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Thayer County in Nebraska has a rich and fascinating history. Here are seven interesting facts that highlight some of the unique events and characters that have shaped the region over time.

1. Hebron, the county seat of Thayer County, was founded in 1871 as a railroad town. The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad was expanding westward and established a station in what is now Hebron. The town was named after the biblical city because the land was filled with rocks, just like the stony ground that the Israelites encountered in their journey through the wilderness.

2. In the late 1800s, Thayer County was one of the largest producers of coal in Nebraska. The coal mines in the county employed hundreds of people and supported the local economy. The first coal mine in the area was opened in the 1870s, and by the 1890s, there were several major mining companies operating in the county.

3. Thayer County was the site of one of the first founding meetings of the Populist Party, a political movement that emerged in the late 1800s to represent the interests of farmers and laborers. In 1890, a convention was held in Hebron to organize a new political party that would challenge the two-party system and fight for reforms like government ownership of railroads and banks, direct election of senators, and a graduated income tax.

4. One of the most famous figures in Thayer County history is William Jennings Bryan, who was born in Salem, Illinois (just across the border from Thayer County) and spent much of his childhood in the area. Bryan was a three-time Democratic nominee for president and a renowned orator, known for his passionate speeches on issues like free silver and the fate of the common man. He also served as Secretary of State under President Woodrow Wilson.

5. Thayer County was home to a number of German immigrants in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and it was this population that formed the basis for the county's famous "Kraut Day" celebration. This festival, which began in 1912, is still held annually (though with a different name) and features traditional German food, games, music, and dancing.

6. During World War II, Thayer County was home to a prisoner of war camp where German prisoners were held. The camp, located in Hebron, was one of several such facilities in Nebraska and housed several hundred German soldiers and sailors who had been captured during the war. Many local residents remember interacting with the prisoners, who were often allowed to work on local farms or do other jobs in the community.

7. Thayer County is also known for its beautiful natural landscapes, including the Big Blue River, which runs through the county and is a popular destination for fishing, kayaking, and other outdoor activities. The region is also home to several state parks and wildlife areas, including Rock Glen Wildlife Management Area and Little Blue River Reservoir.

These are just a few of the many interesting facts that make Thayer County a unique and fascinating place to explore. Whether you're interested in local history, outdoor adventures, or just soaking up some small-town charm, this part of Nebraska has something for everyone.

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