The Early Days | The Death of Governor Cuming|
Commercial Depression | Dawn of Prosperity | Lynch Law
Commerce in 1859 | Omaha in the Pawnee War
The Inception of the U. P.
The Overland Freight and Telegraph Lines | First Grist Mill|
Omaha in 1860 | The Call for Troops | The City During the War
George Francis Train | An Indian Scare | A "Boom" in Business
Removal of the Capital
Omaha in 1870 | Incorporation | Donations| Official Roster|
The Present Municipal Government | Bonded Debt Outstanding|
Police Department | Wind and Hail Storm | Crime and Criminals
Summary Justice | The Execution of Tator
The Baker-Higgins Tragedy | The Killing of Davis
Crimes of a Later Date | The Murder of Watson B. Smith|
The Great Strike
Fire Department | Fires in Omaha | Conflagration of 1877|
Smaller fires | Water Works | Gas Works
Board of Health | Hanscom Park | Post Office|
The Railway Mail Service
The Press in Omaha | The Arrow | The Nebraskian | The Times|
The Telegraph | The Independent | The Omaha Republican
Nebraska Daily Statesman
The Omaha Herald | The Tribune | The Omaha Bee|
Other Jounalistic Venures
Prospect Hill Cemetery | Public Schools | Creighton College|
Brownell Hall | Great Western Business College
Nebraska Institute for the Deaf and Dumb
The Legal Profession | Territorial Courts | Libraries|
Medical Profession | Medical Societies
Boyd's Opera House | Hotels | Business Blocks|
Masonic | Freemason's Hall | I. O. O. F. | Odd Fellows' Hall|
Knights of Pythias | Ancient Order United Workmen
Temperance Societies | Miscellaneous Societies
Banks and Banking | Stock Yards | Boyd's Pork Packing House|
Union Elevator | Omaha Horse Railway
The Manufacturing Interests of Omaha|
The Manufacturing Interests of Omaha (cont.)|
Business Interests of Omaha | Recapitulation
20 - 46:
** Omaha Biographical Sketches ** (cont.)|
| ABLE~BARRIGER | BARTLETT~BOYD | BOYER~BURNHAM |
| BURR~CONKLING | COFFMAN~CREIGHTON |
| CRITTENTON~DIETZ | DINSMOOR~FAWCETT |
| FEARON~GAYLORD | GELATTE~GROSSMANN |
| GROSS~HAVENS | HAWES~HOILE |
| HOLDREDGE~JORGENSEN | JOSLYN~LEISENRING |
| LEHMAN~LOWE | LUDINGTON~MARHOFF |
| MANNING~MILLER | MILLSPAUGH~NINDEL |
| O'CONNOR~PEABODY | PAUL~READ | REDICK~ROGERS |
| ROSENBERY~SCOTT | SEAMAN~SIMPSON | SINCERE~STONE |
| STORZ~UMPHRESON | URLAU~WILBUR | WILDE~WOOD |
| WOODARD~ZEHRUNG |
| West Omaha Precinct | Douglas Precinct |
List of Illustrations in Douglas County Chapter
In a former portion of this work, the endeavor has been made to portray a period in the history of Omaha when the initiatory steps were taken to found a colony and build a city--when the early settlement emerged from behind the clouds of disappointment and uncertainty and took its place among the established evidences of western progress. It is now proposed to examine into a later period in the history of the same city, when, with resources greatly enlarged and territory extended by a brilliant career of industry and enterprise, it has progressed to a degree of perfection which invariably attends the sequel of these incentives. Such success, born of a laudable ambition, may have excited the jealousy of neighbors, but it has not nurtured a mischievous policy nor nurtured the germs of domestic corruption which gradually culminate in dismemberment and decay.
A traveler sailing up the Bay of Athens sees, while yet afar off, the shining splendors of the "Eye of Greece, mother of arts and eloquence." There are marble palaces, and columns resting white against the vineries and olive groves of Hymettus. The hum of early traffic mingles with the shoutings of the crews of Alexandrian corn ships hoisting the anchors. Sheer and rugged in the foreground rises the Acropolis: on its summit the citadel, and crowning that colossal statue of Minerva, her golden shield catching the morning light and flashing it back in brightness that dazzles while still enchanting the eye.
