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John P. Fulton (1902-1966), cinematographer, was known as a trick photographer in Hollywood after 1929, where he was in charge of special effects for over 250 films for such movie studios as Universal, Goldwyn, and Paramount, and collaborated with Alfred Hitchcock on several movies: recipient of Academy Awards for Best Special Effects in "Wonder Man" (1945), "The Bridges of Toko-Ri" (1954)' and "The Ten Commandments" (1956). Born in Beatrice, Nebraska. he moved at seven years of age to Omaha, then at age 13 relocated to Los Angeles area, where he graduated from Polytechnical High School in Hollywood then began his career.
Harold Lloyd (1893-1971), famous silent screen actor and director, was born at Burchard and lived in Beatrice for two years. His first acting experience was in Beatrice at the old Paddock Opera House in "Macbeth" in 1904. In an interview with Mr. Lloyd in 1949, he remembered selling popcorn in the local saloons and practicing his acrobatic skills on the beams of a foundation near downtown. He was chased away numerous times by the police. Today, this same building houses the Beatrice Police Department. He was regarded as one of the great comedians of silent films in the 1920's, famous for wearing horn-rimmed glasses and a straw hat. During his career that extended from 1912 to 1947, he acted in over 200 films and produced a dozen more. Recipient of an honorary Academy Award in 1952 for lifetime achievement, he was featured on the cover of Time, July 25, 1949, and October 15, 1990. He also lived in Humboldt, Pawnee City, and Omaha before moving to California.
Robert Taylor (1911-1969) appeared in over 80 films from 1934-1969. He set a Hollywood record for longest contract with one studio (24 years with MGM), narrated two Academy award winning feature length documentaries in 1944 and 1948, and was co-recipient of Golden Globe for 1953 as world's male film favorite. He was born in Filley as Spangler Arlington Brugh and graduated from Beatrice High School in 1929. Many of his boyhood homes in Beatrice still stand. He attended Doane College at Crete for two years, and then graduated from Pomona College, Claremont, California in 1933. The Robert Taylor Memorial Highway, located east of Beatrice on US Highway 136 to Filley, was dedicated in 1994.
Janet Shaw (1919-2001), actress, after being under contract with Warner Brothers Studio in the mid-1930s, she participated in nearly 70 Hollywood movies, receiving film credits for at least 34 of them from 1935 to the early 1950s, and performed with such notables as Bette Davis in "Jezebel" in 1938 in role of Molly and with Robert Taylor in "Waterloo Bridge" in 1940 in role of Maureen; she also appeared with other notables such as Clark Gable and Tex Ritter, and had role as Louise in Alfred Hitchcock's "Shadow of a Doubt" in 1943; upon completion of acting career, she was employed at Bullocks Store in Los Angeles as supervisor of millinery departments. Born in Beatrice as Ellen Clancy, she took an interest in acting by watching silent films and knowing aunt Olive May performed on stage, then in 1927 at eight years of age moved to California, where she graduated from Beverly Hills High School before pursuing her career; Ellen returned to Beatrice in 1994 after becoming ill, and resided at Paddock Kensington for two years, followed by Parkview Center.
Berlin Guy Chamberlin (1894-1967) , professional football player and coach, was a participant in the forerunner to the National Football League and in the NFL from 1919 to 1928. As head coach for six seasons with Canton, Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Chicago, his record was 58 wins, 14 losses, and 5 ties, with a winning percentage of .780 and four NFL championships. He was inducted in the NFF College Football Hall of Fame in 1962 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965. Born near Blue Springs, he graduated from Blue Springs High School in 1911, attended Nebraska Wesleyan from 1911 to 1913, and then the University of Nebraska-Lincoln from 1913 to1916, where he distinguished himself as a football player. The UNL Athletic Department has annually awarded a senior Cornhusker player with the Guy Chamberlin Trophy since 1967.
Clara Bewick Colby (1846-1916) was the editor of the Woman's Tribune in Beatrice between 1883-86 before moving the newspaper to Washington, D.C. She was an active woman's suffragette with friends such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Her husband, General Leonard Colby, was a lawyer, Nebraska Senator, county judge, and a General with the Nebraska National Guard. When the National Guard was sent to help bury the dead after the Battle of Wounded Knee in 1891, Colby brought back to Beatrice a Sioux Indian infant known as Lost Bird. The 1995 book Lost Bird of Wounded Knee by Renee Samson Flood recounts the life of the Colby's and their adopted child, Lost Bird.
