Location, Natural Features, etc. | Early History|
Organization and Political History
Educational | Railroads | Population | Financial|
General Statistics | County Societies
Tecumseh: Early Settlement | Local Matters|
The Press | Churches | Societies | Hotels
Tecumseh (cont.): |
Biographical Sketches - AUSTIN~HOWARTH
Biographical Sketches - JOLLY~YOUNG
Sterling: Biographical Sketches|
Elk Creek: Biographical Sketches
Helena: Biographical Sketches|
Vesta: Biographical Sketches
Spring Creek: Biographical Sketches
Lincoln Precinct (Biographical Sketches only)
List of Illustrations in Johnson County Chapter
The site of the town of Tecumseh has been a point of settlement from the earliest history of the county. Some of the first comers of this region put up their log cabins on this spot. Situated on the old Brownville and Marysville trail, much travel passed through the point, and the nucleus once formed, the development of a town was a matter of course. Old John Maulding--once a prominent citizen, and a pioneer of Johnson County, but now a beneficiary of the town's charity through the vicissitudes of fortune--laid out the town site of Tecumseh in the summer of 1856. The name first given to the town was "Frances," in honor of the wife of Gen. Johnson, for whom the county had been named. The following year, however, the name of Tecumseh was fastened upon the embryo town, history having linked the name of the noted redskin warrior in indissoluble association with that of the General referred to above.
The first settlement here was of the crudest character, half a dozen log structures of the most unpretentious character, comprising all there was of it. Of these original "land marks," but one remains, that being now a portion of the Sherman House, a leading hotel of the place. John Maulding kept store here for the benefit of the handful of inhabitants, and also of the traveling public, who were numerous. Tecumseh became gradually a favorite stopping place for voyagers, to or from Brownville, and within a year after its location, had easily surpassed all aspiring rivals in the county, of which there were not a few. On the 13th of February, the county seat was located here by an act of the Legislature of that date, and a slight impetus was immediately given to its rising fortunes by the prestige thus acquired. This fact gave rise to a profound feeling of jealousy on the part of other settlements in the county, culminating, as is stated elsewhere, in the calling of an election August 2, 1858, for the purpose of settling the dispute. The result of this election perpetuated Tecumseh's title as shire town, and marked it out in advance, as the leading point in the county for all time.
William P. Walker was commissioned Postmaster at Tecumseh in May, 1857. Previous to that time, those of the inhabitants who had correspondence with the outside world, either went to Brownville for it or awaited the semi-occasional visits of the overland mail carrier. Mail facilities through this county were very crude for a number of years. It was, in fact, late in the sixties before anything like a perfect system was brought into effective service. Late in 1856, a wooden bridge was thrown across the Nemaha, at this point, which was replaced by a more substantial and elaborate structure in 1866, the city of Brownville contributing $800 for the purpose. The trade of this point and that of many other diminutive settlements south and west of Tecumseh centered in Brownville, whose merchants at that time showed commendable energy in securing all the patronage possible, where enterprise could do it.
In 1857, the first attempt was made to utilize the water power furnished by the Nemaha River, Messrs. Maulding & Moore putting up a saw-mill at Tecumseh. This ran at intervals until 1867, when Alexander and S.W. Bivens erected a grist mill on its site, the later still in operation by William H. Brandon.
Hard times fell to the lot of the early settlers of Tecumseh for many years. The opening of the war found it a struggling hamlet of about 100 persons, away from all important lines of communication, harassed by the presence of refugees, horse-thieves and militia in turn. As the war progressed, considerable freighting was carried on through the town, between the river points and the military posts upon the frontier. At the close of the Rebellion, the town picked up quite rapidly, many soldiers coming out to the county to take up land or enter business. Among these acquisitions may be named F. A. Gue, John Wilson, W. G. Swan, Joseph Buffun, D. P. Henry, J. S. Dew, W. L. Dunlap, W. H. Doolittle, M. V. Easterday, C. A. Holmes and R. Bryson.
The first church building--Catholic--was erected in Tecumseh in 1868. The iron bridge, which spans the Nemaha at this point was finished in 1869.
