to Highway 30, where it remains today, operated by his son Ron.
Glodowski Trucking Inc., a livestock and grain trucking company operating out of a large, fairly new storage and maintenance facility, is the other visible business in town. The owner, Bob Glodowski, is also the mayor of Rogers. He and four village trustees meet monthly to direct the community business.
Flooding in mid-June 1990 gave the governing body plenty to be concerned about. Fortunately no lives were lost, but the flood, which made national television, completely enveloped the town. All but ten people were evacuated, and they were stranded for a time when Highway 30 became impassable. A large percentage of the houses and buildings sustained damage. Since then, several were condemned and have been burned or cleared away. The town's water supply was unfit for human consumption for several months.
The present residents of Rogers, numbering 83, have by no means given up, and are making plans to improve their town. Since the flood, they have applied for aid to repair damaged streets, and it is hoped that the two old school buildings can be razed and a new town hall built. The mayor's wife, Betty, said, "In a crisis, people pull together. We are working for a better, more modern town."
By Irene O'Brien, 2702 8th Street, Apt 2, Columbus, NE 68601. Photos courtesy of Bob and Betty Glodowski.
ADDITIONAL MATERIAL: History of Rogers , by Mrs. Clifford McBurney, Memoirs, by Eugene E. Lutz, U.S.Post Office notes, and Perkey's Nebraska Place Names.