SCHOOL BUILDING, PAWNEE CITY.
On the A. & N. Railway, in the northeastern part of the County, is a rapidly growing town of about six hundred inhabitants. The town site was selected in 1875, by the Table Rock Town Company, of which Robert W. Furnas, James Hinton and John Fleming were active members. The town is pleasantly situated in the Valley of the North Fork of the Nemaha, and was reached in 1872 by the railroad, which made it the chief shipping point for the County and an excellent business center. It is well supplied with stores and grain houses, and has excellent school and Church advantages. The first Church in the County, it is claimed, was organized here in 1857, by Rev. C. V. Arnold, of the Methodist denomination.
CINCINNATI, MISSION CREEK, STEINAUER, WEST BRANCH, TIP'S BRANCH and NEW HOME, are flourishing young towns in the County, of fifty to 200 inhabitants each.
Pierce County was created in 1859, and organized in 1870. It is located in the northeastern part of the State, in the third tier of Counties west of the Missouri River, and is bounded on the north by Knox and Cedar, east by Cedar and Wayne, south by Madison, and west by Antelope County, containing 540 square miles, or 345,600 acres.
WATER COURSES.--The North Branch of the Elkhorn River, a fine, large stream, affording some excellent mill privileges, flows through the central portion of the County, from northwest to southeast, supported on either side by numerous small branches.
TIMBER.--Considerable natural timber is found along the streams and in the adjacent ravines. Tree planting--both forest and fruit--has received a large share of attention. The groves are thrifty and growing rapidly.
CHARACTER OF THE LAND.--The surface of the County consists chiefly of undulating prairie, about ten per cent. being valley and bottom. The valley of the North Fork varies in width from two to five miles, and there are also wide bottoms on several of the tributaries. The uplands are especially adapted to the growth of small grains, and large crops are raised wherever tested. The prairie grasses are nutritious, and afford a wide range of pasturage. Good well water can be obtained on the prairies, at a depth of thirty to sixty feet.
CROPS.--Acres under cultivation, 54,470. Rye 1,712 acres, 26,725 bushels; spring wheat 26,692 acres, 372,997 bushels; corn, 13,900 acres, 545,553 bushels; barley, 626 acres, 16,068 bushels; sorghum 2 3/4 acres, 170 gallons; flax, 181 acres, 993 bushels; broom corn, twenty-five acres, 6 1/4 tons.
HISTORICAL.--The first settlements in the County were made in the spring of 1867, by a colony of Germans from Wisconsin, consisting of Christian Heubner, A. J. Heubner, August Nenow, Jacob Bernhardt, and others, who located on the North Fork, in the southeastern part of the County. Many others came soon afterward; and during 1870-71, most of the choice land along the
Fork and its principal tributaries was taken. In the summer of 1870, R. S. Lucas and J. H. Brown, from Iowa, settled in the Valley of Willow Creek, at the confluence of that stream with the North Fork. They erected a substantial log house on the south side of Willow Creek, near the present bridge crossing which soon became the general headquarters for the County, serving as a hotel, Postoffice and Court House.
The first regular County election was held on the second Tuesday in October, 1870, and resulted as follows: Commissioners, R. S. Lucas, August Nenow and T. C. Verges; Probate Judge, R. S. Lucas; Treasurer, H. R. Mewis; Clerk, J. H. Brown; Sheriff, John Tietz.
The County Seat was located on the south half of the northeast quarter and north half of the southeast quarter of section twenty-seven, township twenty-six, range two west.
The first Postoffice in the County was established at the County Seat, in October, 1870.
In the spring of 1871, Pierce--the County Seat--was laid out on land belonging to Messrs. Lucas and Brown. That same spring, the people of the County voted bonds to the amount of $15,000, for the erection of a brick Court House, which was completed the following year.
In June, 1871, a large number of settlements were made in Dry Creek Valley, in the northwestern part of the County. The succeeding winter was one of unusual severity, and the settlers in this section of the country were poorly prepared to meet it. Their houses were mostly built of prairie sod, and at times they were entirely covered up with the snow drifts, a column of smoke issueing [sic] from the snowy surface, being the only indication of life beneath. This part of the County also suffered to a greater extent, than any other from the ravages of the grass-hopper, yet the people manfully clung to their homes, and to-day they have farms to be proud of.
The first death in the County was that of John Teitz, who was drowned in the North Fork on the 26th of July, 1870.
There is no record of the first marriage and first birth in the County, but both of these interesting events occurred in 1871.
The first term of the District Court for Pierce County, was held at the Court House on the 20th of August, 1873; Hon. Samuel Maxwell, presiding. Twelve cases were on the calendar, one criminal, one for divorce, and the balance civil actions.
