NEGenWeb Project
Resource Center, On-Line Library




The County Seat, is beautifully located on the Elkhorn River, and is a fast growing, brisk business place of 1,000 inhabitants. The Elkhorn affords it unusually fine manufacturing advantages, and various enterprises, such as flouring mills, paper mills, furniture factory, etc., as before stated, are now in successful operation here, and others will soon follow. Being situated on the Fremont & Elkhorn Valley Railroad gives it direct communication with Omaha, and makes it a shipping point of a large grain and stock region. It has neat Churches and splendid school houses, good hotels, large lumber yard, brewery, carriage and wagon manufactory, several grocery and dry goods stores, and all the business places and trades usual to a place of its size. Three weekly newspapers are published here the Republican, Progress and Staats Zeitung, all well sustained, prosperous sheets. A fine iron bridge spanning the Elkhorn at this point, attracts the trade from the western part of the County.


Containing about 850 inhabitants, is located on the Elkhorn in the northwestern part of the County, and was for several years the terminus of the Fremont & Elkhorn Valley Railroad, which gave it a substantial growth and large trade. It was incorporated on the 14th of May, 1873. Among the first to locate in the town were John W. Pollock, E. M. Clark, (deceased) and George W. Canfield. In June, 1873, an excellent iron bridge was completed across the Elkhorn at this place, which added greatly to its business. The Elkhorn River is here capable of propelling mammoth manufactories and is susceptible of easy control. During the present season the railroad was extended from Wisner westward to the County Seat of Stanton County. Wisner is certainly one of the best business points in this part of the State, and has enjoyed for several years past the almost exclusive shipping trade of the adjoining Counties to the north and west. Business in every line is well established and the school and Church advantages are all that could be desired.




     Clay County was established in 1867 and organized in October, 1871, by proclamation of Acting Governor William H. James. It is located in the southeastern part of the State, in the fifth tier of Counties west of the Missouri River, and is bounded on the north by Hamilton, east by Fillmore, south by Nuckolls, and west by Adams County, and embraces 576 square miles, or 368,640 acres, at an average elevation of 1,775 feet above the sea level.

     WATER COURSES.--The Little Blue River is the most important stream in the County. It waters the southwestern townships and furnishes ample water-power for flouring mills and other manufacturing enterprises. School Creek, a fine large tributary of the West Blue River, Flowing from west to east, waters, with its numerous branches, the central and northern portions of the County, and also furnishes a sufficient volume of water for mills. Big Sandy Creek, a fine tributary of the Little Blue, waters the southeastern townships. Springs are abundant along the Little Blue and School Creek.

     TIMBER.--There is very little native timber in the County. The Little Blue River and School Creek are tolerably well timbered in places. Few Counties in the State, if any, excel Clay in the matter of tree planting. In 1879 she had 2,160 acres or 3,114,828 forest trees under cultivation, many of the groves being from three to twenty acres in extent, and well developed. There are forty-six miles of hedge fence in the County.

     FRUIT.--In 1879 there were 14,249 apple, 652 pear, 36,416 peach, 10,640 plum, and 3,074 cherry trees, and 2,643 grape vines under cultivation in the County, promising in the near future an abundance of the choicest fruits.

     STONE.--A good stone for building and lime abounds on the Little Blue.

     PHYSICAL FEATURES.--The surface of the country consists almost entirely of nearly level prairie, a small portion being rolling, but none is too rough to prevent tillage, except, probably, in occasional places bordering the Little Blue and at the sources of the creeks. There is a gradual slope all through the County, west by



north; thus while the eastern border is a little over 1,670 feet above the sea level, the western border is 1,835 feet, the rise being gradual all the way. The Little Blue has a very fine, wide valley, as have also School and Sandy Creeks, although smaller.

