North Omaha has been home to many important figures throughout its history. These are some of them, including people from political, legal, religious, medical, creative leaders, sports figures, and others, too.

People from North Omaha History

This is a timeline of people from the history of North Omaha. Since the city was founded in 1854, a variety of important figures have moved through the community. They include people from political, legal, religious, medical, and other professions who transformed the community in countless ways. There are also creative leaders, sports figures, and others, too. Many of the leaders included here were firsts or only people in their fields; however, that’s not what distinguishes them. Instead, its their authenticity, commitment and perseverance that let them stand in front of their contemporaries and all of history.

 

  1. 1770 – Born this year in Ladysmith, Virginia, “York” was a slave owned by Lewis and Clark who was the first African American in Omaha. He likely visited the North Omaha community to climb to the Belvedere Point lookout. He died in March 1831 in Tennessee.
  2. July 12, 1817 – This was the day Alvin Saunders was born. Appointed by President Lincoln as last governor of the Nebraska Territory, he lived in North Omaha from the 1870s until his death on November 1, 1899.
  3. 1827 – This is the year George B. Lake was born. An early resident of North Omaha, he owned land and was a judge also. He died in 1910.
  4. July 29, 1828 – Born on this day, John I. Redick was businessman, politician and landowner who lived in present-day North Omaha. He died April 2, 1906.
  5. July 24, 1830A. J. Poppleton was a lawyer and politician who lived in North Omaha. He died September 9, 1896.
  6. September 8, 1830 – On this day, George Crook was born. He lived as the leader of Fort Omaha in North Omaha twice for almost a decade. He died on March 21, 1890.
  7. June 13, 1842 – Born on this day, Samuel Mercer was a doctor who started the first hospital in Omaha, as well as a North Omaha landowner and real estate magnate. He died on October 7, 1907.
  8. May 22, 1840Thomas Tibbles was born today in North Omaha. He was a journalist who became nationally famous when he covered the trial of Standing Bear v. Crook. He died on May 14, 1928.
  9. March 6, 1852 – This is the birthdate of Dan Kingman, who lived at Fort Omaha in North Omaha as a high-ranking officer in the United States Army. He died on November 14, 1916.
  10. February 14, 1857 – The is the birthdate of Silas Robbins, who was the first African American admitted to practice law in Nebraska in 1889, and the first black person in Omaha to be admitted to the Nebraska State Bar Association. He died September 11, 1916.
  11. April 3, 1858 On this day, Dr. Matthew Ricketts of North Omaha was born. He was a doctor who became the first African American member of the Nebraska Legislature, where he served two terms. He was also the first African American to graduate from the University of Nebraska College of Medicine in Omaha. He died in 1917.
  12. November 14, 1859 – Millard Filmore Singleton was born this day in Virginia, and moved to Omaha in 1881 with his wife Blanche Ellen Braxton and brother Walter J. Singleton. Millard was an early Black political leader in the city, and was an officer in the Omaha Colored Republican Club and the Omaha branch of the National Afro-American League. He was also a Justice of the Peace and worked for the IRS and the City of Omaha. He died November 12, 1939.
  13. April 5, 1860  Born a slave on this day, Lizzie Robinson​ moved to North Omaha in 1916. She went on to found dozens of congregations for the Church of God in Christ, and today there is a church named for her, and her house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. She died in 1945.
  14. February 28, 1866 – The Rev. John Albert Williams was born this day in Canada. The influential African American minister of St. John’s Episcopal Church, he was also the founding editor of the biggest Black paper in Omaha, The Monitor and a renowned activist. He died February 4, 1933.
  15. 1867John E. Reagan was born during this year. He was a Nebraska State Legislator who represented North Omaha.
  16. 1870 – During this year, Dan Desdunes was born. He became a famous North Omaha orchestra and band leader, and led the Boys Town Band for years. He died on April 24, 1929.
  17. 1871Rev. Russell Taylor was born this year to slaves, becoming an important African American leader of the town of Empire, a rural Black community. After the town closed, he moved to North Omaha to be a Presbyterian minister. He became a fervent Civil Rights advocate in the city, and died in August 1924.
  18. November 19, 1876 – This is the birthdate of Stuart Heintzelman, a high-ranking officer who lived at Fort Omaha in North Omaha for almost a decade. He died on July 6, 1935.
  19. November 17, 1877 – One this day, Frank Lahm was born. The “nation’s first military aviator” and a high-ranking officer, he was stationed for a time at Fort Omaha in North Omaha. he died July 7, 1963.
