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
Omaha in 1870 | Incorporation | Donations | Official Roster
SECTION 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 Continued
SECTION 17:  BusinessSECTION 18:  Manufacturing
SECTION 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 3

OMAHA IN 1870.



Among those who came to Omaha and became permanent residents of the city between 1865 and 1870, were J. C. Cowin, Col. J. W. Savage, C. A. Baldwin, Col. William Baumer, T. S. Clarkson, The Rev. R. H. Clarkson, Episcopal Bishop of Nebraska; J. S. Caulfield, Charles Connoyer, Dr. George Tilden, Robert Townsend, C. F. Manderson, Dr. A. D. Balcombe, C. J. Barber, F. A. Beals, C. H. Dewey, G. W. Forbes, E. E. French, O. B. Hall, L. C. Huntington, H. H. Harris, P. E. Iler, B. E. B. Kennedy, J. S. McCormick, W. V. Morse, E. Rosewater, A. S. Strickland, and many others, some of whom have crossed over and rest beneath the shade of the trees that line the Beautiful River.

Such was the state of affairs when the spring of 1870 awoke the inhabitants of Omaha to new enterprises and a renewed faith in the destiny of their city. As the spring drew to its close and the summer solstice bore down upon the city, bringing tropic days and nights in its train, appearances failed to indicate a return of dull days, which came two years later. The year gave bright promise of a future, and the decade to which it was the introductory annual has not entirely failed of a complete fruition of such promise.

In this year the population aggregated 16,000. Nothing occurred to disturb the current of events. The people, with a faith in the future by no means quixotic, continued to live on, encouraged by the consciousness that trials and tribulations to which they had been subjected had yielded to time, energy and the logic of events. The dreary period of inactivity, economy and burdensome influences which had left their effects through years almost immediately preceding, had given place to comparative ease, luxury and flush times; and the comfort and contentment which found abiding places in the city were fast dissipating the days marked by sufferings and embarrassments. Emigration was resumed, the new arrivals hailing from the Eastern States, whence they brought with them, in addition to material resources, that thrift and experience characteristic of a people reared in a section both sterile and inhospitable, and where man's daily bread is the fruit of constant and laborious exertion. These newcomers entered lands and began farming, or investing in business ventures, adding a new impetus to agriculture and trade. Pilgrims to the gold fields of Nebraska and Colorado gave over their pursuit of pelf, and, locating here, sought to woo Fortune's smiles, with results more certain than possible. In short, the city and county commenced to fill up; real estate appreciated in value; new buildings were erected; societies, banks and associations were organized, and the tears and lamentations of yesterday yielded precedence to smiles and rejoicings.

In 1870 the magnificent high school building which crowns the summit of Capitol Hill was built, and Omaha boasted of a public edifice devoted to educational purposed that was incomparably superior, both architecturally and with reference to its arrangements and equipments, to any similar structure west of the Missouri River. Other improvements were undertaken and finished the same year, and during the following spring which opened auspiciously to the interests herein existent. During the summer there was a slight depression apparent in business circles. Prosperity seemed to have reached its zenith and was to all intents on the decline. The reactionary effects of the war began to be experienced; overtrading; the expenditure of immense resources in the construction of railroads, entailing an unnatural increase in the value of lands adjoining, precipitated results, though in a less degree akin to those for which 1857 had been characterized. The city was in daily communication with the East via the Northwestern road, and with other points by the Hannibal & St. Joe, the Burlington & Missouri, and the Union Pacific. These incidents of civilization, together with the fact that the individual resources to be drawn against were now more extensive, prevented the collapse of that year and enabled the community to tide over the hard times under consideration. Indeed this revulsion, followed by the failure of Jay Cooke & Co., and the panic of 1873, can not in the light of its effects be so designated. It was rather a change of times. The rapid rate at which the American people had lived and transacted business could not hold out. Black Friday came as a warning of a punishment that followed in its wake, and the tight times that succeeded the panic of 1873 were simply in the nature of an admonition that happier days were in store; that men had been denied good things in the past because choicer blessings were hidden behind the clouds--so men reasoned and the sequel has confirmed the truth of their premises. This panic unquestionably produced effects upon Omaha's growth and progress that were visible for years afterwards; but her citizens are less celebrated to-day for having survived those effects than for having materially destroyed the causes which promoted their development.

