The Mormon Advent | Renewal of Attempts at Settlement|
First Postal Arrangements | Settlers in 1854 | Tradition of the Name|
Omaha Surveyed | Pioneer Events
Political Organization | Selection of Omaha as Capital|
An Executive Ball | The First Murder Trial
Religious Awakening | Progress in 1856 | Pioneer Justice|
Attempt to Remove the Capital | The Panic of 1857
Claims Troubles | Official Roster | County Buildings|
Douglas County Agricultural Society | The Old Settlers' Association
List of Illustrations in Douglas County Chapter
During the year (1855) the Rev. Mr. Koulmer preached at stated periods in Omaha; also the Revs. Isaac F. Collins, William Leach, Moses F. Shinn and Reuben Gaylord.
The latter was one of the foremost and most influential of the holy men who came into the wilderness and assisted in shaping the religious destiny, not alone of Omaha, but of Nebraska and the West. He was born in the State of Connecticut, where a mother's instruction and prayers directed his opening powers and led to an early consecration to God. Upon his graduation, he passed twenty years in Iowa, laying the foundations of his church in that State, whence he came to Omaha on a prospecting tour. At that time there was no church organization of his denomination, nor house of worship of any other religious association. He immediately entered upon his duties as a minister, and preached in the old Capitol building on Ninth street. On the first Sabbath in May, 1856, he organized a Congregational Church with nine members, holding services in the dining-room of the Douglas House. He soon inaugurated measures for the erection of a church edifice, which was completed and dedicated in 1857, and after a service in the pastures of the Lord for nearly a third of a century, he passed away. He died in 1880, respected as a minister of the gospel for his talents and Christian virtues, not more than for his work as a man in public and private life.
"It is quite possible," writes Dr. Miller in his valuable contributions, " that the story may have been told before, but it will bear repetition if it is made short, which illustrates the sincerity and devotion of Reuben Gaylord, who tried so hard and against great odds and discouragements to plant the influences of God's gospel in this then very worldly place. Indifference to it even in the membership of the church was the worst thing he had to contend with. As the writer was walking near the little church erected through Mr. Gaylord's efforts, one day, he heard a voice within. As he neared the church he recognized it as that of the minister. Softly stepping to the door, which was ajar, he saw Mr. Gaylord, solitary and alone, on his knees in prayer, earnestly invoking the Deity to interpose that a new interest and zeal might be awakened in the Christian cause in this new land. This was in the autumn of 1856, and the scene was one that was calculated to move the hearts of men. If ever man went from earnest and sincere Christian labors for the good of men on earth to receive the rewards of a true soldier of the Cross in heaven, that man was Reuben Gaylord. To pay an occasional tribute to his memory, and to throw now and then a grateful garland upon his grave, is one of the melancholy pleasures that remain to his friends who survive him."
Foremost also among those who came in the same cause during 1855, was the Rev. W. Emmonds, of Council Bluffs, who enjoys the distinction of having been the first Catholic clergyman in the Territory of Nebraska. He came for the purpose of attending to the wants of the Catholics in Omaha, but finding no accommodations for the performance of his sacred duties, he was compelled to return to Council Bluffs, whither at intervals devout Catholics on this side were forced to repair to attend mass and approach the sacraments. During the latter part of the year, it is claimed, that mass was said in the Representative chamber of the old Capitol, while others insist that the services were held at the residence of the Hon. T. B. Cuming, corner of Dodge and Eighteenth streets. Be this as it may, no church was determined upon until June, 1856, when Thomas O'Connor, James Ferry and Vincent Burkley were appointed a committee to solicit subscriptions.
Throughout the county, candor compels the acknowledgement, that less gratifying progress was to be observed. Florence was ceasing to be a rival of Omaha; the residents of that vicinage, prompted by the inexorable logic of events, were beginning to drift in the direction of the latter city, with their tackle, apparel and furniture. The valley country that has since been realized as the garden spot of the county was totally uninhabited. The country contiguous to the Elkhorn was but sparsely settled, and the vicinity of the present village of Millard, was occupied by the Stevens brothers--George F. and Cyrus.
