A Brief History of the Surrounding Blanche Area
The first inhabitants of the area were the Idians. Many artifacts were found by the early white settlers along both sides of the Stinkingwater Creek. The Pawnee, Arapaho, Cheyenne and the earlier tribes all hunted and camped in this area. Occasionally an arrowhead of hidescraper would be tuned up in a plowed field.
The bison were the main game that the Indians were after who they were ei this region. If you look really hard you can find trails leading to the water int eh creek. One trail is to the north east of the Blanche Cemetery. It is intersected by one fo the canyons that you can see from the cemetery.
In 1874, nearly 50,000 Texas cattle were trailed up the Great Western Cattle Trail, often called the Texas Cattle Trail, to Ogallala after the Union Pacific Railroad builds a set of holding pens that year. That trail or at least part of it passed right over the spot where the century stands. The cattle were brought up the east side of Chase county, and came over the hills to the east, and down to the ponds along the creek. As the stretch of the trail from here to Ogallala had no running streams of water, it was necessary for the cattle to water in the afternoon. They were then punched over the stream at this spot (you can still see the defile they caused to erode) and trailed all night and arrived in Ogallala the next afternoon. This according to Adams in Log of a Cowboy. Gary and Margaret Kraisinger wrote extensively about this part of the trail in their book The Western, The Greatest Texas Cattle Trail.
Several hundred thousand head of longhorn cattle were dried up this trail before it was moved west. The reason it was moved was that Kansaa closed their border to Texas cattle because of tick fever. Very few cattle came up the trail after 1884. The drovers were tired of the hassle handle dealing with homesteaders and barbed wire fences.
In 1878 the bison were almost gone from the plains, and the Indians had all been placed on Rreservations. The Northern Cheyenne had been moved to the Darlington Agency at Ft. Reno in Indian Territory. During the night of September 9. 1878, Dull Knife and his leading warrior Little World lead a group of about 200 women and children along with 100 warriors out of the encampment and north toward their old home in Wyoming and Montana. Much has been written about this last ditch effort of the Northern Cheyenne to reach their homeland. George Rowley, the first settler in Wauneta, Nebraska, had gone to Greeley, Colorado, for supplies, and when he headed of the breakout he rushed back to Ogallala, and then south along the cattle trail towards Wauneta. A group of Indian Warriors looking for fresh horses must have jumped George about where the trail crossed the Stinking Water. He tried to elide the Indians and hoped to lose them in the canyons to the north east. The Indians shot and killed him up there on October 3, 1878. His body was found several days later. His body had not been mutilated, but eh saddle he was using had been hacked up and the good horse he was riding was gone.
The Blanche Church
The records at the court house in Imperials, NE show that Ben Peak filed for timber clam on the SW 1/4 of 5-8-36 and that on March 7, 1898, he was able to take possession of this quarter by paying a fee of $4. Ben Peak then sold his quarter to John McKinzie for $1000 on April 6,1898. McKinzie sold the quarter to Isabella Jones, and this was recorded in 1904 for the sum of $300. Isabella Jones sold the quarter to Jim Everson I 1914. This brings us to the 22nd day of December, 1914 when on that day John Everson (A Single Man) for the sum of $1 and other valuable consideration, did grant, bargain, sell, convey and confirm unto the Trustees of the Blanch Methodist Episcopal Church, Joseph Osler, J.W. Henry, & H.D. Guernsey, J.W. Carter and G.I. Harris and their successors a tract of land containing Five Acres in the southwest corner of Section 5 Township 8, Range 36 West.
Records show that a Sunday school was held in the home of Ben Peak before 1887. At that time a church home was needed due to expansion of population. A sod church was built on the southwest corder of 5-8-36 sometime in 1887. This quarter was a timer claim filed by Ben Peak but the above records show that Ben didn't have a title yet, but was willing to let them build anyway.
Among th archives of the church is found a large sheet of journal paper upon which is penciled very thorough and accurate minutes of a meeting held on April 12, 1898. At this meeting, a Sunday School as organized. Some of the names shown were: Joseph Osler who called the meeting to order, Elmer Sager, Chairman; James Jones, Secretary; shown in attendance the next Sunday. Lew Osler was a brother of Joe Osler and Bertha Osler was Lew's daughter.
Rev. James Kelso was the first regular minister. He was an early homesteader, and also had the first Blanche post office. He was a good man, filling a real need for the pioneers. He ministered to them in both joy and sorrow. All-day Children's Day services were being held when a somewhat excited horseback rider interrupted, explaining that a family by the name of Seivers had a little girl killed and they were on their way and were very anxious to have funeral services. The services were held and the girl was buried in the north west corner of the adjoining cemetery. This was the first burial known to have taken place there.
Madrid, Elsie, Blanche, and Wallace were sometimes yoked in the early charges. Many transient or itinerant ministers preached here. Some of the early ministers shown were 1895-96, H.A. Chappel; 1896-97, J.C. Bell; 1897-99, H.H, Derryberry; 1899-00, John M. Johnson, 1900-01, W.H. Jackson. The Rev. D.H. Tabor came in October 1901, and Blanche was known to be in the Elsie Circuit at that time. Other pastors included 1902-04, A.C. Ferguson; 1904-07, Rev Gillet, 1907-12, Rev. Nomer (Sid Colson's great grandfather); A Rev P.J. Kirk held revival meetings in 1910 and '11 when 22 were converted and baptized with four more later on.
A new frame church was built during 1914-15, and some of those assisting were James Henry, John Carter, W.C. Griest, Hugh Gurnsey, and Joseph Osler. At the time of the dedication, the church was completed, paid for, and enough money left in the treasury to pay a minister and the Conference Claims.
During 1915-16, Rev. Wilson held a weeknight service, also in 1916, Rev. Kirk retuned, and in 1917, so did Rev. Nomer. 1920-21, M.T. Henry was sent by the Nebraska Conference a Lincoln. 1921, Rev Satchel, 1924-29, H.C. Johnson. During the summer of 1924m the church was struck by lightning and burned. Thanks to Joseph Osler who had kept the insurance paid, the loss was partially covered. A new church was built and dedicated in 1928. According to Methodist discipline, a church cannot be dedicated until paid fore. In 1929-34; it was Harold Slagg; 1934-37, Rev. Martston; 1937-39, Dawson Olan E. Terrell; 1949051, Marshal Hinds. Lat in the year 1951, Bertram Arnison filled the pulpit and continued until 1969.
Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Gurnsey deeded their land to the Board of Trustees of the Annual Methosidst Episcopal Conference of Nebraska in 1919. The legal description was All Section 28, township 9M, Range 36 West. In Perkins County. After their deaths the land was sold in 1956. A portion of this was allotted to the Blanche Church. One thousand dollars was granted if a like amount was raised by the Blanch Community. The money was soon raised and the Memorial gift from the estate was granted.
Work was started on the new chapel immediately, and was completed and ready to use in 1957. The old church was converted into a fellowship hall. Much of the work was don't by the local people. When the church services resumed in the new chapel in 1957, the rostrum in the front of the original church (now called the fellowship hall) was removed by the people of the community and a cement floor was run in its place. This space was then converted into the kitchen. Those being instrumental in this project were Robert Kennedy, Lyle Robertson , George Whitman, LeRoy Harris, Marcin Large, Bruce Peak, John Lee, Leonard Jablonski, Homer Hutcheson, and perhaps more that have been forgotten. In the spring of 1959, Mr. and Mrs. Lyle Robertson, and LeRoy Harris bough wood for anew Alter and Lectern and this was constructed by LeRoy Harris.