Robin and Frank Johanson were just looking for a place to eat lunch. “It was a totally random stop,” said Robin. The Johansons, who live just outside Tallahassee, Florida, were in Nebraska to see the Sandhill Cranes, from a blind reserved through the Nature Conservancy, when they pulled into the Plainsman Museum parking lot. They found that both AAA and Off the Beaten Path identified the Plainsman as “a gem” and decided to come in and take a look. “This is an impressive museum for a big city,” remarked her husband Frank, noticeably surprised. “For a little burg, it is unbelievable.
The biggest surprise was yet to come.
“We visit lots of little museums, often zipping through quickly, and can miss things. Luckily, we started in the rotunda." At the end of their self tour, Robin decided to go back to the rotunda to take a closer look. On the Hamilton County display The Scotch Colony on the east side of the rotunda she realized that the man in the photograph was her great, great, great grandfather John Laurie. She quickly called her mother, expecting surprise, but her mother just said “Oh, yes, your dad’s mom was from Aurora.”
John Laurie moved from Silver Creek, NY to Green County, WI in 1867. There he met the Waddells and the Lamonts. In 1868, Laurie visited his son Alex in The Scotch Colony in Nebraska. In 1869, he moved the family to Farmer's Valley, taking up homestead preemption, buying the John Harris homestead first and later Charlie Land’s, and had 420 acres.
Mr. Laurie (pictured at left with James Waddell at the Waddell homestead )was on the first Election board, and was the first Superintendent of Schools. School District No. 1 was halfway between the Waddell and Laurie homesteads. Jennie Laurie was the first teacher there, and at District No. 2, Belle Laurie, age 16, was the teacher.
“Norma (Cardinell Laurie) is my Dad’s mother…he would have loved this,” said Robin.
Robin was hooked on her history, and decided to visit the Farmer’s Valley Cemetery, the first in the county, where she discovered her great-great-grandparent’s graves, and a few aunts and uncles to boot.
The Johanson’s talked about coming back one day to see the rest of the six-acre history at the Plainsman Museum. “We might make it a family visit!” said Robin.
We hope they will.
Discover new connections at The Plainsman Museum
210 16th St, Aurora, NE 68818, USA
call: (402) 694-6531
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