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Nebraska...Our Towns

Nebraska...Our Towns

Reynolds -- Jefferson County

The old Republican Valley Railroad -- now operated by Burlington Northern -- as it looked in about 1900.

Had William Menary, an early homesteader, not convinced officials of the Republican Valley Railroad to lay its rails through his property by donating every-other-lot to them, our town would not be where it is today. Menary's land lay south of a section line (now Highway 8) which divides the village. W. H. DeBuse, co-founder of the village, owned all the lots to the north. The town was given the name "Reynolds" for the father of a conductor on that line, according to Perkey's Nebraska Name Places.

The birth of our town caused the demise of "Rose Creek City," located just east of the Sixth Principal Meridian (Thayer-Jefferson county line), about two and a half miles northwest of Reynolds. As soon as the plat was surveyed and filed in 1880, the lots went on sale, with Walter Parker buying the first one. In addition to Parker's general store, most of the buildings from Rose Creek City were moved to Reynolds: a grocery store, a drug store, a blacksmith shop, the school, a church, the hotel, and many residences.

Parker was the first postmaster of the post office commissioned on September 27, 1880. Later he was our first mayor. His daughter, Mildred (Meg), employed as a clerk in his store, married the local doctor, U. S. Ammerman, who arrived in 1889.

About 1908 the Parker Building, then owned by A. H. Bothwell, burned. Bothwell replaced it with a two-story brick building, "the Big Store," that extended to the south with a single-story structure, and occupied by a butcher shop, a barber shop, a millinery shop, a drug store, and a shoe shop. The building remains, however the tavern, which was located there for many years, has closed.

Harley Hobbs, proprietor of the earliest hotel, was the grandfather of Wayne Davis and Phyllis Beachler of Fairbury. Early owners of the Beachler Hardware and Implement Store were brothers, Jerome and William. Ira Beachler of Reynolds is Jerome's grandson.

About 1915 James Gregory built an elevator. His grandson, Donald Gregory, was Reynolds' postmaster for many years, and James Schmidt now manages the elevator. New grain bins, built in 1987, provide additional storage for grain prior to shipment on the Burlington Northern Railroad line. Since there is no passenger service, the old depot has been removed. The former Rock Island depot building from the neighboring town of "Thompson" is presently Reynolds' post office.

A lumberyard, built by J. E. Beachler, was then owned by R. Proudfit, and last by Pauley-Davis Lumber Company. Today the building houses a grocery store run by Alice Wells. Barlow House was an early rooming house owned by Nannie Barlow, who also served meals. Later she married A. H. Bothwell, a banker and undertaker, who built their home on that site.

Other early-day businesses along the highway were a livery stable, a second hotel, an ice house, a telephone office, a bank, and another general store. All of these buildings are gone. Much later, the Krause garage was built, which is now used as a residence. More recently, Jerry Ginn built a body shop near his home. His father, Ralph, has a shop where he works as a welder. Tim Gregory's new building near the highway houses the Reynolds Oil Company.

Among the buildings moved from Rose Creek City was the United Brethren Church built under the leadership of Rev. Ives Marks. It later served as a town hall and opera house. When that congregation changed to the Baptist denomination in 1894, it built a new church. The Assembly of God congregation shared the building until they built their own. A Methodist church, built later, is now used as a community building. There are no church services in Reynolds today.

The first school was replaced by one which housed ten grades, then a building that accommodated K-12. Our school district 47 closed last summer and is now part of Fairbury District 8.

During his 32-year tenure as mayor, Ira Beachler, who retired in 1986, saw the town build a modern water and sewer system, and blacktop nearly every street. Two housing rehabilitation projects, funded by community block grants, resulted in the improvement of 17 homes, and the building of a community center.

While we are one of the smaller towns in Nebraska (population 125) we are proud of our heritage and the kinds of improvements that have made Reynolds a better community in which to live.

By Ruth M. Patterson, 1011 K Street, Apt 207, Fairbury, NE 68352. (Ruth Patterson is a niece of William Menary).