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 2


Prior to the firing upon Fort Sumter and the culmination of the hidden fire of secession in the consuming flame which for nearly four years tortured the country, the wide divergence of opinion between the new party of abolition and the conservatism of Democracy gave rise to fierce quarrels. Of these Nebraska City had her share, as did every town and village near the future arena of conflict. The war was a war of races, in a sense, and the fact that all the slaves introduced into Nebraska were owned at this point, added its share of personal feeling to the dispute. Reading in the journals of that day fierce invectives against the operations of the underground railway, side by side with comments, on the political affairs of the time, showing no hint of apprehension of the events of the near future, it is yet hard to credit such total ignorance of the future. Yet when Sumter had fallen, and the nation's honor stood at stake, there was no readier response than that of Otoe County.

May 1, 1860, Gov. Black issued a proclamation that troops would be raised in this State. Three days later the young men of Nebraska City organized a company of Zouaves, and by May 11, four full companies had been enrolled, though they were entirely lacking in arms and provisions of all sorts. These companies were the Home Guard, Captain W. L. Boydston; the Zouave Guard, Captain W. W. Ivors; the Nebraska City Guard, Captain Allen Blacker; the Nebraska City Rangers, Captain B. H. Kalkman. The latter organization was short lived, disbanding about a week later, and its members joining other companies.

May 26, a war discourse was delivered In Duer's Hall by Rev. J. Stickney Haskell, to a thronged congregation, and similar stirring addresses were delivered at various points during the following week.

As the titles chosen show, the companies were intended chiefly for the protection of Nebraska against the incursions of the " secessionists," and also to impose a salutary restraint upon the Otoes, who occupied a reservation hard by, and might take advantage of the unsettled state of affairs to commit depredations. In view of this state of affairs, a letter was addressed to Gov. Saunders, by Brig. Gen. Downs, inquiring the probable work of the troops. To this Gov. Saunders replied: "* * * I have the satisfaction of authorizing you to say that they are to be kept for our own protection.--The language from the department in answer to that question is, 'they are not intended to be marched elsewhere, but designed for the protection of your own people and interests against hostile Indians and domestic foes.'"

In June a few volunteers crossed over from Northern Missouri and joined the forces quartered at Nebraska City.

June 9, 1861, the City Guard, under command of Captain Allen Blackers, was escorted to the grove near the residence of J. W. Moore, by the Saunders' Flying Artillery, the Home Guards and the Zouaves, and made the recipient of a handsome banner, donated by the ladies of the city. The speech of presentation was made by Hon. J. Sterling Morton. June 14, the City Guard, Captain Blacker; Home Guard, Captain Boydston, and Saunders' Flying Artillery, Captain Cornell, having received orders to rendezvous at Omaha, embarked on the steamer Omaha for their destination. Gen. J. M. Thayer was appointed Colonel of the Nebraska regiment, and Brig Gen. Downs, Lieutenant-Colonel. In June, the Zouaves, who had remained at Nebraska City, received their uniforms and accoutrements, and July 4, the Rough and Ready Rangers made a fine display. On Saturday, July 21, the newly formed Rough and Ready Rangers held an election of officers at Pleasant Grove schoolhouse, and the following officers were selected: Lewis Blair, Captain; John Justice, First Lieutenant; Robert Mason, Second Lieutenant; Joseph Donehoo, Third Lieutenant; J. Gillman, Orderly Sergeant; Peter Y. Morse, Second; James Lafferree, Third, and William Redfield Fourth Orderly Sergeant; Leonard Platner, First Corporal, and Elias Miller, Second Corporal; H. M. Giltner, Chaplain; Richard Justice, Commissary; W. P. Birchfield, Quartermaster; William Buchannan, Ordnance Sergeant, and James Iler, Corresponding Secretary This company furnished their own horses and were, as their name implied, ready for service at any notice.

