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of the "Quincy Colony" organized at Quincy, Illinois, June 24, 1854. In September, 1854, the advance guard of the colony came to Bellevue and under the guidance of Logan Fontanelle located a tract of land on the east side of the Elkhorn river, about twelve miles northeast of where Fremont now stands. In the early spring of 1855 the colonists came on. Plans for the future were made. Two miles square were laid off for a townsite and grounds for the coming state capitol and university. The university was chartered by the legislature and school was actually opened in 1858, the Congregational association having taken the institution under its patronage. For a number of years the town and school struggled on, but in 1865 the school building burned and the location of the Union Pacific road a few miles away ended the ambitions of Fontanelle, once a prosperous village of five hundred people, now mostly a cornfield, whose site may be seen by the traveler on the Northwestern railroad up the Elkhorn valley.

     Early in the spring of 1855 the Pawnee Indians began to make free with the property of settlers in the Elkhorn valley. From their vil-

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Island in Platte River, opposite Old Pawnee Village, Fremont, Nebraska


lage on the high bluff south of Fremont they saw with jealous eye the steady encroachment of the white man on their hunting grounds. Small parties of young men would slip away and while too prudent to attack the settlers, they were not disposed to miss any good chances at stealing cattle. In answer to frequent complaints Gov. Izard appointed John M. Thayer and O. D. Richardson as representatives of the dignity of the Territory of Nebraska to visit the Pawnees and stop the outrages. May 20 they left Bellevue with a guide and interpreter and arrived at Peta-le-sharu's lodge the second day. The council which followed was the first meeting of official representatives of Nebraska with the aboriginal inhabitants. It was held in the great council lodge on the bluff overlooking Fremont, and was attended by all the principal chiefs of the village. They denied any knowledge of raiding the white people and professed themselves friends of the great father and all the little fathers. General Thayer delivered his "ultimatum"--which was, no more stealing or war on the Pawnees, and returned across the Platte river--where he found that in his absence the Pawnees had



stolen all the commissary supplies of the expedition from his wagon and the representatives of the Territory of Nebraska were obliged to go hungry. The original receipt for $86.75 expenses of this expedition--on old style blue paper is among the archives of the historical society. 

     The second annual census of the territory taken October 15, 1855, disclosed a population of 4,494, near two-thirds of them south of the Platte. The assessed- valuation of the territory was $617,822. The territorial treasury was empty and the second session of the territorial legislature-which met in Omaha December 18, 1855,--authorized the treasurer to borrow $4,000 on the credit of the territory, paying not more than fifteen per cent interest. The tax for territorial purposes was two mills on the dollar,--and very little money coming in.

     This second session of the Nebraska legislature, lasting from December 18, 1855, until January 26, 1856, may appropriately be named the "Wild Cat Session." The great economic feature was the incorporation of territorial banks of issue, whose paper promises were soon to flood the little frontier fringe of settlements, and swell the rising tide of a great real estate "boom." This first crop of Nebraska wild cats included the following:

Initial Capital.
Authorized Capital.

Bank of Florence, at Florence


Bank of Nebraska, at Omaha


Platte Valley Bank, at Nebraska City


Fontanelle Bank, at Bellevue


Nemaha Valley Bank at Brownville

      The charters of these concerns is an interesting one for the student of financial experiments. Each bank was authorized to open doors and begin business as soon as half of its initial capital was,--not paid in, but "subscribed." Each bank was authorized to issue its notes and transact a general banking business and "to buy and sell property of all kinds." The charters were to run for twenty-five years and the stockholders were individually liable to redeem the notes issued in gold and silver. In actual practice these acts of incorporation permitted a bank to issue its own paper money notes and to receive deposits without a dollar of capital stock being paid in. The door for unlimited speculation was left open by permitting banks "to buy and sell any kind of property." The stock of the banks was also transferable,--so that the original incorporators might, if they chose, issue the full amount of notes authorized--half a million dollars--and then by transferring the stock to irresponsible parties leave the note holders without recourse.

