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Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska

Produced by Sherri Brakenhoff.

Part 5


Canada Precinct is one of the largest in extent in the county, and one of the best improved. Dr. S. O. Whaley receives the honor of making the first settlement in the precinct in the spring of 1871. During this year, Peter Bull, William Jarmin, George Bull and family, D. Merrick, James W. Snider, M. H. Whaley, J. A. Palmer, Rufus Burritt, William Fosbender, H. W. Chase, M. W. Stone and D. D. Bramer also made settlements.

The first school district (No. 14) was organized in the fall of 1872, with the following School Board: Stephen Bull, James Mackie and George Bull. A sod schoolhouse was immediately built, and a school opened with twenty-six scholars in attendance, and Mrs. Anna Richmond as teacher.

This pioneer schoolhouse was familiarly known as the Burley Schoolhouse.

Rev. L. F. Whitehead, pastor in charge of the Osceola Circuit, organized a Methodist Episcopal Church society in the fall of 1873, at the Burley Schoolhouse, which was used as a place of worship until the spring of 1876, at which date a church building was constructed in the immediate vicinity of Burley Schoolhouse, and the name of "Wesley Chapel" given it.

The first post office established in the precinct was called "Cyclone," and Albert Cowles was appointed Postmaster.

First land entered by D. Merrick.

Upon the advent of the Union Pacific Railroad, the town of Shelby was inaugurated under the name of Arcade. The site was owned by Gilbert Vanvorce, who became possessed of it by virtue of a timber claim made upon Section 9, Town 14, Range 1 west. Mr. Vanvorce and Peter Matter gave the Union Pacific Railroad Company a half-interest in the property, and they established a station under the name of Arcade, which formed the "nucleus" of the now thriving town. In August, 1879, J. T. Dunning erected his grain elevator, which was the first built, and the following month Messrs. H. C. and Frank Dunning opened the first business house with a stock of general merchandise.

Krumbach & Thelen opened the second store with a stock of hardware, in November, 1879, and the same month Messrs. Fox & Giffin opened a third store with a stock of dry goods and groceries.

In April, 1880, John T. Dunning built the first drug store, and John Stalnecker the first hotel. The name of the post office was changed to Arcade, and R. O. D. Cummings appointed Postmaster. In the winter of 1880-81, the town was given the name of Shelby, and the name of the post office also changed to Shelby, Mr. J. T. Dunning receiving the appointment of Postmaster, which he resigned in April, 1881, being succeeded by the present incumbent, J. H. Yeoman.

The town is enjoying a prosperous and substantial growth, and has justly earned the title as the metropolis of eastern Polk. All branches of business are well represented, and as a shipping point it is fast assuming an important position on the line. In support of the fact above stated, the writer presents the following statement of shipments from this station for 1881, furnished by Mr. B. E. Sturdevant, agent in charge:

Way freight forwarded, 40,337 pounds--about.....  2
Old iron........................................  1
Potatoes........................................  2
Lumber..........................................  2
Barley..........................................  4
Flaxseed........................................  5
Hogs............................................ 22
Oats............................................ 29
Wheat........................................... 85
     Total number shipped.......................276

Population, about two hundred.


WILLIAM A. SNIDER, farmer, Section 18, Town 14, Range 1 west, P. O. Shelby, came to Nebraska, April 3, 1873, locating in Polk County, where he took up a homestead where he now lives. He was born in Canada, April 17, 1829. He was here married to Miss Sarah Jane Fox, December 25, 1854. When Mr. Snider first landed in Polk County, Neb., he was just $4.50 worse off than nothing, and now owns 160 acres of land, of which 120 are under cultivation, and a comfortable home.


Hackberry Precinct is the oldest and most populous in the county. The waters of the Blue course through it from east to west, and the banks are dotted at intervals with groves of natural timber. It was in these secluded groves that the pioneers of the county first took up their dwelling. In the spring of 1867, Albert Seaver made the first permanent settlement in the county in this precinct, and a short time after Thomas Connolly arrived, and is the second settler of the county. The next year (1868), Mr. John Patterson and wife, with their sons, Richard, James and William, James Clark, Hon. John H. Mickey and W. W. Maxwell, made settlements, and in 1869, Rev. James Query and V. P. Davis, settled on Davis Creek, the creek taking its name from Mr. Davis.

The first birth occurring in the county was a son, to Mrs. Louisa Roberts (Edgar Roberts), born November 30, 1868. In May, 1869, Rev. James Query, Polk County's pioneer preacher, preached the first sermon ever listened to in the county, and organized the first class of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the house of Hon. John H. Mickey. The pioneer members of this class were Rev. James Query and wife, Hon. John H. Mickey and wife, Mrs. A. Roberts, Mrs. Jane Clark, V. P. Davis and wife, and was attached to the Seward County Circuit.

School District No. 1 was organized in the spring of 1870, under an order of the Superintendent of Public Instruction of Butler County, with James Clark as Director; T. W. Blake, Moderator; and Hon. John H. Mickey, Treasurer.

John A. Giffin taught the first school, which numbered thirty-eight pupils.

