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History of Waco
York County 150 Years

History of Waco

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Editor's Note - Source: “Yesterday and Today: The History of York County” as written by Jerry Finley

The start of Waco coincided with the railroad laying the track through York County in June, 1877. At that time, a depot was established in a box car and Joseph Strickler was the first agent.

The president of the railroad, Dr. Converse, had a niece who was named Sarah Chapin. She owned 160 acres of land and she offered 10 acres as a town site if the name of Waco would be selected for the new town. She was a graduate of a college in Waco, Texas, and wished to honor her home town and school

The first store was started in a box car but soon a large frame building was erected.

By February, 1878, there were six businesses and a post office. My May, 1879, Waco had grown to 50 businesses and dwelling houses. Waco had a Chautauqua, movie house, bowling alley, horse racing track, newspaper and doctors. There was even a visit by William J. Bryan when he was running for president.

Waco grew until the 1930s and then the Great Depression came. At that time, several businesses closed. Even in those hard times, Waco residents kept entertained by free movies, roller skating and an annual homecoming picnic.

In the 1930s, the SYA Highway went through town instead of at the north edge. There was a daily bus service and trains. When the SYA arrived, several service stations opened and a cabin camp was built.

In 1940, a lot of the young men were called into the service. Some were gone for five years and a few never came home again. People would watch the troop trains pass through and wondered who might be on board.

After World War II, farming changed more than at any other time. Horse power was gone and the new irrigation age started.

Through it all, Waco continued to be a health community which continues today.

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Editor's Note - Sources: “Yesterday and Today: History of York County,” “Nebraska, Our Towns” and the Henderson Chamber website

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Editor's Note - Source: “Beginnings, From Prairie Lands to Busy Villages” and “Yesterday and Today”

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