Surface and Natural Products | Early Settlement | Events and Items|
War Record | County Organization | County Roster|
Court House and Jail | Railroads | Ferry and Transfer Companies|
Otoe County Fair Association | Otoe County Medical Society
The Old Settlers' Association | Assessments for Taxation
Nebraska City: Early Settlement | Selling Town Lots | A Judicial Joke|
An Incident of the Panic | An Era of Speculation
Nebraska City (cont.): Transportation and Telegraphs | Incorporation|
Official Roster | Criminal | Education
Nebraska City (cont.): Religion|
Nebraska City (cont.): The Press | Government Offices|
Fire Department | Fires | Societies | Wyuka Cemetery
Nebraska City (cont.): Public Buildings | Hotels | Banks|
Board of Trade | Elevators | Nebraska City Gaslight Company
9 - 14:
** Nebraska City Biographical Sketches **|
| ADLE~DILLON | DRAKE~KEES | KINNEY | KOHN~NEILSON |
| NORTHCUTT~SCHMITZ | SEYMOUR~ZIMMERS |
Syracuse: Education | Religion | Societies | Railroad Interests|
The Press | Biographical Sketches
Syracuse (cont.): Biographical Sketches (cont.)|
Palmyra: Education | Societies | Religion | Business|
Dunbar: Events and Items | Education | Religion | Societies|
Railroad Interests | Delaware Precinct (biographical sketches)
Unadilla: Religion | Societies | The Press | Events and Items|
Wyoming | Camp Creek | Other Towns|
Biographical Sketches: North Branch Precinct | Hendricks Precinct
Osage Precinct | McWilliams Precinct | Berlin Precinct | Minersville
List of Illustrations in Otoe County Chapter
About the time of the breaking out of this excitement, that is to say in the spring of 1858, the great government freighting firm of Russell, Majors & Waddell, selected Nebraska City as the starting point for their transportation trains to Utah, New Mexico and the western forts. They erected at once, large and commodious warehouses, employed some 1,100 men, 700 wagons and nearly 6,000 yoke of oxen, transporting from April to October, 1859, 2,782,258 pounds of merchandise. Nor was this all; others, in no way connected with the government, made it their business to supply the vast army of emigration pushing on to Pike's Peak, or that no less great army which had already reached it. Every person, almost, in the neighborhood who could muster a vehicle, went into the freighting business; and for most of the venturers a fine profit was returned. From a capacity of one to three, six or eight yoke trains, carrying from eight or ten to over a hundred thousand pounds, down to a one mule cart, the means of transportation were supplied in almost every conceivable style. Among those engaged in the business, with headquarters at Nebraska City, were A. & P. Byram, the Gilman Brothers, Seth Ward, Coe & Carter, John D. Clayton, R. F. McComas, N. L. and R. D. Simpson, Henry and Alex Carlyle, John H. Maxon, Moses U. Payne, W. E. Dillon, Hosford & Gagnon, B. J. Newsom, William Fulton, F. Y. Ewing, N. M. Ware, A. W. Street, D. J. McCann, Ashton & Tate, John Overton, John Heth, Eugene Munn, Samuel Tait, John Coad, H. B. Horton and James Adkins.
The first move to establish telegraphic communication with the outside world, was made in the spring of 1860. Mr. Creighton of Omaha, agent of the Mississippi and Overland Telegraph Company, at this time submitted a proposition to Nebraska City to take stock in the institution and thus secure its immediate construction to this point, from St. Joseph, Missouri. Mr. Kountz, of Omaha, was also a prominent leader, and by the combined efforts of these gentlemen, arrangements were made and a few weeks sufficed to complete the work. By the 1st of September, the wires were in place, and on the 18th an office was opened in Nebraska City for the reception and delivery of messages.
Nebraska City, like all newly settled countries, expected soon to develop a wonderful deposit of coal. For this purpose, a company was formed in January of 1867, with a capital stock of $50,000, divided into shares of $10 each. The officers of the company were: President, J. A. Ware; vice president, D. B. McMeachan; secretary, J. Sterling Morton; directors, J. A. Goodlette, W. E. Hill; treasurer, W. D. Morton. After boring in several localities without adequate success, the association suspended operations.
In May, 1867, a shock of an earthquake was felt in Nebraska City, about 3 o'clock in the morning. It was the second one of that month, and of much longer duration than the first. Furniture was moved from its position, stovepipes tumbled down, and houses somewhat rocked, but fortunately no serious damage was sustained.
Old Nebraska City--By an act of the Territorial Legislature approved March 2, 1855, Nebraska City was duly incorporated and declared to be the seat of justice of Otoe County, an organization being effected in May of the same year, by an election, the result of which may be seen from the following summary of the votes cast: For Mayor, Dr. Henry Bradford, 36 votes ; M. W. Brown, 24 votes. For Aldermen, William R. Craig, 40 votes; William P. Walker, 18 votes; John W. Pearman, 43 votes; A. M. Rose, 19 votes; William B. Hail, 44 votes; H. P. Downs, 19 votes. For Recorder, Martin W. Riden, 61 votes. For Marshal, Smith McManus, 46 votes. For Treasurer, W. D. Gage, 42 votes; Louis Hax, 21 votes. For Assessor, Alfred B. Wolston, 51 votes; Absalom Tipton, 12 votes. In 1856, the municipal year beginning June 1, the city officers were: Mayor, Henry Bradford; Recorder, M. W. Riden; Marshal, James W. Stoll; Treasurer, James H. Decker. On March 31, 1857, Mayor Bradford "entered" Nebraska City as a town, in the land office at Omaha.
