Omahans commemorate 1891 lynching of George Smith

A group of Omahans gathered at the Douglas County Courthouse on a chilly day in October 2020 to commemorate the 1891 lynching of George Smith, a Black man falsely accused of raping a White child. The lynching took place at the same location where another Black man, Will Brown, was lynched under similar circumstances in 1919.

The event was organized by Dr. Franklin Thompson of the University of Nebraska Omaha and the Equal Justice Initiative of Montgomery, Alabama. EJI has been gathering jars of soil from lynching sites around the US and erecting historical markers. During the ceremony a series of readers read aloud my chapter on Smith from my book, A Dirty, Wicked Town: Tales of 19th Century Omaha. Both WOWT-TV and the Omaha World-Herald covered the event.

I spoke for about five minutes near the end of the ceremony. Here are my remarks:

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New book: “Nebraska History Moments”

I don’t normally post here about my employer, History Nebraska, but in this case I wrote a book as part of my job. It’s available through University of Nebraska Press and online sellers such as Amazon. It’s meant to be an easy read for people with little time or short attention spans. It’s a bit like my first book, A Dirty, Wicked Town: Tales of 19th Century Omaha, in that I wrote it not only for people who like history, but especially for people who don’t yet know that they like history.

Here’s the description from the back cover:

“Even a moment is enough for wonder and curiosity. Each page of this book uses a photo or artifact to tell a true story about the past, drawing from the extensive collections of History Nebraska. You can read it straight through, but it’s written to be browsed. Here are the turning points, disasters, amusements, causes and controversies, changing technologies, and scenes of daily life of the people who lived in a Nebraska that sometimes seems familiar to us, and sometimes seems a world away.”

You can find extra online content related to the book, and sign up for a free, weekly Nebraska History Moment email at this page on History Nebraska’s website.

Flight to the Top of the World: The Adventures of Walter Wellman

Wellman cover smallPublished by University of Nebraska Press

Enthralling…this would be a great steampunk novel were it not entirely factual.” Anchorage Daily News

A suspenseful narrativeLincoln Journal Star

“The book’s character development moves like a novel’s while relying on the historical record… a riveting account of turn-of-the-century America and the vibrant personalities that fueled its discoveries.” Foreword Reviews

“Exceptional research and clear writing” Air Power History

In his day Walter Wellman (1858–1934) was one of America’s most famous men. To his contemporaries, he seemed like a character from a Jules Verne novel. He led five expeditions in search of the North Pole, two by dogsled and three by dirigible airship, and in 1910 made the first attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean by air—which the self-styled expert on aerial warfare saw as a mission of world peace. He endured hardships, cheated death on more than one occasion, and surrounded himself with a team of assistants as eccentric and audacious as he was. Keep reading.