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Historical markers share story of Harvard

Published: Aug. 26, 2020 at 10:14 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - There are six historical markers in Harvard, proving there’s plenty of history to be found in this Clay County town.

We visited with Dr. Don Gerlach about the markers, and he says the six markers make up half of all the historical markers in the entire county. “There’s one to mark the founding of the town,” Gerlach said. “That’s in the new city park. There are two in the memorial park. Both of those signs talk about the former Harvard Army Air Base. One of the markers highlights the deadly crash involving B-17 bombers in 1944.”

There is also a marker at the old Episcopal church, which is the oldest church building in town, dating from the 1870′s. “We have a marker for our Carnegie library,” Gerlach said. “It’s one of the few Carnegie libraries left in Nebraska that is still used as a library. It dates from 1915. When the library idea was pushed, the mayor and city council approached Carnegie for money. Carnegie required a certain amount to be raised from the town, which was done.” At that point, Carnegie donated $6,000, and the library was built. “It’s a fine old building,” Gerlach said. “It houses the library, the police station, and the city clerk’s office as well.”

Gerlach says the old Episcopal church was moved from the railroad tracks to its current location. “It stands now on a corner where there used to be four churches on each corner,” Gerlach said. In addition to the markers at the city park, the memorial park, the library, and the church, there is also one at the old town jail. “Of those six markers, I wrote the text to four of them,” Gerlach said. “In fact, I raised money to get the old jail restored, and to erect a marker there. I helped raise money for the library, and I paid for the marker at the Episcopal church.” It’s a generous donation, and it helps to keep the history of Harvard alive for others to discover.

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