On the 27th of March, 1876, the people voted bonds to the amount of $85,000 to aid in the construction of the Covington, Columbus & Black Hills Railroad through the County.
This County has furnished two representatives to the State Legislature--Hon. R. S. Lucas and Hon. C. H. Frady.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS.--The first School districts were organized in 1871. At present there are ten districts, nine comfortable school houses, and 224 children of school age; qualified teachers employed, males, seven, females, seven; total wages paid teachers for the year, $2,591.52; value of school houses, $6,799; value of books, etc., $275.50.
TAXABLE PROPERTY.--Acres of land, 203,150, average value per acre, $2.90; value of town lots, $3,458; money used in merchandise, $,791 [sic]; money used in manufacture, $75; horses, 421, value $11,290; mules, 22, value $730; neat cattle, 1,323, value, $8,855; sheep, 685, value $670; swine, 926, value, $812; vehicles, 154, value, $2,308; moneys and credits, $790; mortgages, $900; furniture, $198; libraries, $100; property not enumerated, $5,809; total valuation for 1879, $634,653.00
RAILROADS.--The nearest railroad point at present is at Norfolk, in Madison County, three miles from the south line of this County. The Omaha, Niobrara & Black Hills Railroad which has just reached Norfolk, is to be extended northward through this County early in the Spring of 1880.
LANDS.--The price of improved lands ranges from $5 to $12 per acre. The B. & M. R. R. Company owns 13,000 acres of land here, the price ranging from $1.25 to $6 per acre.
POPULATION.--The following are the Precincts and population of each in 1879: Dry Creek, 113; Pierce, 87; Slough, 168; South Branch, 260; Willow Creek, 56.
Total, 684,--males, 357; females, 327.
The County Seat, is located on the North Fork of the Elkhorn, at the mouth of Willow Creek. It contains several dwellings, two33
stores, a hotel, blacksmith shop, large school house, a weekly paper--the Pierce County Call--and a fine brick Court House, surrounded by a beautiful grove of cottonwood. Mrs. A. M. Lucas was the first school teacher. The German Lutherans and. Methodists are well organized and hold services every Sabbath.
Is a small village in the northwestern part of the County. It has a Postoffice, store, blacksmith shop, school house, etc.
Polk County was created in 1856 and organized in 1870. It is located in the middle-eastern part of the State, and is bounded on the north by the Platte River--which separates it from Merrick and Platte Counties,--east by Butler, south by York and west by Hamilton County, containing about 425 square miles, or 272,000 acres, at an average elevation of 1,600 feet above the sea level.
WATER COURSES.--The Platte River flows on the northwestern border of the County, a distance of about thirty-five miles, and receives several small creeks. The central and southern portions of the County are watered by the North Fork of the Big Blue River and tributaries. The Blue affords good mill advantages.
TIMBER.--1,865 acres, or 1,124,610 forest trees are reported under cultivation. Large domestic groves adorn almost every quarter section of land that is improved. Considerable natural timber is found along the streams. Twelve miles of hedging are reported.
FRUIT.--10,567 apple trees, 221 pear, 7161 peach, 2,259 plum, 1,227 cherry, and 2,764 grape vines are returned.
CHARACTER OF THE LANDS.--About fifteen per cent. of the County is valley, the balance consisting of broad tables and gently rolling prairie, with occasional high bluff along the rivers. The valley of the Blue is very fine and can be cultivated to the water's edge. The soil is everywhere exceedingly rich and productive.
CROPS.--Acres under cultivation, 65,994. Winter wheat, 506 acres, 7,541 bushels; spring wheat, 32,131 acres, 398,540 bushels, rye, 2,817 acres, 37,692 bushels; corn, 17,840 acres, 601,484 bushels; barley, 1,196 acres, 28,524 bushels; sorghum, four acres, 339 gallons, flax, twenty six acres, 212 bushels; broom corn, 286 acres, eighty two tons; potatoes, 275 acres, 32,190 bushels.
HISTORICAL.--The first settlements are here given by Precincts as follows:
HACKBERRY PRECINCT is the oldest and one of the best settled. The North Blue runs through it from west to east. Thomas Donolly has the honor of being the first settler. He located in 1867, and was followed in the same year by Albert Seaver. In 1868, Mr. John Patterson and wife, with their sons, Richard, James and William, James Clark, John H. Mickey, and W. W. Maxwell made settlement. In 1869 Messrs. James Query and V. P. Davis settled on what is now known as Davis Creek, this creek taking its name from Mr. Davis.
