In 1882, Olaf Bergstrom, a minister from Goteborg, Sweden, was impressed with the fertile ground of the Platte Valley on the Oregon Trail.
He purchased eight blocks of land from the Union Pacific and laid out a township four blocks long and two blocks wide. The main street, Lake Avenue, was first called Winchell Street. It was renamed in 1920 to match the layout of the rest of the streets in town.
The Swedish settlers were later joined by the German settlers who took advantage of the farming opportunities here. Our community is now comprised of many different nationalities.
In 2003 Gene Schriver delivered his last gallon of milk, saying good-bye to the business he’d run for 43 years.
He said he was planning on working a couple more years. Schriver said “I kept fixing and keeping that old truck going. I figured I’d quit when one of us gave out. Guess I gave out first.” After spending eight days in the hospital with blood clots in his lungs “I decided it was time."
The business initially began in the late 1930’s when Kenneth Schriver, Gene’s dad, and his wife, Betty, decided to move to town. They had a few cows so he decided to sell the milk and cream for extra income. Milk sold for 6 or 7 cents a quart and 25 cents a gallon. All the family helped out with the business. Gene’s sisters, Betty Ann, Arita and Janet each had a little red wagon they used to deliver milk each night after school. The Schriver’s would eventually buy milk from other farmers for resale and in 1948 he hooked up with Roberts Dairy and started selling their milk in cartons along with his bottled milk.
Gene bought the business, which included a small grocery store, from his dad, Kenneth, in 1960. Schriver delivered both wholesale and retail to homes in Gothenburg and Cozad for several years. He especially liked the home delivery. He’d take milk into the houses and have to find a place in the refrigerator for it.
When the small grocery store was open he would often delivery more than milk. Occasionally the delivery would include a loaf of bread or a pound of coffee. Sometimes he even did more than deliver milk. Many times the older ladies would need a hand now and then to change a light bulb for them or something like that or just spend 10 to 15 minutes just talking to them.
He never missed a scheduled delivery day in the 43 years of business even when a blizzard would shut down the postal service. He followed the long ago postal motto that nothing would stop the milk delivery, “Neither rain, snow or dark of night….”
As kids, Schriver’s Market, was the place to go before and after school to get a snack or to meet up with friends. It is a place where many memories will come to mind for the baby boomer generation.
Another person who made milk deliveries around the Gothenburg area was Ed Kuhlman. He milked, processed and delivered milk during the depression in the 1930’s to supplement his farm income.
After a farming accident, Ed’s wife Mabel and son Don Kuhlman took over the milking and processing while Ed helped with the deliveries. Kuhlman sold his route to Schriver in 1942.
Eric Gustav Westerberg was born in Kristianham, Sweden on June 13, 1844 and spent his early life in Sweden. When he was 16 his father sailed for America intending to make a place for himself and his family, then send for his wife and children. The family never heard from him again, never knowing his fate.
When E.G. was 21, desiring for the opportunities offered in America, he sailed from Stockholm in 1866 landing in New York. He then went directly to Chicago and shortened his name to West, as it was easier for people to say and spell, and also it avoided some of the prejudicial feelings harbored by many towards Swedish immigrants.
In Chicago, he worked in building construction and for the municipality of Chicago. He became foreman of construction and owned three apartment houses in that city. At the time of the Chicago fire, he lost all his holdings.
He married and was the father of two daughters, Jennie and Amanda. His first wife died while the children were toddlers and he soon married again. He had two more daughters, Rosa and Elizabeth and a son, Albert.
In 1882 West came to Dawson County with the idea of purchasing property and settling in the area. At this time, the town of Gothenburg had just been laid out and platted by Olof Bergstrom and the Union Pacific.
He would return to Chicago and ship twenty carloads of lumber and hardware for the new town. He built a hardware store and lumberyard office located along Hwy. 30. He eventually built a grain elevator, electric roller mills in conjunction with his coal and lumber business and was involved in the ice business from Lake Helen. The West family also owned Gothenburg Hardware Company and various other properties in and around Gothenburg.
Active in the community, he served as chair of the Village Trustees, was on the Board of Education and served as a director of the Gothenburg State Bank.
He donated land to the City of Gothenburg to be named and known as the “West Park” on the southeast corner of 20th Street and Lake Avenue.
He was an active businessman in the Gothenburg Community until his death in 1929.
The Boy Scouts of America is one of the largest Scouting organizations in the United States of America and one of the largest youth organizations in the United States, with more than 2.4 million youth participants and nearly one million adult volunteers. The BSA was founded in 1910, and since then, more than 110 million Americans have been participants in the programs at some time.
The Boy Scouts of Gothenburg began ninety years ago in February 1928 being sponsored by the Kiwanis Club. Contests were a favorite part of Scouting (such as fire-making, flint and steel, fire-by-friction) as well as swimming contests. Gothenburg Scouts also had a band at one time.
