The First Murder | Early Justice
Part 2: Other Pioneer Events | Organization
County Agricultural Association
Schuyler: The Press | Fire Department | The Schools
Part 3: Schuyler (cont.): Societies | General Business
Part 4: Schuyler (cont.): Biographical Sketches (cont.)
Part 5: Benton
Colfax Precinct | Wilson Precinct | Stanton Precinct
List of Illustrations in Colfax County Chapter
The first deed of land recorded for Colfax County was that by which Abram P. Beeman, then of Platte, transferred the fractional lot 6, Section 27, Township 17, east of the Sixth Principal Meridian, being part of the island in the Platte River, to James Hashberger. The land consisted of 33. 80 acres, and the date was August 18, 1860.
The first homestead entry made in what is now Colfax County, was by Samuel H. Fowler, January 9, 1863, in Section 13, Township 17, Range 2. After the county was organized, Joseph Marshall made the first entry--March 2, 1869. Then came D. W. Egbert, Joseph Papez, John Steible, J. W. F. Williams and E. D Ralston. The latter date was March 24, and at the same time five of the Edgars and the two Tennants entered land. After this the number was legion.
Of the early marriages which took place before Justice Corson are these: James Beaman and Eliza M. Hazen, August 22, 1863; William Warren and Evaline Baldwin, April 10, 1865; Frank McCormick and Agnes Clough, May 27, 1868; Nathan Woods and Angeline Hashberger, August 22, 1868.
In 1867, P. P. Landon, G. M. Young and James Case settled in what was then Colfax Precinct. Among the other early settlers of Colfax county was Mr. Kirk, who came from Omaha in April, 1868, and stopped at "Buchanan." The town then contained two families--Isaac Albertson, (one); J. M. Paine, F. E. Frye and Mrs. Perigo (two). Mr. Kirk finally settled on the southwest quarter, Section 32, Township 18, which was ten miles from Schuyler via Buchanan.
At this time north of Shell Creek and east of the ten mile limit were Messrs. Albertson, Paine and others, Levi Kimball, one mile east of Albertson's, F. Dunn, P. P. Landon, G. M. Young, on Maple Creek. He commenced a house as soon as he could haul lumber from Fremont, that being the nearest point from which it could be brought. Levi Kimball commenced to build on his pre-emption about this time also. This was afterwards the farm of Neil R. Bellong. He completed his house first. Mr. Kirk had partially finished his, and moved into it May 20. Before the last trunk was taken into the house there commenced one of the hardest blows and thunder storms ever experienced. The door not being hung, threatened to sail off on the wings of the wind. No wonder the women of the house tremblingly asked, "Will we blow away?" But the wind passed and with it their fears.
Della West, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. I. M. West, was the first child born in Schuyler, the date being November 30, 1869. When Mr. West first came to Schuyler, in October of that year, the place contained but twenty buildings. He at once contracted with J. D. Marlin and H. P. Upton, and had erected a building just back of the Grange corner, using the front as a provision store and the back part as a dwelling house. Here it was that the first child in Schuyler was born.
Colfax County was originally a portion of Platte. By act of the Legislature, approved March 15, 1869, it was detached from Platte and erected into a separate county. The Republican voters predominating, the newly-formed county received its name, Colfax, in honor of the then Vice-President, Schuyler Colfax. It was by the very last act of the Legislature that the creating act was passed. By a supplementary act, Schuyler was fixed upon as the county seat. At this time the town was the property of the U. P. R. R Co. Its buildings consisted of a railroad station, a section house, and several smaller buildings.
As originally defined, the boundaries of Colfax County were as follows: "All of Ranges 2, 3 and 4, north of Platte River and east of the sixth principal meridian, included between the fourth and fifth standard parallels, comprising Townships 17, 18, 19 and 20." By legislative act, approved March 3, 1873, the limits were thus defined: "Commencing at a point where the dividing line between Ranges 1 and 2 east intersects the south bank of the Platte River; thence along said south bank to a point where the dividing line between Ranges 4 and 5 east intersects the same; thence north to the northeast corner of Township 20, north of Range 4 east; thence west to the northwest corner of township 20, north of Range 2 east; thence south to the place of beginning."
