January 1, 1870, for the building of the said road from Red Oak to that city. The road was finished in 1870.
In 1871, Mr. Jacob Shoff, an old and wealthy citizen, began the erection of the Shoff House. The name was afterwards changed to Grand Central Hotel. The building cost $50,000, and is an ornament to the city.
The city was illuminated with gas, for the first time, early in the year 1872.
The Nebraska City Elevator Company was organized in the spring of 1871, by T. Ashton, J. Metcalf, W. E. Hill, O. Stevenson and B. J. Newsom. The Elevator was built at a cost of $22,000.
The city voted $100,000 in bonds for a bridge across the Missouri River at this point. Ten thousand dollars were expended by the Bridge Company, James Sweet, J. Sterling Morton and others, in surveys, soundings, etc. The Trustees, Messrs. Tuxbury, Horace Monroe and Gen. Coe, turned over the balance of the bonds, $90,000, to the City Council, which body, on the 25th of August, 1873, destroyed them.
The Congregational Church was dedicated in January, 1873.
Work was commenced on the distillery at the foot of Main street, May 2, 1873. Capacity of the building, six hundred bushels, per day, and the cost about $50,000.
At a special election on the 6th of December, 1873, $75,000 in bonds were voted for an extension of the Midland Pacific south, in accordance with their amended charter, to Brownville; and in the following year the road was completed.
On the morning of the 24th of February, 1874, the Third Ward School Building burned to the ground. The building was insured for $10,000, and was immediately rebuilt.
The High School Building was erected in this year (1874). Cost of grounds and building, $50,000.
The State Institution for the Blind is located in this city. The State appropriated $10,000; Otoe County, $3,000; total, $13,000. The ground was purchased of John M. Gregg for $2,400; cost of building, $9,795.
March 20, 1875, the Third Ward School House for the second time was burned down. The insurance, $7,000, paid for the rebuilding of the present handsome edifice.
The "City Mills," of Messrs. Pinney &Thorp, are one of the best mills in the State.
The "Star Mills," located on South Table Creek, are owned by Messrs. Schminke & Reiber. Their mill, building is one of the finest-in the County.
Frontier Lodge No. 3, I. O. O. F., was organized March 24, 1856. Two other Lodges have been organized from the members of this Lodge--Golden Era, No. 16, and Nebraska Lodge, No. 1.
Eureka Lodge No. 7, Knights of Pythias, was organized in May, 1871.
Mount Olivet Commandery No. 2, Knights Templar, was organized in February, 1869.
Early in December, 1878, Henry Martin, Henry Jackson, colored, and Wm. Givens, a white man, broke into the house of Charles Slocum and wife, at Nebraska City, an aged couple, killed the husband, outraged the wife, and robbed the house of a small sum of money. They were promptly arrested and indicted; their trial begun inside of a week after the crime was committed; Judge Wm. Gaslin, of the Fifth District, occupied the bench; the evidence was circumstantial until Givens offered to turn State's evidence on condition of being released from arrest for being accessory to the murder. His offer was accepted, and it was on his testimony that Martin and Jackson were convicted of murder in the second degree only, for which Judge Gaslin sentenced them to the penitentiary for life--the heaviest penalty the statutes allowed him to impose. But confinement for life was deemed to be insufficient punishment; and in the still hours of the night of December 10, a number of citizens of Nebraska City, went to the jail, took the prisoners Martin and Jackson therefrom, and hung them.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS.--Present number of districts, eighty-five; school houses, eighty; children of school age, males, 2,840, females, 2,345, total, 5,186; wages paid teachers for the year, males, $8,264.21, females, $7,615-60, total, $13,879.81, value of. school houses, $38,725; value of sites, $2,820; value of books and apparatus, $1,032.