In 1868, bonds were issued by the county for the erection of a court house at Tecumseh, and the present building was put up. The cost of this building, of which H. P. Bickford was builder, was $2,800. It is a square frame structure of two stories, with a cupola above and though not particularly ornate to-day, considered a grand improvement at the time of its completion. The first newspaper was also started in Tecumseh in 1868.
The town of Tecumseh was incorporated on the 4th of February, 1867, Alexander Bivens, R. B. Presson, S. L. Ward, Seymour S. Rogers and Darius Cody being chosen Trustees.
The approach of railroad connections first started Tecumseh into a rapid growth. The Atchison & Nebraska Railroad was surveyed through the town in 1871. This fact made business brisk, and brought in a rapid influx of strangers. In that year the town was organized under a city form of government, with C. R. Bryant, as Mayor. This was continued down to 1880, when, owing to action of the Legislature, in limiting the population of cities of the second class, to places of 1,500 inhabitants and over, Tecumseh was obliged to take a back seat again, and renew the town government. This change was due to the criminal negligence of the census taker appointed to count noses, he being only able to discover 1,450 inhabitants. This lack of enterprise or ignorance of mathematical principles, whichever it was, deprived several ambitious citizens of the chance of filling the mayoralty for some years to come.
April 25, 1872, the Atchison & Nebraska Railroad ran its first train of cars into Tecumseh, and the event was celebrated by a grand excursion to Atchison, 500 citizens availing themselves of the opportunity to travel.
In the fall of 1875, a disastrous conflagration swept away the block of buildings between the Sherman and Centennial Hotels. The apprehension over another such calamity, led to the purchase of a chemical fire engine, which at present, constitutes the equipment of Tecumseh's fire department. The citizens of Johnson held a grand rally at Tecumseh on the 4th of July, 1876, on which occasion, Hon. Andrew Cook delivered a succinct and interesting history of Johnson County, written for the occasion, by suggestion of the Governor.
There have been no startling crimes in the history of Johnson County. The only case of murder in later days was that which happened in Tecumseh, June 25, 1880, resulting from an excess of political excitement. On the day mentioned, a bricklayer named W. F. Parker, while intoxicated, became involved in a quarrel with Fred Blum, blows being exchanged by the two. Blum gathered a crowd of sympathizers, and started in pursuit of Parker, whom his son Elmer, a youth of seventeen, was leading home. In the skirmish which ensured, one Henry Parrish struck young Parker with a large stone, from the effects of which he died. The parties of this unprovoked assault were Henry Parrish, Fred Blum, George Sohler, John Place, Senett Hill and A. Thomas Sortel. Parish got fifteen years in the State Penitentiary, while the others were let off with thirty days in the county jail, and a fine of $100 each. This murder created great excitement, and resulted in closing up the saloons in the town for one year afterward.
The Burlington & Missouri Railroad is a present engaged in constructing a line of road from Nemaha City to Tecumseh, the road being practically finished to the latter point. Whether it is to be continued on west or not, has not as yet been made known.
The first brick buildings in Tecumseh were erected in 1872, by Woodruff Bros., and C. A. Holmes. It was not until the past year, however, that the era of architectural improvement fully set in. During that season, improvements, in the way of brick business blocks, fine dwellings and other changes were made to the extent, it is estimated of $100,000.
During the maintenance of a city form of government at Tecumseh, the office of Mayor was filled successively by C. R. Bryant, Kyron Tierney, E. W. Metcalf, J. H. Crow, Charles Woodley, Frederick Halsey, Andrew Cook and W. G. Swan. William P. Walker, J. H. Presson, George W. Delong and L. M. Davis, have filled the Postmaster's chair, the latter, present incumbent, having served for twelve years in that capacity.