Kearney.--In the winter 1856-57, Kearney, desirous of a separate organization, organized by the election of the following officers : Mayor, Mills S. Reeves; Recorder, Henry C. Norton; Marshal, Byron Sanford; Councilmen, David Lindley, John Boulware and J. C. Campbell. At the second election, in 1857, Mills S. Reeves was again elected Mayor; S. E. McCracken, Recorder; Byron Sanford, Marshal; A. Brown, A. Rogers and W. J. Moore, Councilmen. Kearney was surveyed as a town in June, 1354. and February, 1855; and entered at the land office at Omaha, under the town site law, by Mayor Reeves, on April 13, 1857.
South Nebraska City.--On the first Monday in May, 1857, the corporation of South Nebraska City, comprising the old survey and Hail & Co.'s addition, was organized by the election of the following officers: Mayor. John B. Lull; Recorder, Fountain Pearman; Marshal, Henry Brown; Councilmen, William W. Soaper, Simeon Hooper and George Allen. The town was entered June 25, 1857.
Prairie City was surveyed by John A. Goodlette, and entered as a town site by John H. Croxton for the trustees on the 7th of October, 1857. Its organization was effected in August, 1858, by the election of the following Board of Trustees: Benjamin F. Hayward, Simpson Hargus, John H. Croxton, H. M. Giltner and James F. Hoffman.
Nebraska City of today includes the consolidated cities of Nebraska City, as at first organized, Kearney, South Nebraska City and Prairie City, united in 1858. Since that time its principal officers have been as follows :
Mayors.--1858, A. A. Brookfield, to September 21, then Frank Bell; 1859, Thomas I. Goddin; 1860, William E. Pardee; 1861, George G. Gillette; 1862, George G. Gillette; 1863, E. S. Reed to March 1, 1864, then S. H. Calhoun; 1864, S. H. Calhoun; 1865, S. H. Calhoun; 1866, R. H. Dickey; 1867, R. H. Dickey; 1868, R. H. Dickey; 1869, William E. Dillon; 1870, William E. Dillon; 1871; Albert Tuxbury; 1872, Albert Tuxbury; 1873, C. H. Korff; 1874, Alexander Street; 1875, John H. Tomlin; 1876, John H. Tomlin; 1877, Thomas B. Stevenson; l878, Thomas B. Stevenson; 1879, Thomas B. Stevenson; 1880, Thomas B. Stevenson; 1881, Thomas B. Stevenson.
Aldermen.--1858, William E. Pardee, Francis Bell to September 28, (vacancies filled by J. T. Cannon), W. R. Craig, Sylvester Hollister, Henry R. Newcomb, John B. Boulware to June 5 (vacancy filled by D. C. Corbin, who resigned December 21, whereupon Dr. A. Bowen was elected), Lucius C. Winn to August 9 (vacancy filled by R. C. Newton); 1859, J. L. Armstrong to November 24 (vacancy filled by J. H. Croxton), J. H. Rector, Thomas Morton, William E. Hill, B. H. Kalkman, S. E. McCracken, Thomas E. Thompson; 1860 (Council reduced to three members), H. H. Wilson, William E. Hill, William B. Hail; 1861, John H. Rector, D. B. McMechan, George Allen; 1862,. N. B. Larsh to November 13 (vacancy filled by John H. Maxon), D. B McMechan, S. Redfield to July 22 (vacancy filled by August Gerhardt); 1863, John H. Maxon, John Boulware. (died January 3, 1864, vacancy filled by N. L. Simpson), J. J. Hochstettler; 1864, James Sweet, August F. Harvey, F. Renner; 1865, David Seigel, T. K. Bradley, F. Renner; 1866, C. C. Walbaum, William M. Hicklin, H. H. Petring; 1867, M. J. Hawley, Herman Benter, Heath Nuckolls, James Kennedy, J. W. Minor, H. H. Petring; 1868, M. J. Hawley, James Kennedy, George T. Lincoln, William B. Miller, George W. Sroat, A. Albright; 1869, F. S. Robertson, J. W. Anderson, Robert Hawke, Edward Sheldon, A. Albright, B. J. Kalkman ; 1870, N. R. Pinney, S. P. Sibley, William Bischof, Robert Hawke, J. W. Anderson, B. J. Kalkman; 1871, William A. Brown, Robert Hawke, H. N. Cornell, John W. Anderson, N. R. Pinney, S. P. Sibley; 1872, F. J. Stooker, N. R. Pinney, C. P. Patterson, William M. Hicklin, John W. Anderson, Paul Schminke; 1873, F. J. Stooker, M. T. Johnson, John W. Anderson,, C. P. Patterson, R. M. Rolfe, D. G. Lisk; 1874, M. T. Johnson, T. S. Jones, John H. Tomlin, William A. Cotton, H. H. Petring, William T. Sloan; 1875, M. T. Johnson, Andrew Roos, H. H. Petring, James B. Northcutt, E. F. Thorpe, W. A. Cotton; 1876, same as 1875; 1877. E. F. Thorpe, George Boulware, H. F. Cady, Andrew Roos. J. B. Northcutt, H. H. Bartling; 1878, George Boulware, J. J. Hochstettler, N. B. Larsh, H. F. Cady, H. H. Bartling, Fritz Rottman; 1879, J. J. Hochstettler, J. D. Waldsmith, N. B. Larsh, S. J. Faris, H. H. Bartling. Fritz Rottman; 1880, S. J. Faris, H. H. Bartling, W. S. Rector, Fritz Rottman, J. J. Hochstettler. J. D. Waldsmith; 1881, J. W. Waldsmith, Thomas Thomas, S. J. Faris, William Eiser, H. H. Bartling, Phillip Girardet.
