135th Anniversary Celebration

Celebrating 135 Years In Nebraska
Nebraska Pennsylvania Colony Historical Society
Annual Reunion – August 8, and 9th  
A brave and courageous Jacob and Regina Heim left  Williamsport, Pennsylvania arriving in Rulo, Nebraska on June 13, 1874.  A David Vetter met them and had a house rented for them.  He had a stove and a bed for Jacob and Regina, the children slept on the floor. They used boxes and trunk as table and chairs.  Then they went land hunting.

   Most of the land around Rulo and Falls City had already been claimed so they went to Dawson to find a Mr. Allen who sold them 80 acres with a good spring for water.  It had a house with one room dug back into the bank and two rooms outside made of rough lumber.  Included in the deal were all the growing crops which was some corn, spring wheat, and a small field of sorghum cane. Also a team of horses and a wagon. 

   There they settled, survived drought, grass hoppers, cold winters and illnesses.  We gather to celebrate their memory on August 8 and 9th … a 135 year tract that leads to you and me.   Come join us for that weekend of story telling,  picture sharing, museum house dedication and special Sunday morning memorial service.

   History of the development and settlement of the small southeast Nebraska town of Dawson, Nebraska was typical of the origin of many pioneer communities as the west was populated in the middle 1800’s.  The Pennsylvania Colony of Nebraska is making plans for the celebration of the first German family that came from the Williamsport, Pennsylvania area in 1874. This weekend will recall the history of those families who came west  and worked the raw prairie around a new developing town of Dawson, Nebraska.

   To put the date of 1874 in perspective it is interesting to note just what was going on in the area of Dawson at that time.  The following dates of note are taken from a new book on Dawson history, “The Business Life of a Small Nebraska Town” written by Carol S. Anadale in 2009. A group of Irish families came  to the Dawson area prior to the Penn Dutch.  These families were neighbors of the Penn Colony families and worked side by side through the hardships of the times.   Ms. Anadale is an Irish descendant of the O’Gradys who came in the middle 1800’s. She documents the following dates that were important in Dawson history.

1868 … a mill was built by Joshua Dawson on the North Fork of the Big Nemaha River.
1868 … Town of Dawson Mill established.
1871 … Atchison and Nebraska railroad was extended through Dawson.
1872 … New town site of Dawson was laid out north of the railroad tracks.
1874 … first Pennsylvania dutch family (Jacob G. Heim) settled north of Dawson
1876 …the first hotel in Dawson was built, “Wagner House”.
1877 … first school district organized by county superintendent F. M. Williams
1878 (July 4) St. Mary’s Catholic Church cornerstone was blessed by Father C. J. Quinn.
1881 … Town expanded into Hagadorn’s Addition.
1882 … Dawson Evangelical Church was organized by Rev. S.A. Pettit.
1887 … the first Dawson bank was established.
1888 … Ellis W. Buser established the first newspaper, The Dawson Newsboy.
1898 … telephone lines were completed into Dawson.
1910 … First automobile in Dawson owned by Dr. and Mrs. Walter Draper.
1926 … the water tower and new water system were completed.
1927 … Volunteer Fire Department was organized.
1929 … the paving of Ridge Street was completed.

   On August 8 and 9 of this year the Pennsylvania Colony Historical Society of Nebraska has made plans for a special celebration of the coming to Nebraska in 1874.  A very special Memorial Service will be held at the old Evangelical Church  in Dawson at  11:00 a.m.  on Sunday, August 9.  The entire community is invited to come together and be part of that celebration service.