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     Otoe County was organized by an Act of the first Territorial Legislature, approved March 2, 1855. It is located on the southeastern border of the State, bounded on the north by Cass County, east by the Missouri River, south by Nemaha and Johnson Counties, and west by Lancaster County, containing about 575 square miles, or 368,000 acres.

     WATER COURSES.--The County is most excellently watered by the Missouri and Little Nemaha Rivers, and several large creeks. The Little Nemaha River, affording fine mill advantages, flows diagonally through the central portion from northwest to southeast, its chief tributaries being the North and South Forks, Muddy, Porter, Deer, and Fox Creeks. The eastern portion of the County is watered by the Weeping Water, North and South Table, Dunbar, Stanton, Rock, and Camp Creeks. There are but very few quarter sections of land which do not furnish good stock water.

     CHARACTER OF THE LAND.--The surface of the country consists chiefly of rolling prairie, about fifteen per cent. being valley and bottom. The Missouri bottom is exceedingly fertile, yielding from fifty to eighty bushels of corn per acre, and the bottoms of the other streams are equally as productive. The bluffs of the Missouri are high, cut through with innumerable draws, or ravines, and are admirably adapted for grape growing. From the valleys of the streams in the interior, the land rises and falls in gentle undulations, gradually blending in long stretches of nearly level prairie. The area in cultivation in 1878, was 94,247 acres, and in 1879, 104,439 acres. Bushels of spring wheat returned, 300,000; corn, 1,200,000.

     TIMBER.--The bluffs of the Missouri and banks of the other streams of the County are well clothed with timber, the varieties most common being oak, ash, elm, maple, cottonwood, box-elder and hackberry. The estimated number of acres of timber planted is 11,000. Well developed groves gladden the eye on every hand,




and many of the farms are surrounded with honey-locust and Osage hedges.

     FRUIT.--Otoe has more vineyards and orchards than any other County in the State. Hon. J. Sterling Morton, of Nebraska City, has a fine orchard of forty acres. Ex-Chief Justice Mason has an orchard near the same place, containing some 15,000 choice fruit trees. Apples, pears, plums, grapes and all the minor fruits grow to perfection. A few years ago an apple was grown in the orchard of Perry & Walker, near Nebraska City, which weighed twenty-nine and a half ounces.

     BUILDING MATERIAL.--Limestone abounds throughout the middle and eastern portions of the County. Sandstone also crops out in several places. Good building sand and fine clays for the manufacture of brick are abundant.

     COAL, in thin seams, has been discovered in several localities.

     HISTORICAL.--The first settlements in the County were made where Nebraska City now stands. In 1844 the United States Government occupied a portion of the present townsite for a Military Post, which was named Fort Kearney. The Fort proper, a blockhouse, was built in. 1846. It stood in what is now Fifth Street. A log cabin, used for officer's quarters, barracks, or hospital, stood about 150 feet easterly of the block-house.

     A Mr. Hardin was put in charge of the government buildings, when, in 1848, the Military Post was removed to New Fort Kearney, on the Platte River.

     Col. John Boulware, who came to the Fort in 1846, and established a government ferry, was appointed in Mr. Hardin's place, in 1849; and Hiram P. Downs, formerly a sergeant in the United States army, was, in 1850, put in charge, instead of Col. Boulware.

     The original settlers and claimants of the ground embraced by Nebraska City, were John Boulware, Hiram P. Downs and John B. Boulware. John B. Boulware built, in 1852, a ferry house, and the first permanent habitation on the townsite, on the river bank, at the foot of Commercial street. His father's claim was the present Kearney Division of the city, and was staked off in the spring of 1853. Hiram P. Downs claimed 320 acres, and in the fall of 1853, Charles W. Pierce surveyed the claim, running the north line



from the river nearly along North Table Creek, to Tenth Street, the west line along Tenth Street, and the south line south of the present Kansas street. John B. Boulware claimed 320 acres from the south line of Down's claim to South Table Creek, and from his father's, on the east, nearly to the west line of what is known as Hail & Co's Addition. West of Tenth Street, Mr. Pierce also surveyed 160 acres for a Mr. Fawks.

     Hiram P. Downs sold his claim--which embraced the greater part of the land now occupied by Nebraska City--to the Nebraska City Town Company, which was composed of S. F. Nuckolls, A. A. Bradford, H. P. Bennett, Wm. B. Hail, Lafayette Nuckolls, John Doniphan, L. D. Bird, Jas. Doniphan, S. E. Frazee, Marshall & Woodward, N. B. Giddings, C. F. Holly, J. W. Kelly, W. S. Van Doren, Robert Cook and J. Sterling Morton.

