Surface, Soil and Streams | Indians | Accidents and Crimes|
Early Navigation of the Missouri | County Organization
Lands | County Bonds | General Statistics
Santee Sioux Agency
Niobrara: Local History | The Flood of 1881
Creighton: Biographical Sketches|
Bazile Mills: Biographical Sketches
Pischelville | Millerboro | Other Towns
Illustration in Knox County: [Portrait of John C. Santee.]
This enterprising town is situated in the southern part of Knox County, on gently rolling prairie, and near Bazile Creek. The first settlements were made here by the "Bruce Colony," in 1871. This colony was organized January 31, 1871, in Omaha, at which time the following officers were elected: President, Dr. Knowlson; Vice-President, J. A. Bruce; Treasurer, C. Cheatham; Secretary, J. H. Bruce. Meetings of the company were held, and a committee sent out to select a suitable location. On the 27th of March, a party of colonists, arrived at the place selected by the committee, on the Elkhorn between Frenchtown and O'Neill. As many were not satisfied with the location, committees of their number were appointed to make other explorations. At length a satisfactory location was found, where Creighton is now situated, and in April, the advance part of the colony, which comprised about twenty families, arrived. Among those who arrived in 1871 were the following: Orin A. H. Bruce, A. L. Towle, C. H. Lightner, J. Lovell, Miner W. Bruce, W. R. Cross, C. Cheatham, Isadore Hammerly, Sebastian Zeph, James Steel, Joseph H. Bruce, and Rev. Charles H. Emerson. In 1872 the following parties arrived: Harris Hufftle, Billings Davis, Mr. Slover, and about twenty-five others. Sod houses were the first habitations. The first frame house was built in 1871, by J. a. Bruce, just outside the town site, and for some time it was used for school house, church, and other purposes. The first frame store was also erected by J. A. Bruce, but in 1874. The post office was established in the winter of 1871-2; the Congregational Church was organized with five members, in 1871, by Rev. Charles H. Emmerson. Rev. Mr. Holt is the present pastor, and the church has thirty members. It is the design to erect a church during this year, 1882, to cost about $3,000.
The first birth in the settlement was that of Herbert Lightner, in November, 1871, and the first death that of a child of Mr. Cheatham's, in 1872. The first teaching and preaching were both in 1871, by Rev. Charles H. Emmerson. A Mr. Underwood started a blacksmith shop in 1873. The town site was laid out and platted in 1874. The Baptist Church was organized in March, 1882, with twelve members, by Rev. Mr. Gilbert. There is also a Catholic and a Lutheran organization, but as yet neither has a church building.
Creighton now contains three lumber yards, two general stores, two drug stores, two hotels, one blacksmith shop, one grocery, one furniture store, two wind-power grist mills, one hardware store, one harness shop, one agricultural implement dealer, one schoolhouse, built in 1876, at a cost, including furniture, of $2,000, the Knox County bank, established in 1882, by George E. Cheney, of Cheney & Adams, bankers, Neligh; one newspaper, the Creighton Regulator, started April 26, 1882, by Edwin A. Fry, proprietor, F. E. Seeley, editor, and the depot and other buildings of the Sioux City & Pacific Railroad Company , whose road at the present time terminates here. The first train entered Creighton June 3, 1881.
The population of the town is about 300.
J. H. BRUCE, farmer, is a native of Somerville, Mass. Came West in 1865. Was engaged in the jewelry business in Chicago several years. In 1871 came to Creighton, where his family have since resided. They own and occupy the most desirable residence in Creighton, which they built in 1877. He was married February 24, 1862, to Miss Lizzie B. Graves, of Lynn, Mass. They have one daughter, Isola E. Mrs. Bruce was the second white woman to settle in Creighton.
