in a (Norwegian) Nutshell
Settlement here began in the 1840s
by German immigrants. Homesteads were scattered at first. Phillip
and Catherine Goertz along with Michael and Rebecca Wolf, donated land for
the area’s first church in the 1880s. Previously services had been held in the
Goertz home. The new structure burned in 1891 and a second church site of ten
acres was donated by John and Rosina Lehman the following year. By this time a
community called Walnut Creek was forming. Later the town took the name
of the Lehman family – one of the first
to settle here. The town was also known as Lehmanville.
town of Lehman was granted a post office in 1900 and operated as such until
1903. The community was later known as Hilbigville after businessman W.
M. Hilbig, another early settler. With its strong Catholic foundation, the community
closely followed the games of the University of Notre Dame. The popular team was
coached by Norwegian-born Knute (“Let's win one for the Gipper”) Rockne.
When Rockne died in a Kansas plane crash in 1931 (on his way to assist in a movie
about him) the country was shocked. The schoolchildren of Hilbigville, Texas took
a vote and the town was renamed.
Rockne was always
underpopulated. During the 1940s it reached as high as 280, but settled in at
150m for the 1950 census. The population was 400 for the country’s Bicentennial
and it remained there for the 2000 census.
In 1988 Rockne became the focal point of the issuing of a Knute Rockne commemorative
Off the beaten
path, it was pretty quiet on a Sunday afternoon at this little place. Being a
temp of 104 I wouldn't blame anyone for staying inside! Seems to be quite an active
little town for it's size even having a nice museum with heritage park. - William
Beauchamp, July 26, 2009
Philip Goertz Cabin historical marker|
Photo courtesy William
Beauchamp, July 2009