Topography and General Features | Produce | Early Settlement|
Indian Troubles | Club Law | Early Schools
Organization | County Seat Troubles | Official Roster | War History|
Court House and Jail | Railroads | Ferries
Cass County Agricultural Society | Cass County Medical Society
Pioneer Association of Cass County | Hard Winters and Storms
Plattsmouth: Early Settlement | City Government | Educational|
Religious | The Press
Plattsmouth (cont.): The Medical Profession | The Bar|
Government Offices | Missouri River Improvement | Societies | Banks
Hotels | Public Halls | Manufactories | General Business Interests
5 ~ 8:
ADAMS ~ GUTHMANN | HARTIGAN ~ MERTENS
MILLER ~ SHAFER | SHANNON ~ YOUNG
Weeping Water: Early Settlement | Organization | Educational|
Religious | Societies | The Press | Business Interests | Railroads
Louisville: Religious | Educational | Manufactories | Business Houses|
Railroads | Biographical Sketches
Greenwood: Religious | General Matters
Rock Bluff City
Biographical Sketches: Rock Bluff Precinct|
South Bend: Religious | Educational | Biographical Sketches
Factoryville: Biographical Sketches|
Avoca: Biographical Sketches
Biographical Sketches: Eight-Mile Grove Precinct
Biographical Sketches: |
Mt. Pleasant Precinct | Elmwood Precinct | Center Precinct
List of Illustrations in Cass County Chapter
Cass County Names Index
CASS County, situated on the bank of the Missouri River, is bounded on the north by Sarpy and Saunders, on the west by Lancaster and on the south by Otoe County. Its topography is in keeping with its location; for a narrow strip along the Missouri River, the surface is broken by abrupt bluffs, cut through with frequent draws* or hollows; behind these bluffs the land is undulating, and, as one goes westward, it becomes level. It has been called a land of valleys, the appellation being more poetical than accurate, as the bottoms, while many in number, are very limited in extent, the larger part of the county being level or slightly undulating. The soil is a light, friable loam, varying in depth from eighteen inches to twenty feet, according to location, with a light, porous, sponge-like, clay subsoil, capable of holding moisture in reserve.
An abundance of limestone, blue, gray and white, prevails, the former of so superior a quality that it will endure a pressure of 44,000 pounds to the square inch, as has been demonstrated by actual tests. In the vicinity of the Platte, red sandstone is found in profusion, being used for building purposes to some extent, in the town of Louisville. Coal measures underlie the Missouri bluffs at various places, generally in insufficient quantities to pay for handling. One three-foot vein has been discovered below the town of Rock Bluff, the coal taken therefrom being of a light, porous nature. Along the Missouri River below Plattsmouth, there are extensive deposits of ochre, some of the beds being from three to four feet thick and of a fair quality. Kaolin is also found in large quantities in the vicinity of the Platte and other parts of the county, and two kinds of fire-clay are found near Louisville, which, when combined, make a composition capable of resisting extraordinary degrees of heat, being consequently of great valne for smelting purposes.
The climate of Cass County varies in no important respects from that of the other counties in the southern section of the State, which is dealt with as an entirety in this regard. Mild, dry, open winters are the rule, rather than the exception; springs, with moderate rains, and summers, in which the otherwise excessive heat is tempered by cool breezes from the northwest. The rainfall is abundant, the maximum annual supply during the past fifteen years being 49.71 inches, and the minimum 31.35 inches. In this matter, there has been a very appreciable increase during the last fifteen years, ending 1880. Dividing the time into periods of three years each, and adding the rainfall of each period, the result is as follows: 1866-67-68, 101.06 inches; 1869-70-7l, 111.70; 1872-73-74, 130.51; 1875-76-77, 130,08; 1878-79-80, 129.03.