The city officers of 1882 are: Mayor, W. F. Houser; Clerk, H. M. Boydston; Treasurer, G. W. Burgert; Council, Thomas Thomas, Michael Bauer, William Eiser, C. D. Bickle, J. W. Anderson, H. H. Bartling; Board of Education, W. L. Wilson, George Leidigh, J. H. Catron.
The first deliberate murder in Nebraska City, was committed on April 23, 1856. Simpson Hargus shot Benjamin Lacey, in a quarrel, growing out of a species of "squatter sovereignty," attempted to be established by the claim clubs. The circumstances were clear, little that was reasonable could be urged in defense, but the trial of Hargus, who was immediately indicted. was protracted until his attorney, A. A. Bradford, a member of the Legislature, managed with one fell swoop to secure the repeal of the entire criminal code of the Territory, a matter of history, treated of in its proper place. This, of course, prevented the execution of any sentence which could be pronounced, and while Hargus was finally found guilty, the Territory had no pretense of a right to hold him. He was therefore released.
In 1859, occurred the robbery of the Platte Valley Bank, to the amount of $3,000. The clerk, who carried the keys, went home with them in his pocket, as usual, finding them the next morning on the door-steps, they having been abstracted from his room during the night, used and returned. However it was managed, the money was gone, and no trace of the robbers ever discovered. From this time until 1866, Nebraska City had her full quota of petty larcenies, cases of assault and battery, and the like, together with a few more serious cases, but nothing of especial note transpired until the murder of young Hamilton, the circumstances being these:
On Wednesday, August 15, 1866, an atrocious and cold blooded murder was committed in Otoe County, five miles from Nebraska City, on the person of William Henry Hamilton, a boy eleven years old, who lived with his parents, three miles southwest of Nebraska City. The youth was engaged in herding cattle for his father, and failing to return home on the evening of the 15th of August, search was made, and the dead body of the boy found in a creek, in a stooping posture, his feet buried in the mud, both arms under his face, level with the water. He had been shot three times, in the corner of his right eye, once under the right arm, and again in the ear. The body was conveyed to the home of the parents, and a coroner's jury decided that he came to his death from pistol balls, supposed to have been fired by a man named Cash. After the commission of the terrible crime, Cash (as he was called) rode to Nebraska City, and sold to a man named Hays, several head of cattle belonging to Hamilton, the father of the murdered boy. He then crossed the ferry into Iowa. A reward of $200 was offered for the arrest of the murderer, and the most intense excitement and indignation prevailed throughout the county. More than 200 men armed themselves, and started in pursuit. Diercks--the true name of the accused, was captured at Plum Hollow, Iowa, on the 16th of August, brought to Nebraska City, and lodged in jail. When brought across the ferry, the shore was lined with an immense crowd of indignant, excited people. At half past 10 o'clock, an immense crowd of people assembled in the public square, and chose D. J. McCann, president, and J. Dan Lauer, secretary. Several prominent citizens addressed the multitude, and counseled calmness, coolness and deliberation. A jury, composed of old and influential citizens, was appointed to try the prisoner. Another committee was appointed to guard the jail. Twenty special policemen were placed on duty, and lawyers for the prosecution and defense chosen by the meeting. Casper Frederick Diercks, and two supposed accomplices, Ford and Deitch, were brought out for trial, in the park, in the presence of about 2,000 people. Seven witnesses were examined, among them the father of the murdered boy, and Ford and Deitch, and the jury retired for consultation, and returning, brought in a verdict of willful murder against Casper Diercks, and recommended that Sebastian Deitch and R. P. Ford be remanded to jail, for trial, by the district court. A proposition to hang Diercks immediately was negatived, and he was allowed until 6 o'clock in the evening to prepare for death. At the appointed hour, he was brought forth to a scaffold, erected in court house square, and a prayer was offered by Rev. H. F. Davis, of the Methodist Church. The prisoner then said, taking the noose in his hand: "Holding as I do this rope, which is to send me into eternity, I declare that I am guilty of the larceny, but of murder, I am not." In response to questions, he said he did not know who killed the boy. He then said: "May God have mercy on my soul!" and the drop fell. He struggled for a few moments, and all was over. Diercks was a native of Holstein, Germany, and claimed to have fought in the Rebellion, and to have been mustered out of the Union army as a Lieutenant Colonel of an Illinois regiment. He willed $1,000 to the Methodist Episcopal Church of Nebraska City, $2,400 to a brother in Philadelphia, and the remainder of his estate; to a young lady, named Ellen Henderson. That Diercks was guilty of the brutal murder, no one entertained a doubt, and all concurred in his execution.