This experience was prolonged far into 1878. During this period, improvements were limited to those erected by capitalists whose resources had become to a certain extent unproductive, and were thus employed in the hope that profits would accrue sufficient to resolve them into other than dead capital. Glancing retrospectively over the "situation" in this respect as it existed at various times in Omaha, one is led to wonder that the city could have survived so many calamitous tribulations. During the continuance of dull times, however, the Masonic Hall, Odd Fellow's Hall, Creighton's Block, Faulkner's Block, and the Post Office were erected. Railroad facilities were measurably improved; manufacturing successes were pronounced if not frequent; the moral atmosphere of the city purified, and the educational resources improved. The financial outlook was not at all times such as was devoutly hoped for but the people were consoled by the reflection that it had been worse, and grateful that it was not such as to permanently check the growth, wealth and importance of the city.

Omaha is to-day the greatest railroad center west of the Mississippi, and will in time become one of the most important in the world, and the prospects of the city, if judged by the progress made for the past ten years, can be regarded as highly promising. The churches, professions, banks, press, manufacturing and other material interests are enjoying a degree of prosperity never before approximated. The population is quoted at 36,000, and the attractions in the city and vicinity continue to invite immigration from Europe and the East. In addition taxes are comparatively light and this desideratum will persuade many persons to become citizens and establish homes in a city where so many advantages can be obtained for so limited an outlay. The years 1880-81 offered little to discourage, less to prevent a full and complete connection as to her future. Every interest has been promoted, short extensions have been completed, commerce has thrived, costly buildings have been erected, municipal improvements have been perfected; and the press, the lever of public morals, public opinion, and public prosperity, maintains its high position as the guardian of the public welfare.


On the 2nd day of February, 1857, an act was passed by the Legislature of the Territory of Nebraska, incorporating the city of Omaha.

The following is the description of the territory at that time included in the city limits. All of Sections 15 and 22; Fractional Sections 11, 14 and 20; the south half of Fractional Section 10; south half of north half of Fractional Section 10; the southeast quarter of Section 9; the east half of Section 16; the northeastern quarter of Section 21; the northeast quarter of the northeast quarter of Section 28; the north half of the north half of Section 27; the north half of the north half of Fractional Section 26; Township 15, north Range 13 east. The east line to extend to the middle of the main channel of the Missouri River.

The city was organized and became established on March 5, 1857. By its charter, the city was under the control of a mayor and a common council, Jesse Lowe being first Mayor, since when it has been filled by the following named persons: A. J. Poppleton, D. D. Belden, Clinton Briggs, George Armstrong, B. E. B. Kennedy, A. R. Gilmore, Lorin Miller, Charles H. Brown, George M. Roberts, Ezra Millard, Smith S. Caldwell, James H. Millard, C. H. Brown, Champion S. Chase, Reuben H. Wilbur, and James E. Boyd.

The Council consisted of nine aldermen, but on November 4, 1858, an amendatory act was passed, and among other changes, the Common Council was reduced from nine to six members. The city was divided into three wards, and each ward was entitled to a representation in the Council of two members. The names of the members composing the first Council, are, A. D. Jones (afterward resigned), T. G. Goodwill (resigned), C. Bovey, H. H. Visscher, Thomas Davis, William N. Byers, William W. Wyman, Thomas O'Conner, C. H. Downs, J. H. Kellom, James Creighton (resigned).