In a like manner, as we approach our theme we find ourselves with the glories of a civilization both recent and perfect.
The city is delightfully situated on the left bank of the Missouri, 600 miles from its confluence with the Mississippi. It is located on an alluvial plain, with the Iowa bluffs at a respectful distance. The lower portion of the city is devoted to business, interspersed with private residences, schools, parks, and avenues, the whole completing a picture harmonious and attractive. To the west of the city the bluffs rise to a considerable height, reached by admirably graded roadways, and adorned with private residences, gardens, churches and resorts--the homes of wealth, intelligence and liberality. From the summits of these bluffs is spread out before the observer a landscape rivaling in beauty and exquisite perfection the masterpieces of artists who touched but to improve. A range of hills bounds the western horizon, between which and the bluffs a matchless panorama is to be seen of groves, farms, gardens and gently undulating prairie. Nestling upon the bank of the river, the city quietly reposes, while the Missouri drags its sluggish length along, its volume of waters gathered from the less known and pretentious streams of the North, to pour them into the Father of Waters, thence to the Gulf, amid the cane fields and orange groves of tropic Louisiana. Across the river, the whistle of the locomotive, impatient to begin its eastward journey, is heard. Far beyond, the green hills of Iowa look down with a conscious dignity that comes with age and superiority. The scene is grand beyond description, working up emotions for the beautiful and sublime, and educating the heart to a reverence for nature and nature's God.
By the summer of 1858 the population had measurably decreased from the census returns of the summer previous, when unmerciful disaster impressed the seal of temporary paralysis upon all things temporal from Plymouth Rock to the Alamo, from the Red River of the North to the Everglades of Florida. But those who remained in the city were united in one cause, labored for one end, and accomplished results which long since became landmarks on the great highway of local success. The business portion of the city was then located in the section where it has grown into vast proportions, and though mostly carried on in rude structures, was, all things considered, assuming decided prominence. And if the business houses, with their gable ends shadowing the pavement, were the reverse of ornamental, speaking from an architectural standpoint, the private residences possessed little in that respect to add the spice of variety to the surroundings. They were mingled promiscuously with the shops and stores, with a plentiful lack of the comforts to be found in them which are to be found lining the thoroughfares to-day. There were but three or four brick buildings in the city then, and not one, it is believed, appropriated to residence purposes. Their erection would have been esteemed as an innovation upon established custom, though undoubtedly testifying to the growth and development of the city. But one or two of those built at that period still stand, a survivor of the ravages of time, man's contumely and the march of improvement.
Early in the month of January, 1858, after a brilliant career at the actual head of the Territorial Government, Gov. Cuming much broken in health, read his last message to the Legislature. It is represented to have been a splendid but prophetic utterance. Soon after he was brought down by disease, which resulted fatally on March 23 of this year. In the struggle with his complicated disorders he betrayed the same resolution which had been his chief trait in the discharge of public duty, and for a long time he could not be persuaded that the fell destroyer was approaching. The "final scene" came, however, and all that was mortal of Thomas B. Cuming passed to its final rest. Universal sorrow, crowds at the capitol, imposing ceremonials and grand processions attested the affectionate admiration of the people for the foremost man of this western country, who was cut off ere yet he had reached the maturity of those extraordinary powers to which the name of "genius" has been given. He is to-day remembered as by all odds the most gifted man who ever lived in Nebraska. As a writer of pure and stately but not stilted English, neither Prentice, nor Forney nor Manton Marble could boast superiority. His record glitters with the productions of a pen which have elicited the highest praise from a Cass and a Pierce as also the unmixed admiration of all who ever read them. Neither lapse of time or thronging events can efface the memory of that gifted man. Recollections of his life, his deeds and his great public services are recalled by older citizens as a part of their daily lives during periods when evidences of intellectual, great and statesman-like capacity were not every day occurrences.
As Dr. Miller has observed: "Omaha was practically extinguished under the financial avalanche of 1857 and did not emerge from its effects until the advent of railroads." As may be concluded, the condition of affairs in the city was not improved in 1858, not still to any appreciable extent by 1859 when Bishop O'Gorman, who had been consecrated that year and wanted Omaha to take charge of his trust, declared that the streets "had too much grass in them for a bishopric."