On the night of November 30, 1878, the premises of Charles Slocumb, located on Sioux street, between Eighth and Ninth, Nebraska City, were invaded by burglars, the house robbed, the owner cruelly murdered and an attempt made to violate the person of Mrs. Slocumb. Suspicion fell on three colored men, to-wit: Henry Martin, Henry Jackson and William Givens. At ten o'clock on the morning succeeding the murder, the suspected parties were arrested and imprisoned. The district court, Hon. William Gaslin presiding, was in session, and the court ordered a special grand jury. On Friday, December 6, true bills of indictment for murder in the first degree were found against Henry Martin, Henry Jackson and William Given, bat the same day it became evident that Given was not concerned in the outrage and he was released to be used as State's evidence. F. P. Ireland and J. L. Mitchell were assigned by the court to defend the prisoners; the State's interests were sustained by George S. Smith, district attorney. The evidence was plain and direct and the jury returned a verdict of guilty of murder in the second degree. Some of the panel believing a life imprisonment more terrible punishment than hanging, the court sentenced the prisoners to be imprisoned in State penitentiary for life, to be kept at hard labor. Passing from the court room to the jail in the basement of the building, one of the prisoners (Martin) remarked that he "would much prefer immediate death on the scaffold to life imprisonment.'' If earnest in this wish his desires were soon gratified. They were placed in the most secure part of the jail and Deputy Sheriff McCallum and five guards placed over them. At two o'clock the same night about one hundred masked men, heavily armed, appeared at the door of the prison and demanded admittance. Mr. McCallum told them he was placed in charge and they could not be admitted. The crowd was prepared for this and instantly attacked the outer door with battering rams and sledges. Within two minutes they broke down the outer doors, seized the jailor, secured the key of the inner door, took possession of Martin and Jackson, and hurried them out Eleventh street, crossed South Table Creek bridge, then turning west they marched a few hundred feet where a convenient tree was found. They were tied to a limb and within a few minutes life was extinct. Soon after daylight the bodies were removed and buried in potter's field. The officers thought in addition to the party who entered the jail fully two hundred stood on the square near the building ready to assist in removing the prisoners if their services were required. In fact the whole community believed the prisoners clearly guilty of the cold-blooded murder of a respectable citizen, and that a speedy death should be meted out to them. Under the circumstances the verdict was believed to be too lenient, and when the presiding judge was informed of the execution of the murderers, he remarked: "I expected it."
The first school ever taught in this portion of Nebraska was taught by Miss Martin (now Mrs. Jesson) who still lives in the vicinity of Nebraska City. This was in the spring of 1855. There are other claimants to this honor, but that Miss Martin is entitled to it we have the averment of the "Old Settlers' Society." At more than one of their annual meetings the honor has been claimed for this lady, and not a voice was raised to dispute it. The second school was that of Miss Lucy N. Bowen, who with a previous experience of three years in Ulster County, New York, came to Kearney Heights in 1855, and in the spring of 1856, taught a private school there. She erected a commodious house and from 1856 to the present--with two slight interregnums--has taught either a public or private school in the same building every since. During her long term of conscientious discharge of duty she has taught the following named persons, now grown people and the heads of families: John and Edward Campbell, James and Michael Reed, Mrs. S. H. Calhoun and her brothers, John, William and Charles McMechan, Fitch, Brock and Steptoe Kinney, Forbes Bowen, Eugene and Graham Bradley, William Mollring and others.
Major White taught a school in the winter of 1855.
John Cagy taught a school in Nebraska City in the winter of 1856. He was afterward secretary to John Brown and killed in the raid at Harper's Ferry.
The Following persons also taught private or select school prior to the organization of the public schools: Miss E. Bonner, Rev. Mr. Doughett, Miss Doughett, J. Shurfey (a graduate of Yale College), Mr. Wilson, Mrs. Jackson, Mrs. E. E. Arnold, H. K. Raymond, (identified with both the public and private schools since 1858) John Miller, Mrs. Green, Miss Mattie Lambeth, Miss Palmer, Miss Simpson, Mrs. Hubner, Mrs. Byers and Miss Mary Rector.
The leading friends of education in 1859 were John H. Croxton, Dr. Bowen, Rev. Mr. Taggart, J. M. Tomlin, Dr. J. W. Parker, H. K. Raymond, S. F. Nuckolls, Julius Metcalfe, Robert Hawke, Thomas Morton, J. Sterling Morton. Through the persistent efforts of these and other gentlemen an organization was effected, and on the last day of that year Mrs. Hubner, Mrs. Arnold, Miss Corey, Miss Lucy Bowen, Mr. Shurfey and Mr. Raymond met at the residence of Thomas Morton, and were examined for teachers in the public schools by J. Pardee and John H. Croxton, the County Examiners. On Monday, January 2, 1860, the public schools were opened and the term continued until March 30 of the same year. The salaries paid the teachers averaged $50 per month for the ladies and $75 for the gentlemen.
December 8, 1861, the second term commenced with substantially the same corps of teachers, and the teachers were paid fifty cents per month for each pupil. This system continued for several years, the amount ranging between twenty-five and seventy five cents per month for each scholar.
The first principal was Mr. Hickman, although each teacher was practically "a law unto himself." About this time the zealous friends of education made a strong effort for perfecting the public schools and for the erection of a suitable high school, but the excitement caused by the war swallowed up all other interests and it was not until 1864 that the efforts were crowned with success. On the 14th of February of that year the Legislature passed an act approving the issuing by the city Council, upon the requisition of the Board of Education, of $15,000 in bonds whereby to raise means for the erection of a high school building at a central point in the city. These bonds. with the exception of $2,000, were taken by the Hon. J. Sterling Morton and drew ten per cent, interest. The prompt sale of the bonds was a great encouragement to the friends of education. A festival to assist in raising funds to aid in the construction of the building was given by the ladies of the city led by Mrs. J. Sterling Morton, and the sum of $1,100 realized. With Dr. Bowen as the active manager, and Rev. J. M. Taggart, now of Palmyra, as architect and contractor, the first high school building west of the Missouri, was finished in 1865 at a cost of $31,000.
On the subject of the erection of this building, "The Physicians and Surgeons of the United States," an accurate and able work published by William B. Atkinson, M. D., in the year 1878, pays Dr. Bowen this merited compliment: "Mainly through his exertions the first high school building was erected west of the Missouri River, at Nebraska City in 1864."
