New Historical Marker Placed in Anselmo in Memory of Fagan Family

New Historical Marker Placed in Anselmo in Memory of Fagan Family
Pat Fagan stands next to the newly installed historical marker in Anselmo. Fagan donated the marker in memory of her parents, F.C. "Jim" and Ruth Fagan
ANSELMO— In just 180 words the history of Anselmo, Neb. is summed up in a newly erected historical marker as part History Nebraska’s 50-year-old marker program. The new marker in Anselmo is the 573rd historical marker in the state and the 11th marker in Custer County. Lance Bristol with the Custer County Historical Society told KCNI/KBBN the process of getting the marker began in the early days of COVID-19 thanks to a chat with Pat Fagan. She wanted to do something to honor her parents and decided to donate the funds to commemorate Anselmo’s past. “She’s a very generous woman and so basically it was her gift in honor of her parents and the importance that Anselmo played in their family’s life, it’s very important to her,” Bristol said. The historical marker is located next to the new Veterans wall and Anselmo monument in the center of town. Bristol said he and Fagan gained approval from the Anselmo village board to accept the gift and the board laid a cement pad and installed the marker just in time for the Big Sky Jubilee last week. In doing research, Bristol said he worked with Ruth Linley, the last surviving member of a group who put together a history book of the Anselmo area “Victoria Creek Neighbors,” to write the language for the marker. He also referred to other historical writings of Custer County including those by Solomon Butcher, Gaston, and Humphrey. The writing was approved by History Nebraska and the marker was ordered in December 2020. “The [History Nebraska marker program] program was set up to mark significant contributions to the history of the state of Nebraska: places, communities, organizations, that made contribution to what we call the state of Nebraska today,” Bristol said. Anselmo is one of many early railroad towns established as part of the Homestead Act following the Civil War. Bristol said this was a time where many settlers could qualify for land and wanted to move west to make something of themselves. Steam trains needed to refill with water approximately every eight miles and people of the area knew how to do business prior to the arrival of Highway 2. “It was a good time to be in business. Also, when you think about it, there was no Highway 2. The railroad would bring in the supplies and the people were there to sell them in their stores and so it made the trip much easier if you just had to come a few miles into town (rather than—well for people from Anselmo the closest point really for them to get supplies would have been Grand Island or Kearney—that’s a long haul with a wagon). Therefore, that gave rise to the small towns,” Bristol said. Fagan donated the marker in memory of her parents, F.C. "Jim" and Ruth Fagan. She was born in Grand Island before moving to the Ortello Valley area of Custer County. She told KCNI/KBBN her parents grew up in Anselmo and Merna. "I wanted to do it in memory of my mom and dad. Mom (from Merna) just died two years ago and Dad (from Anselmo) had died five years before that. So we got inheritance money and I thought that would be a nice thing to do," Pat Fagan told KCNI/KBBN. Pat Fagan said she never realized how busy and thriving Anselmo had been in the 1920s: 500 residents, city hotel, schools and churches, elevators, roller mill, livery stables, seven doctors and dentists, general mercantile stores, restaurants, barbers, five banks, and two newspapers.
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