     There were a few men in the territorial legislature who had sense and courage enough to oppose such bare-faced swindling schemes as these acts. Conspicuous among them were Dr. George L. Miller and J. Sterling Morton, but the opposition was walked over like an outclassed football team in the general mad rush for fictitious prosperity. Flush times followed. The year 1856 was the golden era of speculation in infant Nebraska. Townsites sprang up on every hill side along the Missouri river and even the interior as far as the Elkhorn and the headwaters of Salt Creek was dotted over with future county seats and railroad centers. The favorite plan was to issue townsite



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Dr. Geo. L. Miller

"stock" with beautiful, lithographed certificates which were freely traded for all kinds of property. Settlers from the east came flocking in to enjoy the wonderful prosperity of the frontier. They, too, were soon infected and engaged in the business of buying town lots, staking out additional townsites and projecting new banks. The census taken in October, 1856 found a population of 10,716--more than double what it had been twelve months before.

     The business of starting new universities and colleges prospered proportionately with the increase in new townsites. A large number of ferry and bridge charters were granted by the legislature to afford easy communication between the embryo cities, which included such well-known places as St. John City, California City, Jacksonville, Marietta and Bradford, A Saline company was incorporated, to carry on the business of manufacturing salt in the Salt Creek basin with a capital of $50,000. To relieve the legislative mind from the tension of these large speculative projects there was the usual annual fight over the removal of the capital. In this Omaha's shrewdness was again victorious by the narrow majority of two votes.

      When the third territorial legislature met in December 1856, there was a large demand for more banks in the territory. As one of the debaters expressed it "having supplied all the towns in the territory with banks, they now proposed to have one at every crossroads." Acts of incorporation were passed for six more banks,--the Clinton Bank, Bank of Columbus, Pacific Bank, Waubeek Bank, of Desoto, Bank of Plattsmouth and Tekamah Bank. All of these bills were vetoed by Governor Izard. The charters for the Bank of Tekamah and Desoto Bank were passed over the Governor's veto, the others failed by a close vote. To make the financial situation still more interesting some of the banks which had failed to get charters from the legislature' had on hand a fine stock of' nicely lithographed notes which they proceeded to issue without any charter. There were numerous charges of bribery in connection with the passage of these bank bills and assertions that the banks which had been chartered the year before in their selfish desire to monopolize the money business in Nebraska had prevented the incorporation of others. Including two or three insurance companies which had secured charters permitting them to do a banking business there was now a bank for every thousand people and $750 banking capital for every man, woman and child in the territory. The total issue of Wildcat paper notes by these concerns is stated by a newspaper of the day at $480,000. In the autumn of 1857 the crash came. The banks suspended payments. The individual liability of the stockholders vanished like an early October frost and almost every dollar of the entire paper money issue proved a total loss in the hands of the



people. Some of them are now preserved as relics of past folly. At the very same time the price of town lots and paper pictures representing townsite shares sank out of sight. Misery and despair drove out prosperity and speculation. Everybody was insolvent. Efforts to collect debts were ridiculous. An execution issued against the Bank of Tekamah, which had $90,000 in paper notes outstanding, brought a return from the sheriff that the only property he could find was a ten by twelve board shanty, used as the banking house, and furniture consisting of an old table and broken stove. This bitter experience of territorial Nebraska effectually killed wildcat banking.

      Part of the work of the legislature of 1856-7 was the renewal of the assault upon Omaha by the South Platte members of the legislature who had never forgiven the citizens of that town for their sharp practice in seizing and holding the capital. The South Platte was now strong enough to control things and promptly passed a bill removing the capital to the town of Douglas near the head of Salt Creek, in Lancaster county. Governor Izard as promptly vetoed the bill, assigning, among other reasons that there was not a house in the town of Douglas, that no one knew where it was, and the only evidence of its existence was in the shape of $500 printed stock certificates which were being freely circulated about the legislature. The effort to pass the bill over the governor's veto was almost successful, but here again Omaha's luck did not desert her. Two members from the South Platte country, --Furnas and Finney of Nemaha,--changed their votes and the capital remained at Omaha. Bitter charges were made in connection with these votes and long years afterward they were revived by a libel suit brought by Governor Furnas against the Omaha Herald. The enemies of Omaha were able to accomplish one thing, however. The southern part of Douglas county, including Bellevue, was cut off and erected into Sarpy county, which it has remained ever since.

