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Nebraska...Our Towns

SILVER CREEK -- MERRICK COUNTY

Silver Creek, at the east edge of the county, derives its name from the sparkling, clear creek which meanders near the town site platted by the Union Pacific Railroad in 1866. The first residents, Frank Hobert and his family, homesteaded in the early 1870s. A hotel called "Lee House" was built by Cyrus Lee in September of that year. Soon other settlers arrived: Howland, Brown, Wooster, and the Shaw Brothers. The Silver Creek Post Office was established in 1877, moved from one maintained at the Lathrop Ranch two miles south of town.

A school was established by Supt.E.L.Robinson with about 30 students attending. A brick structure was built in 1910, which is still in use by the K-12 district. A gym was built in the 1930s by the WPA, an elementary wing in 1959, and an addition, containing a cafeteria, gymnasium, and locker rooms, was completed in 1973.

Thomas Gannon and Mary Foster were the first couple to be wed in Silver Creek in a ceremony performed on the Fourth of July, 1881.

News hit the dusty streets in 1877 with the publication of "Silver Creek Times." The paper changed hands several times until 1903, when D.F.Davis and son Dyo began to edit "The Sand." It remained in circulation until the 1960s.

Rev.H.S.Shaw, an Episcopal minister and early settler, organized a society in Silver Creek. In 1874 the Congregational Church was formed, with a church built in 1879. Methodist Church records indicate that they held church classes in the Hill Hall in the late 1870s, with a church built in 1889. A larger building was dedicated in 1921. Fr. Rembort Stanowski traveled from his parish at Duncan to organize a Catholic Church in Silver Creek in the early 1900s. Mass was held at the home of Frank Pollard until the church was completed in 1903. The new church was dedicated in 1967.

Very early in our history, a wagon bridge was built across the Platte River just south of town. This made trade and rail transportation accessible to people on both sides of the river. Telephones came to the area in 1906, and lights were changed to electricity in 1914.

Both instrumental and vocal musical talent were encouraged by regular practices held in Silver Creek. Two good bands performed regularly in the small grandstand, and were also invited to perform in surrounding towns. One year two teams of horses pulled the band wagon to the State Fair in Lincoln, where the band received the top award for their performance.

Silver Creek's centennial was held on November 5, 1966. There was a 50-entry parade, greased pig contest, horse shoe tournament, pony rides, and games. An Olde Country Feed for $1 was held, after which residents and neighbors enjoyed dancing to the Al Grubnick Orchestra at the Pioneer Ballroom.

The abundance of water and wildlife has proven to be a great drawing-card for Silver Creek. Dr.Bruce Cowgill initiated the "Grand National Mixed Bag Hunt" in Silver Creek in the fall of 1972. A number of actors, astronauts, major league ball players, and Olympians came to participate in the event. A banquet held at the conclusion included awards for wildlife essays, photography, habitat enhancement, etc. Silver Creek received recognition in Sports Illustrated, Outdoor Life, N.R.A.Journal, and other publications for the "total community effort that made such a project successful." After four years, the event moved to Columbus, and later to Grand Island.

The present village of 500 people is still a hub of activity for the area it serves. Nearly 35 businesses operate in Silver Creek. Agriculture, still the mainstay of the residents, is augmented by industrial opportunities in nearby communities.

Silver Creek boasts parks with two baseball fields, tennis court, horseshoe pits, playgrounds, grills, and shelters. A Nebraska Game & Parks Commission grant was used to complete the newest park facility in 1972.

The morale and attitude of Silver Creek is a good example of Nebraska...the Good Life.

By Karen Euse, Village Clerk, Box 6, Silver Creek, NE 68663, with the help of Dr. Bruce Cowgill. Pictures submitted by Euse, Cowgill, and John Bryant.