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and the County very nearly depopulated--officials and all leaving. All the settlements and ranches in the Platte Valley, west of Fort Kearney, and on the Little Blue and Republican Rivers, were annihilated that summer by the Indians; the overland stage ceased running, and emigrant trains were not allowed to cross the plains by the military, unless there were fifty or more wagons together. Occasionally, however, small trains of a dozen wagons or so would manage to elude the Military by taking a wide circuit around the Fort, and proceed on their journey; but they frequently paid dearly for their temerity.

     On the 13th of August, 1864, a mule train of twelve wagons, from Council Bluffs, Iowa, was attacked by the Cheyennes at Plum Creek, about thirty-five miles west of Fort Kearney, and every man belonging to it--thirteen in number--was killed, and two women and one child taken prisoners. The Indians came up to the train in an apparently friendly manner, just as it was about starting, and while the drivers were sitting on their wagons, the signal was given, and in a minute's time every man of the train lay a corpse. After helping themselves to what plunder they wanted, and setting fire to the wagons, the Indians placed the two women captives upon ponies, tying their ankles together underneath, and then hurriedly left the scene of the massacre, going in a southwesterly direction toward the Republican River. A company of soldiers followed their trail, but did not succeed in overtaking them. The mother of the child, during the flight dropped handkerchiefs and articles of the child's clothing, so that their trail might be followed, but to no purpose. The first night of their flight, an Indian took the child from its mother, and that was the last she ever saw of it, She was told that it had been killed. The captives were taken to New Mexico, and a year or two afterwards, through the influence of an Indian trader, at Santa Fe, were bought back from the Indians and restored to their friends.

     The ranche next above Hopeville, several miles west of Fort Kearney, was also destroyed that summer, and the man left in charge of it killed by the Indians.

     During the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad, the second and permanent settlement of the County was begun, and continued steadily.



     In 1872, a re-organization of the County took place and a full Board of County Officers were elected, as follows. viz.: Commissioners, Moses H. Sydenham, N. B. Hamp, and J. Brown; Probate Judge, H. T. Cooper; Clerk, W. S. Morlan; Sheriff, F. Roberts; Treasurer, A. A. Andrews; Surveyor, Chas. Colt. At this election, the County Seat was established at Lowell, a town in the north-eastern part of the County, which had just been laid out and surveyed.

     Shortly after this, the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad was built in the County, and for a while had its terminus at Lowell, which added greatly to the settlement of this vicinity. A bridge was also built across the Platte, connecting Lowell with Gibbon, a station on the Union Pacific Railroad, and Lowell soon rose to prominence as an outfitting point for the large number of emigrants that came by these roads and crossed the "divide" at Fort Kearney to the Republican valley country.

     In 1873, the grading for the St. Joe and Denver City Railroad was completed through the County, to a junction with the Union Pacific at Kearney.

     The first newspapers published in the County were the Kearney Herald, the Central Star, and the Star of Empire, all of which suspended after a brief existence.

     April 26,1879, Samuel D. Richards was executed at Minden, the County Seat, for the murder, in December, 1878, of Peter Anderson, a Swede, of this County, with whom be had been living as a hired hand. He killed Anderson with a hammer and buried his body in the cellar under a pile of coal. Richards, although but twenty-three years of age at the time of his execution, was one of the most hardened criminals and fiendish humans of the age. Previous to his execution he confessed to this and several other murders, the most notable being that of the Harolson family, living near Anderson's, and consisting of a mother and her three small children, whom he butchered in the most brutal manner, on the night of November 2, a little over a month previous to the murder of Anderson. At the time this occurred Richards was living with Mrs. Harolson, her husband having fled the country to escape the charge of horse stealing. On the night of the murder, Mrs. Harolson sat up very late fixing her children's clothing, intending to



start with them the next day to visit friends in the East. About 9 o'clock, while the tired mother was drowsing on the outside of the bed, undressed, Richards smashed in her skull with a heavy flat iron. He next served the oldest and next oldest child in the same way. The noise awoke the baby which he seized by the ankle and dashed its brains out against the floor. He then wrapped the bodies in bed sheets and buried them in a trench near a hay stack, where they were afterwards found. Richards was six feet two inches in his stockings. He first came to Nebraska in the early part of 1877.

