Congress, and county officers consisting of a probate judge, register, sheriff, treasurer and surveyor; also a territorial treasurer, auditor, and librarian, a district attorney for each judicial district, two justices of the peace, and two constables for each district.
   A law exempting the property of married women from liability for the debts of husbands was passed, but no general exemption of homesteads or other property was made. An interest rate of ten per cent was fixed where no other rate was provided in the contract, and the contract rate was left without limitation.
   The law "to establish the common school system" conferred upon the librarian the duties of territorial superintendent of public instruction at a salary of $200 per year, and provided for the organization and support of the common or district schools. The county superintendent reported to the territorial superintendent all essential facts reported to him from the several districts in his county, examined and granted certificates to teachers, and apportioned the public school tax and paid it over to the districts of his county. The district boards managed the affairs of the districts, and before employing teachers, were required to examine them in the subjects taught in the common schools.

    UNITED STATES SURVEYS. An act entitled "Claims on public lands," passed by the first legislature, undertook to legalize neighborhood regulations as to claims and improvements on public lands, and provided for their registry in the office of the register of deeds of the county as the law of each neighborhood. A valid claim was limited in extent to 320 acres, and each claim was to conform "as near as may be to the lines of subdivision of the United States surveys," and the boundaries were required to be "marked, staked, or blazed." The act provided that the resident claim holders of each neighborhood should define its boundaries and record them in the office of the register of deeds. It is an interesting fact, which must be borne in mind for a proper understanding of the claims bill, that at the time it was passed no part of Nebraska had been surveyed, and therefore no lands had been offered for sale or formally opened to settlement. We find Mr. Joseph Dyson urging, in support of his candidacy as a delegate to Congress in 1854, that he is in favor of a law which will "secure to actual settlers a temporary right to the lands they have improved until such time as they can dig out of the soil the amount of money necessary to enter them"; and that "it is a conceded point that the preëmption law of 1841, in a great majority of cases, has been destructive to the interests of the preëmptor. because, "as soon as a person who has no capital files on a piece of land some individual who has more money than good principles will lay his money on the same land" in the hope that the preëmptor will not be able to pay for it at the time specified by law. In order to protect himself from this menace he must borrow money "at forty or fifty per cent per annum, which are the usual rates of interest in such cases."
   By the law of Congress approved July 22, 1854, the President of the United States was authorized to appoint a surveyor-general for the territories of Nebraska and Kansas, and his office was to be located as the President should from time to time direct. This law provided that "all public lands to which the Indian title has or shall be extinguished" should be subject to the preëmption act of 1841; also that Nebraska should constitute the "Omaha district" and Kansas the "Pawnee district." The first surveyor-general appointed under this act was John Calhoun, and his office was first located at Leavenworth, Kansas. It was removed from Kansas to Nebraska City about June 1, 1858.
   The second party to the first surveying contract for Nebraska undertook to establish the principal base line in the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, which was to begin at "the point where the 40th degree of latitude (the boundary line between Nebraska and Kansas) intersects the right bank of the Missouri river," and to run west 108 miles to the sixth principal meridian, which was the western border of the Omaha cession, and is now the western boundary of Jefferson, Saline, Seward and Butler counties. The parties to this contract were the surveyor-general and J. P. Johnson of Bond county, Illinois; it was dated No-



vember 2, 1854, and the work was to be completed by January 20, 1855. The next contract was made April 26, 1855, with Chas. A. Manners of Christian county, Illinois, for establishing the guide meridian between ranges 8 and 9 -- the west line of Pawnee, Johnson, Otoe, and Cass counties -- and the Missouri river, and also to establish the 1st 2d, 3d, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th parallel lines. The third contract, dated September 26, 1855, with Bennet Burnam, was for subdividing townships 1, 2, 3, 4, north, range 12 east --the east tier of townships of Pawnee county, and the Southeast corner of Johnson, and the southwest corner of Nemaha county. This contract was to be completed by December 1, 1855. Contracts for the first subdivision in Douglas county -- including Omaha City and Florence --and in Otoe county were made October 31, 1855, to be completed by June, 1856.
   The Council Bluffs Chronotype quotes the Nebraska City News of January 19, 1856, which reports rapid progress of the survey, saying that "early in the spring all of Nebraska between the guide meridian and the Missouri river will be surveyed and in the market." Major J. D. White had just returned to the city from the field, having completed a contract in the first division, and several companies were at work on the first, second, third, and fourth divisions.