In addition to the embarrassments quoted, the city was in debt to an amount upward of $60,000. The scrip that was issued during the previous year for the erection of the capitol was about falling due, and no means had been provided for its redemption. The citizens appreciated this fact and without stopping to consider the question as to whether the municipality was bound to redeem the issue, there was no man of business who could be found willing to repudiate it. All had derived benefit, all had experienced injury growing out of the issue, all had been to a greater or less extent losers, but all seemed to be a unit upon the single question of extricating Omaha from debt and aiding in her once more assuming an independent position.
In spite of the dismal outlook, improvements of a substantial character which had in part been projected at a prior date, were completed during the spring and summer. Among these was the Herndon House, standing one hundred feet on Farnam street by eighty on Ninth. It was furnished in May and vied in magnificence and comfort with any similar structure in St. Louis. It was four stories high, exclusive of the basement, contained over one hundred sleeping apartments in addition to private parlors, etc., and was completed by Bridge, Miller & Richardson at a cost of $70,000. In addition to this was the court house and the Tootle & Jackson Block. The former is still occupied, standing near the corner of Sixteenth and Jackson streets. It is of brick, sixty by eighty feet in dimensions, and the basement used for jail purposes. Its cost was $25,000. Innumerable smaller edifices were put up also, indicating a lively desire on the part of citizens to progress, notwithstanding the impediments encountered.
Early in the fall the discovery of gold in Nebraska and Colorado attracted a large immigration to the auriferous regions, and business which had been declining revived. The streets were thronged with men and conveyances en route thither, and the city so recently almost inanimate exhibited an activity and vitality compared with which the business times of 1856-57 seemed dull. The hotels were crowded with adventurers in search of outfits, and the merchant and provision dealer found their several stocks diminishing under the constant demand that threatened an early depletion. The excitement involved all and every interest, and inquiry regarding the whereabouts of many whilom citizens invariably elicited the answer: "Gone to the gold mines." Even old gray-haired patriarchs joined the general rush and those who went took with them provisions and camp equipage obtained in Omaha, for a winter's stay.
During the year communications with river points was constant and uninterrupted, and the subject of connecting Omaha with sections remote from the advantages of this source of revenue, by railroads, was liberally and continuously agitated. Schools had become prime factors in the cause of civilization in the West, and these were supplemented by lectures, debates, and literary exercises of a miscellaneous character, originating with and participated in by the citizens. What is true with respect to the interest manifested in educational affairs is likewise true of that with regard to religious undertakings. They were sustained and cultivated, generously so, by all classes of people, and disorder and consequent crime diminished proportionately. As the fall advanced, and winter with his aged locks put in an appearance, prospects began to improve. Capital began seeking investment, and the central wave of prosperity that would soon force its undulations to the remotest borders of the country, to ebb and flow. The natural resources as well as the superior geographical position of Omaha, attracted the attention East to which their merits entitled them, and a large immigration was anticipated the ensuing spring, which would prove to be as the falling of a few drops before an abundant shower.
For a portion of the year commodities were held at a high figure, as will be evidenced by the following price current, but this only lasted until fall, when they became more within the reach of citizens comparatively well to do: Flour, per sack of 96 lbs., $6 to $6.50; bacon, per lb., 18 to 20 cts.; hams, 20 to 25; lard, 25 to 30; butter, 45; eggs, 40; wood, $6.50 to $8; coffee, 22; sugar, 16; tea, $1, etc., etc.
With the first approach of spring, 1859, the tide of immigration once more began to tend in this direction, slowly at first, but of a character, though largely transient, the opposite of undesirable. Those who remained identified themselves with the city or surrounding country. Ventures made in other directions affected by the panic had not been attended, it is believed, with a realization of expectations altogether reasonable, and the commercial interests increasing, Omaha was regarded as by no means the least promising point north of St. Louis. By this time, also, mining had grown to be active in the country contiguous, where it was prosecuted continuously and successfully. Before the winter was fairly concluded, some improvements were projected, but non completed, and good order was enforced by means of a constabulary that, according to statements of men conversant with the facts, was less in demand than during previous or subsequent years. Of fires there were few, if any, and the city was spared from conflagrations by the presence of a volunteer fire department, the constituent features of which were buckets and brawn.
