A Tillotson granddaughter connects with family history in Waverly, Neb.

By Kate Oshima

As we drove the Interstate east through Nebraska, a tall grain elevator in the town of Waverly caught my eye. It was shimmering white and rose from the floor of the Great Plains like a lone mountain misplaced by nature. My husband, Roger, offered to stop and explore with me because it was built by my maternal grandfather, Reginald Tillotson.


Photo by Kristen Cart

I approached the building with excitement at being so close to a place my grandfather had once stood. As I gazed upon the structure I had to crane my neck to view the top. I pictured men working up there to complete it, imagining the winds of the Plains blowing around them to try to topple one of them to the ground.

The building seemed somehow familiar to me. It had the same feeling one got when approaching our grandparents’ home. Grandfather had built a cement house for his family in the 1950s. It was in the style of the grain elevators he constructed.

We enjoyed running around the building looking for the identifying metal markers. The markers were round, rusted, but mostly readable. The name Tillotson Construction and the year of construction were emblazoned upon them.

As I stood before the impressive elevator I could only imagine my grandfather walking this exact spot. I was awed at seeing some of the history from my family surviving.

Driving away I had a better appreciation of the work Grandfather Tillotson had been involved in. A bit of history touched me that day and inspired greater appreciation for those who came before.

3 comments on “A Tillotson granddaughter connects with family history in Waverly, Neb.

  1. Doug Skaalrud says:

    It is so good to see elevators with downspouts over their rail sidings. Here in Minnesota the number of active elevators has dropped dramatically. Keep up the good work-I really enjoy your posts!

  2. Chuck Tillotson says:

    What a great tribute Kate provided to my Dad. Even though I was involved at a very young age in working on my father’s projects Prior to this Blog being created, I never realized, nor appreciated the magnitude of the tremendous effort this man put forth in securing and contracting for so many elevators over a relatively short numbers of years. However, I have to say that the Waverly elevator had a similar affect on me as it did Kate as I drove by it many times to and fro the U of N during my first year in college.
    Uncle Charles

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