the history nebraska blog

Nebraska’s Seventy-fifth, 1854-1929

The Diamond Jubilee celebrated by Nebraska in early November of 1929 didn’t mark Nebraska’s seventy-fifth year as a state, but its seventy-fifth as a political unit. The 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act making it a territory was commemorated in 1929 with three days of festivities in Omaha that included an air derby; Ak-Sar-Ben livestock show; parades, both military and civilian; and a pageant written by Hartley Burr Alexander.



The timing of the celebration wasn’t auspicious. The U.S. stock market crash had occurred shortly before, but most Nebraskans had yet to grasp its full significance. They optimistically sent President Herbert Hoover an airmail invitation measuring three feet by two feet, but the president, perhaps preoccupied by other events, sent regrets and did not attend. Tens of thousands of other citizens from across the country, however, did attend, with the major parade attracting more than 150,000 spectators.



The Parade of All Nations, said the Omaha World-Herald on November 6, 1929, “throughout its two-mile length saw depicted the perils of the pioneers, the struggles and privations of early home makers, and achievement of the second generation as on a colorful canvas.” Included were Nebraska Governor Arthur J. Weaver, pioneers, Native Americans, prairie schooners, oxcarts, a Mormon handcart, and a float bearing a large kettle labeled “The Melting Pot,” with the Ak-Sar-Ben queen costumed as the Goddess of Liberty. Riding in a stagecoach were two old frontier denizens, Richard W. “Deadwood Dick” Clarke and “Poker Alice” Tubbs, both of Deadwood, South Dakota, who represented Black Hills pioneers during the festivities.



The famous pair were interviewed, with the World-Herald reporting on November 5: “Dick still wears his gray hair streaming behind him, the picturesque 10-gallon hat, high boots and heavy shirt, as he did on the trail not so long ago. . . . ‘Poker Alice,’ famous for her unquestioned genius at poker back in ’76, arrived in Omaha dressed in a dark suit, man’s gray shirt, regulation army cavalry hat and a cane.” Deadwood Dick was eighty-three years of age, and Poker Alice was seventy-six.



Time magazine, on November 18, 1929, reported that Hartley Burr Alexander’s historical pageant, entitled The Making of Nebraska, was the highlight of the celebration. Performed by 1,300 participants at Ak-Sar-Ben Field, “[i]t began at the geological beginning. Several men carrying torches represented volcanoes and lava. Groups of maidens took the parts of stars, seas, land, flowers. Girls in white garments were the Glacier. Girls in bulky costumes typified Solid Land. In Act II a band of Sioux chased a band of Pawnees, then performed a Sun Dance. Next came Spanish conquistadors, French Jesuits, Scouts Lewis and Clark, frontiersmen, Stephen A. Douglas. To end the pageant all joined in singing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ and saluting the flag.”



 



hartley burr alexander

Hartley Burr Alexander, author of the pageant performed at the 1929 Diamond Jubilee celebration. NSHS RG2411.PH0-65



 



Deadwood Dick

Richard W. “Deadwood Dick” Clarke, as he appeared on June 16, 1927, several years before he participated in the 1929 celebration at Omaha. NSHS RG2346.PH0-59


Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

Other Publications

Nebraska History Moments – For Further Reading

Do you have your copy of Nebraska History Moments, published by History Nebraska? This page is for readers who have the book and want to know more about its stories. ...

Nebraska History Index 1885-present

Searching Nebraska History Two ways to search past issues: Table of Contents (1885 to present) . Articles are listed issue by issue, with links to many that ...

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 ...

Books Published by History Nebraska

In an effort to make quality stories from Nebraska's history more accessible, History Nebraska has partnered with University of Nebraska Press as a distributor of most ...

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 ...

History Nebraska newsletter

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.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

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.