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Nebraska County Countdown 45: Webster

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Dazzy Vance, Willa Cather, Red Cloud, Bob Terrio, and Wide Left

Joel Makovicka

We are more than halfway through our county countdown. You know what that means? We’re getting closer to Husker football!

Welcome to Webster County, the childhood home of Willa Cather. The population is 3,625 (2015) and the county seat is Red Cloud. The other “city” in Webster County is Blue Hill. The county also includes the villages of Guide Rock, Cowles and Bladen and census-designated area of Inavale.

The county was formed in 1871 and named after Daniel Webster, a politician who served as Secretary of State under three different presidents. The county seat, Red Cloud, was named after Sioux Chief Red Cloud.

webster county nebraska

The county is located along the Nebraska-Kansas border and has been home to famous Nebraskans including the aforementioned Willa Cather, but also hall of fame baseball pitcher Clarence Arthur “Dazzy” Vance, Rear Admiral Kendall Moranville, who commanded the Sixth Fleet but whose career ended due to improprieties, and Lew Hunter, television screenwriter (Fallen Angel, Otherworld, HungOver).

Red Cloud was the first city in Nebraska to elect a woman as mayor. Mary Petersen was elected in 1921 and served until 1927 in that role.

The city of Blue Hill was devastated by a fire in 1890. After that the town built a 100,000-gallon water tower for more adequate fire protection. It still serves as Blue Hill’s water system.

Guide Rock is the only town in the U.S. with that name. It is located on the Republican River two miles from Pa-Hur, or “the rock that guides.” Trappers and Indians (Pawnee) used this rocky bluff as a guide when crossing the prairie.

Husker “45” Stuff:

  • Current Husker wearing 45 - David Alston, a freshman linebacker out of Minnesota
  • Notable players to wear 45 - Joel Makovicka, Frank Solich, Fred Shirey (All-American tackle 1937).
  • Bob Terrio, a linebacker who wore #45 intercepted the ball with 45 seconds left in the 1971 Orange Bowl, sealing the Cornhuskers first national championship. Side note: This article, The Graduates, from the Sports Illustrated vault has nothing to do with 45, but I thought it was a really interesting read anyway.
  • The 1993 Cornhuskers battled Florida State in the Orange Bowl down to the last second. Kicker Byron Bennett put the Huskers ahead 16-15 with 1:16 left in the game, but the Seminoles came back to register their own field goal with 21 seconds left. A penalty on Florida State for excessive celebration gave Tommie Frazier and the Husker offense some extra room and he moved them to FSU 28 yard line with one second on the clock. Bennett lined up for the 45 yard field goal, and...wide left, the Huskers lost 18-16.