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Nov 29, 2023 (0)
This beautiful (and still functional) W.W. Kimball pump organ was donated to the Holt County Historical Society on November 20, 2023, by the family of Holt County pioneer and settler J. Victor Johnson, who owned and played it for many years. Handwritten records maintained by Kimball International show it was first sold February 16, 1900. It was manufactured close to that date either in Chicago or Western Indiana.
J. Victor (also known as JV or Victor) was born January 24, 1874, in Ekeby, Valleberga, Sweden, and left for the United States on March 24, 1883, with his parents Sven and Ingar and his siblings. His older brother C. August was already in the U.S. and encouraged them to come. Sven and Ingar took a homestead 13 miles north of Atkinson in 1884 in Sand Creek Township, where JV grew up.
JV married fellow Swedish immigrant Alma Johnson (no relation, just a quirk of the Swedish naming convention of the time) October 24, 1900, in Omaha, and they raised their five children, Elmer, Paul, Albert, Stanley and Alpha, on their ranch after buying his parents' and sisters' homesteads. He also wrote the column Celia News, reporting the comings and goings in the Celia neighborhood for local newspapers for many years.
After Alma's passing in 1944, he remarried Christine Walter in Newport in 1948. They lived in O'Neill until his death on July 4, 1957. JV, Alma and other family members are buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Atkinson.
For a few generations the organ has dwelled in Texas, most recently in the home of a great-granddaughter who sent it to Holt County with loving care.
The loving family JV and Alma built now spans the U.S., from Alaska and California to New York City; from South Dakota and of course Nebraska to Texas, and many points in between. One of JV's living grandsons remembers the organ from his home in O'Neill, and said JV played their own piano when he came to visit. The family is proud to share this treasured piece of Holt County History with museum visitors to enjoy for many years to come.
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