This month, July, 1861, there was an Indian scare of considerable size, which resulted in sending the troops on a flying trip through the western part of the county, only to find that the women and children of the tribe had been placed near the settlement for protection from the Sioux, and the warriors had gone on their regular buffalo hunt.

To this scouting followed an interval of quiet, during which Rev. Mr. McCartney visited the companies in quarters at Omaha, and in behalf of the Otoe Bible society presented all with copies of the Bible, New Testament and Psalms with a stirring sermon in which he adjured them to"Go forth strong in the justice of your cause."

On August 1, 1861, Isaac Coe was elected Brigadier-General, to take the place of Gen. Downs, who had gone to the front and immediately afterward the First Nebraska Volunteers, containing the Nebraska City forces, left Omaha on the steamer West Wind. This force arrived at St. Joseph on the 5th and were ordered to report at Leavenworth, Kans. August 9, five more companies, making the complement of the Nebraska regiment, went down the river to join the forces in the field. On the same day a call was made on the Territory for two companies of cavalry and A. Matthias was appointed to raise the one south of the Platte, acting under appointment as Second Lieutenant. At this time recruits received $100 bounty, $19.50 per month for services, and were supplied with all necessaries.

In August, 1861, Lieutenant-Colonel Downs was promoted to be Brigadier-General, with headquarters at Pilot Knot, Missouri, and had charge of the First Nebraska and Fourth and Sixth Iowa regiments.

In September, 1861, Lieutenant Matthias had raised a company of forty-six men, was sworn in, and after serving honorably in the war was disbanded, the members scattering and many returning to this State, while Lieut. Matthias settled in Nashville, Tenn.

The requisition for cavalry was increased from two to four companies, and late in the year Company F was recruited at Nebraska City. Its officers were Lieutenant D. P. Rolfe, recruiting officer; D. Laboo, Captain; Robert Mason, First Lieutenant; C. W. Hall, Second Lieutenant, all but C. W. Hall from Nebraska City. Upon the filling up of the regiment, Robert W. Furnas, of Brownville, Nemaha County, was appointed Colonel; W. F. Sapp, Omaha, Lieutenant-Colonel; George Armstrong, First Major; John Taffe, Second Major, and J. W. Pearman, Third Major, W. Lotta and Dr. Bowen, Surgeons.

The Nebraska City companies took part in the various struggles of the war along the Missouri River and in Kansas and Arkansas, and doing good service throughout as their record embodied in the history of the State organizations shows. At the end of the three years of enlistment two-thirds of the regiment re-enlisted and served on the plains until the close of the war. The remainder returned to Omaha and were mustered out in 1864.


In May, 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska bill, providing for the organization of Territorial governments, became a law, and Nebraska was at once furnished with a full quota of executive and judicial officers. As has been stated elsewhere, Gov. Francis Burt, of South Carolina, who was appointed by President Pierce to the office indicated, sickened and died within a month after his arrival at Bellevue, that is, in October, 1854. The first Secretary of the Territory was Thomas B. Cuming, who, by virtue of his office, on the death of Gov. Burt, became Acting Governor. Upon him then devolved the duty of instituting civil government. This he did by a proclamation, in which he gave boundaries and names to counties. The territory, which has been specifically referred to, he christened after the President, Pierce, and announced its boundaries as follows: "Commencing at the mouth of the Weeping Water on the Missouri River; thence westwardly along the banks of the same to its head waters; thence due west to the boundary of the lands ceded to the United States one hundred miles; thence south twenty miles to the north line of Forney (now Nemaha) County to Camp Creek and along the north bank of said creek to the Missouri River; and northwardly along said Missouri River to the place of beginning."

