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Grandson of Breeze’s founder gleans family history from the Breeze PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 28 March 2013 19:02

Courtesy Photo
Gene Olmsted’s grandfather, John Hann, founded the Wauneta Breeze in 1887. Today, his grandson uses his Breeze subscription to catch up on local happenings and catch glimpses into his family’s history which he compiles in scrapbooks.

By Sheri Hink-Wagner

The Wauneta Breeze


Gene Olmsted is a Wauneta native, even though he hasn’t lived in Wauneta for over 50 years, he reads the Breeze to keep up on news and to catch up on family history in the “Looking Back” column.

Olmsted’s grandfather, John Hann, founded the Wauneta Breeze in 1987.

Hann and his wife, Grace, were one of Wauneta’s founding families. According to Olmsted, Grace (Baker) Hann may, in fact, be the reason Hann came to Wauneta and started the paper, as he came west to follow her when she moved here with her family.

The Hanns owned and managed the paper until 1920 when they sold the paper to W.M. Fraiser.

For a time after Hann founded the Wauneta Breeze, Grace’s brother, Ed Baker, helped run the paper.

Olmsted said that his grandfather, Hann, went to Gentry, Ark., in 1894 and founded another newspaper. Eventually, Baker moved down to Arkansas to run the paper. Baker sold the Ark. newspaper a year later and moved to Texas.

Although Olmsted did not get to know his grandfather well – Hann died nine months after Olmsted was born – he is a wealth of information about the Breeze’s founding family. Olmsted’s mother, Beulah (Hann) Olmsted was the daughter of the Breeze founder.

Olmsted grew up on Wauneta’s north divide. His family consisted of his parents Fred and Beulah and two brothers, Fred Jr. and John. They lived one and a quarter miles north of the Elmer Cemetery.

Olmsted recalls one particularly bad winter when he was in high school and he and his brothers spent the winter months, from November to March or April with their grandmother, Grace Hann, at her house near the high school.

Olmsted graduated from Wauneta High School in 1951 with a class of 29. He recalls coming back to town for his 50th class reunion in 2001 where 20 of his classmates were in attendance.

That night, the classmates vowed to come back to the yearly reunion every five years so they could see each other more often.

After Olmsted left the Wauneta area, first to serve in the Air Force during the Korean War and later returning to the family farm for a short time before moving to Wyoming, he would get updates on what was happening around Wauneta from his mother and brothers. Olmsted has lived in the Powell, Wyo. area for the past 53 years.

Shortly before his 50th class reunion, Olmsted began subscribing to the Breeze, largely due to the “Looking Back” column which provides glimpses into news and social happenings from years past.

Olmsted has collected “well over 300 items” from the “Looking Back” column, mostly about his family and their history in Wauneta.

“A lot of the items I’ve gathered from the ‘Looking Back’ column I’d never heard about or knew anything about,” said Olmsted.

Today, Olmsted has five scrapbooks covering all sorts of history and family history, largely from his clippings from the Wauneta Breeze.