Chadron The Northwestern Nebraska Panhandle town founded by Frances Maria Brainard O’Linn
I’m Mitchell Chadrow and this is the Listen Up Show Podcast
Fanny was not only the founder of a town she was a noteworthy pioneer for settling the west, a school teacher, a postmaster, the fifth woman admitted to the Bar in Nebraska, a community builder and most of all a hero that should be studied by all in business and life.
-> What are we going to learn today?
-> What Legacy did Fanny Leave and how can her lessons apply to your everyday business and life?
-> Why do an entire podcast on Fanny?
;After doing research on her story I was shocked that even people in the town of Chadron know little about her let alone Nebraskians especially how her story applies to business
I started asking myself why has this most amazing woman somehow been placed on the back seat of history – maybe until now there has been no one to be her voice or maybe she has no relatives or family to tell her story. It really seemed unfair because she should at least be on a short list of notable Nebraska women. To me, she really seemed to have been unforgotten but I’m changing all that now
I mean we all have heard of William Jennings Bryan the orator and Nebraska politician read and heard stories of the Travelings of Lewis and Clark
Know about The Showmanship of William F. Cody and of course the Notoriety of Charlie Starkweather.
However, it’s not every day that a woman in the In the 1880’s helps start up a
town. builds a community of people in the heartland of America becomes a pioneer settling the west, is the fifth woman to become an attorney in Nebraska and the 11th registered with the US Supreme Court – she was a postmaster, a mid wife, a school teacher, and so much more
She was born back on April 13, 1848 in a small town called Magnolia the county seat of Harrison County Iowa, Fanny graduated at the University State University of Iowa in Iowa City as valedictorian and youngest member of the class’ at the State University of Iowa in Iowa City. She became a teacher at Magnolia High School and then principal at Buena Vista High School.
When her father moved to Magnolia Iowa it only had a population of 500 however by 1876 Magnolia was removed as the county seat, which left the place with but little else than a small, local trade. Hallowed be the name Magnolia to many a pioneer, who knew the place as Harrison County’s best town.
You can get the show notes back at mitchellchadrow.com/show062
Women’s history is rich in the Panhandle of Northwestern Nebraska but at the forefront of this is another true hero pioneer that must be recognized now and has been uncovered.
For me researching her story has been a journey of discovery, uncovering this amazing woman’s story from various sources that has led me to so many other wonderful stories that I will also tell you here on future podcasts.
I am glad O’Linn’s story can be shared with my Listen Up audience and I hope her wonderful story helps motivate inspire and help you in business.
It’s like a Wild Buffalo Bill Cody Show on tour but with Fannie, and being able to take you across the country to share all this history that she created in the communities where she lived
If could describe her in three words:
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Now back to the show
Fanny came from a family of doer’s and their great work ethic and business acumen most certainly had a positive influence on her
her dad Judge Daniel Egbert Brainard,
was also a pioneer and Fannys role model
both in her fathers deeds and his actions
Fanny’s dad was Harrison County Iowa judge from 1857 to 1862 and a member of the state board of education for several years, he held the office of county treasurer and recorder from 1856 to 1858, and was agent for the post office department at Washington County Iowa looking after delinquencies. He held this latter position four years with headquarters usually at Iowa City, but most often he was out in the field examining postal matters in Iowa.
Both of Fanny’s brothers were entrepreneurs George and Orville together started their own newspaper publisher business in 1859 called the Magnolia Weekly Republican and then later the Dunlap Reporter after several years the first newspaper business was sold and neither George decided to farm but also carried the mail
Fanny was destined to be involved with the post office yuh see back in
1854 a post office was being set up in her hometown at that time Magnolia and Fanny’s dad was involved becoming postmaster a year after the post office was established in 1855. Her brother George also became postmaster in Magnolia and 1862 was subsequently appointed postmaster of the House of Representatives in Iowa. George decided to lease the newspaper to a Judge FORD, instead of selling it outright.
Magnolia’s Chief feature was Schools and churches; aside from being the county seat of Harrison County Iowa which contributed toward the upbuilding of the place.
The early schools were kept in private houses. In 1858 the first school building was provided at that point. It was a poor “shack” of a house, two stories high, designed for a graded school; it was used for school purposes until 1866.
