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by fire in the Winter of 1856, being the first building burned in the city.

     Dr. C. A. Henry opened a small drug store in 1855. Dr. James K. Ish, the same year, opened the first drug store, keeping a full assortment of drugs and fancy articles.

     O. D. Richardson, and A. J. Poppleton, both from Michigan, were the first practicing lawyers, both arriving at Omaha early in the fall of 1854. Mr. Richardson is now dead, and Mr. Poppleton is the attorney for the Union Pacific Railroad Company.

     Dr. George L. Miller was the first physician in Omaha, he arriving in the fall of 1854. Dr. B. Y. Shelly also arrived at an early date.

     Rev. Peter Cooper, of the Methodist Church, delivered the first sermon in the city, at the St. Nicholas Hotel--Mr. Snowden's residence--on the 13th of August, 1854.

     Rev. Mr. Koulmer, of the United Brethren Church, was the next minister to arrive. He preached a while at Omaha, Fontenelle and Bellevue, in 1855.

     Rev. Isaac F. Collins, of the Methodist, Rev. Reuben Gaylord, of the Congregational, and Rev. Wm. Leach, of the Baptist Church, each held services in Omaha during 1855.

     Rev. Moses F. Shinn was the first Presiding Elder in Nebraska. He was appointed by the Iowa Conference, in 1855. His district was known as the Nebraska and Kansas district, with stations at Omaha, Old Fort Kearney, Waukaressa and Fort Leavenworth.

     The first marriage in the County, was that of John Logan to Miss Caroline Mosier, at Omaha, November 11, 1855, by Rev. Isaac F. Collins. Mr. Logan was one of the first grocerymen of the city; both he and wife still reside at Omaha.

     The first grave dug upon the town site was by Wm. P. Snowden, in the summer of 1854, where Turner Hall now stands, to bury an old Omaha squaw, who had been abandoned by her tribe.

     The second death among the settlers--Mr. M. C. Gaylord's being the first--was that of a Mr. Todd, who died in the fall of 1854, and was buried on the south side of the creek, between Thirteenth and Fourteenth streets, the Union Pacific Railroad now passing over his grave. Mr. Todd came to Omaha in August,



1854, and erected a cottonwood shanty on Jackson street, near the St. Nicholas, where he kept a small store.

     The first white woman to die in the city was Rev. Isaac F. Collins' wife, in the summer of 1855, in child-birth; the next was a Mrs. Driscoll, who died in February, 1856. She was the first person buried in the old burying ground, southwest of the city, now Shull's Addition.

     The second birth in the city was that of Margaret, daughter of James Ferry, in November, 1854.

     Mr. A. D. Jones, who surveyed the town site in June and July, 1854, was the first practical surveyor to locate in the city, being one of its very first settlers.

     W. N. Byers and Col. Loren Miller, both practical surveyors, came in the fall of 1854. Mr. Byers sectionized a large portion of the County, and was one of Omaha's most active business men. He and Thos. Gibson, of Fontenelle, left in 1859 for Pike's Peak, with a printing press, type and material for a newspaper, with which they established the Rocky Mountain News, in Denver City, Colorado, in the spring of 1859--the first newspaper of that Territory. Col. Miller surveyed Scriptown during the spring and summer of 1855, also several other towns in the eastern part of the Territory. He is still a resident of Omaha, and has held the office of Mayor and several other prominent positions within the gift of the people.

     The Omaha Arrow was the first newspaper of the city. It was a four-page, six-column paper, printed in the Bugle office, at Council Bluffs, and was ably edited by J. W. Pattison and Joe. E. Johnson. It bad a brilliant but brief career, the first number appearing July 28, 1854, and the last-the twelfth-on the 10th of November following.

     The Nebraskian, established in the fall of 1854, was the first paper printed at Omaha. Its first editor was John Sherman. The press and material for the paper were brought from Ohio, by Hon. Bird B. Chapman. The Nebraskian ceased as a paper in 1864.

     The Times, established in 1857, by W. W. Wyman, and the Democrat, established in 1858, by Hon. Hadley D. Johnson, were both short-lived.

     The first saw mill in the County was a steam mill built at



Omaha in the fall of 1854, by Samuel Bayliss and Alexander Davis. On the 25th of November, 1860, the boiler of this mill exploded, instantly killing Mr. Sperry, the engineer, and injuring several others.

     Saulsbury & Smith built the second steam saw mill at Omaha in 1856. It was located on the bottom, above where the Union Pacific Railroad machine shops now are.

     The first grist mill in the County was a steam mill, located on the Missouri, four miles below Omaha, built in 1855, by E. L. Childs. The mill was destroyed by fire in the fall of 1859. Mr. Childs has the credit of manufacturing the first flour in the County.

     There are at present in the County six water and two steam flouring mills, and several steam and water power saw mills.

