NEGenWeb Project
Resource Center, On-Line Library





     The central position occupied by Nebraska, between the great markets of the East and the extensive mineral and stock regions of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Montana and Idaho, on the West, give her rare advantages in a commercial point of view, which are being rapidly developed into an immense and profitable trade.

     The railroads of the State are freighted with merchandise of all descriptions, implements, lumber, flour, pork, butter, cheese, eggs, grain and other. farm products, going westward to the people of this vast mining and non-agricultural region, where the demand is always equal to the supply, and who in return load the cars with precious metals and ores for our smelting and refining works, and with stock for the Eastern markets.

     There were 57,809,535 pounds of gold and silver-bearing ores received at Omaha during the year 1878, over the railways from the west, the greater part of which was handled by the Omaha Smelting and Refining Works. The amount of gold and silver coin, gold dust and bullion arriving at Omaha from the West during 1878, was $35,452,000. The gold and silver product of the country lying immediately west of Nebraska is steadily increasing, and the greater part of these productions pass into and through Omaha.

      The beef and pork packing industry in Nebraska is increasing to vast proportions, these establishments employing thousands of




men and slaughtering hundreds of thousands of hogs and cattle yearly. New houses for this purpose, of double the capacity are being built each year, and the old ones enlarged. Nebraska beef is now being packed and shipped to the English markets. With the splendid advantages afforded by the plains of Nebraska for the rearing and fattening of stock cheaply, our packing establishments will in a very short period of time, no doubt, assume proportions, second to none other in the country.

     The trade and commerce of Nebraska is expanding at a marvelous rate, that of Omaha alone is placed at $30,000,000 for 1878. The wholesale business is increasing at the rate of thirty to forty per cent. yearly, and within the past five years the volume of trade and number of merchants may be safely said to have doubled. Several of our other cities have an annual jobbing trade reaching into the millions, and whose business relations extend beyond the limits of the State. Retail houses doing a yearly business of $10,000 to $25,000 are common, while the sales of a large number range from $50,000 to $100,000 per annum.


     In the way of manufactures Nebraska has made commendable progress, considering the age and essentially agricultural character of the State. At Omaha there are extensive white lead works, a nail factory, oil works, one of the largest distilleries in the country, several breweries, the largest smelting and refining works on the continent, several foundries, carriage, wagon, cigar, broom and file manufactories, soap works, safe and vault manufactory, cabinet ware, agricultural implements, flouring mills and many smaller manufacturing establishments. At West Point, in Cuming County, on the Elkhorn River, there is a large paper mill and furniture factory; at Lincoln large numbers of wagons are made, and of a quality and appearance equal to any imported; at Nebraska City, Fremont and other large towns, plows and various other agricultural implements and minor articles are manufactured. Steam and water-power flouring mills, employing all modern improvements and of large capacity, are located throughout all the settled portions of the State. Cheese factories are springing up rapidly in the Western Counties, and the manufacture of cheese will, ere long, form an important element in our industries.



     No State offers a more inviting field for the location of the manufacturer or man of capital than this, and there is none where he would be received with heartier welcome, or where the investment of his means would yield larger returns. The resources of the country are inexhaustible, the manufacturing advantages unsurpassed, water power abundant and well distributed, and to men of capital and skill the field for manufacturing enterprises, of the kind to suit the wants of the country, is unlimited. A more advantageous location for woolen mills, paper and flouring mills, tanneries, and factories of various kinds, is not presented in any other western country. The State is settling up at an unprecedented rate; hundreds of immigrants are arriving each day, and every season thousands of new farms are opened out. In no agricultural country is the demand for machinery so great as in this, and no establishment for the manufacture of all the different farming implements would be better patronized and pay handsomer profits on the money invested.


     During the growing seasons of 1874 and '75 the Rocky Mountain locust, or grasshopper, visited Nebraska and did incalculable damage by devouring the crops in a large portion of the State. In many sections -- more particularly in the western and middle Counties -- the destruction of the crops by these insects was most complete, not a vestage [sic] of anything green being left untouched by them; and as many of the farmers living in the sections so afflicted were new settlers, the total loss of their crops, upon which they were dependent for the support of their families, was a great calamity and caused much distress and suffering. The destitution was so widespread and so great in some localities, that public aid was asked, for the relief of the sufferers. The prompt and generous responses to the call by the people of the East and other localities not so afflicted, in fowarding [sic] provisions, clothing and money, saved many a poor family from actual want, if not starvation.

