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Nebraska County Countdown: #9 Buffalo

Buffalo County is one of Nebraska’s earliest counties, created in 1855. It was named after, well, buffalo. Yeah, not that inspired.

Yes, the county was named after this exact buffalo. Big shoulders, skinny butt. Maybe it can play o-line?

Buffalo County’s seat is the city Kearney. It includes the towns of Gibbon and Ravenna, as well as the villages of Amherst, Elm Creek, Miller, Pleasanton, Riverdale, and Shelton.

Two Hands and a Flashlight Not Required:

Activities Galore:

One of the neater things for the history buff(alo) is The Archway, near Kearney. This exhibit tells an entertaining story of westward expansion, including the wagon trains, transcontinental railroad, establishment of the Lincoln Highway, and the interstate system. Word to the wise, when I went there were radar guns in the windows, so don’t speed under it.

Near the Cabela’s, is the Classic Car Collection - a museum of restored early autos. I’ve never been there, the pictures look nice. There are over 200 cars from the 1900’s to today. They also do events there; this might be a unique place to have your next company party.

Fort Kearny is a recreational area where a frontier fort used to reside from 1855-1871. There are hiking trails, hunting and fishing areas now. Reenactments are also staged there. Who has two thumbs and enjoys watching cannons fired? This guy!

Notable Buffalos:

William Sessions, former director of FBI.

Talk show host Dick Cavett was born in Gibbon!

John Pesek, one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, was from Ravenna. He wrestled professionally until he was 65(!) He was also one of the preeminent greyhound dog breeders. By 1995, 95% of racing greyhounds could trace their lineage to one of his champions. He was a fascinating individual; you should all look him up when you’re bored.

Several NFL players came from Buffalo County: Bryan Stoltenberg, Kyle Larson, Trevor Robinson, Cody Whitehair, Matthew Brodine and Jim Shanley.

Notable 9’s:

Steve Taylor, my favorite player in my youth. The game against UCLA that the Huskers beat Troy Aikman was burned into my brain. One interesting fact about this game was that the coaches were pissed afterwards, because they had to resort to passing to win. Very Nebraska.

Russell Gary, All-American safety in 1980.

Tony Veland, NFL defensive back, free safety on 1994 & 1995 National Championship Teams.

Have some great stories about Buffalo County, or just buffaloes, but not Colorado Buffaloes? Share it in the comments! GBR!

[This is my story of Kearney - Jon]

I am not fond of Kearney.

I had my face beat in by a bunch of guys at a New Year’s Eve party there several years ago. It left me with a strong desire to never return.

The event happened in the mid-80s. A girl friend from my hometown invited several of us to a New Year’s Eve party at her place in Kearney.

The New Year’s Eve party was going quite well. There was plenty of drinking. There was plenty of laughter and catching up with friends. As the night went on a few of my friends were pretty intoxicated. I was less so, which already makes it somewhat of a remarkable occasion.

I kept one friend from driving her car. Another I assisted to the downstairs of the house so that he coud get into bed and pass out. I later went down to check on him to make sure he hadn’t thrown up, and that he was breathing and doing okay.

When I came upstairs, for some reason most of my friends were gone, and there were several guys I didn’t know breaking furniture and smashing everything in the house to pieces. They turned and saw me. One of them yelled “Get him!” and before I could do anything, I was grabbed by two or three guys and thrown on a couch. Five or six guys then took turns punching me in the face or where else or wherever else they could land a blow. I did my best to cover up my head. I tried to kick one of them but quickly realized this would only get me punched in an area I had no desire to be hit. You don’t conjure up your inner Bruce Lee in this situation. Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Chuck Norris - all of their fights were choreographed and the good guy destined to win. My fight was merely a one-sided ass-kicking.

The beating ended when one of the girls who lived at the house took a liquor bottle and broke it across the head of one of the guys who was smashing up the place. She then proceeded to take the broken bottle and slash it across his forehead. Blood gushed everywhere, as you can imagine from a head wound. The sight of blood, like the site of police lights, has a sobering effect on human beings. In this case, it prompted all of the guys who were smashing the place up and beating the hell out of me to leave.

I was enraged. Rather than lay on the couch and try to figure out if I was injured, I started chasing after the guys who were leaving. The best time to attack an enemy is when they are in an unorganized retreat. I located a group of them trying to get into a two-door Monte Carlo. The two-door Monte Carlo was unique in that the car weighed five tons, with each of its two doors weighing two tons apiece. I ran at the car and threw my body weight into a door. I caught at least one of them halfway in the car. I heard him scream in pain. I got up, grabbed the car door and repeatedly smashed it against his leg. I don’t remember if a friend grabbed me and pulled me away from the car, or if they just got in an sped away. I’m sure I wished them a good night as they drove off, with a hearty “Good night, fellas! Nice Meeting you!”

We went back inside, and other friends returned to the house. I had no idea where they were, but they observed that my jaw was swelling up like a balloon. I couldn’t feel my face, and we came to the conclusion that perhaps my jaw was broken. It was decided that I go to the hospital to the emergency room and find out. Several of my assailants were at the hospital when we arrived. The police were there as well. I walked up to a policeman and said, “I am not a violent person, but I suggest you keep those guys far away from me otherwise I will certainly try to kill one of them.” The police kept us far apart. I got an x-ray which confirmed my jaw was not broken, but I was very sore for the next couple weeks.

The police came to the house after we came back from the hospital. Earlier in the evening a couple of these guys were thrown out of her party. She had called the police than to make them leave. The cops explained after we got from the hospital back from the hospital that they would not be pressing charges for property damage or anything else. They stated that since she didn’t press charges earlier, there was nothing they could do about it now. It sounded to me like they wanted nothing to do with a bunch of drunk, partying, 20-year-olds. Were this to happen today, everybody would’ve probably been charged with something.

The next morning we got up, and someone had torn all the windshield wipers off our cars. The girl’s house was a mess. Much of what she had in her kitchen was destroyed. Plates and glasses broken, there were damage to the cupboards. Her kitchen table and living room furniture were smashed.

I have avoided Kearney as much as possible since that event. I don’t stop to eat there. I don’t stop to get gas. I have no idea whatever happened to the guy who had his head slashed open. I imagine he has a healthy scar. I wonder how he explains it. I wonder what I’d do if I walked into a gas station and saw a man with a nasty scar across his forehead.

“Where did you get that scar?”, I’d say.

I wonder what he’d tell me.