The year 1856 has been considered as the most prosperous and profitable that shed rays of gladness upon Omaha from the date of the settlement of the county until the years succeeding the war. But it was followed by a period of inactivity, financial pressure and embarrassment. Outside of the villages of Florence and Omaha, the settlements were few and new arrivals were not very frequent, even in the villages. But in the spring of 1856 large immigrations to the Territory began, many of those coming locating at Omaha. As a consequence, the place made rapid advances and began to assume the importance, if it lacked the influence, of a city. Situated, as it then was, on the banks of the great highway of the West, the progress making was only in harmony with the spirit of the age supplemented by rare combinations, some of which have been already cited. The early portion of the season was passed amid bustle and excitement, and summer came and went without any apparent falling off in the tide of immigration or success in business. Another gratifying feature was the class of settlers who came in. They were not, as a rule, composed of the dross of life, but of pure gold--made up of farmers, mechanics, professional men, with a slight sprinkling of adventurers or soldiers of fortune, who came to conquer an adversity that may have been pitiless, without special reference to the means employed in the attainment of their ends. The laws began to be rigidly enforced; instead of non scripta they became in esse, with all that the term implies.
As with accessions to the population, so with improvements, particularly in the city. This year, another town company was organized under the title of "The Omaha Land Company," including upon its roll of membership representatives from the "Ferry Company," together with others. This company secured lands lying contiguous to Omaha, which were laid out as an addition to the city, the survey being known as "Scriptown." Here, too, some informal improvements were projected.
In the early part of the year the first of the number of blocks which to-day line Farnam street, was put up on that thoroughfare. Dr. C. A. Henry, H. H. Visscher, Aaron Root and Gen. J. M. Thayer were the enterprising citizens who put the plan of the "Pioneer Block" into execution, which, upon its completion, was considered the most imposing and architecturally perfect edifice north of St. Louis. It was located on Farnam street, between Eleventh and Twelfth, and was of brick, three stories high. The building was substantially completed during the year in which it was commenced; cost $25,000, and was the scene of much of the history inseparable from the growth of a metropolis from infancy to maturity. Here were political meetings convened; here the third session of the Territorial Legislature assembled; here orators launched rhetorical thunderbolts into the midst of delighted audiences, and eloquent divines propounded theological conundrums, directed to the conversion and redemption of the lost of Israel. "Words, words, words."
The same year, Robert Shields, who, by the way, first came to Omaha in 1856, erected a two-story brick on Farnam street, between Thirteen and Fourteenth, at a cost of $7,500.
The committee appointed by the Catholics to raise subscriptions for church, procured two lots, donated by the Council Bluffs & Nebraska Ferry Co., and ground was broken for the building of the edifice. The first brick was laid July 4, 1856, and in December following the little building was opened for divine service, the first in the city of Omaha. Mass was said by the Rev. F. Scanlan, of St. Joe, Mo., and faith lost sight of earth in the sanctity of this rude frontier temple devoted to the worship of the living God.
It was here that the United States Court held occasional sessions during 1856, and Fenner Ferguson, the Justice presiding, was wont to appear on the bench with a clay pipe between his teeth. Gen. Estabrook still lives who is familiar with this fact.
Vincent Burkley came to Omaha in 1856, and opened the first clothing store in the city. The same year he put up a brick building at No. 1008 Farnam street, which maintained its equilibrium for a number of years, but finally fell of its own weight, burying an actress engaged at Corey's Theatre in the ruins, from which she was rescued without having sustained injuries.
The small brick still standing at the corner of Harney and Fourteenth streets, and now occupied as a blacksmith shop, was built in 1856; also two small bricks on Farnam street, west of the northwest corner of Thirteenth. They were erected by Robert Shields and D. D. Carr, and one is now occupied by the State Bank of Nebraska; also a small one-story brick, sixteen by twenty-four feet, on the southeast corner of Farnam and Twelfth streets, by Hon. A. J. Hanscom, as a law office. It stood until 1866, when it was torn away to make room for King's Block.
