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Is a village located in the Platte Valley, in the western part of the County. It has a daily mail, good school house, blacksmith shop, general store, etc.




Is located on the West Blue, in the southeastern part of the County. It is one of the oldest settlements in the County, and is where the records were kept before the Court House was erected at Orville City in 1872. It has a good general store, Postoffice, Church and school house.



     Harlan County was organized in June, 1871, in accordance with a special Act of the Legislature. It is located on the middle-southern border of the State, and is bounded on the north by Phelps, and east by Franklin County, south by Kansas, and west by Furnas County, and contains 576 square miles, or 368,640 acres.

     WATER COURSES.--The Republican River flows from west to east through the south half of the County. It has a large number of tributaries in this County, some of which are of considerable size and excellent mill streams. The principal feeders on the north side are Turkey, Mill, Tipover, Methodist, Foster, Murrin, Rope, Flag and Spring Creeks; on the south, Prairie Dog, Sappa and Beaver Creeks. Small rivulets flowing from never-failing springs, are numerous in the south half of the County.

     TIMBER.--There is considerable native timber in this County, the Republican and its numerous branches being generally well fringed along their banks, and the gulleys [sic] and hollows through the bluffs are frequently covered with a thick growth. The varieties most common are cottonwood, ash, elm, box elder, hackberry, walnut and oak. On the uplands, the farmers have been active in tree planting, and the artificial groves now afford both shelter and fuel. The quantity reported under cultivation in 1879 was 686 acres, or 260,321 trees. There are also nineteen miles of hedge fencing.



     FRUIT.--The amount reported in 1879, was: Apple trees, 780; pear, twenty-nine; peach, 1,618; plum, 142; cherry, 963. Wild fruits are abuncant [sic].

     BUILDING STONE.--A good quality of limestone is found in different parts of the County. Quarries have been opened on the south side of the Republican.

     CHARACTER OF THE LAND.--One-fourth of the County is valley--the remainder rolling prairie and a small per cent. bluff. North of the Republican, the uplands consist mostly of gently rolling prairie and table; on the south side it is more broken, although almost everywhere tillable. The soil is well adapted to the growth of all the cereals, and produces largely, as will be seen from the following Statement:

     CROPS.--Acres under cultivation, 303,393; winter wheat 996 acres, 14,231 bushels; spring wheat 14,961 acres, 233,642 bushels; rye 960 acres, 16,212 bushels; corn 9,863 acres, 132,668 bushels; barley 1,160 acres, 26,320 bushels; oats 1,420 acres, 33,000 bushels; buckwheat, seventeen acres, 280 bushels; sorghum, thirty-six acres, 9,630 gallons; hungarian, 597 acres; potatoes 320 acres, 2,240 bushels.

     FIRST SETTLEMENT.--During the summer of 1870, Victor Vifquain, J. W. Foster, H. V. Toephfar, and several others, explored the Republican Valley as far west as the present town of Melrose, where they built a stockade for protection against the Indians. They also laid out a town, which they called Napoleon, but soon after abandoned the enterprise and went away.

     Mr. J. W. Foster, however, immediately selected a claim on a beautiful creek which afterwards took his name, near the present County Seat, where he built himself a house, and thus became the first permanent settler of the County. H. V. Toephfar, another of the party who helped to build the stockade at Melrose, crossed the Republican and took a claim on Sappa Creek, but soon abandoned it. Several other settlers located claims during the summer of 1870, among whom were John Talbott and a Mr. Donaldson. In March, 1871, a Company which had been formed at Cheyenne, Wyoming, sent a number of settlers to the Valley of the Republican. In June of this year, A. C. Robbins and son, and John Skinner located on the Sappa, and were the first permanent settlers



in that section. Their families were brought out the following month. Mrs. Kate Reynolds and Mrs. Joseph Gould have the honor of being the first women in the County. In the fall, Judge Thompson and son, J. J. Jones, Gordon Kellogg and L. T. Newell, with their families, located in the vicinity of the Sappa. Although these settlements were on the extreme frontier, they never suffered any serious harm from the Indians, who frequently visited this vicinity to hunt, beg food, and steal what they could, but they never committed any murders.