The county, in addition to the liberal rainfall that it receives, is abundantly watered, the Missouri, as has been said, bounding it upon the east, and the Platte River, extending nearly across the entire northern border. In addition to these is the Weeping Water River, rising a little west of the center of the county, flowing in a southeasterly direction and emptying into the Missouri, its length being thirty-five miles. Pawnee, Cedar, Turkey, Four Mile Creek and others, varying in length from four to twelve miles, rise in the central portions, flowing northwardly into the Platte, and a number of minor streams water the northwestern portions, tributaries to Salt Creek, which cuts across the northwest corner of the county. Branches of the Little Nemaha supply the section south of this. and creeks of minor importance empty into the Missouri on the east. There are three large and good water-power grist-mills on the Weeping Water River, within four miles of Weeping Water Village, and some half-dozen on this stream within the limits of Cass County. There are no manufactories proper on the stream, although a woolen mill was started at Factoryville some years ago, which did not succeed. Cass County is well timbered. The principal varieties of native trees are cottonwood, hickory, oak, cedar, maple, locust, plum, willow, hackberry, elm, ash, thorn-apple, spruce and arbor vitae. In addition to the natural groves along the Missouri and the streams, large number of forest trees are annually being set out, growing with wondrous rapidity, cottonwood having arrived at the height of twenty feet, and to a circumference of eighteen inches, in four years; the entire number of forest trees in the county, in 1880, was 899,730.
It is said that there are 150 varieties of wild and tame grasses, luxuriant in growth and excellent in quality, the whole county being covered with them. All of the grasses of the temperate zone will and do thrive here, apparently, just as well as the strong native grasses.
*A bog, irregular depression, leading from the divide or high land to a lower level, creek drainage or open bottom, is in common Western parlance called a "draw," sometimes, but incorrectly, "drawer."
The principal products of the county are wheat, oats, rye, barley, flax, hemp, corn, and, in fact, all the cereal and vegetable products to be found in the temperate zone. Of these, from fifteen to twenty-five bushels of wheat to the acre have been produced; fifty to seventy bushels of corn; thirty to forty-five bushels of barley; thirty to seventy bushels of oats and thirty to forty-five bushels of rye.As a fruit region, Cass County is surpassed by very few in the State, apple orchards being found in connection with nearly every farm; peaches are successfully raised, and some twenty varieties of grapes cultivated, the climate of this section keeping the grape from mildew and rot. The yield is generally large and the flavor excellent. Wild grapes are also abundant. Agriculture generally is carried on in an intelligent and scientific manner, the committee on discretionary premiums and awards of the first Territorial fair (that of 1859), reporting Judge H. C. Wolph, of Cass County, as having the best-cultivated farm of forty acres. The stock interests have been and are by no means neglected; the county being settled at an early day and many of the first settlers drifting in from Iowa and Missouri during war times, they brought with them much good stock from these older States.
In fine cattle, the short-horns have played an important part, and the breeders of the county stand deservedly among the first in the State. L. G. Todd, Hon. Lawson Sheldon, Edward Woolsey and others, have seen to it that the Durham breeds were represented in Cass as legitimately and as purely as in any county in the State. Latterly, the Devons, Jerseys and Alderneys have come in for their share of attention. The history of the stock interests in the West is a record of improvement. A few years ago, Texas cattle were in the majority, and continued so until the breeders and sellers recognized the necessity for a change, in order to compete with the Eastern breeders of fine, close-grained, minimum-horned, fine-boned cattle, which could carry a large amount of meat, according to their size. Consequently during the last few years full-blooded and grade bulls have been largely introduced, the result being that what are called native cattle have become a shorter-horned, broader-haunched, weightier cattle than formerly, selling in the market on a fair level with Eastern corn-fed and English beef. To Cass County the above remarks are particularly applicable, the improvement being noticeable not only as regards beef cattle, but as to the milk and butter producing strains--the Ayrshires and Alderneys.A fair degree of attention has been given to the breeding of horses, the Dubois family, on the Weeping Water, years ago, introducing the Clay trotting stocks in the county, the progeny of the old Clay horse being scattered widely over the southern part of the county. The Percherons and the Normans have been fairly well bred and largely introduced by the Holmes brothers and others.
