It was in the fall of 1856 that Henry Lusche and Carl Reinke pre-empted the first claims of one hundred sixty acres on Shell Creek. At the same time, John Browner and J. P. Becker preempted claims farther east on the Creek, and Charles Bremer filed on a claim nearby.
During the severe winter of 1856-1857, Henry Lusche and Carl Reinke lived on their claims. In March, 1857, they were joined by George Berney who came from Omaha. He filed on a claim, and built his cabin close to them. John Held, also, moved to a claim in that vicinity in 1857. The claims of Henry Lusche and Carl Reinke, Charles Bremer, George Berney, and John Held were on land in what is now known as Bismark Township; while those of John Browner and J. P. Becker were farther east on Shell Creek, now a part of Colfax County.
In the spring of 1857, Michael Kelly, Thomas Lynch, Patrick Gleason and John Dineen took up claims in what is now Shell Creek Township.
Peter Meyer came to Columbus in the spring of 1857, and moved to Shell Creek Township around 1860, where he remained for a year.
However, it was not until 1858 that Shell Creek Precinct was officially created; at that time it included all the settlements along Shell Creek and the following judges of election were appointed: Michael Erb, Carl Reinke and John Held.
The first organized religious group in Shell Creek Township was St. Patrick's Catholic Parish, organized in 1863. The first mission church was a little log cabin near the cemetery, presided over by Father Fourman, who at first said mass in the homes of the settlers. When Father Ryan came he took charge of the mission and some of the parishioners then attended St. John's Church in Columbus.
Early members of the St. John's Parish in Columbus included: John Browner, Adam Smith, Michael Smith, John Haney, James Haney and Patrick Murray. Mrs. Adam Smith, a sister to Patrick Murray, was later Mrs. Brady. Those from the Irish settlement on Shell Creek who frequently attended the church services were: Henry Carrig, David Carrig, James Carrig, John Dineen, Michael Dineen, Thomas Lynch, Edward Hayes, James Conway and Mrs. Dunlap.
The first schoolhouse, also a log cabin, was in District 4. The first teacher was John Kern.
About 1868, J. P. Becker erected a grist mill on East Shell Creek, and he and Jonas Welch became the proprietors of the mill. In the 1850's, the early pioneers in this area had been forced to travel to Fort Calhoun near Omaha for their flour and meal.
In 1870, the Calvary Cemetery Association was incorporated by the citizens of Shell Creek, who later became the residents of both Shell Creek and Bismark Precincts. One year later, the Shell Creek Lutheran Church, known as Christ Lutheran, was organized under the Reverend E. A. Freese. The first meeting of the congregation was held in February, 1871, and Bismark Township was created the next August. Fifty families attended the church, which was located on Section 2.
Shell Creek Township is bounded on the north by Grand Prairie, on the east by Bismark, on the south by Columbus and on the west by Lost Creek Townships. It was named after the stream which runs through it from east to west and is composed of town 18, range 1 west.
School Districts 4, 12, 22 and 35 were formed in the Township and each maintained a school there for more than fifty years. The old District 12 school house served as the first polling place for Shell Creek Township. In 1926, a new school building was erected with a community room in the basement designed to house voting booths on election day. The building committee for this school was composed of: E. L. Mueller, director; George Saalfeld, moderator; Jacob Gottberg, treasurer; Adam Behle and Edward Reins. Otto Krumland of Columbus was the builder.
Teachers who taught in the District 12 school up to 1930, included: E. M. Ellis, James Con-
way, J. J. Manghan, W. H. Tedrow, who later became the county superintendent of Platte County; D. A. Cooper, Martin J. Hogan, D. W. Schaff, J. E. Conway, Margaret Dineen, Ella Dineen, Nellie Lynch, Mary Gleason, Albert Cramer, John Hayes, Kittie Linnehan, Birdie Dodds, Anna O'Callaghan, Rosemary O'Callaghan, Veronica Dineen, Esther Nauenburg, Mattie Pilling, Lena Hembd, Mabel Nauenburg, Viola Gleason and Mary Welch.
The topography of Shell Creek Township is largely level upland, a large percentage of which is rich black loam. Shell Creek, which traverses the area, helps to irrigate the rolling, fertile farmland.
The Shell Creek Valley Farmers Union Local 388 was organized on June 27, 1914. The first meeting was held at the District 10 school house, with Otto Heiden as the first president and Ernest Loseke as the first secretary-treasurer.