     Among the first to locate on Prairie Dog Creek were James E. Ryder, Gilbert R. Parish, the Woodwards, Drews, and Cabeldieks [sic], the most of whom made permanent settlements.

     John Brady and the Whitings were the first to settle on Methodist Creek. The first sermon preached in the County was delivered by John E. Whiting, in June, 1871, in a beautiful grove on the banks of this stream, from which it took the name of "Methodist."

     In accordance with the provisions of the special Act of the Legislature organizing the County, James O. Phillips, T. D. Murrin and Marcus Coad were appointed a Board of Commissioners to locate a temporary County Seat and organize the local government.

     The first election was held July 3, 1871, at which the following County Officers were chosen, viz: T. Sheffrey, H. Trimble and J. W. Foster, Commissioners; Joseph Gould, Probate Judge; A. J. Burke, Clerk; H. M. Luce, Superintendent Public Instruction; G. R. Parish, Treasurer; James E. Ryder, Sheriff; and W. P. Carr, Coroner. Alma City was selected as the permanent County Seat.

     During the summer, claims were taken very rapidly, and several towns were laid out. Companies of U. S. Cavalry from Fort Hays, Kansas, patrolled the Valley to protect the settlements.

     In July, L. G. Coon, W. H. Coon, S. D. Main, Elisha Main, and others, settled on the bottom lands below the present Republican City. Later in the same month, Dr. John McPherson and A. Starry, with a party from Brownville, Nebraska, laid out Republican City. The lumber was hauled from Brownville, a distance of 140 miles, and within ten days after its arrival, the first frame house in Harlan County graced the town site of Republican City.



Early in the spring of 1872, Dr. McPherson erected a steam sawmill, which was kept busily at work to supply the great demand for lumber.

     Melrose was laid out about the same time as Republican City, and was a Company enterprise. A number of commodious buildings were erected, large stocks of goods brought on, and a newspaper started, called the Sentinel.

     These two cities at once became rivals of Alma City for the honors of the County Seat. Elections were held, and claimed by one and contested by the other, and thus the controversy was kept up for two years, engendering a bitter feeling, which entered into all business of a public character, till finally the question was decided by the Courts in favor of Alma City.

     The Fourth of July, 1871, was celebrated in a beautiful grove on Foster Creek. Fifty-six persons were present--men, women and children--and a sumptuous dinner was served. On the evening of this day, the first death in the County, of which there is any record, occurred. It was that of William McBride, who was shot dead in an altercation with a soldier named Costello, of Capt. Spaulding's Company, Second U. S. Cavalry. Costello was tried for the murder, and acquitted.

     The winter of 1871-72 was a terribly severe one to the settlers of this County. Storm followed storm in quick succession; and none but those who have had a like experience can realize the sufferings and privations endured during those long, dreary winter months. Many subsisted on buffalo meat alone during most of the winter. The nearest depot for supplies was at Grand Island, on the Union Pacific Railroad, one hundred and fifty miles distant; but the deep snows made the journey dangerous and almost impracticable.

     The first child born in the County was Harlan Parish, on Prairie Dog Creek, November 2, 1871.

     In December, 1872, a Church and Sabbath School were organized, with J. M. Grundy, Pastor, and Jabez Cobeldick, Sr., Superintendent of Sabbath School. This Society, in 1874, erected a Church edifice near Mr. Cobeldick's place, which is known as Morristown Chapel. The building is made of sod and such other material as could be found at hand, and was built by the gratuitous labor of the residents of the neighborhood.




     PUBLIC SCHOOLS.--The number of school districts in the County, in 1879, was forty-eight; school houses, thirty; children of school age--males 753, females 643; total, 1,396; whole number of children that attended school during the year, 569; number of qualified teachers employed--males, nineteen, females, twenty-seven; total, forty-six; wages paid teachers for the year--males, $1,519, females, $1,930.72; total, $3,449.72; value of school houses, $2,750; value of sites, $178; value of books, $147.66.

     TAXABLE PROPERTY.--Acres of land, 55,696; average value per acre, $2.23. Value of town lots, $9,585. Money invested in merchandise, $13,276.47; money used in manufactures, $6,094; horses 1,630, value, $34,757; mules 184, value $6,055; neat cattle, 3,401, value $23,654; sheep 1,007, value $565; swine 2,050, value $1,654; vehicles 711, value $10,077; moneys and credits, $4,674; mortgages, $3,700; stocks, etc., $484; furniture, $4,583; libraries, $221; property not enumerated, $14,096, Total valuation for 1879, $257,897.47.