After the county was created, in 1869, the first meeting of Commissioners was held on March 20. Messrs. Wm. Davis, Q. B. Skinner and Robert C. Kenney had been appointed Commissioners, the meeting being held in the house built by Wm. Brown, the tinner. C. M. Greenman was appointed County Clerk until his successor could be elected and qualified. After organizing, with William Davis as chairman, they proceeded to divide the county into three commissioner's districts--No. One including all of Range 2 east of the sixth principal meridian; No. Two, all of Range 3 east of the sixth meridian; No. Three, all of Range 4 east of that meridian. At the meeting held March 22, the Commissioners could not agree upon a Probate Judge, but Daniel Hashberger was appointed Treasurer for Buchanan Precinct. R. W. Corson was appointed Probate Judge, March 27; H. H. Foutz, Justice of the Peace for the Buchanan District; Levi Kimball, Constable; James McAllister, Justice of the Peace of Center Precinct; David Andersen, Constable. Then, on April 5, M. B. Hoxie was worked into the roster as District Attorney, and J. C. Maple as School Superintendent. Mr. Maple refused to qualify on the 10th, and Nathan Woods became the lucky man of office. "Judge" Corson refused to qualify as Probate Judge, and Obadiah Hall was appointed in his place. The school lands selected were Section 16, Township 17, Range 2 east; Sections 16 and 36, Township 18, Range 2 east; Section 16, Township 17, Range 3 east; fractional part of Section 16, Township 17, Range 4 east--all lands to be put upon the market at the next annual land sale, in June, 1869. E. E. Greenman, Levi Kimball and George Lawrence were appointed Commissioners for the sale of the lands.
In July, the Commissioners agreed to pay six mills for county purposes; one mill on the dollar for sinking fund, two mills for building, and one for county school purposes.
In August, the county was divided into Elderad, Shell Creek, Schuyler and Grant precincts.
In September, County Surveyor John Phinney was instructed to locate a county road across Sections 27 and 28. The County Clerk was also authorized to advertise for building bridges across Shell and Maple Creeks, and the sloughs on the route of the road; also to advertise for a general election, to be held October 12, 1869. The election was duly held, and resulted as follows: Isaac Albertson, Probate Judge; R. W. Corson, Treasurer; J. W. F. Williams, County Clerk; Adolph Ernst, Sheriff, L. C. Smith, Surveyor; John Van Housen, School Superintendent; Alva Skinner, Coroner; Commissioners--J. P. Maple, Frederick Stevens and D. Anderson.
On the 6th of November the Commissioners received a petition from the inhabitants of Schuyler asking that their settlement might be incorporated as a town. The petition was accepted and placed on file, B. F. King, W. P. P. St. Clair, H. P. Upton, C. M. Greenman and S. P. Van Doozer being appointed trustees of the new corporation.
When Colfax County was detached from Platte, the latter had but just erected a court-house building (?) and as Schuyler had now become the shire town of a new county, it became a matter of general interest to ascertain if she was liable for old debts. So on January 4, 1870, when the discussion in regard to the erection of county buildings was foremost with the voters of Colfax County, the commissioners offered a resolution donating $100 to E. Esterbrook, the lawyer of Omaha, for his opinion in the matter. Finally James M. Woolworth of that city was fixed upon, and on the 20th he sent in his opinion as below:
J. W. F. Williams Esq., County Clerk, Colfax County. Dear Sir: Yours of the 19th inst. is received. You do not say whether you employ me to contest the claim of Platte County, or to give you an opinion of its validity. I have assumed that it is the latter service which you now wish, and I have accordingly examined the question with the care and research which its importance demands. The question is, whether the new county is justly liable for a proportion of certain debts of the old county. You mention certain circumstances as if you supposed that they qualified the liability of your county, and I proceed first to enquire whether your supposition is correct. The first of these circumstances is that the court house was not built when your county was erected. You say, however, that the bonds were at that time issued, and had been then negotiated by the contractor. It is simply the case of one party giving another his note for work done or to be done. He certainly is indebted on the note when he gives it. He has by advancing it contracted a debt. So, too, Platte County having contracted for the building of a court house, and given the contractor its bonds in part payment, had become indebted thereon. This was then, an indebtedness of the old county which was imposed by the law on the new county. Nor, in my opinion, is the case changed by the circumstances secondly mentioned by you, that the people living in what is now called Colfax County voted against the bonds. When the vote was taken they lived in Platte. They and the other people in the county in which they all resided voted on the question. The majority were in the affirmative. They must rule. The relations of the parties can not be changed by the minorities withdrawing, unless the Legislature so provides.
