The Old Settlers Picnic

Summertime is picnic time. Family get-togethers, high school reunions, and town

homecomings dot the summer calendars of many Nebraskans. At the turn of the century,

many picnics honored the “old settlers” who had founded communities not that many years

before. One Cherry County gathering was described this way:

“The old settlers picnic at Britt last Saturday was a success. About 500 people gathered to

talk over old times and enjoy a day together in sport. They came from the surrounding

country 15 to 20 miles around and met as a great family with greetings and social

conversation. The day was perfect and the program was carried out as billed without a jar or

discord. Music was furnished by the McIlhon family for the dancers which was highly

appreciated by everyone who heard them play. The purse ball game between the Valentine

nine and the boys on the Table resulted in a draw, the score standing 8 to 8 tallies in 7

innings. The purse was divided and everyone was happy. The horse races were entered by

several contestants. 1st money was won by the best horse or best rider and they started off

first dash. Smaller sports and dancing closed the day and the people went home satisfied

with having spent an enjoyable day. Every available rig in Valentine was used and some

stayed home for want of transportation.”

The day was so delightful that the local editor was inspired to pen:

“Full more we’d write in verse or rhyme, in praise of all that is sublime, if we could rhyme and

verses fix, we’d write this up and sign it, Bix.

“The editor and boy were there, to swell the crowd of people where

they all are cheerful playing ball and people courteous to all.

“We’d like to write about the game, because we umpired for the same,

“We’d mention those that played baseball, but hang it, we’d don’t know them all.”

“We’d also bring in every name of those who came to see the game, or spent the day upon the

ground in shaking hands or walking ’round.”


–Valentine Democrat, 9/24/03

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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.
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