ORIN A. H. BRUCE, Postmaster and real estate, was born in Somerville, Mass. Came with his parents in 1865 to Chicago. In 1867 they removed to Madison, Wis., and in 1868 to Omaha, Neb. His father, J. A. Bruce, originated the idea of forming a colony, and in 1871 came to Creighton, where they settled. J. A. Bruce died July 22, 1875, aged sixty-two years. Orin A. H. and his brother, J. H., donated to S. C. & P. R. R. 160 acres of land. He now owns eighty acres in the corporation; also a farm of 160 near the depot. For the past seven years he has held office as Postmaster, and has carried on a general store for several years.
W. T. MARCH, live stock, grain and livery, was born in Washington County, Wis. At the age of five years he came with his parents to Racine; lived there three years, then removed to Lake County, Ill., where they remained three years. In 1859, came to Cuming City, Neb. Has been a resident of Washington County about twenty-two years. There he owns two farms. He has visited Salt Lake, Montana, California, and other places West. In the spring of 1881 he came to Creighton and established this business.
ROBERT M. PEYTON, agent S. C. & P. R. R., was born in Adams County, Ohio, in 1869. Came to Harrison County, Iowa; employed in the railroad business. In 1876 came to Dodge County, Neb., following this business. Since 1875 he has been constantly in the employ of this company. June 1, 1881, he was appointed agent of this station, coming here on the first train when the road was completed to this point. He had formerly been agent of this road at Nickerson and Hooper previous to coming here.
GEORGE W. QUIMBY, real estate agency, was born in Knox County, Ohio. In 1853 came to Waupaca County, Wis. In 1868 came to Dakota. In the winter of 1869-70 removed to Niobrara. January 1, 1871, he came to Creighton, where he has since resided. He is the oldest settler in this locality, and made the first claim. He was the first Postmaster here; held the office about two years. He enlisted in 1862, in Company B, Thirty-second Wisconsin Infantry. Served sixty-two months. Was mustered out as Captain.
DR. GEORGE ROBERTS, physician and druggist, is a native of Philadelphia. At the age of seventeen he entered the University of Pennsylvania and took a four years' course of studies under R. J. Levis. Was resident surgeon at the Wills Eye Hospital six months. In 1871 he was sent to the Santee Agency by the Society of Friends as Government Physician. Held that position four years. April 1875, he came to Bazile Mills and followed his profession and farming. July, 1881, he removed to Creighton. Is now engaged in the drug business and following his profession.
This town is situated on Bazile Creek, about three miles north of Creighton. It is in the midst of a fine agricultural country, and is one of the most enterprising towns in Knox County. The first settler was Samuel D. Brooks, who located his claim where the town and mill now are. William Saunders moved in, in the spring of 1872, and S. N. Saunders in the fall. In 1873, Charles A. Lyon, James Connervey, and John Miners joined them, and in 1874 Dr. George Roberts, and Frank Schneider.
Before coming to Nebraska, Mr. Brooks had formed, in his mind, a plan of building a grist mill, and a year before locating his claim, he, together with George Quimby, Henry Sturgess, David J. Quimby, C. J. Benner, and two of his sons, came in and located the town of Mansfield. In 1871, the Bruce colony came in and laid out the town of Creighton. Settlers were coming in to join the Bruce colony, from Rhode Island and Connecticut, and the heads of the Mansfield settlement found it necessary to perfect the plan of building a mill, as rapidly as possible. So they began to get out the timber and stone for the building. The dam was constructed in 1873, and in 1874, the mill itself was commenced. Owing to the grasshopper raid of that year, and the two following ones, it was not completed until 1877. It is a well constructed two and a half story building, and cost about $20,000. The town site was laid out the same year, and in 1878, Brooks Bros., completed their large store building, and opened their store.
The first birth in the vicinity was that of Emily Roberts, daughter of Dr. George Roberts, December 25, 1874; the first marriage, that of John Dedlow to Mary Connervey, in the fall of 1877, and the first death that of Samuel D. Brooks, January 1, 1880.
The first school was taught in 1872, by Miss Emily Truesdell. A frame schoolhouse was built in 1876, costing about $1,200. The Congregational Church was organized in 1873, by Rev. Charles H. Emmerson. The Knox County Times was started in May, 1881, by C. A. Hammond, and was immediately successful in gaining popular favor.