TAXABLE PROPERTY.--Acres of land, 369,527; average value per acre, $4.27. Value of town lots, $638,232. Money used in merchandise, $128,575; money invested in manufactures, $15,820;
horses, 5,994, value $137,814; mules, 725, value, $21,487; neat cattle, 18,460, value $169,081; sheep, 5,649, value, $4,244; swine, 31,742, value, $30,709; vehicles, 1,967, value, $32,278; moneys and credits, $34,329; mortgages, $40,903; stocks, etc., $80,075; furniture, 60,565; libraries, $2,510; property not enumerated, $92,424; railroads, $208,911.82; telegraph, $2,250.45; total valuation for 1879, $3,279,104.77.
RAILROADS.--The Nebraska Railway, now operated by the Burlington and Missouri R. R. Company, runs westward from Nebraska City through the center of the County, and it has recently been extended from Nebraska City. southward along the Missouri River to Nemaha City, in Nemaha County. This road also connects with the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy, St. Joe and Council Bluffs Railroads, on the east side of the Missouri, opposite Nebraska City.
LANDS.--The price of improved lands ranges from $7 to $30 per acre. The Burlington and Missouri River Railroad Company. owns 10,000 acres in this County, for which they ask from $6 to $10 per acre.
POPULATION.--The following will show the population of the County by Precincts, for 1879: Hendricks, 328; South Branch, 258; Osage, 493; McWilliams, 407; Rock Creek, 720; Otoe, 949; Four Mile, 564; Nebraska City, 4,551; Belmont, 693; Delaware, 869; Syracuse, 919; Russell, 903; Palmyra, 1,137; North Branch, 420; Berlin, 504; Wyoming, 648.
Total, 13,863,--males, 7,412, females, 6,451.
The County Seat, is the third largest city in the State, having about 8,000 inhabitants. It is an enterprising, well built city, situated on the banks of the Missouri, near the center of the County from north to south, and contains seventeen Churches, three elegant school buildings, an Episcopal College, the State Blind Asylum, a fine court house, an opera house, several good hotels, commodious brick business blocks, several manufactories, machine Shops, a well-appointed steam ferry, excellent railroad advantages, three first class flouring mills, large steam grain elevators, two newspapers, the Press, daily and weekly, and the weekly News, etc. The streets are broad, and in the resident part
of the city planted with shade trees. The open plain to the south and west, is divided up into highly cultivated farms, while large orchards and vineyards, bearing the choicest fruits, dot the surface in every direction.
Is a prosperous town of 800 inhabitants, located in the central part of the County, on the line of the Nebraska Railway; and on the north bank of the Little Nemaha River. The first stake was driven in the ground toward laying off the town site on September 18, 1871, and the first, house was erected thereon by T. E. Sensabaugh. The town was incorporated on the 6th of January, 1875. It contains a $4,000 school house, two Churches, a weekly newspaper, the Journal, several stores, three grain warehouses, a flouring mill, lumber yard, and all the general branches of trade are represented. The County fairs are usually held here on account of its central location. A thriving trade is carried on with the surrounding country, which is a well settled farming section, and the shipments of farm, products are extensive.
Located on the Little Nemaha and on the line of the Nebraska Railway, in the northwestern part of the County, contains some 500 inhabitants. It was laid out in 1870 by J. M. Taggart, and is situated on a beautiful slope facing the river, thirty-four miles, by rail, west of Nebraska City, and twenty-three miles east of Lincoln. The surrounding country is well settled by an industrious class of farmers. The Presbyterians and Methodists have each comfortable houses of worship here, and the Baptists are well organized. In 1874, a $3,500 school house was erected, and in the following year the Masons and Odd Fellows, together, built a fine Hall. There are an excellent steam flouring mill, two grain elevators, two hotels, several general merchandise stores, hardware and drug stores, mechanics' shops, lumber yards, etc., and the shipments of hogs, cattle and grain are very large.
DUNBAR, UNADILLA, MINERSVILLE and BARNEY, are prosperous young towns on the railroad.
HENDRICKS, SALON, BURR OAK, OSAGE, NORTH BRANCH, ELA and WYOMING, are Postoffices with general stores, etc. In the County there are seven flouring mills and three cheese factories.
