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Kansas Collection Books

Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska
Produced by Diana Busing.

Part 13


Clay Center, the county seat of Clay County, was laid off in the summer of 1879, by O. P. Alexander, acting as Trustee for the Town Site Company, composed of R. G. Brown, of Sutton; E. P. Church, of Harvard; R. Bayly and O. P. Alexander, of Fairfield, and is located at the exact center of the county. The land was purchased from the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad Company, and laid off, comprising 600 lots. The first building erected on the site was a large one-story frame, belonging to W. D. Young, and used by the county for a court house, and was built in May, 1879. The next building was a restaurant belonging to J. N. Mills, erected in June, 1879, and, in July, the post office was brought from Marshall, about two miles east, and established at the center, and was kept by the present incumbent, Mrs. Sophia Cruickshank, in a small house, the front part of which is used as a post office and the back part as a residence.

About the first of the next year, G. E. Birge and L. D. Fowler built an abstract and loan office, in which business they are still engaged and have the only set of abstract books in the county; the firm also carried on a banking business. In August, 1881, a new firm was formed and incorporated, succeeding that of Birge & Fowler, known as the Clay Center Abstract and Loan Company, and has a capital stock paid up of $15,000. The company is composed of G. H. Cowles, President; L. D. Fowler, Vice President, and G. E. Birge, Manager.

In January, 1881, W. D. Young built a carpenter shop, which was occupied June 1 by Mrs. E. C. Tout and in which she kept a general store, continuing in the business until December, and was succeeded by D. Leitch, who keeps a general store in the same room, in which also Mrs. A. L. Strong keeps a stock of millinery goods.

The location of the county seat at this time was somewhat precarious. From the election held February 20, 1879, its relocation was declared by the Commissioners to be at Clay Center, being so determined from the vote cast. This declaration gave rise to the town of Clay Center, and incited to its upbuilding. In accordance with an order from the Commissioners, most all the county officers went to that place. But, as was afterward determined, the movement was too hasty. Much dissatisfaction existed as to the determination of the result of the election and the vote was recanvassed, and, in obedience to a mandamus of the Supreme Court, the vote of precincts, which had been thrown out on the ground of fraud, were ordered to be counted, and it was found out that Clay Center was not the county seat. The officials were then obliged to pack up their records and matters and betake themselves back to Sutton. On November 7, the election was held, and, by the legal vote of the people of the county, the seat of government was fixed at Clay Center.

One the first of the new year, the offices were again transferred to the Center. A jail-house was immediately afterward built, costing $2,200, and is a single story frame, the main part being 24x38 feet, to which adjoins on the rear a wing, 20x40 feet, in which are the cells, which are frame, lined with steel cages.

Following this, in the immediate order of time, was the erection of a hotel by C. L. Holbrook, which he ran as a public house until August of the same year, when it was rented to P. T. Walton and used for the same purpose up to February, 1881, at which time it was sold to J. B. and S. S. Tuttle, the present owners and proprietors.

The next building was a law office which was built in March, 1880, by S. A. Searle, and, following this, was the erection of a storeroom, by S. A. Allen, in which for a short time he kept a stock of drugs; the business, however, ceased and the house was sold and is now used for a residence, and, in March, C. N. Green built a house for a saloon; H. L. Corey and J. H. Davis built a livery barn and residence, and also a residence by C. J. Martin was built during that month. In November, 1880, E. P. Burnett put up a residence, as also Mrs. D. C. Marsh, the latter being used for a short time for a boarding-house, while the court house was in process of erection.

The contract for the erection of the court house was given to W. D. Young, in February, 1880, and, in the following May, work was commenced upon the building, which was completed by the 1st of November, according to the terms of contract. It is a large two-story brick structure, 47x64 feet in dimensions, and is capped with a large and substantial dome.