    CLAIM CLUBS. From this account of the first surveys it will be seen that all claimants of lands before the organization of the territory and for about two years after were merely squatters, without titles or surveyed boundaries of their landed possessions. But necessity had become the mother of invention of a practicable and efficient substitute for statutory rule or measure. The primary government of the territory was a pure democracy. The first formal territorial laws were those passed by the claim clubs. Though the earliest of these laws antedated the legislature, and had no constitutional origin or sanction, they were none the less actual or effective. This system was doubtless borrowed directly from Iowa, where it had been in vogue in a similar form. There is contemporary evidence that the rules of these clubs were enforced with equity and firmness -- sometimes with the utmost severity -- and that the settler who came into this voluntary court of equity was protected in his substantial rights from the time he squatted on his claim until he made good his title when the lands were put on sale by authority of the federal law. The constitution and rules of the several clubs did not greatly differ in substance. The first claim association of Nebraska of which we have any record was organized at a meeting held under the "lone tree" -- the western terminus of the Council Bluffs and Nebraska Ferry -- on the 22d of July, 1854. Samuel A. Lewis was chairman and M. C. Gaylord, secretary. In the preamble of a set of resolutions passed at the meeting is an interesting account of the relation of the ferry company to the projected town of Omaha as early as 1853.


   Pursuant to notice given, a large and respectable number of the claimants upon the public lands in the vicinity of Omaha City met at that place on the 22d day of July, 1854. S. Lewis [Samuel A. Lewis] was called to the chair, and M. C. Gaylord appointed secretary.
   The following claim laws were then enacted, viz.:


   Sec. 1. Be it enacted by the Omaha Township Claim Association, that we unite ourselves under the above title for mutual protection in holding claims upon the public lands in the territory of Nebraska and be governed by these claim laws.
   Sec. 2. That all persons who have families to support or who are acting for themselves will have protection from this association providing they become a member of it and act in conjunction with the majority of its members.
   Sec. 3. No person can become a member unless he resides in Nebraska territory or disclaims a residence elsewhere.
   Sec. 4. All claims must be marked, staked and blazed so the lines can be traced and the quantity known by persons accustomed to tracing lines.
   Sec. 5. No person will be protected in holding more than three hundred and twenty acres of land, but that may be in two separate parcels to suit the convenience of the holder.
   Sec. 6. Marking the claim and building a claim pen four rounds high in a conspicuous place shall hold the claim for thirty days.
   Sec. 7. At the expiration of thirty days as



