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Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska

Hamilton County
Produced by Barb Hruza and Alice Vosika.

PART 1: Topographical | Early History | First Things

Organization | Roster County Officers
County Seat Fight | Agricultural Society
Educational Progress and History

Aurora:   Official Roster | Schools | Societies
Churches | Bank of Aurora
Aurora (cont.):   Biographical Sketches
Aurora (cont.):   Biographical Sketches (cont.)

Orville City
Hampton:   Biographical Sketches
South Platte Precinct (Biographical Sketch)
Other Towns

Illustration: [View of Aurora and Court House.]



Orville City, the first county seat, was located by the County Commissioners in 1870, and surveyed, platted and recorded as a town by them. The site lies on a beautiful plateau overlooking both forks of the Blue River, on the south half of the northeast quarter, section twenty-two (22), town nine (9), range six (6), west. It was declared the county seat of Hamilton County, May 3, 1870 by a vote of the people, at the first election held in the county, and remained such until January 1, 1876, at which date the county seat was removed to Aurora by a majority vote in compliance with a General Act of the Legislature of Nebraska, approved February, 1875.

It was named in honor of Orville Wescott, son of C. O. Wescott.

The site was preempted by the commissioners and surveyed by John Harris.

The first to locate there was T. H. and Wm. Glover. T. H. Glover opened the first store, in the fall of 1872, with a stock of general merchandise. He was followed shortly after by Wm. Glover, who inaugurated the second business enterprise of the town, that of a hotel and boarding house.

The court house was erected in May, 1872, which was the first building erected, and in October of the same year, the first frame house was built by T. H. Glover. In 1873 it was a thriving town containing three grocery and general merchandise stores, one drug store, hotel, blacksmith shop, real estate office, law office and a saloon. A portion of the site is now used for the county poor farm, and hardly a building is left to mark the now deserted village.

A school house was built in the summer of 1873, and Miss Nettie Hileman taught the first school in the spring of 1874.


Hampton is an enterprising little town, a station on the B. & M. R. R., and though now in its infancy, it is fast assuming the character of a permanent, thriving village. It is situated upon a gentle rise of ground overlooking the surrounding country, and was surveyed and platted by Joshua Cox, in the fall of 1879, and filed for record as a town, June 4, 1880.

Mr. Earnest Leyrer inaugurated the first business, opening a store stocked with general merchandise, in December, 1879. Mr. C. R. Young established the second business house, and A. T. Vick & Co. the third, the former in March, and the latter in September, 1880.

A Baptist church, organized by Rev. Moses Rowley, on Beaver Creek, in 1872, was moved to Hampton in 1881. Present pastor, Rev. A. J. Cotney.

The first school house was built in August, 1881, and a school opened shortly after, with J. H. Sauls as teacher.

Rev. R. A. Hawley preached the first sermon in the town in October, 1880, at the store of A. T. Vick & Co.

The post office at Williamsport was removed to this point in December, 1879.

A wind feed mill was built by Herman Tiede in October, 1881, with a capacity for grinding one hundred bushels per day.


JAMES M. COX was born in Kendall County, Ill., August 16, 1849. His parents were John and Mary Cox, the former of German lineage, the latter, whose maiden name was Howes, descended from old New England stock. They removed West to Kendall County, Ill., in 1844, and were among the pioneers of that county. Here they engaged extensively in stock raising, etc. James M. made his home with his parents, working on the farm and going to school until he reached the age of twenty years, then started farming for himself. Was married February 3, 1874, to Miss Sarah J. Tyler. In spring of 1879, removed to Hamilton County, Neb., where he purchased 1,000 acres of land, adjacent to the village of Hampton; has been extensively engaged in farming and stock raising since; he sells from 100 to 175 head of cattle and 200 to 300 hogs per annum. He has his farm in a high state of cultivation, 840 acres being under plow and the balance under fence for pasture, with good comfortable buildings such as are necessary to run a farm of the above dimensions. Mr. Cox is a practical and live man in every sense of the word.