     OMAHA MADE THE CAPITAL OF THE TERRITORY.--Acting Governor Cuming having designated Omaha as the place for holding the first Territorial Legislature, that body met in the old State House, on Ninth street, on the 16th day of January, 1855. The session lasted till the 17th day of March following. It being the duty of the first Leglstature [sic] to locate the Capitol, the greater part of the session was taken up with this important question; and excitement ran at fever heat all the time the Capitol contest was being fought. The contestants for the prize were Omaha, Fontenelle, Florence, Bellevue, Plattsmouth, Nebraska City, Brownville, and several other towns south of the Platte; but Omaha finally came out victorious.. The joint resolution locating the Capitol at Omaha was passed February 22, 1855.

     The first County officers were appointed by Governor Cuming, and were as follows: Probate Judge, William Scott; Register of Deeds, Lyman Richardson; Treasurer, T. G. Goodwill; Sheriff, P. G. Peterson.

     The first regular election was held on the 8th of October, 1855, and resulted in the election of the following County officers, viz: Commissioners, Jesse Lowe, Thomas Davis, and James H. McArdle; Treasurer, George Forbes; Register of Deeds, Thomas O'Connor; Sheriff, Cam Reeves.

     Omaha was chartered as a city by the Legislature in February, 1857, the first city election occurring on the first Monday of March following, with the following result: Jesse Lowe, Mayor;



L. R. Tuttle, Recorder; J. A. Miller, City Marshal; Charles Grant, Solicitor; Lyman Richardson, Assessor; A. S. Morgan, Engineer; A. Chappel, Health Officer; A. A Jones, T. G. Goodwill, G. C. Bovey, H. H. Visscher, Thomas Davis, W. N. Byers, W. W. Wyman, Thomas O'Connor, C. H. Downs, J. H. Kellom, and James Creighton Councilmen. On the 5th of March the Council was organized.

Map or sketch


     The old Territorial Capitol, which stood on Capitol Hill, on the spot now covered by the High School building, was a large, handsome brick building and from its commanding position could be seen for many miles from the city. The contract for its erection was awarded to Messrs. Bovey & Armstrong, of Omaha, who commenced work on the building in November, 1855, and the structure was completed by January, 1858, sufficiently for the meeting of the Legislature. The cost of the building was $150,000.

     Upon the admission of Nebraska as a State, March 1, 1867, and the removal shortly afterwards of the Capitol to Lincoln, the old Capitol building was donated by an Act of the Legislature to the City of Omaha for educational purposes, and in 1870 it was torn down to make room for the present High School building.

     On the 9th of February, 1869, by Legislative enactment, Omaha became a city of the first class; and on May 15th following, the Council, by an ordinance, divided the city into six wards.

     CLAIM CLUB.--The Omaha Claim Club was an institution



established with the first settlement of the County, and for three or four years, or till the opening of the United States Land Office, it held absolute sway over all matters pertaining to claims.

     Before the public lands in the Territory had been surveyed, the laws afforded the settlers no protection against land sharpers and jumpers, and the only title they could get to the land upon which they were located was what was called the "claim," or "squatters" title; therefore, for their mutual benefit and protection, and for the adjustment of all disputes, arising in regard to claims, the settlers of the County themselves into a Club, electing a Judge, Clerk, Recorder, and Sheriff, and enacting a code of laws for the government of all claim matters.

     The first meeting of the Omaha Club, for the purpose of organizing, was held on the afternoon of July 22, 1854, under a large elm, known as the "lone tree," which stood on the bank of the river at the landing of the ferry boat. Samuel Lewis was chosen Chairman, and M. C. Gaylord, Secretary. A constitution and bylaws were prepared and adopted, after which a full sett [sic] of officers were elected, as follows: A. D. Jones, Judge; S. Lewis, Clerk; M. C. Gaylord, Recorder, and R. B. Whitted, Sheriff.

     The Club was the recognized high tribunal of the land. There was no stay of execution or appeal from its decrees. Although some injustice was undoubtedly done under its workings, the community was in the main benefited by it, as claim-jumping and claim quarrels were of daily occurrence, and it was only through the arbitrary power wielded by the Club that much bloodshed was prevented.

     Claim clubs were a necessity as long as squatter titles existed, but as soon as government title to land could be obtained, there were no further use for such organizations, and accordingly the Omaha Claim Club, as well as all other similar associations in Nebraska, disbanded in 1857-8.

     The land in Douglas County was surveyed by the Government during the year 1856.

     The United States Land Office was opened at Omaha for the entry of land on the 17th day of March, 1857. Col. A. R. Gilmore was the first Receiver, and Col. J. A. Parker the first Register of the Land Office.



     The first entry of land made in Nebraska was on the day of the opening of the Land Office, March 17, by Jesse Lowe, Mayor, who entered 320 acres as the town site of Omaha.

