No. 29--Marker on Burlington Station
On a hot afternoon in July, 1867--the 29th -- Commissioners Butler, Kennard and Gillespie emerged dripping from the attic of Captain W. T. Donovan's house. Standing on its east side to avoid the blazing sun Butler announced that henceforth Lincoln would be the capital of Nebraska. The severely fashioned Donovan house stood at the northern point of a triangle which would have included the Journal building and the Burlington station had they been built at that time. Why the commissioners took to the attic to vote on the site is not certain, but possibly they did not want to be rudely interrupted by those who had been insisting that it be located at Ashland, Seward or Yankee Hill, or be left in Omaha.
Captain Donovan came to Lancaster county in the mid-fifties. Captain of the steamboat Emma, one of the boats which plied up the Missouri as far as Plattsmouth, he was drawn to this region by the possibilities of salt in the Salt creek valley. His son was the first white child born in the county, his daughter the first Lincoln bride. He took the first homestead in the county under the 1862 homestead law. He stuck to his claim during the Indian scare of 1864 and helped protect settlers who had the courage to remain. The tablet was erected by the Nebraska Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.
No. 30--Marker at 14th and O.
The name Luke Lavender seems inevitably to have been coined by some feet-on-the-desk writer of westerns, perhaps as a brother in literature to the outlaw Violet in MacKinley Kantor's "Gentle Annie." But Luke Lavender was not invented. He was a rather important citizen of Lancaster and Lincoln, often referred to as "Judge" and apparently also a builder of carriages. He put up the first house in Lincoln, at what is now the southeast corner of 14th and O--in 1864. It was a neat log cabin with two lean-tos, and to the south and east stretched Mr. Lavender's farm.
Try, for a moment, to erase with one giant gesture all that now means Lincoln. Visualize a bit of lonely prairie, hummocky and irregular. A creek ran along the M and L street region. A hill of considerable height rose where the postoffice now stands. The silence was rarely broken. Light-footed antelope made no sound as their feet lightly trod the grasses and their delicate ears pricked at the sound of an occasional interloper. The night, however, was sharply punctured at intervals by howls of wolves and coyotes. To the west was the illusion of perpetual snows, for Salt basin was covered with an incrustation of salt about a quarter of an inch deep.
Mr. Lavender was an Englishman who came here with Elder J. M. Young in 1863. Among the party were Jacob Dawson, who a little later built half a mile to the west of Lavender, Dr. McKesson, Edwin Warnes, Thomas Hudson, John Giles, Uncle Jonathan Ball and others. These settled elsewhere in Lancaster county. It was Elder Young, leader of the colony, who laid out the town of Lancaster and a little later started a female seminary at 9th and P.
© 2000, 2001 by Kathie Harrison, Ted & Carole Miller