  20. February 8, 1882 – This is the birthdate of Thomas Selfridge, an officer at Fort Omaha. He became the first person to die in a crash of a powered airplane when a passenger on a demonstration flight piloted by Orville Wright on September 17, 1908.
  21. September 18, 1882 – This is the birthdate of George Wells Parker, who was an African-American political activist who went to Creighton and a writer who co-founded the Hamitic League of the World in North Omaha. He died on July 28, 1931.
  22. April 21, 1888 – One this day, “Cap” Clarence Wigington, who was raised in North Omaha, was born. He was an important African-American architect who died July 7, 1967.
  23. October 18, 1891 – This is the day a mob of 10,000 Omahans lynched African American laborer George Smith in downtown Omaha. His birthdate is unknown.
  24. November 3, 1895 – This is the birthdate of Dr. Aaron McMillan, who served one term representing North Omaha in the Nebraska Legislature. He then served as a missionary in West Africa from 1931 to 1948. After returning, he was involved in Omaha’s NAACP, served on the board of the Omaha Housing Authority, and continued to work as a medical doctor. He died on June 1, 1980.
  25. September 10, 1896 – Born in Omaha, Adele Astaire was a world famous performer whose career began when she was 8. Her father was a brewer at Storz and took her brother Fred to class at Kellom School daily. After marrying Lord Charles Cavendish, Adele retired from show business. She died January 25, 1981.
  26. February 6, 1898 – Activist and writer Harry Haywood was a communist party leader in the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. He died January 4, 1985.
  27. May 10, 1899Fred Astaire was born this day in Omaha, and attended Kellom School for a year before moving from the city in 1905. His father was a brewer at Storz who brought him to class daily. After leaving Omaha, Astaire and his sister Adele became world famous performers. He died on June 22, 1987.
  28. August 16, 1902 – This is the birthday of Wallace Henry Thurman, who raised for a short time in North Omaha, was a Harlem Renaissance writer whose novel The Blacker the Berry: A Novel of Negro Life (1929), is an important book. He died December 26, 1934.
  29. 1905 – This is the birth year of Mildred Brown, who moved to Omaha in the early 1930s. Along with her husband, she founded the Omaha Star in 1935. After 1945, Brown was running the only African-American newspaper in Nebraska. In the 1960s, President Lyndon Johnson appointed her as a goodwill ambassador to East Germany. She died on November 2, 1989.
  30. August 14, 1906 – On this date, John Adams, Jr. was born and afterwards moved to North Omaha around 1923. A lawyer, he became the only Black member of the Nebraska Legislature while serving from 1935 to 1941. As a legislator, he introduced what became the states first public housing law and supported other welfare legislation. He died on April 19, 1999.
  31. September 3, 1908Standing Bear died this day. Born around 1829, he was held and tried at Fort Omaha in North Omaha after his tribe was expelled from their homelands and he tried returning to bury his dead son.
  32. May 4, 1910 – On this date, Lloyd Hunter was born and afterwards raised in North Omaha. He was an African-American trumpeter and big band leader whose band travelled throughout the Midwest. He died in 1961.
  33. September 10, 1910 – This is the birthday of Rowena Moore, who lived in North Omaha. She was an African-American union and civic activist, and founder of the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation. She died on December 15, 1998.
  34. January 14, 1912 – This is the birthdate of Tillie Olsen, raised in North Omaha, who was a Jewish feminist political writer whose novel, Yonnondio: From the Thirties (1974), is an important book. She died on January 1, 2007.
  35. August 31, 1912Rev. Rockefeller F. Jenkins was a Civil Rights leader from North Omaha. He died on April 22, 2000.
  36. August 13, 1913 – This is the birthdate of Anna Mae Winburn, who lived in North Omaha. She was an African-American vocalist and jazz bandleader. She died on September 30, 1999.
  37. August 24, 1915 – Born on this date, Wynonie Harris was born and raised in North Omaha, and became an important blues shouter and rhythm-and-blues singer. He died on June 14, 1969.
  38. September 29, 1919 – This is the date an Omaha mob lynching, dismembered and burned an African American named Will Brown.
  39. November 23, 1919 – This is the birthdate of Alfonza Davis, who was born and raised in North Omaha. A Tuskegee Airman, he became the first African-American aviator from Omaha to be awarded his flying wings. He also received the Purple Heart, Distinguished Flying Cross and a Distinguished Unit Citation. He died on or about July 30, 1945.
  40. April 26, 1921 – On this day Preston Love, Sr. was born and afterwards, raised in North Omaha, was a renowned alto saxophonist, bandleader and songwriter. He died on February 12, 2004.
  41. 1923 – This is the birth year of Helen Jones Woods, born and raised in North Omaha. She is a jazz and swing trombone player.
