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Minatare’s residents find treasures in digging up past
December 25, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis

Courtesy Photo - Minatare pioneer Theodore Harshman arrived in the community in 1885. His homestead was located just north of today’s Highway 26 and Main Street in Minatare. This photo, taken circa 1900, was provided by his great-grandson, John Shadle of Minatare.

Since earlier this year, some Minatare residents have been meeting on a weekly basis to pull together, and eventually publish, a record of the town’s history. And they’ve uncovered some interesting human interest stories.

One of the group’s members is Francie Warren, whose family, the Parkers, owned the Minatare Free Press newspaper and later opened Parker Printing on Main Street.
One of the figures from Minatare’s past she’s researching is Theodore Harshman. According to Bazil Decker, writing in A.B. Wood’s compilation “Pioneer Tales,” the Harshman family was among the early homesteaders, arriving from Iowa in the autumn of 1885. They brought several teams with them and a herd of cows and shortly established their home.

The Harshman homestead was located just north of what is now the junction of Highway 20 and Main Street in Minatare. The family had 12 children and when the Minatare Canal, the first in the area, was proposed in 1887, the Harshmans provided much of the labor. They dug more than half of the canal themselves, so the project was completed at minimal cost.

Francie said a new member has joined the group: local clockmaker John Shadle, who is also Theodore Harshman’s great-grandson. And he shared an interesting photo and story, which is reproduced here.

The picture is of the Harshman homestead, circa 1900. The car in the front yard was one of the first in the valley, an early model manufactured by International Harvester.

When Nebraskan William Jennings Bryan was running for president on the Democratic ticket, he made a campaign stop in Minatare. Afterwards, Mr. Harshman used the vehicle to drive Bryan to Kimball to meet his train. Bryan ran for president three times, in 1896, 1900 and 1908 – all of them unsuccessful.

Francie said the group is actively seeking out other Minatare residents to share their family histories for the upcoming book. “The holidays are a great time to gather some of those stories when the family is at home.”

She added if people don’t want to write out their histories, someone from the group would be glad to conduct an interview and write the story for them.

“It’s so nice to see a founding family stay in the area,” Francie said. “I knew John’s grandfather when he moved into town. He was such a nice man and always had time for the kids. As I get older, I wish I had gotten to know him better.”

For more information on the Minatare history project or to share information, people may contact Francie at (308) 631-8426.
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