proprietor of Grant's ranch, a year or so previous, Wilson being hung to a neighboring tree, and his body dropped into the Platte by way of burial.
April 10, 1871, and April 11, 1872, are remembered as the days of the great snow storms, the like of which has not been known in this locality before or since. The former was the more tempestuous of the two but of only twenty-four hours duration, hence no considerable losses were sustained. The latter raged and "screamed" during three days and nights. Cattle and horses were led into dwelling houses, and thus saved to the owners, which otherwise must certainly have perished. In many cases farmers found it impossible to go to their. stables, but ten or twelve rods distant, and upwards of two hundred head of stock perished from suffocation and exposure.
The most notable prairie fire occured in October, 1872. It came into Buttler (sic) from Polk County, sweeping everything before it jumping hedge-rows and fire lines a hundred feet wide, devouring hundreds of acres of standing corn, demolishing grain and hay stacks without number, and in several instances burning graineries, stables and houses, with their contents. Many horses cattle and hogs were burned to death in the fire. The loss in the County is variously estimated at from $15,000 to $20,000.
Next came the grasshopper plague of 1874, which marked an era in the hisiory (sic) of the County, and in the lives of its inhabitants, long to be remembered. Of course its sad effects are fresh in the minds of all the people, how the countless millions of lean and hungry insects came down in great black clouds upon the growing crops without a moments warning, devouring every green thing raised by the hand of man, even stripping the leaves from the trees, both great and small; how the generous-hearted, noble people of the East responded to their wants with clothing and provisions how eagerly upon the approach of Spring the first appearance of the tender grass was watched and waited for in behalf of the starving horses and cattle, and the first fruits of the garden and field, by their expectant masters. And then followed the abundant rains, the luxurious grass, and the marvellous prodigality of vegetable growth, insomuch that corn in six months, fell from two dollars to fifteen cents per bushel, etc.
During the year 1878 the Omaha & Republican Valley Railroad was extended west through Butler County, giving it direct railway connection with Omaha and the East, and enhancing mines greatly.
A considerable portion of the land here is owned by speculators and non-residents. The Union Pacific Railroad Company owns about 20,000 acres, ranging in price from $3.00 to $7.00 per acre. The Government land is all occupied by settlers.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS.--In 1869 the present school system was inaugurated by blocking out nine school districts. At the first enumeration there were found to be 153 children of school age. In 1879 there were sixty-eight school districts; sixty school houses; 2,689 children of school age, 1,458 being males, and 1,231 females; and ninty.three qualified teachers employed. Amount of wages paid teachers, males, $6,666.42 females, $4,852.24; value of school houses, $27,487.00 school house sites, $693.00; of books and apparatus $2,010.25.
TAXABLE PROPERTY.--The following statement will show the taxable property in the County in 1879: Acres of land, 324,657, average value $3.81; value of town lots, $50,049.00; money used in merchandise, $33,186.00; money used in manufactures, $3,735.00; horses, 3,398, value, $105,040.00; mules and asses, 268, value, $8,900.00 neat cattle, 5,795, value, $60,667.00; sheep, 480, value, $202.00; swine, 7,804, value, $8,129.00; vehicles. 1,383, value, $23,451; moneys and credits, $5,426.00; mortgages, $11,671.00; stocks, etc, $5,033.00; furniture, $13,886; libraries, $580,00; property not enumerated, $33,389.00, railroad; $123,651.00; total valuation, $1,726,163.00.
Located on the Platte Bottom, in the center of the County from east to west, was the first County Seat, and during the years from 1869 to 1872, was a thriving village, containing twenty-five or thirty houses, a Court House, stores, &e. The site was owned by B. R. Gardner and Samuel Woodward. Among the residents were B. 0. Perkins, H. Pepper, Captains Samuel W. and Andrew B. Roys, merchants; Dr. D. H. Dickson, Dr. J. F. Gilbert, E. G. Paige, D. Bresee, blacksmith, and M. Porter; shoemaker. Here
the Courts and Councils were held. during the above specified years ere its dismantlement and removal to its successor, David City.
The County Seat, located on the Omaha & Republican Valley Railroad, in the central part of the County, is an active and remarkably prosperous city. It was laid out in 1872 and two years later was legally incorporated. Three years ago its population was a little over two hundred, to-day it has seven hundred and fifty inhabitants, and is well built up with tasteful dwellings and substantial business blocks; has three neat Churches, a bank, high School building, Court House, two weekly newspapers -- the Press and the Republican -- and all the stores, trades and business establishments usual to a live, growing city like this.
Since the advent of the railroad, which reached here September, 24, 1817, David City has doubled in size, and its business has extended to all parts of the County. Larger hotels, business houses, warehouses, elevators and other conveniences have been erected to meet the demand of the largely increasing business of which this is the centre, and is in the midst of one of the prettiest and richest sections of country in the State.
