Deshler -- Thayer County
Deshler, just south of U.S. Highway 136, is located about eight miles west of Hebron, the county seat. The town was named for Ohio banker and landowner, John G. Deshler, who owned much of the land in Thayer County through which a railroad was to pass. It was established in 1887 when a branch of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad reached that point, bypassing the hamlet of "Friedensau."
Reading from the historical records, "...when this happened, almost all of the buildings, both business and residential, which comprised the Village of Friedensau were moved to the new railroad town." The nearly 70 residents, most of whom were German immigrants, moved a lumberyard, a feed store, a hotel, a livery stable, a blacksmith shop, a drugstore, a hardware store, a general store, a dressmaker's shop, and the building of a harness maker. Friedensau's post office was discontinued in 1903.
Growth for the new town was slow until 1890 when Joseph Steiner, a broom maker by trade, began working for general store owner H.J. Struve. Initially Steiner's brooms were sold only through the store. As the demand for these fine brooms increased, Steiner correspondingly increased the production by employing additional personnel. After Steiner's death in 1895, Struve incorporated and further enlarged the broom business.
Over the years, as the business increased, the population and fortunes of the community also grew. Widely recognized as "the largest broom factory in the world," the firm reached the height of its prosperity in 1940, when almost 400 employees worked in Deshler, making a wide variety of brooms for home and industrial use. The factory had grown to 700 feet in length and two-stories in height. Fires in 1943, and again in 1946 and 1947 destroyed and most of the building. It was not rebuilt. Just recently, in 1987, a smaller factory was established employing approximately 30 persons.
Between 1900 and 1930, when the community was growing, Deshler boasted a college, a knitting mill, a cigar factory, a brick plant, an implement factory, a grist mill, a foundry, a mausoleum plant, a wholesale grocery house, a creamery, a hatchery, and a turkey processing plant, plus a growing business district.
After the fires closed the broom factory, the population of the community declined. With the exodus, a number of business houses were also forced to close their doors. There was a slight reprieve in the business economy of the community in the 1960-70s, when the Reinke Manufacturing Company, located west of Deshler, began to make center pivot irrigation systems. The railroad line through Deshler was abandoned in the 1970s, but since it no longer provided a major transportation service, the event was not earth-shaking. The ag-crisis in the 1980s and the resulting slow-down in the market of farm equipment, affected the employment at the plant, and again was felt by the business community.
Currently providing stability in Deshler's economy is the Ray Mausoleum Company, manufacturing underground burial vaults, the Hornbostel Foundry, the Deshler Broom Factory, and various small businesses constituting a typical rural community.
Deshler has a modern public school, operating in a new facility costing just over $2 million. There are two Lutheran churches and a Presbyterian Church within the community. The town also has a 58-bed nursing home, presently owned by the city. Over 90 percent of the streets within the business and residential area are paved. Deshler owns its electrical system and has no bonded indebtedness, with the exception of the balance due on paving projects completed within the last ten years. Its water and sewer facilities are also paid for.
Deshler celebrated its centennial in 1987. Among the festivities was the dedicating of the Veterans' Memorial Flagpole in the center of main street.
By Harold W. Struve, Mayor, 305 E. Bryson Street, Deshler, NE 68340.
ADDITIONAL MATERIAL: History of Deshler, 1987 , the centennial history.