Family Heritage

(SAA) St. Agnes Academy seventh grader Keaton Mann stands next to the Newberry horse at the Knight Museum and Sandhills Center. He researched and wrote about the Newberry family and their business in downtown Alliance founded in 1888.

 Editor’s Note: This article by Keaton Mann is the second in a series from the seventh grade class of Laurie Gould, Language Arts teacher at St. Agnes Academy.

The well-known Newberry’s saddles were made in the 1914 building located at Fourth and Box Butte in Historic Alliance Downtown. Newberry’s was founded by Chenia A. Newberry in 1888. C.A. Newberry was considered one of the “firsts” of Alliance because he was on one of the first passenger trains of the B&M Railroad. 

Newberry’s retail business covered western Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming and northern Colorado. He enlarged the harness department to include saddle making, tack, and western clothing. All of these items were sold wholesale and retail. Production of the saddles was on the third floor and retail sales on the second and first floors. Newberry Hardware Co. had some 50 employees. Brands carried at the store were International Harvester, implements, Aermotor windmills, and Dempster pumps. 

There are many saddle order records at the Knight Museum and Sandhills Center from years ago. There you can also get a replica of a saddle catalog. My grandparents, Larry and Judy Mann, own a Newberry saddle. They purchased it from an auction in western Nebraska.

It was said that the Newberry’s halter “will not break.” A new halter, constructed as to hold the most fractious horse, was put on the market by Newberry’s Hardware Co. It was so good that the harness department was kept busy every minute supplying the demand. Mr. Newberry got the idea from a horseman at the time of the Ainspections. Nearly every day he was called upon to repair halters that had been broken in the throat latch when the animals reared back and yanked on the tie strap. He repaired one with a piece of chain and it never came back for repair. This halter had been perfected into one of the best on the market. 

Bernie Girard, grandson of the late C.A. Newberry, owned the hardware store, now called Bernie’s Hardware, located at Third and Laramie. Girard began working at the store in 1946 when they made and sold saddles and did tin work. He purchased it in 1968. The business has since been passed on to his son, Dennis Girard. 

Downtown Alliance continues to change and evolve with new businesses opening and old ones closing. However, some buildings still remain, including Newberry’s on Box Butte Avenue along the brick streets. Now my parents own the Newberry Coffee House and Event Center, and it is good business.

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