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Nebraska...Our Towns

Milligan -- Fillmore County

In 1887, when the KC&O Railroad was unable to buy the land it wanted in Section 3, it settled for B&MR land in Section 11. Less than a month after the post office was established at Milligan, the town was incorporated. The Central Hall was built in 1898. [Bunker]
The depot of Milligan. n.d.
West side of Milligan's Block 9, 1890. Cecky Resnik means "meat market."
The east side of Main looking north, 1890.
Main Street ten years later. [Bunker]
Main Street in 1936, after the street was paved, and the high school was completed.

The railroad town of Milligan, a village of 330 residents in the eastern part of Glengary Township, isn't where it might have been. Kansas City & Omaha Railroad trustees wanted to establish a station near Turkey Creek in section 3, which was a good source of water for the steam locomotives. The land they wanted was owned by John Placek and his wife Katerina, who kept increasing the price and removing the surveyors' stakes each night. So, the officials selected a site in section 11, originally owned by the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad, for the town.

The six-acre tract of land, purchased on April 9, 1887, from Josef Svec, was named for Frank Milligan, one of the directors of the line. Anna Hodek and Anton Svec purchased the first two lots in the new town site in August, and a town promptly burst upon the scene.

A post office was established in the bank on January 19, 1888, and the incorporation of the village was accomplished less than a month later, with 200 residents signing the petition. There have been 15 additions to the original town site since then, with its highest population of 422 recorded in 1930.

With this send-off, Milligan has continued its progressive attitude:

-- Telephones were installed as early as 1897. The automatic dial telephones came in 1941, with direct dialing in 1963. By 1987 computerized calls did not require talking to an operator.

-- Gas lights illuminated the main street in 1900. By 1910 Delco battery-operated light plants were installed in many homes, and by 1913 a locally-owned power plant, designed by Frank Placek, was in operation. In 1926 the village purchased its electricity from a power company. Rural electrification became a reality in 1948.

-- Two windmills provided the first water system for the village. A water works system was in operation in 1913, with the present water tower built in 1938. A city-operated sewage waste system was installed in 1962. Natural gas, piped to Milligan in 1964, now serves 95 percent of the homes and businesses.

-- Main Street was paved in 1925, with all streets paved by 1988.

-- A fire department was organized in 1931 and expanded to a rural fire district in 1951. As of 1968, the fire personnel also provide the community with the services of a rescue unit.

-- In 1933 the Woman's Club sponsored a public library. The village board has maintained this institution since 1944.

The community's first Catholic Church, built in 1874 in section 3, was moved to the Ceski Bratri Cemetery (Bohemian Brethren) where it now stands. The St. Wenceslaus parish built a church in Milligan in 1890. A new brick building was erected in 1978. A Methodist Ladies Aid Society and Sunday School were organized as early as 1904 and met in various buildings prior to the move. The United Methodist Church was moved to Milligan from Friend in 1931.

Milligan's first school was located in Section 12, north of the present town site. Soon after the village was platted, a schoolhouse was built in town in what is now the Funfrall Park. The present brick school was built in 1913. A gymnasium was added in 1956, and additional classrooms were provided in 1969. The community continues to support a K-12 system.

There are a number of cemeteries in and around Milligan. The Glengary Pioneer Cemetery, southwest of town, has the oldest grave -- that of homesteader Joseph Wieden, who died in 1870. Chelsea Cemetery, west of Milligan, was organized in 1871, and the Atlanta Center Cemetery in 1873 southeast of the village. The Ceski Bratri Cemetery is known as "the North Cemetery," whose oldest marked burial is that of Majdalana Stetina in 1876. The Bohemian National Cemetery, referred to as "the South Cemetery," was organized in 1881 with the oldest gravestone for Ann Cloyd in 1879. Two family cemeteries, the Torz burial plot and the Kasak Cemetery, are north and northeast of town.

Milligan claims the title, "The Hospitality Capital of Nebraska." It celebrated its centennial with a three-day event in June 1988. A well-rounded list of businesses serve the community, providing a stable atmosphere. Active organizations include; a community club, American legion, ladies and junior auxiliaries, woman's club, Milligan and Svatopluk Czech Lodges, Czech Culture Club, Town & Country Club, extension clubs, a senior citizens group, scouts, and the Action Club.

By Rose Marie Hulse, Rte 2 Box 28, Exeter, NE 68351

 

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL: The History of the Village of Milligan, by Matloch and Stech, 1900; A History of Milligan , by Kuthak, ca 1900; The 75th Anniversary of Milligan, 1963; The Milligan Centennial History Book , a 640-page book about the village and surrounding community that includes parts of Fillmore and Saline counties, 1988, available locally.