Tecumseh, as it stands to-day, is indeed an attractive town. Situated on high, rolling ground, on the east bank of the Nemaha, the ample stores and neat, cheerful dwellings of its 2,000 inhabitants are visible from a long distance in the country on either side. The population of town is composed in a great measure of native Americans and the air of enterprise everywhere manifest, gives the stranger a most agreeable impression. A large business is done here in almost every line of trade. Two good-sized flouring mills, the Tecumseh, steam power, run by James Hill, and the Centennial, water power, owned and operated by William H. Brandon,, do a thriving trade and afford a convenient market for the neighboring farmers. A substantial iron foundry, established some five years since, does the necessary casting and repairing for the community. Three capacious grain elevators, erected since the advent of the railroad, are kept pretty generally filled with Johnson County products. There are in successful operation two banks, the substantial private house of Russell, Holmes & Co. (W. H. Russell and C. A. Holmes), established in 1871, and the Farmer's Bank, J. S. Dew, cashier, started in 1880. The town supports three hotels, known as the Sherman, Caledonia and Centennial. The business houses of the place are chiefly located on the four sides of the court house square. There are at present in the town, six dry good stores, nine groceries, four hardware houses, three drug stores, three livery stables, five restaurants, three furniture houses, three boot and shoe stores, two clothing stores, three saloons, two barber shops, two carriage and farm implement houses, a marble yard and a number of general stores. Three newspapers, the Tecumseh Chieftain, Tecumseh Torchlight and Johnson County Journal, help to advertise the town's advantages. The spiritual wants of the community are fully met, as will be shown by the existence of seven church societies, Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian, Christian, Methodist, Universalist and Episcopalian. The professions are represented by eleven lawyers and thirteen physicians.
The Masonic orders are represented by Mount Horeb Commandery. K. T.; Furnace Chapter, No. 9, Royal Arch Masons; Tecumseh Lodge, No. 17, A., F. & A. M.; and flourishing lodges of the Odd Fellow, Knights of Pythias and Knights of Honor organizations. There is also a solid Red Ribbon Temperance Club and a flourishing County Woman's Suffrage Association. The Johnson County Agricultural and Mechanical Association, founded twelve years ago, holds a yearly exhibit at the grounds near town.
The future prospects of Tecumseh are bright. Inhabited by energetic and ambitious citizens, with a good trade already secured and the prospect of ample railroad accommodations in the near future, there is no apparent reason why the town should not continue to progress in the coming years as it has for the last decade past.
First and foremost it is the county seat. Besides a neat court house, built in 1868, there is a solid stone jail building, erected in 1873.
Another ornament to the village is the large two-story stone structure standing on a high eminence to the northeast, and used for educational purposes. It was built in 1872 at a cost of $6,000. Four grades, comprising the grammar department, are taught in it, this and the primary school being under the general supervision of W. C. Moyer. He has three assistants. The attendance at the grammar school is 250. The primary school building was erected in 1881, the 100 scholars being taught by Miss Bella Davis. Tecumseh is growing so rapidly that additional school facilities are found to be necessary, and a third building will soon be erected.
This county, as are all other thrifty and wide awake counties in the West, is amply supplied with newspapers, the present number of self-sustaining journals, having been reached with perhaps less than the usual percentage of failures.
The first taste given the inhabitants of Johnson County in the newspaper line was in 1867, when a sheet was published in Brownville, under the name of the Tecumseh Journal, and sent over to the county for distribution. This plan failed to work acceptably and in 1868 the Tecumseh Gazette was established under the management of Messrs. Presson & Andrews. This was the first paper published in the county and it thrived well until a disastrous conflagration in September 1869, wiped out the office and closed the Gazette.
The second attempt in journalism was made by the Messrs. G. W. & F. M. Fairbrother, who in November, 1869, started the Tecumseh Chieftain, now the oldest paper in the county. Barrow & Crow succeeded the Fairbrothers in 1874, and were in turn succeeded by John Hassler. The present editor, Mr. A. H. Swart, took possession in 1881. The Chieftain of to-day is bright, newsy and flourishing sheet, Republication in politics, and will probably continue to thrive with the lively town in which it is located. Its form is a six column quarto, and it is the official organ of the county.
The Tecumseh Herald was started in 1872 by Wilson & Ferguson, was taken charge of in 1874 by F. M. Ferguson, and three years later passed out of existence.
The Johnson County Journal, the only Democratic paper at the county seat, was founded in March 1879, by J. W. Barnhart and Charles W. Pool. In 1881, Mr. Barnhart retired and Mr. Pool, the present editor and proprietor assumed charge. The paper has a large and growing patronage and influence, and may be set down as one of the permanent institutions of the county. Its form is a six-column quarto.
The Torchlight was started at Tecumseh in 1880, by F. M. & A. G. Fairbrother, and is in an apparently flourishing condition. It is Republican in politics and enterprising in character.
