WEETH FAMILY AND GRETNA SCHOOL HISTORY
by Rodney Weeth
In 1844 Margarete Weeth (Maria Margaretha Müller Weeth, 1796-1872) came to America with five sons. One of her sons and two of her daughters stayed in Germany. After a short time in New York, Margarete and her sons went to Chicago, where she bought 16 ACRES of land. She later sold these acres to the University of Chicago and then, in 1854, with two of her sons, John (Johannes Weeth) and Andrew, came to Forest City in the Nebraska Territory. One of her sons had been killed in Indiana and another son had married and stayed in Indiana and raised his family there. Another of her sons, George, married in Chicago, but would later come to Nebraska. Two of his children were born in Chicago, and two other of his children were born in Nebraska.
When the Weeth family came to Nebraska in 1854, Margarete and her two sons, John and Andrew, built a log cabin in Forest City. In 1855 Margarete and her two sons bought SECTION 29 640 ACRES AND THE NORTHEAST 1/4 in SECTION 30. In 1856 when George came from Chicago, the three sons built in SECTION 29. Located in the southwest 1/4 of SECTION 27, the home of John Weeth, Margarete's fifth son, was built. This is about where the new school has been built. New buildings built in later years are located about in the center of this 1/4 SECTION 27. The local post office and the area it served were named NASBY NEBRASKA.
John Weeth and his wife, Teresa (born in Germany), had ten children. Both their second and third children died in 1873, at three and six years of age. The children are buried in Forest City. My grandfather, Henry Louis Weeth, was born in 1874, as was John and Teresa’s fifth child. All eight living children attended DISTRICT 31.
Margarete's youngest son, Andrew, and his wife, Gertrude, had eleven children. After they came to Nebraska from Germany, their first child was born in 1872 and died 1873. The second and third children were born in 1873 and 1875, and both died in 1890. The next seven children were born in this SECTION 27. Andrew moved to Texas in 1888, and their last child was born there. Six of Andrew’s children attended DISTRICT 31.
Margarete Weeth died in 1872. Her grandson, C. S. Weeth, was born in Germany in 1858 and married in 1878 in America. He had title to 80 ACRES in the SOUTHWEST SECTION 29 AND SOUTHEAST 40 ACRES OF NORTHEAST 1/4 SECTION OF 30. Three children were born to C. S. Weeth and Carrie Weeth. Of the three, Roy Arthur and Edward were born there in Nasby. In 1902 C. S. Weeth sold that 120 ACRES to Emil Jahn, and then moved to Gretna and bought the Gretna Roller Mill. C. S. Weeth made flour there, ground grain for farmers, and shipped carloads of flour to the U.S. Government during WWI and WWII.
In 1872 a school was built in the SOUTHEAST CORNER OF SECTION 20 on one acre of land leased to DISTRICT 31. The Grabow family owned the 160 ACRES and sold this to DISTRICT 31 in 1874. Some years later, the school was replaced by a second one, and as a result of consolidation in 1957, the school house and land were sold. The schoolhouse is now owned by Dan Hokens.
School DISTRICT 14 was first in the SOUTHWEST CORNER OF SECTION 30. When Gretna DISTRICT 37 was formed, the schoolhouse was moved into town, south across the street from the Catholic Church. A new brick two-story building was built in 1898, doubling the size of the school. A new school for DISTRICT 14 had been built in 1888 in the SOUTHWEST 1/4 OF SECTION 19, at the intersection of Highway 6 and Cornhusker.
Consolidation of nine districts and parts of several more all became DISTRICT 37. My father, Elmer Weeth, was a board member during these times. The school board all resigned, and a new board was elected from different areas of district. Two schoolhouses were moved into Gretna. A new school was built southwest of Gretna in 1960.
The Western Electric plant came to Millard in 1956, and Gretna school district had a population explosion. The old building and new building were at capacity, and an addition was completed on the west end in 1964. I was elected to the board in 1963. A new high school bond was passed in 1968, and therefore in April 1971, a new building was opened. I served as a school board member from 1964 to 1977. My dad handed me my diploma in 1955, and I handed our son, Scott, his diploma in 1975. My last year on the board was in 1977 when Joan, our daughter, graduated.