He then proceeds to cite sections of the law bearing upon the case, to the effect that Colfax county was liable, and concludes by stating: "My fees for this opinion are $50. I have not been applied to on this matter by Platte County."
In July, Clarkson Bros., proprietors of the town of Schuyler, donated Block 113 as a site for the county buildings, and soon afterward Colfax County settled with Platte for $5,223.48, so that everything was prosperous for a start on a clean financial basis. According to the assessment of 1868, it was decided that when the county was erected, in 1879, the debt assumed was as nine to seven, Colfax County assuming 7-16 of the entire court-house indebtedness. The balance due Platte in all other funds was only $49.57.
The next important matter which came up for the consideration of the county Solons was the project of issuing bonds to aid in the construction of bridges across Shell, Maple and Rawhide creeks, and the sloughs along the county road. The bonds, $20,000 , were voted by twenty-seven to fifteen, which figures indicate the political strength of Colfax County at that time. Eight bridges were to be constructed by the contractor, I. D. Marlin, for $6,350.
A special election was called for February 11, 1871, for the purpose of voting upon the proposition to issue $60,000 in bonds to build a bridge across the Platte River, and $20,000 to erect a court-house. The voters favored both propositions, and H. P. Handy was awarded the contract to construct the wagon bridge across the Platte for $57,400. It was located three-quarters of a mile east of Schuyler, its length with approaches, being 2,000 feet. The award was made on account of an informality in the bid of H. T. Clark, of Bellevue, whose figures were the lowest. The matter was taken into the court and decided in Mr. Clark's favor. As finally completed, the bridge proper was 1,350 feet in length, and cost $65,000. It consisted of nine spans 150 feet each, eight stone piers, and two abutments. The structure was commenced in September, 1871, and completed July 15, of the next year. In its construction, 428,576 feet were used, 2,376,000 pounds of rock and 40,000 pounds of cement. Since then the bridge has been almost entirely rebuilt, much of the superstructure having been washed away. It is a very important factor in binding together the interests of Colfax County and the county to the south.
The court house is a very creditable structure of brick, two stories in height, with a tin roof and an ornamental tower, forty-four feet high. Its dimensions are eighty-three by forty feet. The lower floor is divided into apartments, for the county officers, containing also cells for the prisoners. The court room in the upper story is forty by fifty feet. The stone used in the construction of the court house came from the La Platte quarries, and the brick from Omaha. Charles Lightfoot was the contractor, he being awarded the work for $18,300.
The present county officers are: John Lapache, County Clerk and Clerk of the District Court; Wm. Brown, Treasurer; James P. Smith, Sheriff; M. Zentmyer, Judge; J. P. Strong, Superintendent of Public Instruction; E. E. Greenman, Surveyor; Commissioners, F. J. Smith, Chairman; Thomas Verba and Wesley Shafer.
The Colfax County Agricultural Society was formed in the summer of 1872, and a piece of ground selected for fair grounds, two miles north of town, belonging to N. W. Wells. The society did not obtain a firm footing until 1879, when it was reorganized under the above name, and held a successful exhibition. In 1880 and again in 1881 good fairs were held. At present the association is in a flourishing state, numbering over 120 members, with the following officers: William Draher, President; James Coventry, Vice-President; J. M. G. Curray Secretary; James Hughes, Treasurer; W. Shafer, J. P. Strong, John Busch, A. E. Cady, V. W. Graves, John McIntosh and C. C. Cannon, Directors; T. S. Clarkson, General Superintendent. The grounds consist of twenty-three acres of land, partially fenced, the entire property being valued at $1,800. The association, as at present existing, is one of the business and industrial forces of Colfax County, which is fully recognized.
[View of Schuyler.]
In and around Schuyler, however, the advent of the Union Pacific Railroad put an end to what may be called the "early times," although for several years thereafter the town was not "densely populated." Among others who arrived just after the depot, section house, and one or two sod shanties had been erected was H. Holcomb, now proprietor of the Herald.
