Staplehurst -- Seward County
Thanks to a woman from Staplehurst, England, we have the distinction of being the only town in the U.S.A. with this name. Ebenezar Jull, who homesteaded along the Lincoln Creek in 1873, established a post office in 1876. His daughter, Mae, named it for her home in England.
Early settlers at "Marysville" along Lincoln Creek and near the Blue River had timber for log houses and good spring water which flowed in these streams year-round. A small settlement, consisting of a store and a few houses, was already in place when the Atkinson & Nebraska Railroad was built in 1879. The settlement was called "Lone Tree," because of a large tree to the northwest. When the post office moved to the new station it became "Staplehurst." The town grew quickly when the homes and businesses from Marysville were moved to "the new railroad town."
Religion was an important aspect of the community:
-- The Evangelical Danish Lutheran Church was established in 1877. It merged with the Iowa Synod church in 1964. Their original building now rests near the I-80 interstate near the Milford Interchange.
-- After English settlers arrived, a Presbyterian church was organized (1882). In 1976 their building was moved to Lincoln, where it serves a congregation on Old Cheney Road.
-- A German Lutheran church was founded in 1888 under the leadership of Rev. George Weller, former pastor at Marysville and director of Concordia Teachers College in Seward. They established a parochial school and installed their first teacher, William Koenig, in 1898. He taught there for 40 years. This congregation has merged with Marysville's Zion Lutheran.
The first public school was erected in the late 1800s on the hill west of town. In 1930 a brick school building was built which continues to serve K-4 students, with 5-12 students attending in Seward.
At one time Staplehurst had a race track, located just south of town where the baseball field now stands. There are many stories of the great horses that pounded the ground at this fine track and the money that passed hands behind the bleachers.
In 1890 the ball diamond was located east of town. Staplehurst has always been noted for good baseball, and several local players have moved up to the major leagues. In 1980 Staplehurst hosted the state semi-pro tournament, with 32 teams from around the state participating. In 1984 Staplehurst was awarded a trophy for "All-Nebraska Baseball Community." We currently have PeeWee, Pony, Midget, Legion, and Town Team baseball leagues, along with a little girls' softball team.
Staplehurst had its greatest boom from 1900-25. A dam was built on the Blue River just east of town in 1908. In addition to a mill, its water-powered turbine provided electricity to the town. A celebration was held when it was completed in August 1912. Many summer celebrations have followed.
A fire department was organized in 1916 and an emergency squad was formed a few years later. The railroad was the mainstay of the town, with 32 businesses to keep it a self-contained community. Change came in the 1950s! Residents who worked in larger towns also shopped there, and local businesses just couldn't compete. As businesses declined, the lifestyle of the community changed.
Staplehurst celebrated its centennial in 1976 with the theme, "Staplehurst: An Overall American Community." People came from as far away as Hawaii and Boston to celebrate the event. The two-day celebration included many alumni for an all-school reunion, a parade, a barbecue, dances, and games for all.
Staplehurst is a close-knit, growing community of over 300. The platted area of the town is completely filled with homes. Our new community center and fire hall, begun in 1975, was completed in 1976, and the mortgage was burned in 1982.
We have kept the tradition of summer celebrations. These include movies in the park, ice cream socials, kite flying contests, baseball and softball games in an improved ball park, and a "Fun Day."
We were active in the NCIP for eight years and in the "Keep Nebraska Beautiful" organization for five years, during which we were fortunate to have won several awards. A project founded during these years was the Memorial Flower Garden in our park, which continues to be cared for by our many volunteers.
By Florence Niemann, Norma Reinmiller, Vivian Daehling, Lavina Reiling, and Wendy Daehling. Pictures by Elsie Wendt and Viola Niemann, Staplehurst, NE 68439.
ADDITIONAL MATERIAL: One Hundred Years, Staplehurst History compiled by the Centennial Committee, 1976.