Paul Henderson III (1939- ), journalist and private investigator, has had a long career as a reporter in which he received numerous awards, including the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for local investigative reporting at the Seattle Times. Born in Washington D.C., he lived in Beatrice, where he attended elementary school, and graduated from high school in 1957 from Wentworth Military Academy in Missouri and its Junior College in 1959 from Wentworth Military Academy in Missouri. After three years in the military service, he continued his education at Creighton and Omaha Universities, and began his journalistic career at Council Bluffs, Iowa and Omaha.
Harry Weldon Kees (1914-1955), poet and journalist, compared favorably with poet Edward Arlington Robinson. He published three volumes of poetry, 57 critical reviews in magazines such as Time, and 14 short stories, and engaged in abstract expressionist painting. He was born in Beatrice, where he graduated from high school in 1931. He attended Doane College for two years, one year at the University of Missouri, and his senior year at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he graduated in 1935. Kees disappeared in 1955 with speculation that he might have jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge or perhaps left the country.
Walt Mason (1862-1939), journalist and humorist, was known for publishing verses under the heading "Uncle Walt" while at Emporia Gazette from 1907 to 1920 that appeared in more than two hundred newspapers that had a combined daily circulation of five million. He began his newspaper career at the Emporia Gazette and then wrote for the Lincoln Journal and from 1893 to 1907 for the Beatrice Daily Express before relocating to Emporia, Kansas. He published seven books, almost all collections of his verses.
Harvey E. Newbranch (1875-1959), journalist and editor, had a 56-year association with the Omaha World Herald, and was recipient of the 1920 Pulitzer Prize for an editorial entitled "Law and the Judge" which opposed race rioters. During his tenure as editor and later as director, the circulation of the newspaper in creased from 35, 226 in 1905 to 241,396 in 1949, and a new World Herald Company building was dedicated by him in 1947. Born in Henry County, Iowa, he later attended public schools in Wymore, where he was editor of the Arbor State at age 16, then graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1896, the same year he became a writer with the Omaha newspaper.
Eugene M. Rhodes (1869-1934) was a notable Western novelist, publishing almost a dozen books about life in the southwest, emphasizing a romantic past, several of which were serialized in Saturday Evening Post from 1907 to 1926. He also published more than 30 short stories, nearly 50 essays, and almost 50 poems. Born at Tecumseh, he and his family lived in Beatrice from 1871 to 1873, and then moved to Kansas and later to New Mexico, where he became an accomplished horseman and independent rancher. After more than 20 years at Appalachian, New York, he returned to New Mexico.
Charles B. Dempster (1853-1933), founder of Dempster Mill Manufacturing, became renowned for the production of windmills used worldwide and the first practical and efficient 2-row cultivator. By his death in 1933, the firm had grown to include 250 employees, over $1 million in gross sales, and offices in several states. Since then, the company has diversified to include electrical water systems, steel tanks, water well pumps, fertilizer spreaders and sprayers and recycling trailers, and towers with annual revenues of $10 million at the turn of the 21st century.
Thomas J. Hargrave (1891-1962) was president and chairman of the board of Eastman Kodak Company for two decades, during which time color film was introduced in 1942 for use in similar cameras and company sales expanded by 80 percent with addition of chemicals and plastics to its world-leading production of cameras and photographic supplies. He was featured in a November 23, 1946 Business Week cover story. Born in Wymore, he attended the local schools, graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1912, and earned a law degree from Harvard University three years later.
John David Kilpatrick (1847-1891), railroad builder and businessman, was primary founder with his five brothers (Henry, William, Robert, Samuel, and Joseph) the enterprise known as the Kilpatrick Brothers, which for 40 years before World War I and the advent of advanced mechanization owned several businesses in farming, livestock, mining, and railroad construction in over a dozen western and mid-western states; known for completing more than 4,500 miles of roadways and construction of pipelines and reservoirs, they attained an aggregate wealth of about $85 million; his father Samuel Kilpatrick had settled on a farm 10 miles west of Beatrice in 1859 and filed after Daniel Freeman a claim under the Homestead Act of January 1, 1863. Born in Jasper County, Missouri, J.D. Kilpatrick left the family farm in 1867 to begin his career and subsequent enterprises, but died in Beatrice.
