If You Go to Monowa, Nebraska, Stop By Elsie Eller’s Tavern


Monowi, Nebraska

If you are thinking about moving to Monowi, Nebraska, you will be in for a surprise. It has only one resident, Elsie Miller. You might need to make an appointment to talk with her as this very busy lady is the mayor of the town, as well as the treasurer, clerk, secretary, and librarian. 

Monowi Tavern

Aside from that, she owns the only tavern in town, which she opens at 9:00 am. Now she only keeps the bar open six days a week after battling with colon cancer in 2011. She voted to close one day a week to have a little time to herself. Visitors to the tavern can choose between hamburgers or hot dogs to go along with their beer. A sign on the wall claims the beer is the “coldest beer in town.” The tavern has become a popular place for people to meet.

Eller Has Some Perks

The town lost 50 percent of its population when her husband passed away in 2008. Today Monowi is the only incorporated town, village, or city in America which has a population of one person. Eller says there are some perks living in the “small” town. One of these is that she does not have any competition each year when she runs for mayor. Eller said she always wins the election by a landslide. Another perk, she can govern her town as she wants. She can determine her own rules and laws. 

Eller, The Librarian

The town library is located in a 320 square-foot shed. It houses around 5,000 books. These were mostly books from her deceased husband’s private collection. Anyone interested can browse the shelves and “borrow” books or magazines on the honor system. 

Elsie Pays Her Taxes

Each year, in her determination to keep Monowi incorporated, Eller completes all of the necessary paperwork to do so. She collects $500 in “taxes” from herself. This money is used to keep the three lamposts lit with electricity and to continue the water flowing. Her responsibilities also require her to create a municipal road plan each year to secure funding from the state. She must also apply to the state for her liquor and tobacco license. Eller signs the documents herself – after all, she is the secretary of the town. She then presents them to herself as the bar owner.

Years Past

Monowi, in the 1930s, was somewhat of a bustling railroad town. It had 150 people living there with several businesses. These included everything from grocery stores to restaurants. It even had a prison. When farming conditions weakened, and jobs were lost to automation, the population dwindled. Those who did stay in the town passed away eventually. And Eller? She said she does not think about moving.

Elsie Eller, at 84, is truly an American heroine. Hopefully, she can keep up her accomplishments and workload to keep Monowi on the map.