The Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition of 1898 attracted some 2.5 million visitors between June l and October 31, 1898. Highlights included displays of exhibit buildings from thirty-one states. One of the special days celebrated on the grounds was Nebraska Day, June 14, 1898, during which this state’s exposition building was formally turned over to exposition management. The Omaha Morning World-Herald, June 14 and 15, 1898, described the pageantry, ceremonies, and speeches which marked the occasion.
The main ceremony began at 11:30 at the Nebraska building. Speakers and guests included Nebraska Governor Silas W. Holcomb and his staff, the living ex-governors of the state, Senator William V. Allen, and William Jennings Bryan. The World-Herald indicated that Bryan was the most popular: “The exposition grounds at least learned today that Nebraska people have a deep and abiding interest in William J. Bryan, for if there was one question that was asked oftener than any other during the morning hours it was as to whether Bryan would be here or when he would speak or some other information regarding him.”
The Nebraska Day celebration did not consist entirely of speeches by dignitaries. Music was provided by the York Glee Club; Mrs. M. A. McKeever of Stromsburg read an original poem in praise of Nebraska. According to the World-Herald, “While the speakers and guests of the day were banqueting at Markel’s, Mrs. Holcomb, assisted by a delegation of ladies, held an informal reception in the governor’s rooms of the Nebraska building. Many availed themselves of this opportunity of shaking the hand of the governor’s wife and other prominent women.”
Beginning June l, 1998, the Nebraska State Historical Society marks the centennial of Omaha’s Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition with a new exhibit in the Headquarters Building rotunda. It will be on view through May 31, 1999.