Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska
Douglas County
Produced by Liz Lee.

Part 1      Part 3

City of Omaha

Note: Please refer back to the Omaha first page, or to the Chapter Table of Contents for the complete listing.

SECTION 1:  The Early DaysSECTION 2:  More Early Days
SECTION 3:  Omaha in 1870SECTION 4:  Present Day (1882)
SECTION 5:  CrimesSECTION 6:  Fires and Public Works
SECTION 7:  Health, Parks, MailSECTION 8:  The Press in Omaha
SECTION 9:  Press ContinuedSECTION 10:  Religious
SECTION 11:  Religious (cont.)SECTION 12:  Cemetery and Schools
SECTION 13:  Legal and MedicalSECTION 14:  Opera House-Hotels-Business
SECTION 15:  SocietiesSECTION 16:  Societies (Cont.)

Banks and Banking | Stock Yards | Boyd's Pork Packing House
Union Elevator | Omaha Horse Railway

SECTION 18:  ManufacturingSECTION 19:  Manufacturing (cont.)      

20 - 46:

   ** Omaha Biographical Sketches **
| WOODARD~ZEHRUNG | West Omaha Precinct | Douglas Precinct |

List of Illustrations in Douglas County Chapter

City of Omaha 17


The extent of the banking business of Omaha is something unusual in a place of its size and is a constant source of surprise to new-comers. A number of important interests concentrate here, tending to produce heavy transactions in the banking line. The Military Headquarters, Union Pacific Railroad Railway, smelting works and other large manufacturing interests all do a heavy business through the Omaha banks. Banks in all the States and Territories west of Omaha, as well as in Western Iowa keep accounts at this point and obtain from here their supplies of currency and exchange. A shipment of currency from the East would be a comparative rarity. The shipments from the Omaha banks by express amount to several million dollars annually, while the deposits at the present time aggregate something over $4,000,000.

The history of banking in Omaha presents no exceptional or startling phases. In old Territorial days the "wild cat" system was more or less in vogue, with the usual proportion of failure and repudiation. As a rule, however, ventures in the financial line in Omaha have proved successful to a marked degree. Neither of the great panics in 1857 and 1873 wrought any serious amount of devastation, and with one or two exceptions the financial institutions that have wound up their business have squared up their indebtedness in full.

The banks complain greatly of the burden of taxation they are compelled to carry under national and State legislation. Reduced interest rates have been enforced upon them by the increased supply of loanable funds from foreign untaxed capitalists, but the taxes remain the same, or are increased in amount. This fact explains the non-increase of capital with the banks now doing business, and also the non-introduction of new capital. The four banks of Omaha pay taxes to the United States of not less than $20,000 per annum, and the two Nationals pay local taxation of $5,000 per annum each. The national tax on deposits of banks is the last of the war measures of the Government rendered necessary to preserve its existence.

One of the first banks established in Omaha was called the "Bank of Nebraska," and started in 1856. This was a so-called "wild-cat" bank, issuing and circulating its own paper. West & Allen, of Des Moines, were interested in this concern, Sam Moffat being cashier, and Dave Moffat, assistant cashier. B. R. Pegram afterward became its president and D. C. De Forest, cashier. In 1860 the bank wound up its business and redeemed its paper.

Another "wild-cat" institution was the "Western Exchange Bank" which occupied the building where Caldwell, Hamilton & Co., are at present. This was run by Green, Ware & Berton and ascended the financial flame in the panicky days of '57, its paper remaining a drug on the market for sometime after. Leroy Tuttle was the cashier of this institution.

In 1857 the city of Omaha issued and circulated city scrip to the amount of $100,000, thereby affording abundant food for personal differences and political capital for some years to follow.

Another bank of issue was the "Bank of Dakota," located nominally at Dakota City, but controlled by Kountze Bros. At this point. This bank paid up in full and discontinued business in 1858.

Private banks were started during the period from 1857 to 1860 by Samuel E. Rogers, Smith & Parmalee, and Gridley & Co. None of these were long-lived, however.

In 1858 William Young Brown started a bank of issue on the corner of Farnam and Eleventh streets, of which J. D. Briggs was cashier. This bank went into liquidation after a year or so, leaving its paper afloat.

