NEGenWeb Project
Kansas Collection Books

Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska

Produced by
Don Schreiner.

Surface and Natural Products | Early Settlement | Events and Items

War Record | County Organization | County Roster
County Representation


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
Manufacturing Interests

9 - 14:

** Nebraska City Biographical Sketches **

PART 15:

Syracuse:  Education | Religion | Societies | Railroad Interests
The Press | Biographical Sketches

PART 16:
Syracuse (cont.):  Biographical Sketches (cont.)
PART 17:

Palmyra:  Education | Societies | Religion | Business
Biographical Sketches

PART 18:

Dunbar:  Events and Items | Education | Religion | Societies
Railroad Interests | Delaware Precinct (biographical sketches)

PART 19:

Unadilla:  Religion | Societies | The Press | Events and Items
Biographical Sketches

PART 20:

Wyoming | Camp Creek | Other Towns
Biographical Sketches:  North Branch Precinct | Hendricks Precinct
Osage Precinct | McWilliams Precinct | Berlin Precinct | Minersville
Otoe Precinct

List of Illustrations in Otoe County Chapter

Part 8


In the great fire of 1860, to which reference is elsewhere made, the Odd Fellows and Masons' halls were destroyed. A movement was immediately inaugurated to erect what is now known as Union Block, a magnificent three-story building, containing, in addition to store rooms, halls for both of the organizations mentioned. The work of excavating for the site of the building was commenced in March, 1861, the money for its erection being raised on the subscription plan, the total amount being divided into shares of $20 each. On January, 1, 1866, the trustees divided the property, the Masons taking the east half, and the Odd Fellows the west half of the block, all liabilities having been paid, and a balance in the treasury of the building committee of $2,200. In 1868, Hawke's Hall, a spacious building, on Sixth street, near Main, was erected, by Mr. Robert Hawke, the intention being to use its second door as a public hall. It was duly dedicated, a monument to the enterprise and public spirit of its proprietor, on December 22, of that year, by a grand supper, given by the ladies of the Lutheran Church. This building is still in occasional use, for the purpose originally intended.

Opera House.--In the year 1870, the Nebraska City Turner's Society determined to erect an opera house suitable to the wants of the city, where first-class dramas could be produced. The society owned a lot forty-eight by 120 feet on Otoe street, between Sixth and Seventh, where they proposed to build. The society treasury contained $3,000 in cash, and to this sum an additional $3,000 was contributed, by liberal citizens. To secure the amount required for the erection of the building, a loan was made of Stephen Hale of $7,000, and stock issued for $7,000 more. In the construction of the house, the Turner Society was pretty effectually swamped, but the following named gentlemen assumed the debts of the society, completed the work, and became the owners: William Bischof, A. Zimmerer, P. Rodenhaus, Paul Schminke, Z. Beyschlag, M. Sichl, A. Ross, V. Straub, L. Levi. The work was finished in 1873, at the cost above indicated. The house is substantially built, forty-five by 100 feet, and has a seating capacity of over 400. During the present season, the interior will be frescoed, and a gallery constructed. This will increase the capacity of the audience room to 600. Under the efficient management of W. T. Canada, the "German Opera House" has become a popular resort, and the manager secures many first-class companies.

Other public buildings, the magnificent structure erected by the State, as an institution for the blind, the public school buildings in the city, and Nebraska College, have all been treated of, under the head of the respective institutions which occupy them.


The first hotel in the city was built by Hiram P. Downs, in the fall of 1854, being kept by him until May, 1855. It was a two-story house, about 30 x 25 feet, with a small back building attached. In May, 1855, Messrs. Jackson and Jones assumed charge, giving way in September, to G. W. Hepner, superseded in July, 1856, by Barnum and Barnes, this firm continuing in proprietorship only until the spring of 1857. John L. Armstrong then took charge, retaining the hotel for one year, when Frederick W. Hattendorf managed it for a few weeks. Simpson Hargus having purchased the property, at this time began excavating for a basement, the building caving in during the progress of the work. Hargus immediately removed the wreck, building in its stead a four-story brick hotel, which he named the Morton House, in honor of J. Sterling Morton, a name it retained until 1862, or `63, when it fell into the hands of John Seymour, who changed its name to the Seymour House. The building has been unoccupied, for hotel purposes for some years.

The Planters' House in Kearney was built in 1855, Col. John McMechan conducting its affairs for some years It was destroyed by fire in 1863.

The Nuckolls House, on the northwest corner of Main and Sixth streets, was also a victim of the flames, in the great fire of 1860. It was built in 1867, and kept by John L. Armstrong, Thomas J. Armstrong and Harvey E. Hills.

