Grand Island Business and Normal College
Grand Island, Nebraska
A short history of the school appears in A. F. Buechler’s 1920 History of Hall County Nebraska. The Stuhr Museum collection of Julius Leschinsky photos includes some of GIB&NS students. The Grand Island Public Library advised on sources of information.
After Rucker and Evans retired, GIB&NS saw a period of rapid growth under Hargis and his wife. Buechler notes that at times enrollment reached 300 with a large faculty, resulting in an economic boom for Grand Island. Fueling this growth was a newspaper blitz over a six-state area. Letters like the one above appeared in many small-town newspapers guaranteeing positions upon graduation. These letters noted that many more positions were available than GIB&NC graduates could fill, so that the “cream” of bank and business positions would be available. Students from the farms and ranches would be admitted without entrance examinations. Best of all, letters advertised that school costs could be deferred until after graduation when the students were earning paychecks.
Some of these letters claimed an enrollment of 500; other claimed a thousand.
While no available newspapers mentioned social events at the college, apparently it had a social life. One Leschinsky photo is described as a “Rose Drill team” of young ladies who apparently did a “synchronized dance.” Another image is of a small orchestra—11 males with instruments and one female-- apparently a vocalist. Another available image shows four young people, alleged GIB&NC students, sitting in a peach tree.
Ads for GIB&NC appeared through 1910. In 1996 it became a not-for-profit school with the name Grand Island College. A notice appeared in November 1999 Grand Island Independent that the college would close on December 17, due to declining enrollment.
Bricks and Mortar
Buechler says that by 1897 GIB&NC occupied the entire third floor of a building at Third and Spruce. As enrollment increased, the school became “quartered” in a five-story building on Locust Street between Second and Third Streets. Images show an impressive stone-front building with brick construction. The 1909 Sanborn Fire Insurance map shows that the building had a depth of half a block and that the college shared some portion of the building with a movie theater.
The postcard image includes a separate dormitory building for girls. This was located at 721 W. 2nd Street, five blocks from the main building. The dormitory was a multistory frame building with three fire escapes. The Sanborn map notes that the building was heated and that it had hot water. Present Google maps show no traces of either building.
Colors: These appear to be a shade of
red or possibly brown
College football data warehouse shows scattered football games between 1904 and 1911. The total results for 1906 appear in the 1907 Spalding Football Guide. Unscored upon, that team won five games of seven played with two ties. The GIB&NC team defeated Wood River High School, Hastings College, Red Cloud College, Grand Island High School, and the Kearney Invincibles. The team drew with Kearney Normal School and the Nebraska Industrial School.
In other years GIB&NC played neighboring Grand Island College and Peru Normal. The Red Cloud Chief, called the 1907 team “the champions of the business schools of the state.”
Postcard view of the Locust Street building with the girls dormitory inset. (https://www.cardcow.com/435581/grand-island-business-normal-college-nebraska/) accessed 1-27-2017
The undefeated 1906 GIB&NC team. National Collegiate Athletic Association Football Guide (https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=pst.000059692201;view=2up;seq=138) Accessed 1-27-2017
Grand Island Business & Normal College opened in 1885 by professors Hargis, Rucker and Evans. Buechler reported that it got off to a very slow start and had to be rescued by Grand Island citizens, who bought scholarships that they did not intend to use.