     SOIL.--The surface soil of the uplands is a rich, black vegetable mould, generally ranging from eighteen inches to two feet in depth; on the bottoms the soil is often several feet in depth. Corn, wheat, rye, oats, barley, flax, broom-corn and vegetables of all kinds do well. Corn yields from thirty-five to seventy and wheat from fifteen to twenty bushels per acre. The area in cultivation in 1878, was 73,776 acres; in 1879, 95,078 acres; increase, 21,302 acres. Spring wheat raised in 1877, 472,528 bushels; in 1878, 600,000 bushels. Yield of corn in 1877, 645,239 bushels; in 1878, 725,000 bushels.

     HISTORICAL.--The first settlement within the present limits of the County was made in 1857, by J. B. Weston, who built a house at Pawnee Ranche, on section sixteen, township five, range eight, in Spring Ranche Precinct. He was succeeded at the ranch by Fred and George Roper, who held it until 1864, at which time they were driven off by the Indians, and two of George Roper's daughters captured, they being restored to their friends again in 1872 or 1873.

     The general uprising of the Indians in 1864 greatly retarded the settlement of this County, and it was not until about 1870 that emigration was renewed to any extent. The settlements are here given by precincts:

     SCHOOL CREEK PRECINCT.--Peter O. Norman, and brother, natives of Sweden, settled in this precinct in 1870, and built themselves a "dug-out" on the barks of the creek.

     LINCOLN PRECINCT.--F. M. Davis, Ezra Brown, and Samuel Slote were the first to settle in this precinct about the year 1870. Mrs. Add Horsington taught the first school in the spring of 1872.

     HARVARD PRECINCT was first settled in the fall of 1871, by Isaac Dawson and John Hackenthaler.

     LYNN PRECINCT was first settled in May, 1871, by W. H. Chadwick, J. D. Moore, L. J. Starbuck and B. F. Hocket.

     LEWIS PRECINCT was first settled in the Spring of 1870, by A.



D. Peterson, Lewis Peterson and Jonas Johnson, natives of Sweden. John S. Lewis, after whom the precinct was named, settled in April, 1872.

     SUTTON PRECINCT was first settled in 1870, by Luther French, of Ohio. The first neighborly call after the completion of his house, was by Captain Charley White, of Indian fame, and Miss Nellie Henderson, who came on horseback from the West Blue, eight miles off, and had chased down and caught an antelope on the way.

     SHERIDAN PRECINCT was settled in February, 1872, by John Yates. He was followed closely by others. A school house was erected in this precinct in December 1872, the first school being taught by Joseph Trout, with sixteen scholars. In February, 1873, a Methodist Episcopal Society was organized, and in June a Union Sunday School was started.

     LOGAN PRECINCT was first settled by Albert Curtis, on the 7th of March, 1871. In August following a school was organized, with Josephine Reed, as teacher--salary, twenty-five dollars per month.

     MARSHALL PRECINCT was first settled in July, 1872, by Flavius Northrup, from Buffalo County, Wisconsin. Mr. Northrup brought with him a flock of about seventy-five sheep, which were the first sheep brought into the County for permanent rearage.

     LEISCESTER PRECINCT was first settled in the Winter of 1871, by William Woolman, A. Woolman, Joseph Rowe and Stephen Brown. Miss Truelove Tibbles, an adopted daughter of Rev. Wm. Woolman, was drowned in April, 1876, while attempting to cross one of the Creeks in this precinct.

     SCOTT PRECINCT was first settled by G. W. Briggs and George McIntyre. The B. & M. R. R. passes through the northern part,. and the St. Joe & Denver City R. R. across the northwest corner of this precinct.

     LONE TREE PRECINCT was first settled in 1871 by John P. Scott, who located near the "Lone Tree," from which the precinct derives its name. The St. Joe & Denver R. R. crosses the southwest corner of this precinct.

     FAIRFIELD PRECINCT.--The settlement of this precinct commenced at Liberty Farm Ranche, at the mouth of Liberty Creek, on the Little Blue. This ranche was for a long time an important



station for the overland mail and Wells, Fargo & Co.'s Pony Express. It was kept in 1858 by James H. Lemon, who was succeeded, in 1867, by Benjamin and John Royce, from Illinois.

