lature on the 18th of February, 1867, uniting Jones to Jefferson County. This union continued until the Legislature of 1870-71 provided by enactment for the division of Jefferson County, which event was consummated in the fall of 1871 by the election of two sets of County Officers, the Sixth Principal Meridian being the dividing line. The former Jones, in the divorcement, retaining the name of Jefferson, and the former Jefferson assuming the name of Thayer.
Jefferson is located in the southeastern part of the State, in the fourth tier of Counties west of the Missouri River, and is bounded on the north by Saline and east by Gage County, south by the State of Kansas, and west by Thayer County, containing about 552 square miles, or 353,280 acres of land, at an average elevation of 1,200 feet above the sea level.
The Otoe Indian Reservation cuts off about twenty-four square miles from the southeast corner of the County.
The principal water courses are the Little Blue River, Big and Little Sandy, Rose, Cub and Rock Creeks.
The Little Blue River runs diagonally through the County from northwest to southeast, and furnishes splendid water power. It has an average depth of two feet, with a rapid current, flowing over a hard, gravelly bottom.
Big and Little Sandy Creeks water the northwestern portion, and are tributaries of the Little Blue. They afford some good mill privileges.
Rose Creek is a beautiful stream with numerous branches, flowing in an easterly course through the Southwestern portion of the County, and emptying into the Little Blue. Cub Creek waters the northeastern portion, and Rock Creek the southeastern portion of the County. Springs are numerous.
TIMBER.--There is considerable native timber in the County, the streams all furnishing a fair supply. The Little Blue is bordered with a fine growth of oak, elm, cottonwood, walnut, ash, maple, etc. Jefferson reports more timber under cultivation than any other County in the State, the number of trees being 3,612,220. Nearly every farm has a large grove, and many of them are enclosed by honey-locust or osage orange hedging.
FRUIT.--The number of trees reported under cultivation was as follows: Apple, 10,601; pear, 216; peach, 13,516; plum, 1,906; cherry, 2,751, and grape vines, fifty-two acres.
STONE AND CLAY.--Limestone of an excellent quality is abundant. It burns readily and makes a fine white lime. Red sandstone is found in certain localities. There are extensive deposits of potters' clay, and brick clay of the very finest quality abounds in large quantities.
CHARACTER OF THE LAND.--The surface of the country is made up largely of undulating prairie, much of it nearly level, but sufficiently porous to effectually absorb the rainfall in a reasonably short time. The soil is fertile and well adapted for wheat, and all kinds of small grain. On the Little Blue there are rich, wide bottom lands, the valley rising in beautiful slopes and undulations toward the low rounded bills which encircle it on either side. In some places there are precipitous ravines through the dark-colored sandstone which crop out on these hills.
Rose Creek flows through a fine rich valley, the surface on the south side being somewhat hilly, but affording an excellent grazing range for stock and sheep. Big and Little Sandy, Cub and Rose, Creeks have fine bottoms, and beautiful lands adjacent. The soil is everywhere fertile, the natural grasses rich and abundant, and good water plentiful, except on the uplands, where, for stock purposes, the lack of living water may be compensated by windmills.
HISTORICAL.--The pioneers of Jefferson County arrived within its present limits as early as in 1854--Jack Nye having the honor of being the first--and established themselves along the east bank of the Little Blue on the old overland route to California and Pike's Peak, where they erected rude cabins and made some efforts at tilling the soil; but they were continually harassed by Indians, from whose savage onslaughts they were often obliged to flee to the older settlements for safety, leaving behind and losing all they possessed, and it was not until several years had elapsed that a permanent foot-hold was maintained, and thrifty farms began to make their appearance.
After the departure of the Indians, and when the country had become more tranquil, emigration poured in very rapidly and soon all the best Government land was taken; the Little Blue was26
well settled, and claims were taken on all the streams; towns were laid out, and in 1871 the organization of the County was effected.
In 1874 a colony of Russo-Germans, numbering 350 persons, located on 27,000 acres of land in town 3, range 3, east, consisting of high rolling prairie, destitute alike of water or timber. Undismayed by these disadvantages, the colonists at once began the improvement of their farms by boring wells for wind mills, and the planting of large quantities of forest and fruit trees, and now their settlement will compare favorably with any in the County. Conspicuous for its size and substantial improvements, is the stock farm of Cornelius Jansen & Sons, which embraces about two sections of land. Under the energetic management of Mr. P. Jansen, good buildings, stables and corrals have been erected, and wells bored and supplied with pumps and wind mills by which a constant supply of good water is obtained. Mr. Jansen has large herds of merino sheep and fine blooded stock, the breeding of which is made a specialty.
