Our Town Geneva: The Legend of Charley Thorpe

Published: Feb. 14, 2016 at 8:37 PM CST
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Charley Thorpe remains quite possibly the most famous person ever to hail from Geneva.

Charley was born way back in 1862 & grew up on a horse breeding farm in Fillmore County.

His jockey career started in Geneva and Lincoln and it would eventually took him all around the world.

Harold Janda and his wife Karen own a home decor store in downtown Geneva.

Harold says he and his wife purchased this historic building in 2005, "The building was constructed in 188,9 which strikes as being very early in the development in Geneva, this one of the few remaining first generation brick buildings."

A few years ago, the Janda's were renovating the building and they came across something that was rather illuminating. Harold explains, "One of the things that caught my eye was that first of all in 1903, the building had been bought by Alice Thorpe."

Alice was the wife of the one and only Charley Thorpe. Harold says, "As it turns out, Charley Thorpe was a world famous jockey known not only in the United States, but very famous in Europe."

Thorpe was 19, when he learned to ride horses in Fillmore Count, "At that time, we have to realize that horse racing was a big deal, it was the sport of kings."

By 1892, he was winning $20,000 a year and earning that as a jockey was an astronomical amount of money in 1892, for a stable boy from Geneva, Nebraska.

Thorpe won the Preakness, the Kentucky Derby and rode for kings in Europe and eventually became a millionaire.