Nebraska State Historical Society Blog

Thomas E. Kimball Collection

Fourth of July at Kimball home, Wakefield, Nebraska (RG5212.PH2-11)

The Kimball family celebrate 4th of July at their home in Wakefield, Nebraska, ca. 1900. (RG5212.PH2-11)

The Thomas E. Kimball Collection provides a unique view of Wakefield, Nebraska at the turn of the Twentieth Century. NSHS received the sixty-four 4"x5" glass plate negatives in 2000 after they were found under the floorboard in the old Levi Kimball house in Wakefield. The images were likely taken by Thomas Evarts "Tom" Kimball. Tom was the youngest son of Civil War veteran Levi Kimball and Abbie (Hill) Kimball. He was born in Castalin, Iowa on October 3, 1873. The Kimball family moved to Wakefield in 1887. 

Tom was a devote member of the Baptist Church. He converted at the age of 14 while the family was still living in Iowa. Just weeks after his graduation from Des Moines College, Tom was licensed to preach by the Forest Avenue Baptist Church of Des Moines, Iowa on June 24, 1896 at the age of 23. He attended Rochester Theological Seminary from 1897-1898.

Unfortunately, Tom was unable to complete his final year at the seminary due to poor health. In 1899, he traveled to Colorado for his health. Returning to Nebraska, Tom was ordained at Farnam to the ministry on May 23, 1899 and would server as pastor of First Baptist Church for two years. 

Tom's health continued to be an issue. He spent 1901-1903 at his ranch in Colorado. In the summer of 1904, Tom returned to the family home in Wakefield, Nebraska. It was likely during this visit Tom took many of the images of his family preserved on the glass plate negatives. In the fall, Tom returned to Colorado and visited Arizona to avoid the serve Nebraska winter.

Due to his failing health, Tom returned to Wakefield on March 9, 1905. Sadly, Tom died on March 18, 1905 at the age of 31. 

River in Colorado (RG5212.PH1-36)

A fast-moving river in Colorado, likely near Thomas Kimball's ranch, ca. 1901-1903. (RG5212.PH01-36)

Lake in Colorado (RG5212.PH1-37)

A beautiful mountain lake in Colorado. (RG5212.PH01-37)

Kimball home in Wakefield, Nebraska (RG5212.PH02-01)

Home of Levi and Abbie Kimball, 208 Highland Street, Wakefield, Dixon County, Nebraska .(RG5212.PH02-02)

Kimball home in Wakefield, Nebraska (RG5212.PH02-01)

Dining room in the Kimball house, ca. 1904 (RG5212.PH02-01)

Kimball home parlor (RG5212.PH02-06)

Parlor in the Kimball house (RG5212.PH02-06)

Levi Kimball in his living room (RG5212.PH02-10)

Levi Kimball relaxes in a hammock in his living room, ca. 1904 (RG5212.PH02-10)

The First National Bank and Wakefield Republican, about 1904 (RG5212.PH03-02)

The First National Bank and Wakefield Republican, about 1904. (RG5212.PH03-02)

Interior of the First National Bank, ca. 1904 (RG5212.PH03-01)

Interior of the First National Bank, ca. 1904 (RG5212.PH03-01)

Interior of the First National Bank, ca. 1904 (RG5212.PH03-03)

Interior of the First National Bank, ca. 1904 (RG5212.PH03-03)

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