Fillmore County is
Exeter   Fairmont
Geneva    Grafton
Milligan   Ohiowa
Shickley    Strang


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Discover what our small communities of Exeter, Fairmont, Geneva, Grafton, Milligan, Ohiowa, Shickley & Strang have to offer. Experience the wonderful restaurants, specialty shops, historical buildings, golfing, hunting& fishing, birdwatching and the wetlands. Enjoy the summer festivals, farmers markets, swimming and ballgames. Fillmore County is the place you can experience it all.



    

Historic Markers

 

Historic markers found around Fillmore County

 

Exeter

  1879 EXETER 1979

The first settler in Exeter Township, Fillmore County was Warren Woodard, who built the first house in 1870. The Burlington and Missouri River Railroad, building westward, determined Exeter's location in 1871. The town was laid out by the railroad on land donated by Dr. Horace G. Smith and James Dolan. Its name was suggested by former residents of Exeter, New Hampshire, and conformed to the Burlington's practice of naming towns along this line in alphabetical sequence. The railroad aided the growth of Exeter by promoting immigration from eastern states and Europe, and brought Czechs, Germans, English, Irish, and Scandinavians to the area. By the time the town was incorporated on April 1, 1879, sixteen businesses were in operation.

In 1896, Charles C. Smith, son of Dr. Smith, patented an indexing method to be used in bookkeeping. Smith built a factory in Exeter to produce these index tags, which were used worldwide. The factory operated for sixty-six years and employed seventy people at the height of its production.

Exeter Centennial Book Committee
Nebraska State Historical Society
Exeter
Fillmore County
Marker 278

Fairmont

  FAIRMONT ARMY AIR FIELD

Fairmont Army Air Field, located 3 1/2 miles south, was one of eleven army air force training fields built in Nebraska during World War II. The 1,980-acre field provided final training for the 451st, 485th, 504th, and 16th Heavy Bombardment Groups before they proceeded to the European, Mediterranean, or Pacific Theaters. The 98th, 467th, and 489th Bombardment Groups returning from Europe trained at Fairmont for possible service in the Pacific. The groups flew B- 24, B-17, and B-29 bombers.

The rapid influx of construction workers and military personnel needed to build and operate the field brought housing shortages, as well as an economic boost, to Fairmont and other nearby communities. Area residents welcomed the servicemen and tried to make their stay more pleasant, often inviting the soldiers into their homes. Some servicemen met their future wives while at Fairmont, and returned here after the war to raise their families.

Fairmont Army Air Field was de-activated in October 1945 and declared surplus in the spring of 1946. Part of the field is now operated as the Fairmont State Airfield.

Fillmore County Historical Society
451st Bombardment Group (H) Ltd.
Robert M. Karstensen Sr., President
Nebraska State Historical Society
U.S. 6, 1 mile east of Fairmont
Fillmore County
Marker 381

  FAIRMONT ARMY AIR FIELD

Construction began on the Fairmont Army Air Field September 17, 1942. Located east of here, it was one of eleven built in Nebraska during World War II.

The 1,980-acre field began as a satellite of the Topeka Army Air Base. Early in 1943 the name was changed to Fairmont Army Air Field. A short-lived training school gave way to the 451st Bombardment Group, which arrived in September 1943. Other groups were the 485th, 504th, 16th, 98th, 467th and 489th.

Hangers of various sizes housed B-24s, B-17s, and B-29s. Extensive concrete runways and other structures were built. The field had barracks for nearly 6,000 officers and enlisted men. Its 350-bed hospital was the largest in Nebraska.

In September 1944 Lt. Col. Paul Tibbets visited Fairmont and selected the 393rd Bomb Squadron of the 504th to join the 509th Composite Group at Wendover Field, Utah. This group dropped both atomic bombs on Japan.

The field was declared surplus in the spring of 1946.

