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History Book Reprint
Jewel Diner
Lowe's Store

Hooker County Historical Society

The Hooker County Historical Society was organized in 1969, an extension of the Hooker County Nebraska Centennial Committee of 1967. Their members soon began serving food to Senior Citizens at the annual Hooker County Fair Barbeque each year up through 1982. For many years they continued the project of pinning ribbons on Senior Citizrens as a way of honoring them for their part in building the community of Mullen. The Historical Society also has sponsored a "Mellerdrama" program put on by local talent at Hooker County Fair time. More recently they have been having a homemade pie sale as an activity of the Mullen High School Alumni weekend.

A project the Historical Society sponsored starting in 1986 was the compilation of a Hooker County & Area Centennial Book published in 1989. With exclusive permission given for portions of historical accounts from the book to be included on this website, excerpts will be added here as time allows. This book is the reference used for information about the Historical Society. Copies of this book have long been sold out.

REPRINTS are now available with the addition of 50 new pages!
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Jewel Diner

Photo copyright Lee Rentz
Used by permission
See online
gallery at

This photo of the Jewel Diner was taken by photographer, Lee Rentz, on a road trip through Mullen. Lentz gives this description of visiting the Jewel Diner.

"Just before photographing this ghost of an old diner, I stopped for lunch at a small town restaurant just down the road. After seeing what other patrons were eating, I ordered the local specialty -- a dinner plate-sized (really!) slab of breaded and fried pork served with mayo on a huge bun. We're not going to talk about my cholesterol level right now, thank you.

"After rolling out the door and down the road, I immediately stopped to photograph this jewel of a diner. With the art deco details, it would have been the most modern building in this Nebraskan sandhills town back in the late 1940s. When I took the photograph in 1999, the Jewel Diner had sat there closed and empty, probably for several decades.

"At an art show in Cincinnati, one woman was thrilled to see this photograph. She told me that she was raised in this small town and frequently ate at the Jewel Diner all those years ago. Recently she returned to the town and found that the diner had been moved -- apparently to restart its career serving up chicken-fried steaks and home fries."

The Jewel Diner on the west edge of Mullen came into being through the efforts of Perry Neumeyer in the late 1940's. He purchased a lot in the spring of 1949 and moved a mobile Diner onto it. The Jewel Diner opened for business in May 1949. In 1951 he added on to the building and continued to operate this business until he passed away in 1958. In 1955 his sister-in-law, Glena, became his helper, driving to and from Seneca. After Perry passed away, his daughter and husband, Ethel and John Arrants moved to Mullen in March 1958. They operated the Diner for the next few years. After they moved away it was under various managements until 1969 when Glena and her husband Red became operators. In 1972 Red purchased the Lange building just to the west and remodeled it and opened Red's Cafe. At that time the Jewel Diner was closed.

(Source: History of Hooker County Nebraska - First Hundred Years; Used by permission. All rights reserved.)

After thirty years of abandonmet, the Jewel Diner was purchased and moved to Sutherland, Nebraska, where it has been restored and sits inside a barn enclosure. The story of Evert and Barb Falkena finding the Diner in Mullen and transforming it into Barb's Diner was featured on a February 2003 episode of Next Exit on NETV.

See The Jewel Diner site created by Holly Neumeyer with more history, pictures and interviews.

The following items are from the Hooker County Tribune, May 13, 1954

The Jewel Diner Drive-In opened Saturday with Misses Janet and Melva McIntosh, Shirley Cotant, Velma Boyer and Margaret Crews as car and counter hops. We are very proud of this new business.

We want to send our sincere thanks
to all the merchants of Mullen for
congratulatory posters over town,
and also thank everyone for their
patronage on our opening. We hope
that our service was satisfactory.
Thanks again.
Jewel Diner Drive-In

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Lowe Store Building 1895-2004

Henry J. Lowe obtained two lots in the original town of Mullen on which was a small building with merchandise for retail sale. He went into business here in 1895. By 1906 a second story had been added to the building. This upper room was used as Town Hall, sometimes for church, and later the Lodge Hall.

Elliott Lowe took over his father's business in 1915 and renamed it J.E. Lowe Co. At that time it became primarily hardware, building supplies, and machinery.

The business continued in the family until 1971 when the inventory was sold and the building rented out. It eventually became Macke's Deli. After that business moved out, it's usefulness came to an end when in April 2004 one of the original buildings on the Main Street of Mullen was demolished.

(Source: History of Hooker County Nebraska - First Hundred Years; Used by permission. All rights reserved.)

See pictures of the Lowe building on the Photo Album page.

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Hooker County Population by Decades

Date -- Population
1890 -- 426
1900 -- 432
1910 -- 981
1920 -- 1,378
1930 -- 1,180
1940 -- 1,253
1950 -- 1,061
1960 -- 1,130
1970 -- 939
1980 -- 990
1990 -- 793
2000 -- 783

Mullen Population

1980 -- 720
1990 -- 554
2000 -- 491

Source: U.S. Bureau of Census

Please leave a message if you have any questions or suggestions for additional information or related links.

This page was last updated on Oct 19, 2006
Hooker County Nebraska History & Genealogy
By Sandhills Roots Digger, Nina (Scott) Clark