J. A. Ware & Co. started a bank at the corner of Thirteenth and Farnam streets in 1865 and continued in business for five or six years. The firm was composed of J. A. Ware, Nebraska City; J. W. Angus, Omaha; and P. S. Wilson, Cheyenne.

In April, 1868, the "Central National Bank" was organized with John McCormick, Pres.; J. E. Boyd, V.-Pres.; and J. M. Watson, Cash. It was located on the south side of Farnam street, between Thirteenth and Fourteenth streets. In January, 1871, this bank wound up its affairs and closed its doors.

These institutions have been dealt with a little out of chronological order for the reason that they were short-lived. To revert back to early days, the first banking house established in Omaha (and the oldest with one exception in the Territory) was that of Barrows, Millard & Co., which started early in 1856. The house was composed of Willard Barrows, J. H. Millard, Ezra Millard and S. S. Caldwell. Business prospered with the firm.

In 1864 the title became Millard, Caldwell & Co., and May 1, 1868, the firm name became Caldwell, Hamilton, & Co., C. W. Hamilton at this time purchasing the entire interest of Mr. Millard. This firm continues business to-day at the south-west corner of Farnam and Twelth streets. The capital of the bank is $37,500; deposits $500,000; assets over liabilities $150,000.

The house of Kountze Bros. was established in 1857 by Augustus, L. W. and Herman Kountze. A large business was done by this firm down to the year 1865 when it merged into the First National Bank.

The First National Bank was organized August 26, 1863; commenced business April 1, 1864, and was consolidated with the preceding firm July 1, 1865. The first officers were Edward Creighton, president, and Herman Kountze, cashier. The first board of directors were Augustus Kountze, Herman Kountze, Edward Creighton, W. H. S. Hughes and Louis J. Ruth. The capital stock at the organization of the bank was $50,000. This amount has been increased from time to time, as follows: January 19, 1865, to $65,000; October 13, 1865, to $100,000; June 19, 1869, to $200,000. May 6, 1864, Augustus Kountze was elected as vice president of the bank, there having been no such officer elected prior to that time. He remained in this position until February 14, 1865, when Alvin Saunders was elected vice president and Kountze became cashier. January 12, 1869, Herman Kountze was elected vice president, and H. W. Yates, assistant cashier. July 8, 1874, Mr. Yates was elected cashier, and Augustus Kountze, second vice president. Herman Kountze was elected president, January 12, 1875, and Augustus Kountze, vice president, at the same time. F. H. Davis became assistant cashier, January 9, 1877. The present board of directors are Herman Kountze, Augustus Kountze, John A. Creighton, A. J. Poppleton and F. H. Davis. On march 1, 1882, Mr. Yates retired from the bank and F. H. Davis succeeded him as cashier. The business done by this establishment has increased enormously since its organization. The attached table will show for itself:

          DATE.          |LOANS AND DISCOUNTS.|    DEPOSITS.
October, 1864............|....................|    $16,861 67
April, 1865..............|      $35,073 05    |     21,140 43
July, 1866...............|      184,086 44    |    562,895 29
July, 1867...............|      303,326 82    |  1,002,704 96
June, 1870...............|      488,190 05    |  1,205,599 32
June, 1871...............|      388,200 01    |  1,048,007 05
June, 1872...............|      483,070 22    |  1,061,088 88
June, 1873...............|      600,197 56    |  1,563,897 13
June, 1874...............|      611,553 72    |  1,192,106 14
June, 1875...............|      715,148 16    |  1,380,557 14
October, 1876............|      759,753 27    |  1,293,844 48
June, 1877...............|      753,680 28    |  1,483,647 84
June, 1878...............|      693,953 49    |  1,445,959 37
June, 1879...............|      833,591 06    |  1,496,249 07
June, 1880...............|    1,006,015 42    |  1,965,023 09
June, 1881...............|    1,037,368 03    |  1,805,375 38
October, 1881............|    1,042,581 61    |  2,330,619 27

The Omaha National Bank started in business July 2, 1866. This banking house was founded by Ezra Millard and J. H. Millard, formerly of Barrows, Millard & Co. Ezra Millard was its president, and J. N. Field, cashier. Mr. Field continued in this position but a short time, being succeeded, in December, 1866, by J. H. Millard, who still holds the position. William Wallace, the assistant cashier, has been with the bank ever since its start. The original capital was $50,000; this was increased, June 28, 1867, to $100,000, and January 17, 1874, increased to $200,000. The history of this bank has been one of continued prosperity. An idea of the business done by this banking institution may be formed from the following figures:

                        OCTOBER 1, 1866
         LIABILITIES.             |           RESOURCES.
Capital stock.........$50,000 00  |  Loans and discounts.......$42,949 77
Circulation........... 45,000 00  |  Government securities..... 58,185 91
Deposits..............120,115 04  |

                           MAY 19, 1882
              RESOURCES.             |           LIABILITIES.