The upper story embraces the court-room, which extends in length to the entire width of the building, and is forty feet wide, adjoining which are the jury, judge's and witness rooms, while in the first story are located the county offices, which are constructed with fire-proof vaults, and the Treasurer's office, supplied with a burglar-proof safe. The proposed cost of the building was $11,000, while the actual cost, when completed, was $22,000, including furniture, fixtures, "etc., etc., etc.," as appears on the statement submitted by the contractor.

G. S. & J. C. Ward, before the town started, had opened a blacksmith shop just outside of where it was laid off, and, in January, 1880, they moved their shop into the town, where they continued the trade of blacksmithing and repairing. A church edifice was erected in December, 1880, by the Christians, who had hitherto been holding services in a country schoolhouse, south of where the town now stands, and is a 24x46 frame house, costing about $1,200. A schoolhouse was built in July, 1881, in which was taught the first school in the town by Mrs. Charles Wagner.

A second church was established in February, 1882, by the Congregationalists, with thirty members, and Rev. G. A. Taylor, pastor. Services are held in the court-room, but active steps are being taken for the building of a regular church house at an early date.

An attempt at journalism was made at this point, in February, 1881, by W. A. Connell, who started the Clay Center Citizen. The paper survived six months, when the editor "vamosed," and the sheet collapsed. The concern was held under mortgage to its full value, and the editor went away, leaving it a "boon" to his creditors. It was sold to satisfy the mortgage, and was bought by a stock company, composed of some of the citizens of the town, who published it for a short time, when the company dissolved and sold the material to the proprietor of the Fairfield Herald. The town has no railroad communication, but is reached by stage and mail lines from Edgar, Fairfield, Harvard and Sutton. The splendid location of the place and its being the county seat, augurs favorably that, in case a railroad is run through the town, as is talked of, as being probable, it is only a question of short time until Clay Center shall become the chief town and commercial emporium of the county.


GEORGE E. BIRGE, manager of Clay County Abstract and Loan Company, was born in Horican, Wis., in December, 1855, removing to Appleton, Wis., in 1874. Was educated at Lawrence University; then employed as book-keeper by the Appleton Manufacturing Company, of which concern his father is President. He came to Nebraska in October, 1878, and was appointed Deputy Clerk of Clay County in January, 1879, filling that position two years, during which period he resided in Sutton. He then came to Clay Center and engaged in the brokerage and loan business in company with L. D. Fowler, of Sutton, and this business was merged, August 1, 1881, into the company for which he is manager.

EDWARD P. BURNETT, Judge of the County Court of Clay County, was born in De Kalb, St. Lawrence Co., N. Y., August 30, 1845, and was reared on a farm until twenty-one years of age. In 1866, he went to Pierce County, Wis., where he engaged in school-teaching. In the fall of 1868, he went to Ann Arbor, Mich., and entered the Law Department of the university, graduating therefrom in March, 1870. Returning to River Falls, Pierce Co., Wis., he practiced law until he came to Nebraska in August, 1872. Locating at Harvard, Clay County, he resumed his chosen profession. In the fall of 1873, he was elected Judge of the County Court, and removed to Sutton the county seat. He has held the office continuously since November, 1873, having been re-elected in 1875, 1877, 1879 and 1881. In December, 1880, he removed his family to Clay Center, the present county seat, where he now resides. The Judge was married near Delavan, Walworth Co., Wis., January 16, 1877, to Mary A. Niskem; they have two children, a son and daughter.

GEORGE F. DICKSON, Deputy Treasurer of Clay County, was born in Scotland September 11, 1843, and emigrated to America in March, 1860. He resided on a farm in Macon County, Ill., until he enlisted October 1, 1861, in Company I, Seventh Illinois Volunteer Cavalry, and served for three years, after which, he engaged in farming in Dane County, Wis. He came to Nebraska in November, 1868, homesteaded 160 acres in Hamilton County, and farmed the same for about six years. He was elected Sheriff of Hamilton County at its organization and served two terms of two years each. In 1874, he removed to Sutton and was for eighteen months engaged in general merchandise business, and was for three years employed by Frank Pyle in the grain business. He was appointed Deputy Treasurer of the county in January, 1880, and re-appointed in January, 1882. He was married in Dane County, Wis., February 7, 1871, to Mary J. Edie; they have four children--Alice, Frank, Edwin and one infant daughter.