     EDGAR PRECINCT was first settled in November, 1871, by J. K. Sanborn, who built himself a good log house. The flourishing town of Edgar is in this precinct.

     The pioneers of the County were more or less harassed by Indians up to as late as 1868, especially in the valley of the Little Blue, on the overland stage road, where the ranches were repeatedly destroyed, and the inhabitants driven from the country or murdered.

     James Bainter, who succeeded a Mr. Metcalf at Spring Ranche, in 1862, had a store stocked with about $5,000 worth of provisions and merchandise. A friendly Pawnee brought him the news one day that the Sioux were coming in force, and had attacked the ranches above him. Bainter immediately sent his family to Pawnee Ranche, about a mile to the east of his, then kept by the Ropers, and mounting a fast horse rode up the river to reconnoiter.

     He met the Indians about nine miles off, coming rapidly toward his place, so hurrying back he loosed his stock, and hastened to his family at Pawnee Ranche. In a short time he raw the smoke ascending from his store and dwelling, and very soon thereafter Pawnee Ranche was attacked by about 200 Sioux. Pawnee Ranche was a strong sod building, with pallisade [sic] around it, and contained at the time of the attack, four men and several women and children. This courageous party, small as it was, managed to keep the enemy at bay, the women assisting the men in watching and loading their guns; and for three days the attack was continued till finally Bainter succeeded in killing the Sioux Chief, when the Indians withdrew from their immediate vicinity. A large party of friendly Pawnees came up at this juncture, and with their assistance the Sioux were driven off for the time. Not long after this however, the Sioux again attacked the ranches all along the Little Blue, and Bainter and all the settlers were compelled to leave the country, the stage line was broken up, and many of the drivers and passengers killed. A large wagon train was captured at the crossing of the overland road on Big Sandy Creek, and about sixty persons slaughtered.



     The organic election was held on the 14th of October, 1871, at the house of Alexander Campbell, on section six, town seven, range six. Eighty-nine votes were polled, fifty-six of which were cast for Sutton, making it the County Seat. The following County officers were elected: Commissioners, A. K. Marsh, P. O. Norman, and A. A. Cory; Probate Judge, John R. Maltby; Clerk, F. M. Brown; Treasurer, J. Hollinsworth; Sheriff, P. T. Kearney; Surveyor, R. S. Fitzgerald; Superintendent of Public Instruction, J. S. Schermerhorn; Coroner, J. Steinmetz.

     The first session of the Board of Commissioners was held on the 4th of November, 1871, at which time the County was divided into three equal districts, designated as Commissioner and voting precincts, and named respectively, Harvard, Little Blue and School Creek. The Commissioners' precincts remain, but the voting precincts were increased to sixteen, in 1875.

     The Burlington and Missouri River R. R. was built through the northern portion of the County in 1871. Length of the road in the County, twenty-four and eighty-seven one-hundredths miles.

     The St. Joe and Denver City R. R. was built through the Southwestern portion of the County in the spring of 1872. Length of road in the County, twenty-two and fifty one-hundredths miles.

     The Clay County Agricultural Society was organized on the 15th of April, 1872. A fair is held regularly every year at Sutton.

     The people of Clay County were great sufferers by the grasshopper invasion of 1874. In July, of that year, these insects came from the northwest in such countless numbers as to make the sunlight dim; and so swiftly did they, destroy the crops that a forty, or an eighty acre corn field would not last more than two hours. The rank, growing corn would literally bend to the ground with the weight of the insects. Potatoes, vegetables and crops of all kinds, except wheat and barley, which had already been harvested, were swept out of existence all over the County in the short space of two days. Not a bushel of corn was gathered in the County, whereas the year before settlers burned corn, it being worth only fifteen cents a bushel.