Anders Peterson came to Sarpy County in 1874. He had a son C. A. Peterson, who was two years old at this time. Anders Peterson bought 80 ACRES of land in the SOUTHEAST 1/4 SECTION 29 from Margarete Weeth’s family. C. A. Peterson married and had four children: William, Bernice, Helen, and Ivonne. William Peterson married and started farming on this 80 ACRES, and C. A. Peterson moved to a farm on the south side of highway 370. C. A.’s and William Peterson’s children all attended District 31 and then continued on into District 37. Bernice Peterson married Nealy Barkley. Their three children, Keith, Charles, and Mary Ellen graduated from District 37. District 31 became District 37.
My great-grandfather, Henry Mowinkel, born in Germany 1848, came to Iowa, farmed there, and then came to Nebraska in 1877 and purchased 160 ACRES in NORTHWEST 1/4 OF SECTION 28, which included a small house and about 100 ACRES of broken land. Henry married Dora Schullts in Iowa. Two children were born to them in 1877 and 1879. Their next five children were born in 1883-85-86-87-88. These seven children all died from 1884 to 1895 at ages one month to nine years. From 1890 to 1897, Henry and Dora had five more children. Henry first bought the 80 ACRES in the SOUTHWEST CORNER OF SECTION 21, then the 160 ACRES in the NORTHEAST 1/4 of SECTION 28. He built a new home there, and his eldest son, also named Henry, born 1879, married, about 1900, and lived there. Henry Jr.’s three children and two grandchildren also attended DISTRICT 31. After Henry Sr.’s wife passed away, he remarried, went to California, and died there in 1932. George moved to N. W. SECTION 28.
My grandfather, George Mowinkel, the eighth child, born 1890, married Anna Ehlers who was born in SECTION 32. They made their home in the SOUTHWEST 1/4 of SECTION 20 and had four children. My mother, born in 1914, was their second child. When his mother died, George moved back to the home place. George's wife died in 1925. He remarried, and one boy was born.
George's sister, Lillian, born in 1894, married in 1920 and moved to the SOUTHEAST 1/4 SECTION OF SECTION 20 when George moved. Henry Mowinkel, Sr., also purchased the SOUTHWEST CORNER OF SECTION 20 and his son, Fred Mowinkel, born 1881, married in early 1900 and lived there with three children. All of Henry Sr’s. children, grandchildren, and three great- grandchildren went to SCHOOL DISTRICT 31 (I was one of them). DISTRICT 31 became the MOWINKEL SCHOOL.
Many of Weeth and Mowinkel children from both sides of my family went to DISTRICT 31. In this research, I've just traced our history back to 1855 as far as SECTION 29, 28, and 20 are concerned.
Emil Jahn came to the area in 1902 at which time he purchased SOUTHWEST 80 ACRES SECTION 29 AND SOUTHEAST 40 ACRES, NORTHWEST 1/4 SECTION 30. Sometime around 1920, he purchased from the Weeth estate the remaining 120 ACRES in NORTHEAST SECTION 30. In 1944 Oscar Jahn purchased NORTHWEST 1/4 SECTION 29 from the estate of my great-grandfather, John Weeth. My father and mother had lived there and then moved 3 1/2 miles east. In 1946 they moved to the 160 ACRES south of highway 370 and east of 204th. My grandfather and grandmother, Cecelia, married in 1905 and purchased the farm in 1908.
1n I862 when he was eleven years old, Cecelia’s father had come to America with his four brothers. He married in the early 1870's and lived on farm 1/2 mile away. In Cecelia’s family, there were seven children. One son, Carl, lived on that farm; one son, Henry, farmed 80 ACRES, on the south side of Sapp Bros. Another son, Bill, owned and lived on the farm on the northwest corner of Cornhusker and 168th Street. Gretna has an elementary school there now. Bill’s two children and two grandchildren went to DISTRICT 31.
My roots are pretty deep in SECTIONS 29, 28, and 20, and in DISTRICT 31.
Rodney Weeth, June 2017