The following questions were asked recently on the Wonderline:

Q: What is the history of Arbor Day?

A: Arbor Day was founded in 1872 by J. Sterling Morton in Nebraska City, Nebraska. By the 1920s, each state in the United States had passed public laws that stipulated a certain day to be Arbor Day.

Morton hatched the idea that would birth to the tradition. He was a nature lover and landscaped the home he built in Nebraska with trees, shrubs and flowers. He wrote at length on the benefits of trees and the useful purposes they served. He celebrated the virtues of trees as windbreaks to keep soil from eroding as fuel for fires, as building materials and as a cool spot in the hot Nebraska sun.

Q: Who is Coach Fred Hoiberg’s uncle from Clearwater?

A: A reader provided more information about Fred Hoiberg’s Uncle Dennis Loewe (a Clearwater graduate in 1966), was “an all-around athlete,” according to information provided to the Wonderline by the reader. “He was a four-year starter in football and basketball. On the basketball court, he led Clearwater in scoring all four years, finishing with 1,673 points, including 55 against Chambers during his senior season. He was also created with 32 rebounds in a single game and averaged 21.9 rebounds per game during his career. In track, he went to state every year and as a senior, helped the Cardinals to a share of the Class D team title by winning the shot and discus and taking second in the high jump. On the baseball diamond, he pitched at Pershing College and played in the minor leagues. He has enjoyed a successful coaching career in American Legion baseball.”

This information was provided to the Wonderline, prompted by last week’s question and open-ended answer.

He was inducted into the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame.

Q: It is true that the speed limit in Nebraska was once 20 mph?

A: We looked through history books and found this passage in the York County book, “Yesterday and Today,” about this topic.

It read:

“The dirt roads, although narrow, were much appreciated in the early 1900s when the automobile was just starting to come into use. In 1904, a new automobile law was in effect stating that one could not drive faster than 20 miles per hour and must stop when meeting a team of horses and let them go by. However, there was no danger of losing one’s driver’s license as he had none.”

Q: Was there once a town called Blue Vale in York County?

A: Yes.

Historical accounts say that on Jan. 1, 1866, Elias Gilmore, his son Jacob R. Gilmore and their friend, William H. Taylor, took home sites and erected dugouts and log houses along the Blue River in Sections 7 and 8 of West Blue township. There, Blue Vale (originally called Blue Valley) originated.

“It was the only center of its kind in York County,” says a York County history book.

“In its busiest days, Blue Vale had an early post office, a general store, two church buildings and a blacksmith shop.

“During the summer of 1886, a Blue Valley post office opened with J. R. Gilmore as postmaster. He held that position for nine years.

The first store originated out of necessity, the book says. “J.R. Gilmore had made a trip to Nebraska City and laid in supplies for his family. An early winter prevented other settlers from making the long trip to secure their supplies so they visited the Gilmores to borrow or buy the things they needed. The business quickly outgrew the Gilmore house so Mr. Gilmore built a two-story structure with a large hall, which became a social and business center. He ran the general store until 1873 when he sold out to the firm of Creech and Armstrong.

“In 1868, the Rev. Perry Caldwell, a United Brethren circuit rider, organized a class in the home of David Buzzard with six members present. During the next 10 years, the class worshipped in several different places. Then in 1878, funds were raised for a church building which was built on ground donated by J.R. Gilmore in Blue Vale. In 1879, the church was dedicated by Bishop Milton Wright, father or Orville and Wilbur, the noted Wright Brothers. In 1960, it merged with the McCool United Brethren Church with J.C. Bennett as pastor. The contents of the church were sold at public auction. The second church in Blue Vale belonged to the Christian denomination. Its building was instigated and encouraged by Father Ezekial Evans, a minister of pioneer fame.

“At one time, the valley of the Blue River was regarded as a prosperous site for a railroad by the Midland Railway Company. It was prophesied that Blue Vale would become a railway station as well as the center of a prosperous farming section. The railway instigated a bond election to build a railroad but the majority of the people of York County voted against it.

“For many years, people gathered at Blue Vale both on weekdays and Sundays for social gatherings and worship.”

This information was submitted for the York County history book by Joyce Rhoades.

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