Platte County was organized by an Act of the first Territorial Legislature, in 1855, and was composed of the twenty-four miles square included in townships seventeen, eighteen, nineteen and twenty north, of ranges one, two, three and four east of the Sixth Principal Meridian. In 1858, it was made to include, in addition, all of Monroe County, on the west, which was not comprised within the Pawnee Indian Reservation. In 1868, the County of Colfax was created, taking from Platte all of the three east ranges. Subsequent legislation fixed the boundaries of the County as they exist at present. It is located in the middle-eastern part of the State, in the fourth tier of Counties west of the Missouri River, bounded on the north by Madison and Stanton Counties, east by Colfax County, south by the Platte River, Merrick and Nance Counties, west by Merrick, Nance and Boone Counties, containing 684 square miles, or 437,760 acres.
WATER COURSES.--Platte is a finely-watered County, and possesses numerous excellent mill privileges. The Platte River washes the southern border, a distance of about twenty miles. The Loup River flows from west to east through the southern portion of the County. Shell and Looking Glass Creeks, both large, beautiful streams, water the western and central portions of the County. Union Creek waters the northeastern townships, and there are besides a large number of rivulets and springs.
TIMBER is in fair supply along the streams, and in the northern part of the County are found some fine natural groves, consisting principally of hardwood. The amount of timber reported under cultivation is 1661 3/4 acres; hedging, 15 3/4 miles.
FRUIT.--The amount returned is as follows: Apple trees, 4,936; pear, fifty-one; peach, 714; plum, 2,345; cherry, 557; grape vines, forty.
SANDSTONE is found in several localities.
CHARACTER OF THE LAND.--One-third of the County is valley and bottom land, and the balance gently rolling prairie. The wide valleys of the Platte and Loup embrace about one-sixth of the
area. Shell Creek has a magnificent valley, extending directly through the central portion of the County, from northwest to southeast. Eastward from this, the surface consists of undulating prairie, with an occasional small valley. The soil is composed of a deep, vegetable mould, and is the same throughout the County. No crop returns have been received.
HISTORICAL.--Early in the spring of 1856, Fred. Gotteschalk, Jacob Lewis and George Roush marked the site of the present town of Columbus, and returning shortly afterward to Omaha, the Columbus Town Company was organized, and a committee of exploration sent out, consisting of Vincent Kummer, in charge; Charles Turner, Surveyor; John C. Wolfel, carpenter; Fred. Gottschalk, Jacob Lewis, Jacob Guter, Carl Rienke, Henry Lusche, Michael Smith, Adam Denk and John Held.
On the 28th day of May, 1856, the outlines of the town were determined, and the whole was soon blocked out. A rough building of logs was erected, and roofed with grass and sod, which answered all their purposes for dwelling, storage and fortification, and was long known as the "Old Company House." On the 7th day of October, 1856, other settlers arrived, among whom were J. Rickley, J. P. Becker, John Browner, Anthony Voll, Charles Bremer, John H. Green, William Distlehorst, Jedediah Mills, George Berni, Martin Heintz, the Quinns, Haney's and Mrs. Walfel [sic]. To Mrs. Walfel [sic], as the first lady adventurer, the Company afterwards gave one share in the capital stock of the Company--equal to ten lots in the town. In December, came M. Becker and D. Hashberger, the latter driving his stake where the town of Schuyler is now located; and thus was completed the immigration to Platte County in 1856--twenty-five souls, all told.
During the autumn, a change was made in the town plat. A Messrs. Burtch & Mitchell, who had established a ferry on the Loup, laid out a town extending from the ferry and interfering with the other. Finally a compromise was effected, and "Pawnee City"--Burtch & Mitchell's town--was abandoned, and Messrs. Kummer and Rickley were appointed to lay out a new plat. Under their superintendence, Col. Loren Miller, of Omaha, surveyed the town site of Columbus.
