NEGenWeb Project
Kansas Collection Books

Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska

Produced by Karen Elliott.

Part 2


[View of Tekamah.]

Tekamah, the county seat, is located in the southeastern part of the county, partly on the bottom lands of the Missouri, and partly on the contiguous bluffs. The name was given to it by W. N. Byers, one of the early transient settlers, the privilege of naming it having fallen to him by lot. He gave it the name Tekamah in commemoration of some place in the Far West which he had visited, or in which he had resided. The first claim made on the present site of Tekamah was by B. R. Folsom, W. N. Byers, J. W. Patterson, H. C. Purple, John Young, Jerry Folsom, Mr. Maynard, William T. Raymond and Mr. White, in the name of the Nebraska Stock Company, on October 7, 1854. This party of pioneers left Council Bluffs, Iowa on October 2, and, after passing through Omaha, the site of the deserted Mormon city of "Winter Quarters". now Florence, reached the site of the present city of Fontanelle, on October 5. There they found Dr. H. M. Clark and two other men, who had one hour before arrived there, in behalf of the Quincy Company, had staked out their claim, and were preparing to erect "the first tenement west of the Missouri," according to Mr. B. R. Folsom. They, on October 7, reached the present site of Tekamah and staked out their claim, "four miles square." Then they returned to Council Bluffs, reaching there on October 9.

The first permanent settlement in Tekamah was made on April 19, 1855, by B. R. Folsom, Z. B. Wilder, John B. Folsom, Niles R. Folsom, William F. Goodwill (who remained permanently), and a few others (among them W. N. Byers, who named the town), who only remained a short time.

A few weeks subsequently, F. E. Lange, W. B. Beck and Deidrick Fees and wife joined the first settlers. Mrs. Fees was the first white woman to come into the county. On the 18th of July, following, a little colony from La Salle County, Ill., which had settled upon claims just north of Silver Creek, moved to Tekamah, doing this for safety upon hearing of the killing and scalping of the two white men, Porter and Demaree, near Fontanelle. Fear of the Indians was very great in those days, and greatly retarded the development of the country. This colony consisted of G. M. Peterson, T. Thompson, John Oak and George Erickson, and their families--twenty-four in all.

Tekamah was incorporated as a city very early in its history, on March 14, 1855, and became the county seat at the same time. Olney Harrington was made Postmaster in 1855. Miles Chillcot opened the first store in 1856. Michael Olinger arrived in the fall and built a blacksmith shop. The first child born was in the fall of 1855, to Mrs. Thomas Thompson, who died in child-birth. Hers was the first death, and the child lived but a few days. The first marriage was that of Lewis P. Peterson to Miss Elsa Thompson, in the fall of 1855. The first school was taught by J. R. Conkling in 1857. The first sermon was preached on Sunday, November 5, 1854, by a Methodist minister. Rev. William Bates preached in July, 1855, also a Methodist; and the Rev. Jacob Adriance, of the De Soto Circuit, was the first regular preacher. In August, 1856, a Methodist Episcopal Church was organized by Rev. L. F. Stringfield. The first physician was J. R. Conkling, of Chicago, who located here in 1857, and was a brother of the present editor of the Burt County News, A. T. Conkling. The first lawyer was J. H. Smith, who came in 1862. The first newspaper was the Burt County Pilot, established in 1871, by J. Y. Lambert, and which was moved to Blair in 1874. The next was the Burtonian, established in 1872, and edited by G. P. Hull, who is still its editor. G. P. Thomas and wife reached here in 1856.

Tekamah has one graded school, with four teachers, and one ward school. The principal school building is a fine two-story frame, costing $5,000, and located in a pleasant park of nearly two acres.

There are now in Tekamah five church organizations--Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran and Episcopalian--all but the last having church edifices.

Tekamah is on the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railroad, which affords fine shipping facilities. In 1880, the United States census gave it a population of 776. It is now estimated at 1000. The town contains various business establishments, and some of its enterprising business men have recently erected fine brick blocks. It has good hotel accommodations, the last hotel being a fine two-story brick, erected in 1880.

