August 28, 1892 – March 11, 1954
Walter “Pearl” Nutter was born in Jefferson County, Nebraska on August 28, 1892 to Walter Lindsay and Ada (Nott) Nutter. He was one of seven children: Emmet, Edward, Olen, Hobart “Herb”, Mary Nutter Byron and Albertine Nutter Blackhart. Pearl learned to love ranching at a young age from his father who was known as the largest landowner and stock feeder in Jefferson County.
Pearl served in the Army during WWI and met his future wife in Clinton, Iowa while visiting friends. Catherin Lindmeier and Pearl were married in Chicago in 1919. After an honorable discharge from the Army, the couple farmed near Green Island Iowa. In the fall of 1923, Pearl and Catherin decided to move their two small children, livestock and belongings to Nebraska to be near his family.
In the 1920’s and early to mid-1930’s, Pearl was engaged in his family’s ranching and feeding operations. He and his brother Olen became very prominent promoters of the “Nutter Brothers Rodeo and Wild West Show”. They raised a lot of their own rodeo stock and often rode as hazers in the shows. Advertisements and articles featuring the rodeos and the Wild West Show were found in many Eastern Nebraska and Kansas newspapers. These articles described the exiting stage coach robberies, cowboy and Indian battles, the colorful Indian dancers from the Kickapoo and Pottawattamie tribes, and trick riding in addition to the featured rodeo. One such trick rider was 7 year old Glen Nutter, aka “Kid Nutter.” Glen was the son of Olen and nephew of Pearl.
By 1936, Pearl and Catherine’s family had grown to five children: Charles, Phyllis, Russell, Shirley and Joyce. Pearl decided to move his family to Thomas County in the Nebraska Sandhills to be close to his brother Olen’s family. Olen had moved to Thomas County near Halsey in 1934. Pearl bought a ranch about 9 miles east of Thedford and resumed cattle and horse ranching as well as promoting rodeos. Catherine Nutter kept a daily diary for decades; fortunately, these entries and accounts by daughter Joyce (Nutter) Molley records the many weekends the family spent attending the rodeos sponsored by her father, Walter Pearl Nutter. In 1951, Pearl organized cowboys and directed the “the last drive of the large horse herds.”
In addition to sponsoring hundreds of rodeos over the years, Pearl was an active participant in the Thedford and Thomas County communities. He was a life-long member of the American Legion and served as District Commander of the 5th District of Nebraska for one term. Over the years he participated in many local, state and national American Legion parades by driving his conestoga wagon pulled by oxen. L. Mercer and Earl “Gob” Figard often accompanied him. He drove his team in parades in New York City, Washington, D.C. and in Chicago. He held membership in the Elks Lodge No. 1688 in Broken Bow. Pearl also worked with Senator Chet Paxton and Ralph Price to bring a much needed doctor to Thomas County in 1941, and he served as Chairman of the Thomas County Foundation for Infantile Paralysis for over ten years.
Walter Pearl Nutter passed away on March 11, 1954 at his home in Thedford. He is buried at the Hillcrest Cemetery in Thedford.