History of Naper Nebraska

Naper in the 1800's

In 1889 a treaty was signed between the Indians and United States government whereby the Indian land would be thrown open for settlement. President Harrison proclaimed the territory open for settlement in February of 1890.

Isaac Mills built a blacksmith shop opposite Mr. Naper's store. The next year J.W. Small built a hardware store and G.S. Graves built a hotel. As more settlers moved in, the need for a school was recognized, and District #21 was organized in 1892; and an application for a post office was made. In 1896 D.G. Briggs homesteader and built his first livery barn. As his business grew he built a larger barn within the townsite on the north side of what is now E.2nd Street, just east of Main Street.

On March 23, 1897 the Boyd County supervisors passed a resolution that Naper be incorporated. John Anhorn established an implement business that same year. In 1898 J.P. Anhorn opened an implement, blacksmith, and general repair shop. William Krotter opened a hardware and lumber yard in 1899. R.R. Naper opened the Citizen's Bank. In 1900 Mr. and Mrs. F. G. Briggs were the proprietors of a hotel, The Naper House, charging rates of one dollar a day; and Solomon Blakkolb opened a hardware store. He was also a carpenter.

Naper 1900 - 1970's

History of Naper

Other businesses formed in 1901: Henry Anhorn, furniture. W.E. Green, barber and photographer. Peter Andersen, implement. N.M. Morse, general merchandise. Fred Anhorn, implement. H.F. Slaughter, real estate. Lucy Hensel, photography. In this year proprietors were obliged to put in a sidewalk, eight feet wide, in front of their businesses.

In 1902 the People's Bank was established by Wilford Standiford with J.A. Standiford as cashier. Sam Statsman operated a hardware store from 1902 - 1920 with partner Carl Reichel and father-in-law John Stahlecker, which they purchased from Solomon Blakkolb when Solomon opened a general merchandise store. Members of the Blakkolb family continued to operate this same store until 1968 when grandson William Blakkolb sold it and retired.

In 1903 George Knittle and Christ Fischer bought a general merchandise store from Johann Hauff. John Andersen opened a saloon. J.P. Andersen and his uncle Will Andersen purchased George Crosby's general store. Jonas Johnson opened a photography shop; and E. Felton operated a livery barn. Other businesses in the early days included: G. Hanson,
Blair & Crosby, and Serr & Serr Co, general merchandise. Claus Vogt, furniture and undertaking. Jere Bailey, hardware. John Murchand and John Andersen, cream stations. Willis Melendy and Isaac Mills, architects/builders. Mose Andersen and Mr. McCoy were barbers. John Quest and Pat Crow were saloon keepers. W.F. Clark and Elmer Hobliet, practical masons. Blacksmiths were E.E. Humphrey, Gottlieb Schoenefeld, William Schultz, Alvin Kahler, Bill Wright and Barney Allshouse who was also a freighter.

The Naper Press was the first newspaper followed by The Naper News, The Boyd County Democrat, and The Naper Enterprise. Anna Walter had a beauty shop, and Miss Kelly was a dressmaker. A.M. Schaefer owned the City Restaurant, and the Bon Ton Restaurant was owned by A.A. Gregg. R.L. Crosby and Paul Hazen were attorneys, and Hensel & Brown were publishers and bookmakers. Mrs. Bill Wright and Josephine Rinehart operated hotels. Other banks were the First National and the Farmer's State. Peter Andersen sold Raleigh products traveling with a team and buggy, and Dr. Crose was a dentist who came from Butte.

Drs. Mallory and Reeves were the first doctors to serve this area. They were located at "The Point". Dr. C.F. Zimmerman was a pioneer doctor for the Naper area, giving about 30 years of his life as a county doctor. For 27 of these, he was hired by the United States government to treat the Indians. He and his wife Mollie operated the drug store and pharmacy for many years. Dr. Frazier, and Indian, practiced in Naper from 1904 - 1914, and Dr. E.R. Seasongood from 1910 - 1920. Dr. Seasongood had a small hospital on the east side of Main Street. He died of the flu, and his brother, Dr. R.R. Seasongood, took over the practice until 1932.

Hans Sieh & Bill Blakkolb groceries

The Bruce Roller Mill was located 3 miles east of the bridge SW of Naper on the Keya Paha River. John Hoyt had a sawmill, and he moved it to the Henry Tienken place. There was a flour mill on Oak Creek, 1.5 miles west of Tom Wilson's, and another west of Bill Tienken's. Cattle, hogs, and other livestock going to market were driven or hauled by team and wagon to the railroad at Stuart or Herrick. Supplies were freighted in by huge freight wagons. M.A. Borrall, Ferdinand Klaudt, and Henry Shock were also early day freighters.

The Twin Buttes are prominent landmarks 5 miles SE on Highway 12. They are easily seen from Naper as they rise 200 above the surrounding country. One of the buttes has a cave where outlaws were said to have hidden. Indian dances were held on the flat-topped butte. An annual 3-day tournament was held for many years. Entertainment was horse racing on the race track which was situated in the field directly west of the Zink Vet Clinic. Baseball and other games also occupied the leisure time of adults and children. Usually there were exhibition dances by the Indians in their full native costumes. During this time they would camp where the state yard is now located and also along the north side of the school yard.

People who owned the new "horseless carriage" would park the on Main Street, and anyone wishing to ride could hire the driver. At one time Naper had two merry-go-rounds, one operated by a steam engine They were stored in the livery barn or in Krotter's building and brought out each year for the tournament. Silent movies were shown in the town hall. Frieda Blakkolb played the piano for the musical background. Free movies were sometimes shown, being projected from the street against the side of a building. The people bought their own chairs or blanket and sat along the street to watch.

Chief Sitting Bull and Chief Yellow Horse were often seen in this area. Many Indians camped along the rivers as they hunted for kinikinic. The men went into the timber, cut the kinikinic, tied it into bundles, and carried it to their camp where the squaws scraped off the outer bark, leaving the inner bark to dry. This was used for tobacco. Sometimes the Indians would trade beads, moccasins, blankets, and items issued by the government for food. Joe Naper at one time had a store on the reservation.

Early settlers used candles or kerosene lamps. One of the early lighting systems in Naper was carbide lights. The carbide tank was kept in a cave so it wouldn't freeze. One day the tank blew up, and that was the end of Naper's carbide lights! A light plant was installed which was a great improvement. At certain hours, it was started during the day so electrical appliances could be used. In the evening the light plant was started and kept running until about 10 p.m. 5 - 10 minutes before the plant was to be turned off the operator blinked the lights as a warning. On Wednesdays and Saturdays the plant was operated later since the stores stayed open longer. Electricity was brought to Naper in 1949 by Niobrara Valley Electric Membership Corp which was organized in 1945. Wm. Blakkolb was the first director.

Early residents had to carry water from one of several wells in town. In 1902 a windmill was added at the south end of Main Street. Wells were dug by hand until Charlie Bennett brought the first well-digging rig into the area. Later a few groups of neighbors banded together and installed their own water systems and piped in water to their homes. In 1955 the Naper Improvement Corp was organized. 25 citizens bought shares to finance a project of installing a water system. A 110 ft deep well was dug a mile west of town, and pipelines were laid into town. In 1990 the town took over ownership of this water system. A sewer system with a lagoon-type disposal plant was installed in 1971.

This history was taken from "A Continuing History of Naper" written in 1992.