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Nebraska County Countdown 55: Thurston County

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Murder, medicine, and a mashing by the Sooners.

Note - yes we know we skipped 56. We are working to remedy that situation.

Welcome to Thurston County, population 6,940 (2010 census). The county was named after U.S. Senator John Thurston. It is made up of land divided between the Omaha and Winnebago Indian reservations.

Obligatory map for redvalley:

The county includes the cities and villages of Macy, Pender, Rosalie, Thurston, Walthill, and Winnebago.

One historical site is Blackbird Hill, about three miles from Macy and overlooking the Missouri River. The hill is the burial site for Omaha chiefs, including Blackbird, who is said to have been buried upright sitting on his favorite horse. Lewis and Clark visited the site, and paid their respects at his grave, when they traveled through the area.

A legend of this site is that a young woman, heartbroken that her fiance never returned from foreign travels, married and moved from the east coast to a cabin on Blackbird Hill. After several years, she saw her old fiance walking up the path. She made plans to run away with him. Her angry husband stabbed her then took her bleeding body and jumped off the hill into the river. Her former fiance witnessed the jump and heard her final scream. To this day, people claim to hear ghostly female screams at the site on October 17, the anniversary of her death.

A famous resident of Walthill was Susan LaFlesch Picotte. She was the first Native American to receive a medical degree. She served the Omaha people in her capacity as the reservation physician and is credited for stopping epidemics of diptheria, smallpox, and influenza. She traveled by horse and buggy non-stop during daylight hours to attend to patients and eventually had to dial back her schedule to attend to her own health. Her house in Walthill is on the National Register of Historic Places as is the hospital built during her later years (and carrying her name). Nebraska public TV made a documentary about her titled “Medicine Woman”.

Husker trivia related to “55”:

  • Current Huskers wearing 55 - Jordan Paup (OLB) and Chris Walker (DL), both Nebraska natives.
  • Who wore it best? The Peter brothers, Christian and Jason, sported the double-nickel during their time at Nebraska in the late 90’s.
  • The 1955 Cornhuskers were led by Bill Glassford in his seventh season. They finished 5-5 and 5-1 in the Big Seven. The lone conference loss was to, guess who?, Oklahoma. That was a 41-0 drubbing that is immortalized in the clip below if you are brave enough to watch.

Enjoy this 55 yard run by Andy Janovich (yep, just for you red!)