In 1870, thirteen years after the founding of the city, we find the dimensions enlarged from three to six wards, and the Common Council increased from six to twelve members. The names of those composing the Council in 1870, are: First Ward--Augustus J. Doyle, James Stephenson; Second Ward--J. S. Gibson, Thomas Swobe; Third Ward--John M. Thurston, W. J. Hamilton; Fourth Ward--John D. Jones, D. C. Sutphen; Fifth Ward--H. J. Lucas, A. A. Gibson; Sixth Ward--W. W. Marsh, C. L. Bristol.

Since that date no change has been made, either in the number of the wards, nor in the number of members comprising the Council.

The present members of the Council are: First Ward--A. McGavock, Charles Kaufman; Second Ward--M. A. McNamara, R. O'Keefe; Third Ward--Henry Hornberger, Fred Dellone; Fourth Ward--Martin Dunham, Homer Stull; Fifth Ward--Thomas H. Daily, J. O. Corby; Sixth Ward--Washington I. Baker, Samuel Herman.

Then, as now, the city owned no buildings of its own, either for officers or a Council Chamber. The Council, therefore, held their meetings at different places, wherever they could find a place suitable for that purpose.

The first meeting was held in the Pioneer Block, in the room that is now occupied by Dr. C. F. Goodman's drug store, 1110 Farnam street. Various changes had been made, and in 1874, we find the Council Chamber in Caldwell's Block, over 223 Douglas street. At present, the Council Chamber and the city officers are located in an old rickety frame building, at the corner of Sixteenth and Farnam streets; the city offices being in the basement story, and the Council room on the third floor.

The want of a suitable building in which to locate its offices, is keenly felt by the city. But judging from the public spirit and enterprise which characterizes her people, the day is not far in the future, when Omaha will have provided for herself a commodious and suitable building for all such necessary purposes.


While Omaha, as is the case with all new towns, had many difficulties to contend with, and numerous disadvantages to repel and hinder her, yet she wisely saw it to her advantage to aid as much as possible in every work of public improvements, and to assist in every enterprise that would likely prove of advantage to herself. She has, therefore, made liberal contributions of her wealth to the more important of these institutions, and from these, indirectly, she has reaped largely in reward.

Among the first contributions made by the city, was that in aid of the erection of a capitol building for the Territory. The seat of government for the Territory was, at that time, located at Omaha, and the people of the city were extremely anxious that it should be retained by them. Appropriations had been made by the Territorial Legislature to erect a capitol building, but owing to the unpardonable mismanagement of the then executive, Mark W. Izard, the plans were entirely too extensive for the appropriation made.

The amount appropriated was consumed and the building was far from completion. The matter was thus left in an extremely bad shape. A memorial was addressed to Congress asking their aid. The work was still incomplete and the whole concern hung in an uneasy and wavering balance.

The people of Omaha, anxious to see the work completed, and feeling that unless something was done the whole matter would likely fail, opened their generous pockets, and the City Council, taking the matter in hand, by an ordinance gave $60,000 towards putting the building in shape. This took place in 1859, when, as may be seen, the population and wealth of the city was comparatively small and insignificant. By an act of the Legislature passed May 2, 1855, Omaha became the county seat of Douglas County.

In aid of the county in building a court house the city donated a block known as Washington Square, upon which it was to be built. A portion of the block was sold, excepting the grounds now occupied by the court house, and the proceeds applied to the erection of the building. Work began upon the building at once, and was soon after completed, amid general rejoicings.

The next liberal donation made by the city and by far the largest and most important, was that made in favor of the building of the Union Pacific Railroad bridge across the Missouri River at this point. To this enterprise the city contributed the sum of $200,000, upon the condition that she should have the machine shops, offices, depots, etc. For the purpose of raising this subscription, the city authorized the issue and sale of bonds sufficient to cover the whole amount, which were to fall due April 1, 1889, with ten per cent interest. Accordingly city bonds, to the amount of $199,500 were negotiated and sold, falling short in the sum of $500 or one bond from the amount authorized to be sold. What came of this bond, whether it was a mistake in the number, or what, is wrapt in mystery. Of these bonds, there have been redeemed and canceled $27,650, leaving a balance outstanding of $171,850, for the redemption of which, no provision has been made.