in section six the claimants shall erect a house thereon.
   Sec. 8. All differences respecting claims if they cannot be settled amicably between the proper claimants, shall be settled by arbitrators, each claimant shall select one arbitrator and those selected shall choose a third.
   See. 9. The arbitrators shall investigate all the claim difficulties between said claimants by hearing testimony and argument, and decide as the right and justice of the case to them may appear, and give to the party in whose favor the decision has been made a written certificate of the settlement of the differences between them and file a copy with the recorder of the association for the future reference if required.
   Sec. 10. When claims are sold or exchanged, Quit Claim Deeds shall be given as evidence of the contract in which the boundaries of the claim shall be amply set forth.
   Sec. 11. The jurisdiction of the association shall extend north and south of the grade section line in Omaha City 3 miles and west from the Missouri river 6 miles.
   Sec. 12. No person shall hold more than eighty acres of timber but that may be in two separate parcels.
   Sec. 13. When claimants of different claim townships come in conflict a committee of conference shall be appointed by the judge to hold a council with a similar committee selected by the proper authorities of the claim township of which the other interested person is a member, which committees when acting together shall determine which claimant is entitled to the matter in dispute.
   Sec. 14. After the adoption of the foregoing resolutions the following preamble and resolutions were submitted to the meeting and unanimously adopted:
    Whereas, the Council Bluffs and Nebraska Ferry Company obtained the consent and approbation of the Indian Agent in July last, now one year ago, to establish and put in operation a steam ferry at and between Council Bluffs and the point where we are now assembled, now known as Omaha City,
   And whereas said company has expended large sums of money in the purchase of a steam ferry boat, and in keeping it in regular operation, in making roads, and in starting the first brick yard in the territory for making pressed and other superior bricks,
   And whereas said company is about erecting a substantial and commodious brick edifice, suitable for legislative, judicial and other public purposes; as well as other buildings and improvements on their ferry claim, now Omaha City,
   Therefore, resolved, that we recognize and confirm the claim of said company as staked out, surveyed and platted recently into lots, blocks, streets, alleys and out lots, and bounded on the East by the Missouri river, on the North by [Thomas] Jeffrey's claim, on the West by [M. C.] Gaylord and [Hadley D.] Johnson's claim, and on the South by [Alfred D.] Jones' claim; and that we will countenance and encourage the building of a city on said claim.
   Sec. 15. The officers of the association shall consist of a judge, clerk, recorder, and sheriff, who shall hold their offices for six months, and until their successors are elected.
   Sec. 16. The judge shall preside at all meetings of the association and with the other officers call its meetings whenever he may deem it necessary and perform such other duties as may be assigned him by the association.
   Sec. 17. The clerk shall keep a journal of the proceedings of the association when in session assembled.
   Sec. 18. The recorder shall record all quit claim deeds, boundaries of claims, decisions of arbitrators, &c., which may be presented to him for that purpose, for which he shall receive fifty cents each from the person desiring the service rendered.
   Sec. 19. The sheriff shall execute and put in force all judgments of arbitrators and shall have power to call to his aid therefor the entire association and should any member refuse without good cause shown before the judge, he shall forfeit all his right to protection from the association.
   Sec. 20. These laws shall not be altered or amended except by a public meeting of which due notice shall be given by order of the officers of the association.
   After the passage of the above laws the association proceeded to the election of its officers, which resulted, viz.: A. D. Jones, Judge; S. Lewis, Clerk; M. C. Gaylord, Recorder; R. B. Whitted, Sheriff.
   On motion the assembly adjourned.
SpacerS. LEWIS, Chairman.
M. C. GAYLORD, Sec. 6

    John M. Thayer was president of the Omaha Claims Association, and Lyman Richardson was secretary. The fundamental resolutions, after reciting that "it has been found necessary in all new countries to league together to prevent lands being taken by speculators abroad or at home," and that "during the coming season lands will be greatly sought for by newcomers and land sharks," commit the club to the meting out of justice in this ad-

   6 Omaha Arrow, July 28, 1854.



mirably direct, determined, and unmistakable manner:

    We whose names are hereto subscribed, claimants upon the public lands, do hereby agree with each other, and bind ourselves upon our honors that we will protect every lawful claimant in the peaceable possession of his claim, and that in case of his claim being jumped we will, when called upon by the Captain of Regulators, turn out and proceed to the claim jumped, and there endeavor to have the matter settled amicably by an arbitration on the spot, each party to choose one arbitrator, and if they can not agree they shall choose a third; but if it cannot be so settled then we will obey the captain in carefully and quietly putting the jumper out of possession and the claimant in.
   We further agree with each other that when the surveys have been made and the land offered for sale by the United States we will attend said sales and protect each other in entering our respective claims, each claimant furnishing the money for his said entry.
   After the sales we are to deed and re-deed to each other so as to secure to each claimant the land each has claimed, according to the lines now existing.

   The burden was on the jumper of any part of a claim in different tracts to show the excess over 320 acres in the total claim by the regular survey.
   Alfred D. Goyer, who had been a member from Douglas county of the first house of representatives, was unanimously awarded the formidable, if not dangerous title of captain of the regulators. The several associations in Douglas county were invited to meet the Omaha association in joint convention to establish more accurately the division lines, and for other purposes. Andrew J. Poppleton was an active member of this meeting, and Harrison Johnson, 0. D. Richardson, Samuel E. Rogers, I. Shoemaker, and A. D. Goyer were the committee on resolutions.
   The Nebraskian of March 26, 1856, copies laws and boundaries of the club formed by the residents of the south part of Washington county. These laws provided that any person above sixteen years of age might hold a claim. The same journal of May 21, 1856, states that at a meeting of the Omaha Claims Association a resolution was passed requiring claimants to make improvements worth $50, and "begin tomorrow," in order to hold their claims. At Secretary Cuming's instance a resolution was passed directing that a copy of the resolutions of February 5th be left with the register of the county, and every claim holder be required to sign them in order to come under their protection. This paper also contains an account of a summary eviction by the Omaha club. Four men had erected a cabin and prepared the foundations for three more on the "upper end of the town site," on the previous Saturday night. The "captain" had the work demolished promptly. It is stated that the jumpers intended to claim one hundred and sixty acres each, "worth in all at least $15,000."
   From the Nebraskian of July 2, 1856, we learn that at a meeting of the claim club of Omaha, of which J. W. Paddock was now president and Dr. Geo. L. Miller, secretary, Mr. Poppleton, for the committee, reported resolutions, the preamble of which recited that it had come to the knowledge of the club "that divers evil-disposed persons will attempt by a secret preëmption to steal from their neighbors lands assured and pledged to them by the laws of this association." They therefore resolved that:

    Whereas, if any person shall file a declaration of intention to preëmpt, or take any other step to secure a preëmption upon lands not his own according to the laws and regulations of this association, this association, at the call of the Captain of the Regulators, will proceed to the premises on which such a statement has been filed or such steps shall have been taken, investigate the matter, and if such shall appear to be the fact, compel the party filing such statement to enter into bonds to deed by warranty deed to the respective owners all lands not his own included within the limits of such preëmption or leave the country.

   The federal principle of these claim clubs is illustrated by the proceedings of a county convention held in Omaha which was composed of delegates from Bellevue, Florence, and Omaha. Andrew J. Hanscom was chairman and Silas A. Strickland, secretary, of the convention, which resolved that,

   When the lands are offered for sale each association shall elect its own bidder for bidding in lands comprised within its limits for the respective owners; and at such sale we hereby agree to attend en masse, and there



remain from the opening of the same until the close thereof, and protect said bidder, to any extremity if necessary, in securing said lands at $1.25 per acre.

   The convention further declared "that we will not hereafter recognize suits at law relative to claim matters."
   The preëmption act of 1841, which was in force at this time, limited its application to citizens, and those who had declared their intention to become citizens of the United States, and in particular to heads of families, widows, and single men over the age of twenty-one years. Any one of these classes might settle on a tract of land, not exceeding one hundred and sixty acres, the Indian title to which had been extinguished, and which had been surveyed, and afterward by a proper showing he would be entitled to enter the land. Some of the claim clubs referred to were in operation from one to two years before the lands their members claimed had been surveyed, and doubtless the Indian title had not been extinguished in all cases. The act of the legislature validating the acts of the claim clubs contravened the federal statute, and no doubt its attempt to invest the clubs with legislative powers was without constitutional warrant. In turn the Douglas county convention of clubs, by the resolution just quoted, sought to override or annul that part of the legislative act which provided that, "Any claimant may protect and defend his possession by the proper civil action." Iowa had gone before Nebraska in this bold and original adoption of means to immediate ends and local wants:

    This occupation of land which had been recorded by the association was declared to be legal by the territorial legislature. But this decision was clearly contrary to the intent of the act of 1807. It was sanctioned, however, by a decision of the supreme court of the territory in a test case during the year 1840. Iowa, by this virtual annulment of the United States statute showed that independence characteristic of the commonwealth by which it became a state.

   It is interesting to note that these claim clubs were in operation at Burlington, Iowa, before there was any government, except by voluntary local organization, as well as before the lands had been surveyed; and, besides, occupation of these lands was in violation of the federal acts of 1807 and 1833. "On their way to the western prairies settlers did not pause to read the United States statutes at large. They outran the public surveyors. Soon after the close of the Revolutionary war they began to violate the ordinance of 1785 by settling on the public lands without obtaining titles. Later they ignored the act of 1807; and it is doubtful that the early settlers of Iowa ever heard of the act of March 2, 1833. Some were bold enough to cross the Mississippi and put in crops before the Indian title had expired . . . Hundreds of thousands of settlers from every part of the Union thus squatted on the national commons, all without the least vestige of legal right or title."
   In both Nebraska and Iowa the squatters on lands were fully protected by the unauthorized if not positively illegal rules and promises of the claim clubs. Mr. James M. Woolworth was able to write in 1857: "These regulations afford pretty safe possession to the actual settler; although it can hardly be doubted, that the law of the territory conferring legislative authority on the clubs is unconstitutional."
   The testimony from Iowa is more emphatic: "When the land was placed on the market by congressional authority the decrees of the associations were completely enforced. No difficulty was experienced on the part of the original claimants in securing, through their special delegates, at a nominal rate, the lands which they had taken."