      The election for delegate to congress in the fall of 1857 was a four-sided contest, in which Fenner Ferguson received 1,654 votes, Bird B. Chapman, 1,597, B. F. Rankin, 1,304 and John M. Thayer, 1,288. All of these candidates were democratic, but no party lines being drawn as yet in the territory every man ran independent on his own nomination and organized his own campaign.

     On December 9, 1857 the fourth territorial legislature convened--which was to become the most famous in Nebraska's territorial annals. The center of the storm area again was the question of capital removal. Congress had appropriated $50,000 to erect a suitable capital building, which had been begun on the site where now stands the Omaha high school building. Governor Izard had the disbursement of the $50,000 and had handled it so well that it did not finish the first story. The city of Omaha had taken the matter in hand and issued $60,000 in city scrip which circulated as money. Some of the people who held this scrip became anxious about security for the same and the Omaha people had given in a statement of assets which included the ground where the unfinished capitol stood. These transactions led to an investigation by the legislature and the development of a good deal of animosity. An Otoe county member introduced a new capital removal bill. The people of Omaha were by this time very tired of capi-



tal removal bills. The Douglas county members declared that no more bills of any kind should pass the legislature until the capital removal bill was withdrawn and began to kill time with moot discussions to make the threat good. January 7, 1858 the trouble reached its climax in the house. Speaker Decker, when attempting to take the chair was seized by some of the Omaha members, assisted by the Omaha lobby, thrown on the floor and rolled under a table. A free-for-all fracas followed. The next day both the house and the senate passed a resolution adjourning to meet at Florence. Accordingly a majority of both houses met at Florence and proceeded with legislative business until January 16, when the session expired by limitation. During this time numerous hills were passed, one of them removing the capital to the city of Neapolis on the Platte river--a paper town which the imagination may plausibly locate near the present town of Cedar Bluffs. Governor Izard had left the territory October 28, 1857. On January 11, 1858 his successor, W. A. Richardson, of Illinois, arrived,--the same Richardson who as Douglas' lieutenant had charge of the Nebraska-Kansas Bill during the struggle of 1854 in congress. Governor Richardson declined to recognize the Florence legislature on the ground that it was not in session at the seat of government. The legislature replied in a letter reciting the insults and indignities heaped upon their members at Omaha and declaring that it was unsafe to hold its sessions there.

      On March 23, Secretary of State Cuming died,--probably the ablest of all the early territorial leaders in Nebraska political life. President Buchannan appointed to succeed

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Gov. W. A. Richardson

him J. Sterling Morton, who entered upon his duties July 12.

      There were no political parties organized in Nebraska until 1858. Factions and sectional divisions existed, nothing more. All were democrats, of the good old Jacksonian stock. There was great contempt for "black, nigger-loving republicans" as they were generally called, and they had not dared assert themselves in the territory. The first territorial meeting for the organization of republicans that we have any printed account of was on May 27, 1858, in Omaha. The meeting was held with closed doors in order to keep out intruding democrats who were very curious to see what sort of an animal a "black republican" was. Their declaration of principles included the control of the territories by congress, free labor and free speech, homestead act, land grants to the Pacific railroad and opposition to banks of issue whose notes were not secured.

