First meeting for the organization of Nemaha Valley Lodge, No. 4, A. F. & A. M., was held at the residence of Jesse Noel, at Brownville, on the 26th day of September, 1857. Date of Charter, June 2, 1858.
The first County Commissioners were elected in November, 1856. The Board consisted of D. C. Sanders, J. N. Knight, and John W. Hall. First meeting, Dec. 1.
The first city election, under the new Act incorporating Brownville, was held February 9, 1857, and resulted as follows: Mayor, A. S. Holliday; Recorder, B. B. Thompson; Aldermen, J. T. White, J. D. N. Thompson and George W. Bratton; Marshal, Homer Johnson; Treasurer, J. T. Dozier; and A. L. Coates, Surveyor.
The first code of ordinances was adopted February 23, 1857.
The first term of District Court was held in a log cabin, at Brownville, in May, 1856, with Hon. James Bradley, Judge; J. W. Coleman, Sheriff; Wm. McLellan, District Attorney; and W. H. Hoover, District Clark.
The Methodist Church at Brownville, was organized in February, 1858; Rev. Gordon in charge. At the same time the first protracted meeting was held, Revs. Goode, Cannon, Powell, Gordon and Horn officiating.
The Brownville House, now a part of McPherson's Block, was completed in the spring of 1858, and opened on the 4th of July of the same year, by Robert Morrison and C. W. Wheeler.
In the fall of 1858, the Presbyterian Church of Brownville was erected through the efforts and under the supervision of Luther Headley.
The first Lodge of the I. O. O. F. was organized at Brownville, January 29, 1858.
January 14, 1857, B. F. Lushbaugh and John L. Carson established a Bank at Brownville. This firm dissolved in 1860, and J. L. Carson continued the business of private banker until August 28, 1871, when the private bank was consolidated with, and organized as the First National Bank of Brownville, John L. Carson, President.
The first daily mail commenced from Rockport, Missouri, to Brownville, on July 1, 1858.
In January, 1857, the first number of the Nemaha Journal was issued at Brownville; S. Belden, editor and publisher. Shortly after, Langdon & Goff commenced the publication of the Daily Snort, which was short lived.
The Baptist Church was organized at Brownville on January 29, 1859.
First Nemaha County Agricultural Fair was held at Brownville, Oct. 6 and 7, 1859. October 10, 1859, the first Church bell arrived in Brownville, for the Presbyterian Church.
R. W. Furnas published the first number of the Nebraska Farmer, the first journal of the kind in Nebraska, in January, 1860.
The telegraph line was completed and an office duly opened for business, on August 29, 1860.
On the 1st of November, 1867, Brownville Chapter No. 4, R. A. M., was duly organized.
Brownville High School Building was completed in 1865. The Congregational Church was erected in 1859, and sold to the Methodists in 1861. The Christian Church, erected in 1859, was blown down by a hurricane in 1866, and rebuilt by the Baptists in 1868-69.
The first number of the Brownville Journal was issued January 1,1868. The office was removed to Falls City the same year.
Holladay & Hill commenced the publication of the Brownville Democrat on July 11, 1868. The name of this paper was changed to the Nemaha County Granger by Holladay & Whitehead, and the first number was issued by them January 23, 1874.
The first railroad train arrived in Brownville, on February 1, 1874, over the route known as the Midland Extension, from Nebraska City, now called the Nebraska Railway.
The corner stone of the Catholic Church in Brownville, was laid July 24, 1870, by Rev. Father Curtis, of Omaha.
The corner stone of the Episcopal edifice, was laid by Rev. Geo. R. Davis, in October, 1857.
Furnas Council, No. 3, R. A. M., was organized April 25, 1871. Ada Chapter No. 2, was organized February 10, 1872.
Brownville Division, No. 19, Sons of Temperance, was organized November 12, 1872. Excelsior Lodge No. 15, Knights of
Pythias, was organized October 21, 1873. The State Bank of Nebraska organized on October 1, 1870.