Hogs are largely raised, the breeds being standard; the number of hogs in the county, according to the census of 1881, was 47,533, demonstrate more clearly than could be done in any other way, the magnitude of the product. Other figures of that census are as follows: Number of horses in the county, 8,431; cattle, 24,694; mules and asses, 1,021; sheep, 629; number of acres of improved lands, 203,468; of unimproved lands, 127,331. Of the improved lands, during 1881, 653 acres were in winter wheat, the product being 8,231 bushels; 32,178 acres in spring wheat, product, 325,621 bushels; 805 acres in rye, product 12,592 bushels; 72,518 acres in corn, product, 3,347,381 bushels; 6,099 acres in barley, product, 87,327 bushels; 7,153 acres in oats, product, 7,153 bushels. In addition to these there were 206½ acres in blue grass and 1,164 acres in timothy; 3,038 acres of cultivated timber, the number of forest trees in the county being 2,717,516. The number of fruit trees are divided as follows: Apple, 91,460; pear, 2,440; peach, 36,276; plum, 2,361; cherry, 15,143. There are also 83,989 grape vines. In the eastern part of the county, fencing is pretty general; in the interior and western precincts, the general herd law of Nebraska precludes the necessity of fencing, but all through the county the cultivation of hedge-rows, timber belts and windbreaks receives considerable attention with the most flattering success. In 1881, the county had 341 1/8 miles of hedging.The streams are generally well bridged, there being about 200 bridges in the county, over twenty feet in length, ten of these being iron bridges. The population of the county as enumerated at different periods has been as follows: 1855, 712; 1856, 1,251; 1860, 3,369; 1870, 8,151; 1875, 10,452; 1879, 13,435; 1880, 16,688; 1881, 18,357. It is now increasing very rapidly.
Very shortly after the Louisiana purchase, whereby the Government became possessed of all the lands formerly held by the French, within the present boundaries of the United States, an expedition, known as that of Lewis and Clarke, was organized, leaving its camps near the mouth of the Missouri, on May 21, 1804, and reaching the mouth of the Platte on July 21 of the same year. It is barely possible that the French Jesuits may have ascended the river years before, while the territory was in possession of their own country, but, if so, all record of their zealous efforts at proselytism, such as they are known to have made in other sections, is lost as to this one; and, notwithstanding possibilities, it is safe to assume as historic facts that Lewis and Clarke were the first white men who traversed the region of which Cass County is now a part.
In 1805, Manuel Lisa, who gave Bellevue its name, undoubtedly made some explorations south of the Platte, as did Francis De Roin, in 1810, acting for the American Fur Company, and subsequently establishing for it a trading-post in what is now Sarpy County. In 1819, Long's exploring expedition, with the "Western Engineer," the first steamer on the Missouri, was sent by the Government to explore the great river and the regions between it and the Rocky Mountains, leaving St. Louis, Mo., in July, reaching the mouth of the Platte September 17.
The traders and trappers presumably crossed the Platte at various times during the twenty years following, but the next visit to that section of which there is historic record is that of Fremont, in 1842, his expedition camping for one night on the projecting bluff just below the present site of Plattsmouth, the place still retaining the name of Fremont's Point.
About the year 1848, a Mormon by the name of Libeas T. Coon, established a ferry--a flat-boat propelled by sweeps--across the Missouri, landing in the vicinity of this point, on the Nebraska side, for the convenience of the Saints, whose exodus to the far West was in full progress. In this manner, a highway became established along the south bank of the Platte, but no settlements were made below that river and along the Missouri for some years, the territory being occupied by the Pawnees and Otoes, and the Indians protected in their rights by the Government, forts flanking the Missouri and no one being allowed to remain on Nebraska soil without a special permit from the Secretary of War.
The first permit of this kind as regards Cass County was obtained by Samuel Martin, who had been living on the east bank of the Missouri, to establish a trading post at or near the confluence of the two rivers. Accordingly, very early in the spring of 1853, he brought over on the ice the logs of his house in Iowa, and, with the assistance of James O'Neil and Col. J. L. Sharp, erected a substantial two-story building, afterward known as the "Old Barracks," for a trading-house, and, shortly subsequent, a smaller one for a council house. The former of these has something of a history, to which reference will be made, and the latter, built a little north and west of the "Old Barracks," was used in later years for the county offices.
Of Samuel Martin, but little is known; he came from Illinois to the east bank of the Missouri in 1849 or 1850, he and O'Neil succeeding Libeas T. Coon as ferry proprietors, in 1852; he was a fearless pioneer, so well acquainted with Indian life and customs as to have no trouble with the Pawnees and Otoes, with whom he dealt. He was one whose reputation was not the best, in all things--very profane, indulging in intoxicants to excess, and keeping an Otoe squaw who lived with him as his wife. His was the first settlement and his, also, the first funeral of a settler for, on December 15, 1854, less than two years after his crossing the Missouri, he crossed another and a deeper river and was laid away on a hilltop overlooking the land of his choice, just where no one knows. Of his mourners, the last who died, said, that on a bitter cold winter day, he assisted in making a coffin and burying the dead, a little west of the present high school building, in Plattsmouth, where it is now surrounded by several old-time graves. Which one is his has been forgotten.