There are in Tekamah five general stores, two hardware, three drug and three millinery stores, two agricultural implement depots, two elevators, four blacksmith shops and two lumber-yards, four physicians and five lawyers. Under the operation of the local option law, Tekamah has now no licensed saloons, and contains an orderly, enterprising and intelligent population.


C. ASTOR, proprietor Astor House, is a native of Bavaria. In 1846, he came to Ripley County, Ind., with his parents; in 1848, came to Jackson County, Iowa; engaged in farming till 1852, when he went to California; followed mining four years, then returned to Jackson County, and was married to Althea Jones. They have three daughters. He then bought a farm of forty acres, where he remained till 1865, when he came to Burt County, Neb., took a homestead of 160 acres, which he still owns, and where he resided till 1877, when he removed to Tekamah, and has since been engaged in the hotel business. He is now keeping the best hotel in Northern Nebraska.


C. E. BARDWELL, firm of Bardwell & Reed, agricultural implements, is a native of Genesee County, N. Y.; came to Omaha in 1866; was employed by the Union Pacific Railroad about six months; then came to Tekamah; followed farming about seven years; in 1873, commenced the agricultural implement business, which he has since continued. Mr. Reed became a member of this firm in 1875; has been Deputy Sheriff two years, Assessor two terms and is now serving a second term as Justice of the Peace.

G. P. BROOKINGS, firm of Brookings & Harrington, lumber, is a native of Sagadahoc County, Me. There he followed lumbering. In 1867, he came to Silver Creek, Neb,; engaged in farming; in 1875, was elected County Treasurer, and at once removed to Tekamah, where he has since resided. In 1878, he commenced the lumber business. He owns about eight hundred acres of land, four hundred of which are under cultivation.

ROBINSON CARR, firm of Carr & Thomas, livery and feed stable, is a native of Otsego County, N. Y.; in 1853, came to Wisconsin; followed farming; in 1858, came to Burt County, Neb.; engaged in farming, which he continued till 1876, when he engaged in the livery business. He now owns twenty acres of timber land and property in town.

G. A. CRANNELL, farmer, Section 12, P. O. Tekamah, is a native of Saratoga County, N. Y. In 1857, came to Jackson County, Iowa. In 1861, he crossed the plains to California; there engaged in mining; in 1867, returned to Jackson County; soon after came to Nebraska; located on his present farm. He owns 420 acres of land, which are well improved; was elected County Commissioner in 1881.

JOHN DRISCOLL, firm of Driscoll & Parmelee, meat market, was born in Rochester, N. Y. At about the age of fourteen years, he came to Pennsylvania. He enlisted, in 1864, in Company G, Sixty-fourth New York Infantry; served to the end of the war. May, 1866, he again enlisted in the regular army; served three years, in carrying the mail and running express; August, 1869, came to Burt County and engaged in farming; in 1875, removed to Tekamah, and at once opened a meat market, and has since been engaged in this business. He has just sold an improved farm, four miles north of town, on which he has realized a handsome profit.

[Portrait of B. R. Folsom.]

HON. B. R. FOLSOM, retired, was born, February 23, 1809, in Fumbridge, Orange Co., N. Y. His parents soon after removed to Wyoming County, where he was raised; carried on farming, milling and merchandising about twenty-five years; September, 1854, came to Omaha, and, October, 1854, removed to Burt County, where he has since resided, and is now the oldest settler in the State north of Omaha. He, with a party of nine others, made a claim of 640 acres, on which the town of Tekamah now stands. William N. Byers, surveyor, one of this party, surveyed the town site. They also contracted for ten small houses to be erected, and also a town house. The Governor ordered that the census of the county be taken. This occurred the fall before the election; numbered then twenty-six inhabitants. The first two houses built were at the expense of the town company. The first election was held where Cuming City now is, this being then a part of Burt County. The south boundary line was White Cow Creek, which is now part of Washington County. Mr. Folsom at once engaged in farming and stock raising. He, with his brother, erected a steam saw-mill at Arizona Bottom, which was the first mill built north of Omaha. He was appointed Probate Judge by the Governor, being the first in the county; was a member of the Legislature in 1861. A company of twenty-two men was raised to suppress the Indians, who had become troublesome. Mr. Folsom was appointed by the Governor Captain of this company. He owns a farm of 130 acres joining the town and a number of residences here, as well as property in other parts of the State. Married, November 14, 1831, Miss Mary Rathbun of Onondaga County, N. Y. They have two sons and one daughter.