The State Agricultural Fair was held at Brownville, in September, 1870, and October, 1871. The first graded or high school, was organized at Brownville, during the term commencing April 6, 1868.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS.--Present number of districts in the County, seventy-five; school houses, seventy-four; children of school age--males, 1,906, females, 1,925, total, 3,832; qualified teachers, employed,--males, forty-nine, females, eighty-four; total wages paid teachers for the year, $13,849.06; value of school houses, $46,194; value of sites, $3,117; value of books and apparatus, $1,069.
TAXABLE PROPERTY.--Acres of land, 246,762; average value per acre, $4.13; value of town lots, $146,570; money invested in merchandise, $63,935; money used in manufactures, $13,460; horses, 4,892, value $111,050; mules and asses, 630, value $18,146; neat cattle, 13,630, value $130,019; sheep, 591, value $419; swine, 34,739, value $31,267; vehicles, 1,668, value $26,026; moneys and credits, $23,978; mortgages, $35,425; stocks, etc., $,26085 [sic]; furniture, $36,192; libraries, $1,499; property not enumerated, $76,760; railroads, $62,831.69; telegraph, $676.80; total valuation for 1879, $1,823,002.49.
RAILROADS.--The Nebraska Railway, under control of the B. & M., runs through the eastern portion of the County, a distance of about thirteen miles, Nemaha City being its present terminal point. Track laying for the extension of this road to a connection with the B. &. M. branch at Beatrice, Gage County, sixty-five piles distant, via. Tecumseh, on the A. &. N. road, is now being vigorously pushed forward, and is nearly completed to the latter point. The surveys for several other lines projected through the County have already been made.
LANDS.--Improved lands are worth from $7 to $30 per acre; wild lands from $4 to $10.
The estimated population of the County in 1879, was 10,504.
The County Seat, is an enterprising city of about 1,500 inhabitants. It has a handsome location on the high ground facing the Missouri
River, near the center of the County from north to south, and is also on the line of the Nebraska Railway. The bottoms and bluffs of the Missouri in the vicinity are well timbered, while the surrounding country on the north, west and south, is highly cultivated, and dotted with numerous large Orchards and beautiful artificial groves.
STATE NORMAL SCHOOL BUILDING.
A splendid steam ferry connects the city with the Kansas City, St. Joe and Council Bluffs Railroad, on the opposite side of the Missouri. Two excellent weekly newspapers are published here, the Granger and the Advertiser, and there are besides, two banks, a large number of stores, representing all the various lines of trade, several handsome Churches, a very fine high school building, accommodating a graded school, etc.
Is a beautiful city of 600 inhabitants, situated on the banks of the Missouri, and on the Nebraska Railway, seven miles north of
Brownville. The State Normal school is located here. Business is represented by a weekly paper, the Herald, a large three story flouring mill, one manufacturing establishment, several grocery and dry goods stores, two drug stores, a brick yard, harness, boot and shoe, millinery, confectionery and a host of smaller establishments. It has several Church organizations and neat Churches, and an elegant school house, supplied with complete apparatus and all the modern improvements.
Located near the mouth of the Little Nemaha River, about five miles south of Brownville, was one of the earliest towns located in the County. Allen T. Coates came here in the summer of 1854, and in December following, the townsite was surveyed by Drs. Hoover and Wyatt. It was incorporated by the Legislature in 1856, and during the same year a Postoffice was established, with Dr. Jerome Hoover, postmaster. The Methodists organized the first religious Society, Rev. Philo Gordon, Pastor. Joel W. Wells, elected in 1857, was the first Mayor of the city. S. Belden issued the first number of the Nemaha Valley Journal here in January, 1858. Geo. W. Fairbrother and T. C. Hacker commenced the publication of the Nebraska Herald here in October, 1859. The first white child born in the Precinct was a son of Alex. Weddle, on June 23, 1855.
Nemaha City is at present the terminus of the Nebraska Railway, and has made more substantial progress during the past year than ever before. The railroad has put new life into it and new buildings are going up very fast. It contains about 250 inhabitants, two Churches--Methodist and Episcopal--a good school house, stores, grain houses, etc.
Situated on the Missouri, in the southeastern part of the County, was surveyed in 1857. Hobbitzill & Co., opened the first store in the town. Among the first settlers of the place were Darius Phipps, Wm. Thurman, Henry Hart, Hegler and Paulin. Miss Clara Parker taught the first school here in the fall of 1861. The town was incorporated in 1870. At present it contains several mercantile
stores and other business establishments, good school and Church advantages &c. Extensive coal mines are being worked at this place.
