The Holt County Visitors Committee gave the General John O’Neill Bronze Statue Project a donation that put the project over halfway on Wednesday, July 22 with a donation of $25,000 towards their goal of $60,000. Lauri Havranek and Kristi Peterson, representing the Holt County Visitors Committee, presented the donation to Natalie Butterfield and Kate Kellum of the Fenian Women’s Auxiliary.
John C. O’Neill, Civil War hero, Irish freedom fighter, Fenian. His military actions affected the course of nations on two continents. His later efforts brought colonies of immigrants from crowded Eastern cities, to settle on the prairies of Nebraska. This enduring legacy still provides welcoming communities of freedom-loving people.
In 2017, with the vision of creating a statue honoring John O’Neill, a fund was started. Lois Cole Schaffer, former mayor of O’Neill, from 1984-90, along with her family, began the fund. Initial donations came from memorials designated at the passing of her husband Larry.
In 2019, inspired by this civic vision, and a 1931 newspaper clipping in the collection of Gerry O’Neill, the Fenian Women’s Auxiliary got involved. Renowned Western artist Herb Mignery was back in his hometown to present additions to the Bronze Sculpture Garden of his works, situated at the Wheeler County Courthouse in Bartlett. The artist accepted the commission and now the project was in full swing.
The Holt County Board of Supervisors approved placing a life-sized statue on the lawn of the courthouse in O’Neill, the town that bears his name. In addition, colonists brought here by the General were part of the earliest settlements in Atkinson and Emmet. Greeley County was homesteaded by colonists as well.
Only 500 memorial bricks will make up the plaza, at the base of the first-ever statue of Gen. John O’Neill. The auxiliary primarily seeks to commemorate those groups and individuals known to follow the General and his causes, either in battle or as settlers. Note: Please do not apply for bricks with the names of commercial businesses. There will be other fundraising opportunities for retail businesses, including farms and ranches, to participate in and be recognized.
To order your brick visit https://www.fundraisingbrick.com/online-orders/generaljohnone/. For additional information regarding the engraved brick campaign contact Natalie Butterfield at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-336-8221.