History of Broken Bow, Nebraska
In 1879 only a few people lived near the center of Custer County; Jesse Garringer and the Hewitt, Lewis, Graham and Raymond families. They wanted a post office so Hewitt was appointed postmaster. After two rejections, the name “Broken Bow” was accepted. The Post Office officially opened on November 4, 1879. Early in 1882 the Gandy brothers came from their ranch on the Middle Loup River. Jesse Gandy bought Garringer’s land and things began happening. He platted a town. A public well was dug and in June, R.H. Miller published the first “Custer County Republican,” the newspaper that today provides our best window on the early years.
With the Gandys and Miller pushing, the town quickly took shape. More people arrived, building homes and businesses, and by fall this “upstart-of-a -town” challenged Westerville for the county seat, and won!
The settlers celebrated the 4th of July, put up a 100 foot flag pole, started a baseball team, laid out a croquet court and organized a GAR and WCTU. In 1883 they challenged Westerville for the county fair.
By spring 1884, Broken Bow was incorporated. Four years later, the village petitioned to become a second class city. Seven additions were annexed, and the population was then 1,600.
A bridge was built across “Muddy” in 1883 and wooden sidewalks were constructed around the square in 1885. By 1910 cement sidewalks were in place, and the summer of 1921 saw seven miles of brick paving laid. In 1910 and again in 1933 the streets were renumbered and renamed.
A less-than-great, privately-owned water works started in 1888. The city bought the plant in 1904 and made improvements to keep pace with the growth of the town. A volunteer fire company organized in 1889 and is still very active.
The first park was the town square. Sod was broken in 1885 and trees were planted on Arbor Day 1886. Band concerts were held weekly, and the park is still the site of evening entertainment most Thursday nights in the summer. The 75th Anniversary of Broken Bow was held in 1955 and 100th centennial celebration in 1980. The 1980 census listed 4,200 residents.
The year 2009 marked the 130th Celebration of this great community of Broken Bow!