     The Town Company, as aforesaid, employed Chas. W. Pierce, to survey the land and make it into streets, alleys and lots. On May 5, 1855, the first grand sale of town lots was held. The three lots where the Nebraska City National Bank now stands, on the corner of Main and Sixth streets, were sold for twenty dollars each; the lot on Sixth street, now Hawke's Hall, was donated to Conrad Mullis for a blacksmith shop. At figures ranging from fifty to sixty-five dollars, almost any "claim" within a distance of four miles from Nebraska City, could have been readily purchased.

     The survey of the original plat of Nebraska City was made by Chas. W. Pierce, assisted by Dr. Wm. Dewey, Cornelius Schubert, Samuel Saunders, and others, in the fall of 1854.

     By Act of the Territorial Legislature, approved March 2, 1855, Nebraska City was declared to be the seat of justice of Otoe County. The charter was amended in 1867.

     In 1857 a small patch of corn was grown where the court house now stands.

     Chas. H. Cowles erected the first, and Chas Pierce the second frame house on the town site. The former stood on the corner of Fifth street, and the latter next door to where the Press office stood. The first brick house was built by Mr. Nuckolls, upon the northwest corner of Main and Fifth streets. The first hotel was built by Mr. Downs, in the fall of 1854, and called the City Hotel. A few years later Mr. Simpson Hargus erected a four story brick hotel



upon the site of the old City Hotel, which he named the Morton House, and now called the Seymour House.

     The first stock of goods brought to the city was by Charley Cowles. The next store was opened by Joel Deneen, in Kearney, and the third by Nuckolls & Hail, afterwards Nuckolls, Hail & Van Doren. The Platte Valley Bank was estableshed [sic] at an early day, by S. F. Nuckolls, Joshua Garside and N. S. Harding, and maintained its credit by the redemption of its whole issue.

     The first Postoffice was called Table Creek; it was established in 1852, with John Boulware as Postmaster. In 1854 the name of the office was changed to Nebraska City.

     The first regular preaching in the city was by Wm. D. Gage, a local preacher of the Methodist Church. The first building for religious services was erected in 1854, by the Baptists. The first Methodist Episcopal building was commenced in 1855. The walls were thrown down by the wind the following winter, but were rebuilt and the house finished in 1856. The Presbyterian Society was organized not long after the founding of the city, with Rev. Henry Giltner as Pastor. Their Church was completed in 1857, and the bell which adorns it was taken from the wreck of the steamboat "Genoa," which was sunk in 1856. The Protestant-Episcopal Church (St. Mary's Parish,) was organized in April, 1857, with Henry B. Bartow, as Rector.

     The first newspaper, now the oldest in the State, was the Nebraska City News. The press-work of the first number was done in Sidney, Iowa. It was dated November 14, 1854. The office was first opened in the old Block-House; Thos. Morton was the printer.

     The second United States land office in the State was located at Nebraska City.

     The first and only slaves that were ever brought into the Territory, were owned in Nebraska City, in 1857. There were eleven in all.

     The People's Press was established in 1858, by O. H. Irish and L. L. Lurvey. It still flourishes as the Daily Nebraska Press; W. A. Brown, publisher and proprietor.

     The first steam ferry boat--the "Nebraska"--was brought to Nebraska City by Mr. McLennan, in May, 1854. The next was the "Comet," brought from Ohio, in 1857.



     Game, which before the winter of 1856-7, had been abundant, perished from cold and hunger that winter. Deer run through the streets seeking safety from wolves, which followed them on the ice-crusted snow, making them an easy prey. Herds of deer frequently passed from the north between J. Sterling Morton's house and the court house square.

     The population in the early days was made up of emigrants from Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Missouri. The Campbellites and Methodists were the largest of the religious denominations. The Old School Presbyterians were also quite strong.

     During the early spring of 1856, immigration was unusually heavy. While this continued, the price of lots steadily advanced, and a number of additions were made to the town plat.

     The first election in Otoe County was held on the first Monday in November, 1851. Henry Bradford, Hiram P. Bennett and Charles H. Cowles, were elected to the Territorial Council, and Jas. H. Decker, Harvy C. Cowley, Wilson M. Maddox, Gideon Bennett and Wm. B. Hail, to the House of Representatives.

     The first city election was held in April, 1855, and the following officers were elected: Mayor, Dr. Henry Bradford; Aldermen, Wm. R. Craig, John W. Pearman, Wm. B. Hail; Recorder, Martin W. Riden; Treasurer, W. D. Gage; Marshal, Smith McManus, and Assessor, Alfred B. Wolston.