Loans and discounts....$1,101,438 72 | Capital.............$  200,000 00
Overdrafts.............    11,270 74 | Surplus and Profits.   131,784 19
Bullion Account........   124,242 77 | Circulation.........    67,500 00
Banking House, etc.....    54,208 83 | Deposits............ 2,138,270 58
Expenses and Taxes.....     7,190 34 |
U. S. Bonds............   253,000 00 |
Other Bonds............    45,629 35 |
Due from Banks & B'nkr's  716,575 28 |
Cash...................   220,623 74 |
5 pr. ct. Redempt'n Fund.   3,375 00 |
                        _____________|                     ______________
                       $2,537,554 77 |                      $2,537,554 77

For the first twenty days in October, 1866, the average business transactions per day amounted to $14,432.18, including the cash on hand. The average daily transactions for a corresponding period in October, 1881, were $811,108.11, including also the cash on hand. Exclusive of cash on hand, in October, 1866, the average daily transactions were $5,905.76, and in October, 1881, $529,569.20. The first board of directors were Ezra Millard, S. S. Caldwell, Joseph N. Field, J. D. Brown, R. A. Brown, Thomas Martin and A. J. Simpson. The present board of directors are Ezra Millard, J. H. Millard, J. J. Brown, A. J. Simpson and William Wallace. The bank has at present a surplus capital of $100,000. In 1877 the bank retired one-half of its $180,000 circulation, leaving $90,000 outstanding. The new bank building to be completed in October, 1882, is sixty by eighty-two feet, and four stories in height. The front is of St. Louis and the body of the building of Omaha brick. The basement is of cut stone. The cost of the building, unfurnished, will be $50,000. The bank will occupy the main floor, the Western Union Telegraph Co. the fourth and one-half of the basement, and the remainder will be used for offices. This will be one of the finest banking houses in the West.

The State Bank of Nebraska was organized and commenced business June, 1, 1870. The board of directors were Alvin Saunders, Enos Lowe, Samuel E. Rogers, A. D. Jones, Jonas Gise, John R. Porter, J. Weightman, C. H. Downs and J. A. Horbach. The capital stock is $100,000, one half of which was paid in and the remainder paid from the profits. This was the first State bank organized in Nebraska, as well as the first instituted under the amended banking law of the State, which permitted them to receive deposits in excess of two-thirds of the capital stock. Alvin Saunders was its first president, J. R. Porter, vice-president, and B. B. Wood, cashier. June 5, 1876, Mr. Saunders retired from the presidency of the bank, and Frank Murphy was elected to succeed him. In 1871, Enos Lowe was elected vice-president of the bank; he was succeeded by Samuel E. Rogers, June 5, 1876. July 15, 1874, Luther Drake became assistant cashier. This bank, as well as the Omaha National Bank, will build a fine banking house the coming summer. The following table shows the progress this bank has made since its organization:

                 STATEMENT OF THE BANK, MAY 10, 1871
               RESOURCES.               |        LIABILITIES.
Loans and bills discounted.$113,994 79 | Capital stock paid in.$50,000 00
Government and Omaha                   | Individual deposits...134,902 88
   City bonds..............  30,150 00 |
Cash on hand...............  20,800 75 |

                  STATEMENT OF THE BANK, OCTOBER 1, 1881
Loans and bills discounted.$304,013 48 | Capital and profits..$154,173 50
Stocks and bonds...........  75,789 72 | Due depositors....... 417,238 90
Furniture and fixtures.....   2,986 90 |
Expenses and interest paid.     882 18 |
Revenue stamps.............     310 79 |
Real Estate................  19,465 35 |
Cash on hand and sight                 |
    exchange............... 167,963 98 |
                           ____________|                    _____________
     Total.................$571,412 40 |                      $571,412 40

The Nebraska National Bank was opened in April, 1882, with a paid-up capital of $25,000, and the following directors: S. R. Johnson, A. E. Touzalin, W. V. Morse, John S. Collins, James M. Woolworth, Lewis S. Reed and Henry W. Yates. Mr. Yates is the cashier.