Ummo F. Luebben (1867-1953), machinist and farmer, was known as inventor of the round hay baler, which he conceived with his brother in 1903, then patented in 1910, which revolutionized the laborious task of haying into a one-man, low-cost operation with a machine that automatically gathered the hay, rolled into a round bale, and ejected it; after he sold manufacturing rights on a royalty basis to Allis Chalmers in 1940, the company developed the basic concept into a new baler named the Roto-Baler, which was introduced to farmers in 1947. Born at Sheboygan, Wisconsin, he lived near Milford and in Lincoln and Omaha, and was associated with his brother in Beatrice from 1908 to 1913.
Joseph D. Williams (1926- ), salesman and corporate executive, devoted a 46-year career to Warner-Lambert, manufacturer and marketer of pharmaceutical, consumer health care, and confectionary products that ranked among the 100 largest industrial companies in the United States before it merged with Pfizer in 2001; as president and CEO from 1979 to 1991, he eliminated non-core business and product lines, increased annual revenues from 2 to 5 billion dollars, and brought scientific discovery from laboratory to the marketplace, resulting in new products of much benefit to the world; recipient of many awards and recognized for fundraising by United Negro College Fund and other organizations. Born at Washington, Pennsylvania, he earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska in 1950, and was a Parke-Davis salesman in Beatrice until 1955.
Daniel H. Freeman, (1926-1908), farmer and stockman, was the first to file a claim under the Homestead Act of January 1, 1863. His land was selected in 1939 as the site of the Homestead National Historical Park. Born in Preble County, Ohio, he was in Nebraska on special duty for the U.S. Army when he filed his application for 160 acres of land northwest of Beatrice.
James "Wild Bill" Hickok (1837-1876) was tried for murder in Beatrice for killing David McCandles at Rock Creek Station. Hickok started his notorious career in 1861 at Rock Creek Station, at southwest of Beatrice in what is now known as Jefferson County. At his trial in Beatrice, he was acquitted after pleading self-defense. He served in the Civil War after the Rock Creek incident. Later he performed for two years in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and gambled in card games.
George W. Norris (1861-1944), politician and lawyer, was known as the father of the Tennessee Valley Authority that made electricity available to rural America, and gained approval of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, which ended "lame duck" sessions of Congress. During his 40 years as Congressman and Nebraska Senator, he appeared on the cover of Time, January 11, 1937, and was credited with approval of the Unicameral in the Nebraska Legislature in 1934 after the idea was discussed for 20 years. Born at Sandusky, Ohio, he relocated to Nebraska in 1885 to establish a law practice first in Beatrice, then six months later at Beaver City, where he became active in politics in 1892, and then moved to McCook, where he was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1902. In 1957, he was ranked as the greatest senator in American history in a nationwide poll of professional historians and political scientists.
Algernon S. Paddock (1830-1897) was a two-term U.S. Senator who in 1891 introduced pure food bill legislation and was later vindicated by passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906 with enforcement by a federal organization that became known in 1931 as the Food and Drug Administration. He was a valuable member of the Utah Commission, which was formed to allay the practice of polygamy through governmental process. He was also appointed by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln as secretary of Nebraska Territory from 1861 to 1867, but declined appointment by U.S. President Andrew Johnson in 1868 as governor of Wyoming. Born at Glens Falls, New York, he relocated to Omaha in 1857, where he became a lawyer and an active member of the new community. In 1872, he moved to Beatrice, where he was a businessman and resident the remainder of his life.