     SCHOOLS.--The first schools in the County were conducted at Fort Kearney, the Chaplains of the Post usually acting as teachers. A school house was erected at old Kearney City, in 1865, Mr. R. K. Freeman being the first teacher. The present number of school districts is twenty-eight; school houses, thirteen; children of school age, males, 441, females, 325, total, 766; whole number of children that attended school during the year, 381; number of qualified teachers employed, twenty-two; total wages paid teachers for the year, $1,982; total value of school property, $4,892.35.

     TAXABLE PROPERTY.--Acres of land, 159,636; average value per acre, $1.31; value of town lots, $2,975.50; money invested in merchandise, $2,885; money used in manufactures, $50; horses, 1,205, value, $33,406; mules and asses, 173, value, $5,583; neat cattle, 1,483, value, $15,844; sheep, 581, value, $581; swine, 2,723, value, $1,620; vehicles, 591, value, $6,930; moneys and credits, $5,426; mortgages, $2,818; stocks, $30; furniture, $4,403; libraries, $89; property not enumerated, $18,037.30; railroads, $117,909.76. Total valuation for 1879, $428,814.25.

     CROPS.--Acres under cultivation reported for 1879, 21,698. Winter wheat, eleven acres, 180 bushels; spring wheat, 834 acres, 95,700 bushels; rye, 350 acres, 4,721 bushels; corn, 2,693 acres, 60,697 bushels; barley, 201 acres, 9,791 bushels; oats, 1,950 acres, 23,181 bushels; sorghum, six acres, 931 gallons; flax, thirteen acres, 109 bushels; broom corn, 1,835 acres, 226 tons; millet, eighty eight acres, 250 tons; potatoes, ninety-one acres, 10,664 bushels.

     RAILROADS AND LANDS.--The Burlington and Missouri River Railroad runs from east to west through the northern portion of the County, a distance of 14.68 miles.



     The B. & M. and Union Pacific Railroad Companies each own a large amount of land in this County, the price of which ranges from $2 to $6 per acre. There is also some good Government land here. Improved lands are worth from $4 to $18 per acre.

     POPULATION.--The population of the County in 1879 was 2,840, being an increase over 1878 of 1,516.


Situated on the table land near the geographical center of the County, was made the County Seat in 1877. It is a very promising new town and is growing rapidly. It contains a weekly newspaper, the Bee, several good stores, mechanics' shops, Church and school advantages, etc. A $5,000 court house is being erected.


Situated on the B. & M. Railroad, in the northeastern part of the County, contains about 350 inhabitants, a weekly newspaper, the Register, a $3,000 school house, several stores, grain ware houses, etc. It was surveyed in 1872 by A. B. Smith, and until 1877 was the County Seat. A fine brick courthouse was erected at a cost of $15,000. The first building erected on the townsite was the Continental Hotel; the first residents were W. W. Patterson, and Mr. White, Mr. Barney, Mr. Kent and Dr. Cooper settled here at an early day; the first family to locate was Mr. T. Munhal's. Lowell is an enterprising town and at present the chief shipping point and business center of the County.


In the northwestern part of the County, was laid out on the proposed line of the St. Joe & Denver Railroad, but the non-completion of that road through the County gave a check to the growth of the town. It has a good school house, store, blacksmith shop, etc.


Is a close farming settlement in the southwestern part of the County. The first improvements were made by Wm. C. Walker, who established a ranch. It has a Postoffice, store, school house and blacksmith shop.



Sketch or Picture





Located in the middle-western part of the County, was first settled by J. Zimmerman, who put up a sod house and stable, dug a well, and did a general ranching business. It is now supplied with a daily mail and has a good store and school. house.


Is a small village in the northeastern part of the County. Messrs. Huffman, Mather, and Conyer were among the first settlers here.


Is a Postoffice in the southeastern part of the County. Messrs. Mills, Wells, Fountain, Hill, Pressley and Kelley, who now have fine farms in the neighborhood, were among the first settlers of the Precinct.


Is a thriving Danish settlement in the central part of the County. A well stocked general merchandise store is kept here by J. J. Jensen & Brother.


     Knox County was organized under the name of L'eau qui Court by the Territorial Legislature of 1856-7. In February, 1873, the Legialature [sic] changed its name to Knox. It is located on the northern border of the State, bounded on the north by the Niobrara and Missouri Rivers, east by Cedar, south by Pierce and Antelope and west by Holt County, containing 1,075 square miles, or 688,000 acres.