The first child born in the Precinct, and, in fact, in the County, was Edgar Roberts, son of Mrs. Louisa Roberts, born. November 30, 1868. School district No. 1, was organized in 1871, with thirty-eight scholars; John A. Giffin, teacher. In the fall of 1872 and winter of 1873 the Methodists organized the first Church, under the charge of Rev. James Query, Polk County's pioneer preacher. In the winter of 1873-4 the Church of God was organized in the Hoffer settlements, and in the spring of 1876, Rev. Mr. Earnhart, organized a Baptist Church. Wayland Postoffice is located in the southern part of the Precinct. At the end of the year 1871 about 100 acres of land were under cultivation.
ISLAND PRECINCT lies in the north-eastern part of the County, and is so named from its being located between the two channels of the Platte River. Mr. Bouker Beebe made a settlement in this Precinct in the summer of 1870. In the spring of 1871 Rudolph Kummer, Dr. H. M. Mills, Wm. Thomas, Henry Augustine, and Alex. T. Simmons, located here. The first school district organized was No. 17, with Miss Jennie Osterhaut, as teacher. Seventy-five acres of land were under cultivation at the end of the year 1871.
CLEAR CREEK PRECINCT derives its name from a beautiful stream of the same name that runs through the northern part of it.
The first settlers in the Precinct were Geo. D. Grant, G. E. Barnum, Guy C. Barnum, and Levi Kimball, who all came about the same time. School district No. 4, was organized in 1871, and a school house was built in the spring of 1872; Miss Vandercoff, first, teacher. About ninety acres of land were under cultivation at the end of the year 1871.
CANADA PRECINCT is one of the largest and best improved. James W. Snyder located in this Precinct in 1871, and has the honor of being the first settler. Closely following him were Peter Bull, William Jarmin, Geo. Bull and family, S. O. Whaley, M. H. Whaley, J. A. Palmer, Rufus Burnett, William Fosbender, H. W. Chase, M. W. Stone, and D. D. Bramer. School district No. 14 was organized with twenty-six scholars. Cyclone Postoffice was organized in 1873; Albert Cowles, postmaster. Rev. A. G. Whitehead organized a Methodist Church in the fall of 1873, at what is known as the Burly School House. A building was erected by this organization in the spring of 1876, called WESLEY CHAPEL. Number of acres of land under cultivation in 1871, 100.
OSCEOLA PRECINCT derives its name from the County Seat. James Query and V. P. Davis settled in this Precinct in October, 1868. H. C. Query came in 1869, and was followed shortly afterward by J. R. Stewart, Geo. Kerr, John A. Beltzer, Henry Hilderbrand, Geo. W. Kenyon, J. F. Campbell, William Query, Lumin Van Hoosen, H. T. Arnold and others. About fifty acres of land were in cultivation in 1871.
STROMSBURG PRECINCT was first settled in the fall of 1869, by Wm. H. Records. B. F. Smith, Thomas Records, J. P. Smith, A. P. Buckley, P. T. Buckley, J. C. Smith and A. L Larson came in the spring of 1870. The town of Stromsburg is located in this Precinct. School district No. 10 was organized in the winter of 1872, with six scholars; Mr. J. A. Palmer, teacher. The Baptists formed an organization in the summer of 1873; the Lutherans organized in the fall of 1874. The Congregational Church of Pleasant Prairie, in this Precinct, was organized in the fall of 1873; the Methodist Episcopal Church formed a society in the winter of 1875-6. The Baptists and Lutherans have each a Church building, worth together over $3,000. In 1871 there were about fifteen acres of prairie under cultivation.
PLEASANT HOME PRECINCT is in the southwestern part of the County; and S. C. Davis has the honor of being its first settler. He came here on the 29th of October, 1870. Shortly afterward, Milo Barber, Wm. Maston, J. N. Nickell, John and Henry Marty, J. D. Darrow and J. N. Skelton settled in the Precinct. In the fall of 1872, School District No. 6 was organized with fifteen scholars; Jay N. Skelton, teacher. In the summer of 1872, Pleasant Home Postoffice was established, with S. C. Davis, postmaster. The United Brethren formed an organization in the fall of 1872; the Methodists in the fall of 1875. There is also an organization of Adventists. In 1871, there were about sixty-five acres of prairie broken.
PLATTE PRECINCT is situated in the northern part of the County. Messrs. P. C. King and W. T. Dodge located claims in March, 1871, and Guy, Faustus and Beebe, in April following. J. A. Powers, A. J. Sherwood, G. W. Cadwell, Oliver Scott, and others, came in shortly afterward. School District No. 7 was organized in the fall of 1871, and a school house was built in 1872. The school consisted of eight scholars; John P. Heald, teacher. Thornton Postoffice was established in August, 1874; J. N. Hurd, postmaster. The United Brethren formed an organization in December, 1872; the Methodists organized in March, 1875; and the Lutherans (Swedish), in 1876. The last named have erected a neat Church edifice in the southeastern part of the Precinct.
