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Nebraska...Our Towns

Nebraska...Our Towns

Goehner -- Seward County

First buildings in Goehner - the railroad station and elevator.
Aerial of Goehner looking northeast, taken by Gladys Phillips, 1985.

The railroad was the primary factor responsible for establishing our town, Goehner (pronounced GO'ner). This village of 170 residents is located in the southwest quarter of Seward County.

The earliest settler in "K" Precinct was William Thompson, whose ranch was located on "Nebraska City cut-off" at Walnut Creek in Section 32. Most pioneer dwellings in this area were made of sod, due to the lack of timber. The first schoolhouse, built in 1871, was also made of sod.

John F. Goehner, a prominent Seward merchant, was born in Germany and emigrated to America in 1873. Serving as a state senator in 1884, he used his influence to establish a railroad (FE&MVR) from Linwood to Superior that ran diagonally across Seward County. A town was established in Section 17 of "K" Precinct on property that Goehner owned. Since people continually mispronounced his name, the plat is registered as "Goner."

The town quickly filled with businesses. There was, in addition to the usual ones, a wagon maker and a good sized creamery. The post office was established March 13, 1888, and the town incorporated in 1913.

A Methodist Church had been established in the area in 1876 and remained active until 1951. A Lutheran Church, organized in 1887, erected a new sanctuary in 1980. Frieden's Evangelical and Reformed Church, established in 1902, merged with the Congregational Christian Church in 1957 and is now known as United Church of Christ. The Vineyard Ministries hold Sunday services in the Goehner Grange Hall.

A school, located a mile or so to the west, opened in 1873. When a town was built, the residents objected to their children having to walk out in the country to go to school, but attempts to have the building moved fell on deaf ears. Then one night the schoolhouse was spirited into Goehner. No one seemed to know who hitched horses to it and dragged it down the road to a lot in town, but in the morning it was there! In 1890 a two-story frame school was built, and a modern, three-story brick school was built in 1919. The first graduation from Goehner High School was in 1923, with the last in 1945. An alumni banquet is held each spring. At present, classes for K-4 students are held in Goehner, with grades 5-12 in Seward.

Over the years many buildings fell prey to fire. From a bucket brigade and a hose cart with a hand-powered pump, the village purchased a chemical tank in 1900, and later got a pumper truck. In 1949 the present fire department was organized. Forty members make up the all-volunteer force, equipped with five trucks and a first-response rescue unit. In 1957 when funds were needed to build a firehall, a spaghetti supper was suggested. Successful from the start, the first Sunday in March finds crowds averaging 1,200-1,500 enjoying this annual event. A larger firebarn was built in 1983 and the first one was remodeled into a community hall.

In 1974 an explosion and fire completely destroyed the elevator. It was replaced with a steel building and several storage bins. The failure of the Great Plains Railway Corporation to restore service to the abandoned C&NW line was also a blow to the community.

In 1976 ground-breaking ceremonies were held for the Seward County Historical Museum on land donated by Doretta Goehner, daughter of the town's founder. A machine building and schoolhouse have since been added.

The town's centennial brought together many groups of enthusiastic people. The event that mounted a two-mile parade in May 1987 for the three-day celebration established an annual "Goehner Heritage Day" on the first weekend in June. The "Centennial Players," who made their debut in a melodrama that year, have continued their annual dinner theatre production, with the proceeds now going to a scholarship fund. This crowd-pleaser brings hundreds of visitors to Goehner's Grange Hall every summer.

We owe much to the brave pioneers who established homes, businesses, and farms in this area. They paved the way for others to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Because Goehner is located just half-a-mile from I-80, midway between York and Lincoln, many residents commute to one city or the other, or to Seward, just 12 miles away.

By Maxine Graff, Goehner, NE 68364.

 

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL: Various Seward County histories, and The Goehner Centennial History Book , 1987.