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Kansas Collection Books

Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska
Produced by Myrna Rowe-Uhlig.

Part 3


In June, 1855, Adam Benners moved into the county, and settled in the St. John's timber. During the summer or fall of this year Mrs. Benners was killed by Indians, an account of which is elsewhere given. Mr. Benners' family was the first white family to settle in Dakota County.

In 1856, however, a colony of Catholics from near Dubuque, Iowa, consisting of about sixty persons, moved into what is now St. John's Precinct. This was named St. Patrick's colony and was in charge of Father Jeremiah Trecy. Father Trecy was accompanied by his father and mother, and a widowed sister, Mrs. Coyle, Daniel Duggan, George Portiss, James Callaghan, Michael McKivergan, four Ryans, John, James, Patrick and Nicholas, William Hogan, James Jones, Simon Magen, Patrick Twohig, John Trecy and Edward Jones, all but the last three having families. In a few weeks afterward Joseph Brannan, Michael McCormick, a Mr. Hayes, Charles Boyle, Cornelius O'Connor, Thomas Ashford, Michael Deloughrey and Edward McDonald moved in. These persons scattered around on claims of 320 acres each, and began to make for themselves homes.

In 1856 the town of St. John's was laid out, and a steam sawmill was built. In 1857 a Catholic church was built, a grist mill was attached to the sawmill, a log schoolhouse was erected and the first school taught by Miss Rosanna Clark. Mr. Thomas Curran kept the first store, and Joseph Brannan the first general store, The town flourished until 1858, when it had attained a population of nearly 200. By the time the people began to be convinced that the location was not favorable, and this with the hard times, caused in part by the failure of so many "wild cat" banks, resulted in the gradual depopulation of St. John's. Only one of the old settlers remains upon its former site, Edward McDonald.


JOHN BOLER, farmer, Section 23, P. O. Jackson, was born in Chicago, Ill. At the age of two years his parents removed to Stephenson County, Ill., June, 1856 they came to Nebraska, located in Dakota County ; made a claim of 120 acres. He now owns 200 acres, largely improved. He is now wintering seventy-five head of cattle, ten horses and other stock ; was road superintendent ; was appointed to fill the vacancy of County Commissioner, February, 1880, caused by the death of P. Ryan.


This town, one mile south of St. John's, and ten miles west of Dakota City, was first known as Franklin. Being at the head of Elk Creek Valley, it was very likely to be on the line of a future railroad, and settlers were gradually accumulating here. Gerald Dillon built here in 1860 the first frame house in the county, and was the first Postmaster in Franklin. As there was already a post office by this name, the name of the town was changed to Jackson. Giving up all hope of St. John's, Joseph Brannan moved his store to the new town of Jackson in 1860. A store had however been kept there a short time by Thomas Barrett. During the same year a brick house was built here by John McGinn, Michael Kennelly built a blacksmith shop, Clark & Preston built a grist-mill, a schoolhouse was built, and Gerald Dillon taught the first school. Father Dillon, who had succeeded Father Trecy at St. John's, preached the first sermon in Jackson. In 1862 John Brannan was appointed Postmaster, and has held the office ever since, a period of over nineteen years. At Jackson there are now six general stores, two hardware stores, one drug store, one boot and shoe store, three blacksmith shops, three hotels, one brick yard, three steam saw-mills near, in the St. John's timber, which belt of timber now contains about two thousand acres, one agricultural store, one frame schoolhouse, a brick church, costing $5,000, owned by the Catholics, and a population of about four hundred and fifty. It is surrounded by a rich farming country, and nearly every business man in it owns a farm. It contains 200 inhabitants, and is prospering finely. It has no lawyer and but one physician.


JOSEPH BRANNAN, general merchandise, is a native of Ireland, when a boy came to New Orleans. In 1851 came to Keokuk, Iowa, the following year he was married to Miss Margaret O'Brien; she was born in Ireland. They have four sons and two daughters. In the spring of 1852 removed to Missouri, was engaged in contracting and building roads. In 1851 came to Omaha, the following year came to Dakota County, opened a general store at St. John's, and was there appointed Postmaster, in the spring of 1865 removed to Jackson, where he has since carried on a general store; was soon after appointed Postmaster here, which office he still holds, and is now the oldest Postmaster in the State.