Nebraska State Historical Society
Fillmore County Historical Society
451st Bombardment Group (H) Ltd.
Robert M. Karstensen, Sr., President
2.5 miles south of Fairmont on Hwy. 81
Fillmore County
Marker 360

  FAIRMONT CREAMERY COMPANY

The Fairmont Creamery Company was incorporated March 29, 1884, as a stock company by Wallace Wheeler and Joseph H. Rushton. This building was the original office and the creamery was half a mile east of town. From a small, part-time business, the company became one of the nation's largest food processors, later known as Fairmont Foods.

The creamery's first product was butter. By 1891 the 100 employees made 7,000 pounds of butter daily. In the 1890s the company operated plants in Crete, Tobias, Friend, DeWitt, Fairbury, Geneva, Milford, and Hebron. Corporate offices were moved to Omaha in 1907.

In the twentieth century the company diversified, processing dairy products, eggs, poultry, vegetables, and snack foods. By 1959 Fairmont Foods was among the country's 500 largest corporations. The company moved its headquarters to Houston in 1974 and in 1980, it became a wholly-owned subsidiary of American Financial Corporation.

From 1907 - 68 the original creamery building was a medical office for Doctors Sherman F. Ashby, who came to Nebraska in 1885, Albert A. Ashby, and Charles F. Ashby. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Ashbys
Nebraska State Historical Society
On 6th Ave, 3 blks. south of Hwy. 6, Fairmont
Fillmore County
Marker 309

Geneva

  1871 FILLMORE COUNTY 1971

The first homesteads were filed in 1866 by William O. Bussard and William C. Whitaker along the West Fork of the Blue River. Mrs. E. A. Whitaker, the first white woman, came in 1867. The first white children, Emma Whitaker Hall and Authur Dixon were born in 1869. Fillmore City was the first town platted in 1870. Other settlers soon followed, and on April 21, 1871 an election was held for officers to organize a new county, named for President Millard Fillmore. The county seat was named for Geneva, Illinois, the former home of Nathaniel McCalla in whose dugout the election was held.

The completion of the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad across the county in 1871, resulted in large numbers of settlers taking up the land and the towns of Exeter, Fairmont and Grafton were platted. Other towns now in the county are Burress, Milligan, Ohiowa, Shickley and Strang.

The early pioneers came from varied origins, Anglo-Saxon, Bohemian, German, and Swedish. Indians were not a major threat to the settlers but blizzards, grasshoppers, prairie fires and droughts were major hazards. HONOUR TO PIONEERS WHO BROKE THE SOD THAT MEN TO COME MIGHT LIVE.

Descendents of Johnathan K. and Emma E. Hall
Nebraska State Historical Society
US 81, courthouse lawn, Geneva
Fillmore County
Marker 132

Milligan

  THE PIONEER CHAPEL AND CESKY BRATRI CEMETERY

Many immigrants in Glengary Township and the surrounding area were Catholics of Czech and Irish descent. During the early years few priests were available, so they visited the community whenever possible beginning in 1874. Local parishioners conducted prayer services regularly when priests were not present. The chapel, the first permanent house of worship in Fillmore County, was built in the 1870s on the Josef Kotas farm northwest of this cemetery. A successor church, St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church, was erected in the newly formed town of Milligan in 1890.

Burials commenced here before Anton Svec purchased the property from the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad in 1878. He deeded two acres for a cemetery to his Czech brethren in 1887. Although known locally in earlier years as the Catholic Cemetery, and later as the North Cemetery, it was incorporated as the Cesky Bratri (Czech Brethren) Cemetery Association in

1904.

The chapel was moved to the cemetery from the Kotas farm in 1901. The building was restored and dedicated as the Pioneer Chapel in 1998.