Was begun in 1870-71, on the old Waver]y townsite, in the northeast part of the County. It is beautifully located on the east bank of Skull Creek, on a little bench or plain under the bluffs which lie to the South, and is a flourishing village of about 200 inhabitants, containing a fine school house, grist mill, several stores, groceries, etc. Among the older settlers of the place are Fred Johnson, John L. Smith, J. P. Brown, S. O. Crawford, Jehiel Hobart, Gilbert Hobart, William Spring and James McBride.
In the south central part of the
County, contains about 300 inhabitants and is the second place in size and
importance. It was laid out in June, 1868, in a romantic little nook among
the trees, on the south bank of the Big Blue River, and has steadily improved
during each succeeding year. J. M. Palmer was the original owner of the town
site. Ulysses is well situated for business, and almost
all the different branches are represented. An excellent gristmill has been in operation here for several years. J. N. Batty, H. Ellsworth, F. H. Daws, Godfrey Reyhart, Dr. S. W. Thrapp, J. M. Palmer, Torn. Shields, P. G. Dobson, George and Robert Reed are among the earlier inhabitants in this vicinity.
Buffalo County lies between the Valleys of the Platte and South Loup Rivers, in the central part of the State from east to west. It was organized in 1864, and is bounded on the north by Cnster and Sherman, east by Hall, south by the Platte River, which separates it from Kearney and Phelps, and west by Dawson County, containing about 900 square miles, or 576,000 acres.
WATER COURSES.--It is well watered by the Platte, Loup and Wood Rivers, and their numerous branches. The Platte washes the entire southern border, and the South Loup flows from west to east, through the upper tier of townships, having several small tributaries which extend through and water the central portions of the County. Wood River flows from west to east through the southern portion of the County, running nearly parallel with, and from three to five miles north of the Platte--the last half of its course. There is an abundance of water power. Well water can be had at a depth varying from twenty to sixty feet.
CHARACTER OF THE LAND AND SOIL.--About forty per cent of the area consists of valley and bottom, the remainder of fine rolling prairie with a small amount of Bluff and broken land in the vicinity of some of the water courses. On the wide bottoms of the Platte and along the entire length of Wood River the land cannot be surpassed for agricultural purposes. On the Loup and many of the tributary streams also, there are beautiful tracts of wide, rich bottom.
The soil is a rich, black loam varying from one to three feet in depth. When properly cultivated the uplands produce handsome returns of small grain, while the valleys are well adapted to the growth of all classes of crops. Wheat will average about twenty bushels per acre; corn, thirty to seventy; barley, twenty-five to forty; oats, thirty-five to sixty.
TIMBER AND FRUIT.--Buffalo is better supplied with native timber than most Nebraska Counties, the Platte, Wood, Loup and several of the streams being tolerably well timbered. Many of the ravines are thickly timbered also; the varieties most abundant being cottonwood, ash, elm, hackberry, box-elder and soft maple.
Besides the native growth there are many thrifty artifical groves throughout the settled portions of the County. The number of trees reported under cultivation in 1879 was 225,000.
Wild fruits of various kinds grow herein profusion along the streams and in the timber gulches. There are many fine orchards under cultivation. The number of fruit trees planted up to 1879 was: Apple, 2,199; pear, thirty-three; plum, 506; peach, 470, and cherry, thirty-two.
LANDS.--There is a considerable amount of Government land in this County remaining untaken which is open to the homesteader or preempter. The Union Pacific Railway Company also owns in the neighborhood of 150,000 acres here for which they ask from $3.00 to $6.00 an acre.
The prairies and hills produce an abundance of nutritious grasses affording splendid advantages, in connection with the plentiful supply of running water, for the raising of cattle and sheep.
The County is traversed by two lines of railway--the Union Pacific and Burlington & Missouri River--which form a junction at Kearney City, thus offering fine facilities for the shipment of stock and grain to the Eastern markets.
TAXABLE PROPERTY.--The amount and valuation of all taxable property in the County, as reported for 1879, was as follows: Number of acres of laud, 330,521; average value per acre, $1.28; value of town lots, $100,403.40; money, used in merchandise, $46,523; money used in manufactures, $9,410.00; number of horses, 1,837; value, $43,322.00; mules and asses, 237; value, $6,943.00; neat cattle, 5,523 value, $36,508.00; sheep, 4,059 value, $3,060.00; swine, 2,383; value, $1,705.00; vehicles, 822, value, $13,009.00; moneys and credits, $9,379.00; mortgages, $6,597.00; stocks, etc., $110.00; furniture, $17,863; libraries, $696.00; property not enumerated, $44,549.00; railroads, $448,736.32; telegraph, $3,264.00; total, $1,217,106.74.
