Stout, W. H. B.

W. H. B. “Boss” Stout (1837-1902), Nebraska building contractor, politician, and lobbyist, remained well known here even after he suffered financial reverses and left the state about 1890. The Omaha World-Herald of April 12, 1892, reported his residence in Washington D.C. at that time and summarized his past career:

“The name of W. H. B. Stout is a familiar name in Nebraska. It is closely linked with the political history of the state. In 1868 [1858] Stout went to Nebraska. He was a member of the first state legislature. He became a contractor, and moving to Lincoln [in 1871] from a northern county [Washington] he began to amass a fortune. He was by nature a money maker and entered politics ‘for revenue only.’ With wealth came political power, and with the latter came state contracts. He obtained the contract for keeping the prisoners of the penitentiary. With this convict labor he built the present state house [the second Nebraska State Capitol], which is a standing monument to the inferiority of prison labor. He built the Lancaster county court house and many other creditable structures.

“For a time money seemed to grow on trees for Stout. Then he branched out into mining. . . . An Idaho mine was to have made ‘Boss’ Stout a twice millionaire, but one day when the skies looked clearer than ever Stout woke up to find that the Idaho mine had petered out and he had lost $225,000 in cash in the investment. This was the starter. All over Lincoln Stout owned many valuable pieces of property, among these being the old Capitol hotel. Mortgages followed, and further and further the big contractor went down hill. Everybody was ready to give him a shove downward. In 1887 Stout transferred his penitentiary contract to Charlie Mosher, . . . The money Mosher paid went to pay off other debts of Stout and it was not long until the once man of wealth was penniless.

“It never rains but it pours and within eighteen months Stout’s wife died. . . He moved to Washington. During his better days in Nebraska he had obtained the contract for building the foundation for the new congressional library at the nation’s capital. When fate began to smite him this contract was taken from him and rewarded [re-awarded] after he had derricks and material already upon the ground. He has a claim against the government for expenses and damages sustained in this matter in the sum of $150,000.”

Stout later secured a minor government post in Washington through the auspices of a Nebraska friend but never managed to retrieve his lost fortune. 

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.