Recollections of Belgrade

The following information is from:

Produced for NEGenWeb by Ted & Carole Miller, with the generous permission of the officers of the Nance Co.
Historical Society and four members of the original book committee


My father G. F. Malander, who was an early resident of Nance County, was born in Slotto Sweden, to John and Kristina Malander, on February 28, 1867, the same year that Nebraska became a state. Pictures of their home in Sweden show it as a comfortable place located near a beautiful lake. But for some reason, perhaps a pioneering spirit or because of political difficulties in the country, they decided to bring their family of seven children to America making the long tiring trip in a sailing vessel, of course.

The father and one son came first in 1870 and the mother and other children came in 1871 to Boone, Iowa, bringing the family and belongings to a log cabin near Dayton, Iowa, in a horse-drawn dray. Times were very difficult for the large family. At one time all except two had typhoid fever at the same time, the mother dying. From then on most of the children made their own way in life.

Upon reaching 21, Gus went to Colorado and proved up on a government land, paying $1.25 an acre. Driving back to Iowa in a "spring wagon" pulled by a team of mules, he stopped overnight at a farm home northeast of Genoa, and worked there for some time.

There he met my mother, Mary Nelson, whose father, Nels Nelson, had come to Nance county from Geneva, Illinois and purchased and improved a home about 3 1/2 miles from Genoa in 1887. Gus Malander and Mary Nelson were married in 1894 and farmed in the Genoa and also in the Plum Creek area. In 1900, they purchased a farm about 2 1/2 miles north east of Belgrade and farmed there until retiring to Belgrade in 1925. They had three children: Muriel, who married Mark F. Andersen in 1921; Gerald N., who married Ina Swanson of Fullerton in 1925 and later married Clara Johnson of Newman Grove; and Carroll, who died in infancy.

I have very pleasant memories of growing up in the Belgrade area. The town is located on a hillside overlooking to the west the beautiful valley of the Cedar river. A railroad track had been built along the valley from Columbus to Spalding. The work was done for the most part by local people and had not been contracted out. O. F. Andersen had come from Chicago in 1879 and helped in laying the track to Cedar Rapids. Later he owned farms north of the tracks near Belgrade. A combined freight and passenger train made the trip daily and later on, what we called the "motor" carried passengers daily.

In 1900, there were a few businesses and not very many homes but Belgrade did have three churches. The Free Methodist church was in the south part of town. The Friends Church has a minister come from Clarks but was moved later to the Fairview community. The Methodists built a new church in 1893 and a Rev. Trezona was the first minister I remember. The Methodists had a parsonage in Belgrade but shared their minister with the Pinnacle Hill Church.

There was a good-sized school located on the hill side just north of what is now called Bel-Horst Inn. Only 10 grades were offered so many came to Fullerton for their twelfth grade work. I attended the Fullerton School in 1911-1912 and later attended the Nebraska Wesleyan College. I taught school in Belgrade, Central City and Clarks.

There was no water or sewage system and the water came from back yard pumps. There was no electricity or telephone service.

Some of the businessmen of the time were Mr. Cooley, who came in 1891 and did much to improve all phases of the town. There were also G. S. McChesney, who had come to Nance County in 1871 and later owned a general store; Ben and Chas Smith also a general store. A weekly newspaper was started by Mayfield, later taken over by Bob Dopf who married Mae Ludington.

Some of our farm neighbors were Dave Main, Ed Nelson, John Anstine, Mr. Cedargreen, Henry Rolf, Ben Main, Thomas Trotter and Chas Waisner.

Because of the railroad, the fertile farmlands, the enterprising citizens and farmers the town grew quickly. In 1910 water and electric bonds were voted in. There were at least two general merchandising stores. Dr. Ford and Dr. Bates were our first doctors and after they left Dr. King served us for many years. He also served in World War I. There were two thriving lumber and hardware stores and two banks. At one time two dentists and the Osborne drug store which was replaced by Kadel Drug.

The Andrew Bros. came to town and started a bank, implement business and later on a Buick Agency. I remember standing in line one Fourth of July Celebration, waiting to pay 25¢ to ride a mile in an automobile. A. F. Kleise had a furniture store and undertaking business. Miss Alice Helms, who married Wilbur Kellogg, operated a millinery store. At one time the Query Harness Shop was a busy place. Will Hutchinson bought local cream and churned butter for shipment which Mark Andersen later took over. There was a telephone office with a "Central".

The town prospered until the long drouth, the great depression and larger use of the automobile. Gus Malander's son, Gerald, lived and farmed in the Belgrade area until his death in 1975. Now his two grandsons, Gerry Malander and Galen Malander, and their families still live and farm in the Belgrade area. (Side note: Galen Malander married Leah Hoffman the daughter of Hermine Nee: Hellbusch Hoffman) After our marriage we lived near Belgrade and in town until we moved to a farm near Clarks in 1947. I taught the neighboring school for one year and then taught the kindergarten and first grade in Clarks for nine years. My husband died in 1963 and I came to Fullerton in 1965 Our daughters, Gus Malander's granddaughters, are Mrs. Roberta Christensen of Fullerton, Mrs. Elizabeth De Vol and Mrs. Ruth Toll of Fort Collins, Colorado Mrs. Gus Malander died in 1958 and he in 1960 at the age of 93. Both had been active Methodist Church members since 1900. Both were members of the Order of the Eastern Star and he a member of the Masonic Lodge. He helped organize the Farmers Cooperative Elevator and also the Co-operative General Merchandise Store and any other activity for the betterment of the community.

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