     WATER COURSES.--The County is watered by the Missouri and Niobrara Rivers and their tributaries. The Missouri forms about two-thirds of the northern boundary line and receives several fine tributaries, the largest and most important being Bazile Creek, an excellent mill stream, which, with its branches, waters the central portions of the County. The Niobrara joins the Missouri after forming about one-third of the northern boundary. Verdigris Creek, its most important tributary, flows from south to north



through the western portion of the County, and furnishes some excellent mill privileges. The North Fork of the Elkhorn River waters the southeastern townships of the County, besides which, there are innumerable smaller streams and springs.

     TIMBER.--The Missouri and Niobrara are well timbered, as are also the smaller streams, the varieties consisting chiefly of elm, hackberry, boxelder, maple, ash, walnut, coffee-bean, red cedar and willow. Three hundred and seven acres of forest trees are reported under cultivation.

     FRUIT.--It is only of late years that fruit culture has received any attention. Eight hundred and thirty apple, and a number of peach, pear, plum and cherry trees are reported.

     CHARACTER OF THE LAND.--Ten per cent. of the area is valley and bottom land, the balance consisting of rolling prairie with frequent high bluffs along the streams. Bazile and Verdigris Creeks have very fine valleys, and considerable rich bottom and bench land is found along the smaller streams, The bottoms of the Niobrara and Missouri are very wide and fertile. The soil throughout the County is generally of the best character.

     CROPS.--The number of acres reported under cultivation for 1879 was 9,350. Rye, 116 acres, 2,156 bushels; spring wheat, 3,966 acres, 61,871 bushels; corn, 2,367 acres, 72,170 bushels; barley, 378 acres, 9,822 bushels; oats, 1,088 acres, 42,445 bushels; buckwheat, nine acres, sixty-five bushels; sorghum, sixteen acres, 1,064 gallons; potatoes, 153 acres, 19,926 bushels.

     HISTORICAL.--June 7th, 1856, Dr. B. Y. Shelley and R. R. Cowan, came to the present site of Niobrara, the County Seat, for the purpose of locating a town. Being well pleased with the location, they marked out claims and then returned by river to Sioux City, Iowa. A town company was formed, called L'eau qui Court Company, which shortly afterwards erected some houses upon the townsite, and built a fort for the protection of the settlers. The Indians soon began to be very troublesome, and during the winter of 1856-7 all the houses and improvements, except the "old fort," in which the settlers had at that time gone for safety, were burned by them. The Indian annoyances continued during the spring of 1857, numerous acts of hostility were committed and nearly all the live stock and other property were destroyed.



     During the session of the Territorial Legislature of 1856-7, the L'eau qui Court Company was properly and duly incorporated. In the Act of Incorporation, the town of Niobrara was located, the Company's claim defined, and liberal ferry and bridge privileges granted. The claim of the Company embraced almost the entire Niobrara bottom for a townsite.

     The permanent improvements date from about the first of July, 1857, although a small store had been opened a month or two earlier. The steamer "Omaha," from St. Louis, laden chiefly for Niobrara, landed there June 29, greatly to the bewilderment of the six hundred Ponca Indians who swarmed upon the levee. Three days later the first frame building was completed in Niobrara. A steam saw mill was immediately put in operation, and in little more than three months thereafter, a hotel had been built and opened, at that time the largest in Nebraska, being three stories high and costing about $10,000. In August of this year, there were over sixty men living in Niobrara. At the Territorial election held this month the first election held in the County--there were forty-two votes cast. The first United States mail arrived the same month.

     The monetary crisis of 1857 stripped the whole frontier of all available funds, destroyed confidence, and stagnated business generally, and for the next few years but little was done. The L'eau qui Court Company finally failed, and in 1860, "The Niobrara Town Company" was organized. The failure of the old Company took place before they had secured title to the townsite, and the patents were finally issued to the Niobrara Town Company. Among the leading men of the old Company were Dr. B. Y. Shelley, James Tufts, H. W. Harges, J. Austin Lewis, W. H. Benner, Geo. W. Gregg and Henry Thompson. The new Company was composed of a part of the members of the old Company, and some new men, among whom were Dr. Joel A. Potter, J. Shaw Gregory, Robt. M. Hagaman, Walter M. Barnum, F. Weis, and others. The patents to the land were issued to the new Company in 1861.

