Yvonne Dalluge
Kathleen Jacobitz
Marcia Borcher
Sandi Corbitt-Sears
Dick Taylor


It was around 1880 when the Republican Valley Railroad Company was making plans to build a railroad line across southern Nebraska.  This was to connect with a line coming from Missouri entering Nebraska at the southeast corner of Nebraska, then across southern Nebraska on to Denver, Colorado.  This later became the property of the Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad Company and was considered to be the most direct and fastest line from St. Louis, Missouri, to Denver, Colorado. 

It was the policy of the railroad to have a maintenance crew every 7 to 10 miles of track.  This made it necessary to have a station about 8 miles on west from Pawnee City, Nebraska.  A depot was built with living quarters on the top floor for the Section Foreman plus another bunk house for another member of the Section Crew.  As the railroad took some land on the south part of Section 13-2-10 of Miles precinct in Pawnee County (which belonged) to David Butler who had been the first Governor of Nebraska), it was therefore named Butler.  Later was discovered that Nebraska had another town named Butler.  So the name was changed to Violet after David Butler's only daughter, Violet.  Before the railroad was completed, the local people living on the area decided to start a town.  There was 40 acres belonging to a R. O. Philips which was located in the NW 1/4 of NW 1/4 Section 24-2-10 in Miles Precinct which bordered the railroad property on the north side, and this was divided into lots and small tracts to be sold to people who wished to start a business in Violet.  It was decided to build a church, and history has it that a number of local farmers drove with teams and wagons to St. Joe, Missouri, to haul hack lumber and material to build the church. 

A Methodist Church was built in 1886; started in December of that year, and dedicated on May 15, 1887.  At that service, they raised $1000.00, which made the Violet Church free of debt.  Music for the occasion was furnished by a choir from the Methodist Church in Pawnee City.  The organist was Miss Emma Osborn, aunt of Mrs. Lillie Johnson. 

Some of the prominent ones in organizing and promoting the building of the church were the following: W. C. Starkey, T. H. Woods, Tom Butler, R. N. Crawford, T. L. Cornell, G. W. McMicheal, F. W. Chase, E. E. Ellsworth.  Sunday School had been held in the school house for sometime before the church was organized. 

The church was well attended by people living in the area and was supplied by a minister from Burchard.  During bad weather there would be no church service and Sunday School would be held.  At one time it was served by a Rev. Preistley from Burchard.  One time it had rained and he walked to Violet from Burchard down the railroad tracks a distance of 7 miles, as he walked he counted the number of railroad ties in that distance.  The church also served as a community center for different kinds of entertainment in the community such as plays, box socials, and many events for raising money for many good causes.  One of the first members was the Cornell family and one of the last was their daughter Lillie Johnson.  It closed in 1935.  

After the completion of the railroad ex-Governor Butler, who was a large land owner in the area, persuaded the railroad to put in another siding and stock yards, as he fed thousands of cattle per year, and could benefit by having a means of shipping his cattle to market.  It also became a benefit to all local stock raisers to ship livestock to market and Violet became the place that shipped more livestock to market than any other station on this railroad line. 

The first store was built by a Mr. Walsh (in early 1880's) who was a landowner in the area.  It was a wooden frame building with living quarters in the rear.  Mrs. Thomas Cornell came to this area from New Jersey and married Mira Osborne.  Mr. Cornell had an implement business in the basement of the building and he and his family occupied the living quarters in the rear of the building.  The store caught fire and burned to the ground in 1893.  The Cornell family escaped with only the clothes they had on and everything else was a total loss.  All records were burned and they had no means from which to collect the accounts owed to them.  Thomas Cornell then bought a small building and moved it about a block west of the store and then after several additions, the house became the home of the Cornell family until their daughter Lillie Johnson sold it in 1946. 

A grain elevator was built just west of the stockyards, and Thomas Cornell then went into the grain business and for a number of years did a large husiness.  At one time he had four long cribs full of ear corn and each crib probably would contain 12,000 bushels.  This being shelled in the winter and loaded into cars and shipped out, besides shipping oats and wheat.  This grain all being hauled by teams and wagons.  After the death of Mr. Cornell the elevator was run by Mr. Robert Crawford and different ones.  Of course at this time there was no electricity or gas motor, so was operated by a horse furnishing the power. 