     LANDS.--Wild lands are selling at $1.25 to $5 per acre, and improved from $4 to $12. There is a small amount of government land in this County, which is admirably adapted to stockraising or farming. Stock raising is engaging the attention of the farmers generally, and there are now a number of small herds here, ranging from 100 to 300 head.

     The Republican Valley branch of the B. & M. railroad is now in running order to the eastern line of this County, and the grading for its extension westward is now in progress.

     There are three flouring mills, two saw mills, and five Churches in the County, and substantial bridges span all the streams at the principal crossings.

     POPULATION.--In 1879 the County had a population of four thousand one hundred and ninety-three.


Situated on Foster Creek, near its junction with the Republican, is the County Seat, and has about 250 inhabitants. It contains a neat Court House, an excellent school house, a weekly newspaper, the Standard, general merchandise, grocery, dry goods, hardware, drug and implement stores, lumber yards, grain warehouses, etc.




     It is favorably situated for business, and latterly has improved very rapidly, a Church and many new business houses having been established and dwellings erected during the past year.


Is the largest town in the County, having at present about three hundred inhabitants. It was laid out in the summer of 1871, and is situated on the north bank of the Republican River, on a fine plateau opposite the mouth of Prairie Dog Creek. Mill Creek, a pretty stream, passes through the center of the town. A very fine bridge, two hundred and twenty-six feet long, spans the river at this point and has added greatly to the prosperity of the place, attracting the trade and travel from the southern portion of the County and Northern Kansas. The Methodists erected the first Church here in 1874. A flouring and saw mill are in operation here, and all classes of business are well represented, there being several general merchandise stores, drug, hardware, implement grocery and feed stores, etc., large lumber yards, grain warehouses, good hotels, livery stable, several attorneys' and doctors' offices, and an able weekly newspaper, the News.


Is situated on the Republican, near the mouth of Flag Creek, five miles west of the County Seat. It was surveyed in October, 1872, by Mr. A. B. Smith, and in January, 1873, the first house was erected on the townsite. It contains at present two hundred and fifty inhabitants, and has a weekly newspaper, the Sentinel, three hotels, good school and Church privileges, and all the stores and business establishments usual to a growing town of its size.

     MELROSE, GRAFT, WATSON, BAINBRIDGE, and SCANDINAVIA are close settlements, each having a Postoffice, general store, etc.


     Hitchcock County, named in honor of Ex-U. S. Senator Hitchcock, of Nebraska, was organized in the summer of 1873, by proclamation of Governor Furnas. It lies on the southwestern border of the State, bounded on the north by Hays and by Red



Willow County, south by Kansas, and west by Dundy County, containing 720 square miles, or 460,800 acres.

     The County is watered by the Republican River and tributaries. The Republican flows from west to east through the central portion of the County. Frenchman's Fork and Blackwood Creeks, both large streams, water the northern portion of the County, and Driftwood Creek and branches water the southern portion. Excellent water-power.

     Timber is abundant along the streams. Building stone is found on the south side of the Republican.

     Fifteen per cent of the area is fertile valley land, adapted to the growth of all classes of crops; ten per cent. is bluff, and the balance gently rolling prairie, which possesses a rich soil and with deep plowing will produce excellent returns of small grain. The prairies are covered with the celebrated buffalo, grama and other nutritious grasses affording the finest grazing the year round. Stock raising at present is the leading industry engaged in by the settlers. There is plenty of good Government land here.

     HISTORICAL.--G. C. Gessleman, located near the mouth of Blackwood Creek, on section 15, town 3, range 31, in the latter part of Fabruary [sic], 1873, and has the honor of being the pioneer settler of the County. In the latter part of May, following Mr. Gessleman's settlement, his solitude was broken by the arrival of about a dozen other settlers, among whom were W. W. Kelley, and G. E. Baldwin; and a few days later Daniel Murphy arrived, closely followed by J. E. Kleven, E. J. Bakken, and H. H. Hongan, all of whom settled on Blackwood Creek. In June and July the Blackwood settlement was increased by the arrival of W. Z. Taylor, Dr. Reaves, F. Martin, C. A. Gessleman, Dr. A. J. Vanderslice and J. H. Conklin. About the same time a number of families settled on Driftwood Creek.

