RAINEY POLK, one of the original settlers of the
Nebraska Territory, was a self-styled adventurer and
"New Atlantean." His beginnings were somewhat questionable. He made it
a habit to follow wagon trains head west, scavenging the discarded
furniture and china, then returning to sell them in his Omaha store.
After building a small fortune as the owner of "Polk's New Atlantis
Emporium," he later sold gear and provisions to pioneers heading
west (see blow-up of store window at right).
He led several wagon trains himself, but never farther than
the foothills of the Rockies, which explains why the Lakota
knew him as "Turns Back Man." Later in life he wrote a
series of pulp novels ostensibly based on his own
experiences, including Trail Trouble, Song of the Savage,
Hideaway at Half-Moon Gulch, and Followers of
the Gun. In his old age, he worked as a ticket-taker for
Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. He died in a dispute
with a customer. Though he isn't a contemporary
Nebraska writer, he's been so thoroughly overlooked by
literary critics and historians that he deserves to be memorialized
in this directory.