David I. Maurstad (1953- ) businessman, politician, government official, known for 20 years of public service beginning with election to Board of Education, District 15 (1989-1990), Mayor of Beatrice (1991-1994), Nebraska Sate Senator (1995-1998) and Nebraska Lieutenant Governor (1999-2001), he was appointed by U.S. President George W. Bush to be regional director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for Region 8 based at Denver in October 2001, serving as senior FEMA official at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and for the Colorado wildfire season the same year with 22 presidentially declared fire emergencies, then from 2004 to 2008 he was FEMA Assistant Administrator for Mitigation and Administrator of the National Flood Insurance Program, supervising a record number of flood insurance claims and payments exceeding $15 billion for the 2004 Florida hurricane season and three hurricanes, including the disastrous Katrina, in 2005, implemented the modernization of the nation's 92,000 flood maps, oversaw the program that resulted in all 50 states and U.S. territories and 16,000 local communities adopting approved mitigation plans, and administrated $5 billion in mitigation grants to help make the nation more disaster resilient; he then became vice president and national business manager for risk and emergency management with Post, Buckley, Schuh, and Jernigan, Inc. (PBS&J) based at Chantilly, Virginia. Born at North Platte, he resided in Beatrice, graduated from Beatrice High School in 1971, earned degrees from Platte Community College and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and was partner in a family insurance business in Beatrice.
Kenneth S. Wherry (1892-1951), lawyer, businessman, and politician, was a two-term U.S. Senator known for authoring 1947 legislation that altered previous 1886 law on presidential succession to interpose Speaker of the House and president pro tem of the Senate between the Vice President and members of the cabinet, and for persuading the U.S. Congress in 1951 to approve the constitutional amendment limiting the presidency to two terms. He also advocated the importance of American air force superiority to the nation's security and deterrence to war, and was credited with locating headquarters of Strategic Air Command at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha in 1948. Born at Liberty, he lived in Pawnee City, where he attended school, then graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1914, after which he attended Harvard University for one year, then was a funeral director with offices in Nebraska and Kansas.
Robert B. Pirie (1905-1990) was an expert in naval aviation and carrier-force operations, serving with distinction during World War II in his supervision of missions on carrier flagships in the Pacific. He was the first head of the aviation department at U.S. Naval Academy, and achieved the rank of vice admiral in 1957. For four years he was deputy chief of naval operations for the U.S. Department of Navy, and was inducted into the Naval Aviation Hall of Honor at Pensacola, Florida in 1986. Born at Wymore, he graduated from the local high school in 1922, then from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1926.
Samuel Avery (1865-1936), educator and administrator, was chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln from 1909 to 1927 (except for nine months in 1918 when he was assistant chairman of the chemical committee of the national council of defense in Washington, D.C.), the longest tenure of any UNL chancellor to date; during Avery's Administration, enrollment grew from 3,611 to 11,848, several colleges and schools were established, and seven major buildings were erected, including Memorial Stadium; born at LaMoille, Illinois, he lived at Crete, and earned degrees from Doane College in 1887 and the University of Nebraska in 1892 and 1894 and Heidelberg University in 1896; after teaching chemistry at Beatrice High School during the 1892-93 school year, he was professor of chemistry at UNL from 1896 to 1909 (except for two years at Idaho) and from 1927 to 1935.
Horace C. Filley (1878-1973) was a professor of farm economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln from 1911-1949 where he developed, about 1924, the first course of cooperative marketing offered at any college in the nation and served farm organizations and the farm industry statewide. Born at Filley, he attended the local schools and Peru State Normal, graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1903, then was a school administrator in Nebraska before earning a master's degree from UNL in 1911, and later a doctorate from the University of Minnesota in 1934. He was inducted in the Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement in 1957 and a building on the UNL East Campus was named after him.
George R. Hughes (1907-1992), archeologist, educator and institution administrator, he specialized in the translation and study of ancient Egyptian artifacts while serving with the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago from 1934 to 1975; he was field director from 1949 to 1964 of the Institute's survey of the ancient temples of Luxor, and supervised publication of the survey's eight large volumes, then became known for his 1965 translation of a prayer book believed to be ten centuries old and found prior to the flood waters behind the Aswan High Dam; he was author or co-author of almost 100 scholarly publications and articles, and was the Institute's seventh director. Born at Wymore, he graduated from Wymore High School in 1925, earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1929, graduated from the McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago in 1932, and earned doctorate in Egyptology from the University of Chicago in 1939.