The first county convention was held at the residence of B. F. Hibley, in July, 1870, for the purpose of organizing the county. Hon. John H. Mickey and T. W. Blake were appointed a committee to circulate a petition among the inhabitants of the county, petitioning His Excellency, the Governor of Nebraska, to order a special election to elect all necessary officers of the county, and effect a permanent organization.

The number in attendance at this initiatory convention reached twelve, and included the executive ability of the entire county.

A few weeks later the organization of the county was effected at the house of Rev. James Query.

The first marriage ceremony celebrated in the county was at the house of Rev. James Query, the contracting parties Mr. William Thomas and a Miss Crocket, of Butler County, in December, 1869, and a few days later Theodore W. Blake and Miss Matilda Query, daughter of Rev. James Query, were united in marriage.

Rev. Mr. Query was the officiating minister at both of the weddings, and the last-named parties were the first to unite their destinies, who claimed Polk County as their home.

The first death in the county occurred in this precinct in 1869.

William Wilson, an early settler, accidentally shot himself while gunning, dying some days after from his wound.

Wayland Post Office was established in 1873, and Kinsney Michner appointed Postmaster.

In the winter of 1873-74, a society of the church of God was organized by Rev. Mr. Warner in the Hoffer settlement, with a membership of thirty, and in the spring of 1876, Rev. Mr. Earnhart organized a society of the Baptist Church, with a membership of nearly thirty.


EDWARD P. SCULL, farmer, Section 32, Town 14, Range 1 west, Hackberry Precinct, P. O. Shelby, was born in Champaign County, Ohio, January 8, 1827. In 1839, he removed to Iowa, settling in Louisa County, where he followed farming until 1870. He then went West to Nebraska, and took up a homestead on Section 4, Hackberry Precinct, it being not far from where he now lives, and on which he remained for six years. He was one of the very first settlers in that part, there being at that time only seventeen voters in Polk County. In the fall of 1871, he was appointed by the County Commissioners to take charge of the highways and open roads throughout the county, also to build bridges, etc. He is one of the original members of the Methodist Episcopal Church society in the county. He was married to his present wife, Mrs. Mary Story, in 1858.


Pleasant Home Precinct lies in the extreme southwestern portion of the county, and S. C. Davis has the honor of being its first settler. He came into the county the 29th day of October, 1870.

Milo Barber, William Maston, J. N. Nickell, John Marty, Henry Marty, J. D. Darrow, Jay N. Skelton, made settlements shortly after.

In the summer of 1872, Pleasant Home Post Office was established, with S. C. Davis as Postmaster.

School District No. 6 was organized in the fall of 1872, with Jay N. Skelton as teacher, and fifteen scholars in attendance.

The members of the School Board were C. J. Doremus, J. N. Nickell and S. C. Davis.

The United Brethren were the first to effect a church organization, which was organized by their pastor, Rev. Henry Spafford, in the fall of 1872.

Rev. E. J. Hancock organized a class of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the fall of 1875.


LEWIS H. COHOON, farmer, Section 20, Town 13, Range 4 west, P. O. Arborville, York County, Neb., was born in Morrow County, Ohio, August 16, 1843; came to Wisconsin with his parents when he was only five years of age, who settled in Dodge County. Here the subject of this sketch resided till the breaking-out of the rebellion, when he enlisted in Company A, Nineteenth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, and served till the close of the war. He was in all the principal engagements of his regiment; was wounded in the head at the battle of Petersburg, Va., which was only slightly. After the close of the rebellion, he returned to Wisconsin, and resided in Sauk County, where he followed farming till the fall of 1872, when he came to Nebraska and settled on the place where he now lives; he is now Justice of the Peace in his precinct, and has filled that office for eight years; was married in Sauk County, Wis., February 10, 1867, to Miss Sarah Wheeler, who is a native of Ohio. They are both original members of the Christian Church of Pleasant Home Precinct. He was one of the very first settlers in that precinct. During the war, he was promoted to First Lieutenant of Company A, for meritorious service.


Island Precinct lies in the northeastern part of the county, and is so named from its being located between the two channels of the Platte River. Mr. Bouker Beebe has the honor of being the first settler in this precinct, locating in the summer of 1870. Rudolph Kummer, H. M. Mills, M. D. William Thomas, Henry Augustine and Alex T. Simmons, made settlements in the spring of 1871.

The first school district organized was No. 17, in the spring of 1872, with Miss Jennie Ousterhout as teacher.

The School Board was composed of the following gentlemen: William Thomas (Director), Rudolph Kummer (Moderator), H. M. Mills (Treasurer).

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County Index

Index of Illustrations in Polk County Chapter
  1. [View of Osceola.]
  2. [Portrait of L. J. Blowers.]
  3. [Residence of L. J. Blowers.]
  4. [Osceola Hotel--John Eckert, Proprietor.]
  5. [Portrait of J. H. Mickey.]
  6. [Residence of J. H. Mickey.]
  7. [Portrait of H. M. Mills, M. D.]
  8. [Residence of Holly M. Mills.]