JOSHUA COX, lumber merchant, came to Nebraska in March, 1879, locating at what is now called Hampton, where he purchased 1,000 acres of land. In October, 1880, he had a portion of it surveyed and laid out into town lots, and the name of Hampton was given it by the railroad company. Mr. Cox has since been extensively engaged in stock raising, and on January 1, 1882, had on hand 225 head of graded cattle, and 350 swine. In July, 1882, started a lumber yard, and since that time has sold over 100 car-loads, besides other building material, all of which has been consumed in Hamilton County. The subject of this sketch was born in Kendall County, Ill., June 21, 1851. Previous to coming to Nebraska, he had been engaged at stock raising there. He is an intellectual, practical business man, and the prosperous little village of Hampton, situated in the most fertile portion of the county, speaks well for the original proprietor of the town.

JAMES M. FODGE, proprietor of the Hampton House, is a native of Indiana, born in Delaware County, May 25, 1846; removed with his parents to Clayton County, Iowa, in 1853, where he lived with them on a farm and attended school. In 1863, he enlisted with the First Iowa Volunteer Cavalry, Company H, and served until the close of the rebellion, after which he went to Texas with the army, and served until 1866. Then returned to Iowa and learned the plasterer's trade. Was married in 1868 to Miss Harriet Boyce, of Ohio. He came to Hamilton County, Neb., during the spring of 1871, taking a soldier's claim on Section 20, Town 11, Range 5 west, Valley Precinct, and was one of the very first settlers in that part of the county. In 1875, Mr. F. was elected Sheriff of Hamilton County, to fill an unexpired term of J. M. Smith, and 1877 and 1878 served as Deputy Sheriff under D. A. Scoville. In the fall of 1878, he was elected Sheriff, holding that office until January, 1881, and in July of the same year commenced present business of hotel-keeping, his being the first hotel opened in that town. He belongs to the G. A. R., Hulbert Post, No. 93, at Hampton.

GEORGE W. HIAETT, Postmaster and farmer, is a native of Kentucky, born in Lincoln County, June 11, 1820, where his occupation was that of farming. In 1866, he went to Macoupin County, Ill., where he made his home till 1873; at this time he came to Nebraska and took up a homestead on Section 34, Valley Precinct, Hamilton County. In 1875, a post office was established at his residence, named Williamsport, of which he was appointed Postmaster, holding that position ever since, and in December, 1880, the post office was removed to Hampton. Mr. H. was married in Kentucky, in 1843, to Miss Euphana Cogle; both are original members of the Baptist Church, Hampton; they have a family of five children living, Benjamin A., William F., Georgiana, Robert W., and Malvani.

JOEL H. SAULS, Notary Public, became a resident of Hamilton County, Nebraska, in May, 1873, taking a homestead of 160 acres, on Section 34, Town 11, Range 5 west, Valley Precinct. Resided here, improving his land, for seven years, and during this time was elected Justice of the Peace in that precinct in 1873, retaining that position until 1881. In 1875, he was a member of the State Constitutional Convention. The subject of this sketch was originally from Tennessee, born in Carroll County, November 22, 1837, but removed with his parents to Newton County, Mo., where he acquired a liberal education. When the first three months' call came from the government for troops, Mr. S. enlisted with Company H, of the First Missouri Volunteer Infantry, and after serving the time mentioned, returned to Missouri. He soon had to leave there, however, for a man of his principles who was in sympathy with the North could not stay, and he barely escaped with his life, taking his family to Macoupin County, Ill., and, in 1862, enlisted again with the One Hundred and Twenty-Second Illinois Regiment, but was rejected on account of ill health. He then engaged in teaching school until spring of 1864, when he recruited Company H, of the One Hundred and Thirty-Third Illinois Volunteer Regiment, and was appointed First Sergeant of the same, serving in that capacity until the close of the war. He then returned to Illinois, and taught school until he came to this State. Mr. S. is a member of the G. A. R., and was one of the instigators of Hurlbut Post No. 93, Hampton; is also a member of the Odd Fellows Society of Illinois, Palmyra Lodge, No. 348. His wife was Miss Rachel R. Alford, who was born in Tennessee, and whom he married in Missouri in 1860. Both are members of the Baptist Church.