Harney street was the leading thoroughfare, the commercial highway and fashionable promenade. It was tolerably closely built up as far west as Fourteenth street with frame buildings--there being no brick structures on the street--and the most populous of any of the city avenues, though houses were scattered about the city site as far north as Cuming street. Residences occupied Harney, Douglas and Farnam streets, but with the exception of Gov. Cuming's residence--still standing at the corner of Eighteenth and Dodge streets--the terraces to the west of the center of city, now so universally appropriated to the sites of mansions, were noted for their absence.
Another important venture of 1856, was the building of the Hamilton House on the south side of Douglas street, between Fifteenth and Sixteenth, and named after Charles W. Hamilton, the banker. The old Douglas House, being incapable of meeting the wants of the throng of enterprising adventurers who flocked to Omaha in the spring of that year, it was deemed expedient to increase the hotel capacities of the town, and build a caravansary that should be an honor to the small but growing city.
The house was leased before it was commenced, to O. C. Burnham and A. M. Judson, a couple of friends of the proprietors; and a lot which C. B. Smith, one of the builders, had purchased for $150 was bought back for $400 as the site. In the month of August, Judson boarded the steamer "Omaha" for St. Louis, where he purchased the necessary outfit, hired the necessary help, consisting of three single and one married man of color, and returned on the same boat. Before the ensuing spring this help was increased by the employment of the first negro born in Omaha; and before the house was ready the boarders began to rush in, notwithstanding the remonstrances of the proprietors. On one occasion, during the winter, the house took fire, and the flames having apparently got the best of the building, the boarders, under the leadership of Clapper Curran and A. S. Morgan, fought the elements and saved the premises. In spite of the fact that the house was deluged with water, a large portion of the furniture ruined and much remaining in the original cases, the proprietors, to the surprise of all, called breakfast on time the next morning. Soon after, a grand ball dedicated the new hotel, and the Hamilton House, destined to play an important part in the early history of Omaha, became a fixed fact.
In the summer of 1856, the settlers illustrated their appreciation of the legal aphorism, "Fiat justitia ruat coelum," in a manner that impressed witnesses and the public forcibly, if not complacently. At the time mentioned, horse stealing had become epidemic, and it began to dawn upon the people that something must be done to put a stop to these frequent trespasses upon the rights of owners. While these reflections were permeating the body politic, two horses were stolen from residents in the vicinity of Omaha and sold to the Pawnee Indians. The high-mettled racers eluded the vigilance of their putative owners one night and strayed back home in search of the fatted calf, when they were retaken and stabled. Soon after, the Pawnees visited the city in search of their purchases and, being found, demanded they be returned. This caused an investigation of title, during which it was elicited that they had bought the animals from two men, and were told to hold as prisoners any white men offering in the future to sell them horses. Shortly afterward, the same men made their appearance among the Indians and tendered them horses in exchange for shekels. Admonished by the advice given them, they arrested the assumed owners, and escorting them to the city delivered them up to the authorities. There was no jail in the city at that time, and after canvassing the matter, it was decided to shave the heads of the thieves, tie them up and administer thirty-nine lashes on the bare back of each.
Accordingly, Bill Lee, a negro barber, the first in the city, shaved the right side of one of the thieves' heads and the left side of the head of the other, after which they were escorted to the liberty pole, which had been raised in the vacant block bordered by Harney, Farnam, Twelfth and Thirteenth streets and tied up, preparatory to punishment. This, however, no one seemed willing to undertake. One of the Indians began the execution of the contract, but the severity of his blows existed a persuasive influence and he was retired. Finally it was decided that the owners of the stolen horses were the proper parties to inflict the castigation, which decision was concurred in by the parties selected, who discharged the trust with a fidelity that evoked commendation.
The affair was almost generally regretted by citizens, but it was regarded as an unavoidable necessity, and its disagreeable features were endured in the hope that they might work a radical reform and persuade obtuse citizens to a clearer apprehension of the distinction between meum and tuum.
The wretches when released disappeared from Omaha, and were never again identified with criminal acts in this portion of the State, as far as can be learned.