LOUIS F. FRYAR, Clerk of Clay County, was born in Darke County, Ohio, in 1849, and raised on a farm there until sixteen years of age, when he removed to Rock Island, Ill., and was there employed in farming until August 1, 1861, when he enlisted in the Thirty-seventh Illinois Volunteer Infantry, serving four years and nine months. Subsequently returning to Rock Island, he again devoted his time to farming. He came to Nebraska in 1869, and homesteaded 160 acres in Thayer County, residing on it for two years; then farmed in Fairfield Precinct, Clay County, for about two years, and also merchandising for about that length of time; after which, he moved to the town of Fairfield and engaged in the implement business in company with R. Bayly, remaining with him some years; and, in January, 1880, joined S. Randall in the same business and is still a member of the firm of Randall & Fryar. Mr. F. was elected Clerk of the county in November, 1881, entering upon the duties of his office January 5, 1882, and is now residing in Clay Center. He was married in Sutton, Neb., in 1873, to Laura Bancroft; they have three children--Louis C. and infant twins.

CHARLES J. MARTIN, Deputy Clerk of the District Court, was born in Oneida County, N. Y., April 9, 1846, and reared on a farm. He enlisted August 13, 1861, in Oneida Cavalry, and was mustered out June 23, 1865. After the war, he engaged in mercantile business at Onalaska, La Crosse Co., Wis., for three years; then in the livery business for a year. Subsequently, he went to Rome, N. Y., where he was for two years employed as clerk in a wholesale grocery. Afterward, in Iroquois County, Ill., until he came to Nebraska September 15, 1872, homesteading 160 acres in Harvard Precinct, Clay County, farmed the same for three years; he then purchased eighty acres in Lincoln Precinct, and farmed there until he came to Clay Center in January, 1880, having been appointed to his present position about that time. Mr. Martin was married in Sutton, Neb., March 20, 1875, to Louisa M. Tuttle; they have two children--Lyle and Belle.

JONAS P. NIXON, Sheriff of Clay County, was born in Adams County, Ohio, December 2, 1837, and reared on a farm. He learned the trade of carpenter with his brother, and was employed at it off and on for several years. He began to farm on his own account at the age of twenty-three years. On November 1, 1861, he enlisted in the Seventieth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Company E; was discharged January 4, 1864, and re-enlisted immediately, serving until August 26, 1865; when mustered out, he held the rank of First Lieutenant. After the war, he returned to his farm in Ohio, where he remained until December, 1869, when he removed to Mount Pleasant, Henry Co., Iowa, where he was employed as a carpenter. He came to Nebraska April 2, 1872, resided for a short time in York County, and, on June 22, homesteaded 160 acres in Clay County. Mr. N. followed farming for some years. He was elected Sheriff of Clay County in November, 1879, and re-elected in 1881. Since he entered upon the duties of his office he has resided at Clay Center. He was married in Adams County, Ohio, February 7, 1861, to Mary E. McFadden, a native of Brown County, Ohio; they have four children--Annie L., Mary A., James W. and one infant son.

O. H. PARSONS, Deputy Sheriff of Clay County, was born in Ashtabula County, Ohio, April 14, 1847, and was reared on a farm. At the age of twelve years, he removed to the home of his uncle in the same county, and assisted him in farming. He enlisted August 30, 1864, in the One Hundred and Seventy-seventh Ohio Infantry, Company K, serving until July 7, 1865. After the war, he again turned his attention to farming, following it in the States of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Iowa; returned in 1868 to his home in Ashtabula County. He farmed until early in 1870, when he came West, crossing the Missouri River March 19 of that year. He homesteaded eighty acres in Hamilton County, and farmed the same until 1875. Was about that time appointed a keeper in the State Penitentiary at Lincoln, which position he held for twenty-three months, resigning on account of ill health, subsequently went to Sutton, where he was for three years engaged in mercantile business and as a carpenter. Was appointed Deputy Sheriff in January, 1882, since which time he has resided in Clay Center.