A County Agricultural Society was organized in 1874, the first fair being held in October, 1876. The Society has about fifty acres enclosed near Fairbury, which embraces an excellent half mile track.
The St. Joe and Denver City Railroad was built through the County in 1872. It follows the valley of the Little Blue, the length of the road in the County being 27.46 miles.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS.--Number of districts, 64; school houses, 56; children of school age, males, 1,256, females, 1,115, total, 2,371; number of children that attended school during the year, 1,509; number of qualified teachers employed, males, 46, females, 52; wages paid teachers for the year, males, $5,143.08, females, $4,838.32, total, $9,981.40; value of school houses, $27,120; value of sites, $1,948.50; value of books and apparatus, $921.50.
TAXABLE PROPERTY.--Acres of land, 318,063, average value per acre, $2.22; value of town lots, $87,090; money invested in merchandise, $47,415; money used in merchandise, $3,891; number of horses, 3,116, value, $84,265; mules and asses, 309, value, $9,717; neat cattle, 6,197, value, $50,360; sheep, 5,029, value, $4,852; swine, 11,247, value, $13,035; vehicles, 1,068, value $15,264; moneys and credits, $26,218; mortgages, $5,763; stocks,
$68; furniture, $13,492; libraries, $725; property not enumerated, $32,202; railroads, $118,984.18; total valuation for 1879, $1,221,415.18.
CROPS.--Acres under cultivation, 35,864; winter wheat, 237 acres, 4,493 bushels; spring wheat, 12,771 acres, 126,285 bushels; rye, 1224 acres, 31,363 bushels; corn, 10,650 acres, 376,315 bushels; barley, 2,100 acres, 50,899 bushels; oats, 1,649 acres, 58,693 bushels; buckwheat, 10 acres, 146 bushels; sorghum, 17 acres, 3,845 gallons; flax, 271 acres, 2,510 bushels; potatoes, 170 acres, 18,195 bushels; onions, 2 1/2 acres, 200 bushels.
LANDS.--Improved lands are worth from $6 to $20 per acre. The B. & M. and other railroad companies own several thousand acres here, the price of which ranges from $5 to $8 per acre.
POPULATION.--The following are the names of the precincts and population of each in 1879: Buckley, 494; Meridian, 448; Lincoln, 117; Eureka, 262; Antelope, 446; Fairbury, 1,095; Richland, 488; Washingnon [sic], 334; Newton, 1,108; Rock Creek, 290; Cub Creek, 518, Gibson, 249; Jefferson, 176; Plymouth, 255. Total,--6,280,--males, 3,377, females, 2,903.
The County Seat, has 1,000 inhabitants, and is a beautiful city. It occupies a fine plateau on the east side of the Little Blue, near the center of the County, and was laid out in 1870, by Messrs. McDowell and Mattingly. The St. Joe and Denver Railway was completed to this point in 1872, since which time the growth of the city has been steady and uniform. Elevators and other conveniences have been erected to facilitate the large shipments of grain and stock. All classes of business are well represented here. It has a commodious Court House, a fine school building, accommodating a graded school, and several handsome Churches, representing the Baptist, Methodist, Christian and Presbyterian Congregations. The Gazette and Telegraph, two well-managed weekly papers, are published here. The Fairbury Flouring Mills, owned by Messrs. Champlin & McDowell, will rank with the best in the State. They occupy a large three-story building with stone basement, situated on a side track of the railroad, and the power is transmitted from the river by a wire cable, a distance of 730 feet.
The dam built across the river by the mill company affords over 200 horse power, of which only about one-fourth is used at present by the mill.
Situated in the valley of the Blue, and on the line of the St. Joe and Denver Railway, thirteen miles southwest of the County Seat, is a prosperous town of 400 inhabitants. It was laid out in 1872 by Mr. Abner Baker, and has gradually grown into one of the best business centers and largest shipping stations on the line of the above mentioned railroad. It contains several stores, a flouring mill and other business establishments, a graded school, excellent Church advantages, grain warehouses, etc. The New West Index, a first-rate weekly paper, is published here.