D. GARVEY, firm of D. Garvey & Co., hardware, is a native of Canada. In 1869 came to Plymouth County, Iowa, engaged in farming. In 1876 came to Jackson, opened an agricultural implements store; August, 1881, added to this business a general stock of hardware, stoves, etc.

C. D. RYAN, general merchandise and agricultural implements, was born in Rensselaer County, N. Y., in the spring of 1857, came with his parents to Dakota County, assisted on their farm, also taught school one year. In the fall of 1873 this business was established the firm of D. Ryan & Son, they continued until 1875, when his father retired from the business. Mr. Ryan carries a large and well selected, stock, occupying two stores, doing a business of about $40,000 a year--the largest in the county.


This flourishing town is situated on the west bank of Omaha Creek in the southeastern part of the county, nine miles southwest of Dakota City. It is surrounded by a very fertile farming country, and is very near the junction of three rich valleys, viz.: The Fiddlers', and Wigle Valley and that of the Omaha Creek. The town was started in 1872 by John and Joseph Smith, two brothers who had lived in the vicinity since 1856. Mr. M. S. Mansfield arrived there in 1872, and built the first store. There are now two stores, a blacksmith shop, carpenter shop, post office and schoolhouse, and the village contains about ninety inhabitants. A school was kept here in 1872, and there have also been religious services held here since that time, principally by Methodist ministers. A Presbyterian Society was organized in 1880, the schoolhouse being used instead of a church.


Hubbard is located on the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha railroad, fourteen miles from Covington. It was named in the honor of Judge A. W. Hubbard, first president of the Covington, Columbus & Black Hills Railroad. The town site was bought and surveyed in 1880, by the C. St. M. & O. R. R., who built the station before any other building was erected. At Hubbard there are now in addition to this depot, a store, post office, blacksmith shop, stock yards, and schoolhouse. John F. Myers was the first storekeeper and Postmaster. Hubbard is situated in Pigeon Creek Valley, the soil of which is very rich. The country in the vicinity of Hubbard is thickly settled with an industrious and thrifty class of farmers who thoroughly appreciate their advantages. The village itself contains about thirty inhabitants.


HARLON BAIRD, farmer, Section 34, P. O. Homer; is a native of Bourbon County, Ky. In 1836 came to Indianapolis, Ind.; engaged in live stock and lumbering about six years. In 1852 came to Butler County, Iowa, engaged in buying and selling lands, also farming. November, 1855, came to Dakota County; settled on this farm. He is one of the first settlers of the county. He owns about 400 acres, all under fence. His cattle yards are probably not excelled by any in the State, being protected on all sides by mounds, with a sufficient supply of shade trees, there is also a stream of water constantly flowing through these yards. In 1861 he was commissioned Captain Company D, Fifth Iowa Cavalry. In 1862 was promoted to Major, and again promoted in 1863 to Lieutenant Colonel. Was mustered out June 26, 1865. Was a member of the State Senate in 1868.

CHARLES C. BLIVEN, farmer, Section 7, P. O. Dakota City; was born October, 1811, in Washington County, R. I. At about the age of ten years he came with his parents to Allegany County, N. Y. There he learned the carpenter trade. In about 1832 came to Tioga County, Pa.; followed the carpenter trade. In 1842 came to Rock County, Wis.; also worked at his trade. In 1850 removed to Fayette County, Iowa. Also worked at his trade in Davenport; built the first frame building there. In 1853, came to Minnesota; in the fall of 1855 returned to Davenport. In 1856 came to Dakota County; worked at his trade till 1862, when he removed to Henry County, Ill; in 1866 to Washington County, Ill. Returned to Dakota County in 1870, where he has since resided. Owns eighty acres of land which he has improved.