     The land covered by the site of Omaha was granted in two patents--one to John McCormick, dated May 1, 1860, the land having been bid off by him at the public sale of July 5, 1859, acting as trustee, and deeded by him to David D. Belden, Mayor of the City, in trust for the owners, and the other to Jesse Lowe, Mayor, dated October 1, 1860, on the entry made March 17, 1857.

     STEAMBOATING DAYS.--Before the advent of the railroad connecting Omaha with the eastern markets, the steamboat played the most prominent part in the matter of transportation. Stage coaches were also run across the State of Iowa, but the steamboat brought the great bulk of the emigrants, provisions, lumber, and in fact everything needed in the way of building up a new country.

     The first steamboat of the season was hailed with the greatest joy by the settlers, who looked upon its arrival as the opening again of another busy season after a dreary, tedious winter. Men, women and children, merchant, mechanic and Indian, all flocked to the levee at the first sound of the whistle to greet its arrival and welcome the emigrants. Frequently gay cotillion parties were held on board while the cargo was being discharged.

     During the busy season often seven and eight boats a week would arrive, filling the levees from end to end with all manner of merchandise, and presenting a scene of bustle and business not witnessed since then.

     The levee where the greater part of the business was done has since been nearly all washed away by the river. Steamboating died out gradually as the railroads advanced, and it is now confined principally to the Upper Missouri.

     FIRST MURDERS, EXECUTIONS, ETC.--One of the first homicides that occurred in the County was the killing of Jesse Wynn, a brick mason, who was shot near the old California crossing on the Elkhorn River, in the winter of 1855, by a man from Council Bluffs. The shooting was the result of a quarrel over a claim. The man was arrested in Council Bluffs, tried and discharged.



     On the 4th of July, 1857, a Mr. Kingsley was stabbed and killed at Florence, by a blacksmith named Biggs, who accused Kingsley of being too intimate with his wife. Biggs was confined in jail at Omaha, and being allowed considerable liberty while awaiting trial, he took advantage of it and made his escape.

     In the latter part of March, 1858, two men named Braden and Dailey were captured with some horses that had been stolen near Rockport, a village several miles above Omaha. The men were confined in the Omaha jail, and a couple of evenings afterwards a party of disguised men took them from the jail by force and placing them in an open wagon drove rapidly to a point about two miles north of Florence and there hung them to a large tree. Public sentiment, however, was so strongly against this proceeding that four men, suspected of being implicated in it, were subsequently arrested and tried on the charge, but were acquitted.

     One night in April, 1861, two men named Bouve and Iler went to a stable near the military bridge in Omaha, and taking a horse apiece, rode twelve miles into the country to a Mr. Geo. C. Taylor's place, on Big Papillion Creek, at the crossing of the old California road. Tying their horses, they entered the house, the lower part of which was used as a bar-room, in which they found the hired man, sleeping. This man they bound securely with a lariat, and then helping themselves to what liquor they wanted, they proceeded up stairs, cocked revolvers in band, to Mrs. Taylor's room (Mr. Taylor being absent) of whom they demanded the money and valuables of the house.

     Bouve was very abusive and ugly, threatening several times to take Mrs. Taylor's life, and was only prevented from doing so by his comrade, Iler. After securing all the booty they could find--some ten or twelve hundred dollars in gold, a watch, revolver and some silverware the robbers jumped on their horses and were back again to Omaha before daylight, returning the horses to the stable from which they had taken them.

     The authorities at Omaha being notified of the robbery the next day, Bouve and Iler, who were strangers in the city, and spending money very lavishly, were arrested on suspicion of being the perpetrators, and placed in jail to await the arrival of Mrs. Taylor, who was immediately sent for to identify them. When




she came she readily picked out Bouve and Iler from amongst a room full of men in which they, had been placed, although they had in the meantime been shaved and otherwise altered in appearance. The identification of the thieves being complete, they were, returned to the jail to await trail. A meeting of the citizens was held that night in front of the Pioneer Block, in regard to the matter, and on the following night about twelve o'clock, a vigilance committee took the prisoners from their cells and hung Bouve to the bridging of the upper floor of the building, and liberated Iler on account of his intercessions for the life of Mrs. Taylor. Iler, it is said, afterwards enlisted in a Nebraska regiment and made a good soldier for the Union.