During the year when this fine house was built, Messrs, Bowen, Campbell, Parker, Street, and Tomlin constituted the Board of Education, Mr. Ware Treasurer. With the close of the war and the occupancy of the elegant high school edifice (now called the Second Ward school) came a renewed interest in education. From 1865 to 1872 the Superintendent and Ward Principals were Messrs. Covell, Dr. White, H. K. Raymond, Eaton, Rev. Mr. Richardson, Ashby and W. W. W. Jones, now State Superintendent of Education.
The Third Ward school house erected in the summer of 1869, at a cost of $10,000, was destroyed by fire on the 24th of February, 1874. Fortunately it was insured for its full value and immediately rebuilt.
In 1872 the Legislature abolished the School Board and placed the management of the city schools in the hands of the Mayor and Council, This grew out of the action of the board in discharging a teacher whose friends wielded influence with the Legislature. In 1872 E. Huber served as City Superintendent. From 1873 to 1874, W. W. W. Jones was superintendent and principal of the Second Ward school at a salary of $100 per month, and J. W. Boyer principal of the Third Ward, salary $60 per month. In 1875 J. P. Worthen was chosen principal of the Second Ward school at $85 per month and P. B. Chute principal of the Third Ward at $60 per month.
On the 17th of February, 1872, the friends of the Board of Education secured the passage of a law by the Legislature from which we quote the material portions: Section one gave the power to establish and govern high and graded schools and other public schools to Boards of Education to consist of four members elected by the legal voters of the district. Section two of this act provided that all schools erected or organized within the limits of said cities (those embracing more than one district) shall be under the direction and control of the Boards of Education authorized by this act. Such schools shall be free to all children between the ages of five and twenty-one years whose parents or guardians reside within the limits of said district, and to all children of non-residents paying taxes therein. Section ten authorized the Boards of Education to elect annually, in July, a Superintendent of Public Instruction with such salary as the Board may deem just, not exceeding $100 per annum. They were further authorized to elect teachers, janitors, etc. During the year 1874 the high school building was erected. Cost of building and grounds, $5.000.
The first election for a Board of Education under the amended act of February 17, 1875, took place on the 6th of April, 1875, and resulted in the choice of James Thorn, J. D. Kerr, William Fulton and E. Huber. J. D. Kerr was chosen President and E. Huber, Secretary.
The first action of the board was to consolidate all parts of the city into one school district to be known as "the school district of Nebraska City." The City Council was then notified of the organization of the board, and that they were ready to take charge of the schools of the city, and to receive all property, funds and papers in the hands of the city for the use of the public schools. The request was promptly complied with.
At the regular meeting of the Board of Education, May 7, 1875, the contract for the construction of the Third Ward school building was awarded to Huffman and Wales for the sum of $4,259.25. At the same meeting J. H. Worthin and a full corps of teachers were elected. At the July meeting J. H. Worthin was chosen City Superintendent of Schools. The salary of Mr. Worthin was fixed at $1,000 per annum for both positions. Miss Sarah E. Steele was elected assistant teacher of the high school at a salary of $60 per month, and the principals of the ward schools, Mrs. L. C. Duffield and Miss M. T. Lewis, were voted $50 per month each. For this year the assistants received $45 per month each.
At the March meeting C. H. Korff was elected a member of the board to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Eli Huber. On the 3rd of July, 1876, Mrs. L. C. Duffield was elected principal of the Third Ward school and Miss Lewis principal of the Second Ward school. At the same session A. P. Grout was chosen principal of the high school and City Superintendent of Schools at an annual salary of $1,300.
At the regular meeting of the board held July 2, 1877, the election of teachers for the school year took place and resulted in the choice of Miss S. E. Steele, as principal of the high school, at a salary of $83.33 per month, Miss Elsie Decou, assistant, Miss Lewis, principal of the Second Ward, and Mrs. Duffield principal of the Third Ward.
February 4, 1878, the board consisted of Messrs. Peschau, Korff, Fulton and Raymond. On the 11th of June following, Miss Steele was re-elected principal at a salary of $75 per month, with Miss M. B. Minor assistant; Miss Lewis principal of the Second Ward, and Mrs. Duffield principal of the Third Ward, Miss Bowen the Kearney school, and Rev. W. A. Green in charge of the colored school. F. W. Peschan was appointed Superintendent. Salaries of teachers, with the exception above indicated, the same as the two preceding years. At the same meeting Phillip Potter was chosen a member of the Board to fill the vacancy caused by the refusal of E. S. Hawley to qualify.
For the year 1879, the board consisted of H. K. Raymond, president, M. L. Hayward, William Bischof and D. W. Hershey. secretary. Mr. Raymond was also chosen secretary.
On the 2d of June, 1879, the annual election of teachers was held: M. H. Carlton was chosen principal of the high school at a salary of $55 per month; Miss E. J. Evans, principal of the Third Ward, Mrs. Nora Lemon, principal of the Second Ward. This year there was a general reduction of salaries, the principals receiving $45 per month, and the assistants $35.
On the 4th of August following, Mr. and Mrs. Munger were selected principal and assistant principal of the high school and Miss May B. Pickett principal of the primary department of the Second Ward.
May 5, 1880, for this scholastic year Messrs. Hayward, Bischof, Cady and Potter constituted the board, with Bischof president and Cady secretary. On the 14th of June following the annual election resulted in the choice of Mrs. Lemon, principal of the Second Ward, Miss Evans principal of the Third Ward. The election of a principal for high school and Superintendent was postponed until the August meeting, at which time Mr. Munger was chosen for the first position: Mrs. Munger for the other. No change was made in teachers' salaries.
