OSHKOSH -- GARDEN COUNTY
The first permanent settlers in this vicinity were men from the Oshkosh Land and Cattle Company, some of whom had come from Oshkosh, Wisconsin. In 1885 Henry Gumaer and John Robinson drove the first herd of cattle to the area, building headquarters on land now part of the Garden County Airport. In 1889 a two-story structure was built on Main Street for a general store, post office, and hotel. This building, still in good condition, now houses an antique and gift shop.
Many details about the town's early history have been included in "The Garden County History." Briefly, Oshkosh established a post office in 1889, when the area was part of Deuel County. Later, in 1909, citizens voted to form Garden County, chosing the title as "garden spot of the west," and elected Oshkosh its county seat.
The town is located on the North Platte River where the Mormon and Oregon trails can still be traced by where wagon wheels left their ruts. The railroad, arriving in 1908, was a welcome convenience. Today, while the Union Pacific still goes by, the primary linkage with the world is Federal Highway 26.
Oshkosh has two museums, a public library, an auditorium, center for senior citizens, and a city park with picnic tables and free swimming pool. The business district has stores and businesses that offer all the necessary items for a comfortable living, plus many specialty shops -- antiques and other collectables. The town has several doctors, dentists, lawyers, and real estate agents. As a provider of services for travelers, there are motels, service stations, and cafes.
The Garden County High School, a Class VI school located in Oshkosh, provides secondary education for 102 students and the town's Class I, K-8 for 165 elementary students, as of December 1987. The town is proud of its young people, and enjoy the full range of athletic team sports and youth groups. Over the years, more than 25 graduates have gone on to become doctors and dentists.
Churches were also established early in our history with current congregations that include Methodist, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Wesleyan, Assembly of God, Seventh Day Adventist, and Episcopal.
Garden County airport, country club, and golf course provide the community with current "up town" status. Several manufacturing businesses help provide a stable economic base. Bennet's Thunder Valley Wagon Rides offer people a glimpse of the past, as they trace a segment of the old Oregon Trail along the river. Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge 20 miles north, Ash Hollow State Park, and Lake McConaughy to the east, make Oshkosh a prime location for sportsmen and nature buffs. A goose shoot and Ducks Unlimited Banquet are held each November.
The business community promotes a number of activities; a big Fourth of July parade and free lunch in the park, special sales for "Harvest Moon Days", and when Santa arrives in December, he gives each child a bag of treats and there is a big cash drawing.
Past and present residents that have gained state and national recognition for their accomplishments include:
King Rhiley, Sr. race car driver who won the Pike's Peak Race in 1921 and took second place in 1922, and Don Meier of "Wild Kingdom" fame, a graduate of Garden County High School, who returned to Oshkosh to teach for a number of years before going into TV broadcasting. In addition to many National Awards for the program he produced and directed, Don received the Garden County Hall of Fame Award in 1982.
Bill Laux, native of the Oshkosh area, received a Fulbright Scholarship in 1953. His studies, primarily in Denmark, have been augmented by a number of other grants over the years.
A hobby that turned into a full time business is Pollard Kennels, which raises and trains racing dogs. Bill Polland first raced in Colorado in 1967. Bill and son Larry, whose dogs carry the "Oshkosh" name, currently manage the kennels and race in Oregon, Florida, and Iowa.
Oshkosh people say that their town is a very good place to live and raise a family. Many former residents return to Oshkosh to enjoy their retirement years, present population just over 1,000.
by Helen M. Robinson, Rte 2 Oshkosh, NE 69154