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History of

Nebraska home seekers found Pender located on a beautiful plateau just west of Logan Creek in 1885.  The founder of Pender was W.E. Peebles. Pender was originally a part of Dakota County until the organization of Thurston County.  Then it became the first town in the new county.

Pender businesses in 1895 included the following:

  •  Robert Racely’s Furniture Store

  •  Two Banks

  •  Snyders Pharmacy

  •  Peebles Hotel

  •  Pioneer Harness Shop

  •  Brick Makers

  •  Lumber; Lime; and Coal Companies

  •  Attorneys; Doctors; Dentists

  •  A Grocery store and many others

Early entertainment in the Village came from theatrics and dances performed at the Opera House, a building which still stands today.  Pender was also home to a race track for horses.  Beside the regular racing meets the track was the scene of many match meets between local farmers who boasted of spirited horses.  The grand stand was demolished about 1910 and become farm ground.

In 1914 a local entrepreneur opened a movie theatre in a tent located on East Main Street.  When the cold weather came he rented a vacant store building and opened a picture house known as “The Thelma Theatre”.

Present time recreation and entertainment are provided for the community at the Pender ball fields with boys baseball teams of all ages; softball teams for girls of all ages; school football games; basketball games; volleyball games and track events.  The local park and swimming pool provide for summer recreation, as well as our 9 hole golf course.  Our Legion Hall is host to family gatherings; dances and receptions as well as Pender host’ an eight lane bowling alley.

Our main street today continues to thrive just as it did nearly 125 years ago.

History of

Thurston was established in 1895.  The name Thurston, as applied to the town, originated with the railroad company who named its station in honor of the U.S. Senator John M. Thurston.  The founder of the town followed suit when it came time to naming the town.

The first depot in 1892 was a boxcar located in the old sand pit south of where Thurston now stands – this first site was called Flourney.  In 1918 a new depot was built which had only one train a day pass through.  This was a freight train with a passenger car at the rear.  In just a short time there were three passenger trains and many freight trains going each way daily.  There was a stockyards by the railroad where the farmers loaded their livestock to be shipped to either Omaha or Sioux City.

John Lemmon was the first person to buy lots in the town site.  The first store was owned by Tony Arends who also managed the P.V. Elevator.  The Post Office was in the store.

Within the first ten years Thurston was home to several early entrepreneurs starting businesses such as the following:  

  • A Blacksmith Shop

  • The Thurston Hotel

  • A Butcher Shop

  • A Hardware Store

  • A Livery Barn

  • Thurston State Bank

  • The Thurston Gazette

  • A Bakery

  • A Drug Store

  • A Dance Hall

Now more that 110 years later the town of Thurston still thrives, yet on a smaller scale.  The current population of 120 people represent all walks of life.  Main street business’ includes a bar and café, a meat processor and locker as well as a post office and fire station.  A large grain elevator, retail commercial fertilizer dealer, county maintenance shop and an international manufacturing company round out the community’s employment base of approximately 110 people.  Thurston continues to be on a steady course and provides a pleasant and safe place to live.

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