2023 March 22, Wednesday
Local author Donna Henton has recently published a captivating book, IF THESE HOUSES COULD TALK, VOLUME III, that delves into the history of Blair, Nebraska buildings. Inspired by her mother’s scrapbooks, Donna initially set out to write a booklet for her grandchildren but found herself captivated by the rich stories behind the city’s architecture. “One building on Washington Street was of particular interest and as I researched that building, it just seemed I needed to find out about all the buildings! and the pioneers who built them!!” Henton said.
Henton’s work joins a collection of other books that explore the history of Washington County, Nebraska, such as “History of Washington County, Nebraska” by W.T. Sherwood, “Washington County, Nebraska: Pioneers and Places” by Jan Bruhn, and “Past and Present of Washington County, Nebraska, Volume 1” by William E. Reed. Together, these books paint a vivid picture of the region’s past and provide valuable insights for residents and history enthusiasts alike.
To uncover the stories behind Blair’s buildings, Donna spent countless hours at the courthouse, the museum, the Danish Archives, the Genealogy room at the Library, talking with hundreds of people, and utilizing online resources. Her research led her to many interesting anecdotes, including those about the pioneers who settled in Blair, Nebraska, Olie Berg who brought squirrels to Blair, the hardships faced by many, and the magnificent homes built in the late 1800s.
Henton tried to include as many buildings as she could find information about and ended up with a text-like book that tells the mini stories of each building. She hopes her work will contribute to the preservation and understanding of Blair’s history and culture. “I wanted them to be a quality book with a hard cover and glossy pages so they will last for generations,” she explained.
Donna’s favorite part about writing the book was the research and uncovering the stories behind each building. “There were some real surprises. Each house was fun to learn about,” she said. Her passion for local history is evident in her work, and she encourages people in Blair to appreciate the rich history of their town. “I wish everyone would realize what the pioneers did for us,” Henton added.
Henton’s books, which are 8×11 hardcover with 360 to 405 pages each, can be purchased for $75 at Country Gardens on Washington Street, on her website at ifthesebrickscouldtalk.com, or by contacting her directly. Donna is more than happy to sign all her books.
As for her future plans, Donna is currently involved with the Washington County Museum, where she will write a booklet about a one-room schoolhouse being moved to a vacant lot near the museum in Fort Calhoun. Her dedication to preserving and sharing the history of her community, along with other authors like Sherwood, Bruhn, and Reed, will undoubtedly continue to enrich the lives of those who call Washington County home.