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RG3718.AM:  Lila Gravatt Scrimsher, 1898-1974

Papers:  ca. 1877-1974

Otoe and Lancaster Counties, Neb.:  Author

Size:  3.5 cu.ft.; 6 boxes and 1 scrapbook


Lila Gravatt was born and raised in Talmage, Otoe County, Nebraska. After graduating from high school, she attended Nebraska Wesleyan University (1920). Upon graduating from college, she taught school in Malvern, Iowa and Tecumseh, Nebraska. While attending school at the Chicago Art Institute, Lila wrote Pioneers of the Air (1929) and Pioneers of the Deep (1930). After her marriage to Harvey Scrimsher, the couple moved to Lincoln, Nebraska where Lila taught at Lincoln High School for a few years. The Scrimshers then returned to Talmage where they farmed until Harvey Scrimsher’s death in 1950. Lila returned to Lincoln where she worked as the University Place Library for the next 6 years. She spent her retirement years writing, painting and traveling. In 1962, her Pumpkin Flood at Harper’s Ferry was published. She also completed works on Gen. John J. Pershing and Rev. George A. Matson, as well as stories dealing with the frontier and articles published in Nebraska History. Lila Gravatt Scrimsher died on September 12, 1974 and was buried at Grant Cemetery at Talmage, Nebraska.


This collection is comprised of manuscript material arranged in six series: 1) Correspondence, 1953-1973; 2) Manuscripts; 3) Research Material; 4) Genealogical Material; 5) Personal/Family Correspondence, 1877-1929, n.d.; and 6) Miscellaneous. The collection relates to Lila G. Scrimsher’s career as an author as well as her family genealogy. Note:   Box 6 was added in 2011 and is unprocessed. It contains additional manuscript drafts, research notes, publisher correspondence, etc.

The correspondence in Series 1 is almost entirely from Lila Scrimsher’s publishers. Their criticisms and suggestions are included. Letters in response to Scrimsher from various research institutions are also included, as well as a few letters from friends. Series 2 contains manuscripts of Lila Scrimsher’s work, including manuscripts on Rev. George A Maston, Gen. John J Pershing, Nebraska and the Missouri River, frontiersmen and a fictional piece set at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia.

The research material in Series 3 consists of fragments of notes, secondary source material, newspaper clippings and rewritten copy. Because it is in a disordered state, due to the many fragmented pieces of information on note cards, this series is extremely hard to use. Series 4 contains various genealogical materials compiled by Scrimsher. Included are genealogical correspondence, the diary of Lila’s mother Anna Weber, and various historical essays and information regarding Mitchell County, Kansas and Nuckolls County, Nebraska.

The personal and family correspondence in Series 5 dates from 1877-1929. The majority of the letters in this series were sent from various family members to Lila’s parents. The miscellaneous material of Series 6 includes an editorial written by Lila G. Scrimsher, her obituary, several recipe books, an autograph book, miscellaneous pamphlets and advertisements, and a magazine on writing. Also included is a scrapbook containing various newspaper clippings, event programs and ephemera, and a few photographs.

Note:  See the photo component [RG3718.PH] for additional photographs. See the Nebraska History Index for articles by Lila Gravatt Scrimsher.


Series 1 – Correspondence, 1953-1973

Box 1


  1. 1953-1963

  2. 1964-1973

Series 2 – Manuscripts

  1. “Autobiography of Rev. George A Maston” (handwritten original)

  2. “The Story of George A. Maston” (complete)

  3. “The Story of George A. Maston” (incomplete)

  4. “The Story of George A. Maston” (2 incomplete copies)

  5. Typescript of George A. Maston’s diary

  6. “The Writings of George A. Maston” – introduction by Lila Scrimsher

  7. “Excerpts from Diaries and Writings of Rev George A. Maston” – edited by Lila Scrimsher

Box 2


  1. “General Pershing, Strong Man”

  2. “John Joseph’s Forebears Emerge from the Mist Strong People, the Pershing Forebears! How General Pershing’s Forebears Influenced Him”

  3. “General Pershing’s Happy Years,” “General John Pershing, Earnest Man” (1 complete, 1 incomplete)

  4. “Nebraska’s ‘Old Man River’ – the Missouri”

    “The story of the Missouri” (2 Fragments)

    “Fall Show on the Missouri”

    “What the Old River Could Not Know”

    “The Fur Traders: Old Fort Union”

  5. “Anna Plows One Furrow” (includes rewrites and revisions)

    “With Their Faces to the West” or “Pioneers of the West”

  6. “Anna Plows One Furrow” (includes rewrites and revisions)

    “With Their Faces to the West” or “Pioneers of the West” (cont.)

  7. “Missouri-Pacific Lines in Nebraska” (photographs included)

  8. “Great Adventures on Horseback” (possibly original title of Pumpkin Flood at Harper’s Ferry)

  9. “Bread Grain” and “The Fur-Traders: Old Fort Union”

  10. “John Dary” (Gravatt ancestor)

Series 3 – Research Material

Box 3


  1. Rev George A. Maston – Includes material on Negro History, Negroes in Nebraska, newspaper clippings, the “National Hymn of Negroes” by James Weldon Johnson, Judge George L. Russell.

  2. Rev George A. Maston, pt. 2

  3. Rev George A. Maston, pt. 3

  4. Rev George A. Maston, pt. 4

  5. General John J. Pershing – Includes material on the Philippines, West Point, Pershing’s ancestors, interviews, clippings. Secondary sources. A lecture on Pershing given by Lila G. Scrimsher is included.

  6. General John J. Pershing, pt. 2

  7. General John J. Pershing, pt. 3

Box 4


  1. General John J. Pershing, pt. 4

  2. Missouri River – includes material on Lewis & Clark, The Fur Trade, Steamboat History, Frontier Life, and Nebraska-Iowa Border Dispute

  3. Harper’s Ferry

  4. Indians in World War I

Series 4 – Genealogical Material

  1. Letters to establish genealogy

  2. Anna Webber, diary and background information

  3. Anna Webber, teacher’s contracts, memberships, etc.

  4. Mitchell County, Kansas, historical essays, 1967

  5. Nuckolls County, Nebraska, 1884

Box 5


  1. Kansas wildflower descriptions

  2. Newspaper clippings, Beloit, Kansas and Talmage, Nebraska

Series 5 – Personal/Family Correspondence, 1877-1929, n.d.

  1. 1877-1879

  2. 1880-1888

  3. 1891-1893

  4. 1904-1929

  5. undated

Series 6 – Miscellaneous

  1. Miscellaneous pamphlets, clippings, articles, etc.

  2. Scrapbook (see oversize)

Box 6 (Unprocessed)

Contains additional manuscript drafts and research materials for books, articles and short stories



African Americans — Nebraska

Authors — Nebraska

Gravatt, Anna Webber, 1860-1948

Gravatt Family

Lancaster County (Neb.) — History

Maston, George A., 1849-1912

Mitchell County (Kan.) — History

Pershing, John Joseph, 1860-1948

Scrimsher Family

Scrimsher, Lila Gravatt, 1898-1974

Teachers — Kansas — Mitchell County

Webber Family


AIF/pjm   04-18-1979

Revised EW/tmm   08-12-2008

Revised TMM   04-22-2011