The 4th of July was celebrated this year in the city but informally. There was no order of exercises, no orations, no dinner and but a limited number of celebrants, who evidenced their patriotism by becoming hopelessly inebriated. The most attractive exhibition witnessed was W. P. Snowden attired in the regimentals he had worn through the Mexican war, in which he paraded the streets to the delight of youth and edification of maturer years.
This year business was "booming," to use a Westernism, and what was true of Omaha was true of all portions of the country. Riches seemed to be within the grasp of all who sought their possession. Real estate commanded ready sale at exorbitant prices, and speculation was attended with results that inspired unlimited confidence; corner lots became bonanzas, while patches of ground "far from the madding crowd" were esteemed mines of merchantable wealth. Sales of lands throughout the county were, in consequence large--though no title was conveyed, ownership of the same being guaranteed by claim clubs; nor was title to any purchases made perfected prior to March, 1857, when the Land Office of the Government was prepared to act in that behalf. The outlook as it appeared to citizens and strangers was far from discouraging, and delight at this condition of affairs found frequent expression among men, who are supposed to reason from correct premises, rather than from men who indulge in enthusiastic vaporings. But the fair prospects gave place to dark and gloomy days experienced throughout the country in the panic that occurred during the succeeding year. The bright dreams of wealth gave way to actual want. Over-trading, excessive bank issues and the rage for speculation in Western lands, had brought about their usual results for a season at least; recovery from their effects seemed almost impossible.
Facilities in all the departments of trade had measurably improved at this period, commercially and otherwise. Steamers between Omaha and St. Louis arrived and departed semi-weekly; communication as had with the interior by the primitive and comfortless stage-coach; postal advantages were superior to the times when Postmaster Jones carried the mail in his hat and distributed letters and papers on demand. Two newspapers were in successful operation, and arrangements for railroad building in the near future were in process of completion.
In contradistinction to this delightful picture, it must be admitted that certain types of vice still manifested as ascendency, notably those of drinking and gambling, not to mention others equally repulsive and damaging. During the winter, Jesse Wynn, a brickmason, was shot and killed, near the old California crossing on the Elkhorn River, by a man from Council Bluffs, the result of a quarrel over a claim. The murderer was arrested in Council Bluffs, but extenuating circumstances appeared in a measure to justify the deed, and he was discharged.
Some settlements were made in the county in 1856, namely, that of Dr. Link, near the present village of Millard; the McArdle's, at Elkhorn City, on the old military road, seven miles west of Omaha; and a Mr. Springer, at the ferry; Dr. Fifield, near Elkhorn, and others. But the population outside of the town did not increase greatly, and many who came in the Territory this year returned home or journeyed to Pike's Peak, when the primary effects of the panic of 1857 began to be felt. The winter was the most rigorous and severe ever experienced in Omaha previous to that of 1880-81. Among the sufferers in the early part of the season was a party consisting of O. F. Davis, George McFall, R. M. Brandenburg, Erastus and Jedediah Smith. The first four started out on November 28 for the valley country to take up claims, and had employed the last named to accompany them with his wagon and horses. They reached Elkhorn City the same evening, and stopped at the farm house of Sylvanus Dodge, pursuing their journey the next morning. On the succeeding night their camp was pitched near the "cut-off," a deep and swift-running channel connecting the Platte and Elkhorn Rivers, where they remained over Sunday. The following day it began to snow violently and, growing colder, the sufferings of the party commenced. As the day closed and the night approached, the violence of the storm, as also intensity of the cold, increased in a wonderful degree. The camp was unprovided with comforts or conveniences, and the inmates nearly perished. When the storm subsided, they harnessed up the team and endeavored to return to Dodge's, and during the day made but four miles through the drifts, Brandenburg, Smith and Miles having their feet frozen. On December 4 the party reached a cabin, having abandoned their wagon, north of Elkhorn City, where they were hospitably welcomed, and remained over night. The ensuing day their wagon was recovered, and, while descending the Elkhorn, the ice parted and let the horses into that stream, whence they were rescued with the utmost difficulty, and reached Dodge's on December 5, and Omaha the next evening about 9 o'clock, utterly exhausted, but happy at an escape from death by slow torture, that in view of the hardships with which they were surrounded was somewhat marvelous.
