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Nebraska...Our Towns

EWING -- HOLT COUNTY

This part of Nebraska went unnoticed for many years. Not until May 1870 did a covered wagon turn off the trail and stop just below the north and south forks of the Elkhorn River. James Ewing and his family decided this was a good place to settle, so started carving out a home, found a good water supply, and planted a garden and "sod corn." Mr. Ford settled nearby and soon others came; Gunter, Davidson, Clemen, Billings, Butler, and Donaldson. By 1872 the families of Ryan, Howe, Kieley, and Wentworth also took homestead claims.

In January 1874 a post office, the first in Holt County, was granted. Ewing, the postmaster, gave it the name "Ford." He kept the mail in an old violin box until it was picked up.

The Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley Railroad was advancing up the valley. Randolph Smith was paid $25 a month to hold a particular quarter section of land for the railroad. In 1881 the rails crossed Cashe Creek and the South Fork, and as agreed, Smith deeded the land to the Pioneer Town Site Company, a subsidiary of FEMVR, and a town was platted.

Leroy Butler quickly improvised a small hotel to accommodate railroad men. A house, originally built on Burt Simpson's homestead on the South Fork by the mill dam, was moved near the depot to house workers. The Ewings also moved nearer to the railroad. The town between the two forks of the river grew rapidly.

A new post office was established and "tended" by a Mr. Johnson. George Butler, first appointed postmaster at the new location, chose the name "Ewing." Butler was followed by John Wood, Joseph Kay, Fred Waugh, Gary Benson, Lyle Dierks, Frances Rotherham, Cleta Lofquest, and the present postmaster, Roger Dillon.

When the original railroad station burned, a new building was brought in on two flat cars from Emmet. That building was sold and moved to Vincent Thiele's farm after the Chicago & North Western Railroad closed the station.

The first newspaper in town was the "Ewing Item" published by Clarence Selah. In 1891 George Butler founded the "People's Advocate." Other owners include Cole, Primus, Raker, Wood, and Benson. R.B.Crellin became editor in 1921 and changed the name to "The Ewing Advocate." Thelma Drayton bought and operated the shop until 1951, when it was combined with the Clearwater newspaper.

Telephones were installed in 1904. In 1906 a gas engine pumped water for the town. In 1908 Lee Spittler (for a commission of $37.50) built a $2,325 water tower that still provides the water for Ewing. Gas was piped in for street and home lights in 1909. An electric plant was built in 1915 and maintained by Frank Noffke until the "high line" arrived in 1930.

Ewing's first school, built in 1886, burned and was replaced by a brick structure in 1917. That building burned in December 1932, with classes held "where ever" for the remainder of that year, until a new building was finished. Several buildings were added to meet state regulations and accommodate increased enrollment since then.

By 1886 Ewing had three churches; Methodist, Presbyterian, and Catholic. The Episcopal (now Church of Christ) and the Full Gospel Churches were built later. These churches continue to serve the community.

Noteworthy items for Ewing include:

-- A stable of rare horses, among them the famous Hambletonian trotter, "Dan Patch," was owned and operated by Kay Brothers.

-- The bank was robbed in 1903, and Kay's Store in 1904.

-- A July 4th celebration of 1903 brought 1,500 people to town. Green's Drug Store float won first prize, $2.

-- Savidge Brothers were barnstorming the area with their biplane, adding to the celebrations by 1911.

-- James Furley, chief butter-maker for Ewing's creamery, acclaimed as "best in the state."

Ewing's highest population of 705 occurred in 1950. The 1980 census recorded 520. The town has had its share of fires, blizzards, wind, and hail storms, but good neighbors always come to aid the victims that are hardest hit and help them get through.

Linked to the outside by Highway 275, the people of Ewing take pride in being part of a caring community.

Written by Rachel Von Conet. After Rachel Von Conet unexpected death on June 3, 1989, Mildred Bergstrom, Box 65, Ewing, NE, 68735, completed the project.