The Rand McNally World Atlas lists only one place by the name of Cotesfield. Located in Howard County, unknown to most of the world, the town and precinct were given that name honoring a Miss Cotes who came to the area with the daughter of Christopher Auger, Commander of the Department of the Platte, who was establishing camps along the North Loup river.
Charles and James Adams were the first to settle in the area in 1871. The railroad came through the area in 1882. The first buildings on the present site of the town were not built until 1902, on land owned by Robert Kilpatrick.
The bridge across the river and formation of the Farmer's Mutual Telephone Company came in 1905, incorporation of the town in 1910, and electricity arrived in 1926. A population high of 214 was reached in 1920. Activity was brisk with a depot and an assortment of businesses, hotels, banks, elevators, stockyards, "The Sun" newspaper, and a doctor.
What is it that gives a town like Cotesfield an identity in the past and meaning in the present? Something of the bond can be seen in the presence of over half of all the graduates of the high school, which operated from 1923-1945, at a reunion in 1984.
Education is part of the answer. The first school was formed in 1873, with building projects in 1875, 1905, 1913, and the present grade school in 1953. Education has always had the serious consideration of the community.
Religion is another part of the Cotesfield story. The United Brethren in Christ, now part of The United Methodist Church, came to the area in 1874. They met first in a dug out, then in the schoolhouse, and finally erected their own building in 1898. News accounts reveal activity by Baptists, Methodists, Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, Free Methodists, and others. An article that appeared on July 17, 1896, in the "St.Paul Press" states, "...A troublesome disease broke out in Cotesfield last winter from which many who were afflicted have happily recovered, while with many it is feared the case is hopeless. The name of the disease is 'religion of the head and not in the heart'..." We are left to wonder what was meant, but are sure that a strong and enduring faith is part of the story of the life of this community.
The cultural and social side of life in Cotesfield has been evident at Deland Hall with home-talent productions, dances, Chautauquas, productions of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," free movies, and the Hugo Players.
The bonding of the community has been evident in the softball program of the drought and depression days, and wherever else people worked, played, and met with each other. People coming to town on a Saturday evening would find gatherings at the corner drug store and on the street corners. One might hear the voices of Danes on one corner, the Bohemians on another, and English where all ethnic barriers faded.
Cotesfield should not be thought of as a place with empty buildings, but in terms of being present in many places across the nation, in the lives of people who were nurtured there. Former citizens of Cotesfield can be found in almost every vocation and profession including the field of agriculture, education, medicine, law, religion, engineering, business, construction, government, sales, and finance.
By Lester A. Boilesen, 7911 Maplewood Drive, Lincoln, NE 68510
ADDITIONAL MATERIAL: Good Lord, Deliver Us , Howard County, the First Hundred Years , by Ellen Kiechel Partsch; and additional information on Cotesfield in the process, by Lester Boilesen