In 1866, the Cincinnati House, a commodious frame structure, situated on the corner of Otoe and Eighth streets, was erected by John Hamlin, who managed it for some years, it now being in charge of Henry Brown.

The Barnum House was built in 1869, by A. I. Lindsay. It is a magnificent brick structure, four stories in height, and contains fifty rooms, located on the corner of Main and Eighth streets, Winn and Cleveland managed it for some years, giving it a reputation second to that of no hotel in the State. Under the ownership of the present proprietor, Steven Hale, it was leased to George A. Wilcox, who kept up its good name until the winter of 1881 and '82, when it was closed for several months, being re-opened in April, 1881, under the same management.

In 1871, Mr. Jacob Shoff, an old and wealthy citizen of Nebraska City, began the erection of the Shoff House, the name of which was afterwards changed to that of the Grand Central. This hotel, located on the corner of Main and Tenth streets, is three stories in height, contains fifty-seven rooms, and cost $50,000. It has been particularly unfortunate in having a rapid change of management, that until lately has prevented its making a name for itself, but in June, 1881, the heirs of Mr. Shoff succeeded in leasing the building to Mr. E. Seymour, under whose directing care the house bids fair to rival the best in the West.


The first bank established in Nebraska City was the Platte Valley Bank, chartered by the Second Territorial Legislature, and organized with Stephen F. Nuckolls as president, and Joshua Garside as cashier. It occupied the first brick building erected in the city and continued in business until after the panic of 1857, being the only one of the six Territorial banks in existence at that time, which survived the stringency of the times and paid every dollar it owed. How this was done is related in the early history of Nebraska City and repetition is unnecessary.

James Sweet National Bank.--What is now known as the James Sweet National Bank was originally established September 19, 1859, as a private bank, by Cheever, Sweet & Co., the firm consisting of J. H. Cheever and John W. Kirk, of Cincinnati, and James Sweet of Nebraska City. October 1, 1860, the firm became James Sweet & Co. (R. M. Rolfe and James Sweet). June 1, 1871, R. M. Rolfe retired and J. T. Thompson and H. N. Shewell came into the firm. Mr. Thompson retired in August, 1874. The James Sweet National Bank succeeded James Sweet & Co., June 30, 1881. Present officers: James Sweet, president; H. N. Shewell, cashier; A. C. Sweet, assistant cashier; J. Sweet, Robert Hawke, H. N. Shewell, E. W. Terry, H. T. Taylor. Capital stock $50,000. Deposits at last quarterly report, $200,000.

Otoe County National Bank.--This institution was chartered in May, 1865, with Talbot Ashton, president; J. Metcalf, cashier. Capital stock $50,000, increased to $100,000, and at present $50,000. Surplus and profits, $18,846.05. Deposits, 99,240.50. Board of directors, W. E. Hill, J. Metcalf, Thomas Morton, E. S. Hawley, J. J. McDemie.

Nebraska City National Bank.--Chartered in 1871, with D. J. McCann, president; W. W. Bell, vice-president; J. P. Metcalf, cashier. The capital stock was $50,000. Present officers: W. L. Wilson, president; Robert Lorton, vice-president ; John W. Steinhart, acting cashier. Capital stock the same as when originally chartered. Deposits, $170,000. Directors: W. L. Wilson, Robert Lorton, W. S. Rector. L. F. Cornutt, H. W. Davenport.

In addition to the above banks Nebraska City has had two banks of deposit only, established in its early history, being those of J. A. Ware and D. J. McCann, respectively. The former of these: completed in 1861, what was then the finest bank building in the Territory, continuing to occupy it until 1872, when he retired from the business. D. J. McCann built, in 1871, a handsome structure on the corner of Sixth and Main, afterward used by the Nebraska City National Bank, of which Mr. McCann was the first president.


In 1861, when the "burnt district" was being rebuilt, a Board of Trade was organized, with the following officers : President, S. F. Nuckolls; vice-president, T. D. Crook; secretary, James Sweet; treasurer, John H. Croxton; directors, Robert Hawke, B. H. Kalkman, A. F. Mollring, H. N. Cornell, T. Ashton, T. D. Crook, R. M. Rolfe. I. Coe and J. Metcalf. This board, after doing efficient but desultory work for a year or two, went to pieces by mutual consent, and without any formal disbandment.

No further effort in this direction seems to have been made until 1868, when a number of business men effected an organization, with Julian Metcalf, president; Frank Chadsey, vice-president; A. J. Harding, secretary; G. F. White, treasurer; the board of directors consisting of William E. Hill, J. J. Imhoff, O. F. Herrick, John Reed and Lewis C. Davenport. The principal difference between this and the Board of 1861 was, that the former lasted for a somewhat longer length of time.