After the railroad station and section house had been erected in 1868, the next building which appeared in Schuyler was the dwelling erected for W. P. P. St. Clair, the agent and telegraph operator. Next L. C. Smith & Brother opened the first general store in the spring of 1869. They obtained their stock of goods from Omaha, the building in which they exhibited the "spread" being twelve by sixteen feet in dimensions. Thomas Shaw started in business as a blacksmith at about the same period. Afterwards came Frank Tolda, Sumner Brothers, Parker Brothers and others. Up to the spring of 1869, in fact, Schuyler was but a railroad station. In these early days the section boss was J. J. Riley, now of Columbus. He has the honor of erecting the very first house built in Schuyler.
The town of Schuyler was platted by H. M. Hoxie and Webster Snyder, officials of the U. P. R. R., April 6, 1869. E. E. Greenman, County Surveyor, laid it out. Soon afterward the town site passed into the hands of Clarkson Brothers. In January, 1870, an addition--South Schuyler--was made by Daniel Hashberger, Clarkson's Addition being filed the month before. Additions have since been made by M. B. Hoxie (May, 1870); J. T. Clarkson, (5th addition, December, 1880); and Clarkson Dorsey's (July, 1881).
The Land Office of the U. P. R. R. Co. was established in 1881, C. P. Tury having charge of it until 1877, since which time J. T. Clarkson has managed the business.
By the spring of 1873 Schuyler had so increased in population and prospects that it was determined to adopt a city form of government. A special election was called May 12, 1873, when the following officers were elected: Mayor, F. E. Frye; Police Judge, C. M. Greenman; Councilmen, John Carel, C. P. Tury, A. P. Upton, J. C. McBride, C. E. Sumner, and D. H. Van Antwerp; Marshall, M. Helmer. The municipal form of government existed until 1879, when by the passage of an act fixing the population limit of all second-class cities at 1,500, Schuyler was debarred from the newly acquired honors. From present appearances, however, it is believed that she will at once regain her old name and place among the cities of the State.
The Schuyler Sun was established in 1871, by J. C. McBride. It first appeared as the Register, on September 30 of that year. The first number was a creditable issue, but does not much compare with the present appearance of the journal. Of the twenty-eight columns, seven were taken up with advertisements and thirteen with miscellaneous matter. William West, one of the present proprietors of the Sun, set up the first type upon that journal or in the county. He continued to act as foreman of the office until he became part proprietor. During the third year of his management Mr. McBride was elected State Treasurer, selling the paper to Charles N. Coates in October, 1874. He continued to edit and publish it until October, 1875, when it came into possession of E. M. Allen. He associated Miles Zentmyer with himself, who changed the Register to the Sun and its politics from Republican to Democratic. In March, 1877, A. E. Cady purchased the journal and in the fall of the same year William West purchased a one-third interest, forming the present partnership. The Sun is at present Republican in politics, a seven-column folio, well printed, well edited and well supported.
The Schuyler Herald was established as the Democrat in June, 1878. Its editor and proprietor was George S. Witters. In December, 1879, James A. Grimison purchased the journal and changed its name to the News. H. Holcomb assumed the management in September, 1881, M. Zentmyer taking editorial charge. During Mr. Grimison's administration the Herald was independent in politics; it is now Democratic "stalwartly" so. Its form is a seven-column folio. The Herald is a good local and county paper and receives its just share of patronage.
The first fire company organized was the Rescue Company No. 1. This occurred in the fall of 1875. For four years the company used a truck and ladders of home manufacture. In 1879, the Star Company No. 2 was organized and the town bought two engines, one a Champion chemical engine which was given to the Rescue Company, and the other a water engine given to the Star Company. Together they cost $2,800. The town also built a building opposite the Opera House, for the engines at a cost of $650. The Rescue Company has twenty-three members and the following officers: G. H. Wells, Foreman; W. Hrubesky, First Assistant; James Hughes, Second Assistant; Charles Kreyneborg, Treasurer; and J. B. Sides, Clerk.
There are forty-five members in the Star Company. The officers are: H. Ramsey, Foreman; Alex. Sutherland, First Assistant; David Edwards, Second Assistant; William Markham, Secretary; and Fritz Lambert, Treasurer.