     PUBLIC SCHOOLS.--In 1870 there were sixty-nine School Districts in the County, sixty-seven school houses and 3,041 children



of school age, 1,553 being males, and 1,488 females; total number of children that attended school during the year, 2,089; number of qualified teachers employed, 117--males, forty-two; females, seventy-five; wages paid teachers for the year--males, $4,486.35, females, $7,289.95; total, $12,776.30; value of school houses, $36,347.89; value of school house sites, $2,684.00; value of books and apparatus, $1,712.35.

     TAXABLE PROPERTY.--The following statement will show the amount and valuation of the taxable property in the County for 1879: Number of acres of land, 284,143; average value per acre, $3.10; value of town lots, $82,198.00; money invested in merchandise, $67,260; money used in manufactures, $6,948; number of horses, 4,248, value, $120,005; mules and asses, 494, value, $15,628; neat cattle, 5,006, value, $41,880; sheep, 558, value, $624.00; swine, 12,752, value, $12,432; vehicles, 1,765, value, $27,550; money and credits, $15,182; mortgages, $17,272; stocks, $330.00; furniture, $18,788; libraries, $1,276; property not enumerated, $94,111; railroads, $297,188; total, $1,700,704.10.

     LAND.--The Burlington & Missouri River R. R. Company owns 5,000 acres of land in this County, for which they ask from $4.00 to $8.00 an acre. The Government land is all taken.

     POPULATION.--The following is the population of the County, in 1879, by precincts: Logan, 339; Edgar, 830; Fairfield, 722; Spring Ranche, 419; Glenville, 428; Lone Tree, 348; Marshall, 379; Sheridan, 330; Sutton, 1,391; Lewis, 411; Lynn, 474; Scott, 447; Leiscester, 440; Harvard, 1,176; Lincoln, 516; School Creek, 723; total population of the County, 9,373--males, 5,112; females, 4,261.

     In 1875 the population of the County was 4,183, and in 1878 it was 7,012, showing an increase in the last year of 2,361.

The County Seat, is situated in the Valley of School Creek, on the B. & M. Railroad, in the northeastern part of the County. Its present population is 800, having doubled in size in the last three years. It has a bank and two weekly newspapers--the Globe, an old established paper, and the Mirror. The Court House is a commodious two-story building, and the school house is an elegant and convenient structure, costing $4,000. The Congregationalists



built the first Church in the County here, in 1875, at a cost of $1,500; the Methodists followed next with a brick house of worship, costing $2,000. Several denominations are now represented.

     Sutton is a beautiful town. A tract of twelve acres has been laid off as a public park, through which School Creek makes a horse-shoe bend, its banks being heavily timbered with rock elms.


Located on the line of the B. & M. R. R., thirteen miles west of Sutton, was incorporated in 1873, and at present has 650 inhabitants. Two weekly newspapers are published here, the Sentinel and Phoenix. In 1873, a $4,000 school house was erected. It has several hotels, Churches, elevators, brick and lumber yards, and business houses representing almost every line of trade. The surrounding country is well settled up by thrifty, prosperous farmers, the German element predominating.


Is a very promising town of 550 inhabitants, located on the St. Joe & Denver City Railroad, in the southeastern part of the County. It was incorporated on the 15th of March, 1875, and is improving very rapidly. It is well situated for business, being the shipping point for a large, well-settled agricultural country.


On the St. Joe & Denver Railroad, several miles west of Edgar, is an enterprising town of about 350 inhabitants. It has excellent school and Church advantages, and a weekly newspaper--the News--to advance its interests. It commands the shipping trade of the southwestern portion of the County.


     Cheyenne County is located on the extreme western border of the State, bounded on the north by Sioux County, east by unorganized territory and Keith County, south by Colorado and west by Wyoming. It was organized in 1867, and contains about 7,224 square miles, or 4,623,360 acres.



