The Bachelors' Protective Union of Kearney
When the Bachelors' Protective Union gave a gala reception for two of its newly married, former members and their brides in March of 1890, the social club for young, single business and professional men was already well known in Kearney. Formed in November of 1888, the club took for its motto "Divided We Stand, United We Fall," and held many of its social functions at Kearney's Midway Hotel. The Kearney Daily Hub said on March 6, 1890:
"The brotherhood, as its votaries delight to call it, has become very popular among society lovers, as was very evident last night from the many smiling, happy faces of the tenderer sex. It has been a time honored custom among the bachelors that when one of their members stepped aside to take a peep at the other side of life-the matrimonial side-this breach of faith is punished by visiting upon the offender the punishment of dining and evening [sic] him."
The gathering was held at Kearney's Midway Hotel, where the guests were seated at a table forming the letter "U" to designate the matrimonial unions of the two former club members. "Till nearly 11 o'clock the epicures feasted upon raw oysters on the half shell and other delicacies of the season," after which toasts were made. "Mr. E. Frank Brown extended a hearty 'Welcome to the Benedicts [a club for married couples],' in which he said: 'In welcoming my partners in misery you will pardon me if I recite a little poem.'"
Thankfully, the Hub did not include the poem in its coverage of the happy event. An earlier club banquet for newly married, former members, held in June of 1889, featured an original poem by member Will Hall Poore of the Kearney Enterprise. The seven stanzas appeared in the June 29 issue of the Hub, which reported that the attendees included "about thirty bachelors and their lady friends," besides the guests of honor.
The B.P.U., as it was often called, sponsored a variety of social events during its active years in Kearney. The Hub reported on October 4, 1889, that the "jolly lot of young fellows, who do not intend to have their sporting ardor dampened by the threatening rigors of winter, . . . are now considering the possibility of enclosing their tennis grounds . . . and turning it into a skating rink for the winter season." The proposed rink would feature "dressing rooms, stoves and refreshment bouffes [sic] for hot coffee and light lunches."
Despite its popularity the Bachelors' Protective Union may not have survived past the end of 1891. The Hub noted on January 6, 1892: "The fact that February rounds up this year with twenty-nine days is particularly ominous to old bachelors. And to think that the bachelors' protective union couldn't hold together till leap year!"
From the Kearney Daily Hub, September 25, 1889.
Solomon D. Butcher depicted the cigar stand inside Kearney's Midway Hotel, which hosted many social events sponsored by the Bachelors' Protective Union. NSHS RG2608-2628
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