Some of the interesting happenings in the Local throughout its first twenty-five years were told at a celebration held in Welch's Hall, on June 27, 1939. At this meeting, Edward Marks, the county president, presided, and following is an excerpt from the minutes:
"It was raining hard the night of the organization meeting, and there were not enough present to organize. However, we called on our friend and neighbor, Frank Aerni, to make the fifteenth member, which fulfilled the requirement for the issuance of the charter. Mr. Aerni had retired for the night but quickly joined the group."
As the membership grew, the members began to establish their buying power and ordered merchandise. At one of the early meetings, August Runge ordered a carload of fence posts. Each year twine was sent to Richland for the farmers, and sugar was ordered in quantities. Many times during the summer season the member driving to town would also pick up and deliver his neighbor's order.
Social gatherings were frequent among Local members, and annual picnics were held each summer. One year a Fourth of July celebration was held in the grove at the Arthur Schwank Farm. A Farmers Union store was also organized in this area.
Otto Heiden held the office of president for twenty years. He was succeeded by George Schwank, who was the president in 1939. During the first twenty-five years, the men who held the office of secretary for a term or more, included: Ernest Loseke, Emil Loseke, Roy Nauenburg, Joseph Gleason, Otto Mueller, Emil Brunken, Fred Schwank, Henry L. Cattau and Adolph Wurdeman. Adolph Mueller was the vice-president from 1914-1939, and was then succeeded by Clarence Mueller, by appointment.
On May 9, 1933, the former Bismark Local 344 and the Shell Creek Valley Local 388 were consolidated. The Bismark Local 344 was organized April 8, 1914. The charter members of this organization were: Henry Buss, Henry L. Cattau, Fred Brunken, John Luchsinger, Dick Dirks, Adolph Kreye, Adolph Frese, Edward Loseke, Gerhard Loseke, George Schwank, Henry Lueschen, Louis Wilken, John Wilcynski, Emil Hake and Chockley Bisson.
The following men were elected to serve as the Local's first officers: Henry Buss, president; John Luchsinger, vice-president; Henry Lueschen, secretary-treasurer; Dick Dirks, conductor and Richard Adamy, doorkeeper.
In May, 1914, Henry Lueschen resigned as secretary-treasurer, and Adolph Frese was elected as his successor. On June 20, 1914, George Schwank was elected purchasing agent for the Local. Orders were taken for coal and cedar posts at the September 26, 1914, meeting. The first annual meeting was held on December 26, 1914. At this meeting, the officers elected for 1915 were: Henry Buss, president; Fred Cattau, vice-president; Louis Wilken, secretary-treasurer; George Schwank, doorkeeper; and Emil Hake, conductor.
In 1916, George Schwank succeeded Louis Wilken as secretary-treasurer, and John Wilcynski became doorkeeper. In 1918, Henry L. Cattau became president, George Schwank vice-president and G. E. Marty secretary-treasurer. After several years of regular meetings, the Local disbanded. Some of its former members joined Local 388, and the others remained members at large.
At the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Consolidated Local, a highlight of the meeting was a roll call of the charter membership of Locals 388 and 344. Twelve members answered the roll call: Emil Hake, George Schwank, Henry L. Cattau, Otto Heiden, Louis Nauenburg, Fred Schwank, Emil Mueller, Henry Luchsinger, Edward Asche, Henry Buss, Gerhard Loseke and Emil Loseke.
Bismark Township was created and named at a session of the County Board held August 1, 1871. It was described as consisting of towns 18, 19 and 20, range 1 east. Three judges were
The History of Platte County Nebraska
the first officials appointed: Andrew Mathias, Henry Lueschen and Carl Reinke. Henry Rickert and Benjamin Spielman served as the first clerks.
One of the early settlers in Bismark Township was Charles Schroeder, who came to this country from Germany in 1862 and located on a homestead in 1868. The Schroeder Foundry and Machine Shop in Columbus was established by this pioneer who later helped his brother, G. A. Schroeder, start the Schroeder mill.
Another homesteader who moved to this township in the early years was Edwin Ahrens. He came to this area in 1860 and located on Section 23. He later was married to Anna Loseke at Columbus.
Henry Lusche and Carl Reinke, however, were the first actual settlers to live in this township.
Christ Lutheran Church, the first church organized in the township, was incorporated thirty-five years later, on April 4, 1906. The incorporators were: Adolf Marty, Heinrich Buss and John Ahrens. They were elected church trustees. Fritz Otte served as clerk for the 1906 meeting.
