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Nebraska...Our Towns

Julian -- Nemaha County

The Village of Julian, named for the Frenchmen Julian Bahuaud, as it appeared at the turn of the century.

Julian, on the Nemaha-Otoe county line, was named for Julian Bahuaud, a native of France. It is said that his first name was chosen, "...as no one could pronounce his last name." Forty or so French families settled in the Julian-Brock areas very early in our history. These were augmented with immigrants from Ireland, England, Germany, Switzerland, and settlers from the eastern and southern states.

The first house was built on the open prairie, just south of the county line. Several others went up before the town was platted, which explains why a house east of the Methodist church was found to be in the middle of the street when an addition was made in the 1900s.

Mail was left at Thomas Tobin's way station, west of the present town, from 1869 until the post office, given the name "Julian," was established in 1882. It was moved in 1887 when the Missouri Pacific Railroad was built. The land for the town was sold (or given) to Silas Clark, an officer on the Missouri Pacific line.

A Catholic church had been established in 1881, and the Methodist society met in various schoolhouses -- Harmony, Pleasant Valley, and Camp Creek -- prior to building a church in 1889. The Evangelical United Brethren built in 1893 after meeting at Rock Creek school for many years.

Schools developed over the years, with District 81 forming in 1898. A two-story school housed a nine-grade system, with the 10th grade added later. When that building burned in 1917, Julian and Rock Creek districts consolidated and built a brick K-12 school. The last high school graduation was in 1951. Classes for K-8 students was available for 25-30 children locally until recently.

A very tragic chapter in our story occurred in 1899 when the town's founder, Julian Bahuaud, who lived alone on his farm south of town, was robbed and murdered. The crime went unsolved for 14 years until one of the men suspected of the crime had a heat-stroke while in Kansas. Told that he was dying, he confessed to his part in the murder. However, the man recovered and was brought back to Auburn for a trial. Convicted, he spent the rest of his life in the Nebraska State Penitentiary.

Electricity came to Julian in 1895 when George Hauptman, using an old threshing machine engine, furnished power to the town for a few hours each day. In 1900, with a population of 209, Julian had four trains running north and a like number to the south daily. Telephones were installed in 1902, and the "Auburn Post" reported, "the stores of Julian are unequaled by any others of a town of this size, with proprietors who speak French and German as well as English."

Baseball was played on a diamond west of Rock Creek in 1912. Later, some of the young men played on the "Center" ball team, and a softball team was organized. People of Julian are still good ball players.

During World War I Julian had a "Home Guard Unit" that drilled with Auburn. It was noted that not one young man from this vicinity was "drafted" during World War I -- every eligible man "volunteered."

On May 20, 1918, a picnic and rally was held in a grove just west of town. Stories were told, songs sung, and an address was given by C. L. Mesnet in both French and English. Moving pictures were taken of the event and of the train station where the boys were leaving for service. When news was received that the war had ended, church bells rang out, the band and school children marched through the streets, and a large crowd gathered at the square. The celebration lasted all day and far into the night.

A disastrous fire occurred in August 1919, burning Klone'a livery barn, Pauley Lumberyard, and the hotel.

The Great Depression and drought was hard on the town, during which many residents moved away. The housing shortage during the war years of the 1940s saw houses moved from our streets to larger communities. While the current population is just 71, Julian has a good water system, sidewalks of cement, and streets that are armor coated.

The people who live in Julian care about their property, their neighbors, the school, and their churches. This was demonstrated on July 19, 1987, when the town's centennial was celebrated. All agreed that while Julian was no longer the "boom town" of the 1900s, it was certainly not dead and will be "our town" for another 100 years.

By Della Hodges-Lavigne, Rt. 2 Box 14, Auburn, NE 68305.