The First Presbyterian Church was organized June 26, 1870, with nineteen members. Rev. A. T. Wood preached at this place for nearly two years as stated supply. Rev. A. S. Powell succeeded him and preached three years; was succeeded by Rev. A. B. Struthers, who stayed one year. Mr. Struthers was followed by Rev. A. F. Randolph, who remained four years as the regularly installed pastor. He was followed by Rev. C. D. Jeffries, who has now the society in charge. Services were first held in the court house. In the fall of 1873, a church was erected 32x48 feet. There are now eighty-six members with a good congregation each Sabbath.
There is also an organization seven miles southeast of Tecumseh, known as the Simeon Church; organized with nine members in 1872. The few members there have not been able to do anything more than to keep up the organization.
Methodist Episcopal Church.--The Methodists organized a mission at Tecumseh as early as 1865. Rev. L. F. Britt, the present presiding elder of the district, first conducting services here. It was made a station in 1873, and Rev. D. B. Lake was its first settled pastor. He was followed in turn by Revs. J. H. Martin, David Hart, S. P. Wilson, P. C. Johnson, J. H. Presson and L. Laverty. In the fall of 1880, the society erected their present building. The membership of the church is 110.
St. Andrews Church (R. C.)--A mission was formed in 1866, and a church building erected in Tecumseh in 1868. It was dedicated by Father Emmanuel, and cost $700. This was the first church building erected in the county. The mission, at present, consists of all stations in Johnson County, and one station in Gage County, with an aggregate membership of 1,000 souls. The first resident priest was Father McCarthy, who served from 1876-'78. During the latter year Father James McNally, the present incumbent, assumed charge of the mission. The increase in membership since the organization of the mission in 1866 has been over 500 per cent. The church is in so flourishing a condition that it is the purpose to soon erect a good edifice with a seating capacity of 400.
The Episcopal Mission--was organized in June, 1881, by Rev. M. F. Carey, of Falls City, who still has charge of it. Services are held in Armory Hall. At present about a dozen members are connected with the mission. A church edifice is about to be erected, nearly a sufficient sum of money having been already subscribed.
Universalist Church.--In December, 1877, Mrs. Caroline A. Soule, of New York, organized a Universalist society in Tecumseh, which is still in a flourishing state. It now numbers thirty members and services are held for the present in the Baptist Church. Mrs. Mary J. DeLong has been pastor of the society since 1879.
The Christian Church, of Tecumseh, put up the first structure owned by that denomination in the county in 1871. The cost of building was $1,800, all of which was raised by voluntary contribution among resident member of the order, which is now in a satisfactory condition. Rev. E. A. Parkinson conducts their services at present. The second Presbyterian Church in the county was built in Tecumseh in 1873, by the society at that place, involving an expenditure of $2,650.
The Baptists have had an organization for a number of years. A brick church was built by them in 1880. They have no pastor at present.
Grand Chapter of Nebraska, (Royal Arch Masons). Charter granted in July, 1872. The present membership is forty-four, with officers as follows: Sam'l P. Davidson, H. P.; Robt. G. Work, K.; Titus V. Hare, S.; Wm. H. Hassett, T.; H. Muhlenbrock, Sec.; K. Tierney, C. H.; A. Canfield, P. S.; J. D. Russell, R. A. C.; J. S. Dew, G. M. 3d Vail; M. V. Easterday, G. M. 2d Vail; S. F. Holmes, G. M., 1st Vail; A. Storms, Guard. The Masons hold their meetings in a good hall in Russell & Holmes' block, and are one of the strongest societies in Tecumseh.
Tecumseh Lodge, No. 17 (A., F. & A. M.)--Organized October 3, 1867, S. L. F. Ward, W. M.; John R. Patrick, S. W.; Clarence Gillespie, J. W.; E. A. Ellsworth, Treas., A. W. Buffum, Sec. Present Officers: S. P. Davidson, W. M.; Charles A. Holmes, S. W.; Jas. A. Phelan, J. W.; Cornelius Woodley, Treas.; Wm. L. Dunlap, Sec. The membership is ninety, the surplus fund of the lodge being $1,500.