On February 6, 1882, a third, and it is believed, more successful, effort was made to establish a permanent Board, an organization being effected, with Julian Metcalf, president; W. A. Cotton and H. F. Cady, first and second vice-presidents, respectively; D. P. Rolfe, secretary; William Bischof, treasurer; F. Wilhelmy, Robert Lorton, F. W. Rottman and William Hawke, board of directors. Standing committees were at once appointed, special attention given by the secretary to the collection and publication of statistics relating to the resources, and facts relating to the superior advantages of the city and county, and an effort made in this way to secure to both increased manufacturing facilities of various kinds. This good work is yet in its infancy, but promises the most flattering results, the Nebraska & Iowa Packing Company having been encouraged to establish a pork packing-house here, being one of several things the Board has already accomplished.


Tomlin, Duff & Co.'s Elevator.--In 1867 Mr. Tomlin, the senior member of the present firm of Tomlin, Duff & Co., commenced the grain business at this point, buying about one hundred thousand bushels of grain the first year. In 1875 the present partnership was formed, and the business largely increased. The warehouse of the firm is in a peculiarly convenient spot, being under the edge of a high bank. so that teams drive to the top of the building and discharge their grain, which is then cleaned and loaded into cars without the need of any steam or other power. In 1880 the firm handled about fifteen hundred cars, or about seven hundred thousand bushels of grain. During the past year (1881) the grain handled has been about six hundred thousand bushels, valued at about five hundred thousand dollars. The warehouse is valued at $2,500. This firm also have elevators at various points along the line of the Burlington & Missouri Railroad, which find its outlet to the East at this point.

The Nebraska City Elevator Company was organized in 1871, consisting: of Messrs. Talbot Ashton, Julian Metcalf, Oliver Stevenson, B. J. Newsom and W. E. Hill. Purchasing a fine site in the eastern part of the city, on the river's bank, they erected in the spring of 1871, the Nebraska City Elevator, No. 1, at a cost of $22,000, outside of the land upon which it is situated. The building is of frame, built in the most substantial manner possible, with a capacity of 50,000 bushels. Soon after the completion of the building, Messrs. Stevenson and Newsom sold their interest to the other parties, Talbot Ashton subsequently withdrawing, leaving the concern the sole property of Messrs. Hill and Metcalf. These gentleman have also built grain houses at all the towns along the Nebraska Railroad, Unadilla, Palmyra, Bennet, Malcolm and Seward.


Early in 1870 the project of lighting the city by gas was actively agitated and the City Council having passed the requisite ordinance the Nebraska City Gaslight Company was incorporated. The central figure of the company was Col. J. V. Barringer, the contractor.

In 1871 the works which now stand at the foot of Main street were completed, and the mains laid through several of the principal streets. In the early part of 1872 the gas was turned on for the first time. From that date until 1881 the gasometer rose and fell in regular pulsation to the ebb and flow of the living current in our streets. In April, 1881, the great rise in the Missouri River caused the shutting off of the coal supply and the manufacture of gas was stopped. At about the same time the city discontinued the street lamp service and the company has never resumed work. It is probable that the bonds of the company will shortly be called in and operations recommenced. The officers of the company are : Thomas Morton, president; J. Metcalf, treasurer, and F. C. Morrison, secretary.


The Reed Plow Company.--One of the largest manufacturing concerns of the city had its beginning in a blacksmith shop run by Jacob Wesner. In 1870 Mr. Reed, a man of considerable property, went into partnership with Wesner under the style of Reed & Wesner, and manufactured plows on a small scale. In August, 1873, the firm became Wesner & Co., and in 1874 it was changed to the Reed Plow Company. This company at once erected a large brick factory on Fourteenth and Main streets, investing in machinery and buildings about $27,000. The company had a paid up capital of $50,000 and a working surplus, the property of individual stockholders of about $30,000 more. Their business was a thriving one, and when on March 6, 1876, the factory was destroyed by fire, it was turning out 250 plows per day, making a total production of about $200,000 yearly.

When the works were destroyed the company sold out to Thomas Latham all their accounts and property, except real estate, and went out of business.

In 1870 J. W. Patrick had established a small plow factory and worked on without endeavoring to gain a large business, although he had found it quite profitable. In August, 1881, Mr. Wesner, who had been a partner in the Reed Plow Works, bought out Mr. Patrick and formed what is now the Nebraska Manufacturing Company. This company has a cash capital of $20,000 and turns out about $50,000 worth of plows yearly. Its officers are: J. W. Parker, president ; George Kregel, secretary; Jacob Wesner. superintendent. The directors are: Jacob Wesner, H. H. Bartling and William Rector.

