St. Patrick’s Day Ball in Lincoln, 1878

St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated in Lincoln in 1878 with an evening ball. The Daily Nebraska State Journal on March 19, 1878, reported: “St. Patrick’s Day, like the Fourth of July and Christmas, only comes once a year, but when it does come it means enjoyment in the fullest sense of the word; and for down right fun give us an Irishman all the time. If there is fun to be had, he will have it, cost what it may. The street processions, so common in the larger cities of the country, were dispensed with in Lincoln. The usual church services, however, were had, and the evening was given to dancing.

“Those of our citizens who were formerly residents of the Emerald Isle, whose fathers and grandfathers were wont to wear the shamrock plucked from the green knolls of Kerry, and whose arm was ever ready to defend their rights against all kinds of encroachments, . . . celebrated in proper style the day of their patron saint. And although far away from the land of their birth and the scenes of their childhood, the day–so dear to every Irishman’s heart–was gloriously commemorated.

“To say it was an evening of enjoyment would not half express it. From 9 o’clock in the evening until the sweet notes of the meadow larks were heard in the morning, was the dancing kept up. It was a perfect jam of the beauty and gallantry of Lincoln, with quite a sprinkling of young folks from our neighboring towns of Seward and York and many of the towns on the line of the B. & M. At midnight it was estimated that three hundred people were in the ball room and galleries. One of the managers informed us that he had taken in two hundred and ten tickets at the door and they were still coming. It was without exception the best attended ball ever given in Lincoln, and the beauty of the whole affair was, that there was nothing to mar the pleasure of any one. Everything passed off as merry as a marriage bell, and all went home declaring they had fun enough to last a year. There were many pleasing incidents connected with the ball which our already crowded space forbid us from mentioning; but the old ‘Irish Jig,’ danced by some half dozen couples, as the old folks used to dance it years and years ago in the old sod, was one among the many attractions. It will be a long time before those who were present last night will forget the St. Patrick’s ball of 1878.”

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.

Education Digital Learning Resources

Find games, lists, and more to enhance your history education curriculum.

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.

History Nebraska Services

Digital Resources

Find all of our digital resources, files, videos, and more, all in one easy-to-search page!

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.