Skip Navigation

University of Nebraska–Lincoln

  • Virtual Nebraska Logo

Virtual Nebraska

Nebraska...Our Towns

Nebraska...Our Towns

Thayer -- York County

"Here comes the parade..." (l-r) The Presbyterian Church, the hotel, telephone office, bank, drugstore, and a general store, and several other businesses. [Ehlers]

Thayer Township, named for General John Milton Thayer, was created when York County was organized, quite some distance from the county that also bears the Thayer name. The Thayer Post Office was established on September 8, 1870, near a mill on Lincoln Creek.

The town of Thayer was established about one mile south of the mill when the railroad came through the area. Platted on land purchased from David Price, one of several families of Prices that homesteaded here, it burst upon the scene in typical railroad-town fashion.

William Stine, the depot agent, had a light plant that furnished electricity to the town in a small way, and a photography shop south of the depot. The freight was hauled from the depot to the stores in dray wagons operated by W. Blackburn, Ed Mosley, and Peter Kelch.

After the earthen dam at the mill washed out several times, a larger concrete dam was put in. During the winter, ice was cut and hauled to surrounding communities, some going as far as Fremont. During the summer the mill pond was a resort for boating and fishing, and an ideal place for picnickers under the large shade trees.

Frank Randall was the first druggist. In 1888 Dr. Lewis Linvill set up practice, and Dr. David Boswell came in 1891. Jake Keller was the village 'smithy for many years. William Jones operated the first and only hotel. A general store was operated by D. Weber, who was also postmaster until E.R. Ecklers took over in 1903. When Paul Mueller and Paul Schmidt came to Thayer, they ran a store for seven years. Then Mueller became cashier at Farmers State Bank and Schmidt managed the lumberyard. Otto Wutke was cashier of the Thayer Bank after he sold his harness and repair shop. He was replaced by Ambrose Ratzlaff.

Thayer had two elevators -- Updike and Farmers Grain -- now part of the Bradshaw, Waco, and York co-op. Fire destroyed the Updike Company and it did not rebuild. Two stations bought eggs, cream, and chickens. For vanity's sake, there were two barber shops. E. Hanson ran one, and Alex Rae made you handsome before dining at his restaurant. To add class, an opera house was built and Wm. Heiden operated the motion pictures. The school used it for plays and occasionally troupes came in to entertain.

The first school building was also used for Sunday school and church services. It was destroyed by fire in 1924 at which time a brick structure was built. Thayer High had a great basketball team, winning the state tournament in 1936 and placing high in several more in the '40s. The largest graduating class was 18 in 1936.

Thayer had three churches. The Methodists were the first to build, Zion Lutheran established a church in 1901, and a Presbyterian church was built a short time later. When Thayer's school merged with Waco in the early 1960s, Zion Lutheran purchased the building and ran a two-room parochial school for a time. It closed in 1987.

The peak came in 1910 when the population reached 250. Thayer incorporated in 1914. A village board was formed and a marshal was hired to keep order. In 1928 Iowa-Nebraska Light and Power built and operated a light system for the town. The telephone office was run by Mrs. Eckles until Mrs. Grubaugh came. When she moved, Edith Grobe moved the swithchboard into her home. In the 1940s, Thayer went on the York exchange.

A building was erected for the Royal Neighbors, W.A. and W.C.W. lodges. In front of Rae's building was the town pump that quenched many a thirst. For a number of years free movies were shown once a week and brought the community together. Even so, during the dustbowl of the 1930s, the banks and a number of businesses closed. Many farmers from the community left the land to look for work. In 1942, when trucks took over the hauling, the rails were taken up for use in the war effort.

As the old timers passed on and the younger generation took jobs in the city, the town continued to dwindle. The post office closed in the 1950s. The Thayer Club Room was the last business to close in 1984.

The population of Thayer in 1990 was 70. We still have a co-op elevator, and Thayer's Best Repair and Mechanic Shop owned and operated by Maynard Matlock. Zion Lutheran Church, under the leadership of Pastor David Mumm, holds worship services every week.

By Elmer Sackschewsky, Rte 1, Waco, NE 68460.