Discovering More Brownville History

Everywhere you look in Brownville, there's history to be discovered. For example, there's the Didier Log Cabin, built in 1854.

"Mr. Didier had been a fur trader, he came over from France," Brownville Historical Society President Bob Chitwood said. When the fur trade in Wyoming was disrupted due to a massacre between soldiers and native Americans, John Didier came to Brownville. "He brought with him Mary Peneaux, and they got married in Brownville in 1855. The cabin was built, and in that cabin came along eight children. I don't know how they all lived there," Chitwood said.

Not far from the cabin is another celebration of Brownville's past. "Nebraksa just celebrated its 150th birthday, and the historical society wanted to make a contribution to the state so we built a heritage tree. The symbols on the tree represent different historical perspectives of Brownville throughout the years," Chitwood said.

The land office is yet another point of interest in town. "The land office was reproduced several years ago," Chitwood said. What's exciting about the land office is the connection to the Homestead Act, and the opening of the American West. "A man from the Union Army rode his horse from St. Louis, convinced the land agent to open up the office 5 minutes after Midnight on January 1st, and sign the first claim here. His name was Daniel Freeman. The land that he had over by Beatrice is what we all enjoy seeing at Homestead National Monument," Chitwood said.

If that's not enough history for you, you might consider a visit to the train depot museum. "It features the history of railroading in Brownville. That was a big issue because we were competing with Omaha and Council Bluffs to get this line to go east and west, but we didn't win out. But in 1875, a spur was developed, and it was a big celebration down by the railroad depot," Chitwood said.

The Wheel Museum is a new venture for the Brownville Historical Society, and it's a building donated by the Sage family. "It has a lot of carriages and surreys, and it has a printing press. That's where the first newspaper was produced, The Nebraska Advertiser, where Robert Furnas was the editor and he was our second governor in the state," Chitwood said. "When you think about the fact that the first state fair was here, and the first celebration of July 4th was in Brownville nationally, it has a lot of firsts."

And with all of those firsts, it might be time to re-visit and re-discover the Nemaha County community of Brownville.