Pauline Shallenberger came to Hastings in 1881 as a teacher for the newly-established public school. She married John Ragan, an attorney, in 1882. In his private practice, he was an attorney for the Burlington Railroad. When the rail line was built through southern Nebraska, the towns of Ragan and Pauline were established. These towns were named after him and his wife.
Pauline possessed a keen intellect and a deep concern for national and international affairs. Although she was not specifically an activist for women’s rights, she felt that women should constantly expand their mental horizons, develop their minds, and sharpen their critical abilities.
Pauline took an interest in Hastings’ young women and organized a number of study clubs for them. In 1889, she and a teacher of Greek at Hastings College began the George Eliot Club. The group was formed of women interested in civic affairs and self improvement. They studied English literature, wrote papers, and discussed philosophical ideas. The group still meets to this day. She opened her home to became a cultural center in Hastings with musical programs and literary events. She was also active in founding the Hastings Carnegie Library and Sunnyside, a home for the elderly.