It is official; with fewer than two work days left in North Platte, the number of projects has multiplied to the point that my "rabbit hole" metaphor no longer applies. Clearly, it more closely resembles the underground maze of the native rodent, the black-tailed prairie dog.
Yesterday, I went looking for more information about the "Unitarian Church" shown on an 1875 photograph in the public library, and found myself in the "abandoned room". It is an interesting, rather sad story, of Mrs. E. J. Cogswell, a widow from Lexington, Massachusetts, who somehow decided to move to North Platte in 1868, when she was about fifty years old. In her nearly thirty years here on the High Plains, she established a Sunday school (in those days a means of providing working children with an education), raised funds for and built a hall used for Unitarian services and public entertainment, and taught music and singing. In the mid-1890's in her late 70s, she returned to Lexington, where she died two years later. I am still looking for more information about her life and activities in North Platte, as she seems like a strangely kindred soul.
Here is what I have been able to find so far: Her name was Emily Johnson. She married William Cogswell when she was in her early thirties, and was a childless widow by the time she was forty.
From North Platte and It's Associations (1910) by A. R. Adamson:
It is worthy of remark that the first Sunday School in North Platte was held in the log school house. The late Mrs. E. J. Cogswell of blessed memory, came to North Platte in 1868 intent upon missionary work. She was a Unitarian, but no sectarian, and willingly co-operated with people of all shades of belief for the moral good of the community. Near the close of that year, aided by Mr. M. C. Keith, Mrs. A. J. Miller and Mrs. Kramph, she had the school room arranged for the reception of scholars to form a Sunday School class, but to the vexation of these excellent women, only three children attended. Mrs. Cogswell, however, was not easily discouraged, and visiting every family in town, in which there were children, she solicited their attendance and was rewarded by having quite a number of scholars. This school was organized as Union Sunday School, and continued for many years.
The author of this book, A. R. Adamson, is the same Archibald R. Adamson mentioned in this story. So back into the prairie dog town I go, looking for Archibald and Emily.
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