CROPS.--The number of acres under cultivation reported in 1879 was 45,836. The acreage planted and yield of the principal crops was as follows: Winter wheat, 28 1/2 acres, 337 bushels; rye 723 acres, 7,989 bushels; Spring wheat, 14,827 acres, 170,367 bushels; corn, 26,412 acres, 935,115 bushels; barley, 365 acres, 8,162 bushels; oats, 4,505 acres, 126,667 bushels; buckwheat, 16 1/2 acres, 387 bushels; sorghum, thirty-four acres, 3,212 gallons; flax, fifty-six acres, 383 bushels.
EDUCATIONAL ADVANTAGES.--The number of school districts in the County in 1879 was fifty-one; school houses, twenty-nine; children of school age, 1,771; males, 931; females, 840; whole number of children that attended school during the year, 1,044; number of qualified teachers, fifty-five; nineteen males and thirty-six females; wages paid male teachers during the year, $3,343.76; paid female, $4,732.35; value of school houses, $22,010.74; value of school horse sites, $772.00; value of hooks and apparatus, $700.05.
POPULATION.--Buffalo County is divided into twelve precincts; the population of each in 1879 being as follows:
Shelton, 930; Gibbon, 794; Center, 1,048; Kearney, 1,920; Odessa, 182; Western, 300; Buffalo, 135; Grant, 313; Divide, 386; Loup, 285; Cedar, 163, Schneider, 426. Total population of the County in 1879, 6,878. In 1860 the population was 114; in 1870, 193; and in 1875, 2,861, Showing an increase in four years of 4,017.
The County was first settled in 1857 by a band of Mormons who broke up and cultivated a small tract of land in what is now Shelton precinct, but their stay was of short duration, the greater part of them moving on to Salt Lake City, after remaining here a year or two. Joseph E. Johnson, one of their number, who had formerly been connected with the newspapers called the Council Bluffs Bugle, at Council Bluffs, Iowa, also the Omaha Arrow at Omaha, in 1854, and was an able writer. He started a paper here called The Huntsman's Echo, which, however, was short-lived.
The settlement of the County progressed very slowly before the construction of the Union Pacific and B, & M. Railways, since which time its development has been wonderfully fast, as will be seen by the foregoing statements of population, and taxable proproperty.
The County Seat was laid out in 1872, and organized as a city in 1873. It is located on the Platte Bottom, in the center of the County from east to west, at the junction of the Union Pacific and B. & M. Railroads, and at present has a population of 1,500. The city is advantageously situated in a business point of view, and is growing rapidly, having a number of elegant brick business blocks and ninny handsome residences. A fine Union Depot has been erected here. The Methodists, Presbyterians, Catholics, Congregationalists, Christian and Baptists, each have neat and comfortable houses of worship, and the several prominent secret societies have flourishing organizations. Three school buildings adorn the town, and there is a good system of graded schools. Five papers are published here, The Central Nebraska Press, Nonpareil, True Citizen, Greenback Journal, and Literary Notes, all weeklies except the latter, which is a monthly, devoted to literature and the school interests.
A good bridge across the Platte at this point connects Kearney with the South Platte and Republican Valley Counties. There are between fifty and sixty business establishments in the city, among which are real estate, lawyers' and doctors' offices, two banks, three hotels, two lumber yards, and a first-class steam flouring mill, having three run of burrs and all modern improvements.
Containing 200 inhabitants, is located on the U. P. Railway thirteen miles east of the County Seat. It was laid out in 1871, and was first settled by a colony from Ohio. For a short period it was the County Seat, and a splendid brick court house, costing about $20,000, erected during that time, is now used as an Academy. Wood River passes within a mile and a half of the town. The Presbyterians have a neat brick church; the Methodists, Catholics, Baptists, and other denominations have organizations. A good flouring mill, with three run of burrs is in operation here. There is one drug, one hardware, one harness, and several general merchandise stores, a hotel, lumber yard, and large elevators for the accommodation of the grain trade.
Is located on the Union Pacific road near the east line of the County, and has a population of about 200. Wood River runs close by, on which there is located a good flouring mill. The town is improving rapidly. It has a good hotel, school house, elevators, and several general merchandise stores and places of business.
Is a station on the U. P. near the west line of the County, containing about 100 inhabitants, general stores, grain warehouses, school houses, etc.
