Friday, June 12, 2015

Whitney is on the map again!

(Nearly two years ago, we posted this tongue-in-cheek story about the creation of "Greater Nebraska Territory," the brain-child of the late Mike Cartwright, our friend who passed away last month (5/22/15) in Whitney.  Many folks well remember Mike, who was as a good friend and a great teacher, as a man who never forgot his roots.  And he did have a sense of humor, when he proclaimed Cora's Place in Whitney as the capital of Greater Nebraska Territory!)

It's been almost four score and a decade since Whitney was a bustling community in the Nebraska panhandle -- a frontier town that boasted a bevy of businesses.  Simply put, its star was ascending and the future was bright in the early 20th century!

But following a disastrous fire in 1927, the wrath of the "Dirty 30's," and relocation of U.S. Highway 20 some years later, Whitney endured a sharp decline.   Nonetheless, even as recently as 25 years ago, in the wake of Mabel Kendrick's publishing of her book Still Alive and Well - Whitney, Nebraska, there were still vestiges of pride in this little village.  But still, the erosion has festered.

But the times are-a-changing!  One of the recent bright spots was the opening two years ago of Cora's Place, a quaint coffee shop on Missouri Street in the heart of Whitney.  Offering antiques, books, and coffee, perhaps its most important quality has been a spirit of "never say die!"  Whitney native Michael Cartwright, a long-time college professor and administrator, opened Cora's Place in August of 2011.  Its name is a tribute to his grandmother.

Maintaining residences in both Lincoln and Whitney, Mike and his wife, Jeanetta, have not only sustained Cora's Place, but we learned during a visit earlier this month that they now offer a tasty sandwich for those who may have a bit of an appetite.  But still, their real product is a cozy environment where locals and visitors can congregate at mid-day to enjoy some classic vinyl music, read a book or magazine, grab a bite, have some coffee, and most importantly -- bask in a bit of warm fellowship.

But now add a dash of tongue-in-cheek politics.  Conversations may divert to a rekindled notion of west Nebraska autonomy.  But wait a minute -- that notion has expanded to something that has a rather nice ring to it: Greater Nebraska Territory!  The map above shows the lay of the new political landscape, and Greater Nebraska seems to be accorded its proper position relative to both Baja Nebraska and the far eastern provinces Where the East Peters Out.  The map and related posters appear to have been the handiwork of Mike Cartwright and some of his confederates.

As fate would have it, Whitney has been declared the Territorial Capital of Greater Nebraska, and Cora's Place at 3305 Missouri Street seems to be the seat of the virtually non-existent government.

What's wrong with that?  


We'll try to publish political postings as Greater Nebraska Territory evolves, including updates on the Territory's "No-Coast Coast Guard," which provides all necessary protection from heathen forces in the alien lands that surround our beloved territory.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Naomi McCafferty passes away at age 90

A private memorial service will be held for Naomi Joyce Howard McCafferty, age 90, of WhitneyNE. Friends of the family are invited to join the family at 3:00 PM on Friday, June 5, 2015 at the Howard Homestead, 141 Whitney Spur, for coffee and cookies.
Naomi’s cremains will be buried at the Whitney Cemetery
A memorial has been established. Donations may be given to the James and Naomi McCafferty Scholarship Fund, Chadron Community Foundation, 100 Main StreetChadronNE69337.
Naomi Howard McCafferty passed away on Sunday, May 31, 2015 
at Crest View Care Center in ChadronNE. She was born March 30, 1925 in WhitneyNE, the only child of William N. Howard and Irene Goodell Howard. She attended Whitney School for most of her primary and secondary education. At the age of seven, she was completely paralyzed by polio and attended third grade at the Nebraska Orthopedic Hospital in Lincoln while rehabilitating. Seven years later, she was again paralyzed with polio and took her sophomore year of high school by correspondence through the University of Nebraska. She graduated in 1942 from Whitney High School.
After taking a year off from her education, she enrolled at Chadron State College, where she majored in physics and graduated with a Bachelor's of Arts degree in 1947. During her senior year, she taught physics at Chadron High School and was a Science Lab Assistant at CSC from 1947-1955. 

