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Nebraska...Our Towns

Lashley Mill at Beaver City.
The log cabin built near Beaver City in 1872. Now located in the Westside Park.
Dr.Brewster and pilot Wade Stevens with the marvelous flying machine.
Dr.Art Becker with his helicopter.
A large town square presents a peaceful scene and welcomes citizens and visitors to rest in the shady oasis.

BEAVER CITY -- FURNAS COUNTY

Beaver City, county seat for Furnas County, is located on Beaver Creek not far from the Kansas border. This site was noted in the spring of 1872 by J.H.McKee and Struve as a "favorable point." However, they continued to scout the area for several months, returning to this site in October to plat the town. McKee was promptly joined by his business partner Robert Denham, who helped build the first store. By November 1 it was stocked with goods and opened for business. This building, also used as a post office, was where the first Furnas county court convened.

Other families soon joined the settlement; the Hadleys, Williams, Danforths, and Nicholsons. As more people arrived, Beaver City developed and grew. Furnas County's population also increased and soon there was a second village established several miles north.

A post office was requested soon after the town was platted, but there was no mail delivered until 1873. In the meantime, the mail was brought to town from Alma (25 miles away) each Sunday by one of the settlers. Later a carrier was hired and paid by subscription until the government route was established. C.A.Danforth was the first postmaster.

When the county organized in late 1873, Beaver City was one of the voting places designated by Governor Robert Furnas, for whom the county was named. Competing with Arapahoe for location of the county seat, Beaver City was chosen for the honor by the people. This is where it has remained. There have been three courthouses, the latest built in 1949.

The first sermon was preached in July 1873 by Dr.G.A.Hobson in the old "Valley Hotel." The first Sunday School was also established that year. The Presbyterians organized in 1874 and built their church in 1880. The Methodist Episcopal congregation was organized in 1875 and built their church in 1885. Thomas and Anna Williams were very instrumental in organizing both churches and the Sunday school in Beaver City.

In 1873-74 a grist mill was built west of town on Beaver Creek by David Lashley and Joseph Monell. Lashley became the sole owner, and the mill served the surrounding area for many years. Historically this site is important because George W.Norris, then a young lawyer, first conceived the idea of water power being converted into electricity for the use by rural Americans everywhere while chatting with Mr.Lashley as they stood near the mill race. Norris, who later married Pluma Lashley, was urged by his father-in-law to work to make this idea come about. Norris, who served in the U.S.House of Representatives for ten years (1903-13) and in the Senate for 30 years (1913-43), was instrumental in writing the bills that created the Tennessee Valley Authority (T.V.A.) in 1933 and the Rural Electrification Administration (R.E.A.) in 1935. Norris also helped author the constitutional amendment that established a unicameral (one house) legislature in Nebraska in 1935. The Norris'lived in the large Lashley home, which still stands in the city, and the senator maintained a Beaver City law office for many years. In later years he moved to McCook, where he lived out his life.

Our town has recorded some unique "firsts" in the field of medicine and aviation. Beaver City was the home of Dr.Frank Brewster, Nebraska's first flying doctor. Brewster bought a Curtis-Wright JN4D biplane in 1919. Purchased for $8,000, it arrived in Beaver City by rail in two large boxes. The plane was assembled and made its first flight on May 19, 1919, when 8,000 people gathered to see Wade Stevens, a young World War I veteran, take to the air for its test flight. "Doc" Brewster flew many missions of mercy throughout southwestern Nebraska and northwestern Kansas. His airplane was a familiar and comforting sight to farmers and ranchers of this area for many years.

Currently Beaver City is the home of Nebraska's first veterinarian to use a helicopter in his practice. Dr. Arthur Becker established a veterinary practice here in 1962, then built a unique, rounded Beaver Valley Animal Hospital in 1965 (the first of its kind). His helicopter gives him great mobility and allows him to make calls quickly and efficiently.

Down town businesses in Beaver City front on a picturesque town square with its Civil War monument and park benches under tall shade trees. The population that was as high as 1,100 in the 1920s is currently 775.

 

By Eula M. Brown, Box 166, Beaver City, NE 68926

 

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL:

The History of Beaver City - 1872-1972, by the Centennial Committee

A Bicentennial Look at Beaver City, by the Beaver City Eager Beavers

Pioneer stories of Furnas County, compiled from the files of the "Beaver City Times-Tribune, Claflin Printing Company, 1914

Furnas County-Past and Present by the Furnas County Genealogical Society, Curtis Media, 1987

Where The Wind Blows Free , by Burhl Gilpin, Greenwich Book Publishers, 1965

Where The Meadowlark Sings by Merlin R. Garey, 1967