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Nebraska...Our Towns

Strang -- Fillmore County

Some of the 29 Strang cousins who came to the centennial from all over the United States.
Strang Post Office, 1913. Pictured is Lillie Stewart Brown, postmaster, and her daughters, Orra and Iva. [Mitchell]
Strang's school and students, 1923.

A.L.Strang would certainly have been surprised to find 29 people bearing that surname having a great time at the town's centennial held in 1986. Strang cousins from Connecticut to California and Florida to Oregon came to participate in festivities.

The first settlers to this area were from Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Indiana. They began establishing homesteads in Fillmore County in the early 1870s. In December 1871 Elon Beers established a post office in his home in section 7, which he called "Belle Prairie," for the township in which it is located.

By the early 1880s, when the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad surveyed a route through the region, the people started talking about "a real town." The Lincoln Land Company bought land in section 8, laid out streets and blocks, and started selling lots in the town they called "Media." Upon learning that another Nebraska town had a similar name, another one had to be found.

In April 1886 A.L.Strang, a windmill salesman, offered to donate a tower and pump to the community if they would name the town for him. They immediately posted the name "Strang," and by that November they officially incorporated as such.

J.M.Bridgwood was postmaster when the office moved to the newly constructed building on Main Street on April 29, 1886. Over the years, 18 individuals have served as postmaster. Nine carriers have delivered mail since rural delivery was introduced in 1903.

Train time was very busy in Strang, with passengers, goods and freight being received, sent, or transferred. Strang was a "dividing point" on the B&MR, and as such, two freight and two passenger trains passed through Strang every day during the 1890s. Following World War II the railroad steadily declined, with the depot agency being discontinued in 1964. BN still serves here.

There were three active churches in Strang for many years, but today there are none. The Methodist disbanded in 1915, the Congregational in 1934, and the United Brethren conducted services until 1957.

Education started in the Strang vicinity when a sod schoolhouse was constructed in 1872. A two-story building was built in the southeast part of town in 1886, then moved to the present location in 1908. After that facility burned in 1928, a 1-12 school was built. The first high school graduation took place in 1895 and the last graduation was in 1951. Since then, Strang's District 36 has provided a K-8 program, with secondary students attending neighboring high schools.

Baseball has always been a top form of entertainment in Strang. For 20 years Nate Brown managed outstanding baseball teams, with one player, Bob Logan, going on to play professional ball. Back in the early 1900s, excursion trains ran from Grafton and Fairmont to ball games in Strang. Ball teams are still the center of entertainment in the community, as five different teams make use of Elmer Messman Memorial Field. The ladies' softball team has won many tournaments and qualified for state play nearly every year since 1971, winning many tournaments.

Strang's population, which peaked at a reported 400 in 1890, has fluctuated over the years. The droughts experienced in 1893-96 and the 1930s were responsible for many people leaving the community for "greener pastures." Four major fires on Main Street destroyed many businesses, that were not rebuilt, and the bank failure in 1927 caused other shops to close. Changes in transportation and employment opportunities are other factors that have contributed to a declining population in recent years.

In 1976 the 59 residents of Strang organized a community improvement association, which promoted extensive cleanup campaigns and renovation projects to revitalize the town. Several homes were moved into town, the cafe was remodeled, and a beauty shop was built along Main Street. The enthusiastic leadership from within this association took on the responsibility of planning the town's centennial. Nearly 5,000 attended the celebration in August of 1986, making it a great success.

The courage and fortitude it took to establish a town back in those early days in Belle Prairie Township have been rekindled in this generation's determination to fulfill the motto, "A Village With Vision."

By Janet Lentfer, Rte 2 Box 9, Strang, NE 68444

 

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL: Reflections, 1886-1986, Strang, Nebraska , compiled by Janet Lentfer.