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RG3149.AM:  Bischof Hardware Company (Nebraska City, Neb.)

Records, etc.:  1868-1872; 1934-1987; and undated

Nebraska City, Otoe County, Neb.:  Hardware store

Size:  0.25 cu.ft.; 1 box


William Bischof was born in Nuremburg, Bavaria, Germany on March 14, 1835. He arrived in America in 1852 and first settled on a farm in Atchison County, Missouri. Tired of farming, Bischof went to Sioux City, Iowa in 1856 where he clerked in a store. Deciding to go into business for himself, he arrived in Cottonwood Springs, Nebraska in April of 1859 where he and two partners put up ranch buildings. The following year, after buying out his partners, Bischof traded for a building 24 miles to the west at what was known as Fremont’s Slough. Here he kept up a steady trade with Indians, freighters, and emigrants.

After the Indian outbreak of August, 1864, Bischof packed up his goods and moved to Nebraska City. He closed his trail business in 1867 and settled in Nebraska City for good in June of 1867.

William Bischof had married Ida Zimmerer at Nebraska City on December 28, 1865. When he returned to Nebraska City, he formed a partnership known as Bischof and Zimmerer with his brother-in-law, Anton Zimmerer. During the store’s first few months in business in the spring of 1868, they sold one hundred plows.

Eventually Zimmerer was dropped as a partner. William Bischof and his descendants maintained their business in Nebraska City until 1978 when the store closed after 111 years of continuous operation.


This collection consists of one box of manuscript material arranged in two series: 1) Ledger, 1868-1872; and 2) Miscellany, 1934-1987. This material relates primarily to the business conducted by the firm of Bischof and Zimmerer, hardware merchants, and the history of that firm’s descendant, the Bischof Hardware Company.

The Ledger of Series 1 records financial transactions of Bischof and Zimmerer’s hardware store from 1868-1872. Arranged in chronological order, entries include the name of the purchaser, items bought, and the cost.

The miscellany, 1934-1987, of Series 2 is comprised of biographical material on William Bischof, founder of the Bischof Hardware Company, and notes and clippings about the history of the company. Also in this series are newspaper clippings, correspondence, letterhead samples, advertisements, and certificates.

The photo component [RG3149.PH] consists of thirteen photographic prints and negatives showing the interior and exterior of the Bischof Hardware Company in the late 1800s. The photographs span a twenty-year period showing the various hardware and household goods available. Photos document sewing machines, ornate wood-burning stoves, curved glass display cases and large front display windows, and employees standing inside and outside of the store.

Note: Two military certificates have been transferred to the Certificate Collection. Additional materials can be found in the Nebraska State Historical Society’s Museum of Nebraska History. Not all items are on exhibit. Interested researchers must make an appointment to view materials not on exhibit.


Series 1 – Ledger, 1868-1872

Box 1


  1. Ledger of Bischof and Zimmerer, hardware merchants, 1868-1872

Series 2 – Miscellany, 1934-1987

Box 1


  1. Biographical material on William Bischof; historical material on the Bischof Hardware Co.

  2. Newspaper clippings, correspondence, letterhead, samples, advertisements, certificates.



Bischof and Zimmerer (Nebraska City, Neb.)

Bischof Hardware Company (Nebraska City, Neb.)

Bischof, William, 1835-1917

Hardware stores — Nebraska — Nebraska City

Nebraska City (Neb.) — Businesses

Otoe County (Neb.) — Businesses

Zimmerer, Anton, 1832-1911


Revised 08-23-2007   TMM