During the winter of 1856-7 the whole plain was covered with snow to the average depth of three feet, while the drifts on low ground were from ten to twenty feet deep. The situation of the little colony was not only trying, it was perilous. In December, a few of the settlers went to Omaha and purchased ox teams and provisions, but on their return the deep snow stopped them at the Elkhorn River, where they had to leave their teams; so equipping themselves with snow shoes, they hauled the provisions to Columbus on hand sleds, a distance of about seventy-five miles. Wolfel, Bremer and Hashberger made a second trip to Omaha that winter, bringing back provisions on hand sleds. They followed the frozen channel of the Platte River, and made the round trip in ten days.
Early in 1857, Dr. Chas. B. Stillman, Geo. H. Hewett, Patrick Murray and Patrick McDonald, arrived at Columbus. Michael Kelly, Thos. Lynch, Pat. Gleason and John Denean soon afterwards located on Shell Greek. On the first day of May, L. Gerrard located claims for himself and his father's family on Looking Glass Creek
Two and a half to three miles northwest of Columbus was laid out, in 1857, on a magnificent scale, the town of Cleveland. George W. Stevens, Wm. H. Stevens and Michael Sweeny were the active workers, and for a while occupied the premises.
Three or four other towns were started in 1857, all of which were short lived. But while these cities faded out of sight, farms came into view, and during this, and the next two years, valuable accessions were made to all the neighborhoods.
To the German settlement came Held, Erb, Marohn, Will, Wettner, Rickert, Ahrens, Hengeller, Matthis, and the Losekes. To the Irish came Hays, Doody and the Carrigs. To the eastern, end came Nelson Toncray, William Davis, Robert Corson, and farther up, Rolfel, Russell, Skinner, Kemp, Clough, Spaulding and Fayls. In September, 1859, came the Salt Lake emigrants, also, Father James Galley and his three sons, Geo. W., James H. and Samuel, and his two son-in-laws, William Draper and John Barrow. Later came M'Allister and Anderson. Beyond the Loup, in this County, settled Barnum, Clother, the Beebe brothers, Stevens, Morse, Perry, Clark, Cushing, Curtis and Witchie.
During the years 1860-1, the line of ranchmen that filed out on the military road was much extended, in order to accommodate the
surging tide of emigration and through travel to and from Colorado, Utah and California. The hotel business and ranching was then at its height, and all shared in it to some extent, every house was a ranche, and every floor a lodging, and every table a cake and pie stand.
In the month of May, 1866, the construction trains of the Union Pacific Railroad entered the eastern border of the County, and on the first day of June the track was laid through the town of Columbus, under the management of the Casement Brothers. The whole city--men, women and children--turned out to witness the wonderful spectacle of a line engine slowly creeping along at the rail were laid, a pair at a time, by a gang of disciplined men, all moving with the harmony of a clock, and completing the tracklaying at the rate of ten feet per minute. This event was to Columbus and Platte County the beginning of a new life.
The lower Platte Valley is well settled by English and Scotch, mostly of the Mormon faith. The Germans possess the lower Shell Creek Valley, with all its tributaries, and are mostly Lutherans. The northeast and Tracy Valley are New Englanders and are largely Presbyterians. The Irish have got the upper Shell Creek Valley, and the lower north shore of the Loup, and are Catholics. The Scandinavians possess the upper Looking Glass and Lost Creek, and are mostly Lutherans. The upper north shore of the Loup Valley is pretty well settled by Quakers, from Pennsylvania. Stearns' Prairie, in the center of the County, is a mixture of all denominations--Jew and Gentile, Catholic and Protestant.
In August, 1857, the Counties of Platte and Monroe were organized. Judge Smith, of Fremont, issued a proclamation calling elections for County Officers and the location of County Seats. In Platte County, the result was as follows: Probate Judge, Isaac Albertson; Clerk, George W. Hewitt; Recorder, J. P. Becker; Treasurer, V. Kummer; Sheriff, Cyrus Tollman; Justice of the Peace, C. B. Stillman; Constable, J. Guter; County Commissioners, Gustavus Becher, George Spaulding, and Abram Root. And in Monroe County: Probate Judge, Charles H. Whaley; Clerk, George W. Stevens; Recorder, G. E. Yeaton; Treasurer, C. Whaley; Sheriff, N. Davis; Representative, Leander Gerrard; Surveyor,32
P. Kimball; County Commissioners, H. Peck, C. H. Pierce, and H. J. Hudson.
The first election in Monroe County was also the last; for in the winter session of the Territorial Legislature of 1858-9, on joint petition of the two Counties, Monroe was consolidated with Platte County.