The Omaha Stock Yards are located on the south side of the railroad, one half-mile west of the Union Pacific depot. These yards are the most convenient, and all their appurtenances and appointments the most complete of any yards west of Chicago. The track lies alongside of the platform, running the whole length of the yards, so that a train load of cattle may be feeding in their pens in ten minutes after the train reaches the grounds, without backing, switching or other delay. The conveniences for loading and unloading are a specialty of these yards. The water supply is from a brick reservoir holding nearly 2,000 barrels, with pipes leading to every pen. The surface of the yards presents a variety of rolling and level ground, so that an animal may enjoy a dry bed and a natural contact with the earth in two hours after the most violent rain. A high ridge upon the north side shelters the yards from the bleak winds so disagreeable and dangerous to animals without protection. Ten dollars per car is saved by shipping and selling cattle at these yards. The yards cover a tract of land containing eighty acres, and are provided with scales, a hotel and all the other necessary and suitable buildings. These yards prove of immense benefit to the trade of the city.


The pork packing business of Omaha began in 1872 by the erection of the house of James E. Boyd, who killed in the season of 1872-73 about 4,500 head. The next year the buildings were considerably enlarged and the business increased to 13,450 head. The succeeding year the grasshopper ravages were such as to cause much of the live stock of the State to be sold off outside the State, and the number of fat hogs was much lessened. In consequence the packing for 1874-75 amounted to only 11,420 head. For 1875-76 Mr. Boyd still further enlarged the establishment and packed 15,042 hogs. The year of 1876 was a favorable one for the Nebraska farmers, who secured a large crop of corn and the packing season which opened November 1 was almost double that of the previous year. In anticipation of this Mr. Boyd erected extensive additions to his packing house, which then had a capacity of handling 40,000 head. The buildings were constructed in a substantial manner of brick and stone, and were three stories high. The main building was 100x165 feet and the wings 60x140 feet. The boiling and lard room, in addition to the above, extended to one side 40x44 feet further. Connected with the buildings were two brick smoke houses, capable of holding 7,000 pounds of meat at a time. A cooper shop was connected with it, where all the barrels and casks were made. The railroad track runs through the grounds and convenient stock yards with chutes and scales were provided, making every detail complete for packing and curing 1,000 hogs daily. The works represented an outlay of $33,000 and were equal in every particular to any similar establishment in the West. In 1877 Mr. Boyd packed 40,000 hogs at an average weight of 263 pounds gross. In 1879-80 about 60,0000 hogs were packed in the same establishment. The destruction of this large packing establishment by fire January 18, 1880, was followed by a reconstruction on a much larger scale and at a cost of $50,000. During the twelve months, ending November 1, 1881, Mr. Boyd has killed 112,000 hogs. From the first of October to December 31, 1881; Mr. Boyd has slaughtered over 60,000 hogs. Mr. Boyd employs 175 men, and his annual disbursements exceed $3,000,000. From the start Mr. Boyd's policy has been to pay the highest market price for hogs, the raising of which has now become a feature of Nebraska farming. He engages largely in summer packing, which lasts from March 1 to November 1 of each year, making a constant demand for hogs.

Harris & Fisher's Packing House.--Among the noteworthy packing establishments of Omaha, is the house of Harris & Fisher, which was completed in the latter part of 1878. It is located near the Union Pacific railroad track on the southwestern outskirts of the city. The packing house is a substantial brick structure, 32x100 feet, two stories high, with a basement. The killing department occupies the upper story, while the cutting is done in the lower story. The basement is used as a salting and curing room. The engine room is at the north end of the building. The hog and cattle run is on the east side, and is very conveniently arranged. The ice house, a frame building, is thirty feet wide by sixty feet long. On the west are two brick smoke houses. The entire cost of these buildings was $10,000.