Is a flourishing business town situated on Rose Creek in the southwestern part of the County. A pottery establishment has been in operation here for some years past and turns out large quantities of earthenware. There are also good stores, a Church, large school house and a number of neat dwellings. Mark's Mills, by which name the town was formerly known, are located here. The surrounding country is well settled and fertile, and good building stone is abundant in the vicinity.
ROCK CREEK, GEORGETOWN, BOWER, PLYMOUTH, JEFFERSON, MERIDIAN, and LITTLE SANDY are the centers of close farming communities.
Johnson County, named in honor of General R. M. Johnson, U. S. Army, was created by an Act of the first Territorial Legislature, March 2, 1855, and organized in the fall of 1856. It is located in the southeastern part of the State, bounded on the north by Otoe, east by Nemaha, south by Pawnee, and west by Gage Counties, containing 378 square miles, or 231,920 acres.
WATER COURSES.--The Great Nemaha River, the principal stream of the County, flows diagonally through the central por-
tions, from the northwest to the southeast corner, affording superior mill privileges, and having several fine tributaries on either side. The principal creeks are Spring, Deer, Turkey, Yankee and Silver. Branches of the Little Nemaha River water the northeastern portion of the County. Every township has a stream passing through it, fed by never-failing springs. Well water is reached at a depth varying from twenty-five to sixty feet.
TIMBER.--There is plenty of timber in the County for fuel. The larger streams have a fine natural growth on their margins, and domestic groves are everywhere to be seen. 1,400 acres of forest trees are reported under cultivation, besides 647 miles of hedge fencing.
FRUIT.--Apple trees, 46,821; pear, 974; peach, 82,262; plum, 1,957; cherry, 8,024; grape vines, 6 acres.
COAL is found in thin seams at a depth varying from twenty to one hundred feet. Beds have been opened and worked, for several years past.
LIMESTONE crops out along the hill sides, and is easily quarried and worked. The Court House and several of the school houses of the County are constructed of this material.
CHARACTER OF THE LAND.--The surface of the country consists principally of gently rolling prairie, about fifteen per cent. being valley, bordered with occasional steep bluffs. The Great Nemaha Valley, which divides the County into two nearly equal parts, averages about two miles in width. Fine bottoms are also found along the smaller streams. There is scarcely any waste land, and the soil is very productive.
CROPS.--Area in cultivation, 70,789 acres. Winter wheat 819 acres, 13,107 bushels; spring wheat 9,219 acres, 165,852 bushels; rye 2,957 acres, 44,485 bushels; corn 38,742 acres, 1,549,697 bushels; barley 3,307 acres, 49,615 bushels; oats 3,933 acres, 117,979 bushels; buckwheat, forty-seven acres, 705 bushels; sorghum, fifty-one acres, 4,500 gallons; flax 107 acres, 748 bushels; potatoes, 158 acres, 11,943 bushels; tobacco, 2,000 pounds; onions, 586 bushels.
HISTORICAL.--The two first permanent settlers in the County were James Riggles and Isaac Irwin, both natives of Indiana. They settled three miles southeast of Tecumseh, early in the spring of 1856; the first house being built on the, northeast quarter of
section ten, town four, range eleven. These were followed soon after by John Maulding, Price, Corson, Walker, Loomis, Baker, Lawrence, W. H. Strong, N. B. Strong, Sharrett, Swallow, Holbrook, Goshen, Darby, Little, Drake, Bentz and Cochran.
The winter of 1856-57 was a terribly severe one on the settlers, and in many cases the suffering was extreme. They had to haul their provisions from the River towns, across the trackless snow, on hand-sleds, a distance of from twenty-five to thirty-five miles.
Mr. J. O. Lawrence represented the County in the Legislature of 1856-57.
COURT HOUSE BUILDING, TECUMSEH.
At the first election for County Officers, held in the fall of 1856, the following were chosen: W. P. Walker, J. D. Mutchmore, J. B. Sharrett, County Commissioners; James Bishop, Probate Judge; Charles A. Goshen, Register; Cyrus Wright, Sheriff; James
A. Little, Treasurer; Amos A. Brewer, Surveyor; J. B. Haynes, Superintendent of Public Schools; Robert Wright and N. B. Strong, Constables; Israel Loomis, Justice of the Peace.
The County Seat was located at Tecumseh, February 13, 1857.