Is a flourishing town of two hundred inhabitants, situated near the geographical center of the County. It was surveyed and recorded in 1869, and the first store was opened the same year by Wesley Dundas. Dr. A. Opporman located here in May, 1871, and was the first physician. The first hotel was erected in 1874 by A. W. Morgan. The first school was taught by E. E. Savage, in November, 1874, and during the same year the Methodist Church was organized. Sheridan is located on the Branch of the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad now building through the County, and is improving very rapidly. The railroad will make it one of the best business centers in the County. All classes of business are represented and well sustained. It has excellent Church and school facilities, and a weekly newspaper, the Post.
Is an old village located in the southeast corner of the County. It was laid out in 1854, and surveyed by Greever, Nuckolls and others. Judge A. J. Ritter opened a general merchandise store here in 1859. A Postoffice was established in 1861. It contains a fine brick school house, a first class flouring mill, two blacksmith and one wagon shop, stores, and other places of business.
Located on the Little Nemaha, in the northwestern part of the County, is a new town and contains a grist mill, hotel, tin shop, wagon and blacksmith shop, grocery and dry goods stores, two physicians, etc.
Three miles west of Brownville, has two Churches a fine school house and several business establishments.
DRATTON, JOHNSON, GRANT, SHERMAN, HILLSDALE, FEBING, ST. FREDERICK, POPENS, CLIFTON and LOCUST GROVE, are promising young towns.30
Merrick County, was organized by the Legislature in the winter of 1858-9. It lies between the Platte and Loup Rivers, in the middle-eastern part of the State, bounded on the north by Nance and Platte Counties, east and south, by the Platte River,--which separates it from Polk and Hamilton Counties, and west by Hall and Howard Counties, containing about 400 square miles, at an average elevation of 1,686 feet above the sea level.
WATER COURSES.--The County is finely watered, by the Platte River and tributaries. The Platte washes the southeastern border, a distance of about fifty miles. Prairie Creek, a very fine stream, flows from southwest to northeast through the central portion of the County. Silver and several smaller creeks meander through different portions of the County. Well water is obtained almost anywhere at a depth of from 15 to 25 feet.
TIMBER.--Native timber is scarce. Along the banks of the Platte and on the islands, there is a small, amount. A very large amount of timber has been planted in the County, however, and fuel is no longer a scarcity. The reports for 1879, show the number of forest trees under cultivation to be 2,107 1/2 acres, or 1,361,390 trees, besides 11 3/4 miles of hedging.
FRUIT.--2,264 apple, sixty-four pear, 1,773 peach, 2,811 plum, and 616 cherry trees, and 284 grape vines are reported. Many of the orchards are in bearing.
CHARACTER OF THE LAND.--The surface of the country consists almost entirely of fertile valley land, the Platte River being on the southeastern boundary, and the Loup River just beyond the northern boundary of the County, while through the central portion, midway between the two, extends the fine valley of Prairie Creek. At least seventy percent. of the area is valley and bottom, and the remainder low, undulating prairie.
SOIL AND CROPS.--The soil is a deep, black sandy loam of inexhaustible fertility, and. almost everywhere yields abundant crops. The area in cultivation reported for 1879, was 78,270 acres. Rye, 2,503 acres, 36,485 bushels; spring wheat, 16,606 acres, 206,520
bushels; corn, 9,168 acres, 239,633 bushels; barley, 595 acres, 15,094 bushels; oats, 4,041 acres, 128,220 bushels; sorghum, thirty-six acres, 2,958 gallons; flax, 121 acres, 1,195 bushels; millet, fifty-three acres, 912 tons; potatoes, 318 acres, 31,014 bushels.
HISTORICAL.--James Vieregg, a returned Californian, has the honor of being the first settler in the County, locating on the southeast quarter of section five, town eleven north, range eight west, on Thursday, September 15,1859. Later on the same day, Charles Eggerton and Jesse Shoemaker, selected a site for a ranche within a few rods of the original "lone tree" on the left bank of the Platte River, three miles southwest of where Central City now stands. Here they built a large sod house and stabling, which soon became widely known as the "Lone Tree Ranche." A few mouths later the co-partnership of Eggerton & Shoemaker was dissolved, the latter going eight miles farther west, to the banks of Wood River where he established "Shoemaker's Point Ranche."