The village now contains four general stores, two groceries, one drug store, one hardware store, one harness shop, one shoe shop, an elegant schoolhouse, a hotel, and a creamery started in 1882.
During this latter year, a woolen mill was built, about one and a half miles north of the village, on Bazile Creek, by George A. Brooks, at a cost of $15,000. This is the first woolen mill built in Nebraska.
The town site of Mansfield was abandoned in 1871. In the following fall, Charles A. Lyon filed upon a part of it, and completed his claim, John Cooley filing upon the balance the same year.
GEORGE A. BROOKS & CO., general merchandise. This business was established in 1878 and is by far the most extensive of any in northern Nebraska. They employ five clerks. They are also carrying on a branch store at Walnut Grove. In 1871 Samuel D. Brooks, now deceased, decided on this location to build this mills, on account of superior water power. The following year they commenced building and completed the mill in 1876, which is supplied with all the latest improved machinery for manufacturing flour. Mr. Brooks has been Postmaster here for the past five years. He is one of the most thorough and energetic business men in the State.
GEORGE BROOKS, retired, was born February 27, 1813 in England. In about 1830 he came to New York and settled in Bloomfield. Afterward removed to Dutchess County. His father being a woolen manufacturer he took up his trade which he followed. He soon after removed to Norwich, Conn., where he worked at the carpet business a number of years. In about 1857, he with the Lucas brothers, bought a woolen mill which they operated for about twenty-one years. He then sold out his interest and came to Bazile Mills, where his son, George A., is located and carrying on a very extensive business in milling, merchandising, etc.
DR. ALBERT LINCOLN CLARKE, physician and surgeon, is a native of Westfield, Mass. In 1861 came to Dubuque, Iowa. There attended school and studied medicine with Dr. G. M. Staples. Commenced the study of medicine in 1874. Attended the course of instruction in the medical department University of Buffalo, N. Y., in 1875. In the autumn of 1876 he went to New York City. Attended the Bellevue Hospital Medical College. Graduated from this institution in 1878. He then came to Independence, Iowa, where he practiced eighteen months. In the fall of 1879, came to Bazile Mills, where he has since been engaged in the practice of his profession.
A. McGILL, drug, books and stationery, farm machinery, organs, etc., was born in Canada. At the age of twelve came to Whitewater, Wis. Followed railroading about seven years, also steamboating on the Mississippi. Enlisted in 1861 in Company L, attached to the First Minnesota Infantry Sharpshooters. Was mustered out on account of physical disability. He again enlisted in the First Minnesota Mounted Rangers. Served one year then re-enlisted in the Second Minnesota Cavalry as private. Was promoted to the position of Orderly Sergeant, afterwards as Second Lieutenant, and lastly as First Lieutenant. Served to the end of the war. Returning to Minnesota followed farming two years. In 1867 came to Independence, Iowa, and engaged in farming, In 1875 came to Creighton, Neb. Made a claim of 160 acres which he improved. Now owns 480 acres. October 19, 1878, he established this business which has since rapidly increased. His sales now amount to about $18,00 a year.
R. RENIFF, furniture business, is a native of Tioga County, N. Y. When a boy he came to Amherst, Mass., assisted on a farm. At the age of sixteen, he was employed in a turning shop, where he worked three years. He then commenced house building, worked at this business about twelve years. In 1844, he commenced working for the railroad in Springfield, Mass.; continued this business about thirty-five years. A great portion of this time was occupied as master of car building. For eighteen years he was in the employ of the C., A. & St. L. R'y. In 1879, came to Bazile Mill and established this business.
J. P. REED, blacksmith, was born in Crawford County, Pa., in the year 1843. Came to Allamakee County, Iowa, in 1852; there learned his trade and carried on a shop for two years; then went to Minnesota, and there carried on a shop for about two years; also spent two years in the Black Hills and Big Horn Mountains. In the fall of 1877, he came to Niobrara, Neb., and carried on a shop about one year. Was then appointed Deputy Sheriff; held that position four years. In the fall of 1881, he came to Bazile Mills and has since carried on the blacksmith business here.
