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Nebraska County Countdown 24: Cuming County

Visit the John G Niehardt Center and remember Lloyd Cardwell and Bill Kosch

Welcome to beef country! Cuming County is generally one of, if not the, top cattle producing county in the nation.

The county was formed in 1855 and named after Thomas Cuming, a territorial governor. The population was 9,139 in 2010 and the county seat is West Point. Other towns include Beemer, Wisner, and Bancroft.

Cuming County is home to the John G. Niehardt State Historical Center. Niehardt was born in 1881 and moved to Nebraska at age 11. He graduated from Wayne Normal College at 16, was a published writer by age 19, and Nebraska’s poet laureate at age 40. He was also a literary editor in St. Louis, and a lecturer and poet-in-residence at the University of Missouri but returned to Nebraska in his 80’s. His most famous work is “Black Elk Speaks”, a narration of the visions of the Lakota medicine man. You may (or may not) remember the Antelope County article which included the grave of White Buffalo Girl, who was Black Elk’s toddler daughter. Niehardt died in 1973 at age 92.

Wayne State College named a residence hall after him. It is rumored to be haunted. The two supposed ghosts are a young woman named Cora who died by suicide in the basement of the building and a young girl who was electrocuted is said to haunt the tunnels.

West Point was developed by a group of men known as the “Nebraska Settlement Association” and was originally named New Philadelphia. That named lasted less than a year before West Point was chosen. The voting for county seat in 1858 resulted in 12 votes for West Point and seven for DeWitt. All that remains of DeWitt today is a cemetery.

On the Virtual Nebraska website, an entry for the town of Wisner describes some of the difficulties of living on the Plains:

The grasshoppers that invaded the area for three successive years in the 1870s came in great cloud-like hordes, giving a hazy appearance to the sky. They destroyed not only crops and gardens, but also ate clothing from the line, mosquito netting from the windows, and gnawed at hoe handles and fences.

The town of Beemer was originally named Rock Creek. The namesake river was a source of power. During the 1860s, a mill was established and used both for sawing lumber and grinding grain.

Husker Trivia related to 24:

  • Current Husker to wear 24: Aaron Williams, senior defensive back
  • Who wore it best? Lloyd “Wild Hoss” Cardwell was a two-time All Big Six awardee (1934-36) who played halfback and end for Nebraska. He went on to be a first round draft pick and played seven seasons for the Detroit Lions. After his playing days were done, he coached track and field and football at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. His 1954 Omaha team was undefeated and won the Tangerine Bowl.
  • More notable 24’s: Bill Kosch was an all Big Eight free safety for the national champion 1970 Huskers and was also part of the 1971 team. His son Jesse was a punter for the 1994, 95, and 97 teams. The father-son duo can brag a collection that includes all five Husker national championship rings.

The video below is a Bill Kosch intereption vs USC in 1970

As always, add what I missed about Husker 24’s or your Cuming County memories/recommendations in the comments!