In using the term settlement, white settlement is, of course, referred to. Martin had with him several half-breed employes, but was alone as regards those of his own race, O'Neil and Sharp returning to Iowa after assisting him in the erection of his two log houses, the former not removing to Nebraska until a year later, and the latter never making it his home.
By a treaty made with the Omahas on the 15th, and with the Otoes on the 16th of March, 1854, a proclamation of these treaties being made by President Pierce, on the 24th of June following, the larger portion of the lands bordering on the Missouri were opened for settlement, so far at least that the restriction requiring a special permit was removed. The Indians received as an equivalent for their lands a stated amount of provisions and other necessities, and it is related that the Otoes, on the south shore of the Platte, then numbering about 600, used so little judgment in the consumption of salt pork and sugar, that more than seventy of them died within a week after the arrival of the steamer with these supplies.
Previous to this time, and in anticipation of the treaty, large numbers of emigrants had gathered upon the Iowa shore, waiting its consummation. Immediately upon the proclamation of the President, although the lands were not yet formally opened for pre-emption, a rush was made for the best claims along the river, it being estimated that 250 men penciled. their names upon claim stakes within the present limits of Cass County, before the legal organization of the Territory.
These claims, as allowed by the Government, were any subdivision of a section, as, a half, a fourth, or an eighth, the lines conforming to and running parallel with the lines of the section, if already surveyed, and, if not surveyed, as most of the lands then were in that condition, the claimant fixing his own boundaries to be corrected after survey. Thus, a pre-emption claim of 160 acres was the most allowed by the Government, it being understood that the right to that amount selected of any lands not already taken, was to be respected until the title could be perfected by entry, upon the organization of the Territory and the establishment of a land office. Preceding and taking the place of law at this time was the "Claim Club," a secret organization, with officers known only to the initiated, one of whom was a Secretary, with whom the member filed a description of his claim, the club, as a whole, protecting his right thereto against "claim jumpers." The club, however, had another purpose than this very fair one, inasmuch as its members were allowed to enter an additional 160 acres, making 320 acres in all, preventing those not members, or who were late-comers, from taking choice claims, the idea being to prevent the extra 160 acres from being pre-empted, until the lands were placed in the market by the Government, and could be purchased on land warrants, or otherwise. An offender against the laws of the club, an interloper, as he was called, was generally very summarily dealt with. The punishment was only graded to the offense so far that if the offender consented to leave the Territory and not return, relinquishing all right and title to the claim which he had jumped, he was usually allowed to do so. If he refused, or if he came back, after being driven out, his shrift was frequently a short one.
The first settlers, as has been implied, selected claims in the vicinity of the Missouri River, rapidly taking up all of the best lands in that section. It was not until the latter part of 1855 that other parts of the county began to be occupied to any extent, John Scott locating in what is now Eight Mile Grove Precinct; Samuel Kirkpatrick, in the western part of Liberty; Lorenzo Johnson, near Four Mile Grove, and a few others in various parts of the central portions of the county. In 1856, Adam and James Ingram staked claims in the vicinity of Louisville; John Kanoba and J. G. Hanson, in what is now Avoca Precinct; Peter Beaver, Capt. D. L. Archer, William, Samuel and Thomas Thomas, on Four Mile Creek. The largest settlements were within the present limits of Plattsmouth and Rock Bluff Precincts. The returns of 1856 show a population of 1,251.
The buildings of these early days were, a large majority of them, simply dug-outs, with a fair sprinkling of substantial log houses, two or three of which are yet standing. A dug-out, as usually constructed, was a cut in a hillside, a wall of square-cut prairie turf constituting the front and filling up the angles between it and the side hill. The roof was covered with rails or poles, covered by a thick layer of prairie grass and then with earth. The winter of 1856 was a hard and cold one, much suffering ensuing among the settlers, who, in their primitive dwellings, often but poorly supplied with provisions, were obliged to lie wrapped in their blankets day and night to avoid freezing. The point of supplies was Iowa, and along in November the river was so filled with floating ice as to prevent the ferryboat from running for some weeks, the wagons which had previously been sent over for supplies being driven down to the Iowa bank day after day in hopes of a chance to cross. At length, there was an opening, the boat was sent over, loaded and started on its return trip; then came the ice again. "Work, for God's sake, work, or we are lost! cried Mickelwait; and they did work and so escaped. On December 1, 2 and 3 of this year occurred the heaviest snow storm of that or any previous season of which there is any record, followed by a rapidly falling temperature; the snow with its weight bore down the roofs of those who had neglected to prop them up, and demolished numbers of Indian "tepees."