The Township of Bismark includes four school divisions. They are Districts 2, 10, 15 and 36. Records of the Bismark Township schools sixty-six years ago, in 1883, show that although one hundred days were included in the school term, the average daily attendance of students was only seventeen.
The earliest families to form a settlement in Bismark Township were predominantly German. Among the foremost of these settlers were J. G. Asche, B. H. Asche, Edwin and Herman Ahrens, Engelke Buss, Franz Henggler, Henry G. Herman, G. Henry Lueschen, J. H., John, Henry and Herman Loseke, Charles and Samuel Reinke, Fred Schaad, Sr., Fred Schaad, Jr., Diederick Dickey, John Wurdeman and J. H. Wurdeman.
Shell Creek crosses the central part of the township from west to east, forms a junction with Spring Creek on Section 3, and later forms a junction with Loseke Creek on Section 2. Stock raising is the most important industry of the area, but corn., oats and wheat are also abundant.
1883 records of elected officials show Herman Wilke as assessor; J. C. Swartsley, supervisor; Henry Rickert, clerk; Edwin Ahrens, treasurer. Four years later, Swartsley became supervisor and R. C. Mueller was voted treasurer; William Stahmer, clerk; Seibert Heibel, assessor.
Bismark Township is bordered on the south by Columbus Township, on the west by Shell Creek Township, on the north by Sherman Township, and on the east by Colfax County; It is from the Bismark Township territory that Sherman and Creston Townships were later carved out.
Sherman Precinct, comprising township 19, range 1 east, was established December 2, 1872. Township judges were: J. Staub, Herman Bakenhus and Norman Small. John Riley was the first constable and Herman Small was assessor. The road supervisor elected was Herman G. Lueschen. Some of the early settlers in this precinct were: Herman Pieper, William Newman, Henry G. Lueschen and "Lib." Staub.
One of the first homesteaders in Sherman Township was the early Platte County pioneer, John Henry Wurdeman, who located on Section 10 in 1869. Like Herman Lueschen, he was a native of Oldenburg, Germany, and later became a leader in the county's growing German settlement.
The first church organized in Sherman Township was the St. Paul's German Lutheran which appeared in the 1870's. A church building was erected on Section 2, in 1877. Across the road from the church, a cemetery was established. Mrs. Julius Hembd was the first to be buried there, in February, 1877.
Sherman Township contains School Districts 23, 46, 48 and 77. Bounded on the east by Colfax County and on the, west by Grand Prairie Township, Sherman adjoins Creston Township to the north and is directly north of Bismark Township. Elk Creek and its tributaries, Suiss, Spring and Loseke Creeks, furnish a plentiful Supply of water to the territory.
For many years, the polling place of this township was the Boheet School house in District 46, southeast of Creston. As facilities were not sufficient to house both voting and teaching simultaneously, the Boheet School classes were always dismissed on election day until 1930. In that year, the schoolhouse was raised on a new foundation and a modernly equipped basement was built, twenty-two by thirty-eight feet, containing fuel rooms and a large community room.
Still alive to see the 1930 improvement was Mr. Lueschen, then ninety-three years old. This Civil War veteran lived directly across from the schoolhouse and, prior to 1898, had served for more than thirty years as director in District 46. The original school building there was built in 1897, at a cost of twelve hundred dollars, and the additions and improvements made on the structure thirty-three years later represented an outlay of around twelve hundred dollars. Miss Angeline Koch was the teacher in District 46 in 1930, and the members of the school board included: Emil Brauner, director; George Jeldon, moderator; and Adolph Sander, treasurer.
Another early settler in Sherman Township was James Davis, who came to Platte County from Iowa in 1873 to settle on Section 8. His parents, Joshua and Mary Davis, came with him to make their home in the region.
In 1878, an agricultural report stated that almost thirty-four hundred acres were under cultivation in the township which showed a population of three hundred ten, almost entirely made up of homesteaders. Of this number, one hundred sixty-two were German, one hundred thirty-two American, thirteen were Irish emigrants and three were from England.
In the early days of Sherman Township, the settlers depended to a great extent upon wild game and fish for their food. One variety of fish which was particularly common in this region was the "stone roller." These fish inhabited the bottom of the creek, where they rolled pebbles into mounds. Working in a perpendicular position with tail straight up, they rolled the pebbles with their mouths.
Sherman Township has been one of the successful farming communities of Platte County. The Spring Creek Telephone Company once had offices in this area and many of the farmers there, such as the Lueschens and Wurdemans, are descendants of the earliest founders of the township.