An election was at once called for, the Governor apportioning representation to harmonize with his own judgment and interests; one delegate to be elected to Congress, in addition to members of the Territorial Legislature and county officers. The election was held December 12 1854, and as regards Pierce County, is commented on by, J. Sterling Morton, as follows:

"Even in that early morning hour of the county, our people exhibited a wonderful liberality in bestowing their franchises upon persons who had no interests in common with them, and who have never since been identified with the material development of this section of the world." Of the three candidates for Congress, "Mr. Giddings resided then, as now, in Savannah, Mo.; Mr. Chapman was a citizen of Ohio, and never gained a residence in Nebraska; while Mr. Johnson was a citizen of Council Bluffs, Iowa. But as there were not to exceed twenty-five domiciles in Pierce County at that time, nor more than fifty beds, it was always a mystery--except to Col. John Boulware and family, who then kept a ferry across the Missouri River--where the two hundred and eight patriots who exercised a freeman's rights on that auspicious dawn in Otoe of the science of self-government, and the noble art of electioneering, came from."

The votes of these 208 were given: 132 to Napoleon Bonaparte Giddings. 69 to Bird B. Chapman, and 7 to Hadley D. Johnson.

Pierce County had been apportioned by the Acting Governor, five Representatives in the House and three in the Council. Those elected were J. H. Decker, W. B. Hail, C. H. Cowles, Gideon Bennett and Wilson M. Maddox, to the Assembly; Hiram P. Bennett, Charles H. Cowles and Henry Bradsford, to the Council. These statesman, with their twenty-one coadjutors in the Lower and ten in the Upper House, convened at Omaha at the proper time, January 16, 1855, evolving much special legislation in the way of chartering corporations and granting special privileges, "as it was possible for that much untrained intellect to beget in sixty days." It ferried all the rivers and dammed all the creeks with special charters and by the following bill it created:


AN ACT--To define the boundaries and establish the seats of justice in the County of Otoe.

SECTION 1.--Be it enacted by the Council and House of Representatives of the Territory of Nebraska, as follows, to-wit: That all that portion of the Territory included within the following described boundaries, to-wit: Beginning at a point one mile and a half north of where Weeping Water empties into the Missouri River; thence west twenty-four miles; thence south until it intersects a line running due west from where Camp Creek runs out of the Missouri Bluffs; thence due east to the center of the Missouri River; northwardly along the middle of the main channel of the Missouri to the place or beginning, is hereby declared to be known and called by the name Otoe County.
SEC. 2.--The seat of justice of said County of Otoe is hereby declared to be fixed and permanently located at Nebraska City, in said County of Otoe.
SEC. 3.--This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.
Approved March 2, 1855.


The county officers elected at the same time were as follows: Thomas Donahoo, Sheriff; Miles W. Brown, Probate Judge; C. C. Hail, Register of Deeds; William D. Gage, Treasurer. N. S. Harding, George W. Bailey and John L. Armstrong, County Commissioners. The county of Otoe was organized by the first meeting of its Commissioners, December 1, 1856. The county offices have since that date been filled as follows:

Sheriffs.--1857: W. P. Birchfield; 1859, W. P. Birchfield; 1861, W. P. Birchfield (who soon after his last election made a trip to the mountains, the affairs of the office being managed by his deputy, George W. Sroat);1863, George W. Sroat; 1865, G. H. Hail; 1867, James W. Moore; 1869, James W. Moore; 1871, James W. Moore; 1873, Frank M. Farber; 1875, Frank M. Farber; 1877, George .R. McCallum; 1879, George R. McCallum; 1881, George R. McCallum.

Probate Judges.--1857, W. B. Hail; 1859, Francis Bell; 1861, Francis Bell; 1863, E. S. Reed; 1865, E. S. Reed; 1867, E. S. Reed; 1869, R. H. Dickey; 1871, R. H. Dickey; 1873, R. H. Dickey; 1875, R. H. Dickey; 1877, John Adle; 1879, John Adle; 1881, John Adle.