During the spring of 1856 occurred what is denominated the "Whitmore scare," a family by the name of Whitmore being driven away from their home in the vicinity of Salt Basin, now Lincoln, by the Indians, fleeing toward the Missouri, the number of Indians doubling and the tale of their atrocities becoming intensified with every mile of their flight. The news was circulated with great rapidity, and, Weeping Water being announced as the rendezvous, these was soon congregated at that place a force of about 500 men from Omaha, Nebraska City and from all parts of Cass County. A six-pound cannon was sent down from Omaha to Plattsmouth upon the boat "St. Mary's," by Gen. Thayer; who immediately followed it, commanding the forces from Douglas County, the remainder being under the orders of Capt. Robert Collins. Scouts were sent out as far as Salt Basin and Ashand, returning on the night of April 16, with one prisoner, who was lodged in an improvised guard-house that is yet standing. Picket lines were established, and, at 12 o'clock those not on duty turned in. The night was a cold one, a bleak wind from the north whistling through the cottonwoods upon the river, and one of the pickets is reported to have dodged his head every time he turned upon his beat, the move allowing the wind to strike his musket so as to produce a peculiar humming sound, with the exclamation: "There's an arrow; they'll get me next time." Later in the night, a general cry of "Indians" was heard, the supposed enemy being afterward discovered to consist of tree stumps. Consternation prevailed, and, there not being even enough trees for the officers, a majority of the command were for a time in a very precarious situation. About 2 o'clock in the morning the prisoner was taken sick, and, under the escort of five men, was allowed the privilege of taking the air, the further privilege of freedom being one of which he was not slow to avail himself, darting from their hands under the banks of the Weeping Water. With daylight, the command disbanded, its members returning to their homes, to find, upon investigation, that the Pawnees were not upon the war-path beyond the fact that a small party of them had killed one man for plunder.
The cannon had been landed from the boat at Plattsmouth, and was not taken to Weeping Water at all. When the occasion which demanded its service had passed, it was sent for, it is said, several times by the Omaha people, who wished it to make a noise with on the 4th of July. For some reason, however, it could not be found, its whereabouts not being discovered until the morning of that day, when it awoke with its six-pound thunder the patriotic citizens of Plattsmouth. Upon the 5th, it was returned.
Before going further, it may be well to say something of the amenities of this early civilization, so far as to record the first marriage, and the only one of the year, as occurring upon November 16, 1854, the contracting parties being Elza Martin, of Fremont County, Iowa, and Sarah Morris, of Nebraska Territory; the ceremony was performed by Abraham Towner, and the event recorded by Joseph Lousignout, Register of Deeds, on February 5, 1856, no marriage register being opened previous to that time. On March 18, 1855, occurred a double wedding at the residence of John Clemmons, of Rock Bluffs Precinct, Vinson Fought and Christenia Clemmons, both of Cass County, and Levi Churchill, of Andrew County, Mo., and Rebecca Clemmons, of Cass County, being the parties chiefly interested, Abram Towner officiating, this time in his capacity of County Judge, while in the first instance it was as a licensed probationer of the M. E. Church. Five other marriages are recorded for the year 1855, as follows: March 20, Douglas Griswold and Elizabeth Williams, of the county of Cass, Rock Bluffs Township; May 20, Thomas M. Hammer and Permelia A. Walker; August 28, "on the camp-ground in Cass County," J. McF. Haygood and Mary E. Brown; November 8, Augustus Spires and Lavina Murray; December 27, Rev. George Swaim, of Otoe County, and Caroline Gibson, of Cass. These were all recorded in February, 1856, the entry being made after the majority of those of the year succeeding, as well as the record of "no fees" or "fees not collected."
The first white child born in the county was Nebraska Stevens, daughter of William Stevens. The exact date of the event is not known, but it was some time in January, 1855. The second birth was that of Lavina Todd, daughter of L. G. Todd, and afterward the wife of Thomas J. Thomas, in the month following. The first white boy to make his debut was Fred Mickelwait, born March 19, 1855.
