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Nebraska...Our Towns

1919 aerial view of Eustis.
Water tower replaced windmill, as seen in this picture of the Fall Festival, several years later.
Fourth of July parade 1897 on Railroad Street.
Eustis looking west on Railroad Street about 1910.
Eustis looking west on Railroad Street about 1988.

EUSTIS -- FRONTIER COUNTY

Eustis, in Frontier County, is a unique community. It has a personality and aura separate and different from all other communities in the state or the nation. While its start was similar to many other towns, Eustis became "that special place" to many people.

Part of the land for the original town was purchased from Gott Schneeckle and other homesteaders by the Lincoln Land Company, but most of it was purchased from the railroad, that had been granted the land by the federal government. The land company was incorporated to purchase and sell real estate. They laid out and platted many towns and villages in Nebraska. The site for Eustis was surveyed by Anselmo B.Smith and deeded to the land company in 1886 for $250.

The town was named for Percy Sprague Eustis, general passenger agent at Omaha for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad.

In 1888 a petition requesting incorporation was presented to the Frontier County commissioners. When approved, F.C.Schroeder, John Koch, George Walker, Christ Grabenstein, and W.I.Benham were named village trustees, and M.C.Dival was appointed Justice of the Peace for Fairview Precinct. Ambitious organizers reserved 16 sections, an area four miles square, for the town site. In 1903 when the town did not become a metropolis, all but one section was detached because "they were used solely for grazing and agricultural purposes" and had never been platted or laid out in lots. Section 15 was retained as the village of Eustis and has remained the town site to the present time.

Farming in south central Nebraska has been developed with hard work and the ability to cope with adversities. These qualities have produced a standard of living and quality of life that our citizens can be proud of.

The Congressional Record of February 2, 1988, includes an article taken from the National Journal, January 30, 1988 entitled "Their Little Town." by Robert Guskind and Neal R.Pierce. It states: "Eustis, 1,227 miles from Capitol Hill and the Agricultural Department; 176 miles from the state capitol in Lincoln, is a picture postcard of small-town America. Dignified homes with manicured lawns line the residential streets. A steady flow of cars and pickup trucks passes the grain elevators along Railroad Street. Ethnic history? The Schnapps Haus (liquor) and the Shooten Haus (guns) tells the story..."

Despite the appearance of normalcy, the trauma of the 1980s that has gripped communities across the Great Plains is close at hand. The feeling of this past decade is inscribed in granite on a simple monument erected two years ago to commemorate the town's centennial. It reads: "Like the early settlers, we the 460 inhabitants of 1986, are survivors. A hearty and ambitious lot, pioneers in our own right in these changing and trying times."

Eustis has an aggressive Chamber of Commerce and several active service clubs whose cooperative efforts enable the community to enjoy many special events through the year. The German heritage celebration, "Wurst Tag," is scheduled in early June, followed by an old fashioned Fourth of July observance, a Fair in August, and Hunters' and Crafts Fair on the opening day of the fall hunting season. Many people come from far and near to enjoy these occasions.

The community is proud of its excellent school system, its business places, and its fine churches, which combine to meet the basic needs of our people. A senior center, built several years ago, is a gathering place for the older population. Delicious meals are served to those able to come to the center, and meals delivered to the homebound.

The people of Eustis are a caring lot, sensitive to the needs of others within the community and their neighbors. Help in time of need is always cheerfully and generously given.

Opportunities for outdoor recreation are available at nearby lakes, state parks, and recreation areas. The Eustis community offers a special quality of life with many desirable assets.

 

By Ruth Kugler