GEORGE FRANK, farmer, Section 13, P. O. Herman, was born in Bavaria in 1849; came to Milwaukee, Wis.; worked at the cooper trade there about seventeen years; in 1867, came to Nebraska, locating on this land. He owns 205 acres, which is improved, with a good house and barn and a large number of trees. He has about forty head of cattle and about seventy hogs. Two teams are used in working this farm. Married, in 1859, Caroline Bree, of Prussia. Have three children--one son and two daughters. He has two sons and one daughter by a former marriage.

ISAAC GIBSON, live stock and farming, was born in Clark County, Ind., December 8, 1814; came to Fairfield, Jefferson Co., Iowa, in 1851; kept a hotel, known as the Gibson House; also engaged in farming; in the spring of 1857, came to Tekamah; bought out a grocery, the only one in Tekamah. He had also bought a farm, which was managed by his sons, consisting of 540 acres. He closed out his store in about 1869 and engaged in real estate, live stock, and superintending his farm. His business now is principally live stock. Has been Justice of the Peace; was elected Probate Judge in 1863; served two years; was County Commissioner four years. His sons, J. S. and G. W., served about one year in the late war. He now owns two farms, one in Section 18, and one in Section 26; also property in town.

WILLIAM N. HAYWOOD, live stock; is a native of Knox County, Ohio; in 1847, came with his parents to Jefferson County, Iowa; first assisted on their farm; afterward worked out, receiving $9 a month; in 1857, he removed to Burt County, Neb., and pre-empted 160 acres of land. He now owns 367 acres. He, with Mr. Templeton, also controls about 4,000 acres on which their cattle pasture. They are now feeding from 1,000 to 1,200 head, the largest stock feeders in Northern Nebraska.

L. HOFFMAN, blacksmith; is a native of Baden, Germany; came to Syracuse, N. Y., in 1851; worked there in the locomotive shops; in 1852, came to Chicago; also worked there at his trade; in 1869, came to Tekamah and at once opened a shop; in 1879, he went to Stanton, thence to Madison, where he spent the summer, then returned to Tekamah, and has since been carrying on his business. He enlisted in 1861 in Company C, Twenty-fourth Illinois Infantry. Served his enlistment, three years.

JAMES KING, section boss St. P., S. C. & O. R. R., was born in Ireland; in 1852 he came to Terre Haute, Ind.; two years later, he commenced railroading, and continued till 1861, when he enlisted in Company A, Thirty-fifth Indiana Infantry; was wounded at Dallas, Ga., 1864; was honorably discharged from the service October 1865, then returned to Terre Haute; in the fall of 1866, came to Omaha; worked for the Union Pacific railroad three years. July, 1870, he commenced working for this company, and has since continued in their employ. May, 1877, he removed to Tekamah, where he has since resided. By strict attention to business, he has acquired considerable property, consisting in part of two houses and lots and other lots in Tekamah.

JOHN D. MANN, farmer, Section 1, P. O. Tekamah, was born in Forfarshire, Scotland, in the spring of 1854; came to Canada in April, 1869; came to Nebraska and located in Dakota County in 1872. He removed to Burt County and settled on the farm he now owns-320 acres, which is largely improved. He is now serving as School Director.

