Sheila Sybrant

“I never imagined that we’d be doing this tonight,” my husband commented.

I didn’t either.

Are there any people who might actually imagine that they will be sitting at the supper table and looking up Nebraska counties to determine which ones contain a city/town with the same name as the name of the county?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say no.

Yet, that’s exactly what we were doing a few nights ago.

You might be thinking to yourself that, due to social distancing, we’ve become a little desperate for entertainment.

I would have to argue that this is one thing that can’t be blamed on COVID-19.

Mealtime has always been an educational affair at our house. We have a dictionary on a stand in the dining room and regularly use it to look up definitions, spellings and pronunciations as words come up in conversation.

In terms of pronunciation, I am originally from the East Coast, so I often have to prove to my skeptical family that my way of saying certain words is not incorrect.

We also have an encyclopedia on the stand for more hard-hitting topics. And the computer age has added to our fact-checking capabilities.

So, although my husband and I couldn’t have envisioned that we would be checking out cities/towns in each of the Nebraska counties, it was not unusual to have a research project as a side dish to our burgers and fries.

This particular project of researching counties emanated from a discussion between my husband and son as they were doing ranch chores. Apparently, a lot more goes on outside than just work.

Anyway, inquiring minds want to know, so we looked it up. (If you want to take a guess, now is your chance. The answer will be revealed in the next paragraph.)

The total number of counties that contain a city/town of the same name is 18: Arthur, Dixon, Dodge, Franklin, Greeley, Kimball, Madison, Nemaha, Otoe, Pierce, Polk, Scottsbluff, Seward, Stanton, Thurston, Washington, Wayne, York. Technically, I’m cheating a little on Scottsbluff because the county name is two words and the city name is one, but I decided that “close” counts in more than just horseshoes and hand grenades.

In addition, some counties have cities/towns with the same but slightly embellished names: Clay Center in Clay County; Dakota City, Dakota County; Hayes Center, Hayes County; Pawnee City, Pawnee County; and Platte Center, Platte County.

And, somewhat contrarily, there are cities/towns that have the same name as some counties but are located in other counties. To name a few, Valley is in Douglas County but not Valley County, Johnson is in Nemaha County but not Johnson County, and Lincoln is in Lancaster County but not Lincoln County.

Finding this information was time-consuming. I couldn’t find one website that listed all of the cities/towns in each county, so I had to search county by county. And Nebraska is no slouch in the counties department. In fact, with 93, we rank No. 11 on a list of states ordered by their number of counties.

The good news is that we don’t live in Texas. That state has the most counties of any state — 254.

Despite the labor intensiveness of the project, it was interesting. Thus, I have to say that the even better news is that we don’t live in Delaware.

Delaware has the fewest counties of any state — just three. The counties discussion there would have ended almost as soon as it began. And then what would we have talked about?

Readers may contact Sheila at svsybrant@gmail.com or 45092 859th Road, Bassett, NE 68714.

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None of us could have pictured a year ago that kids would be heading back to school wearing masks all day, that there wouldn’t be Husker football games, and that weddings would be curtailed if not completely canceled.