In the board fertile valley of the Platte, on the main line of the Union Pacific railroad, a little city of Gothenburg was just beginning to breathe new life in the summer of 1882. The officials of the Union Pacific railway laid out Gothenburg into town lots, 8 blocks of ground in Dawson County. Soon people and business arrived; E. G. West, Vollard Karlson, Edmond Winchell, and others bringing with them businesses and people.
In 1885 The Gothenburg Independent was established. It had its birth at a time when the town was young and the population was less than 400, but the founders were men of foresight and had great faith in the Gothenburg of the future. In 1893 the Independent was sold to H. C. Booker who edited the paper until 1911 when Everett Moon assumed the position as editor. The paper was always a “booster” when the good interest and welfare of Gothenburg were concerned. The circulation of the Independent crowded the 1200 mark and was recognized as the leading advertising medium of Gothenburg. In 1900 another newspaper came to be published under the masthead of The Gothenburg Sun with the editor J.B. McKnight. It remained in business until 1905 when it merged with the Independent. The Independent remained a growing business until 1925 when it merged with the Gothenburg Times due to the ill health of the last editor, Charles Botkin.
Challenging the Independent for readership, the Gothenburg Times printed their first issue on July 17, 1908. Founder J.C. Holmes, also known as “Cap” to his many friends, came to Gothenburg from Lexington where he had been associated with his brother, Markwood Holmes, in the Clipper-Citizen. Cap Holmes was no stranger to the newspaper business as his father had worked as City Editor of the Grand Island Independent.
The Times established itself in a frame building, the former Ellingsworth Bros. meat market, located on Lake Avenue now the north portion of Sander Furniture Store. E.S. Holmes, Caps brother, was the printer and for a number of years the paper continued as a two-man operation. With the passing of J.C. Holmes in 1936, the publishing duties were taken over by Rus and Don Holmes. In 1957, following Don’s death, the Times owners were Russell D. Holmes, James D. Holmes and Bertha E. Holmes.
Thank you to the owners of the former Gothenburg Times, Scott Wesner and Scott Wood of Platte Valley Media LLC, for entrusting the historical issues of the local Gothenburg newspapers, i.e., The Gothenburg Sun— (1900-1905), the Gothenburg Independent—(1885-1925) and the Gothenburg Times—(1908-2022), to the Gothenburg Historical Museum. Also thank you to their associate, Josh, from Kansas for his help and the generous donations of miscellaneous items. With the help of the following people all issues have been moved to the museum where they will be made available for research and study. Helping to move and stack the newspapers were Roger Heidebrink, Mark Peyton and Roger Kennicutt (pictured); also Jerry Sack, Dick Larson, Anne Anderson, Shiloh Schultz, Sam & Jackie Erb, and Alexandra & Jesse Smith. A special thank you to Sam & Jackie Erb for generously donating the metal shelving for the newspaper storage along with numerous other items that will prove valuable to our museum displays and operation.
A rapid change came on March 9, 2020 when the COVID 19 Pandemic took shape. During the meeting of the Board of Director’s of the Gothenburg Historical Museum as it was deemed for the health and safety of our volunteers and visitors that the museum would be closed until such time that the CDC relaxed restrictions on businesses being open to the public.
After visiting with many volunteers, they indicated they were anxious about working and would rather stay healthy. That being said, the board voted to stay closed for the season and concentrate on making changes to the museum to give it a new look.
Changes began occurring over the winter months. Paid for in part by a Tourism Improvement Grant in the amount of $10,000, contractors were replacing the ceiling and installing new light fixtures in the basement. Walls and ceilings needed to be primed and painted and showcases and historical items needed a facelift.
The Board of directors of the Sun Theatre, in the midst of their remodeling, wanted Gothenburg to retain as much of its history as possible and in June donated the old ticket booth along with a showcase and other memorabilia to the museum to create a display. That display has recently been completed.
The McVicker Pharmacy sign was given to the museum by the City when they removed it from the Lafayette pavilion. It needed a place to be properly displayed. Roger takes a ride up to the attic to check out the beams to insure that we can securely hang the sign from the ceiling. Upon inspection it was determined there was a place to attach sturdy bolts to hold this 13.5 foot sign that seems to weigh a ton. It was deemed that Roger should go up as he is President of our board. It’s amazing the things the president “gets” to do.
During the painting process, the back stairway got a facelift and new stair treads. The office ceiling was painted which brightened up the computer area. Showcases have been moved and new ones appear.
A “Hoosier” kitchen cabinet was renovated and then donated and a new kitchen display was born. Along came a pegboard and shelf to display utensils, pots, pans, etc. A quilt ladder now displays all the beautiful quilts we’ve had but were often overlooked by our visitors.
New soffit, fascia and gutters have been installed and paid for in part with the assistance from the Gothenburg Tourism Committee providing a Tourism Improvement Grant in the amount of $5,000. A new door on the northwest corner of the building was also installed and paid for in part by a donation received from Henry & Patricia Potter.
A special THANK YOU goes to Roger Heidebrink, Charlie & Connie Bihlmaier, Anne Anderson, Dick Larson, Jay Richeson, Cordelia Aden, Marcy Aden, Cecile Ackerman, Kathy Nichols and Pam Slack for providing many hours of volunteer time to continue to make things happen. More needs to be done before we can open so if you’d like to help just let us know and show up every Monday between 1:00-4:00 p.m. beginning January 4, 2021.