The Creightons: Building the Dream

Air Date: 12/01/2006

Their family name is part of the Omaha, Neb., landscape and forever linked to the nationally recognized Creighton University campus. But, who were these immigrant men and women who scratched out a life in the United States and realized the American Dream?

We introduce this visionary family in The Creightons: Building The Dream. Follow the Creighton family from their beginnings in Ireland to their entrepreneurial work in Omaha and their establishment of an educational legacy.

The fifth child of Irish immigrant James Creighton, Edward Creighton transformed himself from a fourteen-year-old cart boy into a businessman with several wagons to transport goods from Ohio to Maryland. In this work, he stumbled across the installation of the first telegraph poles and later led construction of part of the first transcontinental telegraph line.

Edward Creighton was also involved in building the Union Pacific Railroad line from North Platte, Neb., to Promontory Point, Utah, and is credited as being one of the first modern ranchers in Nebraska. Because of the diversity in his business interests and the tremendous workload they represented, Edward Creighton enlisted the help of many of his brothers and cousins.

“The Creightons were the Warren Buffetts of their day…with immense wealth and community impact," according to producer Sue Maryott. By the time of his death in 1871, Edward Creighton's assets totaled more than $1 million. Today, that amount would equate to roughly $20 million.

When Edward Creighton died, it was his brother John who continued the family's work. John's wife, Sarah Emily Creighton, donated money to underprivileged citizens in the frontier town of Omaha and was a generous supporter of many charities. She was also instrumental in the establishment of St. Joseph's Hospital. The Creightons' philanthropic work culminated with the development of Creighton College in 1878.

Edward and John Creighton each had only one child, and were left with no heirs when both of their children died. The Creightons: Building the Dream is the biography of a family whose darkest hours and personal tragedies inspired their philanthropy and commitment to Omaha.

This production was funded in part by First National Bank, the Nebraska Humanities Council and Creighton University.