Re-Discovering Forgotten Famous Nebraskans

Who comes to mind when you are asked to name a famous Nebraskan? Perhaps Johnny Carson or Tom Osborne? Maybe Warren Buffett or Willa Cather?

But what about those Nebraskans who were famous in their time but who are no longer remembered today? You can learn more about some of these forgotten famous Nebraskans in the collections at History Nebraska! Get to know Billy Wolff, Joe Stecher, and “Texas Mary” Marish, who all left their mark on Nebraska’s history.

Billy Wolff (1896-1977)
Record Group Number: RG1586.PH

William “Billy” Wolff was born in 1896 in Omaha, Nebraska. After serving in World War I, he moved to Lincoln and opened a bicycle shop in 1919. By the 1930s, the shop also sold motorcycles. The Wolff Cycle Company operated for over fifty years near 18th and O Streets in Lincoln, Nebraska. Billy Wolff became an active community member who threw large parties for children to celebrate Halloween or the Nebraska State Fair. After he died in 1977, a city bike trail was named in honor of Billy Wolff.

For more images and artifacts related to Billy Wolff, search our Digital Collections Portal


Joe Stecher (1893-1974)
Record Group Number: RG1976.PH

Joe Stetcher was born in 1893 in Dodge, Nebraska. A natural athlete, he eventually decided to become a professional wrestler. When he defeated the reigning American heavyweight champion in 1915, Joe Stecher became the youngest man to claim professional wrestling’s world heavyweight championship. Later in his career, Stecher was the first wrestler to regain the championship title for a second time. He remained a national wrestling star until he retired in 1934. After his death, he was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Click here to view more photographs of Joe Stecher.


“Texas Mary” Marsich (1917-2008)
Record Group Number: RG1680.PH

“Texas Mary” was a popular entertainer on Nebraska radio from the 1930s until the 1950s. Born as Mary Theresa Mihalovich, she started singing at an early age. She began working for KFAB Radio in 1938 and gained attention for her yodeling. She performed with the Radio Rangers band, often doing live shows at the KFAB studio in Lincoln, Nebraska. Mary stayed with the radio station after it moved to Omaha in 1949. She was often featured in local promotional events and advertisements. Mary Marsich worked as a singer for KFAB until 1956, and she continued working for the studio as a receptionist until 1984.

Click here to find more images of “Texas Mary” in our photograph collections.

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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.
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