GEORGE H. VAN DUYNE, Treasurer of Clay County, was born in Cayuga County, N. Y., in 1834, and reared on a farm. In 1866, he removed to Livingston County, N. Y., and followed farming for about eight years. During his residence in that county, he held the offices of Justice of the Peace, Assessor, etc. He came to Nebraska in April, 1875; homesteaded eighty acres in School Creed, Clay County, and has farmed the same since. He was elected Treasurer of Clay County in November, 1879, and re-elected in 1881.

JUSTUS E. WHEELER, Deputy Clerk of Clay County, was born in Freeport, Ill., in 1846. He enlisted, in July, 1863, in the Fourth Illinois Cavalry, and served three years. He has followed clerking and book-keeping for an occupation since he began to earn his own livelihood. In 1870, he went to Chicago, Ill., where he was employed as a book-keeper. He came to Nebraska in October, 1874, and was for seven years employed in farming in Lynn Precinct, Clay County. Mr. W. was appointed Deputy Clerk in January, 1882, and now resides in Clay Center.


This little town first sprang into existence in the fall of 1873, and is situated in the western part of Clay County, about nine miles east of Hastings. The town is laid off in the center of a Government section of land, which had purposely been pre-empted for a town site at the instance of the Town Company, by R. S. Winters, Daniel Fitch and Robert Thompson, the site embracing a square of forty acres, taken from the intersecting corners of the four quarter-sections.

The sod claim-houses were the first structures seen on the site until in August, 1872, when the railroad was completed to the place and the station and section-house was built. In the next spring, J. W. Sturgis built a storeroom and put in a stock of general merchandise, who, together with three or four men in the employ of the railroad, were the only inhabitants of the town at this time. During the summer, Charles Clutz came, going in as partner with Sturgis. Later in the fall, Bennett Cox erected a storeroom and dwelling, opening the store with a general stock of goods, which he operated for about one year, and, in 1879, David Stein and P. H. Cone took the building, running a general store. Edward Davis began working in metals, erecting a blacksmith shop in 1878. In 1878, Luke Galdenstein built a storehouse for the handling of general goods; H. M. Oliver put up a grain elevator and started a lumber and coal yard, and, in the next year, the Keystone Hotel was built by G. Z. Fink, who kept it about a year, selling out to a Mr. Warrick, who lived in the house a short time and moved away, renting the building to Richard Harris.

A post office was established at Glenville in June, 1873, and was kept by Joseph Kentner, Postmaster, in Sturgis' store. Kentner held the position only a few months, and, in the winter following his appointment, Bennett Cox received the commission and the office was taken to his store. Cox continued Postmaster up to the end of 1880, and was succeeded by Luke Galdenstein and the office is now kept in his storeroom.

The earliest religious services were held in Glenville in July, 1873, when a number of the young men of the town held a sort of Sunday school in the railroad depot. But a few persons were present on this first day, and it was announced that a similar meeting would be held on the next Sunday. When the day came, wagon load after wagon load might be seen gathering in from all parts of the country to this rude teaching of the sacred word. On this day the house was filled and numbers turned away for want of room. A regular union Sunday school was organized and J. W. Small was elected Superintendent, and the school has since continued. The first sermon preached in the town was by Rev. Charles Clutz in the depot. Several congregations have been organized in the surrounding county, which now hold services in the schoolhouse and Baptist Church in the town. These denominations are the Presbyterian, Rev. R. J. Smith, pastor; the American Baptists, Rev. M. Wilson, pastor; German Baptists, Rev. Mr. Crane, pastor; Methodist, Rev. F. Campbell, pastor; and the Evangelical Association, Dr. Oyler, of Harvard, pastor, and the Catholics, who are occasionally ministered unto in holy things by the priest from Hastings.

