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   from the issue of September 23, 2004

A Piece of University History

Times have certainly changed: Once upon a time, hand-written letters were the only way for NU students to keep in touch with parents and friends back home. Today, in honor of Parents Weekend, we print a portion of a letter by G.P. Cather sent from NU to his family in 1904 or 1905.

This is page 7 of a letter home from the university by G.P. Cather, sent in 1904 or 1905. After...
 This is page 7 of a letter home from the university by G.P. Cather, sent in 1904 or 1905. After thanking his family for sending money, he explains that he's spent it, including $6, "some on notebooks, tablet paper, stamps, envelopes, a speaker, a fountain pen, etc." He also says a professor added a required political economy textbook that cost $2, which he didn't have.

Cather was born in 1883 and grew up in Grand Island. After studying at NU from 1904-05, he left to homestead land near Ogallala. He enlisted in the Navy in 1908 and served 16 months on the U.S.S. West Virginia. He then returned to his birthplace, Bladen, Neb., married and farmed. He rejoined the military in 1914 and served near the Mexican border until 1917, when he served in Europe during World War I. He died in 1918, the first Nebraska officer to die in battle.

Many Willa Cather scholars assert that the letters G.P. Cather, her cousin, wrote to his mother inspired Willa Cather to create the character Claude Wheeler, who appears in her novel One of Ours.

More about G.P. Cather can be found at this online exhibit about him:

G.P. Cather
G.P. Cather


In this weekly feature, the Scarlet takes a look back at a moment of UNL's past through a historical photo, story or short trivia item.

Information for "A Piece of University History" is provided by the University Archives and Special Collections, University Libraries. For more information or to suggest a historical topic for this feature, call 472-8515.



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