W. H. MARSHALL, of the firm of Marshall & Shaw, dealers in general merchandise, is a native of Hampton County, Mass.; removed to Connecticut, where he learned the blacksmith trade. In 1867, he came to Washington County, Neb.; worked for T. B. Bailey about one and a half years. He then took a homestead claim of eighty acres in Belle Creek Precinct, where he remained six years. In November, 1875, he came to Tekamah, opened a shop, and carried on that trade till 1879, when he, with Mr. Flint, opened a general store. They continued the business till May, 1881, when the firm changed to Marshall & Shaw. This firm carries a large and well selected stock, and are doing a large and prosperous business.

[Portrait of W. W. Latta.]

W. W. LATTA, live stock and farming, is a native of Ashland County, Ohio; in the fall of 1853, came to Jackson County, Iowa; followed farming. July, 1857, came to Burt County, Neb., and located on 160 acres of land which had formerly been pre-empted by his brother. He now owns about 2,100 acres, and for the past sixteen years his business has principally been live stock. He now owns 630 head of cattle, and feeds an average from 200 to 300 head. He also owns a half interest in the hotel block, and other valuable property in town. He had but $600 when he came to Nebraska, and now can retire with a handsome fortune. He married Miss Mary A., daughter of John R. Mason, of Jackson County, Iowa, May 10, 1857, in Clinton County, Iowa. They have had four children-- William R. and Budd, living; two deceased.

[Portrait of J. P. Latta.]

J. P. LATTA, banker, born in Ashland County, Ohio, October 31, 1844. At the age of two years, came with his parents to Jackson County, Iowa; assisted on their farm until 1863. Came to Burt County, Neb., and engaged in farming and stock-raising. He owns about 1000 acres, which is largely devoted to stock-raising. He commenced the banking business in 1877. Since that time his attention has been in this direction. Married Libby Jones, a native of Jackson County, Iowa, in 1870. Now proprietor of the Burt County Bank at Tekamah.

[Portrait of D. L. McLaughlin, M. D.]

D. L. McLAUGHLIN, M. D., was born in West Winfield, Herkimer Co., N. Y., May 28, 1834. From the age of thirteen, he attended school in New York City until the age of seventeen, when he commenced the study of medicine under Alonzo Clark, M. D., of New York City, which he continued up to the year 1854, during the time also attending a course of lectures in the Berkshire Medical College and also University of Louisiana. In 1855, he graduated from Berkshire Medical College, and at once commenced the practice of medicine in Point Coupee, La., at the same time being proprietor of a large plantation up to the breakout of our late civil war, when he was appointed Assistant Surgeon of the Second Louisiana Volunteer Infantry, and was soon afterward assigned to duty as Hospital Surgeon, first at Yorktown and then at Williamsburg. In 1862, he was made Surgeon in Charge of the Hospitals at Lynchburg, continuing the same up to 1864, when, on account of ill health, he was transferred to the Department of Florida, and was made Staff Surgeon on the staff of Gen. William Miller, serving until the close of the war, when he returned to Virginia and commenced the practice of medicine in Hamilton, near Harper's Ferry, from the spring of 1866 up to 1868. In the summer of 1868, on account of ill health of his wife, the Doctor came to Nebraska and spent that winter in Cuming City. In the spring of 1869, he settled in Tekamah, where he has lived ever since, engaged in the practice of his profession. In 1872, he was appointed Commissioner for the Insane for Burt County, which position he still holds. Is also Local Surgeon of the C., St. P., M. & O. R. R. Was married to Miss Georgetta W. Savage, of Hamilton, Elizabeth City Co., Va., September 23, 1862. She died at Tekamah December 25, 1878, a very accomplished lady who left many warm friends. She left four children-Mary V., William R., George S. and Linnetta M.

