October 29, 2022 | Last updated May 22, 2023

Marker Monday: Harvard Jail

Our Historical Markers across Nebraska highlight fascinating moments in our state’s past. Today we look at a 130-year-old jail in Harvard, Nebraska that has been owned by the city of Harvard, a 16-year-old boy, and a ventriloquist dummy.

Location

151-185 W Oak St, Harvard, Clay County, Nebraska

View this marker’s location 40.617782, -98.097915

Marker Text

The jail was inadvertently sold to Robert Pinckney, 16, in a delinquent tax sale in 1943. When the city refused to buy back the jail, sparking a legal battle that earned national publicity, Pinckney put the jail up for auction at a West Coast war bond drive. Charlie McCarthy, ventriloquist Edgar Bergen’s puppet, “bought” the jail for $10,000 in war bonds and deeded it back to Harvard. Estimated to be over 130 years old, the jail was refurbished in 2008-10.

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