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Nebraska...Our Towns

Nebraska...Our Towns

Sholes -- Wayne County

A work-camp for the railroad construction crew. Sholes is another of Nebraska's railroad towns, established for use as a shipping point.

The railroad reached the northwest corner of Wayne County in 1886. To provide a shipping point for the rich grain and stock raising farms, a siding and depot were established. It was named for G.H. Sholes, an official of the Chicago, St.Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railroad.

Land purchased from J.L. Beaton was platted by the county surveyor for a town site. Beaton's house and farmstead, complete with barns and cribs, was in the middle of town. For many years he continued to drive his cows "uptown" for milking, from the pasture south of the railroad.

Businesses soon appeared: a blacksmith shop, general store, grain elevators, stock yards, lumberyard, and others. Each business and household had to have its own well and windmill, or had to get water from a neighbor.

Sholes was incorporated in 1913, at which time a book of ordinances was developed,including such laws as:

-- no person shall ride or drive through any street at a dangerous rate of speed greater than six miles an hour.

-- it is unlawful for any person to leave standing in the streets, hitched or unhitched, any horse for a period of six hours, without giving it food or water.

-- there will be no ball playing in the streets.

-- any person who shall injure or destroy the shade trees of another, or permit his animals to injure or destroy them, shall be liable to a fine of not less than $5 or more than $50 for each tree destroyed.

In the 1920s several men put down a well and constructed a wooden tank on a steel tower. Water lines were then laid throughout the town, the trenches being dug by hand. A big windmill was erected, but a pump jack and gas engine were kept handy in case there was a lack of wind. What a convenience this modern system was to everyone. It even made it possible for indoor plumbing for those who could afford it.

The church in Sholes was built on a lot donated by the Beatons shortly after the town was established. Baptist services were held there in the beginning, and later Methodist. After the building was no longer used for services, school plays and dances were held there. It was then used as a feed storage facility until it burned.

The Sholes consolidated school was started in 1906 when four districts merged into one. Ten grades were in the original school and later there were 12. Since Wayne had the state normal college, many of the teachers came from that institution, often commuting by train. The schoolhouse had a coal-fired furnace with a hot water system. A cistern stored rain water that ran off the roof. The original wooden building, which burned in 1948, was replaced in 1951 with a two-room facility. It currently is a K-6 school.

The bank began in a new, white-brick structure prior to 1914. It closed about 1923, never to reopen, but the building is still standing. There was a barbershop for many years just north of the bank. Several ice cream parlors and small shops have also occupied that building.

In 1922 a fire destroyed a grain elevator, the depot, and several railroad cars. The depot was replaced with a remodeled boxcar. The rails were removed in 1953.

The first post office was in the Beaton home in 1902. Later it was located in a building south of the bank, that also served as a rooming house. Sholes' post office closed in 1965, with mail service currently provided by the rural carrier out of Randolph.

In 1910 there were 100 people living in the village. Today, the population stands at 28. An elevator, bar/steakhouse, and a honey business are still operating in Sholes.

Sholes is a village that is not ready to say die, thanks to a few hard-working people who live and work there.


By Loreta Thompins, Wayne County Historical Society, 420 Douglas, Wayne, NE 68787.


ADDITIONAL MATERIAL: History of Wayne County, Dorothy Huse Nyberg, 1938; Excerpts from the Sholes story written by Grant Tietgen published in Wayne County History, Wayne County Historical Society, 1981.