The whole amount of the city indebtedness on November 1, 1872, aggregated $71,400, which was discharged by the sale of city bonds at that date, covering the entire sum. The bonds issued for this purpose were called floating debt bonds. The amount of this class of bonds has since increased to $72,500, of which $6,400 has lately been redeemed, leaving an outstanding balance of floating debt bonds of $66,100. These were to have fallen due October 1, 1882; but by an ordinance passed by the City Council, November 1, 1880, they were changed into funding bonds, due in twenty years, at seven per cent interest.

The next issue of bonds by the city was in 1881, for the raising of funds for sewerage purposes; the amount of the issue was $50,000 at seven per cent interest. The consideration of the sewerage question by the Council had frequently given rise to loud and stormy scenes. At one of the meetings, when this subject was before the members, a most disgraceful occurrence took place, and one, perhaps, unprecedented in the history of the city, Councilmen Boyd and Stephenson being the parties to the action. Stephenson, who it seems had been addressing the meeting and alluding to the decision made by the Supreme Court of the State upon certain actions taken by the Council with reference to the sewerage of the city, began a tirade of shameful abuse of the Judges of the Supreme Court. Mr. Boyd remonstrated with Stephenson for this, but without effect. Stephenson still persisted in his abuse with even greater severity than before, insinuating, as was understood, that Boyd, who upheld the action of the Court, had been influenced by money. This thrust, if such it really was, wavered not a hair's breadth from its aim. Mr. Boyd sprang to his feet in an instant, and, pulling off his coat and shaking his clenched fist at Stephenson, remarked that "No man living has ever questioned my veracity and honesty, and no man can do it and live."

A scuffle ensued between the enraged combatants, but they were soon separated by the interference of other members. The chamber was now a scene of the wildest excitement and confusion. No sooner had the parties been released than they were at it again. Boyd still questioning Stephenson if he meant to insinuate that he, Boyd, had been influenced by money. "You must take it back," shouted Boyd, in a rage of passion, "or you'll not leave this room alive."

Mr. Stephenson said he would like to make an explanation.

"I want no explanation," replied Boyd, "but I want to know if you meant to say that I have acted under the influence of money?"

"No sir," rejoined Stephenson, "I did not intend to say anything of the kind."

"Then, sir," said Boyd, "I am sorry I was so ungentlemanly as to make the remarks I did."

Here ended the disgraceful scene, and immediately after this the meeting of the Council adjourned.

Notwithstanding the size and importance of the city, and the drain upon her treasury for improvements, etc., we find her indebtedness, bonded and otherwise, comparatively small, aggregating only $287,950. Neither has she been niggardly and close in her donations, as the foregoing abundantly proves; but the secret of the matter may be attributed to the rigid economy and careful and judicious management of her internal affairs by those who, from time to time, have been called upon to assume official control.

The following table in recapitulation will show the financial standing of the city at the present time:

Amount of U.P. bridge bonds issued........................$199,500
Redeemed and canceled ....................................  27,650
        Outstanding U.P. bonds ........................... 171,850
Amount of floating debt bonds issued..............$72,500
     "             "           redeemed...........  6,400
Outstanding F. D. Bonds, since changed to funding bonds...  66,100
Amount of sewerage bonds issued...........................  50,000
Total bonds outstanding, city indebtedness................$287,950

By reference to the reports of the city officials, from period to period, which shows the relative assessed values of property at the different times, we find these values do not show the same or a corresponding increase with the enlargement of the city and the increase of population. For instance, in 1873, when property was at a fictitious value, just before the panic, we find the total assessed value of real-estate to be greater than it is now, after a period of nine years' improvement and with a population double what it was then, and the total assessed value of personal property is but a little in excess of what it was at that date. This, however, is explained by the falling off of the values of property to nearly one third of what it was just prior to the panic, and also by reason of the extremely low assessments that have since been made.