On Saturday evening, January 8, of this year, a party of men entered the jail at Omaha, and forcibly took therefrom two inmates, confined for horse stealing, respectively named John Daley and Harvey Braden, and proceeding with them to a point two miles north of Florence, hanged them. At the time of the taking of the prisoners, the Sheriff, Mr. Reeves, who occupied a room over the jail, was absent, and the keys, in charge of three ladies, were taken forcibly. The bodies were brought to the city on Sunday afternoon, and laid out on the ground before the present court-house door, presenting a shocking spectacle. A jury, composed of George L. Miller, James H. Ford, John A. Sunley, William A. Gwyer, P. Hugus, O. F. Davis, William F. Meder, J. C. Alford, W. H. Lehmer and George W. Hepburn, was impaneled, and, after an examination which lasted several days, returned a verdict in accordance with the facts, finding, also, that William Connor, Thomas Allen, Rufus S. Bryant and Joseph S. Seely, with numerous others, unknown to the jury, were present and aided and abetted the murder. Four men were accordingly apprehended and held for trial as accessories. A change of venue was obtained, however, to Sarpy County where they were tried and acquitted, but a writer commentating upon their release, states that the affair ruined each of the quartette mentally and physically, and though they had previously been prosperous, their lives subsequent to the trial were attended by reverses from which none of them ever recovered.
Those lynched were both from Harrison County, Iowa, where they are said to have been dangerous and desperate characters.
The ice broke up in the river on the 2d of March, and on the 5th following the steamer "Florida" arrived from below, the first boat of the season. The Omaha Light Artillery welcomed her arrival with the booming of cannon, loud huzzas rang from the populace, flags were displayed from several of the public buildings and there was general rejoicings. The "Florida" brought consignments of freight to J. H. Ford and others, and returned to St. Louis the succeeding night after its arrival. The passengers were generally destined for Cherry Creek, causing the busy note of preparation to be heard in the streets of Omaha which were filled with white topped wagons, hand-carts, wheelbarrows and men on foot, but all on business--and if one is to accept the statements of "old campaigners" in that connection no city of its size can boast of a greater number or more reliable business houses than Omaha. These included the establishments of Tootle & Jackson, Megeath, Richards & Co., Graeter, Edwards & Co., J. J. & R. A. Brown, O. P. Hurfurd, F. A. Schneider & Co., Hileman & Blair, Jones & Ritchie, H. W. Tuttle & Co., Pundt & Kornig, May & Weil, J. K. Ish & Co., J. H. Ford, Milton Rogers, the Messrs. Reese and others of lesser note, the sales of which aggregated upward of $3,000 per diem. From which it will be apparent that the supplies of dry goods, groceries, hardware, drugs and notions were kept well in hand, and furnishes a reason why the city's streets were scenes of moving panoramas and temporary caravansaries. If the additions made to stocks of commodities were frequent and valuable, the shipments hence were equally productive of revenue. Every steamer that left the wharf was loaded down with cereals and esculents. Business in this respect as early as April grew into a "jam." Farmers began selling off their produce at fair rates and received cash therefor, this giving to agricultural interests and the whole country, renewed energy and vitality. Indeed it was to be observed that every branch of industry was falling into line and setting out on a glorious march toward flush prosperity.
At this time too, politics began to assume an important position, though party lines save in but exceptional instances had never been drawn in the State. Everything seemed to favor the democracy. The Republican party had but just been born and was wrestling in its infancy with the established organization, and while the former were concentrating and preparing for active hostilities, the latter was divided, discordant, belligerent in its own house. This resulted in disruption and since those days, from various causes, it has never assumed an ascendancy.
In the latter part of June, 1859, the Pawnee war occurred, in which Omaha bore a prominent part. It might here be parenthetically stated that Dr. Henry made a town plat of certain lands to which he gave the name of "Pawnee City." In furtherance of the sale of lots he visited Chicago where he represented the "Elkhorn River as a navigable stream on which steamboats ran, that the city contained 800 inhabitants, etc." He made sales of lots at good prices for which he was paid in goods, but the Pawnee war disturbed his calculations and effectually put a stop to contemplated improvements.