Cesky Bratri Cemetery Assn. & Donors
Fillmore County Foundation
Nebraska State Historical Society
Nebraska 41, 1 mile west of the Milligan Corner
Fillmore County
Marker 423

  THE BLIZZARD OF 1888

One of the most spectacular and harrowing events in the history of the Great Plains was the Blizzard of January 12, 1888. Other storms had produced colder temperatures and greater amounts of snow. It was the combination of gale winds, blinding snow, and rapidly falling temperatures that made the 1888 blizzard so dangerous.

The storm's full fury lasted up to eighteen hours in many parts of Nebraska. Because of the suddenness of its onset, the blizzard caught many children away from home in one-room schoolhouses. In an attempt to rescue her two sons, Charles and Thomas, from school Mary Masek of Milligan trekked nearly two miles to the schoolhouse. Finding the building empty, she started for home, but she never reached her destination. She was found frozen to death huddled near a cottonwood tree, only a short distance from a neighbor's farmhouse.

The Blizzard of 1888 created the scene for heroic acts. Mary Masek, like many Nebraskans, fell victim to one of nature's most violent displays while courageously attempting to save the lives of her children.

Milligan Community Club
Nebraska State Historical Society
Nebraska 41, northeast of Milligan
Fillmore County
Marker 247

October 25, 1943 WWII Crash Historical Marker
 

TWO B-24 “LIBERATORS” CRASH NEAR MILLIGAN, 1943

In October 25, 1943, four B-24 “Liberator” bombers from the Fairmont Army Air Field were flying in formation. At approximately 4 p.m., one bomber broke formation and the pilot of a second, as trained, moved toward the vacated position. When the first bomber returned to its position, the two planes collided. At an altitude of 20,000 feet, it was the highest fatal World War II training accident in Nebraska.

One bomber crashed in the adjoining farm fields of Frank Hromadka Sr. and Anna Matejka, 2 miles north and ½ mile east of Milligan. The other crashed in the farmyard of Mike and Fred Stech, 3 miles north and 2 miles east of Milligan. Killed were 2nd Lt. James H. Williams, 2nd Lt. William E. Herzog, 2nd Lt. Kenneth S. Ordway, 2nd Lt. Charles L. Brown, 2nd Lt. Clyde H. Frye, Sgt. James H. Bobbitt, Sgt. William D. Watkins, Sgt. William G. Williams, Sgt. Wilbur H. Chamberlin, Sgt. Edward O. Boucher, Sgt. Ursulo Galindo Jr., Sgt. William C. Wilson, Sgt. Albert R. Mogavero, Sgt. Arthur O. Doria, Sgt. Eugene A. Hubbell, F/O Achille P. Augelli, and Pfc. Andrew G. Bivona. The sole survivor was 2nd Lt. Melvin Klein.

 

Milligan Memorial Committee/Milligan Public Library
Nebraska State Historical Society
2010 Families of the Crewmen and Friends of the Community
Nebraska 41, northeast of Milligan
Fillmore County

Marker 475

BT-13B “Valiant” and P-47D “Thunderbolt” Crash, 1944  

BT-13B “VALIANT” and P-47D “THUNDERBOLT” CRASH, 1944

On May 10, 1944, an instructor pilot and a student pilot were flying a BT-13B “Valiant” aircraft back to the Bruning Army Air Field after a training session. At the same time, a P-47D “Thunderbolt” fighter, whose pilot had been conducting individual training, was returning to the same airfield. Neither pilot was aware of the other aircraft’s presence and both planes were far from the airfield control tower. After both aircraft made simultaneous turns, they were suddenly headed directly toward one another at a high rate of speed.

A midair collision occurred at approximately 4,000 feet, causing both aircraft to spiral toward the ground. The BT-13 crashed on the Frank Stych farm, approximately 3 miles west and 2 miles south of Milligan. The P-47 crashed on the Fred and Dorothy Stych farm, approximately 3 miles west and 3 miles south of Milligan. The P-47 pilot, F/O John Dobony, was killed. Both pilots in the BT-13 bailed out. The instructor pilot, 2nd Lt. Frank W. Mrenak, survived, but the student pilot, 1st Lt. William D. Jaeger, lost his life.