S. N. SAUNDERS, Bazile Mill Company, was born in New London County, Conn.; there he was employed in woolen mills. In 1871, he came to Niobrara, soon after he came to this location, which had been selected by Samuel D. Brooks, now deceased, as a mill site. On coming here he assisted in the construction of this mill, which was completed in 1876, and has been in full operation since, he attending to the general supervision of this part of their immense business, which is by far the most extensive of any in Northern Nebraska. They make a specialty of fancy grades. This mill is supplied with all the latest improved machinery.
WILLIAM SAUNDERS, firm of Saunders Bros., hardware; is a native of Rhode Island. When a boy he entered a woolen factory, where he was employed a number of years. He held the position of foreman the last five years he remained with the company. March, 1871, he came to Niobrara; he with Samuel D. Brooks, now deceased, decided on this location for this mill. The following year they removed to this locality, and at once commenced building this mill, which was completed in 1876, and is by far the largest and most costly structure in Northern Nebraska, being supplied with the latest improved machinery for manufacturing flour. Mr. Saunders has been County Commissioner six years, and member of the School Board since its organization.
This town is situated on bottom land, in the northwestern corner of the county, on the Niobrara River. The first settlement was made in 1870, by a portion of a colony formed in Chicago the year previously, by a number of Bohemians. Among those most active in forming the colony were Anton Pischel, Vac Randa, Frank Janausek, and F. Behm. The design of these gentlemen was to settle a large number of the poor laboring class, who were earning but a bare living in a large city, on the broad and fertile plains of Nebraska, where each might soon become independent, and ultimately acquire a competence. The colony being organized started for Nebraska, but all did not reach their destination, the larger portion remaining near Yankton and Bon Homme, Dakota Territory. The town was named after Anton Pischel, the projector of the colony. Those who came with him were J. Marshall and J. Dryak. In the fall of the same year, Frank Janausek and J. Mlady moved here. During the first few years these pioneers in this part of the county underwent extreme privations, such that if described would scarce be credited by one coming here to settle at the present time, but with a persistency characteristic of their race, they overcame every obstacle, and are now in comfortable circumstances.
In 1871, the first birth occurred, that of John Vtasnik. The first death was that of Mrs. Ignatz Marshall, in 1873, and the first marriage that of Joseph Dryak to Miss Marshall, in 1874. R. Crossly taught school in 1873, in a schoolhouse built the previous winter, in the western part of the village. The post office was established in 1872; Anton Pischel first Postmaster. A grist mill was built in 1878, by Jilek Pischel, and in 1879, a store was opened by A. Pischel near the post office.
This post office is finely situated on level prairie in the southern part of the county, about eight miles southwest of Creighton. The first settlement in the vicinity was made April 1, 1873, by Capt. J. M. Miller, and his two sons, John S. and I. B. Miller, A. Merriam, John A. Davis, James Hindman, Wm. Crum, and George Edgerton. In the fall Archibald McGill and others moved in.
The first birth was that of Miner B. Merriman, November 17, 1873; the first marriage that of Henry Brooks to Miss Celestia A. Miller, September 3, 1878, and the first death that of Miss Eveline Ausman, August 17, 1881.
Nancy Anderson taught the first school in a house rented for that purpose, in 1874. A schoolhouse was not built until the fall of 1879. Rev. Charles H. Emmerson preached the first sermon, at the rented schoolhouse, in 1875. The Presbyterians completed a church edifice in the spring of 1882. It is a very neat and well finished structure, 44x28 feet, and cost about $1,500.
The post office was established in 1874; Miss C. A. Miller, Postmistress. On April 13, 1873, Miss Miller can near perishing in the terrific snow storm of that day, lying buried for twelve hours under a drift three feet deep. Since 1877, the surrounding country has received numerous additions to its numbers.
Verdigris Bridge is a country post office located on Verdigris Creek. The first settlers were Andrew G. and Vincent Suckup, in 1874. J. Burkard came in in 1876. Andrew G. Suckup, Jr., was the first child born, in 1876; the first marriage was that of J. Burkard to Miss Margaret Suckup, in 1876, and the first death that of Michael Effle, June 27, 1879.