The first store in Columbus was kept by Mr. Becker; the first postmaster was John Rickley; the first mail came July 4,1857.
The first boy born in the County was Lewis Erb, on Shell Creek; the first girl born was Mary Wolfel, at Columbus. The first wedding was that of John Will and Marie Rickart; the second wedding was between J. E. North and Nellie Arnold, who were married on horseback in the streets of Columbus. First blacksmith, Jacob Ernst; first house-builders, Wolfel and Becker; first shoemaker, Louis Phillippi; first lawyers, L. Gerrard and A. B. Pattison; first doctor, O. B. Stillman; first school teacher, G. W. Stevens; first Catholic Priest, Father Fourmont; first death and burial was that of J. M. Becker.
In 1857, the mammoth steam mill of Rickley & Co. was erected: It was a grist, saw, lath and shingle mill. In 1868, a steam flouring mill was built by F. A. Hoffman. In 1869, Becker's mill on Shell Creek came into operation.
The Churches of the County, in the order of their organization, are as follows:
The Catholic Church of Columbus (St. John's), organized in 1860; Church property, $1,000.
The Congregational, organized September, 1866; Church property, $1,000.
The Protestant Episcopal Church, organized Oct. 19, 1868; Church property, $2,000.
The Methodist Episcopal Church; first class formed in 1867) by Rev. David Hart; good edifice.
The Presbyterian Church, organized Jan. 30, 1870; neat house of worship.
Shell Creek Catholic Church, established in 1872; value of Church property, $1,200.
Congregational Church, of Monroe, organized in 1868.
German Reformed Church, Columbus, organized December 25, 1875; value of Church property, $3,000.
Shell Creek Lutheran Church, organized September, 1879.
Stearns' Prairie Catholic Church, organized in 1875; value of Church property, $1,000.
Church of Latter Day Saints, organized July 30, 1865; Church property, $900.
Tracy Valley Presbyterian Church, organized in 1875; value of Church property, $900.
The fraternal Lodges and Societies are: Lebanon Lodge No. 58, A. F. & A. M.; charter, June 30, 1875. Eastern Star or Degree of Adoption Right; chartered June 15, 1872. The Wildey Lodge No. 44, I. O. O. F.; chartered May 5, 1874. Daughter of Rebekah, Columbia Degree No. 11; chartered February 18, 1876; Sons of Temperance; chartered February 22, 1873. Knights of Pythias Lodge, started in August, 1875. Good Templars' Lodge 176; chartered June 16, 1876.
The first newspaper published in the County was the Columbus Golden Age, by C. C. Strawn, commencing June 21, 1866, and ending with its twelfth number. Next came the Platte Valley Journal, by O. T. B. Williams. It was maintained one year, and was followed by the Columbus Journal, by M. K. Turner & Co., the first number bearing date May 11, 1870.
The Columbus Era, under the management of W. A. Hensley, commenced in February, 1874.
In May, 1875, the Columbus Republican was established.
The first settlers of Platte County were more or less harassed by the Indians. The Pawnees, in the early days, when they were strong and the settlements weak, begged and stole, insulted and threatened, until their insolence became unbearable, and the Governor of the Territory sent the militia to chastise them. Platte County furnished over fifty of the little army of 300 that pursued the fugitive tribe and overtook them at Battle Creek, where they surrendered without a battle, and were permitted to return to their homes upon promise of good behavior.
In the summer of 1864, Pat. Murray had a hay-making camp on Looking Glass Creek, near Genoa. One evening, about sunset, while Mr. Murray was absent, a squad of twenty-five Sioux rode
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