     While it is true that the damage done by the grasshoppers was very great, and caused much genuine distress among the people in several of the Counties, yet the whole matter was grossly



exaggerated and enlarged upon by a certain busy class of persons who somehow always come to the front on such occasions, actuated, generally, more by a desire to further their own selfish ends than by any kindly, true feeling for the distressed. This blatant, noisy class, with their loud demonstrations and universal begging, not only disgusted the more sensible people, but did the State an injury next to that of the grasshoppers themselves.

     Yet it is a stubborn fact that the timely succor sent to the settlers in the devastated districts saved much suffering among the poorer portion; and the people of Nebraska owe a lasting debt of gratitude to the noble men and women of the East, who contributed so willingly and bountifully to their aid in time of need, and by whose generosity the miseries of want were alleviated and the hearts made glad in many an humble prairie home.

     By an Act of the Legislature of Nebraska, $50,000 were donated as a relief to the grasshopper sufferers, which amount was judiciously expended and distributed for that purpose.

     But the grasshopper scares have passed away, we hope, forever; the seasons have come and gone, leaving us with bountiful crops of all kinds to enrich and supply the wants of all, and prosperity reigns supreme throughout the length and breadth of the State.


     The population of Nebraska is made up largely of people from the Eastern, Middle and Northwestern States, although, of course, all sections of the Union are well represented in the grand total, as are also all of the European countries, to a large extent, with a few from nearly every nationality in the civilized world.

     They come here from all points of the compass, and are usually men and women above the average in ambition, energy and brains people who have outgrown the circumscribed life in older lands and have followed the tide of emigration westward to the grand prairies and broad rich bottoms of Nebraska, and there have laid the foundations for lasting and comfortable homes for themselves and children, transforming a wilderness, as it were, into thousands of waving grain fields, flourishing orchards and beautiful gardens, who have established schools, churches and colleges, founded a moral and refined society, and built railways which transport the



commerce of nations to their numerous, wide-awake and prosperous cities and villages.

     Of this spirited, enterprising and ambitious class of people the great bulk of Nebraska's population consists -- where the pure, bracing atmosphere infuses a vigor and activity in the people never witnessed in the older States. People of the very highest attainments and social qualities are settled in all parts of the State. Many of our most cultered [sic] and refined citizens, who have done so much to mould and improve our society and institutions, have been glad to exchange the uncertainties of vocation and extravagance of fashionable life in the more crowded States, for the security and comforts of a prairie home in Nebraska.

     The average intelligence of the people of Nebraska will reach a higher standard than is generally found in agricultural countries; their habits and customs are also peculiarly suited to the condition of things; and in business matters, religion, politics, and in social life there is infinitely more freedom here than in Eastern society.

     Very many of the pioneers who came here almost penniless, have to-day comfortable homes for their families and a goodly share of this world's goods, while others are possessed of valuable, wellstocked farms, who, had they remained in the East, would probably never have owned an acre of ground.

     The author has traveled through nearly every County in the State, from the Missouri River to the western frontier; he has watched with zealous pride the onward march of civilization during the past quarter of a century, and has seen the vast rolling prairies, which only a few short years ago were in their virgin glory, just as the hand of the Great Architect of the Universe had fashioned them, rapidly developed into a populous State, dotted with enterprising cities and towns, and ribbed with great railways reaching to all points.

     It seems more like a dream as he looks back over these fleeting years, and recalls the scene then, as compared with the wonderful changes and progress civilization has made to-day. Many of the old acquaintances -- pioneers -- who bore him happy company over the trackless plains in the days gone by, have long since faded from view, some wandering to other lands in search of new adven-



ture when this grew old, while others, and by far the greater number, alas! have gone to that bourne whence no traveler returns.

     There are innumerable hardships, privations and dangers which the pioneers of a new country must contend with and surmount, that the later settlers know but little of. The pioneer goes before, braves the dangers, and makes settlement practically easy and safe for those who follow in his footsteps. Great honor is due to his bravery and courage, and yet everything depends -upon the character and intelligence of the class of settlers who follow in the wake of the pioneer, and who lay the foundations of a solid and substantial government; and in this respect Nebraska has every reason to be proud.

Prior pageTOCNext page

© 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 for NEGenWeb Project by Pam Rietsch, T&C Miller