The first sermon was preached in May, 1880, at L. Richlings's house, by Rev. Father Schoof. In 1881 the first school was taught in a log house, my Miss Ella Butterfield. The post office was established in 1879; D. Van Brocklin first Postmaster. The surrounding country is rolling prairie, an is being quite rapidly settled up and greatly improved.
Frankfort is situated in the northeastern part of the county, on the Missouri River. It was first settled by S. Loeber, in 1856, who opened an Indian trading post here that year. In 1857 Mr. Loeber was joined by his brother Justus, and about fifteen or twenty others, among whom were J. Oesterling, Adolp Maux, Fred Riemer and Charles Mischke. Some time afterward John Buhrow, Mr. Mettsler and Leonhard Weigand came in, the latter of whom is now living, quite a wealthy farmer, on Wyoming or Frankfort Creek, about five miles above its mouth. After the flood of 1881, the post office at Frankfort was discontinued. The first school in the county was taught at Frankfort my Mrs. Clark, in 1871.
Welsh Post office, or Niobrara Valley as it is sometimes called, is situated in the extreme northwestern corner of the county, near the Niobrara River, on level, partly timbered prairie.
The first settlement was made in August, 1870, by T. Brabenec, J. Prasek and M. Arbeck. In the fall they were followed by John Schraier, J. Vlasnik, M. Mudra, and T. Koenig. The first child born here was Mary Vlasnik, in 1871; and the first natural death that of Mrs. Prasek in 1876. In the fall of 1870, Indians killed two of Thomas Brabenec's children; a girl of thirteen and a boy eight years old, and shot Mrs. Brabenec, who saved her life by feigning death.
Kemma is situated on one of the branches of Bazile Creek, in the southern part of the county, about seven miles northeast of Creighton. The first settlement was made here by Charles Wittenaben, in 1870. Other early settlers were H. Danmet, F. Kyviss and Tet Drisom The first school was taught by Tim Coison, in 1874, in a log house, no schoolhouse being built until 1879. Rev. Charles H. Emmerson preached the first sermon. The post office was established in 1875, and named Kemma; Charles Wittenaben, first Postmaster. Since this time the settlement has received numerous additions, and of a thrifty, thorough-going class of farmers; and as a consequence is rapidly in creasing in wealth and general prosperity.
Knoxville is situated twenty-four miles southwest of Niobrara, in the southwest part of the county. The surrounding country is mostly level prairie, and is settled up mostly with Americans. Walter A. Strain was the first settler here, having moved on October 8, 1878. Other settlers were William and Calvin Darnelle and A. F. Strain. The post office was established June 20, 1879; Walter A. Strain being appointed first Postmaster at that time, as was named Knoxville, after Knoxville, Ill. The first child born here was Elvin Strain, August 25, 1880. The first marriage was that of Samuel Fulton to Fannie Winnegar, July 3, 1881, and the first death that of Mellie Stearns. D. T. Chamberlain taught the first school in the winter of 1881-1882.
Sparta Post office is located on the high prairie about twelve miles south of Niobrara. It was opened in 1880, with Neal Walters, present Sheriff of the county for Postmaster, the first settler at Sparta in 1879. Other settlements made in the vicinity were, in 1879, by John Miller, Jacob and Lewis Hanson, John Williams and O. Jackson. A school was taught in 1881 by Mrs. Cooley in O. Jackson's house, the first in the vicinity.
Armstrong is a post office located twelve miles from Niobrara and three miles from the Niobrara River. It is in fine farming and grazing country, which is settled up by Americans and Bohemians in about equal proportions. It was first settled by Bohemians in 1871, seven families of them locating here at this time. For the first three years they were annoyed very much by the Indians, who helped themselves to the growing crops, whether mature or immature, and to anything else they saw that their fancy coveted. In return the settlers obtained considerable beef, at a very trifling expense, from herds of cattle belonging to the Indians and herded by the Government very carelessly on the south side of the Niobrara.