Charles L. Littel (1885-1966), educator and administrator, was one of the early pioneers of junior colleges in Washington and New Jersey, having served as founder and first superintendent of Centralia College (1925) and credited as co-founder of Yakima Valley (1928) and Grays Harbor (1930) Junior Colleges and founder and first president of Junior College of Bergen County, Teaneck, New Jersey (1933), now a branch of Fairleigh Dickinson University. Born at Bertrand, he graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1912, and served in Nebraska public schools from 1902 to 1922, including superintendent of Blue Springs in 1912-13.
Arthur S. Pearse (1877-1956), educator and zoologist, was one of the pioneer ecologists who taught at the University of Wisconsin and Duke University from 1912 to 1949, and founded the Marine Laboratory at Beaufort, North Carolina in 1938. He authored more than 150 papers and eight books, including the textbook Animal Ecology in 1926. Born at Crete, he lived in Beatrice, where he graduated from high school in 1895, then earned bachelor and master's degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1900 and 1904. His doctorate was from Harvard University in 1908.
Carroll G. Pearse (1858-1948), educator and administrator, was a distinguished superintendent of schools in Nebraska and Wisconsin from 1884 to 1913, president of Milwaukee State Normal School until 1922, and was one of four Nebraskans to date who served as president of the National Education Association (1911-1912). Born at Tabor, Iowa, he graduated from Doane College at Crete in 1884, and was superintendent of schools at Wilber, then Beatrice 1888 to 1895, followed by nine years in Omaha. From 1922 to 1941 he was a sales person with the publishers of Compton's Encyclopedia.
Alexander J. Stoddard (1889-1965) was an innovative leader who chaired the Educational Policies Commission for a decade, advised General Douglas MacArthur in the organization of the Japanese school system after World War II, and was one of the pioneers of the use of television as a teaching device. He was superintendent of schools at Providence, Rhode Island for eight years, Denver, Colorado for two years, Philadelphia for nine years, and Los Angeles for six years. Born at Auburn, Nebraska, he served as principal there for two years, then superintendent at Newman Grove and Havelock, and at Beatrice, the latter from 1917 to 1922 before relocating to schools in New York until 1929 when he moved to Providence. After attending Peru State College from 1909-1910, he earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1922. For 45 years he was a public school administrator.
Oscar V.P. Stout (1865-1935), civil engineer and educator, was credited with pioneering the field of agricultural engineering while at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln from 1891 to 1920 as professor of civil and agricultural engineering, dean of College of Engineering for eight years, and research projects in irrigation, including invention of device for measuring irrigation water. He later was engaged in irrigation investigation for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in California, and was the first recipient of the Cyrus Hall McCormick Medal of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers in 1932, the same year he was awarded an honorary doctorate from UNL. Born near Jerseyville, Illinois, he moved at the age of 12 to a farm near Beatrice, graduated from Beatrice High School in 1884, earned a degree in civil engineering from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1888, worked for railroads and served as city engineer for Beatrice 1890-91, then was on UNL faculty.
Edward W. Washburn (1881-1934), chemist and educator, was known for isolating the constituents of petroleum more accurately and completely than had been done before, for producing crystals of rubber, and for providing the first method used in preparing "heavy water" in quantity after his colleague Harold C. Urey discovered the isotope of hydrogen called Deuterium. The latter resulted in the new field of atomic chemistry, and awarding of the 1934 Nobel Prize to Urey the same year Washburn died. Washburn was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1932. Born in Beatrice, where he graduated from high school in 1899, he attended the University of Nebraska for one year, and then taught at McCook High School for two years before earning his bachelor's degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1905 and his doctorate in 1908. He taught at the University of Illinois until 1922, compiled the International Critical Tables of Numerical Data of Physics, Chemistry and Technology (1926), and then was chief chemist at the National Bureau of Standards at Washington D.C.
For more information check out Nationally Distinguished Nebraskans: A Brief Bio-Bibliography of 900 Individuals by E.A. Kral. The book is available at our gift store and for free as a PDF.
This isn't every one of the famous people of Gage County. Come on into the museum and learn more about the people who called Gage County home.