Among the prominent arrivals during 1856 were: Charles Childs, Charles B. Birkett, Henry A. Koster, Thomas Swift, M. Robling, John A. Harbach, Henry Livsey, George Smith, T. H. Latey, J. S. Gibson, Dominus Sherrer, Julius Rudowsky, Dr. J. P. Peck, Dr. J. K. Ish, J. M. Woolworth, J. E. Boyd, Vincent Burkley, A. J. Critchfield, G. W. Homan, Henry Homan, Mr. and Mrs. William Preston, John A. Marsh, W. W. Marsh, M. T. Patrick, A. S. Patrick, Joseph Fox, Dr. G. C. Monell, Lucinda Monell, Robert T. Jenkinson, Henry Pundt, S. A. Barkalow, Mr. and Mrs. George McCoy, Charles McCoy, E. F. Cook, Frederick Kumph, John H. Kellon and others.
At the session of the Legislature in the winter of 1856, a second attempt was made to remove the capital from Omaha to a point known to speculators as Douglas City. The schemers had caused the survey and platting of the town, and were reinforced with scrip and bullion to settle the doubts of members who might otherwise be indifferent to the result sought to be attained. A member from Dakota, named Jones, had been liberally dealt with, but in place of responding to the application of procurers, he unbosomed himself of the facts to Hanscom, by whom he was persuaded to enlighten the Legislature as to the facts and details of the situation. The developments occasioned intense excitement, which was aggravated by the election of Isaac L. Gibbs, who sided with those in favor of removing the capital and endeavored to ride rough-shod over the minority. In this particular, however, he failed, and the fight for supremacy thus begun was carried forward with a boldness that was only equaled by its ultimate failure. Every possible expedient known to parliamentary practice was employed to postpone final action by the majority, and to Jonas Seeley and A. J. Hanscom was due the success that in the end lighted upon the banners of the opposition. About the middle of the session votes enough were secured, but exactly how is not of record, though it is said that one councilman and one representative that Nemaha, as also one councilman from Pawnee County, could explain if called upon--for the defeat of the bill, or rather is passage over the Governor's veto, and the subject was abandoned for the time being.
The spring of 1857 dawned upon the city and county glorious in a realization of what the experiences of the previous year had influenced the inhabitant to predict. The prices of real estate remained in the ascendant and holders looked forward to an early period when they should revel in profits that would be unlimited. Building was carried forward with energy and, it might be added, with dispatch. The capitol, which stood on the present site of the high school building, was approaching completion, and the Herndon House, since remodeled and rebuilt by the Union Pacific Railway Company, was in progress of construction to be finished that year at a cost of $70,000. Improvements throughout the county were not only generous but general--so general that it came to be remarked that so much building had not been witnessed since the city was surveyed. These incidents were to be observed, it is said, through the spring and until the perfect days of June came to touch all nature with their loveliness that ran wild in the sunshine. But this was the culmination of the "gala-days" of Omaha, the county, the territory, the nation. As the summer advanced and a falling off in the demand for lots and improvements was witnessed, no attention, at least little attention, was paid to the phenomena. The citizens still clung to their faith in the destiny of this section, and no one was able to decipher apprehension in their words or acts. Cowards they may have been, with hearts "as false as stairs of sand," they yet wore "upon their chins the beard of Hercules and frowning Mars." No self-constituted Cassandra was there to predict disaster, and none was anticipated in spite of the threatenings of the storm which impended. Suspensions, if such were made, or the closing out of business by a merchant who thought he foresaw the sequel to existing prosperity, failed to cause special alarm, though it may have been that some in view thereof quietly realized their capital and left the city.
