Wolbach owes its existence to the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad, which constructed a line through the Spring Creek Valley of Greeley County in 1887. The town was named for Sam Wolbach, a Grand Island businessman who owned considerable land in the area and offered financial assistance to the early settlers. Platted by the Lincoln Land Company when the railroad came through, Wolbach was officially incorporated as a village on August 7, 1900.
The first structure in town, built in 1887, was a small building owned by J.W. "Cap" Thomasd and named the Delmonico Hotel. Used as a rooming house for the railroad workers, it was more commonly called "the elevator shack" and was located in the vicinity of where the Farmers Elevator now stands.
In 1888 Nels Henderson had built a saloon and later that year F.M. Cutler's small shop was completed and stocked with general merchandise. Cutler also sold drugs and was the local tooth extractor. By 1889 Thomas had moved the Delmonico up the hill and enlarged the structure. Soon, Wolbach had another hotel, three general stores, a saloon, two livery barns, a lumber yard, and grain company.
When the railroad first arrived, and for a short time thereafter, the railroad station had a big sign with the name "Brayton" painted on it. People were concerned that perhaps the name of their town had been changed. No one at the depot seemed to know, so they checked with the main office of the B&MR. You can imagine the embarrassment of the railroad officials when they realized they had put the wrong name on the sign sent to that station. Admitting to the mistake, they moved the sign on north to another railroad station. That town no longer exists, although the old Brayton schoolhouse remains on the site where the town once was. People were quite relieved and happy when the railroad delivered the sign with the "Wolbach" name on it.
A Danish Church (Scandinavian Lutheran) was the first church organization in Wolbach. Started in 1892, the last services were held in 1948. The first religious services held in the community were non-denominational in nature, and held at the depot or in the Rufus Sower & Bill Horn Dance Hall. At this time there are three active churches in the community; the United Methodist, Trinity Lutheran, and St.Joseph Catholic churches.
A terrible tornado ripped through Wolbach on May 5, 1964, injuring several people and causing $750,000 in damage. The business district, Methodist Church and parsonage, and a number of homes, were destroyed while many others were severely damaged. However, the 380 people survived. One year later, the town was back on its feet and grateful for all the help received during the rebuilding process.
Wolbach celebrated its centennial June 26-28, 1987. The town, with a current population of 280, hosted crowds estimated as high as 3,000. The highlight of the celebration was the historical pageant on Saturday morning that was entitled "Entertainment of the Century."
The community still supports a K-12, fully-accredited school system, and a solid-yet-varied main street that includes 16 businesses. Wolbach has a public library, post office, city hall, two well-kept parks with athletic facilities, a swimming pool, an active community club, and a weekly paper, "The Wolbach Messenger."
By Irene Marco Thompson, Wolbach Messenger, Box 38, Wolbach, NE 68882
ADDITIONAL MATERIAL: 0Blossoms of the Prairie;, by Jean Matteson and Edith Matteson Jarvi, 1988, Lincoln.