Wale's Iron Foundry.--In 1866 Holmes, Gould & Powell, of Terre Haute, Ind., moved an old foundry building from that place to Nebraska City and set it up on the south side of Seventh street, near Ferry. Here the company under the management of Mr. Holmes transacted business until 1870, when the company dissolved, the business being continued by Mr. Holmes until 1872. In 1871 Mr. John Wale had settled in the city and been engaged in Mr. Holmes' factory. When Mr. Holmes decided upon relinquishing business Mr. Wale purchased his interest, and ran the business in the old building until 1877. In that year he removed to a building on Seventh, near Otoe street, where he is still located. He is now turning out about $3,000 worth of castings yearly.

Carriage Manufactories.--In the winter of 1869 Mr. J. H. McLellan started a small carriage factory in connection with a blacksmith shop. From that time he has gradually increased his facilities for business and for the past seven years has been turning out about thirty vehicles per year, including many expensive carriages. Mr. McLellan will probably enlarge the capacity of the works during 1882, and manufacture from sixty to 100 wagons of all classes.

Mr. J. M. Jeffries also manufactures wagons, but has turned his attention principally to refitting for the past few years.

Flouring Mills.--In 1868, two brothers, named Pinney, in connection with a Mr. Thorp bought out the "Stimson Mill," a small structure erected some time previous, but never ran it to any extent. After purchasing they commenced rebuilding and shortly had a building which contained scarcely any part of the old one. The reconstructed mill which stood on Main street, below the Seymour House, had four run of buhrs and a capacity of about 5,000 barrels of flour per year. After rebuilding it was valued, with its machinery, at $15,000. It was operated successfully until 1876, when it burned to the ground. It has never been rebuilt, the owners having invested largely in the Black Hills region, and removed there after the fire.

The next mill to be erected was that of Schminkes & Reiber, which was first put in operation in the spring of 1875. This mill, with its warehouse and machinery, cost $21,000. It is located at the foot of Eighth street, in South Nebraska City, and is on the railroad, a special track running directly to the mill. This mill has a capacity of seventy-five barrels of flour per day of twelve hours and was run 290 days in 1881. The mill is under the superintendency of William Schminke the junior partner.

The third mill erected in this city is that of Rector & Son, located on the lower part of Main street, a short distance west of the position of the Pinney & Reiber mill. It was opened in February, 1880. The property is valued at $15,000 and has a capacity of about 25,000 barrels of flour per year. It has four run of buhrs and a pair of reducing rolls for producing "new process" flour. Up to the present year (1882) the wheat grown in the county has supplied all these mills, but this year they have been compelled to draw slightly upon outside sources.

The Steam Saw Mill now located at the foot of Otoe street, on South Table Creek, was first erected at the head of the slough, in 1864, but the high water of that season determined the owners, Messrs. Stooker & Woods, to change to better grounds, hence the removal to the present locality. Messrs. Gregg and McIlroy purchased the establishment in 1877, and the following spring Daniel Gregg became sole proprietor; since that time it has remained in his possession. The mill has a capacity of 6,000 feet per day, and is a great convenience to the people of Nebraska City and vicinity. He uses elm, cotton, linn and bass woods and procures his logs from the surrounding bluffs and the upper Missouri. The lumber of his manufacture meets ready sales at from $12 to $18 per thousand feet.

The Nebraska City Distillery.--The distillation of wines and other liquors has never been a fortunate business in Nebraska City. In 1873, Thomas Adams erected the works at the foot of Main street and pursued the business for about six months. The works then lay idle until December, 1879, when Dr. Holmes took a fresh start in business and pursued it four or five months. Then followed another period of disuse, terminating in November, 1880. At that time W. H. Babbitt took possession and ran the business until the spring of 1881, when the extraordinary high water of the Missouri cut off the coal supply and necessitated a stoppage, and the fires have not been lighted since that time. Throughout its entire existence the distillery has had ill luck of various kinds; costly machinery has broken at will, at times when stoppage meant great loss, and other hindrances so unusual as to be hardly foreseen have crippled it. With ordinary fortune the tall chimney would to-day be pouring out its blast of smoke, and the whole place be sounding with the pleasant hum of industry, instead of lying an inert ruined mass, a tacit reproach to the town.

