Willa Cather and her family relocated to Red Cloud, Nebraska in 1884. As a young girl, the transition from Virginia to Nebraska made quite an impact on Cather, as seen through her repeatedly returning to Red Cloud in various forms in her fiction. Cather continued to live in Red Cloud until she went to college in Lincoln, NE. She returned regularly to visit her parents while they lived there.
Red Cloud was founded in 1871 by Silas Garber, who was the first to settle in the area. Red Cloud became the county seat of Webster County in 1872, a decision that was made in Silas Garber’s dugout. Although still a relatively small town when Cather arrived, many members of the population of Red Cloud consisted of Eastern European immigrants, with whom Cather maintained friendships and recreated in her writing.
This map is an attempt at recreating Red Cloud as Willa Cather knew it. Much of the town has been preserved and attracts tourists year round.