Again Fanny taught there !
However, by 1868 she met and married Dr. Daniel O’Linn. Dr. O’Linn was a Civil War veteran who participated in “Sherman’s March to the Sea” and was renowned as a physician and surgeon.
Fanny, her husband and two sons at that time decided to move to Blair County in 1872, where Dr. O’Linn set up business with Dr. S.B. Taylor.
The year before her brother George had the itch to get back into the newspaper business so by 1871 he started his second paper this time called the Dunlap Reporter
It’s no wonder why The family was described in Harrison county Iowa as being strong, high-minded and with true characters.
Tragically Fannie’s husband died suddenly in 1880, it left Fannie alone with two sons and by that time she also had a daughter. She had to rely on herself so she decided to immediately take that principal position of she promptly took the Blair schools, followed by Tekamah, and took a leadership role in education in Washington County for four years.
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Something fundamental changed in American 1884 the Homestead Act was past
It provided anyone either a brand new start or a chance to own 160 acres their own land
Fanny viewed it as a new opportunity a new chance for a fresh start
she made the decision to move with her children from the place she always knew and loved and continue west toward Nebraska.
Her plan settle her own small frontier settlement and call it O’Linn.
Many twists and turns in this journey and like all business minded entrepreneurs your best plans don’t always go as planned – the question for fanny and you is how to handle these twists and turns when confronted that’s what makes you who you are and calls you toward your destiny
You see the town of O’Linn was not merely being named such because Fanny had an ego although she had every right – she was accomplished and achieve more then most woman or men could at the time she moved west to Nebraska to settle O’Linn.
But the name was to honor the memory of her eldest son, who had died shortly after their move to what would eventually be Dawes County Northwestern Nebraska called the panhandle some say Oklahoma
Fanny homesteaded near the junction of the White River and Chadron Creek, then located in Sioux County near Dakota Junction but today it’s Dawes County.
Her humble abode was merely one-room, 14- by 16-foot claim cabin half dugout and half soddy.
She one of a few earliest settlers in Dawes, she noted that summer that “the only houses … were around Fort Robinson (while) we had only to throw our lines in the White River to have a catfish (and) found 49 varieties of wild flowers.”
As I mentioned earlier when her son Daniel Egbert was accidentally killed, locals began calling the settlement O’Linn in his honor.
I also mentioned because of her father and brothers involvement with the postal system she didn’t waste anytime applying for a post office in September of 1884, and that’s how the name O’Linn stuck.
One of the first shops to open was owned by another settlor Burr Sheldon
It didn’t take long fir others to quickly follow with a hardware store, bank, druggist and saloon, some of which operated out of tents before buildings could be erected.
That December 1884 the first Methodist Church service in the county, known as the White River O’Linn Charge, was held in the O’Linn cabin by Rev. Joseph Gray.
Early in 1885, the population of O’Linn was advertised as 500, replete with five saloons and a dozen stores. Thus, when the Elkhorn, Fremont & Missouri Valley Railroad began scouting the area for right of way, Fannie felt certain that O’Linn would be the natural site for a depot and siding.
Unfortunately, her optimism led her to ask for more money than the railroad felt was justified, and instead they bought land some six miles distant at a site they named Bordeaux.
In the summer of 1885, a county seat election for the new Dawes County chose Chadron on a vote of 582 to 3 for O’Linn.
I have to think hat the three votes fanny received was her vote her youngest son and her daughter
How was it that this pioneer dynamic accomplished woman didn’t receive one other vote from anyone else
In my research it was partly do to another settlor named Edward E Egan who started the first newspaper in the town surprising it wasn’t Fanny’s brother Orville who would also settle the area as well and the fact that the Railroad probably didn’t like being told by Fanny the more aggressive terms that her Homestead would become the location for the new Railroad stop. More about that on another podcast as I will do an entire story on Edward Egan the person who got the town and Railroad to rally around the name Chadron over O’Linn.