  42. 1925 – This is the estimated birth year of Bertha Calloway of North Omaha. An African-American community activist and historian, she was founder of the Negro History Society and the Great Plains Black History Museum.
  43. May 19, 1925 – This is the birthdate of Malcolm X, born Malcolm Little in North Omaha and later also known as el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, was an African-American Muslim minister and human rights activist. He was assassinated on February 21, 1965.
  44. February 25, 1929 – Lowen Kruse, a United Methodist minister who represented North Omaha in the Nebraska Legislature from 2001 to 2009, was born today. He died on November 24, 2017.
  45. December 28, 1931 – Before passing away on this day, activist and Baptist minister Earl Little was also an organizer for the Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association on the streets of North Omaha. His son, later called Malcolm X, was born in Omaha.
  46. July 18, 1932 – Before passing away today, Ferdinand Barnett was a journalist, civil rights activist, politician and government worker from North Omaha. Born in July 1854, he served as a member of the Nebraska Legislature in 1927 and 1928.
  47. November 9, 1935 – Born on this day in North Omaha and raised there afterwards, Bob Gibson is a retired professional baseball pitcher who played 17 seasons in Major League Baseball.
  48. 1936 – This is the birth year of Father Ken Vavrina, a Roman Catholic priest and activist in North Omaha.
  49. April 26, 1937 – This is the birthdate of Bob Boozer, born and raised in North Omaha, who was a player in the National Basketball Association and an Olympian. He died on May 19, 2012.
  50. July 10, 1937 – Born on this day, Ernie Chambers was born and raised in North Omaha, and became North Omaha’s member in the Nebraska Legislature in 1970. He graduated from Creighton. Since then, Chambers has become the longest-serving state senator in the history of Nebraska. He is also the only African-American to have run for governor and the US Senate in Nebraska’s history.
  51. May 30, 1943 – This is the birthdate of Gale Sayers, who was raised in North Omaha. He was a standout college football player and a former National Football League player for seven seasons.
  52. June 26, 1943 – This is the birthdate of John Beasley, born and raised in North Omaha, who is an actor on stage and television.
  53. November 1, 1944 – This is the birthdate of Ed Poindexter, born and raised in North OMaha. He is a civil rights activist born who was incarcerated for life as retribution.
  54. 1945 – Born this year, Lester Abrams, born and raised in North Omaha, is a singer, songwriter, musician and producer who has played with several major artists.
  55. 1947 – This is the birth year of Mondo we Langa, born David Rice. Born and raised in North Omaha, he was civil rights activist incarcerated as retribution. He died on March 11, 2016.
  56. September 5, 1947 – Born on this day, Buddy Miles, born and raised in North Omaha, was a rock drummer, vocalist, composer, and producer. He died on February 26, 2008.
  57. August 16, 1948Marguerita Washington was born on this day. The niece of Mildred Brown, she was a lifelong educator in the Omaha Public Schools. She became publisher of the Omaha Star when Brown passed away in 1989. Dr. Washington died on February 13, 2016.
  58. July 5, 1951 – The birthdate of Johnny Rodgers, a standout college football player, as well as a player in the Canadian Football League and National Football League.
  59. 1955 – This is the year that Vivian Strong was born. Her murder by an Omaha policeman led to riots in North Omaha when she was killed on June 26, 1969.
  60. 1955 – This is the birth year of Brenda Council, born and raised in North Omaha, who was a labor lawyer who became a member of the Nebraska Legislature from 2009 to 2013. Before that, she was a member of the Omaha City Council and a member of the Omaha School Board.
  61. July 8, 1964 – Born on this day, Joe Rogers, born and raised in North Omaha, was a politician who was the youngest Lieutenant Governor in Colorado history. He died on October 7, 2013.
  62. July 19, 1960 – Born around 1882, Harrison J. Pinkett died on this day after a career as a lawyer in North Omaha. He moved to Omaha to work for the NAACP in 1907, after years as a journalist and civil rights activist in Washington, D.C. He was a first lieutenant of a segregated Army unit in World War I.
  63. September 18, 1969 – Born on this day, Ron Prince is an American football coach who was born and raised in North Omaha. He is currently an assistant head coach and offensive line coach in the National Football League.
  64. March 22, 1972 – This is the birthdate of Houston Alexander, born and raised in North Omaha, who is a professional mixed martial artist.
  65. October 29, 1972 – This is the birthdate of Gabrielle Union, born and raised in North Omaha, who is an actor on stage, television and movies.
  66. February 16, 1977 – Born on this day, Ahman Green is a former football running back who played twelve seasons in the National Football League.
  67. July 14, 1980 – This is the birthdate of Kenton Keith, born and raised in North Omaha, who is former professional football running back.