HON. AUSTIN NELSON, retired, is a native of Norway. When a child he came with his parents to New Bedford, Mass., where he was raised and educated. In 1856, he came to Nebraska, soon after returning to Massachusetts. He, however, made frequent trips West, and permanently settled in Burt County in 1868; located in Silver Creek, engaged in farming and stock-raising. He owns 400 acres of land, also property in Tekamah. In 1872, he was elected to the Legislature. He then removed his family to Tekamah, where they have since resided.

M. OLINGER, farmer, Section 1, P. O. Tekamah, was born in Shenandoah County, Va., and raised in Montgomery County. In the fall of 1855, he came to Tekamah, there being then but six families in this county. He pre-empted and homesteaded 160 acres of land, which he has since improved. He now owns 332 acres, also improved. He has held the office of Deputy County Treasurer. His son, William G., enlisted, 1863 in Company B, Second Nebraska Cavalry, and served eleven months.

A. PALMQUIST, County Treasurer, is a native of Sweden. He came to America in 1865, and located at Rock Island, Ill,; worked there n the plow works; then removed to Burt County, Neb., in 1866, where he followed farming till 1879, when he was elected to this office, and is now serving on his second term. He owns a farm of 180 acres, also property in town. He has been three years County Commissioner.

E. L. PARMELEE, of the firm of Driscoll & Parmelee, butchers and meat market, is a native of Middlesex County, Conn. When a boy, he was brought up to the butcher business, which he has since followed. In 1871, he, with his father, removed to Humboldt, Kan., and carried on the butcher business about four years. He then returned to Connecticut, afterward to Philadelphia, continuing in this business. In 1877, he came to Tekamah, and has since been identified with this firm in this business.

P. F. PETERSON, Postmaster, is a native of Norway. He came to La Salle County, Ill., when a boy. In 1852, he went to California, engaged in mining, where he remained about two and one-half years. In 1855, he came to Burt County, Nebr., pre-empted 160 acres of land, and engaged in farming about sixteen years. He then removed to Blair, and carried on the drug business several years; then returned to Tekamah and was appointed, in 1875, Postmaster, which office he has since held. During early settlement of Nebraska, he held the different offices of County Recorder, Surveyor, Justice of the Peace and County Superintendent of Schools. His daughter, Emma Peterson, was the first white woman born in Tekamah and in Burt County.

J. R. REED, firm of Bradwell & Reed, agricultural implements, is a native of Franklin County, N. Y. At the age of twelve years, came, with his father, to Calhoun County, Mich. In 1863, came to Nebraska; located at Decatur; kept a hotel there two years; followed farming there five years; in 1870, came to Tekamah; ran a livery and hotel about two years; since that time has been engaged in his present business; is a member of the I. O. O. F. and Masonic orders; has been connected with the School Board since coming to the county.

W. B. ROBERTS, County Clerk, is a native of Dearborn County, Ind. When a child, came to Illinois with his parents; in the fall of 1868, removed to Kansas; there engaged in farming; came to Burt County in 1872; located at Decatur; there held the office of Postmaster. In 1875, he was elected County Clerk, and has since been a resident of Tekamah, holding the office of County Clerk for six years.

E. SHAFER, firm of Shafer & Wilson, hardware, is a native of Knox County, Ohio; came, with his father, to Jefferson County, Iowa, in 1844; assisted on the farm; in 1857, came to Burt County, Neb.; followed farming about twelve years; then removed to Tekamah, and, with Mr. Gibson, opened a store, which they carried on several years. The past four years, the business has been carried on by Shafer & Wilson. He owns a farm of 250 acres half a mile north of town, also two stores and three residences in town, with a half interest in the brick store they are now occupying. All of this property Mr. Shafer has acquired since coming to Nebraska by judicious management and strict attention to business.

N. J. SHECKELL, attorney at law, is a native of Crawford County, Ind. After receiving his preparatory education, he entered Hamilton & Canada's Business College, at Hartsville, Ind, where he graduated at the age of fourteen years. In 1869, he entered the Hartsville University; graduated from this university in 1873; was admitted to the bar in 1875. He then entered the law department of the State University of Indiana, where he graduated June, 1877. In the fall of this year, he came to Tekamah, and opened a law office; has since followed this profession; was elected Police Judge in 1879; is now acting Town and County Attorney.