STEVENSON, ODESSA, PRAIRIE, CENTER, SHELBY, STANLEY, CENTENNIAL, AMADA, BERG and SWEETWATER are names of postoffices in the County, at which will be found a general assortment--store and school house, blacksmith shop, and other branches of industries represented. -
Cass County was organized in 1855 by an Act of the first Territorial Legislature. It is located on the southeastern border 0f the State, and is bounded on the north by the Platte River and Saunders County, east by the Missouri, South by Otoe, and west by Lancaster County, and embraces about 550 square miles, or 352,000 acres, at an average elevation of 1,000 feet above the sea level.
WATER COURSES.--The Missouri River washes the eastern border of the County, and the Platte nearly the entire northern border. The Weeping Water is the principal interior stream. It heads in the northwestern part of the County, and flows southeasterly through the central portion, supported by numerous branches from ten to twelve miles in length, and empties into the Missouri. Salt Creek cuts across the northwest corner and receives two important tributaries from this County, which waters the northwestern townships. Several small creeks, varying from five to fifteen miles in length, rise in the central portions of the County and flow northwardly into the Platte, among which are Pawnee, Cedar, Turkey and Four Mile. Branches of the little Neinaha
River water the southwestern townships, and Rock Creek, a tributary of the Missouri, flows through the middle eastern part of the County.
CHARACTER OF THE LAND.--The surface of the County consists of bottom, table and undulating prairie land, the latter comprising about three fourths of the whole. The bottoms of the Missouri are here quite narrow. In the western part of the County the bluffs of the Platte run close to the river, the bottoms gradually widening as they approach the Missouri. The bluffs of the Missouri are generally high and cut through with frequent draws or hollows, but the table lands, or level plain, is usually reached at from one to three miles back. The uplands stretch away in wavelike undulations as far as the eye can reach, and are intersected with rich, wide-spreading valleys traversed by clear running streams, flowing over hard, gravelly beds, and fringed along their margins with a fine growth of native timber. These valleys are natural meadows, yielding a luxuriant growth of fine grasses for hay, and when put under cultivation, produce bountiful crops of grain and vegetables. The soil throughout the County is of great durability and excellence.
TIMBER.--In the early settlement of the County, timber was quite plentiful On the bottoms of the Missouri and adjacent bluffs, consisting principally of cottonwood, ash, elm and hackberry. A considerable quantity was also found in the bluffs and on the large islands of the Platte, the latter furnishing fine cedar for posts. In the eastern and middle portions of the County there is still a number of native groves, mostly of hardwood. Besides the native timber there is a large number of artificial groves in the County which furnish their owners with fuel. In 1879 Cass County had 2,176 1/2 acres, or 899,730 forest trees under cultivation, and 302 1/2 miles in hedging.
FRUIT.--Cass is one of the best fruit growing Counties in the State, and for several years past has had an abundance of the choicest varieties of her own raising. In 1879 there were 105,687 apple, 1,279 pear, 49,373 peach, 3,572 plum, and 13,578 cherry trees, and 6,221 grape vines under cultivation, and all in a prosperous condition.
BUILDING STONE.--A superior quality of magnesian limestone
is abundant in several localities. Extensive quarries have been opened on the line of the B. & M. Railway in the northwestern part of the County, and at Rock Bluffs, a few miles below Plattsmouth. On the Weeping Water, near the Falls, there is an abundance of excellent building stone, and at other points good stone for building and making lime is found.
COAL.--Bituminous coal has been discovered at several different points in the County. On the banks of the Missouri, fourteen miles below Plattsmouth, a shaft of forty feet has been sunk to an eighteen inch seam. It is of good quality. This same seam crops out five miles further northwest. It is estimated that miners can bring out from one to ten tons of coal per day from these mines.
OCHRE.--Along the Missouri below Plattsmouth, there are extensive deposits of mineral paint, or ochre. Some of the beds are from three to five feet thick, and of as the quality as any in time market.
FIRST SETTLEMENTS.--Mr. Samuel Martin has the honor of being the first settler in Cass County, He obtained a special permit from the Secretary of War to establish a trading post on the Missouri River, below the mouth of the Platte. Under this permit Mr. Martin, assisted by James O'Neil and others, early in the spring of 1853, built a two story log house, at the foot of Main street, on the north side, on lots six and seven, block thirty-one of the present town site of Plattsmouth, The "Old Barracks" as this was more generally called, was subsequently used for different purposes--stores, offices, postoffice, etc.,--till it was removed, in 1864, to make room for a brick building. In the fall of 1853 James O'Neil also built for the same Samuel Martin, a smaller log house, a little north and west of the first, which, in later days was largely used for County offices.
On the extinguishment of the Indian title to the lands bordering on the west bank of the Missouri River, on June 24, 1854, a rush was made for the most valuable claims, and but a few days passed before most of the more desirable lands in Cass County, near the Missouri River, were staked and marked with the claimant's names. Before the legal organization of the Territory, some 250 men had penciled their names on claim stakes within what is now Cass County.
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