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Nebraska...Our Towns

WAVERLY -- LANCASTER COUNTY

Our town, Waverly, lies in the south valley of Salt Creek with Camp Creek to the east and Stevens Creek to the west. Settlement in this part of the county started early. In 1857 settlers along Salt Creek were John Dee and Don Harrington, J. P. Loder and L. J. Loder In 1858 James Moran and Mike Shea came.

The history of the town of Waverly begins with the coming of the Burlington Railroad. In 1869 the road bed was graded, and by July 4, 1870, the rails were laid as far as Stevens Creek. This occasioned a great celebration in Lincoln, which was connected the following year.

A plat for a town was filed that Fall. Said to be named for Sir Walter Scott's novel "Waverly," the streets carry the names of characters from that book. Early settlers had received mail at "Camp Creek," three miles east until John Green was named Waverly's postmaster in 1870.

The depot was built in 1871 and became the social center of the community, with dances and "singing schools." The railroad continues to be a busy freight-line, but the old depot has been moved to Wayne Park and restored.

In 1872 John Berg set up a blacksmith shop, and James Schofield established a general store and a hotel was built in 1874. Northeast of town on Rock Creek, Samuel Atkinson and his brothers, Byron and Nelson, built a saw mill. John Hellman built his grist mill on Salt Creek.

Waverly Cemetery Association organized at Jordan School, July 22, 1878, and Jordan Cemetery deed was filed in 1880. Later, Rose Hill Cemetery was organized by John Berg.

On June 23, 1885 Waverly was granted incorporation as a village, and the first mayor was elected. Recently Wayne Marolf, grandson of Byron Atkinson, served for over 24 years as Mayor.

In 1871 the Waverly school was built. District 52's two-story frame schoolhouse was built on the south side of the tracks along Mannering Avenue in 1887. District 145 was established through consolidation in 1918. Students moved into the first brick school on the hill top south of Rosehill Cemetery on April 8, 1921. Classes were held in the first addition to that building in 1960. Later another addition and an elementary complex were built.

Early residents walked to the depot to board the train for trips to the city. The dirt road through Waverly to Lincoln lay along the north side of the railroad tracks until 1920. It was relocated south of the tracks and named the OLD (Omaha-Lincoln-Denver), later renamed the DLD (Detroit-Lincoln-Denver). It was paved in 1929 as Highway 6. In 1959 the Interstate (I-80) was built.

I remember a Waverly with maple, elm, box elder, and catalpa trees, brick sidewalks, front and back porches, hand-dug wells with pumps, cisterns for rain water, vine covered outhouses, and sheds to house the horses, pigs, and chickens. Vegetable gardens, fences, day lilies, peonies, yellow, pink, and white, rose bushes, lilacs, holly hocks, with rhubarb and horseradish tucked in.

Back then, ladies and gentlemen went calling on their neighbors, the grocer made deliveries, and the dray brought the coal for the stoves. On Mondays, clothes hung on the lines all over town. On May 30th, we children marched with the GAR veterans from the Hall to the cemetery. There were concerts every week in the band stand, and everything stopped when the circus came to town.

In the 1960s and 1970s building increased decisively as Waverly went from about 500 residents to over 1,000. Business and industrial plants as well as homes were built -- many by the descendants of the first settlers. The fertile land and proximity to higher education inspired them to stay in Waverly. In one decade our town changed from a rural community to growing suburb of Nebraska's capital city.

Waverly is now well into its second century. In 1988 the Camp Creek Threshers received a special land-use designation as a Heritage Center, the first such granted in Lancaster County. This annual event attracts thousands of visitors to Waverly each July.

By Rosalyn Weedmark Schmidt, (born in Waverly, March 28, 1911) 421 Jeffery Drive, Lincoln, NE 68505.

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL: Waverly High School Viking Annuals and "Hi-Spot"; "Waverly" Brown Book, 1856-1926, Waverly PTA 1927; Railroad Stations of Nebraska, An Era of Use and Reuse, Reisdorff & Bartels, 1982; History of Seward County, by Cox, 1888; Lincoln, the Capitol City and Lancaster County, by Andrew Sawyer, 1916; Atlas of Lancaster County 1884, 1921; and area newspapers, "Waverly Watchman," "Sun," "Lincoln Journal," "Lincoln Star," and "The News;" Nebraska Place Names , by Elton Perkey; and History of Lancaster County, Then and Now, 1971, by Elinor L. Brown.