It is probable that the first sermon preached in the county was in October, 1854, at the house of Thomas Ashley, by Abraham Towner. Much of the early religious history of the locality is irrecoverably lost, and while, without doubt, the people were favored with frequent visits from missionaries of various denominations, but little is known regarding them. Rev. W. D. Gage and Rev. A. J. Armstrong, of the Methodist Church, preached several times during 1855, but no permanent organization of any kind seems to have been effected until that of the Baptists, October 17, 1856, under the ministration of Elias Gibbs. Further attention will be given to these matters in the history of Plattsmouth.
From June, 1854, to September, 1855, club law reigned supreme, not only as regards claims, but in the preservation of order in the community. It is possible that some mistakes were made in the decisions of the club, but its influence was, upon the whole, a salutary one. How often it was obliged to issue its edict of banishment from Nebraska soil will probably never be known, but it is said that each defendant was accorded a fair trial before sentence, and an opportunity to speak in his own behalf.
With the advent of Territorial law, the authority of the club became more restricted, the necessity of its arbitrary mandates being lessened by the adoption of the Iowa code and the establishment of a land office. It still, however, preserved its organization and a few times during 1856 and the spring of 1857, the last, and, it is thought, the most severe exercise of its power being made in April of the latter year, claimed its original, self-constituted right of directing the course of justice.
In April, 1857, one Charles Kelly lived in the vicinity of Fremont's Point, his house being the rendezvous of what was commonly called the Johnson gang, comprising himself, Thomas Massey, John Johnson and Lewis Johnson, all of whom were charged with claim-jumping and suspected of crimes of a more serious nature. A meeting of the club was called, these men, together with about thirteen others, being arraigned before it. A trial was given them, and, it being then night, the prisoners were divided into two squads, the less dangerous placed in charge of the younger members of the party, and the Johnsons taken away some distance from the main body to be more securely guarded by those of sterner stuff. When morning came, the four men were missing; none knew or would tell what had become of them; no search was made for them, and the other thirteen prisoners being safely set over the river, with the admonition never to return, the club disbanded and its members returned to their homes. It is said that these men had been asked if they had any reasons to give why the community had further use for them; that they answered "No." It is said that the old house at the point had a bad name, that the men who were missing had no friends among the settlers, and, moreover, that they were feared, that they were thought revengeful and were known to be desperadoes. It is said that Wheatley Mickelwait's boat was found by him the next morning in a different place from where he had left it the evening before, that there were mere footprints leading to the water's edge than there were returning from it. It is said that the proceedings of that April night were never talked of afterward, and that no one can now be found who attended the trial of these men whom the community had no further use for.
This proceeding virtually ended the reign of club law in Cass County, it being doubtful whether another meeting was ever held. Mob justice, however, once again made itself felt seven years later. Horse-stealing was a common thing; the people had suffered much at the hands of depredators, who came from Iowa, secured their spoils and recrossed the river; pursuit seemed to be useless and the processes of law unavailing. It was while things were in this condition, in June, 1864, that a particularly bold strike was made by three thieves, two horses being taken from Capt. Isaac Wiles and one from John Snyder. Pursuit was at once made, but it is probable that the villains would have escaped as usual had not they fallen out as to the division of the spoils, the one who felt himself defrauded betraying the two others to the pursuers. The informer was taken in hand, and, following his directions, the others were discovered, secreted in a loft at "Mullin's Ranch," on the divide south of South Bend. With some little difficulty they were secured, and, being taken back to Eight Mile Grove, a trial was accorded them before a self-constituted court. Allowed the privilege of defense, there could be no reply made to the charge, there being no room for any possible mistake as to their identity, intention or act. A plea was offered for the one who had betrayed his companions in guilt, but, as no promises had been made to him, and as, in the minds of the hardy and honest settlers, his treason rather augmented than palliated his offense; and, moreover, as his action was entirely due to the feelings of malice and revenge, and in no degree to that of repentance, it was considered that there was no excuse for dealing less severely with him than with the others. The settlers present having resolved themselves into a jury, a vote was taken, and, without a dissenting voice, the three men were condemned to die, a sentence followed by immediate execution.
The first school in Cass County was a singing-school, taught by Charles West, in a little log building just west of Plattsmouth. This was in 1855. A year later, the first school devoted to the three R's, the useful rather than the ornamental, was opened by Mary Stocking, in a frame building erected by James O'Neil, on Gospel Hill, in the southwestern part of the city, subsequently used for church and District Court purposes. In 1857, Mr. and Mrs. J. P. Gorrell assumed charge of the city school, in another locality, however, and whether Miss Stocking continued to occupy the house on Gospel Hill is not now known. In any event, her marriage is recorded in 1858, to J. R. Tyson, it being reasonable to suppose that at that time, if not before, she retired to private life.