SAMUEL A. COMBS, proprietor Frontier Mills, P. O. Homer; was born in Michigan; raised in Ontario County, N. Y. There commenced to learn the milling business. Has worked at the trade the past twenty-one years. In 1866 came to Lenawee County, Mich. In 1868 came to Dakota County, where he has since resided. He bought this mill in 1871, which he has since operated. In 1870 he was Postmaster at Lodi. Justice of the Peace in 1871.

J. W. DAVIS, farmer, Section 23, P. O. Homer; is a native of Piscataquis County, Me. At the age of twenty, came to Grant County, Wis.; engaged in farming and hotel. In 1850, at the age of twenty-four, went over-land to California. In 1860, went to Pike's Peak. Came to Dakota County in 1861; located on this farm; owns 140 acres of land, which he has improved with a good house and barn equal to any in the county. Was a member of the Territorial Legislature in 1862 and 1863; has also been a County Commissioner. He enlisted in the Mexican War; served about nine months, to the end.

ANTHONY J. MEYERS, farmer, Section 28, P. O. Hubbard; was born in Lycoming County, Pa. In 1855 came to Dubuque, Iowa; followed plastering and bricklaying during the summer, and on the police force winter, for two years. In 1858 he came to Dakota County, where he has since resided. He owns 340 acres of land, all under fence except some timber land. He has about sixty head of cattle and horses; requires two teams to work this farm. Married in 1852, to Catharine McGinley, of Lancaster County, Pa. They have five sons and five daughters.

CAPT. C. O'CONNOR, farmer, Section 18, P. O. Homer; is a native of Ireland, born in 1821. Came to Boston, Mass., in 1829, with his parents; there he was raised, and learned the carpenter trade. In 1852 removed to New York City; followed his trade until 1857, when he came to Dakota County, where he has since resided. Owns 1,300 acres of land; about 240 acres in cultivation. Is wintering about 200 head of cattle, 100 hogs, twenty horses, etc. He represented this county three terms in the Territorial Legislature. Was a member of the Constitutional Convention in 1867. He, with the assistance of Rev. J. F. Tracy, established the first school in this county, in the summer of 1852, taught by Miss Rose Clark, of Hartford, Conn. In 1857 a company was formed, of which he was elected Captain, and commissioned by Gov. Richardson, of Nebraska (which commission he still holds), to suppress trouble with the Indians. During the war, he, with the assistance of Col. B. Bates, of this county, raised a company of cavalry (Company I, Second Nebraska), which rendered good service against the Indians in Northern Dakota under Gen. Sully.

HENRY REAM, farmer, Section 11, P. O. Homer. Is a native of Somerset County, Pa. In 1853 came to Agency City, Wapello Co., Iowa; there taught school. May, 1855, removed to Woodbury County, Iowa. May, 1856, came to Dakota County, Neb., entered 160 acres of land; he now owns 360 acres, largely improved. He is one of the oldest settlers in this locality. He is now wintering about 100 head of cattle, 100 hogs, and employs two teams on his farm. Has held the office of Sheriff two years. He is now serving his ninth year as County Commissioner.

WILLIAM TAYLOR, farmer, Section 34, P. O. Dakota City. Is a native of Cedar County, Iowa. At about the age of seventeen he removed to Kansas, where he remained about five years, then returned to Benton County, Iowa. In 1865 came to Dakota County, where he has since resided. He owns 680 acres of land, about 400 under cultivation. Is largely engaged in live stock; he is wintering 151 head of cattle and about 130 hogs; four teams are used in working this farm. He has one of the finest orchards in the county. Has been three years County Commissioner.

COL. J. F. WARNER, lawyer by profession, engaged in farming and fruit growing, P. O. Homer. Is a native of Wayne County, Ohio. At the age of sixteen came with his parents to Iowa. Studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1856. The following year came to Nebraska, locating in Dakota City. When the Rebellion broke out, went to his old home in Iowa, raised a company, entered the Seventh Infantry as Lieutenant; served over three years in that regiment; was promoted to rank of Captain; resigned on account of injuries received; returned to Iowa; was chosen colonel of one of the border state regiments. When the war was over, returned to Nebraska, and soon thereafter located on the farm on which he now resides. Land improved, with 1,000 apple trees, 100 cherry trees and 2,000 grape vines and other fruit. Was a member of the Electoral college in 1868, and as delegate elector cast the maiden vote of the State for Grant and Colfax. Was the candidate of the Liberal Republicans and Democrats for Congress in 1872. Represented his county in the State Legislature in 1879-80.