     Of all the old settlers who are now in Niobrara, Wm. Lamont, C. G. Benner and T. N. Paxton, and their families, came in 1858; T. G. Hutchinson and H. Westerman, in 1859; Otto E. C. Knudson, in 1860, and Fritz Bruns, in 1862. In 1859 about seventy-five men left Niobrara for Pike's Peak.



     There were three other settlements of some note in the early history of the County, viz: Frankfort, Breckenridge, and Running Water.

     Frankfort was first settled in 1856, by S. Loeber, now deceased, who opened an Indian trading post here. Smutty Bear had the camp of his tribe on the other side of the Missouri, making this a good trading point. In the following year Mr. Loeber was joined by his brother Justus. The Town was laid out in 1857, and the plat filed in St. James, then the Seat of Justice of Cedar County, and was afterwards burned with other records of that County. Fifteen or twenty men located here and a number of houses were built during this year, and at one time it was thought that Frankfort would be the town on the Upper Missouri. Of the old settlers now living about the place, Louis Stettner came to this County in 1856, Justus Loeber and Chas. Mischke, in 1857, Leonard Weigand, John Buhrow, John Leder, and Mr. Mettsler, in 1862.

     Breckenridge, now Santee Agency, was located in 1857, by Major J. S. Gregory, Dr. Joel A. Potter, the Steinberg Bros., and others. This place has the honor of having the first mill in the County.

     The Running Water settlement, now Pischelville, on the Niobrara, was commenced in 1858, by Judge T. N. Paxton. He lived here five years, and was compelled to leave by the Santee Sioux Indians.

     Immigration did not come to the County, after the war, in sufficient number to deserve mention, until about 1869 or 1870, when settlements were started in the valleys of the different streams. In 1870-71, Indian depredations became so aggravating that in January, 1871, a detachment of soldiers was sent from Ft. Randall, on the Missouri, under the charge of Sergeant Herko Koster, for the protection of the settlers on the Running Water and at other points.

     The first school in the County was taught at Frankfort, in 1871, by Mrs. Clark.

     The first natural death among the whites in the County was that of a Mrs. Smith, in 1859. The next was a Mrs. Young, in 1861. In the winter of 1857, Charles Rohe was shot through the heart, at Frankfort, by Rudolph Grasso. The shooting was the



result of a quarrel. No arrest was ever made. In 1859, one Frank West, while drunk in Niobrara, deliberately shot and killed a Ponca Indian. No arrest. In 1869, James T. Small was shot and killed at his own door, while alone on his claim, nine miles above Niobrara. The perpetrators of this murder were never discovered. In 1870, Alexander Cook was killed, it is supposed by Indians, while building the Bazil Mill. The same year, two children of Thomas Brobbanec--one a girl of thirteen, and the other a boy about eight years of age--were killed by Indians, supposed to be either Pawnees or Sioux. His wife was shot at at the same time, but feigned death, and thus escaped with her life.

     The Santee Sioux Indians, numbering about 800, have a reservation of 115,200 acres in this County, bordering on the Missouri River. They are the most peaceable of all the Sioux, wear citizens dress, have day schools, farm some, and raise considerable stock.

     PUBLIC SCHOOLS.--Number of districts, twenty-one; school houses, eighteen; children of school age--males 349, females, 319; total, 668; number of qualified teachers employed--males, eleven, females, fourteen; total wages paid teachers for the year, $3,024.19; value of school houses, $4,774; value of sites, $388; value of books and apparatus, $606.62.

     TAXABLE PROPERTY.--Acres of land, 149,913; average value per acre, $2.09; value of town lots, $34,661; money invested in merchandise, $16,595; money used in manufactures, $9,840; horses, 813, value $22,167; mules, seventy-eight, value $2,820; neat cattle, 2,972, value $33,873; sheep, 447, value $896; swine, 596, value $782; vehicles, 416, value $9,387; moneys and credits, $1,256; mortgages, $2,340; stocks, etc., $150; furniture, $3,625; libraries, $68; property not enumerated, $6,683; total valuation for 1879, $458,222.

     LANDS.--There is quite a considerable amount of good government land in this County, which can be secured under the homestead, pre-emption, and timber-culture laws. Wild lands can be bought at $2 to $5, and improved from $7 to $15 per acre.

     POPULATION.--The following are names of the Precincts and the population of each in 1879: Niobrara, 642; Creighton, 450; Eastern, 307; Western, 287; Central, 179; Verdigris, 233.

     Total population of County, 2,088--males, 1,157; females, 931.

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