On the first of January, 1860, Jason Parker staked his claim on the land where he still resides, about two miles southeast of Central City, and on the first of March following, he brought his family out, being the pioneer family of the County.
Many of the Pike's Peak gold seekers, upon their return, settled permanently in this County, among whom were James G. and Wells Brewer, who located in 1860.
John L. Martin, who had been living at Silver Creek for a year and a half previously, settled upon a claim about a mile and a half southeast of Chapman, on Tuesday, May 21, 1861. Mrs. Martin was for five years the only physician between Columbus and Fort Kearney.
On Tuesday, July 15, 1862, Mrs. Jason Parker was buried, being the first death among the settlers.
The first marriage ceremony in the County, was performed by Judge James G. Brewer, at his residence, between John M. Hyes and Viola Parker, on Sunday, December 25, 1864, in the presence of Charles Combs and Wells Brewer.
According to the provisions of an Act of the Legislature, the Commissioners of Platte County issued an order for an election to be held in Merrick County, on the 18th day of April, 1864, for the purpose of County organization. At this election the following
County officers were elected, viz.: Commissioners, George Gilson, Jason Parker, and Jesse Shoemaker; Probate Judge, James G. Brewer; Clerk, Wm. H. Mitchell; Treasurer, Wells Brewer; Prosecuting Attorney, Henry Latrop; Sheriff, Frank Parker; Coroner, Robert Mitchell.
All the County business was transacted at the house of James G. Brewer for several years.
The first jury trial held in the County was on a civil suit before Jas. G. Brewer, Probate Judge, wherein Henry Twitchell was plaintiff and William Haylen and Jesse Shoemaker, defendants. Counsel for plaintiff, John L. Martin; for defendant, Wells Brewer.
The first criminal trial was before the same, on June 16, 1867, the People against Matt Vertz, charged with shooting Isaac Berry
During the year 1868 the Indians made several raids into the County, but the greater part of the mischief done by them was in stealing stock. However, a son of Claus Gottcsh [sic], and a hired man, was killed by Indians in 1868, and in June, 1869, Wm. Shoulders and John Sanford were also killed by them while trying to recapture stolen animals.
At an election held on the 12th of October, 1869, Lone Tree was selected as the permanant [sic] County Seat.
The first term of the District Court of Merrick County was held at Lone Tree, November 24, 1869; Hon. Lorenzo Crounse, presiding Judge; E. F. Gray, District Attorney; Ira Prouty, Clerk, and G. W. Moore, Sheriff.
The first bonded indebtedness of the County was created on June 4, 1870, when the citizens, at a special election, voted bonds to the amount of $18,000 for the erection of a court house and jail at Lone Tree. The contract for its construction was awarded, March 21, 1871, to Charles Lightfoot, for $16,000. The building, however, was finished by Q. B. Skinner, and owing to changes made in the plans, cost about $20,000. It is brick, fifty by sixty, and thirty feet high; offices and jail below, and court room above.
A tornado crossed the County, from west to east, on the afternoon of the 5th of July, 1871, destroying everything in its path for a width of about 200 feet. It lifted the roof from the depot at Lone Tree, destroyed part of Bryant's Hotel, demolished a blacksmith shop and several small buildings, and scattered Traver &
May's lumber yard in every direction. About a mile east of town, the house of a Mr. Phelps, in which he and his four children were eating supper at the time was lifted bodily from the ground, and carried some eighty yards. making a complete wreck of it. Mr. Phelps was instantly killed, his body being found partially hanging in a cottonwood tree, while around him, in the debris, lay his children, stunned and bleeding; but, strange as it may seem, they all eventually recovered.
MERRICK COUNTY COURT HOUSE BUILDING.
County bonds, to the amount of $6,000, were voted January 9th, 1872, to aid James G. Brewer in the construction of a watergrist mill in the County.
In 1872-73 peace and prosperity reigned in Merrick County, and its growth and improvement was substantial and great. And it so promised for 1874, but in July vast swarms of grasshoppers
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