The Nebraska and Iowa Packing Company.--This company, the incorporators of which are Portus B. Weare, of Chicago ; P. H. Kelly, of St. Paul ; Byron L. Smith, of Chicago ; William A. Paxton, of Omaha; C. A. Weare, of Chicago; J. C. Lloyd, of Chicago, and T. C. Power, of Fort Benton, Montana Territory, organized under the laws of Illinois with $50,000 capital stock, and the election of the following officers in June, 1881:

President, Portus B. Weare; Superintendent and Secretary, J. C. Lloyd; Treasurer, C. A. Weare; Board of Directors: P. H. Kelly, C. A. Weare, J. C. Lloyd, and T. C. Power. Early in 1882 the company purchased ground in the southwest part of Nebraska City, immediately commencing the erection of a pork house, 230 feet by 81, four stories in height, and to have an estimated capacity of 1,500 hogs per day. During the year 1881, nearly 80,000 hogs were shipped to Chicago from Nebraska City, and the estimated number raised in the county alone during that year is 75,000. With this showing there can be little doubt as to the success of the enterprise, and that its success will be a vast benefit to the city and county. It is expected that packing will be commenced November 1, 1882.

The Pioneer Brewery, the first establishment for the manufacture of malt liquors within the limits of Nebraska, was built by Mr. Frederick Beyschlag, in the year 1858, in the south part of the city on Table Creek. The main building, including ice houses, is 48x70 feet, partly brick and the balance frame. Adjoining, Mr. Beyschlag owns some thirty town lots. The capacity of the brewery is twenty-five barrels per day. He has some customers in the interior of the State, but the main portion of beer is consumed in Otoe County. The Pioneer employs five men.

A. Roos's Brewery, on Tenth and Delaware streets, was built in 1863 by John C. Buse, who was not a practical brewer, and after two or three unsuccessful attempts to make beer he sold the property to the present owner, who soon enlarged the house to its present dimensions--34x88 feet, and one and one-half stories high. This brewery is of the same capacity as the Pioneer--twenty-five barrels per day, and gives employment to five men. The trade of both the city breweries has been somewhat injured by the introduction of Milwaukee beer, the proprietors complaining that the people have "too little pride in supporting home industry."

The Missouri Valley Soap Works, located on Ferry street near South Table Creek bridge, established in 1869 by Sargeant & Co. Two years since D. A. Sargeant became the sole proprietor. He manufactured for laundry work the White Prussian and the Missouri Valley, and a variety of toilet soaps. The products of these works sold principally in Nebraska and Iowa, the wholesale house of Lorton & Potts purchasing and selling large amounts annually. Mr. Sargeant gives employment during the busy season to five men. His factory has a capacity for manufacturing 200,000 pounds per annum. The product of the Missouri Valley Works bears an excellent reputation.

Cigar Factories.--No. 25, located on Main street, between Sixth and seventh, was established by Henry Phifer in September, 1867. During years 1872, '73 and '74 he gave steady employment to six men, and his annual sales reached 500,000; but latterly this has fallen off, and during the year 1882 manufactured 200,000 cigars and employed three workmen. Mr. Phifer makes all the leading brands, from the cheapest to the best. Factory No. 99 was started in November, 1880, located on Main street between Ninth and Tenth, and during the year 1881 Mr. Kessler made and sold 50,000 cigars. He did all his own work. Factory No. 208 was started in June last by Mr. F. Jahns. Three kinds of cigars are made; two hands are constantly employed. From June 1,1881, to March 1, 1882, 60,000 cigars were made, and found ready sale at home.

The Brick Trade, etc.--The first brick made in Nebraska City were from the yard of James H. Decker and Keil Cook in 1854. Brick from this firm were used in the erection of S. F. Nuckolls' residence, corner of Fifth and Main streets; the second brick was built on lot 5, block 6, in South Nebraska City; the third erected by George W. Sroat, north corner of the park, Pawnee and Twelfth, for J. Loosecamp; the fourth built by James H. Decker on the corner of Fourteenth and Main streets. These houses are still standing. During the year 1881 C. B. Bickel & Sons made 700,000 brick; Charles Rosalius made 500,000; Driscoll, Prue & Co. made 500,000. They were all readily sold at prices ranging from $7.50 to $12. The brick are manufactured from a superior quality of clay, and the substantial character of the edifices built of this material in Nebraska city is very noticeable.

Conclusion.--Nebraska City is now in the height of her prosperity. With a population of between 5,000 and 6,000, with four railroads and a fair prospect of a fifth and sixth, with manufacturing industries fairly developed, with a location unsurpassed, both as regards natural advantages and her distance from formidable rivals, her future rests with herself alone. What she has been has been told; what she will be will depend upon her citizens--they who have made her what she is.

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