County Clerks.--1857, G. H. Vick Roy; 1859, H. R. Newcomb; 1861, E. W. Botsford; 1863, E. W. Botsford; 1865, E. W. Botsford; 1867, Elisha Bennet; 1869, George R. McCallum; 1871, George R. McCallum; 1873, Donald Maccuaig; 1875, Donald Maccuaig; 1879, Lewis Dunn; 1881, Lewis Dunn.

Treasurers.--1857, J. W. Pearman; 1859, J. W. Pearman; 1861, J. W. Pearman; 1863, S .E. Smith; 1865, Deforest R. Rolfe; 1867, M. S. Reeves; 1869, James Thorn; 1871, James Thorn; 1873, R. H. Miller; 1875, John H. Overton; 1877, N. S. Simpson; 1879, R. P. Draper; 1881, R. P. Draper.

County Commissioners.--Since the first election there has been one commissioner elected each year, for a term of three years; the roster being as follows: 1857, G. W. Bailey; 1858, J. G. Tredway; 1859, Joseph Foote; 1860, Joshua G. Abbe; 1861, George F. Lee; 1862, H. C. Wolph; 1863, Aurelius Bowen; 1864, A. Stout; 1865, O. Stevenson; 1866, D. M. Martin; 1867, J. A. Gilmore; 1868, J. J. Hochstetler; 1869, John Roberts; 1870, J. A. Gilmore; 1871, Levi Kime; 1872, E. S. Hawley; 1873, Josiah Rogers; 1874, Levi Kime; 1875, Henry Heye; 1876, 1877, Josiah Rogers; 1878, Henry Heye; 1879, Levi Kime; 1880, Stewart Francis; 1881, W. T. Sloan, the last three constituting: the present board.

Superintendents of Common Schools.--The first person fulfilling the duties of this office in Otoe County, was William R. Craig, who received the appointment from M. W. Rider, Clerk of the Territorial District Court in January, 1857. The following year he was elected by the people. He was succeeded in 1860 by H. K. Raymond, who retained the office until 1874, when William Harvey was elected being succeeded by Aurelius Bowen in 1876. The present incumbent. J. C. Boyd, was Dr. Bowen's successor, and was re-elected in 1880.

Clerks of the District Court.--Until recent years this office has not been an elective one, or one which could be called strictly local. M. W. Rider first occupied the position under appointment of Hon. Edward K. Hardin, District Judge, being succeeded by A. W. Pentland in 1858. One year later Allen Blacker was appointed, retaining the office until 1865. From 1865 to 1867 the incumbency was filled by Rienzi Strater; in 1867 J. A. Goodlett assumed the duties of the office, giving way in 1869 to Guy A. Brown (now clerk of the Supreme Court and State Librarian); 1870, George R. McCallum; in 1871 and 1872, T. H. Hopkins, and from 1872 to 1877, Donald Maccuaig; in 1877, W. F. N. Houser was appointed to fill a vacancy, being afterwards elected and re-elected, and now holding the office.


As has been said, the first Representatives of Pierce (now Otoe) County, were T. H. Decker, W. B. Hail, J. H. Cowles. Gideon Bennett and Wilson M. Maddox, in the Assembly; Hiram P. Bennett, Charles H. Cowles and Henry Bradford in the Council. These were elected in 1854. Subsequent representation has been as follows:

1856--Councilmen, A. A. Bradford, C. H. Cowles, W. M. Maddox. Representatives, James H. Decker, J. Sterling Morton, William B. Hail, J. C. Campbell, John Boulware, and, jointly with Cass County, A. M. Rose.

1857--Councilmen, A. A. Bradford, Mills S. Reeves. Representatives, H. P. Downs, J. D. White, C. H. Cowles, J. C. Ellis, J. L. Gibbs, W. B. Hail.

1858--Councilmen, A. A. Bradford, M. S. Reeves. Representatives, J. Sterling Morton, J. C. Campbell. J. G. Abbey, D. B. Robb, W. B. Hail, J. H. Decker.

1859--Councilmen, Mills S. Reeves, W. H. Taylor. Representatives, John Cassell, O. P. Mason, H. P. Bennett, George F. Lee, W. B. Hail.