 

  1. Activist Whitney M. Young, Jr.
  2. Police Chief Thomas H. Warren, Sr.
  3. Trader Jean Baptiste Point du Sable
  4. Settler Sally Bayne
  5. Activist Politician Edwin Overall
  6. Politician Claus Hubbard
  7. Activist Rev. Dr. W.H.C. Stephenson
  8. Educator Activist Lucy Gamble
  9. Firefighter James C. Greer, Sr.
  10. Journalist Lucille Skaggs Edwards
  11. Activist Politician John Grant Pegg
  12. Rev. William Tate Osborne
  13. Filmmaker George Johnson
  14. Filmmaker Noble Johnson
  15. Police Officer Joseph S. Ballew
  16. Activist Alphonso Wilson
  17. Activist Journalist Thomas Mahammitt
  18. Politician John Owen
  19. Police Officer Pitmon Foxall
  20. Musician Walt McKinney
  21. Accountant William A. Woods
  22. Banker Charles Davis
  23. Educator Eugene Skinner
  24. Activist Attorney Elizabeth Davis Pittman
  25. Architect Harold L. Biddiex
  26. Taxi Driver Marge Rose
  27. Fire Chief Herbie Davis
  28. Police Officer Monroe Coleman
  29. Educator Edmae Swain
  30. Architect Ambrose Jackson Jr.
  31. Athlete Marlin Briscoe
  32. Activist Actor Rev. Darryl C. Eure
  33. Activist Journalist Ella Mahammitt
  34. Activist Photographer Rudy Smith
  35. Educator Coach Don Benning
  36. Educator Coach Gene Haynes
  37. Dr. Claude J. Organ
  38. Educator Lillian D. Anthony
  39. Educator Katherine Fletcher
  40. Businesswoman Cathy Hughes
  41. Engineer Edwina Justus
  42. Activist Organizer Preston Love Jr.
  43. Police Officer Brenda Smith
  44. Activist Journalist Cyrus D. Bell
  45. Politician Fred Conley
  46. Politician Brenda Council
  47. Activist Journalist George F. Franklin
  48. Athlete Tony Fagan
  49. Firefighter Linda Brown
  50. Businesswoman Carol Woods Harris
  51. Lawman Cleveland Vaughn, Jr.
  52. Athlete Steve Hogan
  53. Artist Wanda Ewing
  54. Judge Marlon Polk
  55. Activist Journalist Ida B. Wells-Barnett
  56. Politician Tanya Cook
  57. Activist Journalist Alfred Barnett
  58. Activist Politician John Andrew Singleton
  59. Politician John Adams, Sr.
  60. Politician Edward Danner
  61. Politician George W Althouse
  62. Activist Rev. Rudolph McNair
  63. Journalist Activist James Bryant
  64. Actor Yolanda Ross
  65. Businessman Politician Herman Cain
  66. Athlete Ron Boon
  67. Athlete Mike McGee
  68. Musician Terry Lewis
  69. Musician Archie Parks
  70. Comedian Sheryl Underwood
  71. Writer and Filmmaker Ayesha Adu
  72. Ballet Dancer Sandra Organ
  73. Beauty Pageant Winner Geneice Wilche
  74. Musician Big Joe Williams
  75. Athlete Terence Crawford

     

 

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