Harmony Encampment, No. 6 (I. O. O. F.)--Instituted October 9, 1872, with the following officers: J. J. Taylor, C. P.; A. S. Powell, H. P.; C. S. Tietsort, S. W.; S. F. Holmes, J. W.; Max Kohn, Scribe; Wm. Beatty, Treas. The encampment now numbers thirty members, officered as follows: G. C. Ross, C. P.; O. S. Mason, H. P.; G. K. Ubben, S. W.; B. F. Pope, Scribe; H. A. Miles, Treas.; P. E. Dutcher, J. W. The Odd Fellows have a fine hall in the Farmer's Bank building. They own all the fixings and are in first-class shape, financially and every other way.
Hamlin Lodge, No. 24 (I. O. O. F.)--Instituted January 27, 1871. First officers: A. Bivens, N. G.; Wm. Beatty, V. G.; E. Keplinger, Sec.; Geo. Beatty, Treas. The lodge has now a membership of fifty-eight with the following officers: J. C. Ross, N. G.; J. R. Hoar, V. G.; B. F. Pope, Sec.; H. A. Miles, Treas.
G. A. R.--Organized in May, 1879, with officers as follows: D. P. Henry, C.; F. L. Gue, S. V.; J. P. Kiler, J. V.; P. H. Cody, A.; J. G. Jones, Q. M.; W. L. Dunlap, C.; P. M. Brigham, S.; M. B. Easterday, O. of D.; Charles Halstead, O. of G.; S. C. Wariner, S. M. The G. A. R. was organized with twenty-nine charter members and now has a membership of fifty-nine, with officers as below: C. A. Holmes P. C.; F. L. Gue, S. V.; J. P. Kiler, J. V.; S. C. Wariner, A.; J. M. Biggs, Q. M.; D. W. Lyle, S.; W. L. Dunlap, C.; Jasper Stone, O. of D.; Lea Woodruff, O. of G.; John Albright, S. M.; T. J. Alexander, Q. M. S. The armory is situated in Russell & Holmes' block on Third Street, and is conveniently fitted up for the purpose to which it is put.
Tecumseh Lodge No. 17, K. of P.--Organized March 30, 1874. First officers: George C. Wilson, C. C.; L. M. Davis, V. C.; W. R. Spicknall, P.; J. S. Dew, K. R. & S.; William Beatty, M. of F.; C. Woodley, M. of E.; G. Roberts, M. of A.; W. H. Townsend, I. G.; A. F. Peabody, O. G. At present the lodge has sixty-three members in good standing, and is in flourishing condition. Present officers: V. D. Metcalfe, D. D. G. C.; S. R. Campbell, P. C.; S. A. Easterday, C. C.; G. W. Tierney, V. C.; E. H. Holden, K. R. & S.; J. S. Dew, M. of E.; J. L. Reese, M. of F.; C. M. Wilson, P. C. N. Halsted, M. of A.; J. Soule, I. G.; J. Kelly, O. G.
Hope Lodge No 15, Daughters of Rebecca.--Instituted March 3, 1880. It now has a membership of twenty-four, with the following officers: Lola Woodruff, N. G.; Augusta A. Pope, V. G.; P. E. Dutcher, Sec.; M. E. Dutcher, Treas.
Equitable Aid Union--Lily of the Valley Union No. 191--Organized December 4, 1880. It has at present forty-five members. Officers at organization: Keyron Tierney, P.; T. P. Lester, V. P.; P. E. Dutcher, Auxiliary; J. H. Burtch, Treas.; H. K. Seare, Sec.; George Hill, Accountant; Mrs. Mary Dutcher, Chap.; D. B. Bush, Warden; Frank Arby, Watchman; Mrs. M. A. Burtch, Advocate; C. C. Woodruff, Chancellor. This is a benevolent as well as secret organization with insurance combined.
Tecumseh Lodge No 1,348 (K. of H.)--Organized January 29, 1879, with the following officers: J. A. Green, S. P. D.; George M. Buffum, D.; J. R. Coykendall, V. D.; James Hill, A. D.; J. Groff, C.; B. F. Pope, G.; J. W. Taylor, R.; E. Spiech, F. R.; J. W. Buffum, Treas.; A. White, G.; J. S. Arnup, S. J. Groff, B. F. Pope, J. R. Coykendall, Trustees; Dr. W. F. Lee, M. Ex. Present number of members forty-eight. Present officers: J. C. Ross, P. D.; J. Groff, D.; D. R. Bush, V. D.; J. S. Bennet, A. D.; E. L. Winsor, R.; C. K. Chubbuck, F. R.; James Hill, Treas.; Joseph Duncan, Chap.; J. H. Burtch, G.; G. M. Buffum, Gd.; William Runnion, S.; C. K. Chubbuck, M. Ex.; J. Groff, P. F. Pope, and J. W. Buffum, Trustees; J. C. Ross, R. G. L.; J. W. Taylor, A. G. L.
