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Located in North Platte, Nebraska.

On the trail again, covered wagon heading for Ohio

Mark Young/The North Platte Telegraph.
Published June 5, 2008

There is a great national love in taking a "road trip."

The excitement of seeing new parts of the country or just a glimpse of open road can stir the wanderer inside us all. But it was those daring pioneers of yesteryear that defined the ultimate road trip when they packed family and belongings inside of a covered wagon and headed into the dangers and unknowns of the Old West risking everything.

And they weren't doing 75 miles per hour catching glimpses of historical markers. They were creating many of those markers that stand today at a whopping 3- 4-miles per hour. If junior was acting up in the rear of the wagon, the threat of, "I'm going to turn this wagon around," probably didn't carry much weight back then.

There is also a great love of everything Old West in this country and the many types of old covered wagons has a devoted following of collectors, buyers and those just seeking a glimpse, which is why many of them rest comfortably in museums across the country today.

The latest wagon to take its place among history seeking museum goers came courtesy of fourth-generation horse trader and equipment buyer, Brenda Grant who has recently completed a two-year project for Archibold Museum, located in northwestern Ohio.

Through four generations, Grant has gained extensive family experience on not only horses, but just about anything that has to do with pioneer travel. She operates BG Stables, a business that specializes in antique pioneer and cowboy collectables to include different kinds of wagons and sleighs.

Her Web site,, shows off the various kinds of wagons, sleighs and other collectibles, which is what drew the interest of Archibold Museum.

"The museum found my Web site and contacted me," said Grant. "They told me what they were looking for, which was to rebuild a period wagon between the 1830s and 1850s. Those just aren't around anymore. There are a few here and there in private collections and museums, but the pieces of those old wagons have all rotted away."

Grant said it is very difficult to find any wagon pieces from that time period, but that were enough around left over from the 1880s to build the wagon to the museum's request. There were some slight modifications made, but Grant said the project could be done.

She was competing with one of the nation's premier wagon restorers with several museum pieces under his belt and was thrilled when the museum selected her for the job.

"First of all, I was very honored that they selected me," said Grant. "It was an honor and so fun to do the research. We went to museums, looked at about a million carriage books and went to carriage sales all across the country, which was the best education in the world."

The museum picked up the wagon Tuesday morning and while Grant had to say goodbye to a two-year labor of love, she certainly hopes to see it again.

"The neat thing about doing the project for Archibold is that it's located about 65 miles from where I was born and raised," she said. "My parents still live there in Van Wert and I go back about four or five times a year to visit them and attend a big carriage sale. So, I certainly hope to see it in the museum when I go back."

The wagon will be featured in the museum's upcoming display of Pioneer Settlement, which will feature the lifestyle of pioneers from 1834-1890. The community around the museum was the site of early pioneers that began with a daily struggle for survival in 1834.

Grant said that there were many types of wagons that existed during that time period, which called for some of the modifications that included a drop tongue, which was more prevalent in wagons that were used in the hills of northwest Ohio and other hilly areas of the country. Other modifications included the brake system, which initially was used by pulling a rope from the driver's seat, but later changed to the handbrake system.

The change occurred within the specified timeframe of the museum's request. When the museum said they were giving her two years to complete the project, Grant said she felt as though that would be plenty of time.

"At first, I thought that was plenty of time, but it flew by," she said. "Especially with all of the research that went into this project. I've always wanted to do a museum piece, but have never had the opportunity. I'm honored to have done this project and I hope I can do another museum piece again."

Mark Young/The North Platte Telegraph.

North Platte Catholic Schools received $100,000 from the estate of Class of 1942 alumni Bernie Grieser during a brief ceremony on Friday. Pictured from left are Superintendent Kevin Dodson, Brenda Grant, Doug Peterson and Endowment Director Wendy Dodson.

Bequest 'will make a real impact' at St. Pat's

Published Saturday, September 8, 2012

Bernard "Bernie" Grieser died last month, just five days after his 89th birthday. He left a legacy of love, laugher and friendship behind. He also left a $100,000 bequest to North Platte Catholic Schools Endowment-Trust.

"He loved his school and his church," said Brenda Grant, who, along with her husband Doug Peterson were longtime neighbors and friends who cared for Grieser in the last years of his life.

The graduate of St. Patrick's High School lived his entire life in North Platte, except when serving overseas in the European theater during World War II. Born in 1923 to Edward and Ellen Grieser, he graduated from St. Patrick's High School in 1942 as salutatorian of his class. He was a self-employed electrician who worked on electric motors and maintained his family rental property. He was a charter member of the Lincoln County Sheriff's Posse and a self-taught historian on WWII.

"He had more than a 1,000 books about the war," Grant said. "He was one of those veterans that would talk about his service and talk about battle strategy."

Known as a loyal friend, Grieser was also a jokester, Grant noted.

"Early in our friendship he brought me a sack of sweet corn with a plastic lizard in the bottom," she said. "I baked it into a pie and gave it back to him. That lizard went back and forth a lot through the years."

Grant and Peterson organized a surprise party for Grieser's 89th birthday. Although he was in the hospital, more than 45 people came and he received 65 cards.

"He was so happy with his party and cards," Grant said.

Grant showed Grieser's report card from his senior year in 1942. He received his highest marks in history and civics.

"When we talked about making the donation, I would tell him how proud of him I was," Grant said. "He would just smile."

The donation will help provide tuition assistance for students attending Catholic schools, said endowment director Wendy Dodson.

"We are very happy and very honored to accept this," she said. "Gifts of this amount are very rare and it will make a real impact in terms of helping our families. All students are welcome here and we want to help as many with tuition as we can. Bernie understood this would really help kids."

Part of the gift will be tucked away so it can continue to grow, she said.

"Bernie was known for being tight with a dollar," Grant said. "His message would be, 'Don't waste it.'"

Grieser's goddaughter Jackie Nolan joined Peterson, Grant, Dodson and School Superintendent Kevin Dodson for the brief check-passing ceremony at McDaid Elementary School on Friday morning.

Wiping away tears, Nolan said that Grieser's gift is a legacy that would impact many lives in the future.

"He loved this school," she said. "He makes me very proud."