Colon -- Saunders County
Colon, in the north central part of Saunders County, was first located about three miles north of the present site. In 1879 the town moved about one mile south of the original location and established a post office. It moved again in 1886 when the town was platted on land which the Chicago & North Western Railroad bought from Martin VanFleet.
About this time Leander Taylor, his family, and other relatives, arrived from Colon, Michigan. He named the new town "Colon," which was then adopted by the post office. One reason for relocating the post office was the opening of a new station and post office in Cedar Bluffs, just a few miles north. This helped to evenly divide the area between the Wahoo and Cedar Bluffs post offices.
In 1890 when John Olander came from Sweden to homesteaded, there was just an elevator and two houses in town. He built a blacksmith shop that year, and other businesses quickly followed. By 1900 there were two grain elevators, a livery stable, a saloon, a coal-grain-livestock store, and two general mercantile stores. By 1893 a livery hotel, meat market, billiard hall, and a hardware store were operating. The town was incorporated December 1, 1894. The peak population was 193 in 1900.
Telephones came early in the 1900s, and later Colon was the first town in Saunders County to have the dial system installed.
A Presbyterian Church was built in 1906 and continued to provide services for the community until about 1950, when it closed. In 1969 the church building was destroyed by fire.
A new two-room schoolhouse was built in 1903 when the district was divided. School district 117 provided education for grades 1-8, and later included two years of high school. In the 1930s the upper grades were discontinued. High school students could attend high school in Cedar Bluffs, Wahoo, or Neumann Catholic in Wahoo. Colon currently has two teachers and 14 students. Some elementary students attend the parochial school in Wahoo.
In 1919 the Catholic church was moved from its rural location northwest of Colon, into town. A brick church was constructed and the parish renamed St. Joseph's. It continues to serve the area, and has a resident priest. A large social hall has been added to serve as a meeting place for large gatherings.
A second drug store was added to the business section in 1920, shortly before a disastrous fire destroyed half of the town's commercial buildings. Only two of the early buildings remain today.
The railroad provided passenger service and transportation for cattle and grains to larger markets. Records indicate that at one time Colon shipped out more grain than any other town in Nebraska. Increased use of the automobile and bus for traveling resulted in a decline in rail traffic. Passenger service was discontinued in about 1940, and the North Western terminated all rail service to Colon in 1981.
A fire department, that organized in 1908, was active until 1916. It reorganized in 1925 becoming a fire district in 1956. At that time, a fire department was organized in town. A fire hall was built in 1963-64, and equipment has been updated as needed.
Two organizations that have contributed much to Colon's community spirit and support are; the American Legion Post No.265, and its women's auxiliary. Both were organized after World War II. Under the Legion's sponsorship a new meeting hall was built on main street, providing space for all organizations to use.
Although many of Colon's present-day residents commute to work in other communities, our town remains the typical small-town of rural America, strongly supported by agriculture.
Our businesses consist of a bank, an elevator, a lounge and restaurant, and a post office. One building houses equipment for the State of Nebraska Highway Department, and another stores Lincoln Telephone Company equipment.
Colon, population 115, is governed by a town board that maintains its own water and sewage system. Electric power is provided through OPPD (Omaha Public Power District).
By Dagmar Peterson, Rt. 1 Box 80, Colon, NE 68018