August Gerhardt ( -1911), Carpenter-Builder
AKA: August Gerhart
August Gerhardt is known to us primarily through the design and construction of the St. Benedict Parish Church on Kearney Hill in Nebraska City. Records associated with the church use the German spelling of his name; elsewhere, his surname is given as Gerhart.
A native of Pennsylvania, August Gerhart came to Nebraska City about 1857 as a cabinet maker. His exhibit of cabinet work at the 1858 Otoe County Fair was judged “best.”[5:955] He also exhibited at the Territorial Fair of 1859.[5:955] Twenty-seven years of age in 1860, he had a lucrative business, using local cottonwood and walnut lumber.[5:955] In 1859, he produced 40 bureaus, 100 tables, and an assortment of other goods valued at $3,500.[5:955] In the summer of 1860 he took up the work of carpenter and builder, and by 1864 he was also building in brick.[5:955] The 1880 census listed him as a carpenter.[5:955]
Gerhart was married July 28, 1861, to Maria Getter, a native of New York; they had two daughters, Harriet and Edna.[5:955-56] After nearly 50 years in Nebraska City, the Gerhardts moved to California for health reasons.[5:955-56] August died October 9, 1911 at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Harriet (James G.) Hunter, in Los Angeles.[5:955-56] He was also survived by his wife, and second daughter, Mrs. O. W. Holliday of Hastings, Nebraska.[5:955-56]
Educational & Professional Associations
1857-1859: cabinet maker, Nebraska City, Nebraska.[5:955]
1859-1880: carpenter, Nebraska City, Nebraska.[5:955-56]
Buildings & Projects
Hauptman house (1862), Nebraska City vicinity, Otoe County, Nebraska.[5:955]
St. Philomena’s Catholic Church (1862), Nebraska City, Nebraska.[5:955]
August Gerhart house (1863), Nebraska City, Nebraska.[5:955]
a. During a 1908 rebuild to strengthen the tower, a manuscript was found inside a “globe” atop the tower. It was written by Fr. Emmanuel Hartig and dated July 11, 1862. The note recorded, in part, the following: the globe and cross were erected by August Gerhardt and N. Colz; the globe was constructed by I. R. Comstock and gilded by James Barr; the church and tower were built by August Gerhardt and James Darley, who constructed everything except the walls and foundation; the contract to build the church and tower according to specs was awarded to August Gerhardt, including the provision of all necessary materials and whatever else was needed; the brick walls were constructed by Harter & Hughes; the foundation was built by John McFarland and John Rigly; the cornerstone was laid September 1, 1860, by the Rt. Rev. James O’Gorman; and the total cost was about $4000. The main body of the church measures 34 by 87 feet, 29 feet high, and the tower rises to 50 feet. The Federal census of 1860 for Nebraska City lists two Darleys, both cabinet-makers; J. S. was 50 years old and born in Scotland, while J. F. was 26, and born in Missouri. Neither were found in the 1870 or 1880 censuses. The Historic American Building Survey Data Page states, "The St, Benedict Parish Church was erected In 1861-62 on a site acquired from N. Bulware for the sum of $3.00 by August Gerhardt. . . . It appears to be the first church of the Benedictine Fathers in Nebraska. Father Philip Vogg, 0,S,B. was the first resident pastor and directed the building of the church." The church also features a Romanesque altar, built of oak.
1. Historic American Buildings Survey, HABS NE-35-5, Library of Congress Website, Prints and Photographs Division, accessed April 9, 2013, http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/hh/item/ne0035/
2. Commemorating the Centenary of St. Benedict Church, Nebraska City, Nebraska (Nebraska City: St. Benedict’s Catholic Church, 1956).
3. 1860 United States Census, s.v. “J S Darley,” Nebraska City, Otoe County, Nebraska, accessed through HeritageQuestOnline.com.
4. Janet Jeffries Spencer, “St. Benedict’s Catholic Church,” (Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, August 1982), National Register of Historic Places, Inventory-Nomination Form. See note [a] above for expanded information on construction.
5. Raymond E. Dale, “August Gerhart,” Otoe County Pioneers: A Biographical Dictionary [Part IV: G-Ha] (Lincoln, Nebraska, 1963), 955-56.
D. Murphy, “August Gerhardt ( -1911), Carpenter-Builder,” in David Murphy, Edward F. Zimmer, and Lynn Meyer, comps. Place Makers of Nebraska: The Architects. Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, December 17, 2014. http://www.e-nebraskahistory.org/index.php?title=Place_Makers_of_Nebraska:_The_Architects Accessed, April 1, 2020.
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