D. H. Wheeler, County Clerk and ex-officio Superintendent in 1860, in his annual report for the year ending September 30, reports twenty-six subdistricts, sixteen male and four female teachers employed, and an enrollment of 289 male and 280 female scholars. The total receipts for the year were $2,828.84; the disbursements, $1,272.28; reference is also made in this report to one private school in the county and to the seminary at Oreopolis, an account of which may not be out of place here.
At the session of the Legislature held in October and November, 1858, a charter was granted to certain individuals to establish a seminary in Cass County. The Trustees appointed by this act of incorporation met and organized on the 1st day of June, 1859, and resolved to take immediate action to procure a location of ten acres of ground upon which to erect a building, and procured the funds and material necessary for the building of such a house as they had resolved upon. The contributions received in aid of the seminary, particularly worthy of note as the first of the kind in the Territory, were as follows: The Oreopolis Town Company donated ten acres of land, 100 average town lots in the town and $500 in money; Mr. Loudin Mullin gave $5,000; Dr. John Evans, $500; Rev. George Loomis, $500; Dr. H. Smith, $500; E. D. Rand, $500; A. W. Carpenter, $500; sundry persons, $500, the total amounting to $13,500. On June 28, 1859, the building contract was let to Loudin Mullin to erect and inclose a good substantial and well-arranged three-story brick building, 38x80 feet in size, capable of accommodating 250 students. The building was externally completed December 1, 1859, but not altogether finished until September, 1861. Notwithstanding the favorable auspices under which the seminary appears to have started, it must be counted, in almost every sense, a failure. The building was occupied for school purposes for two or three years; but little interest being manifested and the attendance being small, the project. was entirely abandoned and the building subsequently torn down. Its history is interesting only by reason of the spirit manifested by its sanguine inaugurators, and because upon its success was founded the hopes of Oreopolis, and with it she ccased to exist. There is now nothing to mark the spot, either of the aspiring town or the pretentious seminary.
In 1861, the county had twenty-nine subdistricts, nine male and fourteen female teachers, who received during the year $1,029.20. In 1870, the number of subdistricts had increased to sixty-one, with 2,722 children between the ages of five and twenty-one years; the number of teachers employed and of scholars enrolled is not given in the Superintendent's report. In 1871, Cass County made no report except an enumeration of children between the ages of five and twenty-one years, the number being 3,315. The Superintendent at this time complained of the great need of competent teaching talent, well qualified teachers who have made ample preparations for a life work in the schoolroom. A year following, he says: "There has been a decided improvement in the general tone of the schools in Cass County during the past year. * * Of the whole number of teachers engaged, fifteen or twenty may be considered professional teachers." This last report shows seventy-nine subdistricts, an enrollment of 2,131 scholars and $11,144.63 paid to teachers during the school year.
In the report of 1873, the Superintendent speaks of the increased interest manifested by the people in the cause of education, and gives the enrollment during the year of 1,260 male and 1,120 female scholars; the average monthly salary paid to male teachers as $36.22.5, and to female teachers $24.60.4, and the number of schoolhouses in the county as sixty, four of which are "log, sod or dug-out."
In 1874, Cass County had eighty-three subdistricts, 2,014 children between five and twenty-one years of age, 1,456 male and 1,250 female scholars enrolled and four private schools additional, with an attendance of 131.
From this time on the progress of the schools has been eminently satisfactory, more particularly during the years 1880 and 1881. The report of 1879 shows eighty-four subdistricts, eighty-six schoolhouses and an enrollment of 3,644 scholars; value of school buildings, $71,698,44; total amount paid to teachers, $18,379.79. In 1880, the total expenditures for school purposes was $30, 557.69. The county had eighty-six subdistricts, eighty-four schoolhouses, 5,507 children between the ages of five and twenty-one years, 2,111 males and l,819 female scholars enrolled, seventy-one male and ninety-two female teachers employed. The value of the schoolhouses was estimated to be $73,030; of schoolhouse sites, $4,142; school books and apparatus, $2,295; the amount paid in teachers' wages, $19,640.89; bonded indebtedness, $32,022.96; all other indebtedness, $11,134.63.
The report for the year ending December 31, 1881, shows eighty-eight subdistricts, sixty-five male and eighty-seven female teachers employed and 2,226 male and 1,944 female scholars enrolled.