PHILLIPS, Neb.- Phillips is a tight-knit community in Hamilton county with a long history in the state.
"The railroad ran through here, and I'd heard from the old timers that this town was built to compete with Grand Island," Dwayne Bergmark said. "As you can tell we lost out but we are still pretty proud of our little town."
There are many reasons for that community pride. For example, folks enjoy talking about the Phillips Jail. In 2006, the town considered getting rid of it. "The jail was going to be tore down and my Dad got a committee together and decided to refurbish the jail," Jim Rathje said.
The jail was apparently used-- not for criminals-- but for hobos that would ride train cars. A local Marshal would take those town visitors into custody. "And they would give them a sandwich, feed them, put them in jail overnight, and then turn them loose in the morning," Rathje said.
So for the sake of history, the jail was saved. "In 2009, the 125th year for Phillips, we had a dedication of the jail," Lois Schuster said. "It was finished at that time. Different people helped with putting things in the jail. Somebody donated a couple of cots, there is a folding chair from the high school, a chamber pot was donated, and we made two dummies, one is in bed and one is standing."
Locals point out that donations really made the renovation possible. "This was the last landmark that we had in Phillips and we felt it was very important to save," Schuster said.
Residents of the town of Phillips have a lot to be proud of, including a community hall that town leaders say was built by the community and for the community.
Those involved with the town point out that the community center is completely paid for by donations. "We'd like to rent it out, we'd like to rent it out every weekend if we could for weddings and birthday parties.. any and everything," Bergmark said.
Another unique feature of the town is the Phillips cemetery, and it got started in a touching way. "Off to the northwest there was the Ox Bow trail that followed the Platte River to the northwest," Rathje said. "There was a traveler that lost a little baby, and they needed a place to bury her and they asked a Mr. Allen, and he told them to bury her up here on the hill facing the Lincoln Creek. Later on, six people came forward and bought the land from the railroad for 160 dollars." Now, a dinner is held annually to keep the cemetery looking good.
Phillips is a town where people are more than willing to step up and help, in order to keep the community alive. "My family grew up here, my parents grew up here, I enjoy being here," Bergmark said.