   INCORPORATION LAWS. Part sixth is devoted to thirty-two special acts of incorporation. Two of the companies were incorporated for the manufacture of salt; one of them to carry on business "at a place they may select within five miles of a saline spring in Otoe county," the name of the place to be Nesuma; the other to manufacture salt "from the salt springs near Salt creek." The Platte Valley & Pacific railroad company was incorporated for the purpose of building a railroad and telegraph line from the Missouri river at Omaha City, Bellevue, and Florence up the north side of the Platte river to the west line of the territory, with power to connect with other roads or extend its own line where the laws of other



states and territories should permit. The Missouri River & Platte Valley railroad company was empowered to construct a road from Plattsmouth by way of Fort Kearney and Fort Laramie to the western limits of the territory.
   The Nebraska Medical Society was incorporated with Dr. George L. Miller -- who was, however, destined to an important career in the wider field of jornalism (sic) and politics -- at the head of the list of incorporators. Three educational institutions were also chartered, namely, Nebraska University, at Fontenelle, Simpson University, at Omaha City, and the Nebraska City Collegiate and Preparatory Institute at Nebraska City. The extreme paucity of the real resources of these institution-builders doubtless stimulated a more or less unconscious attempt to make up for the serious deficiency with imposing and pretentious names. The first named university was the only one actually put in operation; but, as if predestined, after an almost vain continuous struggle, creditable only to the courage and fortitude of its abettors, it yielded its life in 1873.
   Of the fourteen hamlets -- and some of these not actual but merely potential -- which under this division were awarded municipal charters, only three, Margaretta (named after Governor Cuming's wife) of Lancaster, Brownville of Nemaha, and Elizabeth "of the counties of Dodge and Loupe" were abased with the title of town -- all the rest were styled "City," and some of these first municipal blooms were born to blush unseen.
   Of the thirty-seven bridge and ferry charters under part seven, twenty-two are for ferries across the Missouri river, and two of these charters confer the right to construct bridges, also. Of the remaining fifteen, five are for bridges, two for bridges and ferries, three for bridges or ferries, and five for ferries alone across the important inland streams.
   Whatever difference of opinion may be entertained as to the virtue and abilities of the first Nebraska legislators, their individual prudence and thrift are beyond question. They bestowed on one another and their relatives the privileges and potential emoluments of these special corporations without stint and with apparent generous impartiality, so that their patronymics appear almost as regularly as beneficiaries of these special privileges as in the ordinary proceedings of the legislature. They lost no chance to "cast an anchor to windward." With remarkable disregard of the law of environment these denizens of the desert with one accord conceived a passion for navigation. Not less than twenty-one of the thirty-nine members were actually named in these transportation charters. We are not surprised that Mitchell, whose raw material as a violent opponent of Omaha in the capital contest had been manipulated into the glad commissioner for locating the state house on Capitol Hill, led all the rest with six of these tokens of appreciation of open-mindedness, and Dr. Clark of Dodge and Nuckolls of Cass followed with three apiece. The Council Bluffs and Nebraska Ferry company is, however, an apparent exception, for its charter runs to Samuel S. Bayliss, Enos Lowe, James A. Jackson, Jesse Williams, Samuel M. Ballard, Samuel R. Curtis, and their associates. Whether the majority of the members were reluctant to add further evidence to their conduct in the capital contest of "Jim" Jackson's very practical control over, or his practical obligation to them, by being named as co-beneficiaries in their valuable gift to his company, or whether that efficient agent of Omaha's interests felt, as he no doubt would have been justified in feeling, that he had done quite enough for them in the capital enterprise without letting them into this one, is not a matter of public record; but either hypothesis would serve to explain the singular omission.
   By these charters exclusive right to maintain ferries between the mouth of the Platte and a point five miles north of Florence was granted to the companies at that place, at Omaha, and at Bellevue. The entire river front was parceled out to them. As a further example of the monopolistic character of these grants the company at Tekamah had exclusive rights for a distance of ten miles.
   Predatory Omaha having left no other hope or consolation to Bellevue but in righteousness, her spokesman of the Palladium is re-

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