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History

Established in 1890, the history of Royal began at Hering's Mill, located four and one-half miles north of the present town site. In the beginning and for a number of years thereafter, the community was known as Savage. (Anybody fortunate to have a map dating back to the turn of the 20th century should be able to find Savage printed on it.)

Historic records indicate that Dr. George Savage of Sioux City had promised to give a large sum of money for the purpose of building a school to any new town named for him along a proposed line of railroad. Such an offer was too good to regard lightly -- at least so thought the promoters of the would-be town. The name of Savage was quickly appended and thus it remained until Rev. S. A. Baer, of Brunswick, who looked after the spiritual welfare of the village, sought to change it.

The good minister considered it much more fitting to call his charge the Royal Sunday School than to hear it spoken of as the Savage Sunday School, and through his efforts the name of the town was changed to conincide with the name of the post office.

Hering's Mill was built in 1879-1880 by Julias Hering, a native of Germany and a millwright by trade. The mill served farmers living with a 30-mile radius and in three adjoining counties.

About the time the mill was established, the Burlington Northern Railroad was proposing a new railroad line from Niobrara, Neb., to the Gulf of Mexico. The proposed line would run next to Hering's Mill. Surveys were made and several miles were graded in preperation -- the building of the railroad seemed a certainty.

With the promise of an economic boom, others began to invest in the future of the community. George Brooks, pioneer miller and merchant, errected a store building at Hering's Mill and also arranged to move the Jessup Post Office from a location two miles north of the mill to the mill site. Brooks sold the store to Walter Seaman who was then appointed postmaster. The mill was then called the Jessup Roller Mills. Frank Vickery established a drugstore and sold "bitters"; Ben Jones operated a blacksmith shop; Titus Sherman opened an eating establishment; and the Alonzo Brown family kept boarders. Bob Gross, who had come from New York, manufactured cigars.

For ten years all indications pointed to a successful venture, but for some reason that was never explained, the idea of building the railroad to the Gulf of Mexico was abandoned, and the Burlington built the Short Line from Sioux City, Iowa, to O'Neill, Neb., four and one-half miles south of Hering's Mill (a.k.a. Jessup Roller Mills). The township of Jessup quickly disappeared.

Through the efforts of Royal Thayer, a post office was established one mile east of the C.H. Bligh home and was called Royal. As indicated earlier, the originial town name of Savage was changed to conincide with the name of the Royal Post Office. Fred Clark opened a store and the Jessup post office was moved from the mill to the new location just after the turn of the last century. Jim Welch was appointed postmaster, C. W. Fannon (later a State representative), opened a store and Matt Rundquist also opened a store. Royal was beginning to flourish.

The first school to serve the early settlers around Royal (Savage) was located at the Verdigris Township (1.5 miles east of the present town). It was organized March 1, 1880. The first session of school was held in a log house owned by Robert Smith. In the latter part of the summer of 1880, a sod schoolhouse was erected. Later the sod-topped school was abandoned when a new sod school house was built northeast of town to accommodate more families to the east.

A brick structure was constructed in 1912 providing education to students throughout the district. In 1913, the principal's annual salary was $102 and a teacher earned $60 per school year. The school operated at the high school level until 1964. The high school students were then contracted to different schools around the area, but it remained open for elementary through junior high students. In 1989, grades 7 and 8 were sent to Orchard Public Schools leaving Royal with K-6 until the 2000 school year when the Royal school closed altogether and K-6 students also started attending school in Orchard.

Present day Royal is as hospitable and as friendly as the Royal of pioneer days. The sons and daughters carry on with the same optimistic spirit characteristic of the founders. Although there are many advantages that a city offers -- our small town provides an atmosphere that money cannot buy.

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