But the end came at last and those who were unprepared, like the maidens without oil in their lamps, were thrust into outer darkness, metaphorically speaking. To some it came thus unexpectedly, disastrously; but the condition of affairs was not new to the country. Revulsions as sudden and shocks as severe had been experienced, from the days of the Revolution and failure to redeem the continental scrip issued to pay the expenses of the war, to the revulsion occasioned by commercial derangements succeeding the war of 1812, to the panic of 1837, remotely caused as some insist by the distribution of the National Bank deposits among certain State banks; which to avoid financial pressure were authorized to discount largely on the strength of their deposits, making money plenty and credit unlimited. As a result, the country became full of "promises to pay" while the tangible security was appropriated to the payment of duties on imports; when the storm came the whirlwind received the lion's share, and penury usurped the peace of superficial prosperity. Then followed the memorable panic of twenty years later. On the basis of receipts from California and abroad, banks issued paper to an unparalleled extent. Speculation made its appearance in the form of railroads with their stocks, bonds and mortgages, requiring the use of immense capital. These stocks were gambled in, and an unfortunate move entailed bankruptcy upon the operator. The banks became alarmed and refused to discount for customers, and the latter were unable to meet their liabilities, and as the credit system extended through a long line of debtors and creditors, the bill holder finally was "downed" and rushed to the banks for specie on their notes. The banks were unable to pay, confidence was destroyed, and the crash rendered complete.
To be sure, Nebraska, while it did not feel the full force of the calamity--for being upon the border the intense shock which prostrated the center produced only unpleasant vibrations at so great a distance--nevertheless was sufficiently affected to "stunt" her development and the growth of her cities.
Immediately after the Trust Company suspended at the East one continuous train of disaster followed in its wake, ran the gamut of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and halted only when it reached the confines of civilization on the other side of the Missouri. The "wild cat" concerns which had been grafted upon the confidence of the West, were the first to suspend, and these were followed by others of a previously substantial character. In Omaha, the Western Exchange, Fire and Marine Insurance Bank closed its doors September 23, 1857, carrying with unsparing hand dismay and ruin into the community. Thomas H. Benton, Jr., President of the bank, issued an address to the public, setting forth that by reason of the losses incurred in the East it became obvious that it was impossible for the institution to longer continue the payment of its liabilities. Under these circumstances it was deemed expedient for the interests of all concerned to make an assignment of the assets of the institution for the benefit of its creditors. Enos Lowe, John A. Parker, Sr., and Albert C. Wyman were appointed trustees, and the promise was made to close up the business at the earliest period in the most equitable manner possible. The assets as set forth in the schedule amounted to $288,083.75, most of which consisted of "bills receivable" and "notes discounted." These purported to be "stock certificates' to the amount of $80,000; also $191.03 in specie and $121 in the bills of insolvent banks.
The Western Exchange was the first bank in Nebraska chartered by the Legislature and from its organization it was bolstered up by the Government deposits under the control of the Governor. It was in operation about two years.
The next bank to suspend operations was the Fontenelle Bank which came into existence a year previous, its charter with four others having been signed by Gov. Izard, and its owners being Greene, Weare & Benton. The next bank to suspend was the Bank for Nebraska, Samuel Moffat, cashier, and the effects produced by this repetition were almost paralyzing. These repeated levys upon public confidence occasioned results both natural and irresistible, the utter destruction of faith in the responsibility of all moneyed institutions, further confirmed by the decadence and ultimate fall of the Bank of Florence. Stagnation in business followed, the prices of lots and lands depreciated; property did not change hands readily, and real estate operations generally came to a stand-still. The stringency in the money market became more pronounced, values were estimated by necessity and not in connection with the medium of exchange. In the face of these apparent conclusions, however, it was claimed that not a single improvement had been stopped by the pressure of the times and there was no perceptible diminution of the trade of merchants. But these claims are scarcely borne out by the statements of men who were on the ground and thoroughly familiar with the facts. They say that while no failures occurred among the commercial interests of Omaha, there were many who retired from business and went elsewhere; but this, while it was calculated to express a want of confidence, was compensated for in a measure by the arrivals of produce which from March to November aggregated 13,050 tones.