This elevator built by the Union Elevator Co., of which Himebaugh, Merriam & Co., are members and business managers, was begun early in June, 1881, and is a mammoth frame structure, very substantially constructed. In its construction there has been used 1,700,000 feet of lumber and the cost of the building was $130,000. It is one of the most important improvements of the year 1881 in Omaha. The dimensions of the structure are 165 feet wide and 170 feet long, and the highest part--the elevator--is 112 feet high, while the storage part is 80 feet high. The entire structure has an outside casing of corrugated iron. The engine and boilers occupy a separate room--a fire-proof brick building--at the west end of the elevator, the brick smoke-stack being eighty-five feet high. The machinery throughout the entire establishment is of the latest and most improved designs, nothing having been left undone to make the elevator perfect. The storage room contains 114 bins, holding 5,000 bushels each. There are also fourteen shipping bins on the north end, holding 600 bushels each, and in the elevator part there are twenty-four shipping bins, with a capacity of 800 bushels each, making the entire capacity very nearly 725, 000 bushels. A car can be unloaded, by means of a steam shovel, inside of three minutes, and can be loaded in about the same time, and between 150 and 200 cars can be handled in a day. The grain is taken from the car, which runs into the elevator, and is run into a large hopper scale under the car; from this scale it goes into a cleaner and thence to the elevator and is carried to the top of the building, where it is cleaned again, and from this second cleaner it goes into another hopper scale and is re-weighed. From this scale it is run into the spiral conveyor and deposited in the storage bins. There are fifteen scales, five under the railroad track and ten in the top-most story. There are ten cleaners, five being the duplex Barnard & Lee, and five being "shakers." There are five grain elevators. The elevator is built upon the plans of Chase & Co., elevator architects and builders of Chicago, whose Superintendent, V. Talmage, personally supervised its construction.


The Union Elevator Co., will continue to operate their old elevator which, by the way, is a mere pigmy compared with this new structure. During the year 1881 they handled about 2,000,000 bushels of grain of all kinds. The coming season, they expect, with their enlarged capacity, to greatly increase their business, particularly in storage, they never having done any storage worth mentioning on account of lack of accommodations. The offices of the company are located just west of their old elevator and are supplied with every convenience for the transaction of business. They have an independent telegraph office with their own operator and receive the daily markets from all the leading points every fifteen minutes. They publish a daily report on their own press and send copies to over one hundred customers.


The Omaha Horse Railway Company was organized in 1867, and incorporated by special act of the Territorial Legislature approved February 19 of that year. The incorporators were Alfred Burley, Ezra Millard, G. W. Frost, Joel T. Griffin, J. W. Paddock, C. A. Chase, G. M. O'Brien, J. R. Meredith, R. A. Bird, E. B. Chandler, John McCormick, Augustus Kountze, W. Ruth, J. F. Coffman. A. J. Hanscom and David Butler. The capital stock of the corporation was $100,000, and the first officers were G. W. Frost, Pres.; and E. B. Chandler, Sec. The act of the Legislature by which it was incorporated, specified that the road should be built within two years from the time of its passage. The first meeting was held at the Omaha National Bank, May 1, 1867. The contract for the building and stocking of the road was shortly afterward concluded; ground was soon broken and thereafter the work vigorously prosecuted to the finish. The route selected, which is yet maintained, is from Cuming street down Twentieth to Cass street, thence along that to Eighteenth, thence to Capitol avenue, along that street to Fifteenth, thence to Farnam, from Farnam to Ninth and thence to the U. P. Depot, a total distance of about three miles. New road has since been built until the company has now in operation six miles of road, and material on the ground for another mile, which will soon be in operation, making seven miles in all. A double track has been laid on Farnam street from Tenth to Fifteenth. From Twentieth street the road has been extended up Cuming to Saunders and following that street to Hamilton. It has also been extended on Cuming street from Twentieth to Eighteenth, and up that street to Elm in the extreme northern part of the city. A line has been built from Capitol avenue up Sixteenth street to Izard, and on that street to Eighteenth where it connects with the line running to Elm. From Farnam street a track has been laid down Ninth to Davenport, from there to Tenth and on Tenth to Farnam again. A track was recently laid from Farnam down Fifteenth and out Howard and St. Mary's avenue to Hanscom Park. To carry on this enterprise, twenty men, fifteen cars and seventy-five horses are required. The road is now owned and superintended by W. W. Marsh, whose office is at the corner of Cuming and Twenty-first street.

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