Welcome To KEY TO THE CITY's Page For
Burt County, Nebraska
Tekamah was established in October, 1854. It was incorporated as a town in October 1854. It was later incorporated as a city on 14 March 1855.
It is said the name for the town was chosen by the "luck of the draw." In a diary belonging to colonel B. R. Folsom, he indicated that it was difficult to choose a name for the new settlement. Therefore, each of the members of the exploration party wrote their choice on a slip of paper and dropped it in a hat. They all agreed that the first name drawn out would be the name for the new town. Tekamah was drawn out first and the town was named as agreed. The man who wrote the name was William Byers, a surveyor. It is said that Tekamah means "big cottonwoods," which makes sense due to the abundance of cottonwood trees along the banks of the creek and throughout the area. Another translation appears to come from the Egyptian or Arabic Language with the meaning, "bloody battlefield." This group believe that several tribes of Indians fought with a "pale face foe" in the valley. Later, evidence was found in the form of human bones that would help bear out this version. Though it is not really known what prompted him to suggest the name, it still remains unique. Burt County may claim the only Tekamah in the world!
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Burt County Museum
PO Box 125
Tekamah, NE 68061
Here are some pictures of the community
Tekamah has a mayor/city council form of government. It is also the county seat of Burt County.
Tekamah Historical Events 1945 on
Reflections on life in Tekamah
My parents and I came to live in Tekamah around 1945. Dad was to be the manager of the Holmquist Grain Elevator, mom a full-time homemaker like most mothers were back then. We lived in the company house on top of the hill above the elevator for about the next 6 years. We weren't exactly on the edge of town, but did raise chickens from time to time. Could see clear across the Missouri Valley on a fairly clear day, and the bluffs of Iowa.
Life for a child then, was pretty uncomplicated and easy-going. This meant catching lightening bugs on summer evenings and riding our bikes after dark in the neighborhood with no fear whatsoever. In the winter, sometimes being snowed in after a blizzard and the school had to be closed....for only a day. Or, finding the deepest snow drift to wade through on our way to school and back home......no wonder we were always catching colds!
Entertainment......listening to the radio (didn't have a TV until 1949), and when I was a teen, saving up to see a Sunday matinee at the local movie theater. The local pool hall was strictly off limits, although I walked past it everyday to and from school. And, "Tek-Inn" came into being sometime before my high school years.........I was allowed to go there, sometimes.
I started kindergarten in the Tekamah Public School building with Gary Jack, Judy (Bruce) Anderson, Ronnie Anderson, Kenny Robinson, Joyce Robinson, Richard Sells (his dad was the principal), Phil Case, Doris Carlson, Sharon Crannel, Shirley Tompson, Dick Miller, and a few more that made us all "family"; for we all graduated together in 1958. Most of us managed to return for our 25th high school reunion a while ago (ha, ha), and I am hoping that many will be there when our 50th rolls around. I remember that Judy B.'s mom made the prettiest May baskets, Ronnie A. told me not to "swing like a rusty gate" when playing ball at recess, and Richard S. and Joyce R. and I would walk home together, almost every day.
Climate......hot and sticky in the summer, of course, because I don't think anyone had air conditioning for years; not even the stores on Main Street. But, we kids never complained; wouldn't have done any good! Sitting in hot classrooms and trying to concentrate was pretty difficult; so, our teachers would read to us after noontime, while we rested our heads, even in the 4th and 5th grades.
Once in awhile a carnival would come to town in the summer and set up on the outskirts , or in the center of Main Street, by the OLD Burt Co. Bank and Tek-Inn. Sat. nights were when the stores stayed open late (probably 10 or 11 p.m.), and on Sundays everything was closed, truly a day of rest.
Sports was the main event.....seemed like most everyone either participated in or attended all of the football and basketball games. The high school band always marched and performed, and nearly every girl in high school was in Pep Club and desperately trying to earn her 'letter'.
Since our town was (and maybe still is) the county seat, the Court House was built squarely across the street from the School. Growing up, I only knew that the jail was located on the very top floor. But, later in high school when we had 'gov. day elections', I was lucky enough to win and become 'judge' for a day. So, a few of us spent the day in the court house and found out there was much more to it that just the 'top floor'.
The public library was where I had my first real job. Under the guidance of Mrs. Wilson, I would go there after school and on Sat., to help out, CLEAN, get a taste of becoming a librarian, and earn a whole $.35 an hour.
Summer jobs were far and few for us teens; so I de-tasseled corn for Tek-seed, and worked at the Dairy Queen (both before and after they installed air conditioning!) Of course, baby-sitting is what most of us did; and chores at home were just a fact of life........at any age.
I know now, that it is because I grew up where and as I did, that I was
able to take off (went to Alaska to teach for 4 1/2 years), and somehow
keep going with all of life's ups and downs. Life might have seemed sort
of dull at times, but it also gave me inner strength and an unflinching
trust for my fellowman. I only wish my own children could have had
such a valuable upbringing as I did.
Patsy (Isom) Jenkins
Tekamah Schools Here is a Education page.