Did you know the town of Arlington wasn’t always known by that name?
Or that the small community of Fontanelle once was home to a college?
Or what led to the demise of a town called DeSoto?
Arlington area resident Kathy Buhrman learned all these things and more when writing and compiling photos for an Images of America series book called “Washington County.”
The 128-page book provides a pictorial history of the county’s early days. Photos include one taken in 1915 of a car dealership in Arlington, the rubble after a tornado tore through the town of Herman in 1899 and a tall schoolhouse in Kennard.
Buhrman’s own interests led to her writing the book.
“I’ve always enjoyed writing and history and I love family history and so it was just a natural progression. When Arcadia approached me to write the book I thought, ‘why not?’” she said.
Buhrman had to research the area’s history and find photographs that would tell the story. She wanted to show the pioneer spirit.
“I tried to represent all of the old communities — at least mention them,” she said. “I hope I did everybody justice.”
Buhrman, who works for the Rustler Sentinel newspaper, spent more than a year the book project, working on it part time.
She said Arcadia has a format for the books and captures towns and their histories through them.
The Washington County book is meant to be an overview — like a snapshot of the community, she said.
Through the book, readers learn that explorers, trappers and fur traders came to this area.
So did settlers whose ancestors were German, Danish and other nationalities. Folks arrived here by steamboat, wagon teams or even on foot. They built sod houses and log homes.
“I really enjoyed showcasing Washington County as a whole,” Buhrman said. “I enjoy that when you open each chapter you get a little bit of their history, and that’s important to preserve.”
She learned more about the towns and how the county grew.
For instance, Arlington was known as Bell Creek. That’s because a man named James Bell fell into a creek.
“It became Arlington, because Bell Creek was too close to the name of Battle Creek and so they had to change its name,” she said.
Fontanelle had the first college called Nebraska University. The first college building was completed in 1858. In 1865, it burned down. It was rebuilt, but burned again and a decision not to rebuild was made.
“The school was disbanded in 1870 and began a new life as Doane College in Crete, Nebraska,” the book states.
In her book, Buhrman said four towns owe their existence to the railroad: Blair, Arlington, Herman and Kennard.
DeSoto was a town situated about six miles north of Fort Calhoun. Buhrman said it didn’t grow, because of a change with the railroad.
The Arcadia Publishing book is available online at Amazon or at www.arcadiapublishing.com website or the Washington County Historical Association, 402-468-5740.
This is Buhrman’s first book and she plans to write more.
In the meantime, Buhrman hopes readers enjoy the Washington County book.
“I hope they find it interesting and want to learn more about history,” Buhrman said.