Cedar County Historical Society and Museum History

 

The Cedar County Historical Society was formed back in 1963 by a group of enthusiastic Cedar County residents who had a vision to preserve the history of Cedar County. A meeting was held to read and adopt the articles of incorporation, by-laws and the constitution.  The museum now had nothing but the future to mold with their dedicated volunteers, the structure and now some traction to make their dream a reality.

An offer was made by REA, the local power company, for the newly formed society to use their old office building located on main street in down town Hartington as temporary quarters for  displaying of some of the initial items donated to the museums. Then President Louis Riibe, appointed six committee heads to cover the Library, Museum, Publicity, Historical Sites, Program and Executive committees.  The society held monthly meetings at the courthouse in Hartington.  Annual dues of $2.00 per person for membership in the society were assessed.  Funding came from dues, monetary donations, fund raising events and some help from the county commissioners.

The historical museum was moved to its current and permanent location in 1964 following the donation of the main museum house, carriage barn and the land by the four daughters of A.K.(Anton Kasper) and Clara Walz Lammers in memory of their parents and the part they played in the early development of Cedar County. The daughters requested that the home and barn be used as a museum to preserve the history and culture of Cedar County.  

After the daughters donated the house to the county for the historical museum in 1964, the historical item display areas consisted of the main house and the carriage barn out back of the house. In 1983, a log cabin that was built in 1869 north of Hartington was donated and was moved to the museum property just behind the main house for people to walk through.  In 1996, a new 40’x 60’ exhibit building was built just to the east of the main house for the purpose of expanding the display area which was needed for the larger antiques and the over-flowing number of articles that were continually being donated to the museum. The carriage barn which had been an exhibit building then became a storage building and not open for tours.  Both the house and the newer exhibit building are over-flowing with treasures of both Nebraska and Cedar County history in the thousands.  Future plans include restoring the carriage barn and making it again an exhibit building to house some of the larger items and open for tours as well.  In addition, future plans include fixing up the old original cabin that sits toward the back of the property.

 

The Cedar County Historical Society and Museum would not be a reality today if it were not for the initial founders of the Historical Society, the generosity of the Lammers family and the countless number of dedicated volunteers over the years who had and have a passion to preserve the past and keep the museum a vibrant historical record of the past.  There is pride that resonates among the many volunteers who over time has made the Cedar County Historical Museum one of the best museums of its kind in Nebraska. The future of the museum, like any non-profit museum, continually requires new people to step up and take the reins and lead to keep this historical masterpiece alive for many generations to come so that we can pass on this history and never forget our proud Cedar County past.

    The Lammers Family History

The history of the Lammers family dates back to 1850 when Anton’s father John Lammers came to America from Hanover, Germany at the age of 19 to start a new life in a new territory.  He moved to Cincinnati, Ohio to learn the copper trade and then on to Dubuque, Iowa where he met his first wife Susanna Meyer and in 1861 they moved to northeast Nebraska to join other pioneer families in what would become Cedar County.  Susanna died during the birth of their fourth child in 1863.  John later married Mary Stratman from St. Helena who had three children and together they would have 16 more children now giving them 23 children to raise.   Most of the children remained in Cedar County to live, and many of those continue to farm today.  Overall, the Lammers family makes up one of the largest family relationships in Cedar County.  

 

During his lifetime, John started the Lammers Ranch on 1000 acres he acquired and he would become the largest cattle rancher in northeast Nebraska. John did not limit himself to just farming and ranching as he also started lumberyards in Hartington and Bloomfield and became president of the First National Bank in Hartington. 

 

John’s son A.K. (Anton Kasper) who went to college to study business, came back to Hartington to work in his father’s lumber business and eventually took over the lumber yard in Hartington until his death in 1944 at the age of 73.  His wife Clara passed away ten years late in 1954.   Together they had four daughters named Aurelia, Gertrude, Dolores and Kathryn.

 

The Lammers two-story Victorian style home and carriage barn was built in 1900 by Henry Stuckenhoff who also helped construct the Cedar County Courthouse and a number of other buildings in Hartington. The Lammers family moved into the home the following year in 1901.  At that time, their home was the farthest home to the west in Hartington and around the home they raised alfalfa and other crops.  There were many fruit and walnut trees around the house as well as a large strawberry patch and many grape vines.  In 1915, a larger dining room was added to the home as well as two additional bedrooms.  The house then had a total of fifteen rooms and Clara went about doing a lot of family entertaining in her large house which she loved.  With the expanded dining room, she purchased a table with six large leaves and when fully expanded, it could seat 24 guests for a meal and entertaining.