|Looking back at what it took and who it took to make a|
Nemaha River and rocky hill side into a fine town in the early
day. The Irish and the Penn Dutch who settled in the area
with others cooperated and work hard to make a life for
themselves on the prairie in the middle to late 1800’s. To
those of us who were born and raised here the following story
and people’s names can be of recall. One wonders what they
would think and say looking down now at the town and the
Looking back over the decades, recalling history making
people and event, we sometimes wonder if a different
Dawson would have emerged from the accumulated years
IF…a man named Dawson had not decided to capitalize the
water pressure of the Nemaha River and start Dawson’s
IF the Government had not allotted to Stephen Miles a
good share of land in return for his maintenance of this
section of the Pony Express route….
IF Doctor J. A. Waggener
and his bonny bride of sixteen had not seen fit to throw in
their lot with the very early settlers of Richardson County….
If Bob Draper’s retentive memory had not garnered the facts
and figures around which many a tale of pioneer life is
If Uncle Jake Heim and his wife Reginia, Jerry Fenton
and his wife, Catherine, the Bennetts, Barlows, Farrells, Iliffs,
Drapers, et al, had not lived the “good neighbor” role in the
days when neighborliness was the bulwark against
discouragement and want….
If each man’s home, each man’s
church had not been shielded by a generous community spirit
which prompted immediate restoration of that home or that
church was destroyed….
If a Christian forbearance had not
conquered an unchristian revenge, when an incendiary
caused the destruction of St. Mary’s Church…..
If a kind
Providence had not prevented a serious epidemic of the flu in
Dawson after the World War, when there was no doctor
resident in town….
If “Bill” Alexander had not given a
mortgage on his good looks by marrying early, thus
discouraging amorous glances from numerous Dawson
(Now that Bill’s hair is grey he is more distinguished
looking than ever)….
If the benches located outside the
various business establishments in town did not furnish a
central point whence opinions arguments, irrefutable logic
extended, with centrifugal force to the confines of the
community molding—or do they? –local philosophy…..
If Grandma (Mrs. George Smith) had not won, far and wide, a
reputation for practical charity….
If True Stratton (Ulmer) had
not been available since a very small girl, as piano
accompanist on any and every musical occasion….
If a school
teacher from SOMEWHERE (even the oldest inhabitant does
not know whence) had not permanently impressed upon the
children a twang which was a mixture of Missouri-Arkansas,
Kentucky lingo, permanently, because today you will hear the
children (and recently some pretty school ma’am’s)
say “caow” for cow, “taown” for town, “haow” for how. That
the twang is ineradicable is inexplicable to those of us who
bear in mind that considerable of the ancestry of the
community is a combination of Pennsylvania Dutch and
The above article was compiled and taken from the
Historical and Business Review Edition of the Dawson Herald,
published in August of 1936 by Charles Ross, Publisher by Bob
Williamson. The entire edition can be purchased from the
Penn Colony of Nebraska.