HISTORY NEBRASKA MANUSCRIPT FINDING AID
RG5430.AM: Christian M. Gruenther, 1871-1923
Platte Center, Platte County and Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska
Size: 0.5 cu.ft.; 1 box
Christian M. Gruenther, son of Henry and Agnes (Greisen) Gruenther, was born October 6, 1871, in Springfield, Wisconsin. He came to Platte County with his parents in 1872. After eight years in Columbus, the family moved to St. Bernard Township, where his mother died the following year. In 1890 his father moved to Oregon, where he died four years later. Christian had one sister, Mrs. Max Bruckner, of Platte Center. As a boy, “Chris” Gruenther worked on farms until he was fifteen, at which time he went to Minnesota and worked with a construction gang for the Great Northern Railroad, clearing the roadway and ballasting track for its extension to Winnipeg. When he was twenty-two, he entered the Western Normal School, in Lincoln, Nebraska, and completed the three year teachers’ course in nineteen months. Following this he returned to Platte County and established his home in Platte Center, where he became an editor. He bought the Platte Center Signal, which he published as a democratic newspaper for many years.
On July 18, 1898 he married Mary Shea in Platte Center. They had six children. In 1898 Christian Gruenther was put in charge of the old Farmers & Merchants Bank, at Platte Center. He reorganized it into the Platte County Bank and served as its cashier for two years, placing it on a sound financial basis. After leaving the bank in 1899 he was elected clerk of the District Court of Platte County. Gruenther was reelected several times. He resigned this position in 1919 when he became the secretary of the Federal Farm Loan Bank, in Omaha, Nebraska.
While serving as clerk of the District Court in Platte County, Mr. Gruenther operated extensively as referee and trustee in the public sale of land belonging to estates and became recognized as an authority on land and land values in Nebraska, a qualification that made him especially valuable to the Farm Loan Bank. He moved his family to Omaha from Platte Center shortly thereafter, and had been a resident of the city of Omaha for little more than a year when he was made a member of the Metropolitan Utilities District Board. He had been a stockholder and an officer of the Columbus Land, Loan and Builders’ Association, and the Guaranty Loan and Trust Company, of Columbus. He resigned as treasurer of both companies when he went to Omaha.
Perhaps Christian Gruenther’s greatest service to his country was rendered during World War I, when he originated the “school house meeting plan” for promoting the sale of “baby bonds.” He first applied it in Platte County, and Platte at once went to the top of all the counties in the United States in the percentage by which it exceeded its quota in the purchase of war savings stamps. His plan was grasped by the state committee, and it sent Nebraska to the top among all states of the union. The national committee asked that the plan be forwarded to Washington. From Washington, it went to nearly every city, village and hamlet in the entire United States, putting the sale of “baby bonds” over with such success that many millions of dollars of over-subscriptions had to be rejected by the government.
In 1908 Mr. Gruenther organized the Bryan Volunteers and later served as secretary of the State Democratic Central Committee and president of the Nebraska State Democratic Club, in which he was the active director of the state campaigns. He personally directed the campaigns for election of former Senator Gilbert Hitchcock. Chris Gruenther was a member of the Catholic Church and held membership in the Knights of Columbus, the A.O.U.W., and the Sons of Herman. During his long residence in Platte Center, he gave generously of his time to village affairs, serving that community as a member of the village board for many years. Christian M. Gruenther died in Omaha in March of 1923. He is buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Omaha, Nebraska.
Note: The bulk of this background note is taken from The History of Platte County, Nebraska.
SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE
The collection consists of one box of papers mostly relating to the land dealings and ranching operations of Christian M. Gruenther, particularly in and around Wheatland, Wyoming. The collection includes correspondence, receipts, contracts, deeds, etc. Also included are materials relating to his involvement in the Nebraska Association of District Court Clerks. The items in the collection date from 1902 to 1917 and are arrange chronologically.
- 1905 (see also oversize)
- 1910-1917, n.d.
- Bank book & notebook
Gruenther, Christian M., 1871-1923
Land — Wyoming
Nebraska Association of District Court Clerks
Ranching — Wyoming