     The first legal execution in Nebraska was that of Cyrus H. Tator's, who was hung at Omaha, in August, 1863, for the murder of Isaac Neff. Neff was engaged in the freighting business, and had returned from Denver, Colorado, a short time before the murder, accompanied by Tator. In June, 1863, Neff's body, with two log chains wrapped around it, was found by some boys, lying in the shallow water of the river, near the sulphur springs, at Omaha. It was evident that he had been murdered. It was also discovered that Tator had sold some of Neff's cattle and effects, and that he had gone West with a wagon load of goods and team of horses formerly owned by Neff. He was pursued and arrested at Shinn's Ferry, in Colfax County, by Thomas L. Sutton, Sheriff of Douglas County, who brought him back and lodged him in the Omaha jail. The Court being then in session a special Grand Jury was impanneled [sic], which found a bill of indictment against Tator, and he was tried and convicted of the murder, and was sentenced to be hanged on the 28th of August, on which day he was executed, at precisely one o'clock, the scaffold being erected on the high ground near the sulphur springs. Tator was a native of New York, thirty years of age, was a lawyer by profession, and had lived in Kansas for several years, where he had been a Judge of Probate and a member of the Legislature. The evidence in his case was purely circumstantial, but so clear and positive that it left no doubt in the minds of the public as to his guilt.

     The second legal execution in the County was that of Ottway G. Baker, for the murder of Woolsey D. Higgins, on the night of



November 21, 1866. Mr. Higgins was the bookkeeper and Baker the porter of the wholesale grocery store of Will R. King & Co., of Omaha, then kept in the brick building which stands on the southeast corner of Twelfth and Farnam streets. On the evening of the murder, Mr. Higgins received fourteen or fifteen hundred dollars, after banking hours, which he placed in the safe of the store, Baker being aware of the fact. Higgins and Baker slept together in the store and that night, while Higgins was, asleep, Baker got up stealthily and struck him two fearful blows on the head with an axe, killing him instantly, after which he unlocked the safe, took out the money, then dressed himself went out the back door, and walked to the west side of Eleventh street, between Harney and Howard, where he hid the money under the board sidewalk. Returning again to the store, he undressed himself, then collecting a lot of combustible material together in the cellar, he set fire to it, hoping thus to destroy the building and all traces of his crime. Before the fire had made much headway, however, it was discovered by the night watchman of the block, who gave the alarm, which soon brought the fire department and a large number of citizens to the scene. Baker, at the proper time, rushed out of the building in his night clothes, yelling fire, murder and thieves, having previously shot himself in the arm with his revolver, making a slight flesh wound. The fire was extinguished before any considerable damage was done. Baker protested that the Store had be en entered by burglars who had set fire to the building, and that after a desperate fight with them, Mr. Higgins had been killed and himself wounded in the arm. His story received little credence, and at the inquest over Higgins' body, he was held for the murder. After a long and tedious trial, he was convicted and sentenced to be hanged on the 14th of February, 1868, the execution taking place on the day appointed, at, a spot about a half mile west of the High School building. Sometime before his execution, Baker confessed his guilt, and also to the firing of Hellman's warehouse previously, by which half a block of buildings were destroyed.

     On Saturday, December 10, 1874, Thomas Keeler, a farmer living a few miles north of Elkhorn Station, in the western part of the County, was killed by David S. Parmelee, a grain merchant at the Station, who also owned a farm in the neighborhood of Keeler's.



An ill-feeling had arisen between the two men in regard to the trespassing of Keeler's cattle on Parmelee's land, and it appears that Keeler bad threatened to shoot Parmelee on sight, and on account of his threats against him, Parmelee was in the habit of going armed. On the afternoon of the shooting, they met with their teams on the outskirts of the town, and when they came within shooting range, both men jumped from their wagons and fired at each other--Parmelee with a Winchester rifle and Keeler with a double-barreled shot-gun--so nearly together that the reports of their guns were barely distinguishable. Keeler was killed outright, but Parmelee escaped unhurt. Immediately after the shooting, Parmelee surrendered himself to a deputy sheriff and was taken to Omaha, where he gave bail for his appearance at court; but he was never indicted by the Grand Jury. Mr. Parmelee still resides at Elkhorn, and has been three times elected to the Legislature.

     INDIAN TROUBLES.--The Pioneers of this County were exceedingly fortunate in their dealings with the Indians, and never experienced any real trouble from them, although they had "scares" innumerable, and suffered their full share of annoyance. When danger threatened the outer settlements, the citizens of the County always promptly rallied a strong force for their protection; and in every Indian campaign of those early days the Douglas County troops were conspicuous alike for their valor and their numbers.

     One of the most horrible occurrences in the annals of Indian barbarism happened within the limits of this County, being no less an event than the skinning alive of a white man by the Pawnees.

     In 1849, a party of gold-seekers left Wisconsin for California, by the overland route. Among their number was a young man named Rhines, who, it appears, had made a foolish boast that he would shoot the first Indian he saw. One morning, shortly after their arrival in Nebraska, when the party were about breaking camp on the banks of the Elkhorn, near the old California crossing, some Indians came strolling along the banks of the river, and one of Rhines' comrades jocularly reminding him of his boast, he raised his rifle and shot one of the Indians dead--a young squaw. The train then moved hastily on, but just as they had reached a small stream about five miles distant, they were met by a large

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