 

Milligan Memorial Committee/Milligan Public Library
Nebraska State Historical Society
2010 Families of the Crewmen and Friends of the Community
Nebraska 41, northeast of Milligan
Fillmore County
Marker 476

B-17G “Flying Fortress” and P-47D “Thunderbolt” Crash, 1944  

B-17G “FLYING FORTRESS” and P-47D “THUNDERBOLT” CRASH, 1944


On September 8, 1944, P-47 “Thunderbolt” fighters from the Bruning Army Air Field conducted training attack maneuvers with two formations of B-17 “Flying Fortress” bombers from the Sioux City Army Air Field. When one P-47 attempted to terminate its mock attack, it collided with the left wing of a B-17, rupturing the bomber’s fuel tank. Both planes exploded.

Most of the B-17 wreckage landed on the Milo Buzek, Dea Baldwin, and Henry Nezda farms, 9 miles south and ¼ mile east of Milligan. The tail section fell on the Lester Krupicka farm. Military officials conducted an extensive search to recover the B-17’s top secret Norden bombsight. The P-47 crashed on the Reinhart Schielke farm, 9 miles south and 1 mile west of Milligan, and its pilot, 2nd Lt. John T. McCarthy, was killed. Of the B-17 crewmen, Cpl. LeNoir A. Greer, Cpl. Walter A. Divan, Pvt. Reuben L. Larson, and Pfc. Albert L. Mikels survived, while 2nd Lt. William F. Washburn, 2nd Lt. Bernard I. Hall, 2nd Lt. Lyle C. Baxmann, F/O George A. Budovsky, Cpl. John E. Tuchols, and Pvt. Henry C. Sedberry lost their lives.

 

Milligan Memorial Committee/Milligan Public Library
Nebraska State Historical Society
2010 Families of the Crewmen and Friends of the Community
Nebraska 41, northeast of Milligan
Fillmore County
Marker 474

Ohiowa

Ohiow Auditorium Marker
 

THE OHIOWA AUDITORIUM

The Ohiowa Auditorium, completed in 1940 and preserved in near original condition, is one of several Nebraska buildings constructed by the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression. The WPA, a federal government relief program, provided employment for local workers. During World War II the auditorium served as an entertainment center for soldiers from the nearby Bruning Army Air Field. A community landmark, the auditorium has also been used for dances, movies, roller-skating, craft shows, auctions, and as a polling place.

Ohiowa Chamber of Commerce
Nebraska State Historical Society
Village of Ohiowa
2008

South Main Street, Ohiowa

Fillmore County
Marker 460

Shickley

Stockholm Lutheran Swedish Church STOCKHOLM LUTHERAN CHURCH AND SWEDISH CEMETERY

Stockholm Lutheran Church and Swedish Cemetery, located one mile south and one-half mile west of here, recall the Swedish-American heritage in Nebraska. In the early 1870s Swedish immigrants began settling in Bryant township, Fillmore County, concentrating between the present towns of Shickley and Ong. As the settlement grew, these pioneers considered the need for a church, organized a congregation in 1875, and purchased six acres of land, although meetings were held in a schoolhouse and members' homes until 1881, when the first church was built. In 1878 five acres were deeded to the Swedish Cemetery Association to provide a burial ground for the community.

By 1900 the old church was too small to accommodate the people who came to worship services and social events. The present church, a thirty-six by sixty foot frame structure with Gothic Revival detailing, was constructed in that year at a cost of $3,549. The congregation continued to use the Swedish language occasionally for worship until 1937. Stockholm Lutheran Church and Swedish Cemetery were entered in the National Register of Historic Places on June 30, 1995. Stockholm Church.

Swedish Cemetery Association
Shickley Community Foundation
Fillmore County Foundation
Nebraska State Historical Society
Nebr. 74, 2 miles west of Shickley
Fillmore County
Marker 399


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