May 2, 1881, The board now composed of six members, consisted of Messrs. Bischof, president; L. F. Cornutt, secretary; Dr. Schminke, Dr. Whitten, S. Davies and J. J. Hochstettler. At the regular meeting in June, the following teachers were chosen for the school year: Mrs. Lemon, principal of Second Ward, Miss Josie McCoy, Miss Iola Nuckolls, Miss Barr, Miss Wille, Miss Kafer, Miss Templin, Miss Evans, principal Third Ward, Miss Cora Clark, Miss Hopps, Miss Swanson, Miss Morton, Miss Bowen, for Kearney school, Mrs. Munger, principal of high school, Mr. Munger, superintendent. No change in salaries.
Otoe University.--This institution was established in the spring of 1859 under the auspices of the Presbyterian denomination, Hon. D. J. McCann was chosen president and Dr. J. W. Parker, secretary of the board of trustees. The building, corner of Sioux, between Thirteenth and Fourteenth streets, known as the "Outfit," was purchased from Russell, Waddell & Majors, and a goodly number of scholarships were disposed of at $100 each. The faculty was composed of the following named gentlemen: Prof. Diffendorfer, manager; Rev. J. C. Elliott, principal and teacher of Greek and Latin languages; Prof. Peter Zahner, teacher of mathematics and natural sciences; Rev. Eli Huber, teacher of the German language; Prof. Macready, teacher of English literature. A large number of students, nearly 100, attended the sessions of 1869, '70 and '71, but unfortunate bickerings grew up between Mr. Diffendorfer, the board of trustees and some of the patrons of the schools, and the result was the sale of the property to the trustees of Nebraska College and the removal of the headquarters of that institution from Talbot hall to the "Outfit," or as it was then called, the University building. A strenuous effort was made by Dr. J. W. Parker, D. J. McCann and other friends of education to heal the unfortunate breach, but the effort was unsuccessful.
During the years 1861, '62 and '63, a Female Seminary was successfully taught by B. W. Vineyard, but the public school system rendered its continuance unprofitable, and Mr. Vineyard abandoned the unequal contest. At a later day a "Male and Female College" maintained a foothold for a few months, but proved an unprofitable venture.
Shoenberger Hall is a select school for girls, established in 1870 under the patronage of the Episcopal Church of the State. Since the starting of the institution the following persons have been teachers: Miss Oliver, present principal; Mrs. Potter, Miss Bowen, Miss Kiddoo, Miss Lloyd, Miss Charlier, Miss Seymour, Mr. Rennick, Dawson Collins, teacher of music ; Miss Irish and Prof. Wood, teachers of German. The hall is at present in charge of Miss Oliver, supervised by Rev. Dr. Oliver, Dean of the South Platte of Nebraska.
Nebraska College.--This educational institution, now located on Sioux street, extending from Thirteen to Fourteenth, in Nebraska City, was founded by Bishop Clarkson in 1867 and named in honor of his immediate predecessor, Bishop Talbot. Talbot Hall, designed for a diocesan school for boys, was first located on a commanding eminence three miles west of Nebraska City The classical department was assigned to Rev. John Gasman, rector of the school. The divinity department was in charge of Rev. Robert W. Oliver. The cost of the building was nearly $20,000. Thirty-five scholars were enrolled the first year. In 1871 Rev. Dr. McNamara assumed the rectorship and the year following the present site was chosen--purchased from the trustees of the Otoe University and a removal was made one year afterwards. In 1868 a charter was obtained from the Legislature naming the school Nebraska College and Divinity School. The first trustees under the charter residing in the State were as follows: Rt. Rev. Bishop Clarkson, D. D., Omaha; Hon. J. W. Woolworth, Omaha; Judge John J. Redick, Omaha; Hon. O. P. Mason, Nebraska City; Rev. R. W. Oliver, Nebraska City; Rev. John G. Gasman, Nebraska City; Julien Metcalf, Esq, Nebraska City; J. A. Ware, Nebraska City; Hon. J. Sterling Morton, Nebraska City; Hon. S. F. Nuckolls, Nebraska City; Hon. John Bennett, Nebraska City; Hon. D. H. Wheeler, Plattsmouth.
The main college building is a substantial brick, 42x42, two stories and basement. The lower floor is used for a kitchen and store room, the middle or first floor for parlor, sitting, family and servants' rooms, and the upper floor for teachers' and students' rooms. The dormitory, located west of the main building, is of wood, 40x100 feet, two stories high, divided into sixteen rooms and alcoves. On the first floor is a large school room, three recitation rooms and wash room. In the second story is the dormitory, chapel and dormitory master's room. Between the main college building and the dormitory are two small wooden buildings, one used as a recitation room by the professor of German, F. A. Wood.
This building was erected at a cost of $4,500, and the purchase money for the "outfit" building and grounds amounted to $3,500, making a total of $8,000. Of this sum the generous citizens of Nebraska City gave $5,000. S. F. Nuckolls subscribed $500 and in addition presented the college with an excellent collection of assayed minerals.
Rev. Mr. Gasman was succeeded in the presidency by Rev. John McNamara, D. D., a gentleman of good executive ability. In April, 1875, Dr. McNamara resigned to accept a responsible position in New York. Prof. P. N. Woodbury, one of the most thorough educators in the West, who had been connected with the college from its earliest infancy, was chosen head master in charge of the school. He was virtually the president, though nominally no one could be president unless he had taken orders in the Protestant Episcopal Church. The college remained under Prof. Woodbury's charge until 1877, when Rev. H. C. Shaw was elected president and served one year. then Rev. Thomas Dicky was chosen president. He has retained the position ever since and by untiring zeal and the display of fine executive ability has placed Nebraska College in a better financial condition, with a larger list of scholars than it has had from the start. From twenty-two students in 1865, the college rolls now show the names of seventy-one. Of these twenty-five are boarders. With increased capacity this number could soon be doubled. Since the opening of Talbot Hall and Nebraska College, twenty young men have been educated within their walls and ordained for ministry and are now laboring in Nebraska and Dakota.