The first and only church house that has been erected in the place was that built by the Baptists in the winter of 1881-82. It is a small, one-story frame, costing about $1,000, and was dedicated April 23, 1882. A school district was organized in the town in the winter of 1871-72, and R. Thompson, D. Fitch and R. S. Winters composed the School Board.

A contract to build the schoolhouse was given to W. D. Young, at that time a partner of Thompson, one of the board, for which he was to receive the bonds of the district to the amount of $3,350, at 10 per cent interest. The contract was then sub-let by Young to Ramsey, who was to complete the house and furnish all the material for $1,200. The bonds turned over to Young were sold to New York parties, and have since been nearly all paid off, amounting, with the interest, to something like $5,000, making that virtually the cost of the house, which, together with the furniture, did not cost one-fourth that amount. Just where the profits went one is left to conjecture. During that last term, the school enrolled sixty pupils.

The first death in the place was Elizabeth Carroll, the wife of George Carroll, a section-boss on the railroad, and the first child born was Thomas, the son of these parties.

The town at present numbers about twenty-five houses in all, and has a population of about fifty. Of business houses, it has one general merchandise, one drug, one hardware, one grain elevator, lumber and coal yard.

The town is situated in a fine fertile prairie district, well settled and improved. For its future promise much cannot be predicted, from its nearness to other and better towns, which naturally must drain the bulk of the trade, leaving Glenville with only a small territory and limited trade for its support, and from these considerations it is safe to judge for the future that the town will attain little growth beyond its present proportions.


I. D. NEWELL, County Superintendent of School, Clay County, Neb., is the son of a Baptist minister, who was one of the early home missionaries of that denomination in Illinois. He was born in Rushville, Schuyler Co., Ill., July 2, 1837; educated at Shurtleff College, Upper Alton, Ill. When President Lincoln issued his call for 75,000 men for three months, he was the first man in Bunker Hill, Ill., to enlist. At the close of the three months, he enlisted a second time as a private. Served four years in the army and came out as a Captain. Was at the capture of Fort Henry and in the battles of Donelson, Pittsburg Landing, the siege of Corinth and the second fight of Corinth. In the latter fight, he bore the colors of his regiment and received honorable mention for bravery from the Colonel of his regiment and the brigade commander, in their reports of the fight. Spent the last two years of the war in command of a vessel on the Mississippi River, under Gen. Ellet. After the close of the war, he entered the ministry of the Baptist denomination; graduated in theology at Crozer Theological Seminary and settled as pastor in Moline, Ill. Failing health induced him to remove to Clay County, Neb., in the summer of 1872, where he took a homestead on Section 6, Town 6, Range 8 west. For three years he preached in the county, until poor health and the lack of an adequate support drove him from the field. Was first elected County Superintendent in Clay County in the fall of 1877, and has continued in office until the present time, his present term expiring in January, 1884. A man of positive character and entertaining high views of education, his administration of the office he holds has awakened some opposition, but in the main his policy is approved by the people of the county.

MARK A. PERKINS, physician and surgeon, was born in Wayne County, N. C., June 23, 1838. He studied medicine at New Garden, Guilford County, under Dr. Samuel D. Coffin, and began the practice of medicine in 1862, at Pikeville, N. C., where he remained for a year, engaged in that capacity; then in Dublin, Wayne Co., Ind., for four years; then in Pikeville, N. C., off and on for several years. He went to Cartersville, Darlington Co., S. C., where he practiced, carried on a turpentine factory and was engaged in mercantile business, residing there some six years; subsequently practiced and farmed in Richland County, S. C., for four years. The Doctor came to Glenville May 7, 1881, and at once began to practice. One June 1, 1882, he purchased a drug store, which he conducts in connection with his practice.


THOMPSON R. ELDER, farmer, Sutton P. O., was born in Brown County, Ohio, November 18, 1837, and was reared on a farm. He removed to Champaign County, Ill., in 1859, and followed farming there until he enlisted, August 22, 1862, in the Seventy-sixth Illinois Infantry, and was discharged in February, 1865, on account of disability. Returning to his home in Illinois, he again followed farming. Mr. E. came to Nebraska April 8, 1872, and homesteaded 160 acres in Sheridan Precinct, Clay County, on which he now resides. He is one of the leading politicians among the farmers of this county and is President of the County Alliance. He was married in Brown County, Ohio, September 5, 1859, to Mary M. West. They have six children--Bettie, Ada, Phillip, Sarah W., Fannie B. and Addie T.