Covington is situated on the Missouri River, five miles north of Dakota City, and directly opposite Sioux City, Iowa. It was first taken as a town site by the old Sioux City Company, of which J. K. Cook was President. It was laid out and called Harney City, after Gen. Harney, who at the time was in charge of the troops in the vicinity. In 1856 the town site was jumped by a company composed of Gustave Pecant, Thomas L. Griffey, J. Ludwig, William Rapp, --- Culver, --- Betts, --- White and --- Copelan, and called Newport, but before electing town officers, the name was changed to Covington.

After organization, the lots were deeded to the members of the company by Thomas L. Griffey, as Chairman of the Board of Trustees.

The first settler in this vicinity was Gustave Pecant, in 1856; who with John Feenan, James Farrell, John Stranney, D. Caughlin and James McKinney, were among the first settlers in the town of Covington; and the first settlers in the immediate vicinity were James Stott, Dr. Pinkerton, J. Fitzpatrick, William Farrell, Eugene L. Wilbur, R. R. Kirkpatrick, and C. D. Martin, all in 1856.

C. D. Martin, on the 11th of September of this year, moved into his log cabin, adjacent to the town, which in 1881, is still standing. In the ensuing winter, he ran a hand shingle factory, employing four men, making cottonwood shingles, which sold for $7 per 1,000, and in the fall of 1858, R. R. Kirkpatrick built a steam mill for the exclusive grinding of corn meal.

The first school taught in Covington was by Miss Mary Pinkerton, sister of Dr. Pinkerton, and the first preaching was by Rev. Thomas M. Chestnut, a Presbyterian clergyman, of Sioux City, each alternate Sunday. The Methodists built the first church edifice here in 1871.

Covington is the northern terminus of the Omaha division of the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railroad, and also of the Ponca, and of the Norfolk branch of the same road. It contains one grocery store, one blacksmith shop, one drug store, one school building, two hotels, two physicians, and four church organizations, all of which use the only church building in the town, which belongs to the Methodists. The village contains about one hundred and seventy-five inhabitants.

The first child born in Covington was John Quinn, in 1857.

The first marriage was that of John Feenan to Miss Margaret Boyle, in the same year, and the first death was that of an old man, found dead near the river.

Elk Valley is located between the two branches of the railroad, about five miles west of Hubbard, and eight miles north of Emerson. There is here only a post office, J. M. Winter being Postmaster.


T. CARRABINE, dealer in cattle. P. O. Elk Valley. Is a native of Canada. In 1868, came to Dakota County. Soon after opened a general store at Covington, which he continued about three years. He has since been engaged in buying and raising live stock, and is now one of the heaviest stock dealers in the county. He owns 520 acres of land, about 200 acres in cultivation.


Emerson is a railroad town, situated near the southwest corner of the county proper, but just within the limits of the Winnebago Reservation, in Middle Creek Valley. The station was established in 1881, and is at the junction of the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railroad, and its Norfolk branch. The village contains a post office, two stores, a hotel, and a schoolhouse, in which religious services are held bi-weekly.

Summit precinct was organized as a voting precinct in 1878. It is so called because the waters are divided by the high land within its limits, and flow in either direction, north and south. A Catholic Church was built there in 1878, as an auxiliary to the church in St. John's precinct, and is ministered unto by the same pastor. There are three schools within its boundaries, and its people are remarkably thrifty farmers. They are also remarkable for their intelligence and political faith, priding themselves upon uniformly polling a vote solid for the Democratic candidates, in both local and general elections. There is a flag station on the railroad within the precinct, but no post office.

Emmett.--Situated in the northern part of the county, was post office until 1873, when it was discontinued.

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