The Cemetery Association was organized May 3, 1876. Its grounds, consisting of ten acres of land, are situated on a hill overlooking the town from the northeast, and are laid out in walks and planted with shade trees. Present officers: T. Appelgate, Pres.; M. B. Easterday, V. P.; L. M. Davis, Treas.; S. A. Easterday, Clerk.
The W. C. T. U. of Tecumseh was organized March, 1877. Weekly meetings have been held since. Much work has been done. A library of 300 books was purchased the first year, to which additions have been made from time to time. Probably not less than $1,000 has been expended by the W. C. T. U. in hiring lecturers and a librarian, opening a reading room and for the purchase of books. The average membership has been between thirty and forty. Much of the charitable work in the village has been done by the W. C. T. U., but the poor fund has been kept entirely separate from the W. C. T. U. fund proper.
Esther Lodge No. 424 (K. of H.)--Organized April 18, 1881. Present membership twenty-two, with offices as follows: B. F. Pope, P.; Miss C. A. Buffum, V. P.; Mrs. F. E. Chubbuck, C.; J. W. Taylor, S. & F. S.; Mrs. J. S. Sherman, Treas.; Mrs. J. S. Bennett, Ge.; Mrs. M. E. Montz, G.; G. M. Buffum, S.; Dr. C. K. Chubbuck, Med. Ex.
Mount Horeb Commandery, No. 10 (K. T.)--Dispensation granted May 10, 1880; instituted August 10, 1881. The commandery has a membership of seventeen with officers as follows: Charles A. Holmes, E. C.; Samuel P. Davidson, G.; Robert G. Work, C. G.; Byron Tierney, P.; J. S. Dew, S. W.; T. V. Hare, J. W.; C. Woodley, T.; Henry Muhlenbrock, R., M. V. Easterday, St. Br.; William H. Hassatt, Swd Br.; A. Canfield, W; C. B. Scott, C. of G.
Besides the Masonic, Odd Fellows' and Armory halls, Tecumseh has a neat little opera house, built in 1880. The hall is eighty by forty feet and seats 500 people. The scenery is new, and everything is arranged to meet the wants of the amusement-loving public.
Another institution in the amusement line, which it would not do to neglect, is the Tecumseh Brass Band, organized about a year ago. It has now twelve pieces.
In 1858 a small two-story building, only twenty-four by thirty feet, was erected on the present site of the Sherman House. Within the walls of the same structure wee carried on at the same time a general mercantile business, and the transactions which go to make up accommodations for man and beast. In other words, a store and a kind of ranch were operated at the same time. The builder and original proprietor of the hostelry was I. C. Lawrence. In 1868, K. Tierney, the present proprietor of the Sherman House, bought the establishment. In 1870-'71 he built a two story addition, twenty-four by thirty-six feet, to the original structure, and a three story building, twenty-four by forty feet also served to increase the hotel to its present dimensions. It is the intention, during the course of the coming summer, to erect a large three-story brick building, thirty-two by seventy feet, to cost about $10,000. It will be then, more than ever, the first-class house of the place.
The Centennial and Caledonia House also tend to meet the wants of a large class of customers.
The Tecumseh Flour Mills was the successor of the old saw mills built by Maudling & Moore in 1856-'57. The building was erected in 1867 by Alexander and S.W. Bivens. Its manufacture is mostly custom work, the transactions amounting to $30,000 per annum. The Tecumseh Mills was the first manufactory of the kind in the county, and "holds its own" with the growth in population and business prosperity.
Six miles above Tecumseh, on the Atchison & Nebraska Railroad, is Swartville, a town laid out two years since by Robert Swart. The place is yet in its incipiency, but has exhibited a gratifying growth. There is an elevator here, and also a hotel and a good school. Robert Swart is Postmaster of the town, which at present contains 150 inhabitants.