The Indians left their camp in June as stated and marched across the territory between the Platte and Elkhorn, camping just below the village of Fontenelle. On the day after they left their first camp half a dozen bucks crossed the river some distance above Fontenelle and attacked an old man named Uriah Thomas, from whom they stole $136 and other articles. He gave the alarm and a party of twelve men was organized which marched to the scene of the robbery, but finding no Indians, returned to Fontenelle whence they hailed. Two days after that village was visited by the fleeing inhabitants of West Point, and Dewitt, who represented that the Pawnees were moving up the river devastating the country and robbing the inhabitants. Thirty armed men pursued the invaders, and after encountering adventures rivaling those of Japhet in search of his father, enticed a dozen savages into the log house of a Mr. Moore with intent to slaughter them without benefit of clergy. The Indians escaped, however, after losing two of their number who were killed, and one wounded who was subsequently massacred while attempting flight when the soldiers returned to Fontenelle to recuperate. Immediately this intelligence was promulgated Gov. Black issued orders to the militia to hold themselves in readiness to move, and for the organization of other companies. Fontenelle became a camp and when 200 men had rendezvoused there it was resolved to cross the Elkhorn and follow and attack the Indians. Omaha was represented on this occasion by Captain Ford, Hobart Ford, Cyrus DeForest, Robert Howard, George and Edward Hepburn, Gen. Estabrook, George Armstrong, Charles Woolworth, A. S. Paddock, James G. Chapman, J. C. Reeves, John McConihe, Dr. Henry, J. H. Croft, W. J. Kennedy and others, with Dr. J. P. Peck as surgeon, driving in his buggy a horse that was twenty-five years old in 1879 and frisky as a colt.
The detachment struck the Indian trail, which was followed over hills, through valleys and across streams for about a week, when it came upon a single Indian lodge occupied by "Jim Dick," an under chief of the Omahas. He informed the officers that the Pawnees had been joined by the Omahas and Poncas, that they numbered at least 5,000 and would encamp that night about seven or eight miles further on. This unexpected intelligence caused a halt in the proceedings, but after a hurried consultation it was decided to go forward. After marching a couple of miles the company encamped with a view to march at 3 o'clock the following morning. The soldiers were roused according to programme, and followed a trail leading near the river bottom. At daylight they came to a small stream running out from the bluffs into the river, across which the Indian camp could be seen, with the occupants gliding about entirely unconscious of any approaching danger. But the foe was soon discovered, and in a short time the river bottom was packed with savages, some mounted and some on foot, but all engaged in one endeavor to effect their escape. In this, however, they failed, and an under chief of the Pawnees being instructed thereto called his tribe together for a parley. After a discussion, continuing several hours, a treaty was agreed upon, by the terms of which seven young braves who had participated in the depredations upon settlements were surrendered, and the soldiers went into camp where they remained with their prisoners that night. The following morning the return to the settlements was commenced, but upon reaching an eminence the Indian camp, which it was supposed had remained where the pow-wow was held, could be seen to the front and in evident commotion. Everything was made ready to repel an attack, and the procession continued its march with six prisoners bound to the wagons. While passing near the camp one of the Indians stabbed himself and fell to the ground, as was supposed, mortally wounded, and while he was being ministered to, a deceiving jade of a squaw released the prisoners, who sought to flee from the wrath that was supposed to be in store for them. They were pursued by the guards, firing as they ran, while the soldiers proceeded to a hill where they took up position and halted for consultation. The guards who had pursued the fugitives, returned in time and reported that they had killed or wounded all who had attempted to escape, except one who had been re-captured, but during the excitement, it seems that they had accidentally wounded an Omaha, and also killed a pony belonging to that tribe. The new casus belli occasioned intense excitement and necessitated a conference, in which the Omahas defined their position clearly, explicitly and without needless prolixity. Frequent desires for war found expression among them, but their ardor was finally appeased, and they agreed to abandon all idea of hostilities if the whites left medicine for the wounded buck and paid for the defunct pony. These conditions were consented to, when the march was resumed and continued up Beaver Creek to its intersection with Loup Fork, to Genoa, a Mormon settlement, finally arriving at Columbus where the command was disbanded and the Pawnee war was ended.