     The first election for County officers was held October 8,1856, and resulted as follows: Wm. B. Hail, Probate Judge; Wm. Birchfield, Sheriff; J. W. Pearman, Treasurer, and C. C. Hail, Recorder.

     On March 31, 1857, Mayor Bradford "entered" Nebraska City as a town site, in the land office at Omaha.

     In 1858, Nebraska City and the suburban cities of Kearney, South Nebraska City and Prairie City, were consolidated and organized into Nebraska City, as it now stands.

     In the winter of 1856-7 the corporation of Kearney was organized by the election of Mills S. Reeves, Mayor; Henry C. Norton, Recorder; Byron Sanford, Marshal; Councilmen, David Lindley, John Boulware, and J. C. Campbell.

     Kearney was surveyed as a town in June, 1854, and was entered at the land office in Omaha, under the town site law, by Mayor Reeves, on April 13, 1857.



     On the first Monday in May, 1857, the corporation of South Nebraska City, comprising the old survey, and Hail & Co.'s addition, was organized by the election of John B. Lull, Mayor; Recorder, Fountain Pearman; Marshal, Henry Brown; Treasurer, Samuel W. Burnam; Attorney, Chas. F. Halley; Councilmen,Wm. W. Saper, Simon Hooper, and Geo. Allen. It was Surveyed in 1854-5, and entered by Mayor Lull, on the 25th of June, 1857.


Was organized in August, 1858, by the election of Benjamin F. Hayward, Simpson Hargus, John H. Croxton, H. M. Giltner, and James F. Hoffman, Trustees. It was surveyed by John A. Goodlette, and entered as a town site by John H. Croxton, for the Trustees, on the 7th of October, 1857.

     Besides the towns named already, there was up to 1857, ground adjacent to the present city, surveyed and staked off in Marietta, McLennan's Addition to Marietta, Anderson's first and second Additions, Cambridge, Belmont, Elmwood, Greggsport, Gregg's Addition to Greggsport, Cowles Addition to Greggsport, and Condit, while the island rejoiced in two towns under the euphonious titles of Woodlawn and Woodville.

     Russell, Majors & Waddell, government freighting firm, established themselves in Nebraska City, in the spring of 1858. The Government had made this its point for the transhipment of army stores destined for the plains and mountains. The next few years witnessed scenes of great activity. The levee and several great warehouses were constantly filled with immense piles of merchandise. The streets and byways were filled with a multitude of heavy freight wagons drawn by six to ten yoke of oxen each. Hundred of millions of pounds of army stores were transferred from here prior to the completion of the Union Pacific Railroad.

     The following statement taken from the books of Mr. Majors, of the firm of Russell, Majors & Waddell, will illustrate the immense amount of freighting done by a single firm, over the great Central Route leading from Nebraska City across the Plains to Pike's Peak, Utah and the Forts: "From April to October, 1859: Number of pounds transported, 2,782,258; number of oxen used, 5,682; number of wagons, 517; number of mules, seventy-five;



number of men employed, 602." There were a great many other heavy freighters, among whom were Robert Hawks, S. F. Nuckolls, and A. & P. Byram.

     The first child born in the County was the son of George H. Benton, in August, 1854. The first death was that of Clemons, in January, 1855. The first marriage was that of George W. Nuckolls to Sarah Kennedy. The first marriage license was issued August 11, 1856, to Francis Berger and Mary Ann Jameson.

     The first term of District Court was held in March, 1855, beginning on the 19th of the month; Edwin R. Hardin, Judge; M. W. Riden, Clerk.

     The first case of murder in Nebraska City, was committed on April 23, 1856, by Simpson Hargus, who shot Benjamin Lacey, during a claim quarrel. Hargus was indicted, and had two or three trials, but finally escaped.

     In 1860, the great fire occurred. On Saturday, the 12th of May, at a few minutes past 12 o'clock, noon, a fire was kindled in a butcher's shop in the rear end of the bank building where Hawk's store now is. A strong, hot south wind was blowing, and in less than three hours the business part of the city--forty buildings--was in ashes. The sun which rose that morning upon a young city full of life and promise, set behind a cloud of blackest gloom and disaster. But with a will of iron, the people rallied and commenced life anew. The calamity of the fire, however, closed the youthful days of the city, and became the foundation of the strength of its manhood. The insurance on the property destroyed by the great fire amounted to more than sixty thousand dollars; but out of that entire sum, less than three thousand dollars was re-invested in the city. The era of speculation, its fallacies and its fever, had passed away.