To add to the calamity the city of Omaha during the summer issued $50,000 in scrip for the purpose of completing the capitol, and $50,000 additional when that amount was exhausted. During its issue this scrip passed current at par and until the building was enclosed and a few rooms made ready for occupancy. After that the medium of exchange thus improvised deprecated until the discount was greater than the sum for which it would pass. Some portions of it was employed in the payment of taxes, but the largest share was never redeemed, and became a total loss.
Among other effects above suggested of this financial panic was that of reducing the number of inhabitants both in cities and country. Men who were able to escape returned whence they came, and the discovery of gold at a point where Denver has since grown into a populous city, attracted the remainder who were not hampered by obligations they were unable to throw off. These discoveries gave a stimulus to trade of a temporary character in Omaha and a substantial benefit was derived by the city until they ceased to be regarded as paying investments, but it was not until during the sixties that any visible improvements in this calamitous state of affairs was witnessed, and the lines of life of residents in this portion of the West were once more cast in pleasant places.
During this period of immigration to Colorado William N. Byers, who surveyed the low ground under the bluffs from Jackson to Pierre streets south, from Seventh street west to Reed's addition and down on the sands in the northeastern part of the city, having procured a printing office, wagon, and teams, left Omaha for Denver, in which latter city he established the Rocky Mountain News, which has since become the leading newspaper in Colorado.
The arrivals this year were in part made up of George I. Gilbert, I. T. Croft, Emma N. McKenzie, Alice J. Aumack, C. F. Alexander, J. A. Alexander, A. S. Alexander, Samuel Durnell, Charles Reddick, Peter Windham, E. Wakely, J. J. McLane, W. R. Bowen, P. W. Hitchcock, John H. Logan, Mrs. J. P. McPherson, H. D. Shull, C. R. Light, Fred B. Lowe, Henry Grebe, W. H. Keene, E. L. Patrick, Mr. and Mrs. Peter Hugus, Frank Klefner, George C. Mericle, Jesse Root, J. M. Winship, Julia Winship, Sarah J. Dunham, Elizabeth Mount, Mrs. Elizabeth Cook, Mr. and Mrs. Levi Kennard, Josiah S. McCormick, and some few others.
In February, 1857, Omaha, with a population variously estimated at from fifteen to eighteen hundred, began to assume in a more defiant manner the airs of a city, and determined to possess herself of rights incident to municipal corporations. This was before the dawn of dark days, before the weight of woes and pains, metaphorically speaking, had touched with the hand of death the prosperity of the place and left its impress upon the surroundings. Application was accordingly made February 3 to the Legislature then in session for a charter of incorporation, which was granted, the question of removing the capital having been first disposed of, and an election for city officers ordered to be holden on the first Monday in March of that year. Preparations were accordingly concluded and the election held resulting in the election of Jesse Lowe for Mayor; L. R. Tuttle, Recorder, J. A. Miller, Marshal, Charles Grant, City Solicitor; Lyman Richardson, Assessor; A. S. Morgan, Engineer; A. Chappel, Health Officer; A. D. Jones, T. G. Goodwill, G. C. Bovey, H. H. Visscher, Thomas Davis, William N. Byers, William W. Wyman, Thomas O'Connor, C. H. Downs, J. H. Kellam and James Creighton, Members of the Board of Aldermen. An organization was perfected March 5, and an ordinance adopted for the prevention of swine running at large, the first to be placed on the calendar of city ordinances. In May following this the city was divided into three wards, the first of which comprehended all of the city lying south of Farnam street; the second that part of the city bounded by the north side of Farnam street and south side of Capitol avenue, while the city north of Capitol avenue was included in the Third Ward.
During the winter of 1857-58 a third attempt was made to remove the capital from Omaha, full particulars of which appear in another portion of this work, and are only referred to incidentally here as a part of the history of Douglas County, which is in fact up to this date, at least, limited to a history of the city of Omaha. In this city the county was founded, its success directed and its calling and election as one of the banner counties of the Territory and the State made sure. In the contest to check the growth of Omaha by removing the capital a third time, the same master spirits who had twice before prevented so direful a consummation came once more to the front and defying the efforts of political marplots, for a third time smote them hip and thigh and put a final quietus upon the proposed measure.