     The first democratic territorial convention was held at Plattsmouth June 3, 1858. It declared in favor of "popular sovereignty," a homestead law and that the incorporation of banks was antidemocratic. At a special session of the legislature which met September



21, in order to transact some business which the Florence "rebellion" had left undone, the distinction between democrats and "black republicans" begins to appear more clearly. Marquette of Cass county and Daily of Nemaha county are the leaders of a little group who are stigmatized in various picturesque frontier phrases as "the nigger party." At this session a liquor license law is passed, repealing the prohibitory law of 1855. Mr. Daily is a leading advocate of the bill and it is reported as part of the republican program to get the German vote. On December 5, 1858, Governor Richardson resigns his office and hastens to Illinois where his friend Douglas is making the fight of his life against Abraham Lincoln for the United States senatorship. The Buchanan administration was opposed to Douglas and Richardson was not willing to hold a Buchanan appointment. The debt to the territory was over $15,000. Territorial warrants were receivable for taxes, but sold for forty-five cents on the dollar. It was the era of "special legislation." When anything was to be done it required an act of the legislature to make a road, building a mill dam--even divorces were granted by the legislature.

      The uppermost topic in the Nebraska mind during the summer of 1858 was "land sales." For four years the settlers had been "squatters." Surveying had been going on and the land was now staked and platted as far west as the sixth principal meridian,--which forms now the western boundary of Jefferson, Saline, Seward and Butler counties. On January 26, 1857, the United States land officials at Omaha gave notice that pre-emptors might now come forward, make their proof of settlement, pay $1.25 per acre and secure title to their claims.

      A great many settlers found it more convenient to hold their claims as squatters than to raise the money to pay the government. In May, 1858, notice was sent from Washington that all lands not entered by September 6 would be offered for sale. This meant,--under the land policy of those days,--that the squatters would be obliged to raise the money to enter their claims before that date or lose their land, with all its improvements, to any speculator who had the money to buy it. There was great excitement in the frontier log cabins. The panic of the previous year had left the people moneyless. To be compelled to purchase their lands now would force them to lose their claims to the "land sharks" or mortgage their property at an enormous rate of interest. Mass meetings were held in nearly every community to protest against the ruin which was impending. The pioneer republican agitators, like S. G. Dailey, did not lose the opportunity of reminding the people that if the republican free homestead bill had been enacted they need not fear the loss of their little homes after enduring the hardships and dangers of the frontier. Delegations of leading citizens,--in which active democratic politicians were prominent,--went to Washington to urge upon the president a revocation of the order. The result of their mission was announced in the Brownville Advertiser of September 2, 1858, (Robert W. Furnas, editor) under the startling headline, "Nebraska Saved," accompanied by a cut of President Buchanan with the stars and stripes floating over his head. The government had ordered the land sales in Nebraska postponed one year.

     The year 1859 was full of excitement in



Nebraska. The feud between the North and South Platte section which had raged for several years now reached the white heat of secession. The South Platte people outnumbered the North Platte, but had been out-generaled in every contest. They now resolved to separate from the northern barbarians and unite with Kansas, which was asking admission as a state. New Years Day, 1859, a mass meeting was held at Nebraska City which declared for Kansas. On January 5th a delegate convention from South Platte counties was held at Brownville at which Richardson, Nemaha, Otoe, Clay, Gage and Johnson counties were represented. A memorial to congress was adopted asking that the boundaries of Kansas be changed so as to include the South Platte. A committee composed of E. S. Dundy, of Richardson, R. W. Furnas, of Nemaha, and J. B. Weston, of Gage, was appointed to prepare an address to the people. The movement grew. On May 2 another convention, held at Nebraska City, called an election in all
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First Temporary Bridge and First Train Crossing the Missouri at Omaha 1866

the counties south of the Platte to choose delegates to represent them in the coming Kansas constitutional convention to be held at Wyandotte. Members were elected in every county, those from Nemaha county being R. W. Furnas, S. A. Chambers, W. W. Keeling and C. E. L. Holmes. In Otoe county 900 voters out of 1,100 signed a petition to be joined to Kansas. On July 5 the Kansas convention met. The delegates from Nebraska were admitted to seats, but not to vote. A strong party among the Kansas delegates favored annexation of the South Platte region, but there were jealousies and rivalries to overcome. When the test vote was taken on the question, by a vote of 29 to 19, the convention refused to ask the extension of their state to the Platte. The South Platte delegates came home and started an agitation for statehood which resulted in the submission of that proposition the next year.

     The territorial election of 1859 was the first squarely joined contest between the demo-

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