In 1878 emigration set in towards this portion of the county and 1879 quite a number of families, both Americans and Bohemians, arrived. J. L. Armstrong was the first American who took a claim in the vicinity, and, at the suggestion of Hon. E. K. Valentine, the post office, which was established July 1, 1880, was named in his honor.
Venus is situated in the southwest corner of the county, on beautiful level prairie. On account of the beauty of the surrounding country, the place was named by the early settlers Venus, in honor of the Goddess of Beauty. The first settler here was T. H. Boaz, who arrived March 23, 1879. Other settlers arrived here at the following dates: S. L. Whitmore, April 23; William White, June 3, Sarah A. Parks, August 19; and L. D. Wellman, December 1, 1879.
The first child born here was Charles Hoover, May 8, 1881; the first marriage that of John G. Parker to Miss Sarah Rouse, February 28, 1881, and the first death that of Stella Hamlin, December 28, 1880.
A three months' school, commencing May 16, 1881, was taught by Sarah A. Parks in her own house. The first preacher here was Rev. Mr. Brown, who preached at the residence of T. H. Boaz, in July, 1881. The post office was established August 9, 1880; S. L. Whitmore first Postmaster.
Walnut Grove is a post office in the western part of Knox County, on the west branch of the Verdigris River. The surrounding country is rolling, timbered prairie. The first settlers in this vicinity were H. Groeling, A. and W. Suckup, A. Chicken and H. Grim and his sons. June 1, 1873. Anna Groeling was born December 5, 1874, and was the first child born in Walnut Grove. The first marriage was that of Dr. Carvey and Miss Geraldine Bennett, in June, 1876. and the first death that of Frank Bright, November 15, 1877.
The post office was established December 1, 1875, with H. Groeling, first Postmaster. The first school was taught by R. O. Newel, commencing December, 1876, in a schoolhouse completed the month previous. The first sermon was preached at the residence of D. Tenney, by Rev. William Hur. D. Tenney opened a store in his house in August, 1880, the first store in Walnut Grove.
Blyville is situated in the northeast part of the county, about six miles south of the old town site of Frankfort. It was named after George W. Bly, one of the oldest settlers in the vicinity. The post office was established in 1873; William Hudson, first Postmaster. Mr. Bly became Postmaster in 1875.
Plum Valley was settled in 1872. It is located on the Bazile Creek, about the center of the county. The post office was established in 1875; Daniel Groner, first Postmaster. G. W. Sawyer became Postmaster in 1878.
Reidsville is situated near the center of the county on rolling prairie, about six miles northwest of Creighton. The first settler here was Charles J. Reid, in 1871. The post office was established in 1873--Charles J. Reid, first Postmaster--but was discontinued in 1880. The farms are mostly level and fertile, and owned by an enterprising class of farmers.
Dukeville is situated on the Niobrara River, fourteen miles west of Niobrara. The post office was established here in 1875; Wenzel Deitz, first Postmaster. The history of the vicinity is substantially that of Pischelville, and the settlers of the same an industrious, thrifty class.
Herrick Post office is situated near the Missouri River, about five miles west of Frankfort. The post office was established in 1876; John L. Clark, first Postmaster.
Verdigris Valley Post office is situated in the western part of the county, and was established in 1876; Frank Pavelka, first Postmaster.
Middle Branch is situated in the western part of the county, near Verdigris Bridge. The post office was establish in 1880, Harry Kirkpatrick, first Postmaster.
Sweden is situated in the northeastern part of the county. The post office was established in 1882; first Postmaster, Ole Ruden.
Anawan is a post office in the northeastern part of the county, also established in 1882; first Postmaster, J. H. Nickerson.
Breckenridge was settled in 1857 by J. S. Gregory, Dr. Joel A. Potter, the Sternberg brothers, and others. It was located where the Santee Agency is now; but some of its proprietors becoming interested in Niobrara, it was deserted and the improvements suffered to go to ruin. The first mill in the county, a wind mill, was erected here.