There was a depot which had several different agents, but after a good many years without an agent, the building was torn down.  The first agent was a Guy Barnes. 

Thomas Cornell was the first Post Master but due to his large grain business his wife Mira became the Post Mistress and ran it in her home until her death in 1920. 

A second store was built about two blocks west of the first store by a Mr. Kuhns, and it burned in 1902.  

It was sometime later when a Mr. Wilson Heffner erected a building on the site of the first store and this became the last and only store in Violet.  He also built a house for living quarters for the store keeper.  After the death of Mrs. Cornell the post office was located in the store and operated by the store keeper.  In 1930 it was moved back to the Cornell property and operated by Lillie Johnson until the post office was discontinued in 1935.  The store changed hands many times after Mr. Heffner sold to Mr. Fry, then Richards, Rice, Dingwell, McMurrary, Bartram, Kussman, Milburne, Montqonery, Emery, & Hasan.  The store was also closed in 1935. 

In the early days of Violet a Mr. Robert Crawford and family came fron Indiana and settled in the Violet area.  He purchased part of the original townsite on the east and lived here with his family for many years.  Mr. Crawford was a Civil War Veteran and received a pension of $7.00 per month.  He had a son Edwin who became injured as a boy but went on to school and became a country school teacher, but later had another injury and then came home and established a good business of selling magazines and newspaper subscriptions, and doing news reporting for many newspapers.  It was about 1950 when he had to become a resident in a nursing home in Pawnee City.  He was the last person doing business in Violet. 

A one room schoolhouse was built about 1/2 mile north of the Violet townsite.  It was called Violet District 11.  It was started in 1882 and closed in 1969. 

At one time Violet had three houses, one store building, church, a blacksmith shop, depot, stockyards, and elevator.  All have been torn down and now no signs remain of the once bustling and interesting little village. 

The famous Violet picnic was organized in early 1920's and held on the Wm. Albers farm a mile west.  It was well attended and enjoyed by many people in the surrounding area. 

There was a Violet Baseball Team which competed with many good teams in Southeast Nebraska. 

The people living in the Violet community were prosperous energetic and also fun loving.  Some were very talented in various aspects of life and frequently formed groups to provide entertainment for local communities surrounding Violet.  In the middle 1930's the young people of the Violet community organized a group called Violet producers and gave a 3-act comedy play in several theatres in towns in the area.  It was a highly successful company but short lived as members had to move on to school and other vocations.  They also had a dance hand to play for dances following the show.  Violet was located about a mile west of the geographical center of Pawnee County and surrounded by small streams with fertile soil and excellent grass hills used for purpose of raising lots of cattle.  One main stream just east of Violet was a fairly large stream abounded by heavily wooded area and supplied wood and lumber for the people living there.  It was called Balls Branch and also provided amusement and profit for the residents.  Plenty of fishing, good swimming holes, excellent squirrel and rahbit hunting in the fall, plus plenty of fur-bearing animals for the trappers and ice skating in the winter! 

Many of the once residents of Violet area are still in existance in other areas of Nebraska and United States.  Some of the most solid residents still living are Albers, Steiner, Ghyra, Sommerhalder, Spiers, Ireland, Tannyhill, Vrtiska, Crawford, Johnson, Rinne, Parks and Blecha.  Many of those who attended the one room school house went on to be dentists, ministers, school teachers, bankers, carpenters, and a professional football player.  Many stayed to be successful farmers.  The townsite is now owned by Drs. Vernon and Ronald Rinne who are retired dentists.  They also own the farm where they were born and spent their youthful years.  It lies adjacent to the townsite of Violet. 

This history of Violet, Nebraska was written by Elmer Vrtiska and completed January 16, 1991.  At this time one of the first persons to live at Violet was born Feb. 4, 1891.  She is now a resident of the Pawnee Manor and will celebrate her 100th Birthday Feb. 4, 1991.  This is Lillie Cornell Johnson.

Written by Elmer Vrtiska - Submitted by Yvonne Dalluge - January 2000.

Copyright 2008 Pawnee County History

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