The original town of Stockham was located in Orville precinct on the bank of the Blue River, near the vicinity of the first settlement made in the county.
Joseph Stockham took up a homestead with his wife Susan Galford Stockham on the Blue River in 1870 in the Farmers Valley precinct. The original town of Stockham was located in Orville precinct on the bank of the Blue River, near the vicinity of the first settlement made in the county. (For more on Farmer's Valley, see Hamilton County History).
The Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley Railroad purchased 320 acres from Joseph Stockham in 1887, and established a line from Fremont to Hastings. “New Stockham” was platted a half mile south of the original location on August 1, 1887.
With the coming of the railroad the town grew rapidly. Soon there were two banks, three grain elevators, two hotels, a blacksmith, several hardware and grocery stores, a theatre, a drug store, and a dozen or more other businesses. By 1920 the population of Stockham was nearly 250.
By October 1887 the Stockham School District #2 was planning a school house. A schoolhouse was built on the hill northeast of the flour mill in 1878 with Ella Brown as its teacher. After the town was moved, a two-story frame schoolhouse was erected. Classes were held in that building until 1920 when it was destroyed by fire. A new masonry building was built, consisting of primarily intermediate, and grammar schools. It was the first school of this style in the county, said to be “completely modern” and included a large gymnasium. Dedicated in 1922, it had three elementary teachers and three high school teachers.
The town continued to do well until the Depression of the 1930s. After the banks closed, many businesses were also forced to close their doors. In 1941 the railroad pulled out. The rails were torn up and reused at the Hastings munition plant. During the war years, one home after another was moved to one of the surrounding communities to alleviate the need for housing at those locations. The population dwindled to the present population of 80.
At one time three churches held services in Stockham: The German Lutheran was established in 1887, the Verona Presbyterian in 1889, and the Methodist Episcopal in 1889.
Over the years Stockham High School had a number of exceptional basketball teams, playing in district and state tournaments and winning many trophies. The high school was discontinued in 1949, leaving a K-8 system with two teachers.
From Nebraska Our Towns: Central Southeast - article by Faye Kliewer
Edits and updates by the Plainsman Museum 2018, to reflect our mission.
OUR MISSION: The Plainsman Museum is a not-for-profit institution, which focuses on the time from 1860-1950, that collects, preserves, illustrates, and works to establish the History of Hamilton County, Nebraska, through education, exhibits, research, and maintenance of relevant archives and collections.
ADDITIONAL MATERIAL: History of Hamilton County, 1967; and Stockham Nebraska 1887-1987 our centennial book.