Saloons, Billiard Halls

Although saloons and billiard halls were not considered respectable businesses by some in frontier society, town boosters often supported their contributions to the local economy. The opening of a new such establishment in Nebraska City in late 1877, for example, was the occasion for effusive congratulations from the local press.

The Nebraska City News on December 1, 1877, announced the opening “of the neatest fitted up billiard hall in this city” and noted that the proprietors, brothers Herman H. and Folkert “Fred” Fass, were “two of the most gentlemanly and polite men that were ever engaged in this line of business in our city.” The Fass brothers, both German immigrants, enjoyed a good reputation locally. “Both of the gentlemen have families and own their own homes in this city,” said the News, “consequently they are not transient among us, but have made Nebraska City their home, identifying themselves with her interests by becoming free-holders. Outside of their business, these gentlemen have many friends who will be pleased to hear of their success and advancement.”

The News went on to describe the new establishment: “The size of the room is 120×40, and is divided into two apartments, i.e. a neatly fitted up card room, containing six tables, is partitioned off in the rear. As you enter the saloon from off Main street, the bar, which is of solid black walnut richly carved stands to your right. Back of this are hung three handsome mirrors while the marble shelf is adorned with the finest of cut glasses and fixtures pertaining to a bar. Over this bar are sold nothing, as we are informed by the Fass Brothers, but the finest brands of liquors and wines, of which they keep a large stock always on hand.

“Leaving the bar and passing farther down the room, we come to the billiard tables, which were put up only yesterday and are of the celebrated J. W. Brunswick & Balke Co. manufacture, and are pronounced by those who handle the one, to be the two of the best tables this side of Chicago. The front room, together with the card room has been lately painted and papered, . . . statutes [statues], in imitation of some of the best pieces of arts being placed between the large pannels on the walls. In fact, as this saloon stands to-day, it certainly reflects much credit on the enterprise of its proprietors.”

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   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.

History Nebraska Education

Learn more about the educational programs provided at our museums, sites, and online.

History Nebraska Programs

Learn more about the programs associated with History Nebraska.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

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

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast!

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.