There are six established prizes awarded annually, to-wit; Clarkson, rector's medal, Woodbury medal, Gedge medal, Howe medal. William Bischof medal.
In the college there are two literary societies, the Philologian, organized in 1872, and the Archteon, organized in 1870.
The college has no endowment, but has always been self-sustaining. Dr. Oliver's labors have "been abundant," for several years in securing an endowment for the divinity department. From the time of its foundation until 1875 the rates were $280 per year for each student, but in 1875 there was a reduction to $250. At these figures they have remained ever since, thus showing Nebraska College to be one of the cheapest educational institutions in the West. The exact terms are as follows: For board, tuition, washing, fuel and lights, for the school year, payable two months in advance, $250. For day students, for school year, payable monthly in advance: classics, $50; English, $40; students under twelve, $30; board and tuition for five school days of each week $200 per annum. Music, French and German, extra.
The first graduate of the college was H. A. Remick. The college has conferred degrees upon many persons, some of whom are residents of England and Scotland.
When the present president took charge of the institution, nearly four years since, the books showed an attendance of twenty-seven pupils; at the present time the number is seventy-one. With more commodious buildings President Dickey could run these figures to 150 within a year or two, and thus add to its usefulness as a denominational college. In addition to the Nebraska students, Kansas is represented by three, Missouri two, Dakota two, Wyoming two and Colorado one.
The scholastic year began September 1, 1881, and closed June 8, 1882, forty weeks. The college is provided with a fine mineral cabinet, presented by Messrs. S. F. Nuckolls, John Gilman and V. M. Street. Robust health, cheerful heartiness, ambition to study, personal neatness, gentlemanly bearing and good conduct characterize the school. Young men are thoroughly educated for professional life or business, and especial attention is given to moral and religious training.
The following named gentlemen constitute the Board of Trustees: Rt. Rev. R. A. Clarkson. D. D.; L. L. D., president ; Rev. R. W. Oliver, D. D., dean; Rev. James Patterson, secretary; Rev. John McNamara, Rev. H. C. Shaw, Rev. F. R. Millspaugh, Rev. H. B. Burgess, Rev. Samuel Goodale, Rev. Timothy O'Connell, Kev. C. C. Harris, Hon. J. M. Woolworth, L. L. D.; E. H. Sheldon. D. H. Wheeler, J. A. Ware, Julian Metcalf, Prof. P. L. Woodbury, R. M. Rolfe, William Bischof., Hon. Church Howe, Hon. H. M. Sessions, James Sweet, Rev. David Barr.
The officers of the college are : Rt. Rev. R. A. Clarkson, D. D. L. L. D., Visitor; Rev. Thomas E. Dickey, B. D., President and Rector; P. L. Woodbury, A. M., Head Master and Professor of Mathematics ; C. J. Gedge, B. A., Professor Natural Sciences and Ancient Languages; William Valentine, Professor English Language and Literature; Fred W. Wood, Ph. D., Professor of Modern Languages ; Mrs. T. E. Dickey, head of the house.
State Institution for the Blind.--In the month of November, 1873, Samuel Bacon, who had served as Superintendent of the Institution for the Blind in the State of Iowa arrived in Nebraska City and immediately broached the project of the establishment of a school for the education of the blind. The proposition was favorably received and in the autumn of 1874 he became a resident of Nebraska City. A public meeting was held to choose a committee to wait on the legislature--then about to convene--and ask an appropriation of $10,000 for the purchase of grounds and the erection of suitable buildings. The committee consisted of George Sroat, H. K. Raymond, Dr. John Blue, Rev. John H. McNamara, William Bischof, Dr. Bowen, and Samuel Bacon, repaired to the State capital and asked for the appropriation.
The mission of the committee was successful, and on the 19th of February, 1875, the act was promptly passed. Dr. Bowen was the author of the bill as it passed.
For $2,400 a beautiful ten-acre tract lying about three-fourths of a mile north of the city was purchased of John M. Gregg and preparations for the construction of a suitable edifice were begun. In the meantime temporary rooms in the neighborhood of Nebraska College, in the northwestern part of the city, were rented and the institution formally opened on the 10th of March, 1875, with three pupils. Professor Bacon was elected principal and his wife matron and assistant. The first section of the act establishing the institution reads as follows: "That there shall be maintained at Nebraska City, county of Otoe, an institution for the blind, and there is hereby appropriated for that purpose the sum of $10,000 for the erection of a building and the furnishing of the same: Provided, that the citizens of Nebraska City shall raise the sum of $3,000 and when the said sum is raised and paid over to the Board of Trustees either in money or in property, to the satisfaction of such Board, then the Board of Trustees of said institution for the blind shall proceed to locate said institution on not less than ten acres of land and not to exceed one mile in distance from the court house of said Nebraska City." The succeeding sections to the seventeenth provide for the mode of governing the institution by the Board of Trustees, composed of the Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Treasurer, and Commissioner of Public Lands and Buildings--and section seventeen provides that " all blind persons resident of this State, of suitable age and capacity, shall be entitled to an education in this institution at the expense of the State. Each County Superintendent of common schools shall report to the Institution for the Blind on the first day of April of each year the name, age, residence, and post office address of every blind person and every person blind to such an extent as to be unable to acquire an education in the common schools, and who reside in the county where he is superintendent."
