History Nebraska Blog

How is this varnish can tied to the founding of Lincoln?

The NSHS recently acquired this artifact for its collections. It is an Autograph brand pure oil can from Western Glass and Paint Company, circa 1910. Western Glass was organized in 1890 by Thomas P. Kennard, one of the founders of Lincoln and among its most influential early citizens.

Western Glass became a very successful Lincoln business. The company address on the can is 12th and M Streets, location of the second plant Kennard built for the company in 1899. Sadly, the building was destroyed by fire just days before Kennard’s death in 1920. But Kennard never knew. Not wanting to upset him, family and friends didn’t tell him about the fire.

The paint can was collected by Larry Kruse who gave it to Kenny Lightman (both men are from Lincoln), who then passed it along to Mike Romberg at Lincoln Glass Company. Romberg donated it to the NSHS after reading the article about Thomas Kennard in the Spring issue of Nebraska History.

Kennard is often remembered as "the father of Lincoln," and for the grand home he built when the town barely existed. Today the Thomas P. Kennard House and Nebraska Statehood Memorial is a historic site maintained by the NSHS.

—Thomas R. Buecker, NSHS Curator

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"3825","attributes":{"class":"media-image wp-image-1627","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"500","height":"326","alt":"Kennard"}}]] Kennard's house on the cover of the Summer 2014 issue of Nebraska History. The photo was shot from the tower of the old state capitol in 1872, looking southeast. Sixteenth Street is in the foreground; the house itself is on H Street. State auditor John Gillespie's house is to the right. Kennard was Nebraska's secretary of state at the time, and he, Gillespie, and Governor David Butler agreed to build fine homes to promote local development and convince people that the frontier capital would become a real city.


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