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Nebraska...Our Towns

PAGE -- HOLT COUNTY

Before 1880 the area now known as "Page" was only a sandy prairie on the northeastern edge of the Sandhills, five miles north of the Elkhorn River. By the year 1882, being assured of a railroad, people moved into the area to take homesteads and tree claims.

Four families who settled at this location were W. W. Page, Robert Gray, Ransom Hunter, and his son George. They brought saplings and cuttings from the Niobrara and Elkhorn rivers and Middlebranch Creek, and planted them into groves on their "tree claims." Most of the families lived in sod houses, at least for the first several years.

On November 20, 1883, a meeting was held to organize a school district. They collected $34 dollars to build and equip a sod schoolhouse. Grandma French donated a stove, and the teacher and pupils twisted hay for fuel.

This building was also used for church and other social gatherings. Mrs. Duran Hunt, who had the only organ in the community, would allow it to be loaded into a wagon and hauled to the school for various events. The Reverend Bartley Blaine, a Methodist circuit rider, preached whenever he was in the area, but Sunday School was held every week.

The Pacific Short Line Railroad, from Sioux City to O'Neill, was completed as far as Page in 1890. Some time later, the line was acquired by the CB&Q Railroad and is still in use. In recent years the track has been rebuilt with heavier steel to handle larger locomotives and the bigger loads they haul.

The Page family had the first store. Legend has it that when they applied for a post office, the name "Eureka" was selected and sent in by Mrs. Page. However, since there was already a town by that name in Hayes County, the name "Page" was given to the post office by the postal authorities. A few years later the store was sold to Hunter and Gray who ran it for many years.

In 1892 a two-room schoolhouse was built. It was replaced by the brick structure in 1915. A gymnasium and several classrooms were added in 1929. A fire in 1949 partially destroyed that building and shortly thereafter, a new building was erected. The high school closed in 1967 due to declining enrollment. At the present time there are about 100 pupils in the K-8 grade school.

By 1910 Page was a lively settlement with several grocery stores, banks, lumber yards, barber shops, and livery stables, plus a drug store, doctor and dentist.

Soon after the town was incorporated, a shop owner applied for a liquor license. There was a lot of opposition. The day of the election the church bells ran every hour to remind people to vote against allowing liquor or spirits to be sold in Page. The issue was defeated. As a result, the town board resigned, and because of the pressure of the situation, Page was without a board for ten years.

In the 1920 census Page had a population of over 600 people. During World War II the town's population began to decline. Better roads, more mechanization of farm equipment, and the resulting decline in the number of farms, has affected both the number of people required for that industry, and also the services provided by the town. Page is located over the Ogallala aquifer, so much of the land is irrigated.

In 1983 Page celebrated its centennial and published a book titled, "A 'Page' In History. The Methodist congregation celebrated its centennial in 1985.

In a 1987 edition of the "Norfolk Daily News," an entire page was devoted the history of Page. It noted that every building on main street was occupied and that the town had an up-to-date fire department and rescue squad, staffed by qualified personnel. The village park is equipped with a shelter and playground equipment. The ball park has recently been remodeled and a lighting system installed.

In 1989 the town of Page has 14 businesses and three active churches. Our town, with a population of 180, is located five miles north of Highway 20.

The sign that directs travelers to our town simply states: "You'll Like Page, We Do!"

By Verna Walker, Box 96, Page, NE 68766

 

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL: Before Today , a Holt County book, 1976; and A 'Page' in History, 1983.