Both companies are under the control of the department the officers of which are: G. H. Wells, President; D. H. Van Antwerp, Marion McLung, secretaries; and C. C. Cannon, Chief. Three wells are maintained by the city to supply the water engine. In addition to these means of protection from fires there is a steam pump belonging to the Union Pacific Railroad, which, with the hose of the department, will throw water over the business portion of the town. Since the organization the companies have been instrumental in saving property from sixteen fires.
The two schools which furnish education to the youth and maiden of Schuyler are under the management of J. P. Sprecher. Only one building belongs to the district, that situated in the east end of the town. This is valued at $1,500. Three rooms are rented near the center of town, and yet the accommodations are so far from being sufficient that $7,000 has been voted for the erection of a fine brick schoolhouse in the western part. The average daily attendance is 244. The schools are divided into eight grades, but there is no regular high school. The principal, Mr. Sprecher, occupies about one-fourth of his time in superintending. The School Board is as follows: T. W. Whitman, Moderator; L. D. Chambers, Director; Dr. James Woods, Treasurer, Corps of teachers: J. P. Sprecher, Principal, Mrs. Ballou, Misses Williams, Husenetter, Capwell and McCall.
The Presbyterian Church is one of the oldest in this section. It was organized December 15, 1869. Alexander Sutherland was the first minister, Robert and Mary Edgar and Mr. and Mrs. James A. Fraser were the first deacons. Prominent among the other early members were: Mr. and Mrs. John Curry, Mr. and Mrs. Hector Curry, and Mrs. John McPherson. In 1874 Rev. Mr. Sutherland left Schuyler and for about a year the charge was without a pastor. In January, 1875, Rev. J. A. Hoor arrived and has since remained. The regular members of the church now number forty. The elders of the church are: John Curry, H. C. Russell and J. F. Woods. A flourishing Sunday-school is maintained, the attendance is over 100. There are ten teachers beside the superintendent, Miles Zentmeyer. The church building was erected in 1871. In 1876 it was moved to its present location and entirely refitted. At present it is worth, with the lots, $1,200.
Methodist Episcopal Church. The Methodist Episcopal church of Schuyler was organized in 1869 by the Rev. Mr. Van Doozer. He, with a handful of faithful church men and church women, put their shoulders to the wheel and worked so successfully that a neat church edifice was erected at a cost of $2,000. The society now consists of over fifty members. It has a growing Sunday-school. Rev. W. Gorst, the pastor of the church, superintends one of the leading religious organizations of the town.
Holy Trinity Church. This parish was organized July 4, 1870. In 1869 Rev. O. C. Dake held occasional services in the village, but the society was not approved by the Bishop until 1878. The charter members were: Homer Holcomb, C. Gennet, C. S. Parker, F. H. Parker, John Gasmann, N. E. Gasmann, John B. Lord, James Campbell, Dugald H. Hunt, Charles Campbell, F. E. Froye and W. A. Marlowe.
The first parish meeting was held July 17, 1870, Rev. O. C. Dake presided. H. Holcomb was appointed Secretary; N. E. Gasmann, S. W.; F. H. Parker, J. W. Rev. O. C. Dake was the first rector, but only remained a short time. Rev. Frank Bullard then preached here as a missionary and was followed by Rev. Dr. Rippey who was located here.. After his resignation Rev. Samuel Goodale, Rev. Messrs. Shaw and Higgs, who worked together, and Rev. Matthew Henry, succeeded each other as missionaries. Rev. John McNamara then became settled as rector and was followed by Rev. John G. Gasmann, who was the last incumbent. At present the number of communicants is twenty-five.
The church building was erected in 1870 at a cost of $3,000. The money was given by Miss Coles, of New York, and the church is dedicated to the memory of her father, Edwin M. Coles, ex-governor of Illinois. In addition the church owns a valuable half block in the western part of town.
St. Paul's Church. The Catholic society has not been making much progress in Schuyler. It was organized in 1879 and the church was built in the same year at a cost of $700. Meetings are held occasionally by Father Ryan, of Columbus, and by Father O'Connor, of Fremont. The present membership of the society is about forty.
Seventh Day Adventists. Services have been held by this denomination since August, 1881. Although no regular society has been formed, the attendance has averaged twenty or thirty, and the members have rented a room for holding services. Rev. A. J. Cudney has had charge of the meetings.