(Note: The above photo was taken during Naomi's years as a Lab Assistant at Chadron State College.  With Naomi (at left) are long-time faculty members Dr. Lyle Andrews and Minnie Lichte.  Photo courtesy of Shelley McCafferty and Con Marshall)
While attending CSC, Naomi was courted by James S. McCafferty, a chemistry major from Alliance. In 1950, Naomi and Jim were married at the Whitney United Methodist Church, and they resided on the Howard homestead just outside Whitney. In addition to raising their four children, Naomi and Jim cared for foster children and invited various college students to reside in their home. Naomi cared for her parents, William and Irene Howard, until they passed away in 1976 and 1958, respectively. After Jim’s retirement from Chadron State College, they often traveled with their children and grandchildren, in whom they took great pride.
Although her affliction with polio left her physically diminished and relying on crutches most of her life, Naomi was driven to care for her family, contribute to the community, and make improvements to the Howard homestead. She served on the Whitney School board for multiple terms and was active in the Whitney Methodist Church. She frequently called upon and assisted elderly members of the community. Eventually Naomi became reliant on a wheelchair, and in 2006, she and Jim joined Chadron United Methodist Church, which was accessible to the handicapped.
Naomi was preceded in death by husband James Steven McCafferty and parents William and Irene Howard.
She is survived by children James Duff (Ro) McCafferty of Rapid City, SD, Howard Martin McCafferty of Iowa City, IA, Steven Todd (Carol) McCafferty of Iowa City, IA, and Shelley McCafferty of Whitney; grandchildren Jennifer (Andrew) Webb of Fort Collins, CO, Michael (Melissa) McCafferty of Oceanside, CA, Kaitlin (Nick) Stoysich of Omaha, NE, Ryan McCafferty of Omaha, NE, and Nolan McCafferty and Alayna McCafferty, both of Iowa City, IA; and great-grandchildren Adler Day Webb and Zander James McCafferty.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Whitney's Mike Cartwright dies at age 72

by Larry Miller

Whitney native Mike Cartwright died unexpectedly on Friday (5/22/15) at his home in Whitney, Nebraska.  He was 72.  Services are planned for 2:00 p.m. this Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at the Warring Memorial United Methodist Church in Whitney.

Growing up in Whitney, Nebraska
A long-time college professor and administrator, Mike was born in Crawford and grew up on the Cartwright farm and ranch operation just outside of Whitney, where his grandfather had homesteaded in 1891.  He attended Whitney School through eighth grade, then attended high school in Chadron.  He was a 1960 graduate of Chadron High School.  Mike attended Chadron State College for a couple of years before transferring to the University of Nebraska, where he would earn his bachelor's, master's, and finally a Ph.D. in 1970.

Dr. Michael P. Cartwright then became an English professor at California State University-Bakersfield, where he remained for 13 years.  By 1983, he was serving as Chairman of the English Department and Assistant to the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences when an opportunity opened for a return to his Nebraska roots and a teaching job at Chadron State College.  He remained at CSC for 24 before retiring.

Ten years ago this month — in May of 2005 — Mike was awarded the Chadron State College Teaching Excellence Award.  At that time, CSC Director of Information Con Marshall wrote a comprehensive story about Mike's impressive career:  Award recipient's strategy seeks student interaction.  

Not only was Mike Cartwright an outstanding teacher, he also served three years as Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences while at CSC, and he was instrumental in helping revitalize the struggling Mari Sandoz Heritage Society.

Professor Mike Cartwright
In 2006, Mike served as a director for the Nebraska Festival of the Books, and the organization included a short biographical sketch of him in their newsletter.  In part, they wrote:  "Mike is a bicoastal Nebraskan, splitting his time between Whitney and Lincoln. An eight-hour drive across the state is a normal day for Mike. Having found the route with only two stoplights between Lincoln and Whitney, he is now searching for the one with fewer than three stop signs. One day it's 501s, cowboy boots, and his dad's '59 Ford truck. The next it's tweed jackets, suede shoes, and a briefcase. In a given week, he might help a neighbor drive cattle to the Fort Robinson Wood Reserve, teach world literature to undergraduates at Chadron State College, and lounge at the Coffee House in downtown Lincoln. Now, he may also be found directing the Nebraska Book Festival and reading for the Nebraska Library Commission's Talking Book and Braille Service."  That was quintessential Mike — something of a Renaissance man.

It's fair to say that Mike was also a rancher/farmer, too, albeit part-time.  He retained his parent's property just outside of Whitney, as well as his grandmother's old house in downtown Whitney.

A personal note or two.  I first knew Mike when we were in high school together at Chadron High.  He was an outstanding student, winning honors in English, but also competing effectively as a halfback on the Cardinal football team and was part of the Two-Mile Relay track team that set a new record in 1960.  He was an officer in the "C" Club and was also among those selected for Regents Scholarship honors. Mike had a key role in the 1960 CHS production of  Rodgers & Hammerstein's "Carousel" at Memorial Hall.  Teachers Ron and Jane Becker had spearheaded the production.  Alas, Mike is among several cast members who have since died.