     September 18, 1860, a telegraph office was opened in Nebraska City.

     In April, 1861, the First Nebraska Cavalry, afterwards the Fifth Iowa Cavalry, was partially organized in Nebraska City. Lieut. A. Mathias, editor of the Press, recruited one of the companies, and afterwards became its Captain.

     Company F, second Nebraska Cavalry, was recruited in Nebraska City; Lieut. D. P. Rolfe, recruiting officer. Its Officers



were: D. Laboo, Captain, Nebraska City;. Robert Mason, First Lieutenant, Nebraska City; C. W. Hail, Second Lieutenant, Peru, Nebraska.

     Company B, First Nebraska Infantry, was recruited in Nebraska City, in 1861. Allen Blacker, Captain; Lee P. Gillette, First Lieutenant, J. C. Potts, a corporal at the organization, became a captain after the regiment veteranized.

     On the 4th of July, 1860, the corner stone of the Methodist Church was laid. Rev. Isaac Chivington performed the ceremony. Copies of the People's Press and Nebraska City News, sketch of Nebraska City, and Act of Consolidation, etc., were placed in a tin box and deposited in the foundation of the building.

     The erection of the Catholic Church, on Kearney Heights, was commenced in October, 1860.

     The first exhibition of the Otoe County Agricultural Society was held in September, 1861.

     J. A. Ward's new banking house, the finest in the Territory at that time, was completed in 1861.

     In 1861, when the "burnt district" was being rebuilt, aboard of trade was organized.

     The "Nebraska Staats Zietung," edited by Dr. F. Renner, made its appearance in April, 1871.

     The first annual session of the M. E. Conference for Nebraska, was held at Nebraska City, in March, 1861. Bishop Morris, of Cincinnati, presided. H. T. Davis was appointed Presiding Elder, and T. B. Lemon, Pastor for this station.

     At this time there were the following Churches in the city: Baptist, Rev, J. M. Taggart, Pastor; Duer's Hall, Rev. J. Stickney Haskell, Pastor; Episcopal, Rev. Eli Adams, Pastor; United Presbyterian, Rev. Wm. M'Cartney, Pastor; Protestant-Methodist Church, Rev. J. M. Young, Pastor; Methodist-Episcopal Church, Rev. T. B. Lemon, Pastor; Lutheran, Rev. Mr. Muhlenbrook, Pastor; Roman-Catholic, Father Phillip, Pastor; First Presbyterian, Rev. H. W. Giltner, Pastor.

     In September, 1866, a lad named Hamilton, while herding cattle, was riddled with buck-shot and killed by a man named Dirks, who afterwards stripped the body and threw it into a creek near by. The crime was soon detected, and Dirks was arrested, tried



by a jury of twelve citizens, found guilty, and was hung the same day in the court house yard.

     The court house, Nebraska City, was finished in December, 1866. It is a fine building, eighty-two by forty-six feet, two stories high, and cost, with furniture, about $35,000.

     The Union School House, on Ferry street, was completed in 1866, and cost upwards of $38,000. It is a model of architectural neatness and beauty.

     In 1866, the citizens voted $40,000 to aid in the construction of the St. Joe & Council Bluffs Railroad, which runs along the east bank of the Missouri River. The first train of cars on this road reached Nebraska City station in 1867.

     In 1867, the County voted bonds to the amount of $150,000 for the construction of a railroad running from Nebraska City westwardly to a connection with the Union Pacific, and on the 15th of November, 1867, the Midland Pacific Railway Company was organized at Nebraska City. On the second day of March, 1868, the first spade full of dirt was turned at Nebraska City to make smooth the bed for the iron highway. It was a joyful occasion; cannons were fired and speeches and processions were the order of the day.

     Hawk's Hall, and one of the finest Church buildings in the city--the Methodist Episcopal--were erected in 1868.

     The Nebraska College and Divinity School, formerly Talbot Hall, was established by Bishop Talbot, of the Episcopal Church, in 1867. Cost of building, $20,000.

     The Opera House, formerly called Turner Hall, was finished in 1869, at a cost of $20,000.

     The Nebraska City Gas Light Company was organized in March, 1869.

     The Third Ward School House was completed late in the summer of 1869, and cost $10,000, exclusive of the grounds.

     The County having voted two hundred thousand dollars in aid of an Eastern railroad connection, and the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad Company having proposed to build a railroad from Red Oak, Iowa, making Nebraska: City its terminus, a contract was entered into in May, 1869, Otoe County paying $150,000 in bonds drawing eight per cent. interest, payable semi-annually from

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