Unless you are in my family circle, I’d bet you a whole quarter that you’ve never heard of Marsland, much less know where it is. So you might imagine my surprise when during an insomnia induced fit of late night random Googling, I found myself at this page on ghost towns. Even more surprising, I found myself looking at a photo of my own great grandparent’s home.
My great grandparents were James Mundy Tollman and Flora Caroline Maika. They built this home in 1912 of cement blocks made on site. This was their second home in Marsland, the first being on a homestead nearby. This photo was taken just after its completion and the farm eventually expanded to include a large barn, cattle pens, a smoke house, an ice house, huge garden area, silo, and hog pen. A family letter written by one of the children, James Perry Tollman, written in his retirement details life in Marsland and on the family farm in vivid memories. One of the amusing comments is that the neighbors were always stopping by to check on the building progress and they were quite perplexed by the modern bathroom that was being installed…apparently one of the first in the county…especially since there was a perfectly good two holer not far from the kitchen door!
Marsland is located in western Nebraska in Dawes County. It’s pretty remote. In its heyday, the population was about 800, according the the Nebraska Historical Society virtual Nebraska. The nearest large town is Chadron. Today, Marsland is just a shadow of itself, perhaps deserving of the ghost town designation to the outside world.