The Superior Express -

2020 Corn Show Parade Grand Marshalls


October 8, 2020

The grand marshalls for this year’s Sesquicentennial Corn Show Parade honor the history of Jewell. The four women selected and their stories reflect the theme “Jewell – We’ve Got A Story To Tell”! The women are Anna Jones Billings, “Aunt Sally” Thackston, Lydia Matter Cameron and Callie Debus Spielman.

Anna Jones Billings’ story is of being the first white woman to settle in Jewell. She was married to N. H. Billings and followed him to Jewell, arriving on May 22, 1870. She brought her still ten-year-old sister, Virginia “Jennie” Jones with her. Though she was the first woman to settle in Jewell, she did not stay in the area. N. H. Billings was a “vagabond and wanderer.” After following him and his schemes through Jewell, Wichita and Ness counties, she divorced him. She found a permanent home in McCook, Neb., after marrying John Notely. Anna Jones Billings will be portrayed by Debbie LaCoe Abram a 1968, JHS graduate living in Beloit.

There are several stories told of Sarah Ann “Aunt Sally” McCready Thackston. One being she was “The Best Woman in Town.” Another is of the time she broke up a prayer meeting in her dugout when she saw a rattlesnake climbing along the ridgepole. “Aunt Sally” came to homestead with her husband,“Uncle Wesley” Thackston in 1872 and lived here until her death in 1912. Cindy Traump, Jewell businesswoman and volunteer, has the role of “Aunt Sally.”

Patricia Oplinger Zentz, Jewell native and 1959 JHS graduate, will portray her Great-Great-Aunt Lydia Jane Matter Cameron. Lydia’s story begins when she came to Jewell as a bride in 1873. Her husband, William Henry Cameron, was an 1870 homesteader and the first teacher in Jewell. He taught a three-month summer term, in his homestead cabin, in the summer of 1871. Two of Lydia’s sisters, Elizabeth and Susan, and a brother, David, also homesteaded in Jewell.

Many remember “Callie’s.” The store was for many years a mainstay of Jewell’s businesses. Callie Debus Spielman owned and operated a store in Jewell for more than 35 years. One of the many “Callie” stories is she took driver’s education at the high school, passed and got her driver’s license when she was 72-years-old. Another Jewell native, Marsha Willmeth Bartsch, has the role of Callie. Bartsch graduated from JHS in 1971.

These four women tell some of the many stories Jewell has to tell. See them in Saturday’s 10:30 a.m. Corn Show Parade. You can also see them and seven other characters from Jewell’s history in either the 5:30 p.m. or 7 p.m. “Jewell-We’ve Got A Story To Tell” Corn Show program at the Jewell Community Center Saturday night.


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