Dynamic Past, Hope-filled Future: North Omaha History, Volume Three Now On Sale!

(Olympia, WA: December 1, 2016) The final book of Adam Fletcher Sasse’s series, North Omaha History: Volume Three, is now available from CommonAction Publishing. In the third book of the North Omaha History Series, Adam Fletcher Sasse reveals a lot of the hidden, denied and neglected history of one of the oldest areas of Nebraska’s largest city. Highlighting the […]

A History of KOWH, North Omaha’s Radio Station

In the aftermath of the 1960s riots that ravaged the community, a group of African American investors from North Omaha rallied to invest in technology, and for many, to invest in their home neighborhood. Pulling off a coup, for almost a decade, North Omaha was home to Nebraska’s first radio station and a former bastion of white middle class American culture. Except now it was the home of the city’s Black pride, empowerment and culture.

A History of the Central Park Neighborhood in North Omaha

Tucked away in North Omaha is a historic neighborhood that gets little attention. However, the people who’ve lived there have vibrant memories and meaningful stories that lasted a lifetime. The Central Park neighborhood extends from North 33rd to North 48th Streets, from Ames Avenue to Sorenson Parkway. Located west of the town of Saratoga, it was never an incorporated town like its neighbors in Irvington or Benson. A lot of the oral histories of the area talked about it being a rural community, surrounded by farms and fields, orchards and more. Rising from cornfields and hills, the Central Park neighborhood has a long history starting in the 1880s. Here are details I could find about the neighborhood.

A History of North Omaha’s Elks Hall and Iroquois Lodge 92

Starting in 1905, the Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World, also called the black Elks, met in North Omaha. They were determined to help foster positive social connections, build community and foster growth within Omaha’s African American community. Almost 100 years later, it keeps going.

A History of African American Newspapers in Omaha

North Omaha’s African American culture has grown and changed dramatically since its founding in 1854. One of the main drivers of the culture for more than a century has been the Black media. From the time Omaha’s first Black newspaper was published in 1889 through Shanelle Williams’ continued use of Facebook, Twitter and other social media today to build the African American community in Omaha, Black media has continued to transform the North Omaha community and the city at large.

A History of North Omaha’s Belt Line Railway

Almost a decade ago, I stumbled across stories of a railroad that looped around Omaha. Different sources told crazy realities, including conflicting ownership, court cases, and the rise and fall of several neighborhoods in North Omaha. I was fascinated that I saw this track all the time when I was growing up, but I never knew its story, so I started researching. I read articles and pamphlets, books and maps. After that, I started an article on Wikipedia to share what I’d found. Well, as you know, that’s never enough for me. With some recent encouragement from John Peterson, a fine Omaha history writer, I am going to expand here on what I’ve researched and learned about the Belt Line Railway in North Omaha.

A History of the Mormon Tree in Florence, Nebraska

The Mormon Tree, also called the Brigham Young Tree, has loomed over my studies of Florence history for a decade now. I’ve seen mentions of it in old newspapers and heard stories about it from older people. However, I couldn’t find anything about it all this time. Until last month. Finally, after all these years, I wrote the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters to ask about the Mormon Tree.

A History of the Miller Park Duplex Historic District in North Omaha

Immediately after World War II, there was a rush of soldiers flush with government money that allowed them to buy homes and build families right away. A lot of North Omaha finished in-filling during this period, with houses constructed in just a few months and selling a lot quicker than that. Spread across a few streets in the Miller Park neighborhood, one set of these homes created an architecturally distinct area that should be designated as a historic district and preserved quickly.

A History of Lead Poisoning in North Omaha

For more than 15 years, the Environmental Protection Agency has been fighting lead poisoning in North Omaha as part of a citywide environmental cleanup focused on the 27-square-miles east of 72nd Street.

A History of Cemeteries in North Omaha

Did you know that North Omaha has at least eight historic cemeteries? Serving religious and ethnic populations as well as the general public, these are the final resting places of thousands of people from the 1840s through today.

A History of North Omaha’s Cuming Street

Now seen as the front door to Omaha, Cuming Street has also served as the city’s farthest edge; as the growing, mighty muscles of industry and business; and as its dirty, neglected backside. This article highlights the history of Cuming Street, from its beginnings through to present day.

A History of the Omaha Star

More than 65 years ago, a newspaper was launched to serve Omaha’s African American community. Coming from a legacy of several Black newspapers before it, the paper was launched by the visionary Mildred Brown and her husband Ed Gilbert. Losing its direct competitors within a decade, The Omaha Star became the city’s Civil Rights media champion, refusing to print negative news and constantly focusing on keeping it positive. The original banner was “Joy and Happiness”, and the only told good news.