1860--Councilmen, Mills S. Reeves, W. H. Taylor. Representatives, John C. Campbell, Alexander Bain, T. H. Adams, S. F. Nuckolls, M. W. Reynolds, W. H. Brodhead.

1861--Councilmen, W. H. Taylor, J. B. Bennett. Representatives, S. P. Sibley, Alfred Mathias, Adin G. Cavins, C. H. Cowles, Jacob Sollenberger, H. P. Downs.

1862--Councilmen, W. H. Taylor, J. B. Bennett. Representatives, M. W. Reynolds, John H. Croxton, J. Closser, W. P. Birchfield, W. Buchanan, N. B. Larsh.

1863--Councilmen, O. P. Mason, J. C. Campbell. Representatives, H. A. Newman, Francis Sim, F. Renner, C. W. Seymour, William McLennan, A. T. McCartney.

1864--Councilmen, O. P. Mason, J. B. Bennett. Representatives, Mason Crouch, H. Hodges, John Beuter, George P. West.

1865--Councilmen, S. H. Calhoun, Oliver Stevenson. Representatives, W. H. Hicklin, J. R. Graves, A. F. Harvey, D. M. Anderson.

1866--Councilmen, Mills S. Reeves, W. W. Wardell. Representatives, J. H. Maxon, James Thorn, M. S. Campbell, Albert Tuxbury, J. A. Gilmore.

1867--In this year the Territory became a State and the legislators were elected for two years: M. S. Reeves, W. W. Wardell, to the Senate; A. F. Harvey, D. M. Anderson, J. B. Bennett, W. M. Hicklins, to the House.

1869--Senators, T. Ashton, T. B. Stevenson. Representatives, James Fitchie, William McLennan, A. F. McCartney, J. W. Talbot, A. Zimmerer.

1870-'71--Senators, David Brown, Robert Hawke. Representatives, W. E. Dillon. J. E. Doom, Eugene Munn, John Overton, J. W. Conger.

1872--Senator Third District, Aurelius Bowen. Representatives, Logan Enyart, James H. Masters, J. W. Patrick, Paul Schminke.

1874--Senator Third District, Joseph E. Lamaters. Representatives, N. R. Pinney, J. H. Tomlin, Logan Enyart, Eugene Munn.

1876--Senators, C. H. Van Wyck, G. W. Covell. Representatives, F. W. Robb, George McKee, Paul Schminke, J. B. Elliott.

1878--Senators, C. H. Van Wyck, D. T. Hayden. Representatives, J. L. Mitchell, R. D. Brownlee, Jacob Lisk, George Ferguson.

1880--Senators, C. H. Van Wyck, H. F. Cady (William Campbell being subsequently elected in place of C. H. Van Wyck, resigned). Representatives, Nelson Overton, F. T. Ransom, J. O. Moore, J. M. Parry.

As has been said, the county seat was placed at Nebraska City by the act of the first Territorial Legislature. Unlike the most of its neighbors, Otoe County has had no conflicts regarding its location, a fact due to the rapid advancement of the city, the enterprise of its citizens, and, as to its early days, the centralization of settlement in the immediate vicinity, while Otoe City and Wyoming assumed for a brief period, to be its rivals, no attempt was made to advance themselves by the injury of their more fortunate neighbor, and their rapid and fatal decline, very soon precluded all possibility of such a proceeding.

The county has always, as a rule, been well governed--never better than at present--as is instanced by the fact that in 1860, $1.75 a square was paid for county printing, 10 cents being the present rate.

Her schools have been fully equal to the average, and will be dealt with in detail, in the proper place; as to those of the county, distinct from Nebraska City, there are now ninety school districts, eighty seven of which have school regularly ; 159 teachers are employed, and every attention possible paid to the general improvement of the schools, and the education of youth.

Top of Page   First Page   Next

County Index