publications

James M. Ross Letter

James M. Ross, a Johnson County settler in the 1860s, wrote several letters to his father in Illinois describing the geography and the agricultural prospects of his new Nebraska land claim. “The longer I stay in this country the better I like it,” Ross wrote on March 2, 1868. “I like its dry pure atmosphere and its deep loose soil and the dry rolling prairie and its good roads the year round. A man can haul all his wagon will bare [sic] any time. It is thirty-five miles from here to the river and they will put on from forty to fifty bushels of wheat and make the trip down and back in two days with two horses without any troubles.



“There is but one thing that causes me any uneasiness and that is the grasshoppers. They came in here again last fall and deposited their eggs in great numbers but it is to be hoped they will not do any damage. They hatched out here last summer but they did not hurt anything in this section of country, though they did damage the wheat some down toward the river. It is to be hoped they will leave us this summer for good as it is said this is not their natural climate. They was never known to hatch out here until last year.



“I will now let you know what kind of a winter we have had here. We had no weather that could be called winter weather until the first of January. It then set in pretty cold and snowed some and remained so until about the middle of last month. We have had no extreme cold weather but steady winter weather all the time after it commenced. I believe they say the coldest weather indicated by the thermometer was twelve degrees below zero. It thawed out about the middle of last month and the people have been plowing and sowing wheat considerable until the last few days, it has turned colder and snowed a little, but it is going off again so I think we can go to plowing again in a few days. . . .



“Our children have been going to school all winter. They have to go about 2 miles and three quarters but they have went through all the worst of the weather and have learned very fast, but I think it is the last winter they will have to go so far for we have laid off a new district and the people have selected a place on my land to build a school house on. It will be [with]in a quarter of a mile of our house. We are going to try to get the house up this spring if we can, I don’t know whether we will succeed or not yet.”



Ross also noted the good health he and his family had enjoyed since moving from Illinois to Nebraska: “I now weigh one hundred forty five pounds which is from ten to fifteen lbs more than I used to weigh back there and my family is all as healthy as I am. I have lived here now nearly three years and have never yet had a doctor in my family and have not spent over one Dollar and a half for medicines.” 


Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

Other Publications

The Bachelors’ Protective Union of Kearney

When the Bachelors' Protective Union gave a gala reception for two of its newly married, former members and their brides in March of 1890, the social club for young, ...

U.S. Weather Bureau in 1890s Nebraska

The U.S. Weather Bureau was established by an act of Congress on October 1, 1890. It took over the weather service that had been established in the office of the Chief ...

Canning the Way to Victory

During American participation in World War I the U.S. Food Administration, under the direction of Herbert Hoover, launched a massive campaign to persuade Americans to ...

The Shoemaker’s Ashes

"Edward Kuehl, one of the most peculiar characters that ever lived in Omaha, or anywhere else, was found dead in his bed last night in the back room of his place of ...

Crazy Horse Surrender Ledger Foreward

Red Dog, an Oglala Lakota who lived at the Red Cloud Agency, Nebraska, 1876-77 (Nebraska State Historical Society RG2955.ph).   In the summer of 1876, following the ...

Darryl F. Zanuck

Darryl F. Zanuck Darryl F. Zanuck (1902-1979), a native Nebraskan, produced some of Hollywood's most important and controversial films. He helped found 20th Century Fox ...

The Burlington’s Profitable Pork Special

Nebraska railroads were much concerned with developing an adequate economy in the areas they served. The Burlington, for example, had a long history of caring for the ...

Bungalow Filling Stations

After the giant Standard Oil Company was broken into thirty-four separate companies in 1911, the newly independent Standard Oil of Nebraska dominated the state's market ...

The Bull Fight

This is the perfect time of year for a visit to the old fishin' hole. But a group of fisherfolk from Plainview discovered that this bucolic pastime sometimes has ...

Buffalo Soldiers West

African-American soldiers on the western frontier are the focus of an exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln. Buffalo Soldiers West, on loan from the Colorado ...

Protection for Buffalo

The extermination of the buffalo on the Plains occurred largely between 1870 and 1885. The Nebraska State Journal of Lincoln on February 1, 1874, editorialized in vain ...

Buffalo Hunting

In late October 1877 young Rolf Johnson and three friends left their homes in Phelps County, Nebraska, for a buffalo hunt in northeastern Colorado. The hunt was not very ...
About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.
Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.