North Omaha is a community located in Omaha, Nebraska. For the purpose of this blog, I define North Omaha by the boundaries I knew growing up: From Dodge Street on the south to 72nd on the west, the Missouri River on the east and Ponca Hills on the north.
|This picture is looking north from downtown over North Omaha in 1878. The building on the left belonged to Creighton University. This picture is courtesy of Durham Museum.|
My name is Adam Fletcher Sasse. I am a professional writer and speaker who runs a small consulting firm in Olympia, Washington. I operate the North Omaha History Blog as a hobby, and I consider myself an amatuer historian.
I grew up in North Omaha in the Miller Park neighborhood for more than a decade from the mid-1980s through the mid-90s. Growing up in these historical, predominantly African American neighborhood, I was a bit of an anomaly: I was a goofy white Canadian kid in cowboy boots and corduroy pants. But I devoured history, especially the stories of the place where I was growing up.
I graduated from North High School. While the leadership of the school was mostly African American, I don’t know if any of the teachers to have a specific appreciation or interest in the African American history of Omaha, and I don’t remember being taught anything about it. The history of the people who established the neighborhoods was hard to find, and that is part of what makes this history so alluring to me.
The other part of why I write this is because of my mentors and friends. One of my mentors was Idu Maduli, who taught me when I was young. I also learned glimpses of the city’s history from other mentors, including Rev. Helen Saunders, many of the people at Pearl Memorial United Methodist Church, Von Trimble, and Mrs. Hickerson, who I lived next to on Ellison Avenue. I owe all of them a debt of gratitude, along with my high school girlfriend, the first sleuth I ever knew to uncover the history of the Trans-Mississippi Exposition. I can only hope to ignite young peoples’ imaginations the ways these people did when I was young.
This blog is meant to explore the history of the community where I grew up. I am not a professional historian, and don’t have all the access I need in order to tell every single story as deeply as I’d like to. On this blog I explore topics that intrigue me, that I love, and that I want to learn more about.
I wanted to change that for young people in North Omaha today. Luckily, there is more interest than I’ve seen in three decades coming out in the community today. While a lot of it is focused on gentrification and a glorified vision of the way things used to be, some interest is focused on preserving the community’s history while moving forward into a positive, powerful future for today’s North Omahans. I support that work.
Use the comments on each article to share your thoughts. Feel free to reach out and share your stories, ideas, and info with me by emailing me.
Sources and Permissions
All written content on this website is copyright 2009-2016 by Adam Fletcher. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint, share and otherwise distribute the written content of this blog is granted only for nonprofit educational purpose. For information and clearance contact me.
All visual material used herein is used in good faith and provided on the internet for nonprofit educational usage only. No permission is granted to reuse any image included herein by Adam Fletcher. All copyrights belong to their owners. Images included here are for used for personal, nonprofit educational purposes only. Information regarding re-use, copying, and otherwise redistributing the images can be found at the following URLs.
- Durham Museum
- Douglas County Historical Society
- Nebraska Memories, official State of Nebraska website
- Omaha World-Herald
- University of Nebraska History Harvest
- United States Library of Congress
- Google Maps, including Streetview
- Chronicling America
- Google Earth
- Nebraska Western Trails
- The Durham Museum’s Photo Archive
- Early Omaha: Gateway to the West by the Omaha Public Library
- National Register of Historic Places, National Parks Service
- Reconn Survey Portions of North Omaha
- Reconn Survey Portions of North Central Omaha
- Reconn Survey Selected Neighborhoods in Central and South Omaha
- Patterns on the Landscape-Heritage Conservation in North Omaha, Part 1
- Patterns on the Landscape-Heritage Conservation in North Omaha, Part 2
- Patterns on the Landscape-Heritage Conservation in North Omaha, Part 3
- Historical Aerial Photo Project – Iowa Department of Natural Resources
- Douglas – Omaha Geographic Information Systems – Douglas County
- A Dirty, Wicked Town by David Bristow
- Cap Wigington: An Architectural Legacy in Ice and Stone by David Vassar Taylor with Paul Clifford Larson
- Black Print with a White Carnation Mildred Brown and the Omaha Star Newspaper, 1938-1989 by Amy Helene Forss
- Black And Catholic In Omaha: A Case Of Double Jeopardy: The First Fifty Years Of St. Benedict The Moor Parish by Angus
- Rhythm Boys of Omaha Central: High School Basketball At the ’68 Racial Divide by Steve Marantz
- History of the University of Nebraska at Omaha, 1908-1983 by Tommy R. Thompson
- Omaha Streetscape Handbook (2008) Omaha By Design
- Streets of Omaha: Their Origins and Changes (1997) by H. Ben Brick for the Omaha Public Library
I want to extend a special thanks to the people and organizations that have made this blog possible, and to those who assist me with it in countless ways. Some of them include…
- My parents, Robert Sasse and Charlette Harris, and my siblings Ian, Anne and Elva
- The former Pearl Memorial United Methodist Church congregation, including David Porter, Margaret Gilmore and others
- My mentors in the former Umoja District of Mid America Boy Scout Council, especially Von Trimble and Charlie Goff
- The 1992 Urban League Youth Leadership Program
- My history teachers Jeff Koneck at Miller Park and Mark Schulze at North
- My fellow Forgotten Omaha moderators Chuck Martens and Ryan Roenfeld
- My fellow Omaha History Club moderators Micah Evans, Michaela Armetta and Michele Wyman