In the year of 1870 the entire population of Adams County was a total of 19 residents.  The town of Hastings, Nebraska was platted in 1872 and incorporated in April of 1874.  By 1878 Hastings was a thriving community of over 3,000 residents.  Hastings' population grew to over 10,000 residents by 1880. In 1890 the population of Hastings was just a little over 24,000 people.  There were two street car companies in Hastings from 1887 until 1892.  In May of 1907 there were thirty registered automobiles in Hastings. By 1930 Hastings' population had decreased to just over 15,000 residents and was about the same in 1940.  Following are many interesting tidbits about Hastings and some of its early residents:

  • 12th Street - was known in the early years as High Street - and the early cemetery for which they have no records was called Highland as it is north of 12th Street between Burlington and Hastings Avenues.

  • The first potters' field was located on St. Joseph Avenue - again no records - and burials were made near where the tennis courts are located.  It is one reason they built the tennis courts there - to pave it over so that no graves would be disturbed and the ground would not be plowed.

  • Two of my great great uncles were some of the first burials in Parkview Cemetery - they died in 1884 in the first diphtheria epidemic in Hastings and are buried in the Northern part of the cemetery and their graves are marked with two tiny diamond shaped stones.

  • The Kerr Opera House was built in 1884 - a bank was on the first floor.  Some of my ancestors toured the Orpheum Circuit and were married on the stage of the Kerr Opera House.

  • The first Country Club was located at 9th & Elm Streets - it was later sold to Hastings College and Hastings College used it for many years as the student union.  It once had tennis courts, in addition to a golf course - and a swimming pool.

  • Elvan McClanahan was the early photographer for the Hastings Daily Tribune and once worked with Adam Bebee to make a movie in early Hastings.   Many of you will remember him as the one who took all the sports pictures when we were in high school and many other activities also.  He was known as "Onions" and was my uncle.

  • Rollin Kirby from Hastings received the Pulitzer Prize for political cartoons in the early 1900's.

  • Hastings Outdoor Club was organized in 1931 as a small hiking group - the club met every Sunday regardless of the weather - one leader was appointed each Sunday - his responsibility was to get permission from the owner to cross his land and rent a cabin for shelter if necessary  - each member was charged 25 cents for the meal and ten cents for transportation - the favorite cabins were owned by the Boy Scouts, The Lovell Family cabin on the Blue River, and the Johnson Cabin on the Platte.  They also erected the monument for Susan Hale on the Oregon Trail near Kennesaw. 

  • The first High School Variety Show was held in November of 1941 - and guess who started it - Matthew Shoemaker and Miss Collier.  Two names I am sure you will all remember.

  • My grandpa owned a grocery store on Hastings Avenue across from the Clarke Hotel - he had a stable behind the store and had a big white horse named Steamboat - the "boys" (my uncles) delivered groceries with the horse - he was a big old guy and my dad was afraid of him.  Mr. Perkins experimented with his Kool Aid in the basement of grandpa's store because he was so poor  grandpa let him use the basement - he first called it Flavor Aid and put it in bottles. The old uncles remembered that - he later moved to where history says he invented it.

  • When the circus came to town the uncles would go down and water and feed the animals.  The circus came on the train and would have a big parade downtown.  The "boys" would help clean up the animals for the parade and they would get free tickets.

  • My grandma would take the "boys" out to the state hospital and they would hop the train and ride into town and get off at the Swift plant - that was later when they had a Hump Mobile.  Grandpa put a stop to that - waste of gas (2 cents a gallon).

Elementary Schools

First Ward School
  • First Ward School was the oldest school - it was on Burlington and Lincoln between A & B Streets - it was enlarged in 1886 and in 1912 torn down and the new Lincoln School was built.  This was the first elementary school built in Hastings - so known as the First Ward School.

South Ward School
  • The South Ward School was built in 1888 and was located on Hastings Avenue between G & I Streets - it later was renamed Hawthorne School - this school was used into the 1920's - and later was the home of  the first museum -  it later was sold and used as a battery factory.

West Ward School
  • The West Ward School was built in 1886 and was remodeled and added onto in 1912 - it was later known as Morton School.  The school was located on 6th Street between Saunders and Briggs and  is no longer standing.  When the new Morton School was built on Baltimore  Avenue.  In the early 1930's the old Morton was converted into the Hastings Museum and was used until the House of Yesterday was completed in 1939.  I only remember this area as being a vacant lot with a church at one end.

East Ward School
  • The East Ward School was built in 1891 and was located between third and fourth street, and faced California Avenue.  It was later added on to - when all the names were changed its name was changed to Alcott.  It was still standing in 1935, but a new school was built on the same spot and the older school was torn down.  It cost under $3,000 to build in 1891.

  • The names of all of the grade schools were changed in 1912.   In 1926/27 a new Longfellow School was built just north of the the old Longfellow (the first high school) which faced Denver - my dad told me that when the new school was finished the children (which he was) helped to moved the books, etc. to the new school - this was at the end of the school year in May of 1927 - over the summer the old school was torn down and the playground was evolved where the old school had been. 

  • During WWII the population swelled because of the Navy Ammunition Depot and a new school was built in Spencer Park.

  • The new Hawthorne School was built on 9th and Crane in 1954 ( my grandfather once owned some of the land) and when we moved to our house on Boyce Avenue in 1951 the area was all farm land.  We lived in the 1900 block of Boyce and north of us was all farm land.  The roads were not paved and my parents owned our house and four lots on Ninth Street - when it rained we would dam the ditches and flood Ninth Street.  Johnson Cashway later purchased all of the land between Washington and Crane Avenues - 9th to 12th Streets and developed and built houses.

Junior High School

Junior High School
  • The Junior High Building was begun in 1917 and was north of the old senior high school.  It is the only Junior High ever built in Hastings and is still used today.

High Schools

North Ward School
  • The first high school was located between Hastings & Denver south side of Ninth Street and fronted Denver.  The first was built in 1887 and then replaced in 1891 - the building was known as the North Ward - the first graduates of Hastings High School were graduated in 1884. 

High School
  • The new high school was built in 1905 on 5th Street between Lincoln and Hastings - many of our parents were graduated from this school. 

  • Of course, we all know that Hastings High was completed in 1955 and our class was the first class to attend all three years at the new high school.


  • The first Catholic Church was located at 2nd and Minnesota and later was moved to  Kansas Avenue & 6th Street - and later the new church was built on the corner of 7th & Kansas.  St. Cecilia's only had a grade school until 1932 when the high school was added one grade per year with the first graduating class graduated in 1936.  

  • The first Presbyterian Church was located at Fourth and Lincoln - where the Y was later built - the new church was built on 7th Street & Lincoln and burned in 1912 - the new church stands today. 

  • The first Methodist Church in Hastings was located at Third & Burlington and was built in 1884.  The present Methodist Church was built on 7th and Hastings and was dedicated in 1916.

~ Submitted by Sharon Gergen ~



 Picture Postcards & Photos of Hastings