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RG3305.AM:  Goehner Brothers General Store (Seward, Neb.)

Records:  1873-1910

Seward, Seward County, Neb.:  General store

Size:  0.75 cu.ft.; 1 box


John Frederick (Fred) Goehner was born in Wesphalia, Germany, on October 14, 1850. He came to America in 1871, first to St. Louis where he was a clerk in a grocery house, and then to Nebraska City, Nebraska. When the Burlington railroad went to Seward, Nebraska, John moved west also and opened the first Goehner business in Seward in 1873.

Fred married Dore Von der Ohe at Seward on January 14, 1875. Dore was born November 19, 1857, in Hanover, Germany, the daughter of Henry and Sophie Van der Ohe. She had come to Seward in 1873 with her mother, three sisters and a brother. At that time Fred was engaged in grain trade.

In 1878 when a friend invited Fred to accompany him to Europe, Fred requested his brother, Peter, to come and tend the store. In 1879 Fred built the first Goehner block on the corner of 7th and Seward where the Goehner Brothers Store was located. That same year Peter went into partnership with his brother and married Mrs. Goehner’s sister, Wilhelmine Von der Ohe, on November 19, 1879.

In 1884 the second Goehner block was built at the corner of Sixth and Seward when Fred went into the hardware business. Fred tended the hardware store and Peter continued in the general merchandise business. The Goehner family operated three businesses in Seward: the general store (1873-1973); the hardware store (1884-1970s); and a furniture store operated by a relative.

Goehner Brothers General Store sold groceries, shoes, piece goods, men’s clothing, kitchen and dining ware, and general merchandise. They also sold imported articles ordered from Joel Bailey Davis in Philadelphia and Marshall Fields in Chicago. It was one of the first stores in the country to sell Lee overalls. Peter Goehner blended a special coffee that became a noted product of the store. The coffee was hand-ground into the 1960s. The store sold coffee to Concordia College.

Fred was one of the organizers of the Mutual Protective Fire Insurance Co. of Nebraska in 1897 and was connected with the firm until his death. He laid out the town of Bee and Goehner (named in his honor) in 1887. He was a member of the Seward City Council, and in 1885 was elected a member of the State Legislature. He died in Seward on December 29, 1922.

Peter was born in Germany on March 11, 1848, and immigrated to St. Louis in 1868. He came to Seward at his brother’s request in June of 1878. He worked in the store until his death on April 24, 1935. Mrs. Goehner survived her husband and died at Seward on June 29, 1951.

Peter’s son, Edward O. Goehner, was born in Seward on December 16, 1886, and began working at Goehner Brothers at the age of 15. In May of 1918 he enlisted in Co. A., 350th Infantry, 88th Division, and served as a supply sergeant in France during World War I. During his absence from Seward, his brother, Henry, operated the Goehner Brothers store. Edward celebrated his 100th birthday on December 16, 1986, at the Bethesda Care Center in Seward and died on August 31, 1987 at the home.

Henry Frederick Goehner was born in Seward on December 18, 1880, and died there February 2, 1976. He had worked at the store from 1918-1973.

Goehner Brothers had a very high credit rating ($100,000) with Dunn and Bradstreet. This was due to the excellent credit practices and continued good service of the firm. Ed Goehner continued to operate the business until its 100th anniversary in 1973.


This collection consists of accounting records for the firm of Goehner Brothers General Store in Seward, Nebraska, arranged in three series: 1) Account Books, 1873-1898; 2) Invoices and Receipts, 1895-1896; 1908-1910; and 3) Miscellany.

According to an interview with Ed Goehner, son of Peter, the account books of Series 1 show charges made by customers of the store. Volume 1, 1873-1874, lists accounts held by Goehner Brothers with suppliers of products sold in the store. It shows the kind of merchandise sold, the amount ordered, and cost of the products. Volume 2, Day Book, 1874-1875, contains daily entries of charge accounts with customers, July 13, 1874-November 22, 1875. Volume 3 is a ledger of customer accounts, 1886-1898, showing debits and credits for each customer. An index can be found at the beginning of the volume. This volume was donated to the Nebraska State Historical Society’s Nebraska History Museum with other artifacts that form a part of the General Store exhibit.