VALLEY PRECINCT was first settled by B. H. Keller, who located in the Spring of 1871. He was soon followed by Charles R. Clarke, J. W. Sheldon, Levi Kelley, James Bell, Wm. B. Daymude, James Harmon, William Stevens, D. C. Place, Andreas Horst, John and Joseph Curran, M. C. Stull, John Benson, Collin and Robert Beebe, and Thomas Clarke. School District No. 5 was organized in June, 1871, with James Bell as teacher. The first Church organized was the Methodist. In 1871, there were about 200 acres of prairie under cultivation. There are about 100 acres of natural timber in this Precinct.
The first election for County officers was held on the 6th day of August, 1870, and resulted as follows: Commissioners, S. Stone, C. A. Ewing, Jonathan Crockett; Clerk, Frank Reardon; Probate Judge, James Query; Treasurer, John H. Mickey; Sheriff, Ole Bredeson.
On the 14th of December, 1870, F. M. Stone was appointed County Surveyor, and John Fox Superintendent of Public Schools.
At the same date, the County was divided into two Precincts --Hackberry and Clear Creek. In April, 1871, Platte Precinct was formed.
On the 10th of November, 1871, the question of the permanent location of the County Seat was voted upon by the people, and on the 14th day of November following, the County Commissioners issued a proclamation declaring the County Seat located on the southeast one fourth of section sixteen, township fourteen north, of range two, west, in accordance with the vote at said election. The name selected for the seat of justice was Osceola.
On the 16th day of November, 1871, bids for the construction of a Court House were advertised. The contract was awarded to M. W. Stone, who completed the building, and it was accepted by the Board of Commissioners, March 20, 1872.
A large Swedish colony was established in the western part of the County, mainly by Lewis Headstrom. The town of Stromsburg is its chief trading point. The Canadian settlers are mostly settled in Canada Precinct, in the eastern part of the County. The German element is well distributed throughout the County; and their thrifty, well-improved farms may be seen in almost every township.
The first newspaper in the County was the Polk County Times, W. D. Ferree, editor, established at Stromsburg in the summer of 1872. It lasted only six months. The Osceola Homesteader was established a few months later, at Osceola. In January, 1876, its name was changed to the Osceola Record, and it is still a live, prosperous paper.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS.--Number of districts, fifty-six; school houses, fifty-two; children of school age--males 995, females 840; total, 1,835; total number that attended school during the year, 1,293; qualified teachers employed--males, thirty-one, females, forty-six; wages paid teachers for the year--males, $4,104.77, females, $4,725.67; value of school houses, $22,649.95; value of sites, $638.50; value of books and apparatus, $1,262.20.
TAXABLE PROPERTY.--Acres of land, 215,523, average value per acre, $3.33; value of town lots, $17,116; money invested in mer-
chandise, $9,470; money used in manufactures, $4,570; horses, 2,423, value $75,646; mules and asses, 290, value $9,833; neat cattle, 3,696, value $31,359; sheep 217, value $217; swine 10,284, value $9,889; vehicles, 980, value, $15,582; moneys and credits, $3,627; mortgages, $15,441; stocks, etc., $474; furniture, $3,352; property not enumerated, $35,867; total valuation for 1879, $950,295.
RAILROADS.--The Omaha & Republican Valley Railroad enters the County near the middle of the eastern border, and is now in running order to Stromsburg, in the south-central part of the County. A branch line from this road has just been completed, from Arcadia, in this County, to Jackson, on the Union Pacific.
LANDS.--Improved lands range in price from $6 to $25 per acre. The Union Pacific Railroad Company owns some 25,000 acres in this County, the price ranging from $2 to $6 per acre.
POPULATION.--The following are the Precincts and population of each in 1879: Hackberry, 695; Canada, 608; Clear Creek, 339; Island, 269; Stromsburg, 746; Osceola, 807; Valley, 439; Pleasant Hill, 664; Platte, 456.
Total, 5,023--males, 2,725; females, 2,298. Increase in population over 1878, 1,092.
The County Seat, is located on the line of the Omaha & Republican Valley Railway, in the middle-eastern part of the County. It is pleasantly situated near the North Blue River, and contains about 700 inhabitants--its population having fully doubled within the past year, or since it has been made a railroad town. Business is flourishing, and is represented by a full line of stores, offices and shops. The Osceola Record, a weekly paper, is issued here.
The town site of Osceola was purchased and surveyed in June, 1872) by Wm. F. Kimmel and John H. Mickey. The Court House, completed in January, 1872, was the first building on the town site; the first store was opened by W. H. Waters. During the same year, a school house was erected, and the Methodist Episcopal and Congregational Churches organized. The first child born in the town was Evan Mickey, on January 26, 1874.
Located on the North Blue, in the south-central part of the County, is the present terminus of the Omaha & Republican Val-
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