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Nebraska...Our Towns

Nebraska...Our Towns

Shubert -- Richardson County

Our town's founder, Henry W. Shubert, is pictured with his sons. Seated (l-r): Mr. Shubert, Lee, and Frank. Standing: Walter, Grant, John, and Arthur. [Shafer]
Built by the Farmers State Bank in 1891, it closed in March 1933. The Citizens Bank (established in 1911) reopened after the moratorium, but closed in 1942. [Shafer]
The bank building is now the Shubert Post Office. The McGechie Opera House next door was torn down in the early 1940s. [Harris]

The village of Shubert, which clusters atop a north-south rise in the rolling prairie west of the Missouri River, is our town. Henry W. Shubert, for whom the town is named, purchased the land from a member of the Deroin family in 1869. He farmed, raised hogs, and planted the first orchard in northeastern Richardson County. (This area was recognized for its fruit growing potential very early in Nebraska's history.)

"Shubert," platted as "land speculation" in 1883 by the Shubert Town Company and the Lincoln Land Company, quickly became a reality. By 1886 the Burson Hotel provided accommodations for travelers and salesmen visiting the city. In 1888 the Republic Valley Railroad, a branch of the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad, extended a line from Nemaha City to Salem. Together with the new railroad and the extensive orchards, the apple packing, shipping houses, and the cider mill, earned national fame for Shubert as "The Apple Center" and "Home of the Famous Nebraska Apple."

By 1900 the Quiggle, the James, and the Palace hotels were available. The McGechie Opera House provided space for a variety of entertainment, and the business district presented a well-balanced collection of shops and services. The "Shubert Citizen" published a weekly tabloid of village happenings from 1892 to 1942. There was also a brickyard and a broom factory.

Church services are known to have been conducted by Methodist Episcopal circuit riders in 1885. A church, completed in 1889, still stands on the northwest corner of 5th and Main and serves as a community hall. Recently modernized by the village board and local organizations, the hall now displays an attractive hand-painted, stage curtain.

The apple industry came to an abrupt end on Armistice Day 1940, when a hard freeze killed nearly all the fruit trees. The sudden demise of this economic main-stay forced many changes in the town. Although free movies and the annual picnic at Shubert Lake resumed for a time, the population continued to dwindle. People looked to larger cities for employment and families moved to the more affluent communities. After a period of adjustment, which included World War II, Shubert became "a fruitful farming community" of alfalfa, wheat, soybeans, milo, and corn.

In 1976 Shubert was Richardson County's first designated bicentennial community. The primary project was the restoration of the Odd Fellows Lodge Hall into a library-museum. This attractive building is now used for many functions including town meetings.

With the completion of the Cooper Nuclear Station at Brownville, the Village of Shubert entered a new age. Located with its ten-mile radius, the Atomic Energy Commission regulates the safety warning system. A stationary siren, installed in 1981, is tested each month, and in 1982 rural residents were supplied with emergency broadcast system (EBS) tone-activited radios. Updated EBS units were issued in 1987.

Shubert's 1990 population was 267. Children attend classes at Southeast Consolidated RN-1 at Stella, or Sacred Heart Parochial in Falls City. The community supports several churches and summer baseball for all ages. The American Legion Post 222 maintains a hall on main street and community improvement is an on-going effort for several organizations and clubs.

Shubert's economy depends on the farming community, a few local businesses, and industry within commuting distance -- Auburn, Falls City, Cooper Nuclear Station, Indian Cave State Park, or Rockport, Missouri.

Shubert's centennial was celebrated in 1983 with a parade, fireworks, and day-long activities. Special guests were U. S. Senator Ed Zorinsky and Nebraska Senator Wiley Remmers and their wives. With partial funding from the Nebraska Committee for the Humanities, a new history of Shubert was published.

By Hannesina Shafer, with the assistance of Eleanor Shafer, P. O. Box 112, Shubert, NE 68437. Photos by Tony Ahern and Robert Weber.


ADDITIONAL MATERIAL: History of Richardson County Nebraska: Its People, Industries, and Instructions, 1917; Home Town Memories, Shubert: "The Shubert Citizen" 1941; Illustrated Richardson County , by A. R. Keim, 1919; Richardson County Nebraska, 1985 , RCHS; Shubert: The First 100 Years, By Shafer, Ahern, and Shafer, 1988; Historical Mount Zion Church, by Shafer and Meyerkorth, 1984; Nebraska State Gazetteer and Business Directory 7 volumes, by J. M. Wolfe, 1879-91.