The "Pawnee campaign" and gold discoveries created intense excitement during the summer of 1859, in Omaha, to the exclusion of almost every other interest. There were some improvements, but of an unimportant character mainly. The most important of these was the enlargement of the Omaha brewery and the improvements made on the capitol and grounds. The lower rooms of the latter were repaired and re-furnished, the library was re-arranged and the books labeled and placed in the most complete order. The Baptist Church was also completed, and the Herndon House changed hands, Dr. George L. Miller and Lyman Richardson assuming control. Pundt and Koenig put up a brick block at the corner of Farnam and Thirteenth streets, the Episcopalians erected a neat brick church corner of Farnam and Ninth streets, making a complement of four church edifices in the city. Both of these buildings were completed and occupied the same year.
The subject of the Pacific Railroad first found formal public expression early during the spring of 1859, at a meeting convened in the Pioneer Block, which was largely attended. At an adjourned meeting, a memorial setting forth the advantages offered by the Platte Valley route was formulated by a committee, composed of William A. Gwyer, G. C. Monell and A. D. Jones, which was circulated over the Territory and received numerous signatures. It was entirely free from political or sectional bias, proposed Fort Kearney as the eastern starting point, leaving the construction of its branches to the energy of the American people. Later, the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad was opened for business, by which arrangement Omaha was placed in direct connection with points east and south, via the river to St. Joe, thence by rail. This was an improvement that was hailed with undisguised joy by the merchants and citizens, and the new dispensation was celebrated in an appropriate manner.
The population had to some extent increased this year, but the city grew very slowly, as every one who watched the progress of events was compelled to admit. Outside of the business streets there was little to attach and less to persuade. The landing contained here and there possibly an impromptu office for the transaction of business relating to transportation and travel, and the same may be stated with reference to other avenues that are to-day lined with commercial depots. The mills of progress, if they ground slowly, ground correspondingly fine. Farmers disposed of their crops to the merchants, and moneyed men at intervals made investments where neither the rust of age nor moth of shrinkage would corrupt, and waited for the boom in real estate, which came after many days. The winter was extremely cold, the thermometer often sinking ten and fifteen degrees below zero. This, coupled with other impediments incident to the dies iræ of 1857, augmented rather than diminished embarrassments and in some instances sufferings. Property in the city was not at all times salable, and many a resident of to-day will admit that an aspect of gloom and disappointment was not entirely absent. They will tell that times were hard, that money was scarce, and but little remained of a hope indulged that the probationary period of the city's existence had passed. The winter was, in short, fruitful of hardships to which even those hardened by inhospitable circumstances in days gone were never before subjected. No cases of actual suffering were reported so far as can be ascertained, but that such existed no one can doubt, and the winter is remembered as one of the experiences of which should be avoided.
New Year's day, 1860, passed off more quietly than had been noticeable upon previous anniversaries of that festal season. The customary courtesies of calling upon friends and acquaintances were observed, but liquor flowed less freely, it was to be noticed, than upon former occasions. Governor Black, who has succeeded Governor Richardson, held a grand reception at the Herndon, which was attended by both branches of the Legislature and a large number of prominent citizens, who were hospitably entertained by his Excellency and lady, and after a friendly interchange of courteous greetings, sat down to a sumptuous dinner. Col. Gilmore, the Hon. O. D. Richardson, the Hon. A. J. Hanscom, Dr. Lowe, and many others "received," and the first day of the year in the decade so important to Omaha brought many pleasures.
Early in January, the Omaha Savings Institution and building and loan associations were chartered by the Legislature, and it was determined to commence work upon the survey for the location of the Platte Valley and Pacific Railroad route. As spring advanced, the gold fields of Western Nebraska and Kansas began to find attractions anew for operators, and mining to be reduced to a business, employing the means of men of capital and enterprise in developing the cañons and gulches of the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains. These and other facts of equal importance warranted the conclusion that, in addition to her home resources, Omaha would become the commercial center into whose lap the riches of the Rocky Mountains were sure to flow. Everything pointed to this result. Appreciating this, the business men employed all available means to secure trade and inspire confidence. Nor were their efforts unattended with results. As early as February, trains of produce and goods were made up in this city for Golden City, whither it was thought the journey could be made in two weeks, and the precedent thus established was followed during each succeeding week by parties and outfits via the great Platte route, which had its beginning in Omaha. As an outfitting point, the city had no superior north of St. Louis, and emigrants taking this route avoided unbridged streams, and were never at a loss for comfortable camping grounds, accessible to wood and water.