Inland was the first town laid out in Adams County by the Burlington & Missouri Railroad Town Company, and was situated on that road about six miles east of Hastings, and was established in the early part of the summer of 1871. Owing largely to its nearness to the city of Hastings, it made slow progress, and, up to 1878, contained three small business houses, a few residences and a large two-story school building.

In 1878, the station was moved three miles east to a point on the railroad just inside of the boundary of Clay County, and the old town became extinct, nothing remaining to mark that it ever had been, except the schoolhouse and a few traces showing where houses had once stood.

The present town of Inland comprises a station, grain elevator and one general store belonging to J. S. Brooks, in which he keeps the telegraph and post office. The land on which the town is situated was owned originally by F. Fixen, who procured the same from the railroad company. The grain elevator was built in the summer of 1879 by N. L. Thatcher, who used it until the following year, when he sold it to J. D. Bain and W. J. Turner, both of Harvard. The business is run in the interests of these parties by J. R. McIntosh, and, during the year 1881, shipped 23,807 bushels of wheat, 2,975 bushels of barley and 2,300 of corn; the total sales of grain for that year amounted to $23,061.

Spring Ranche was first settled on June 8, 1864, and was named Spring Ranche from the presence of numerous springs of water in that locality. The first settler was James Bainter, who was soon followed by Robert Cargill, Lewis Thayer and D. W. Evans.

The first marriage in the town was that of E. J. Jackson to Mary N. Cargill, in the fall of 1874. The first death was Edward Harper, in 1864, and the first child born was Sheridan Bainter, May 11, 1871. The earliest officers in the town were L. N. Bryant, Justice of the Peace, and James Bainter, Constable.

In the spring of 1872, Miss Annie Foster taught the first school in James Bainter's residence, and, during that summer, a schoolhouse was built.

The earliest religious services were held in 1871, in Bainter's house, and were conducted by Elder J. W. Warwick. In the fall of 1881, the Presbyterians erected a church, which was directly followed by one belonging to the Congregationalists.

A post office was established in 1870 and called Spring Ranche; the first Postmaster was Lewis Thayer.

A grist and flouring mill called the Spring Ranche Mills was built in 1874 by the firm of Peck & Meston. A store, comprising a small stock of general merchandise, was started in 1871 by James Bainter, in his own dwelling, and which was the first store in the town.

The early settlers in this part of the county suffered greatly from depredations by the Indians, having been chased out at two different times and had all their property burned up. The first instance of this sort took place on the 9th of August, 1864, the settlers having fled for their lives, but bravely returned after the savages had completed their desolations and disappeared, and began to repair the losses they had sustained and start anew. After the lapse of a short time, when they had succeeded in gathering a few buildings and some property about them, they were again invaded, in July, 1866, by the terrifying enemies, and forced to a second flight, while leaving behind houses and effects to feed the sportive bonfire of their assailants. At this time, all the settlers left and none returned until the spring of 1870, since which they have suffered no disturbance from the "noble warriors of the plain."

A more detailed account of these Indian troubles is to be found in the history of Spring Ranche Precinct as part of the general history of the county.

Davis Post Office is situated in the southeastern part of Clay County, midway between Clay Center and Edgar; was established in 1878, and N. Nagel was commissioned Postmaster, the office being kept in the farmhouse, and is reached by overland mail lines from Edgar and Clay Center.

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County Index

Index of Illustrations in Clay County Chapter
  1. [View of Sutton.]
  2. [Residence of George W. Bemis.]
  3. [Residence of Isaac N. Clark.]
  4. [Portrait of I. N. Clark.]
  5. [Portrait of Martin V. B. Clark, M. D.]