The town of Norman is situated on land that was deeded by the Union Pacific Railroad to Carl and John Norman. John Ragan purchased eighty acres from the Normans and had it surveyed. The plat was signed August 8, 1887.
At that time, the town received the name "Fleming" in honor of one of the railroad men connected with the company. This name was not accepted by the Post Office Department, so Ragan, at the request of Abraham Wood, had the name changed to "Norman," in honor of the men who had originally owned the land.
In 1905 a petition, signed by the required number of citizens, was presented to the county board asking that Norman be incorporated as a village. The request was granted. The first board included: F.W.Ackerman, J.S.Sharp, John Aabel, Robert Saul, and A.J.King.
Abraham Wood built the first house in 1887 with the front part used for a store and post office. John Biggs established a lumber yard and the town soon boasted two elevators, several grocery and general merchandise stores, hardware store, blacksmith shop, livery stable, stockyard, bank, hotel, and post office building. Norman was also served by several resident doctors.
In the early 1900s Norman had four churches: Methodist, Christian, Baptist, and Lutheran. At the present time the Lutheran is the only church in town. Their first building was destroyed by lightning in June 1966 and a new church built that same year. Because it was built "on faith," they named it Faith Lutheran Church.
A school was organized in September 1888. The ninth and tenth grades were added in 1919. A new school was built in 1930 to replace one that was not large enough to meet the demands of the community. An eleventh grade was added in 1934, and a twelfth in 1935. Upper classes were discontinued during the war in 1943, and the seventh and eighth grades ended in 1969. Since then, these students have been bused to Minden. The building now houses K-6 students.
In September 1913 fire destroyed five business places including Williams Hardware, the post office, the Winther Hotel, Hines Grain Office and Creamery, and partially destroyed the bank. In later years the homes of Ed Sharp, Sarah Slater, and John King were also destroyed by fire.
In 1912 a hall, sometimes called the opera house, was built by the Woodman Lodge and later owned by the Oddfellows Lodge. When they transferred to Minden, the town bought it. The town hall, as it is now called, is used for various activities such as family gatherings and senior citizen dinners.
For a number of years Norman gained recognition for raising more money per capita for polio than any other small town in Nebraska.
Two men from Norman, Chris Anderson and Charles Frank, served in the Nebraska Legislature.
During World War II when the population dropped, the town lost a number of business. At the present time Norman has a post office, car repair shop, elevator, welding shop, and upholstery shop.
The town's biggest celebration in recent years was to observe the nation's "Bicentennial" on June 27, 1976. Myrle Fleming served as chairperson assisted by most of the residents of the town. Jacklyn Smith, representing the Bicentennial Commission, presented the American flag and the centennial flag to the community. Robert Raun, Nebraska University Board of Regents, was the principal speaker.
On July 18, 1987 the town celebrated its centennial with a barbecue. Every August the Norman-Heartwell Grain Company puts on a free barbecue in the Norman park that is enjoyed by a large crowd.
By Myrle E. Fleming, Local, Norman 68963
Wayne Gergsten and Marvin Deisley, photo reprints
Sarah Jepsen, typing
A History of Norman , by Myrle E. Fleming, 1976
Early Kearney County Atlases
Heroes Without Medals , by Roy T. Bang, 1952, Warp Publishing Company, Minden, NE (A Pioneer History of Kearney County)