It was after we had both retired that Mike and I rekindled our friendship.  Although he and his wife Jeanetta lived in Lincoln, he loved coming back out to Dawes County and spending time on the place outside Whitney where he had grown up.  We shared an appreciation of our Whitney heritage, and Mike took steps to try to help revive the little village.  He generously offered numerous Whitney photos from his family albums to be used in the "Whitney Yesteryear" video we produced a few years back. 

Whitney proclaimed capitol of Greater Nebraska
Mike Cartwright had a wonderful sense of humor.  Part of it was reflected in his marketing of Whitney as the "Capitol of Greater Nebraska," that part of the state west of Grand Island.  He produced posters, certificates, and even coffee mugs — one of them beckoning folks to "Join Now! Greater Nebraska No-Coast Guard!"  We have featured some of his tongue-in-cheek initiatives, and you can read a bit about them in our Whitney Photo Gallery.

But wait a minute.  The capitol city of the Territory of Greater Nebraska should have a meeting place! But there had been no store or filling station in Whitney for several years — no place to even congregate for a cup of coffee and conversation.  So in 2011, Mike and his wife Jeanetta decided to open "Cora's Place." With able assistance from fellow Whitney resident Budge Cripps, Mike made several improvements to the house once owned by his great-grandmother on Missouri Street and opened the coffee shop.

Cora's Place offered not only coffee and conversation, but antiques and artwork, too.  The front room was outfitted with a stereo system and some great music, too. The shop was named in honor of his grandmother Cora (Cripps) Cartwright.  They created a small lending library, and books were checked out on the honor system.  We understand Mike was planning to open "Cora's Place" today  — Memorial Day— just as he had done the last few years.  While it was no threat to Starbucks — for the local and area folks who stopped in for coffee and conversation, Cora's Place was a very special place, indeed. We shall miss it.  

And we'll certainly miss Mike Cartwright.  

Our condolences to Mike's wife, Jeanetta, and his two sisters, Nancy Hamer and family of Mankato, Minnesota, and Evelyn Geu and family of Sidney, Nebraska.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Baldwin Ironworks building revisited

"Like a proud woman, this old building retains a certain sense of romance even as she ages.  She was built in the late 1920's by T. L. Holding and in the 1940's Curtis Baldwin successfully manufactured grain augers here.  Over the years the rambling structure found her purpose in Whitney as a lumberyard and as a supply center for grain, feed, salt and coal." 
Artist Kit Watson of Chadron sketched this excellent likeness of the old Baldwin Ironworks building in Whitney.  It's one of the 300 or so images of area historical sites that she created over the years for calendars distributed to customers  of the First National Bank.  This sketch is among the more than 150 images in her latest book, Pine Ridge Sketches.  Our thanks to Kit Watson for her generosity in allowing us to use some of her great work on this site. 

The story of Curtis Baldwin and his brothers is a fascinating one, which we hope to tell in the future.  Their impact on agricultural harvesting equipment was significant, and Curtis Baldwin held several patents on a range of devices.  The Baldwin "Gleaner" survives even today, although it has been much revised since he introduced his version in 1923.  He also dabbled in aviation and other pursuits.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A sharper image of the Whitney Depot

Thanks to Mike Cartwright for sharing this sharper image of the photo that was posted earlier (see below).  Notes on the photograph indicate that folks were waiting for a special Chicago & Northwestern train to take them to the Dawes County Fair in Chadron.  Believed to have been taken in 1912.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A bit of frivolity in the country...

This is another photo that Jeannie Pope has shared with us.  It reflects a bit of tomfoolery enjoyed by a group of folks "in front of Huntley's log house" in 1909.  Notice the cellar at the far left.  Persons marked with an "X" left-to-right include:  
Elmer Huntley, Thora Mayfield Huntley, and Lura Mayfield (Caswell).  What a fun photo!  See more in our Whitney Gallery.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

More of old Whitney revealed

We've been so deeply immersed in another project that we've not had to time to adequately review and share some great new photos of old Whitney shared by Beverly Jean (Hansen) Pope of Ontario, California.

Jeannie is the granddaughter of Lura Mayfield -- a family name well-known around Dawes County in days gone by.

This undated photo shows the Whitney school in the left background, and a part of the Woodmen Hall building at the far left.  This is one of the few images we've seen of Woodmen Hall, which was an all-purpose gathering place and also -- we've been told -- the location of the movie theatre.

We believe the house shown here is the same structure in which Scottie and Naomi Rankin lived for many years.  On a personal note, just beyond the barn behind the house -- and barely visible -- is the roof of another house.  We recognize that as the house occupied for many years by Bill and Marie (Miller) Derrick. 

To get a closer look at this photo, we invite you to go to our Whitney Reflections Gallery, where we'll be sharing additional photographs in the coming weeks.  A tip of the hat and a big "Thank You" to Jeannie Pope for sharing these photos.