The following were listed as members of Troop One in 1931: Eddie Duis, Delevon Patterson, Virgil Iler, Paul Potter, Wayne Kirkpatrick, LaVern Wickstrom, Ernie VanWey, Hugh Ralston, Sam Atkinson, Don Holmes, Rynol Dahlman, John Dahlquist, Ralph Barnes, Homer Loutzenheiser, Frederick Karlson, Edgar Burtchard, Otto Krekeler, Arthur Stevenson, Arthur Miller, Frank Ralston, John Ralston, Heye Lambertus, Paul Aden, Melvin Trimble, Don Baker, Dorace Harberts, Edgar Sholund and Howard Clark.
A second troop of Boy Scouts was formed in July 1929 with the American Legion as the sponsoring body. The first summer camp they attended was in Central City at Camp Hord with seven boys attending: Bobby Williams, Junior Loutzenheiser, Jack Dodd, Jiggs Axthelm, Reginald Putnam, Clayton Axthelm, Alfred Krekeler and Richard Gronewold.
In 1935 two District Boy Scout Camps were held at Lafayette Park in Gothenburg with approximately 192 boys and leaders attending.
By 1944, the Boy Scouts were known as Troop 177, the same as they are today. At that time there were at least 40 scouts in the troop.
Since the first Eagle Scout was named in 1912, the rank has represented a milestone of accomplishment—perhaps without equal—that is recognized across the country and even the world. Men who have earned the Eagle Scout rank count it among their most treasured possessions. “Eagle Scout” is not just an award; it is a state of being. Those who earned it as boys continue to earn it every day as men. That is why an Eagle Scout IS an Eagle Scout—not was.
Edgar Burtchard was the first Eagle Scout from Gothenburg receiving this honor in March 1930.
In the 1980-90’s several scouts received the coveted Eagle Scout honor. Led by Ron Bonsak, they included Aaron Kite, John Frerichs, Joe Richeson, Chris Beran, Charlie Burson, Chris Healey, Jory Flesch, Larry Simants and Scott Simants. Others receiving the honor include: John Larson, Todd Larson, Cody Larson, Anthony Reinhard, Noah Larson, Noah Gugelman, Will Healey, Caden Geiken, Max Jinks and others.
Thanks to the Eagle Scouts many of their projects continue to be enjoyed in our community today. Such projects include: trees along Lake Avenue up toward Lake Helen, playground equipment for the school and the Methodist Church, the sidewalk in front of the historical museum, the exercise trail and picnic shelters at the Lake Helen Recreation Area, the flag pole at the Fire Department and another at the Methodist Church and improvements to the Sun Theatre, just to name a few.
Unpredictable would define the day’s agenda when Aimee Guerin opened his repair shop doors on any Monday morning. The shop was open eight hours a day; six days a week and there was no brief job description for his work.
Familiar phrases from his clientele included: “The manufacturer said this can’t be repaired.” “I’m told this is obsolete.” “Can you make the missing part for this antique?”
A vast number of jobs brought into the shop were simply said to be irreparable. How does anyone repair something termed irreparable? Guerin gave a simple explanation. “I just picture the piece in my mind.” When asked how he did it, Guerin replied, “I guess it is a gift.”
In 1909 when Guerin was three years old, his family moved from Farhnam, Quebec Canada, to a sod home at Trenton, NE where his father was employed in the construction of railroad coaches. When he was 13, his father purchased a farm at Farnam, NE. At 18, using a forge, he crafted an anvil which he used the rest of his life making his repairs.
After his father’s retirement, Aimee, his wife, Lilyan and their children, Rex and LeAnn lived on the farm.
Guerin used his mechanical gift throughout his life in several careers: which included farming, inventing, trucking and maintenance repair.
Guerin’s inventive mind, looking for a more efficient method of plowing, thought of building a four-bottom mounted plow. The plow was attached under a B John Deere tractor. Most area farmers were using a pull-type plow. Guerin fashioned his plow from two horse-drawn plows which were raised and lowered with a power lift by pressing a button.
Aimee and his brother Syrias purchased a 1932 Chevrolet truck tractor. They proceeded to build their own stock trailer, as very few semis were on the road in 1932. Another trucker, seeing their project advised them to quit, saying it could only make a few trips to Omaha. Guerin was not a quitter! The semi trucked cattle and various cargo for a total of 103,000 miles. He trucked from 1932 to 1972, logging one million miles without bending a fender. Cargo ranged from draft horses and cattle to monkeys and ostriches. During the early days, the brothers would leave at 8 a.m. and arrive in Omaha at 2 a.m. with only 40 miles of pavement on the long drive, that being between Fremont and Omaha which was partially brick.
Guerin opened his Gothenburg maintenance shop as a hobby when he retired from his trucking career. He was still working full-time at 81 in a modest building behind his home. He never advertised, but that didn’t limit his clientele. He repaired a jack for a Canadian; made lawn mower wheels for a man in New York; and manufactured a pallet lift for a Californian. Lilyan often supplied a third and fourth hand required to make repairs. She also provided hot coffee and fresh snacks right from the oven.
His repairs might be as small as a 1-1/4 inch shaft made for gas meters; or as large as the old steam engine damaged when a tornado blew a barn across it. Another repair included a firing mechanism for a cannon retrieved from the bottom of the Hudson River.
There was always a sparkle in Guerin’s eyes when another puzzling piece came through the door with the usual “Do you think you might be able to help me out?”
Guerin passed away in 1996 at the age of 90.