Posted by Ancestry Team on November 15, 2018 in Holidays

It’s that time of year, once again, when thoughts of family and friends, and going home are more prevalent than ever. Having a home for the holidays provides great comfort, a sense of roots and belonging, no matter what home looks like – a leafy rural hideaway, a bustling city with gleaming skyscrapers – or even just the feelingof home: that mix of banter and routine among family and friends with shared history. A champion of the fundamental importance of family and belonging, Ancestry celebrates those that keep home alive: the stalwarts that make sure there is always something familiar to return to.

This holiday season, Ancestry is uncovering the story of one of America’s tiniest towns: Gross, Nebraska, population two. Back in its heyday, Gross was brimming with activity. The town was supposed to be a major Midwest railroad hub, and was home to as many as 600 residents. But the railroad never came, and slowly but surely, everyone moved on to new cities and different lives. Everyone, that is, except for Mary and Mike Finnegan.

For the last 33 years, the Finnegans have been the town’s sole residents, and have single-handedly kept the spirit of Gross alive. They operate a small restaurant, the Nebrask Inn, where they welcome travelers of all kinds—providing comfort, hospitality, and the best burger around. Through their warmth and steadfast traditions (coffee still costs a nickel, and anyone who dares to curse has to glue a dollar to the wall!), Mary and Mike have ensured that Gross is home, even if it’s only physically home to two.

While they are not short on visitors and passers-by, Mary and Mike remember the days when the town was more full of life. Just in time for Thanksgiving, Ancestry searched its extensive historical records and gathered those with connection to Gross – bringing them “home” to reconnect with and discover a piece of their family history, (some, for the very first time!). For one special day, Ancestry enabled the past and present to come together, reuniting the Finnegans not only with their family, but also with descendants from the founding Gross family.

A small taste of the old times went a long way in Gross, Nebraska – and anyone who longs for home will find something familiar in the Finnegans’ story.


  1. Kay

    My Immediate ancestors come from Lamar NE. Population 23 in the 2010 census . How wonderful to reconnect with your town’s history! Wonderful story Ancestry!

  2. connie

    thank you such a wonderful story! Maybe you should continue to do more stories like that, people from all over connecting to their ancestors from this tiny town.

  3. Terri Walton

    Loved the story. Try Allen, Ks. Once a bustling busy town with many businesses and people, is now nearly a ghost town. We discovered it while searching for ancestors on my paternal side. I remember stories of all the things you could do in Allen in the 1930’s. The day we went, we couldn’t even buy a soda. Lots of disappearing little towns out there. Btw… I’m A Nebraskan so the first story really did make me smile.

  4. Miriam Moore

    Wonderful! I spent the 4th grade in Wahoo, Nebraska. We lived in an apartment over the local feed store and Harry the guy who owned the place grew rhubarb in the back, We lived right next to a Dairy Queen and visited it frequently. The building had a flat tar roof and we liked to go out and watch Echo I, a satellite, fly over. And the train went right by behind us. Wonderful little place!

  5. Theresa Douglas Duprey

    Trying to find newspaper articles for Family members in NE but I Am having trouble finding anything

  6. Beth Sparrow

    Thank you for this great article on a small town in my great state of Nebraska! I have lived here ALL my life, and some of my ancestors have been here since the 1870s. Many Nebraska genealogy societies have heard of this great blog post.

  7. M Kathleen Felsted

    Nebraska was the place to go in the 1800s… My German lines, Kemmerling and Winter, met up there. My Browns, and Haskins went up there from Indiana. Does anyone know of advertising in Nebraska after the 1906 earthquake for workers to come rebuild San Francisco? My father’s oldest brother was born 1905 in Nebraska, second oldest sibling in SF in 1907…

  8. James Malkin

    I sent my DNA sample in mid December. When can I expect the results?
    17549 Lahey St.
    Granada Hills, CA 91344

  9. Brian E Noble

    Hello all cornhuskers, I was born in 1961 and my mommas name was Anne Josephine Druskis she says she was adopted by her uncle,I can’t find my birth certificate because mom won’t shed any info on my father’s name,I have some info,thanks to my girlfriend, I’ve never been back to Omaha since leaving with mom leaving my father in 1963 coming to California, I know each year there’s a DRUSKIS FAMILY REUNION…Thanks for listening

  10. Mary Dick Slocum

    I did my trust years ago and can’t find my numbers . I droped out when I had accident. I just did a 23 &me I want to join the two and put my tree together from both sites . I am not a member of 23&me just had my trust done .

  11. Mary Dick Slocum

    Test why does this think keep calling a trust. I also need to talk to someone about my tree.
    They didn’t have my father and mother as married .because the clerks office miss spelled his Last name . VA doesn’t even have it when he signed his name Dick It looked to them as Dirk .. I found it because I put my mother middle name which is what she went by. Lucille Vance as search infor there it was just as they said ..

  12. Mary Dick Slocum

    I am hoping to find two siblings .adopted or as I was told any way . this service is wonderful . I sat down first 19 yrs ago and did not know anything about my fathers people but his parents names and in 30 minutes I was in the 1700’s .Thank you.

  13. Mary Dick Slocum

    I found in my search years ago . when I man died leaving kids his wife would remarry . as new family had more of their own kids the others would take new fathers name . not in court just become that other name on paper. Like this my great grand father took his stepfathers name . grew up married had kids they had kids married and carried on the name . leaving hunders of kids looking for line of Tackette’s. Who are really . Mc Cowan s but they don’t know that , because it wasn’t talked about only wrote in family bible .
    My uncle was raise had his 9 kids they married all under wrong name because when his mother and my grand father divorced she raised him under her maiden name ..he could prove who he was for SS .all of those kids don’t have right name . its funny but makes it hard .

  14. Kathy Bronenkant

    I am trying to retrieve my results. I have tried signing in at least 6 times. I am constantly told information is incorrect

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