DeWitty Marker Dedication Announced
Wednesday, 13 January 2016 12:43
A dedication ceremony for a new Nebraska State Historical Marker in Cherry County commemorating DeWitty, the state’s longest and most successful African-American rural settlement is scheduled for Monday, April 11 at 10 a.m. at the site of the marker, near the Brownlee turnoff road on U.S. Highway 83.
“I’ve already heard from descendants from as far away as Delaware, Virginia and California who are planning to come,” said Stew Magnuson, the author of two books about Highway 83. Last year, Magnuson, the Cherry County Historical Society and DeWitty descendants coordinated to raise the $5,100 needed to pay for the marker.
“Donations came from descendants, Cherry County residents, history buffs in Nebraska and members of the Fans of U.S. Route 83 page on Facebook. It was a wonderful gathering of different people who believed that this unique community should be remembered,” said Magnuson.
Black settlers first arrived in the area about 1907 to take advantage of the Kinkaid Act, which granted homesteaders 640 acres of land in the counties that comprised the Sand Hills of Nebraska. DeWitty, also known as Audacious, grew as more settlers came to take advantage of this offer. The Homestead Act only granted 160 acres of land. Some settlers had roots in Canada and were the descendants of escaped slaves. Others came from big cities to try their hands at farming. The town barber, Robert Hannahs, had been born into slavery.
They built homesteads along the North Loup River, extending some 14 miles west of the town of Brownlee, a mostly white settlement. Relations between the two communities were excellent, Magnuson says. They came together to celebrate Independence Day, shared one-room schools and helped each other whenever needed.
“This is really the story of two communities: DeWitty and Brownlee. The marker text notes the bond the communities shared,” says Magnuson, who wrote a chapter about DeWitty in his latest book, The Last American Highway: A Journey Through Time Down U.S. Route 83: Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma.
Norden Bridge Closing to Traffic On Jan. 25th
Tuesday, 12 January 2016 15:53
KVSH News has learned that Keya Paha County will be closing Norden Bridge to through-traffic on January 25th. Commuters will have to take an alternate route until that stretch of HWY 12 is re-opened on or around June 1st.