Editor's note: This piece originally was published on July 2, 2006, as part of David Harding's "Everyday History" column in The World-Herald.

Omaha's older neighborhoods are full of street names that honor the town's early settlers. So why is Abbott Drive — the entryway to downtown from Eppley Airfield — named after a man who lived 400 miles from the area?

When he was 1 year old, Chris Abbott came to Nebraska with his parents in a covered wagon. His father, Arthur, drove a herd of cattle from Kansas into the Sand Hills, settling in the sod near Hyannis in the northwestern part of the state around 1890.

Arthur Abbott's timing was perfect. He missed the rough winters of the late 1880s, but arrived just after the Burlington Railroad had punched a line into the area, linking this prime cattle country to the stockyards in Omaha and Chicago.

He took a job as county treasurer to help pay for 160 acres of ranch land. He prospered and began making loans to other ranchers based on a handshake and an IOU. Shortly before his death in 1928, he bought a bank in Alliance.

When Chris Abbott took over, he continued to build both the ranching and banking operations with help from his younger brother Leroy.

By the 1940s, the Abbott empire spread to seven ranches totaling 300,000 acres. Chris Abbott produced more range cattle than anyone in Nebraska.

He also was the president of nine western Nebraska banks. He owned a lumber company and a radio station. He was widely regarded as the wealthiest man in the state. Even so, he was more comfortable on a horse than in an office, and he worked his ranches from a saddle nearly every day.

He was a vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a director of several Omaha-based companies. He constantly promoted closer ties between western and eastern Nebraska, and he believed that Nebraska commerce would be well served by better air links within the state.

In 1946, he lined up a group of investors and filed applications to launch Prairie Airways, a commuter airline connecting Omaha and Lincoln with hub cities along the Platte River and in the Panhandle. For some reason, the airline never got off the ground, but Abbott did own flight services in Lincoln and Omaha.

Never afraid to think big, he once filed an application to operate an airline route from Miami to Nome, Alaska. He pointed out that there was no diagonal route crossing the country from southeast to northwest. His friend, the aircraft manufacturer Glenn Martin, expressed interest in the plan, but it probably evaporated with Prairie Airways.

Abbott showed more than a business interest in flying. He got his pilot's license and had a private, paved runway built in Hyannis. He hopped between his far-flung cattle operations in a single-engine Piper and flew cross-country in a twin-engine Beechcraft.

In 1954, Abbott went on a hunting trip in Louisiana with a group of wealthy businessmen. They hunted ducks along the Gulf Coast, then flew back to Shreveport in two planes owned by a gas company.

One of the planes developed icing on its wings as it approached Shreveport and was forced to make an emergency landing. It struck a power line and caught fire as it crashed. Twelve people were killed, including the founder of Braniff Airlines, three oil company executives, the president of an insurance company, the head of a large aerial mapping firm, two clothing company executives and Abbott.

Abbott had pushed for a new road into Omaha from Eppley Airfield, and when it was completed later that year, it was named Abbott Drive.