A History of the Bailey Residence in North Omaha

Built: 1875 estimated Address: 1504 North 19th Street Architecture: Eastlake Style Demolished: 1900 estimated When Omaha was first starting up in the 1850s and 1860s, it was built with wood. Wood-frame stores, hotels, homes and boarding houses were all over. There were some soddies, too. One of the first people to help the city move […]

A History of the North Omaha Radar Station

The North Omaha Radar Station has a long history. Located at 11000 North 72nd Street, it was built in 1950 as the Omaha Air Force Station. With exactly 40 acres on the intersection of North 72nd and McKinley Drive, it was part of a Cold War-focused radar network and was officially closed in 1968. That […]

A Biography of Nebraska Territorial Governor Thomas B. Cuming by Ryan Roenfeld

One of North Omaha’s landmark roadways that has always intrigued me is Cuming Street. My dad used to take my brother and I to Canfield’s, where we’d comb the aisles for what seemed like hours. Creighton University seemed like a foreign land, but in high school I discovered Bemis Park and began lulling in the […]

A History of the Town of East Omaha

The original town of East Omaha was south of the present-day Eppley Airport, west of Abbott Drive, and north of the river. It was known known as East Omaha and was claimed by Edmond Jeffries in 1853. That was a year before the so-called Indian Territory was opened to white settlement and a year before Omaha City was founded. The next year, it became Omaha’s first annexation, brought into the city in 1854.

A Biography of North Omaha’s Dr. Marguerita Washington

This story begins with the death. On November 2nd, 1989, Mildred Brown passed away. Easily the mother of North Omaha pride, Mildred co-founded The Omaha Star in the late 1930s and ran it by herself for almost 50 years. She promoted the community mercilessly, building pride, power and purpose through her paper, and her death was a massive loss to everyone in North Omaha, especially the African American community.

A History of the Florence Neighborhood in North Omaha

The history of Florence begins with the tangled clopping of horse hooves and rattling of the sideboards on beat up wagons. The story of the town begins with people leaving, people coming back, a town booming, a town shrinking, and then getting annexed into Omaha and calming down. It’s a story that’s still being written every day, and lately things are on the up and up!

A History of St. Clare’s Monastery in North Omaha

This is the original Poor Clares Monastery built in 1904. It still stands at N. 29th and Hamilton Streets.   Located in the middle of the hustle and bustle is a spectacularly beautiful, formerly consecrated rental facility that few people in the entire city know about. For more than a century there was a monastery […]

A History of the John E. Reagan House in North Omaha

With the old country ties in mind, one lawyer in Omaha took it upon himself to bring some fellow Irishmen back to Omaha to stump for “Cowboy” Jim Dahlman, Omaha’s corrupt longtime mayor who was controlled by local boss Tom Dennison. Did his tireless campaigning get him a seat in the Nebraska State Legislature? Was there dirty money involved in building his palatial home?

A History of Jim Bell’s Club Harlem In North Omaha

The horns blared out the doors, crowds of Black and white jazz fans waited impatiently to cram in, and bunches of kids stood around the back door trying to get a listen. On any given Friday and Saturday night through the late 1950s, Jim Bell’s Club Harlem was one of the very best places to […]

A History of Black Hotels in Omaha

Built in 1915, the Broadview Hotel at 2060 Florence Boulevard operated for several decades. Much the same as today, Omaha was culturally segregated in the early 20th century. That included its hotels. Spectacular stories about wonderful early hotels didn’t include African Americans. Places like the Grand Central Hotel, the Cozzens Hotel, the Herndon House, and […]

A History of Grave Robbing in North Omaha

The banner from a 1910 periodical for parks maintenance.  It costs money to be a respectful, successful cemetery. They actually have to conduct a regular and brisk business in order to afford their existence. Today, many old cemeteries have charitable groups or beneficiaries who pay for their upkeep. However, it hasn’t always been easy to […]

A History of Ghosts at Fort Omaha

The Gas Bag was the official newspaper of Fort Omaha in 1919. Fort Omaha was opened in 1878. Home to thousands of US Army troops over a century of service, many people lived and died at the Fort. Today, some of the buildings that still survive on the campus include the General Crook House and the Commissary, […]

North Omaha History on Q98.5

In the month of October 2015, I was invited to participate in Q98’s After Dark Halloween special with JT and Pat. Making two appearances before the special, I was able to share some stories and have fun with the opportunity. Here are the shows I appeared on – I’ll be adding the actual After Dark […]

A History of the Tunnels Beneath Immanuel Hospital

Nurses learning their trade at Immanuel Deaconess Hospital in the 1910s. There were 20 buildings at the old Immanuel Deaconess campus in North Omaha. Located at N. 34th and Meredith, the first building opened there in 1891. Over the years, the campus included a hospital, an orphanage, an old folks home, and a mental health […]

A History of the Execution of Cyrus Tator in North Omaha

Since before the Nebraska Territory was founded in 1854, executions including lynchings, shootings and hangings happened in Omaha. The Omaha Claim Club, established by the city’s founders, used intimidation, threats, and drownings in order to enforce their homesteading over anyone who tried to disagree with them. In 1860, the US Supreme Court made their actions […]

A Timeline of Race and Racism in North Omaha

On October 24, 1889, the Omaha Daily World reported that G.S. Kennedy, an African American mechanic who frequented the bar at the Paxton Hotel, was “somewhat indignant” for being charged a higher price than usual because, as the bartender said, he was Black. My review of other articles from early Omaha shows wasn’t Kennedy’s experience wasn’t exception in […]

A History of the Redick Mansion in North Omaha

The most famous mansion built in North Omaha is probably the Mayne Mansion, also known as the Redick Mansion. Clifton E. Mayne was a pioneer real estate investor and salesman in the city. In the 1870s, a farmer built a little house along Saunders Street leading north out of Omaha. He sold ten acres and his little farmhouse to Mayne in 1885.