The first saw-mill in the County was built by Maulding & Moore, at Tecumseh, in 1856-57. It was replaced in 1867 by a flouring mill by Alexander and S. W. Bivens, who still own and run the property. This was the first flouring mill in the County. Wood & Co., erected a saw-mill at Butler, in 1863, and in 1865 it was turned into a grist mill by H. B. Strong. A new flouring mill was built upon the site of the old mill, by Albright & Cody, in 1872. Solomon Gould erected a saw-mill on section ten, town six, Helena Precinct, in 1864. Fanning & Hall built a steam sawmill at Vesta, in 1866. William Mann erected a first-class flouring mill at Sterling, on the Great Nemaha River, in 1869-70. McClure & Root built a saw-mill on the Nemaha, above Sterling, in 1860.
The highways of the County. are kept in good condition--all the principal streams being spanned with substantial bridges, several of which are of iron. A bridge was erected at Bivens' Mill, in 1856, which was replaced by a more substantial structure in 1866, the City of Brownville donating $800 towards its erection. Nebraska City donated money to build a bridge at Helena, in 1860, across the Little Nemaha River. The first iron bridge in the State of Nebraska was built across the Nemaha River, at Tecumseh, in 1869.
The Southwest Railroad, from Nebraska City to Tecumseh, was surveyed in 1869. The Atchison & Nebraska R. R. was surveyed and located in 1871. The Brownville & Fort Kearney R. R. was surveyed and located in 1872.
The Atchison & Nebraska--the only good road yet constructed through the County--ran the first cars to Tecumseh in April, 1872, and gave an excursion to the people of the County to Atchison and return--five hundred people availing themselves of the opportunity.
The Catholics erected the first Church building in the County, at Tecumseh, in 1868. It was dedicated by Father Emmanuel; cost of building, $700.
A Presbyterian Church was erected at Helena, in the year 1870. This was the first Protestant Church in the County; cost, $1,500.
The Christian Church at Tecumseh was erected by voluntary subscription, in 1871; cost, $1,800.
The first Methodist Church in the County was erected, at Tecumseh, in 1870, and was dedicated by Rev. T. B. Lemon.
The Lutheran Church, at Helena, was built in 1870.
The First Presbyterian Church, at Tecumseh, and the second in the County, was erected in 1873, and dedicated in February, of that year, by Rev. Cleeland, of Iowa; cost of building, $2,600.
The First Methodist Episcopal Church, at Sterling, was built in 1875, and dedicated by. Rev. J. H. Pearson; cost of building, $800.
The Baptist Church of Sterling, was built in 1876, being the first of this Denomination in the County; cost, $1,500.
Church services and Sabbath Schools are now held in every Precinct in the County.
James Price, son of Ansford Price, was the first child born in the County.
Mrs. Radley was the first person interred in the Tecumseh cemetery.
The first newspaper published in the County was the Tecumseh Gazette, in 1868, by Presson & Andrews. It was burnt out in 1869. The Tecumseh Chieftain succeeded the Gazette in 1869. The Tecumseh Herald was established in 1872, and afterwards consolidated with the Chieftain.
The first banking house in the County was established at Tecumseh, August 1st, 1871, by James D. Russell and Chas A. Holmes. The first brick building in the County was erected by the same parties, at Tecumseh, in 1873, at a cost of $7,000. The lower part of the building is used by the banking house and stores, the upper portion by the Masonic, Odd Fellows, and other Lodge rooms.
The first threshing machine was brought into the County in 1872; the first harvesting machine in 1861; both were owned by Mr. Andrew Cook.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS.--The first frame school house in the County was erected at Tecumseh, in 1856, by J. C. Lawrence. In 1879
there were, school districts, sixty-five; school houses, sixty-two; children of school age--males 1,340, females, 1,230, total 2,570; total number of children that attended school during the year, 1,766; number of qualified teachers employed--males, thirty-six, females, fifty-seven, total, ninety-three; wages paid teachers for the year, males, $4,98.4.66, females, $6,093.10, total, $11,077.76; value of school houses, $28,396; value of sites, $1,325; value of books etc., $935.30.
PUBLIC SCHOOL BUILDING, TECUMSEH.
TAXABLE PROPERTY.--Acres of land, 229,130; average value per acre, $3.22. Value of town lots, $67,550. Money invested in merchandise, $34,550; money used in manufactures, $15,385; number of horses 3,494, value $68,695; mules 344, value $8,442;
© 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 for NEGenWeb Project by Pam Rietsch, T&C Miller