Our wrap up round is actually sponsored by Chadron.net
In honor of this special town of Chadron
The Chadron.net website is not just for people who live go to school work in Chadron or only Nebraskians it’s a place to learn about the rich history of the heartland of American and all this area and surrounding terroritoty has got you and your family
Chadron is known as the magic city even though Fanny didn’t get her wish to name Chadron O’Linn
She taught us if things to work out you pick up the pieces dust yourself off and keep moving
I became fascinated with Chadron because people would ask me if I knew there was a Chadrow NE and that there is a fire co and sports wear on the Internet called Chadrow – both turned out to be errors on the Internet never corrected but back in a lot of ways I’m glad because if you go back to Chadron.net you can learn more about the Chadrow 4 Chadron project bringing more tourists and people to the area and learn about our country’s founding and the amazing stories of people that come slice at Chadron.net and tell a story that can help inspire motivate you in your life and business
Now let me tell you more about this amazing town of Chadron ->
When the railroad arrived in July of 1885 O’Linn or now Chadron meaning the entire town literally picked up and moved to the new site – one store even kept operating while “being trundled over the prairie.” Lowenthal
How many towns are you aware in the history of the US that could or can just pick up and over night move giving it the name the magical city
Despite the perceived set back of not having her Homestead as the rr stop or name of the town like a determined person she was with true character and grit
Fannie moved as well too, and not only that she became Chadron’s first postmaster.
Later becoming what some say the fifth female attorney in Nebraska. However studying the law under the direction of her father the judge back in Iowa must have provided her great exposure to the law thus some say she might have actually been the 2nd practicing woman attorney in Nebraska
Whatever her ranking, Fannie O’Linn was one of the originators of the Northwest Nebraska Teachers Association, one of the initial promoters of Chadron’s library, and again its first postmaster, becoming “one of the most widely known and respected women in the northwest … present at the first wedding, the first birth and the first funeral in Dawes County.”
It doesn’t stop there for those who say I have done all I can in business and life fanny kept going she was the first female insurance broker, was also involved heavily in organizations, such as the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and the women’s suffrage movement
Yes O’Linn battled tragedy throughout her life, but she persevered, playing a crucial role in the settlement and development of her communities both in Iowa and Nebraska
I was driven by this story for so many reasons – Just think she loses her husband then her oldest son she is on the western plains of nebraska a single woman in this really harsh tough life of circumstances who dispite all of this pushed forward to her own future journey.
To recap in conclusion Here is a list of this amazing woman’s accomplishment that only a few ever achieve:
She was admitted to the bar in 1885, was responsible for keeping the land office in Chadron, then started an abstract business, she started the town called O’Linn that eventually became Chadron. She was the first postmistess of the town, and was one of the first female postmistresses.”
she even served as a midwife, and is believed to have been responsible for helping to birth most of the children born in Dawes County from 1880 through 1910.
Her life was complex, full and varied. She battled with area ranchers and businessmen, was a correspondent for the Omaha Bee, served as president and historian for Dawes County for the Nebraska Historical Association, and was a charter member of the Order of the Eastern Star in Chadron. Her influence even extended into raising the young woman who would grow to fame as Dr. Leta Stetter Hollingworth, a pioneer in women’s and educational psychology at Columbia University.
Unfortunately, her youngest son also predeceased her and only her daughter (who had been born in Blair County Iowa) would survive her; her descendants eventually moved away from Dawes County, leaving no one to tell her story or recount her achievements – until now.
By 1890-1891 she is listed as Mrs Fanny O’Linn attorney at law, notary public, abstracts,
insurance, real estate and loans.
Her dad moves to Chadron around this time
The last years of Judge BRAINARD’s life were spent in Chadron, Nebraska, with his daughter.
He passed away
On Dec 4, 1892 (at the aged 83) but his family buried him back in magnolia where he spent most of his years at
Magnolia, Harrison County, Iowa, USA
PLOT section 2
MEMORIAL ID 106692353 · View Source]
We can all learn something from folks like Fannie. I hope you all Listened Up and found out what is so special and important in really hearing this story
Fanny passed away on July 19, 1926 (at the aged 78)
her Burial spot Blair Cemetery
Blair, Washington County, Nebraska
Her grave marker is prominently displayed to honor her amazing legacy she left for all those who want to Listenup to the story she left for everyone !
Until next time
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