     On the night of the 31st of May, (1873) a great flood came down the Blackwood, sweeping everything before it, and covering the whole bottom to the depth of several feet. The settlers had a narrow escape from drowning, and barely saved themselves by climbing into trees, where they were obliged to remain for twelve hours, till the water subsided. A company of soldiers, encamped



about six miles from the month of the creek, lost six men and thirty head of horses by drowning.

     At the first election for County Officers, held on the 30th day of August, 1873, nineteen votes were polled, and the following officers elected: Commissioners W. W. Kelley, T. G. Le Grande, and F. U. Martin; Clerk, W. Z. Taylor; Probate Judge, A. J. Vanderslice; Treasurer, J. E. Kleven; Sheriff, G. E. Baldwin; Superintendent Public Instruction, W. W. Kelley.

     At this election CULBERTSON was selected as the County Seat.

     On the 4th day of August, of this year, a big battle was fought between the Sioux and Pawnee Indians twelve miles west of Culbertson, in which the Pawnees were badly beaten, losing sixty in killed.

     The first stock of merchandise in the County was opened at Culbertson in 1873, by W. Z. Taylor.

     During the year 1874 several families located on Driftwood Creek, among whom were J. H. Sackett, the Burd brothers, and the Beasely family. Good crops were raised in 1875, but the population did not materially increase. Several large herds of cattle were brought into the County this year, and distributed along the river and creeks; and a number of cattle men built houses in Culbertson for their families.

     PUBLIC SCHOOLS.--The first school building was erecting at Culbertson, in 1876. Major R. S. Criswell taught the first school. There are at present one hundred and seven school children in the County, and two teachers employed.

     TAXABLE PROPERTY.--Acres of land, 1,154, average value per acre, $2.77; value of town lots, $3,584; money invested in merchandise $2,100; number of horses, 312, value, $6,960; mules, twelve, value, $367.00; neat cattle, 13,312, value $141,762.00; swine, 14, value $28.00; vehicles, 35, value $562.00; moneys and credits, $5,000.00; mortgages, 905.00; other personalty, $631.00; total valuation for 1879, $165,101.00.

     The estimated population of the County at the commencement of 1879, 264.


The County Seat, is located on the Republican, in the northeast part of the County. The townsite was selected in 1873 and sur-



veyed in August, 1875, by D. N. Smith. A large number of cattle men have made this place their headquarters and erected neat dwellings. It is a good business point and has three large general merchandise stores.


     Holt County was organized in August, 1876. It is located on the northeastern border of the State, bounded on the north by the Niobrara River, east by Knox County, and south and west by unorganized territory, containing an area of about 1,080 square miles, or about 691,200 acres.

     It is watered by the Niobrara and Elkhorn Rivers and their tributaries. The Niobrara flows in a general southeasterly direction on the northern border, a distance of about fifty miles, and receives numerous branches which have their sources in the southern and central portion of the County, the most prominent of which are Red Bird, Turkey, Eagle, Brush, Beaver and Willow Creeks. These streams all furnish sufficient water-power for mills. The southern portion of the County is finely watered by the Elkhorn and tributaries, which are also good mill streams.

     Natural timber is plentiful along the Niobrara and many of its tributaries. The Elkhorn also furnishes a considerable quantity. Through the bluffs and canons, elm, oak and other hardwoods are found. Several hundred acres of forest timber have been planted in the County; also ten miles of hedge fence.

     Twenty-six thousand six hundred and eighty apple trees are reported under cultivation, besides a large number of peach, pear, plum and cherry trees. Wild fruits are abundant.

     Twenty per cent. of the area is valley and bottom land, the remainder rolling prairie with bluffs along the streams. The bottoms of the Niobrara are from three to six miles wide, and very productive. The beautiful little valley of the Elkhorn averages about two miles in width, and several of the larger creeks have valleys from one to three miles wide.

     The uplands are especially adapted to the growth of small grain, and yield excellent crops. The last report shows the num-

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