At this time the city was estimated to contain about 1,500 buildings and 4,000 inhabitants, the buildings being chiefly of a substantial character and creditable to a city of greater pretensions. It contained four first-class hotels, elegant residences, among which were those owned by Dr. Lowe, M. T. Patrick, Thomas Davis, Mrs. Goodwell, Jesse Lowe, George Armstrong, O. D. Richardson, A. J. Hanscom, and others. Of church organizations, there were the Catholic, Methodist, Congregational, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Baptist and Lutheran, the Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, Episcopalians and Congregationalists having good substantial houses of worship; these societies all in a flourishing condition. Facilities for instruction increased with the growth of the city, until in 1860 its advantages in that particular were scarcely inferior to New England towns of equal population. The further sources of "revenue and reform" were five dry goods establishments, nine grocery stores, two hardware and three drug stores, two jewelry houses, five boot and shoe stores, two clothing establishments, four merchant tailors, three meat markets, two bakeries, one book store, one forwarding and commission house, two printing offices, forty lawyers, six physicians, five land agents, four banking houses and one bank of issue, two daguerreotype artists, five house joiners, four masons, two breweries, two billiard saloons, three saloons and four restaurants. The offices of the Governor, Secretary, United States Marshal and District Attorney, Register, Receiver, the Territorial Auditor, Treasurer, Librarian, and Clerk of the Supreme Court of Nebraska and District Court of the United States were also located at Omaha. The western terminus of the Mississippi & Missouri River road, and the northern end of the St. Joe & Council Bluffs Railroads, were opposite, the work on both of which was being rapidly pushed forward.
There was another point that in the light of subsequent events should not be overlooked. The Platte Valley would at no distant day be made the route of the Pacific road, and man would ratify what nature had determined. The city was, further, the starting point of the great overland route to California and Oregon, and the great outfitting point for Utah and the Cherry Creek gold mines. The best natural wagon road in the world extended from Omaha up the north side of the Platte River. Between Omaha and Fort Kearney--185 miles--$50,000 had been expended by the Government in the construction of bridges, and from Fort Kearney to the eastern boundary of California $300,000 more for the same purpose. The valley of the Platte as far west as Fort Kearney was thickly populated by a hardy, enterprising and intelligent class of inhabitants, who at that time produced a large surplus of corn, wheat, potatoes, etc. All this country, as well as the valley of the Missouri, for more than 150 miles north, was tributary to Omaha, serving to increase her trade and adding to her importance. The commercial importance of the location was second to no other town on the Missouri River, while none could deny that her prospects for future growth, prosperity and importance were more brilliant and flattering than any other town west of the Mississippi and north of St. Louis. A daily line of the best steamers on the Western rivers plied between Omaha and St. Louis, and a tri-weekly line of packets connected the city with St. Joe, thence by the Hannibal and St. Joe railroad to the Mississippi and the eastern cities. Easy of access to at all times and possessing commercial facilities enjoyed by few towns, situated at the very gate of entrance to one of the most productive valleys in the world and on the great highway to the Pacific Ocean; occupying the nearest river point to the inexhaustible gold fields, just then opening at the eastern base of the Rocky Mountains, it needed no seer to predict for Omaha a future as prosperous and brilliant as the plateau, on which she has since then been built, is lovely and beautiful.
This year the season opened remarkably early, and the river became clear of ice so that the steamer "Emelie" of the Hannibal & St. Joe Railroad line made the port of Omaha on the 7th of March. During the same month the question of forming a State Government, after considerable discussion in the papers, was submitted to the people and disapproved by a vote of 1,887 to 1,987. The subject was then permitted to slumber until 1864, when an enabling act was passed by Congress providing for the admission of Nebraska into the union, but was abrogated by reason of the failure of the Territory to take action in the premises. The effort was made two years later and again failed, and it was not until February, 1867, that she was added to the constitution , when Omaha ceased to be a point of central interest as the capital.