T. G. SMITH, furniture and undertaker, is a native of Ontario; came to Buffalo, N. Y., in 1865; worked at house building about one year; then went to Pennsylvania oil region, where he remained about two years; came to Omaha in 1868; there he followed the carpenter trade. In 1873, he came to Tekamah, where he has since resided, following his trade. In 1878, he commenced his present business, which is rapidly increasing. He now occupies a brick store, which he built in 1881, 24x85 feet, cost about $2,500. He holds the office of Coroner of the county.

J. R. SUTHERLAND, contractor and builder, is a native of Woodstock, Can.; in 1866, came to St. Joseph, Mo., in 1868, came to Omaha; October, 1869, came to Tekamah, and at once commenced this business. He is now the oldest contractor in Tekamah. He built the Odd Fellows' building, school house, the Methodist and Presbyterian churches and many other buildings, and is the principal contractor in this locality; has been a member of the Council since its organization and is Chairman of the board; also President of the School Board; is a member of the Presbyterian Church.

R. A. TEMPLETON, live stock, is a native of Fayette County, Ohio; in 1857, came to Fairfield, Iowa; there engaged in farming and stock-raising; in 1877, removed to Burt County, Neb. He, with Mr. Haywood, fed in 1877, their first season, 100 head of cattle. They are now feeding from 1,000 to 1,200 head. They control over 4,000 acres for pasture and cultivate about 400 acres of corn, on which to feed their stock. They are the largest feeders of stock in this or any of the adjoining counties.

[Portrait of Geo. P. Thomas.]

HON. GEORGE P. THOMAS, retired, is a native of Wyoming County, N. Y.; in the fall of 1856, came to Tekamah, bringing with him a steam saw-mill, which he located in the timber, two and a half miles east of this place. He operated it about one year, when it was destroyed by fire. He also engaged in farming and stock-raising. He owns 520 acres, 300 of which are in cultivation. He built an elevator, and has been in the grain trade several years; was also in the drug business during 1876 and 1877. He, with Mr. Latta, built the hotel block. He also built the bank block, which he owns. He has just completed a very fine residence at a cost of about $4,000, the finest in the county; was a member of the first State Legislature; was County Commissioner three years, Sheriff two years and County Treasurer four years.

J. R. THOMAS, firm of Thomas & Darst, lumber, is a native of Wyoming County, N. Y. There he ran a saw-mill and farm. In 1868, came to Tekamah; was engaged in farming about ten years. In 1879, he opened a lumber yard, which he has since continued. July 5, 1881, Mr. Darst became a member of this firm.

A. A. THOMAS, County Clerk, was born in Sangamon County, Ill.; raised in Iowa; came to Lyons, Neb., in 1869; engaged in merchandising two years. He then followed farming till 1879, when he was elected Sheriff, which he held two years. In the fall of 1881, he was elected County Clerk, entering upon the duties of this office January, 1882.

W. B. WHITE, firm of White & Bradwell, livery and sale stable, is a native of Washington County, Ind. In 1870, came to Burt County, Neb. Taught school the first winter; he then became Deputy County Treasurer. Held this office two years. He was then elected County Treasurer; held this office two terms; has been three times member of the State Convention; was a candidate for the position of State Treasurer, receiving fifty-nine votes on the first ballot. In 1879, he held the office of Enrolling Clerk of the Legislature. Is now Secretary of the Burt County Agricultural Society; has held this the past six years, and has been the past three years a member of the State Board of Agriculture. Was superintendent of gates and tickets at the State Fair for 1880 and 1881. He and C. Hartman, of Omaha, are largely engaged in the cattle trade. They are now feeding 650 head. They have 1,280 acres fenced, and under cultivation about 360 acres.

Top of Page   First Page   Next

   County Index