Under the supervision of the original Board of Trustees, consisting of George Sroat, George Crow, Samuel Manly, Homan J. Walsh, Paul Schminke, and N. S. Harding, the new building was finished at a cost of $9,795, To this add. $100 for plans and specifications, $75 for superintendence of work, $275 for traveling expenses of the commissioners, and $2,400 purchase money for the ten acres of ground and but a small balance remained.
The main building, a substantial brick, is three stories and basement, forty-nine by sixty-five feet. and contains thirty large rooms. It is admirably arranged for the purposes designed. In 1877 a two-story brick work shop twenty-five by fifty-seven feet, containing four spacious rooms, was added at a cost of $3,000.
On the 13th of January, 1876, Prof. Bacon removed to the new building; and at that time the three pupils were Mary, Effie and Maggie Campbell (three sisters), of Johnson County. Soon after, eight other unfortunates were added to the roll of the institution.
On the 17th of November, 1877, Mr. Bacon's services were dispensed with, and Prof. J. B. Parmalee, who had been Superintendent of the Iowa Institution for the Blind, was appointed. The following is a list of the officers at present engaged in the school, with the salaries of each: J. B. Parmalee, principal, $1,000; Mrs. N. K. Parmalee, matron and teacher, $400; Miss Lucina M. Hotchkiss, teacher of literary department, $350; Miss Mary McGinniss, teacher of vocal music, $200; Miss Lilly Chadsey, teacher of instrumental music, $250; D. W. Hershey, M. D., physician, $50; C. W. Scott, foreman of workshop, $125. With the accession of Prof. Parmalee to the principalship, came a more perfect system of business, and a rigid system in the accounts of receipts and expenditures.
In 1877 the expenditures amounted to $6,379.50 for running expenses, musical instruments, furniture, shrubbery, improvement of grounds buildings, books, maps, charts, apparatus, and clothing for indigent pupils. In addition to this, the sum of $3,000 was expended for the construction of the commodious workshop. The appropriation for the institution for 1877 was $19,906. Of this sum. $10,507 was returned to the State treasury. During the year fourteen pupils were in attendance.
In 1878 the Legislature appropriated $14,423.02. Of this, $5,778.25 were unexpended and returned to the State treasury, leaving the annual expenses for that year $8,644.70. The number of pupils during the year was twenty-one.
For the year 1879, $7,700 was appropriated, of which sum $2,962.09 was returned to the State treasury, showing the annual expenses of the year to have been $4,737.91. During this year the names of twenty-three pupils were on the rolls.
In 1880 the appropriation was $8,200. The total expenses were $5,186.90. The surplus, $3,013.10 was returned to the State treasury. Twenty-two pupils were in attendance.
The annual appropriation for 1881 amounted to $7,450. The expenditures were $7,172.53. The unexpended balance of $277.47 was returned to the State treasury. Twenty-six pupils were reported for the year. One more has been added since the beginning of the present year.
The above exhibit shows that the financial affairs of the institution have been wisely and economically administered by Superintendent Parmalee, under the direction of the Board of Trustees, who make annual visits of inspection. The government of the institution is paternal, and the law of kindness the governing principle. Corporal punishment is unknown in the institution. A regular course of study is marked out, running from eight to ten years, and when pupils are graduated they stand on a par with those who have passed the best graded schools of the State. The course includes geometry, physiology. ancient and modern history, astronomy, natural history and natural philosophy. From the organization of the institution to the present time, fifty pupils have received, or are receiving, instruction; representing the following counties : Adams, Butler (2), Burt, Clay, Douglas (3), Gage, Hall (2), Harlan, Jefferson, Johnson (5; of this number four are sisters), Kearney, Knox, Nemaha (5), Otoe (3), Pawnee (2), Richardson (4), Seward(3), Sherman, Saunders (2), Saline, Thayer (2), Washington (2).
A large majority of the unfortunate pupils are the children of people of limited means; but of the whole number only four receive their clothing from the fund furnished at the expense of the State. Of course tuition, board, fuel and washing are free to all pupils. The annual cost for each pupil is $250.
The spot occupied by the institution is one of the most beautiful in the West, and that a wise choice was made in the selection of a training school for these unfortunate wards of the State, may be mentioned the fact that the institution is now in its seventh year, and thus far there has not been a death, nor in fact a case of serious sickness.
Two of the most interesting departments of the institution are the musical and the industrial. In the first named, the pupils are making rapid advancements. The choirs and band meet every afternoon, on alternate days, while the practice and lessons on the different instruments are in progress continuously throughout the day. Two pianos, two organs, a flute and four violins make up the equipment, and are in almost constant use, by the pupils. The pupils acquire a knowledge of music readily, and many graduates of similar institutions secure employment by teaching music in public schools, academies, as organists in churches, and by giving lessons on the different instruments at home. In the matter of securing a self-support, experience proves that the musical branches are the most efficient, while they also contribute to relieve the dreary monotony and ennui which falls to the lot of those bereft of sight.
In the industrial department, the boys and young men are required to spend a certain number of hours at the occupations of cane-seating and broom-making, and first-class work is the result of a few months' training. Other trades will soon be taught. The girls and young ladies are instructed in hand and machine sewing, knitting, crocheting, bead and fancy work. The labor of hemming towels, sheets, etc., is done by them. The reports show that both the shop and fancy work departments are sources of profit, after paying all expenses for stock.
The usefulness of this beneficent institution could be largely increased, if the County Superintendents of Nebraska would discharge their duties, by reporting the names of blind persons, between the ages of nine and twenty-one years, within their several counties, "and every person blind to such an extent as to be unable to acquire an education in the common schools."