WILLIAM J. WILLIAMSON, merchant, came to Nebraska during the fall of 1877, first locating at Friendville, Saline County, where he clerked in a general merchant's store until December, 1880, at that time came to Hampton, and in company with Jacob Peterson, opened a general store. This firm continued until July 21, 1881, when William J. bought out his partner. His store room is 20x40 and well stocked with a complete line of all classes of goods to be found in a store of this kind. Mr. W. was born in Germany, near the city of Tondern, October 12, 1854, and emigrated to the United States in 1873; lived in Livingston County, Ill., until he came to Nebraska, and was married at Friendville, 1878, to Miss Nettie McInroy, a native of Canada. He is a member of the Masonic Order, Friend Lodge, No. 78, and is Agent for the Northwestern Masonic Aid Association, and Agent for the Anchor Mail Line.

SAMUEL B. YOUST, farmer, Hampton, was born in West Virginia, January 3, 1831. He followed the occupation of engineer in various steam mills until 1856, then removed to Lucas County, Iowa, and there he ran the steam saw and grist mill until 1864, when he enlisted in the late war with the Fifteenth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, Company C, and served until the close of the war, then returned to Iowa and resumed his former occupation, which he continued until April, 1870. Then came to Nebraska and took up a soldier's homestead of 160 acres in Hamilton County, on Section 10, Town 10, Range 5, west, in Beaver Precinct, and was the first settler in the precinct. Here he continued to reside, improving his farm and taking a very active part in settling up the county, until he removed to Hampton. He still owns his homestead, and is Justice of the Peace of the precinct. Was married in Va., in 1850, to Miss Mary E. Hunt, who was also a native of that State. Mr. Y. has served two years as Assessor of Beaver Precinct. He and his wife are original members of first Baptist Church of Hamilton County, and are true and faithful workers in that society.


MICHAEL LIEBHART, farmer and stock-raiser, Section 26, Town 12, Range 6 west, postoffice Aurora, was born in York County, Pa., July 7, 1842; his parents were George and Elizabeth Liebhart, nee Fishel, who were descended from the Pennsylvania Dutch. Here Michael acquired his education, such as the public schools afforded; when sixteen years of age, came with his parents to Stephenson County, Ill., where they continued farming, that being his father's occupation. At the age of twenty years, he enlisted with Company H of the Twenty-Sixth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and served until the close of the great rebellion; then returned to Illinois, where he commenced farming for himself, and in 1868 married Miss Elvina Sprague, of same State. In the spring of 1873, came west to Hamilton County, Neb., and took a soldier's claim of 160 acres, where he now lives; has 130 acres of his farm under cultivation, and his fine improved place of to-day does not look much like the wild prairie of the few years ago, with its five acres of trees, both ornamental and fruit, bearing apples, peaches, cherries, and plums, its comfortable residence and buildings for the accommodation of stock, a granary 16x20, and a large windmill, it may well be called one of the best improved farms in the county. Mr. L. and wife are original members of the Evangelical Church, South Platte Precinct.


Hamilton is situated on the northwest quarter of section ten (10), town ten (10), range six (6), west. This quarter section was homesteaded by J. H. Elliot in April, 1871, and a portion of it laid out as a town, by T. H. Glover and J. F. Glover, in the spring of 1874, and entered for record as a town, May 20, 1874. T. H. Glover opened the first store in the fall of 1874, and during this year it entered the contest for county seat honors, and gave promise of becoming quite a town. After Aurora had won the county seat, Hamilton began to be deserted, its business men joining their fortunes with Aurora.

In 1874 a school was established in the building known as the Hamilton High School building, taught by H. G. Cass.

Marquette.--Marquette is a station of the B. and M. R. R., in Nebraska, eleven miles north of Aurora. It was laid out as a town and filed for record, June 29, 1881. It is fast putting on the appearance of a live business town and business is well represented.

St. Joe.--This little town is about two years old, and is located in the western part of the county, about twelve miles from Aurora, and ten miles from Grand Island. The town was laid out by J. W. Skelton in October, 1878, and filed for record, May 10, 1879. A number of buildings have been erected and business is quite well represented.

Stockham.--Stockham is a post office twelve miles south of Aurora. At this point are located the Stockham Mills. This mill is on the Blue River and is one of the best flouring mills in this part of the state. It was built by Messrs Stone, Starkey & Co. in 1877, has two run of stone and is furnished with all late and improved machinery, and turns out the best quality of flour.

Business is also well represented by two houses, carrying general merchandise.

Lerton.--This is a postoffice in the southeast part of the county, eleven miles distant from Aurora.

Alvin, Leonard, Shiloh, Otis and Buckeye are also post office points and give to the county the best of mail facilities.

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