The survey having been completed the ferry company took immediate steps to erect buildings. A brickyard was started for the company by Benjamin Winchester, of Kanesville, for the purpose of making the brick for the proposed State House, as the proprietors of the town site were confident that Omaha would be selected as the Territorial Capital by the first

      [Milton Rogers was born in Harford county, Maryland, June 22, 1822. When but a year old his parents emigrated to Columbiana county, Ohio, where his boyhood was spent in farm work, his education being only such as could be obtained in the log school houses of those early days. At the age of 18 he left the farm and went to New Lisbon, Ohio, to learn the tin and coppersmith trade. When his four years of apprenticeship ended, he left Ohio for the West, and for about six years he tried his fortune in small

business enterprises in Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Iowa, finally locating at Kanesville (now Counci1 Bluffs), in the latter State, in August, 1850, where he started the tinware and stove business. The rude beginnings of those days, architecturally, form a strong contrast with the present. Mr. Rogers' store was built of cottonwood logs, with a "puncheon" floor of hewn logs, and window sash made by hand from basswood rails. In 1854 a town was located on the west side of the Missouri river, opposite Kanesville; it was surveyed, platted, and, according to Western custom, was called a city -- Omaha City -- before a house was built. In June of the next year, 1855, Mr. Rogers cast in his fortunes with 0maha by starting here a branch of his tinware and stove business, again in a cottonwood building. His purchase of 66x132 feet on lower Farn-



am street, for $150, would doubtless now be valued at nearly as many thousand dollars. After a time he sold 44 feet of his ground for the same price that he had given for the whole, showing that real estate in Omaha began to "advance" about as soon as it was changed from acres to lots. On this lot now stands the fine building of the Bee Publishing, Company. In January, 1862, Mr. Rogers bought 22x132 feet on the corner of Farnam and Fourteenth streets, for $1,150, and built a one-story frame building, covering the lot, which location has ever since remained his business home, he having removed from Council Bluffs in 1861. Later, he joined with other property owners in building a three-story brick block, extending to Thirteenth street, and occupied his new store in January, 1868. In March, 1881, the building adjoining him was nearly destroyed

by fire and he bought the remains and the 22 feet of ground for $19,500, rebuilt and made of the two one store. Thus another great advance in property was marked. In 1880 and in 1884, respectively, Mr. Rogers associated with him his two sons, and the business of the firm is now the most extensive in its line west of Chicago, as it is the oldest business house in Omaha or Nebraska. During his thirty-two years' residence in Omaha, Mr. Rogers has been interested in many of the enterprises which have contributed to or marked the city's progress. Besides taking stock in the Grand Central Hotel -- the ill-fated predecessor of the Paxton Hotel, he gave $2,500 to the building fund. He was one of the original promoters of the City Water Works, and vice-president of the company from 1880 to 1886. He was also one of the original stockholders in the South Omaha Stock Yards, which have contributed so much to the growth and prosperity of the city, and he was one of the original parties to the South Omaha Land Syndicate, and is yet interested in it. Mr. Rogers has never held a public office in Omaha, his tastes and inclinations being always averse to public life, although frequently solicited by his fellow-citizens to take part in the direction of city affairs.]

Legislature. Winchester, however, soon failed in his enterprise, and the brick had to be hauled from Council Bluffs.
     On July 11, 1854, Mr. and Mrs. Newell came over from Council Bluffs. Mr. Newell was engaged to work in the brick yard, and his wife to cook for the laborers. William P. Snowden and wife, also from Council Bluffs, landed in Omaha on the same day. Mr. and Mrs. Newell remained only three weeks. Mr. and Mrs. Snowden are still living in Omaha, and can justly claim the honor of being the first actual settlers. Cam Reeves and family came next, then P. G. Peterson, Mr. and Mrs. Bedell and others followed quite rapidly. Many of the old settlers, however, did not locate permanently until late in the fall of 1855, as they had to provide accommodations for their families before bringing them over from Council Bluffs,



     The first house built in Omaha was a small, rough log structure, constructed for the ferry company. It was located in the vicinity of Twelfth and Jackson streets, and was occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Snowden, who kept it as a boarding house during the summer and fall of 1854 for the ferry company's employes. It was given the name of the St. Nicholas Hotel, but was generally known as the "Claim House." It was in this building that the first religious services were held in Omaha, Sunday, August 13th, 1854, by Rev. Peter Cooper, of Council Bluffs. The second house was built by Mr. Gaylord, at Burt and Twenty-second streets; the third was the "Big 6," a sod house, occupied as a grocery and saloon, north side of Chicago street, between Thirteenth and Fourteenth. Mr. Snowden built the fourth house, a log cabin, on a lot given



