Annual Picnic
The Pennsylvania Colony of Nebraska Historical Society

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                         2012 Annual Picnic - Photo by Lorrie Novak

The date for the 2016 picnic is Sunday, August 7th.  See you there!

Moving forward . . .

A Message from the President

                With the closing of the Dawson Bethel United Methodist Church, the Penn Colony has acquired from the church many artifacts connected with family history, making the issues of display and storage now more pressing.    The architect’s original conceptual drawing of the development of the Henry Heim farm property included a multi-purpose building. This has been downsized to a smaller version capable of being enlarged as necessary.   The now proposed building would, among other uses, include a display area for artifacts (we have a large quantity of display cases), a sheltered area for the annual watermelon feed; the flexibility to convert an area to a chapel to hold the picnic weekend Sunday memorial service; and the eventual ability to host the Sunday reunion noon meal.

      The Penn Colony has obtained preliminary bids for the construction of this building. The building would be located just west of the summer kitchen and connected to the Henry Heim House via the summer kitchen. The present garage and attached shed would be relocated. The bids indicate the cost for the building, including rough-ins for plumbing for restrooms and a kitchen area, approximate $50,000. Based on the preliminary bids, the Penn Colony is undertaking a fundraising effort to secure funds or pledges of funds for at least 75 percent of the estimated project cost. We have obtained a pledge for the structural steel component of the building and for the cost of paving the covered patio area.

      A donation of $25 equates to approximately one square foot of the proposed building. Multiples of this amount would mean the Penn Colony can move forward to a realization of a museum building and a location for future memorial services.

      The acquisition of the Henry Heim House and acreage provided a rallying point for the Penn Colony organization. Your support of the restoration of that house was tremendous—an accomplishment all can be proud of. The recent setback with the water and furnace problems was overcome with your support. To keep moving forward, we are again asking for your support.

      Life memberships and memorial donations have helped the organization’s efforts to accomplish its mission. We look forward to this continued support. 

                             Dan Pleiss



Click here for info from past picnics.

This a picture from the 2009 Picnic Weekend.  There were more in attendance, but not everybody stayed for this picture.

Photo courtesy of Shirley Heim Pierce  and Keith Heim....editors of the news letter ...Colony Penn  


Watch here for the date for the 2013 Picnic!  The dates are Saturday, August 10th and Sunday, August 11th.  See you there!


See pictures of past picnics in the picture area!

-The Annual Pennsylvania Colony of Nebraska Picnic is usually held in August.  The event will be a two day event. A typical Schedule of events is:

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday:

Heim House Museum will be open for guests Friday, Saturday, Sunday for tours

Saturday Schedule:

10:00 AM  The museum building open for visiting and  displaying of antiques, pictures, family artifacts.

Noon Luncheon:  free pick up sandwich and drink

1:00pm  Board Meeting (all welcome)

3:00pm tours

6:00pm water melon feed at Heim House Museum north of Dawson

7:00pm More tours

Sunday Schedule:

9:30am coffee and rolls breakfast (free will offering)  

basement of the Christian Church in Humboldt

10:30am memorial church service at the museum building

1pm annual picnic catered dinner (tickets $10 at museum building)

Maps of old farmsteads in the Dawson area may be picked up at the museum Building showing directions for your touring pleasure.   

Pennsylvania Colony

Henry Heim House


Built in the 1890’s, this lovely Victorian is now a museum, the Henry Heim House. It sits on a high ridge with a view of the beautiful Nemaha Valley, and the town of Dawson a short distance to the southeast. It is the fulfillment of a dream of a few dedicated members of the Colony, and of Lloyd and Donna (Heim) Epley, who made the home and acreage available to the Colony for an affordable sum.


      Colony members’ pledges and donations enabled the purchase of the home in 2002 and the remodeling of the first floor rooms. On display are furniture, dishes, clothing, quilts, linens, tools, photographs, many handmade items, and other treasures passed down from family to family through the years.    

      The museum will be open at convenient times during the reunion weekend. While you are visiting, think about family artifacts you might wish to donate for display in the museum.

For further information contact museum co-directors:  

Marilyn Ogle 402 855 4225  1021 Ridge St. Dawson, Ne.  68337
Michelle Heim 402 855 2285  71329 638 Ave. Dawson, Ne. 68337

OR:  Dan Pleiss ( 14721 Laurel Plaza., Omaha, Nebraska 68116  (402 431 9267)

Pictures of some picnics from past years are on the picture pages.

How Did the Picnic Begin?

Many of us have been attending the annual Pennsylvania Colony Picnic all of our lives. We look forward to lots of good food and to getting reacquainted with our many cousins, who now come from a dozen or so states each August.

We are indebted to the late Elma Heim Griffith for her account of how the tradition of the picnic got started many years ago.

"Late in the summer of 1922 my parents (Jacob S. and Rebecca Heim) and I made an extended visit to Pennsylvania. In October, 1922, when we returned home, we brought with us Tom and Ida (Waltz) Ulmer, Tom's sister, Miss Louisa Ulmer, and Edgar Heim. Tom and his sister were cousins of Israel, Emanuel, Sarah, and Martin Ulmer, and Ida was a cousin to the John J. and Johnnie Heim families. Edgar Heim was a nephew of Henry W. Heim and came to Dawson to make it his home for a number of years.

"In order that these people from Pennsylvania might meet the relatives here and get a good start on their visiting, my mother planned a general gathering for Sunday, October 15. Each family was notified to bring enough food and table service for their own family. We made a large table under the big maple tree in our front yard and all the food was set out on this table. Everyone enjoyed the hours of visiting during the afternoon. The young people played 'Last Couple Out,' 'Three Deep,' 'Run, Sheep Run,' and 'Ruth and Jacob' in the front yard.

"This gathering was so much enjoyed it was agreed to make it an annual affair and to call it 'The Pennsylvania Colony in Nebraska Reunion.' For several years it was held in our yard. Then others of the group invited the Reunion to their homes. The attendance grew from 78 in 1922 to 120 in 1955. The highest number present at any time was 142 in 1949 (which celebrated the 75th anniversary of the colony's founding)."

This account, we have edited, is taken from Elma' s Folklore of a Pennsylvania Colony in Nebraska, 1955. (Note that the 1999 picnic, a two-day affair celebrating the 125th anniversary, was attended by nearly 200 descendants.)

Picture of 125th Reunion in 1999. Are you in it??

Click on image to see larger picture

Last Update: 15-Oct-2007   


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