In the passing of Mrs. Martin D. Ulmer, Jan. 31 Dawson lost the
last surviving member of the original German colony, which came
to Richardson County from Pennsylvania in 1874. Mrs. Ulmer died
in the fullness of her years: she was 82.
Like all small towns Dawson lays emphasis on its racial backgrounds.
The grandson or granddaughter of an early settler is regarded in
the light of his or her ancestors' achievements. Consciously or
unconsciously the third and fourth generations of these German settlers
have maintained the solid standards of the pioneers and have given
a splendid accounting of themselves. Among them are doctors, teachers,
lawyers, artists, civil engineers, business men and musicians.
Among the last is the young pianist Ernest Ulmer, now of New York,
who presented piano concerts in Omaha, and Lincoln and other towns
in Nebraska within the last two years.
However, the general trend of the colony has been toward framing
and in that calling they have set up standards as scientific operators,
successful landowners and cattlemen.
It would be too much to say that this restless age of artificial
showmanship and social discontent has made no impress on the latest
generation; but somehow theses young German Americans seem safely
anchored to the ideals of home and family life and - best of all
- inherited religious tendencies which are bound to serve as a bulwark
against the ills of the atomic age.
Fortunately the melting pot, which is Nebraska (and the United
States) has brought about the amalgamation of the various races
with out obliterating the culture peculiar to each race. In deed
it is largely to this varied culture that America owes its greatness.
These German colonists from Pennsylvania have provided a distinct
flavor to all community projects.
Mrs. Ulmer was a charter member of Dawson's first woman's club,
which subsequently became the Golden Rod Study Club, alive and alert
At a meeting of the present Dawson Woman's Club two years ago
special attention was given to pioneers and pioneer experiences,
stretching back to the little Pennsylvania town from which "Aunt"
Rose Heim came. Aunt Rosa, my dear neighbor, is in her 80's.
She came to Nebraska two years after the original colony arrived.
She was asked to tell the assembled ladies about the process of
making apple butter. Her listeners were fascinated - even the teen-agers
from school who had furnished music for the afternoon's program.
To this listener the dominat thought - as Aunt Rosa talked __ was
"What patience they had!" We want everything done
in a hurry - that was an all day, and sometimes an all night job.
At this recent meeting several antiques were shown to illustrate
how well these early Pennsylvanians managed with almost primitive
equipment. A blanket made of wool from sheep grown on the owner's
land, and processed by him to the final stitch in the shawl, was
a beautiful article. A coffee grinder, a music box with records
resembling our phonograph records. Produced sweetly plaintive music.
Intricately woven baskets and substantial earthenware symbolized
the thoroughness of method and provident traits of these pioneers.
The colony has borne a large share in building and maintaining
a fine church - the Evangelical United Brethren-and there is always
musical talent available for choir, men's and women's choruses,
cantatas and recitals. Music seems to have been as deeply imbedded
in their natures as their thrift and honesty
They cooperate 100 percent in every project for community betterment.
They help maintain a high standard in the school and never fail
to extend neighborliness and moral support to the teaching faculty.
Perhaps the best legacy brought from Pennsylvania and developed
here in Nebraska is the respect in which the young people hold their
elders. That too is a powerful force against juvenile delinquency.
Annually the Colony holds a picnic, each year the roll call extended
by several births and lessened by an occasional death. The affair
has long since assumed the importance of a formal organization with
duly elected officers. Nineteen hundred and fifty saw over 140 in
attendance, with four generations represented. Many had come from
While this organization aims at keeping alive the bonds of friendship
and mutual interests formed so long ago, it in no wise segregates
these good people from the rest of the community. Richardson County
is their chosen land and its people their friends.
Dawson is proud of its "Pennsylvania Colony."