Boheet Local No. 252 of the Farmers' Union celebrated their twenty-fifth anniversary on January 12, 1939.
The History of Platte County Nebraska
Grand Prairie Township, first named Stearns Precinct, was established May 7, 1872. Originally comprised of township 19, range 1 west, and the eastern half of town 19, range 2 west, this precinct lost a part of its territory when Burrows Township was created. The name Stearns was taken from a settler by the same name who operated an inn for teamsters in the precinct in 1870 and, in 1872, organized a school there. Later, when a controversy arose between him and another settler in the eastern part of the township, it was decided to call the precinct Grand Prairie and thus avoid favoritism.
Some of the prominent men in the early history of the township were: Sam W. W. Wilson, J. F. Schure, D. L. Bruen, Hubert Braun, William Gentleman, Jacob Judd, Herman Wendt, Henry Wassenberger, Dietrich Becher, William Schelp, Thees Mohlman, Michael Wieser, and J. F. Hellbusch.
No accurate record of the first voting remains in this precinct but either Half-way House or "Spoerry's School" was undoubtedly the location. In 1933, the voting place was moved to the District 28 school, a two-room structure with a basement.
Some of the early teachers in Grand Prairie Township were: Minnie Owens, Lydia Bloedorn, Margaret Cronin, Mayme Cronin, Kittie Linnehan, Richard McGuane, Albert Cramer and Tom Regan.
In the first year of its organization, the precinct had registered voters, including: John Braun, William Gentleman, John H. Hellbusch, Peter Parr, Henry Spoerry, William Snider, John P. Brown, Robert Gentleman, William Egger, Peter Ripp and O. E. Stearns.
The first Lutheran church in the township was St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church, organized January, 1879, by the Reverend E. A. Frese. The first meeting was held in the district school and attended by the families of W. Patschke, W. Hoeflemann, M. Froehlich, F. Schure and E. Brundt. In 1884, the first church was built and this edifice remained in use until 1898, when the present church was built.
The Evangelical Zion's Church of Grand Prairie, in existence for many years, was reorganized in 1890, with twenty-one voting members. Among the charter members were the Otto Kallweit and Gehring families. October 24, 1893, was the date of incorporation for St. Mary's Catholic Church which was organized as a Catholic Mission in Grand Prairie Township in 1874.
One of the foremost settlers of this precinct was Swiss-born Henry T. Spoerry, who clerked in John Rickly's store until 1872, when he took a homestead in the township and became justice of the peace. In 1877, he was elected to the Nebraska Legislature, where he took an active part in educational affairs. The schoolhouse in District 21, which was one of the first community buildings in Grand Prairie Township, bore his name.
Judges elected to serve in the first township election were: Robert Gentleman, John Braun and William Gentleman; clerks, O. E. Steams and John P. Brown. Grand Prairie Township is bordered by Humphrey, Sherman, Shell Creek and Burrows Townships and is composed of topography which is half rolling and half level upland. It is watered by Elk Creek and its tributaries and includes the territory of town 19, range 1 west.
Grand Prairie has four school districts, including Districts 28, 72, 21 and 30. Bonds were voted for the first frame school building in 1877, when bids were called for by building chairman O. E. Stearns. The proposed twenty by twenty-six structure was erected in District 28 by the firm of Loveland and Ellis, of Columbus.
Creston Township, originally a part of Pleasant Valley Precinct, was first known as Arlington Precinct, established on September 7, 1875. The organization did not take place officially until the first of 1876, when an election was held at the home of William Longwith and the name changed to Creston.
Some of the earliest settlers in this township were: John Drake, Arthur Miles, W. B. Wilhams, N. McCandlish, R. C. Moran, Niels Olson, John Carstensen, Soren Anderson, Anders C. Anderson, Andrew Iverson, O. E. Engler, P. E. McKillip, H. P. and C. F. Buhmann, Gerhard Husman, Wilhelm Brunken and Herman Schulte.
Platte County pioneers Niels Olson and his brother-in-law, Andrew Iverson, were the first white settlers to move to this precinct which, in 1886, became the location of the town of Creston. Olson later served for many years as a member of the county board of supervisors.
The first church to be organized in the township was the First Evangelical Lutheran, which met in the District 43 school house April 10, 1899, with Mr. Olson as chairman of the meeting. John Carstensen acted as clerk and Andrew Iverson, Soren Anderson and Mr. Olson were elected first trustees.
Creston Township is bounded on the north
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