to him by the ferry company. It was on Tenth street, just south of Turner Hall. It was the first private dwelling house that was completed, and Mr. and Mrs. Snowden moved into it after having kept the St. Nicholas for three months. The event was celebrated with a "housewarming," and the first dance in Omaha was given on this occasion. The first brick structure was the State House, on the west side of Ninth street, between Farnam and Douglas. Margaret Ferry, born in October, 1854, daughter of James Ferry, who laid the first stone for the State House, was the first white child. This honor, however, is disputed by the friends of William Nebraska Reeves, who was born about the same time. John Logan and Miss Caroline Mosier were the first persons to form a matrimonial alliance. Mr. and Mrs. Logan still live in Omaha. William P. Snowden dug the first grave. It was for an old Otoe squaw, who had been deserted by her people. The first burial among the whites was that



of M. C. Gaylord's child. Dr. George L. Miller was Omaha's first physician. He came here in the fall of 1854 from Syracuse, N. Y., accompanied by his father, Col. Loren Miller, who is now 88 years of age. The first practicing lawyers were A. J. Poppleton and O. D. Richardson. Both came here in 1854 from Michigan.

     [Hon. James E, Boyd, who takes pride in the fact that he is one of the self-made men of Omaha, is a native of Ireland. He was born in County Tyrone, September 9, 1834, and came to America when he was ten years old, locating in Belmont county, Ohio, In 1847 he went with his father to Zanesville, where he lived until 1856. In August, of that year, he and his brother, John M., came to Omaha, and engaged in the carpenter and joiner business until the panic of 1857. John M. Boyd went to St. Joseph, Mo., in the spring of 1858, while James E. Boyd remained in Omaha and worked at his trade. On the 22d of August, 1858, he was married, at Omaha, to Anna H. Henry, a native of Hamilton, Madison county, N. J. About this time Mr. Boyd went to Wood River, near the present town of Gibbon, Neb., and established a stock farm, remaining there nine years. During a portion of this period he was also engaged in merchandising at Kearney City, two miles west of Fort Kearney. In 1866 he secured a grading contract on the Union Pacific and graded over three hundred miles in about three years. In February, 1868, he returned to Omaha and invested more

heavily than any other man in the gas works, of which he was one of the principal promoters, and during 1868-69 he was manager of the company. In the winter of 1869-70 he organized the Omaha & Northwestern railroad. He was elected its first president and built the road to Blair. During this period he was largely interested in the cattle business, his ranch being located near Ogallalla. In 1872 he disposed of his cattle interests and engaged in pork packing in Omaha on a small scale. The first year he killed only 4500 hogs, but with each year his business increased until in 1886 he killed 141,000 hogs. He continued the packing business until the summer of 1887, when he sold his establishment. Although having retired from the pork-packing business, he is still actively engaged in other pursuits. He is a partner in the Chicago commission firm of Boyd, Paxton & Boyd, and is a



member of the Chicago Board of Trade and also of the New York Stock Exchange. He is also the owner of a large cattle herd, his ranch being located near Ft. Fetterman, Wyoming. The Lloyd opera house, one of the handsomest theaters in the West, is his property. He began its erection in the fall of 1880, and completed it in the fall of 1881. The cost of the opera house was over $110,000, and its opening, which occurred October 24, 1881, was quite an event in the history of Omaha. Mr. Boyd, on that occasion, received the highest compliments for his public spirit in providing the citizens with such a beautiful place of amusement. Mr. Boyd is a staunch Democrat, and has taken quite a prominent part in Nebraska politics. In 1857 he was elected Clerk of Douglas county. While residing in Buffalo county he was elected to the first State Legislature,

in 1867. He was also County Clerk in that county, but resigned. He was elected on a non-partisan ticket to both the Nebraska State Constitutional conventions. Mr. Boyd served as Mayor of Omaha for two terms, from 1881 to 1883 and from 1885 to 1887, being elected each time by a very large majority. He proved an efficient and faithful executive, and during his administration were inaugurated all the public improvements that have done so much to bring Omaha up to the rank of a metropolitan city. In the senatorial campaign of 1883 Mr. Boyd received the vote of the Democratic party for United States Senator against General Manderson. In the last presidential campaign he was a delegate to the convention which nominated Grover Cleveland, for whom he cast his vote. He is at present a member of the National Democratic Committee. Mr. Boyd was president of the Omaha Board of Trade from 1881 to 1883. During his residence in Omaha he has taken an active part in nearly every public enterprise, and has always been considered as one of our public spirited citizens. Mr. and Mrs. Boyd have three children living--Eleonora, the wife of United States Marshal Bierbower, and Margaret and James E., Jr.

The first steam ferry boat was the "General Marion," which superseded Brown's flat boat ferry. Omaha had a newspaper very early in her existence. It was called the "Arrow," and was printed in Council Bluffs. J. E. Johnson and J. W. Pattison were the editors and proprietors. There were only twelve issues of the Arrow, covering the period from July 28th to November 10th, 1854. Mr. Byron Reed has in his possession the whole series, with the exception of No. 6. Editor Pattison


Previous page
Next Button

© 1999, 2000, 2001 for the NEGenWeb Project by Ted & Carole Miller