     Water power is unlimited. The principal stream is the North Fork of the Platte River, which enters at the northwest corner and flows southeasterly through the County, leaving it in the southeastern portion. Its main tributaries are Blue River and Rush, Cold Water, Pumpkinseed, Red Willow, Wild and Kiowa Creeks. Lodge Pole Creek, a tributary of the South Platte, which flows from west to east almost entirely across the southern portion of the County, and through whose valley the Union Pacific Railroad extends, is the most important stream. It has a large number of tributaries, the largest being Dry Creek, which waters the southwestern portion of the County.

     The majority of the streams and many of the canyons are well timbered.

     Cheyenne County lies in the great grazing belt of Nebraska, and its territory is almost exclusively devoted to the rearing and fattening of stock, agriculture receiving only a very limited share of attention, being confined to the valley of Lodge Pole Creek, along the line of the railroad, and small patches about the ranches.

     Outside of Sidney the inhabitants of the County number less than 300, and these are all engaged in the cattle business, with the exception of the few permanently located at the shipping stations on the railroad.

     The surface of the country consists of vast rolling prairies, gulches and canyons, which furnish an abundance of the richest grasses in the world for pasturage. The buffalo grass, the most common variety here, cures on the ground, retaining all its wonderfully nutritious elements, and upon which cattle live and thrive the year round. The timbered canyons afford excellent shelter for the stock during the winter months, and in most cases none other is provided.

     There is a large amount of government land in this County. Good crops can be raised in the valleys.

     The crop reports for 1879 show the number of acres under cultivation in the County to be 17,326 1/2: Rye, forty acres, 753 bushels; spring wheat, 7,740 1/2 acres, 116,480 bushels; corn, 3,784 acres, 145,820 bushels; barley, 778 acres, 23,161 bushels; oats, 2,513 acres, 100,982 bushels; sorghum, eleven acres, 1,491 gallons.



     There is but one school district in the County and one school house; children of school age, 219--males, 117, females, 102.

     The amount and valuation of taxable property in the County returned for 1879, was as follows; Number of acres of land, 3,539, average value per acre, $1.00; value of town lots, $58,275; money invested in merchandise, $31,300; number of horses, 1,166, value, $23,320; mules, 147, value, $5,880; neat cattle, 57,679, value, $461,432; sheep, 331, value, $331; swine, eighty-eight, value, $176; vehicles, 193, value, $3,860; moneys and credits, $19,510; mortgages, $12,572; furniture, $4,717; libraries, $375; property not enumerated, $20,753; railroad, $1,015,868; telegraph, $8,840; total, $1,670,748.

     The County is divided into six voting precincts, the population of each in 1879 being as follows: Sidney, 935; Big Spring, twenty-two; Lodge Pole, seventy; Court House, eighty-seven; Potter, fifty-two; Antelope, fifty-two.

     Total population of the County, 1,218--males, 788, females, 430. In 1875 the County had a population of only 457; increase in four years, 761.


The County Seat, is located on the north bank of Lodge Pole Creek, and on the Union Pacific Railroad, 414 miles west of Omaha. It is a lively, business place of 950 inhabitants, and has attained considerable importance as a point of outfitting and departure for the Black Hills' goldfields. Fine Concord coaches, carrying mails and express leave daily, and land passengers at Deadwood, 267 miles distant, in about fifty hours. It has two newspapers--the Plaindealer and Telegraph, an $1,800 school house, two excellent hotels, large outfitting and forwarding houses and other necessary auxilaries [sic] to the Black Hills trade. One firm of freighters shipped two and a half million pounds of goods to the Hills in one year. The roads from Sidney to the Hills are first-class, and lined with ranches and stopping places, Fort Robinson being on the route.

     The stations on the U. P., in this County, are Big Springs, Barton, Chappel, Lodge Pole, Colton, Brownson, Potter, Bennett, Antelopeville, Adams, Bushnell and Pine Bluffs.


Prior pageTOCNext page

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