Series 2 contains invoices and receipts from companies doing business with Goehner Brothers.

Series 3, Miscellany, consists of a Jobbers newspaper, which shows the type of merchandise that might be sold at Goehners in the 1870s.

Note:  RG3305.AU (Audio/Visual collections) contains an interview with Ed Goehner, who operated the store for 71 years. Mr. Goehner gives a history of the store and the Goehner family background. He also discusses in detail the products sold and pricing. Most of the interview concerns general merchandising and accounting methods. Tape 2 (end) and Tape 3 contain an interview conducted in January 1980, after the General Store Exhibit was completed. Mr. Goehner answers questions concerning particular items in the exhibit.


Series 1 – Account Books, 1873-1898

Box 1


  1. Company Accounts, September 1873 – January 1874

  2. Customer Accounts, July 1874 – November 1875

  3. Customer Ledger, 1886 – 1898 (see oversize)

Series 2 – Invoices and Receipts, 1895-1896; 1908-1910

Box 1


  1. Blum Brothers, Men’s Furnishings, Chicago, 1909

  2. Born (M) & Co., wholesale tailors, Chicago, 1909

  3. Carpenter Paper Co., Omaha, Neb., 1908

  4. Deiches (S) & Co., Neckwear, Chicago, 1908

  5. Dovenmueile (H.F.C.) & Son, Footwear, Chicago, 1909

  6. Emmerich (Charles) & Co., Pillows, Chicago, 1909

  7. Florsheim Shoe Co., Chicago, 1908

  8. Funke, Carl; imported china etc., Lincoln, 1908

  9. Gereke, J.F.; Drugs, Seward, 1895-1896

  10. Graham Bros. & Co.; Toilet Soaps, Chicago, 1908

  11. Groneweg & Schoentgen Co.; Grocers, Council Bluffs, Iowa, 1908-1909

  12. Haase (A.G.L.) & Sons, Fish Co., St. Louis, 1909

  13. International Salt Co., Chicago, 1908

  14. Joel Bailey Davis; Importers, Philadelphia, 1908-1909

  15. Lambertville Rubber Co., New Jersey, 1908

  16. Lau (H.P.) & Co., Wholesale Grocers, Lincoln, 1908-1909

  17. McLaughlin (W.F.) & Co.; Coffee, Chicago, 1908-1909

  18. Marshall Field Co., Chicago, 1909

  19. May Bros.; Jobber grocers, Fremont, Neb., 1908-Jan. 1910

  20. Miller (The J) Co., Boots & Shoes, Racine, Wisconsin, 1908-1909

  21. Mishawaka Woolen Manufacturing Co., Indiana, 1908

  22. Murdock (C.A.) Mfg. Co., Spices, Kansas City, 1908

  23. Patterson & Stevenson Co.; Hats, Gloves, Furs, Minneapolis, 1909

  24. Pickarts Vinegar & Pickle Co., Leavenworth, Kan., 1908-1909

  25. Richheimer & Co., Teas & Coffee, Chicago, 1908

  26. Sioux City Seed & Nursey Co., Sioux City, Iowa, 1909

  27. Smith (M.E.) & Co.; Dry Goods, Omaha, 1908-1909

  28. Snyder (J.R.); Fruits & Produce, Omaha, 1908-1909

  29. Snyder-Trimble Co.; Fruits & Produce, Omaha, 1909

  30. Standard Oil Co., Omaha, 1908-1909

  31. Tottle-Campbell Dry Goods, St. Joseph, Mo., 1909

  32. Union Stoneware Co., Red Wing, Minn., 1908

  33. White Oak Roller Flour Mill (Ernst Meyer), Oak, Neb., 1908

  34. Woodward (John G.) & Co.; Confectioners, Council Bluffs, Iowa, 1909

Series 3 – Miscellany

Box 1


  1. The Chicago Exposition Gazetteer and Jobbers Record, Chicago, Sept. 3, 1879



Goehner Brothers General Store (Seward, Neb.)

Seward (Neb.) — Businesses

Seward County (Neb.) — Businesses


Revised 08-28-2007   TMM