As a matter of curiosity, we append a table of values for different periods, showing this comparison; and also the amounts of taxes collected in certain years:

              Assessed Value of Real Estate.
1879......................................... 5,149,439
1880......................................... 5,865,308
1881......................................... 4,095,636

           Assessed Value of Personal Property.

1879...................................... 2,363,243.64
1881...................................... 2,326,028.82
Total value of all city property, 1880...$35,191,248.00

        Table for Amount of Taxes Collected for

1860........................................$  5,299.95
1873........................................ 171,204.02
1874........................................ 135,465.89
1877........................................ 124,614.84
1880........................................ 170,298.88
1881........................................ 199,071.61


The city government of the city of Omaha was first organized March 5, 1857, and the following list comprises the officers of the municipality since that date.

Mayors.-- Jesse Lowe, 1857; A. J. Poppleton, 1859; D. D. Belden, 1859; Clinton Briggs, 1860; George Armstrong, 1861-62-63; B. E. B. Kennedy, 1863-64; A. R. Gilmore, 1864-65; Lorin Miller, 1866-67; Charles H. Brown, 1868; George M. Roberts, 1869; Ezra Millard, 1870-71; S. S. Caldwell, 1872; Joseph H. Millard, 1872; W. M. Brewer, 1873; C. S. Chase, 1875; R. H. Wilbur, 1877; C. S. Chase, 1879.

City Clerks.--James W. Van Nostrand, 1859-60; George R. Smith, 1860-61, resigned June 4, succeeded by Byron Reed, 1861-62-63-64-65-66-67; W. L. May, 1868; C. L. Bristol, 1869-70-71; Joseph M. McCune, 1872-73-74; O. C. Ludlow, 1875-76-77.

City Treasurers.--J. H. Kellom, 1858-59; Joseph H. Millard, 1859-60; R. A. Brown, 1860-61; Daniel Gault, 1861-62-63-64; Frank Murphy, 1865-66-67-68; Henry Gray, 1869-70; John Steen, 1871-72; E. A. Johnston, 1873; C. Hartman, 1875-77; S. G. Mallette, 1879.

City Marshals.-- L. A. Miller, 1857; J. H. Wheeler, left city, succeeded by John Logan, 1858-59; T. L. Sutton, 1859-60-61-62; T. J. Torrey, 1862-63, resigned August 3; A. L. King, 1862-63; Thomas Riley, 1863-64-65; Crockett Wilson, 1866; T. Riley, 1867, resigned March 14, W. P, Snowden succeeded do., 1868; W. W. Angell resigned July 21, 1869, succeeded by H. L. Seward; W. G. Hollins, 1870; H. L. Seward, 1871; Richard Kimball, 1872; Gilbert Russell, 1873; W. P. Snowden, 1875; J. H. Butler, 1877; C. H. Westerdahl, 1879.

Recorders.--L. R. Tuttle, 1857; J. W. Van Nostrand, R. C. Jordan, J. W. Van Nostrand, 1858-59.

City Solicitors.-- Charles Grand 1857, resigned June 23, succeeded by J. M. Woolworth; G. I. Gilbert, 1858-59; no record to 1866, when G. B. Lake is named; B. E. B. Kennedy, 1867-68; G. W. Ambrose, 1869; J. P. Bartlett, 1870.

City Assessors.--Lyman Richardson, 1857, resigned July 15, succeeded by J. H. Creighton; G. W. Crowell, 1858-59; John R. Porter, 1859-60; Nelson Baker, 1860-61; Robert S. Knox, 1861-62; Charles Turner, 1862-63-64; John Davis, 1865-66; Edwin Patrick, 1867; Edward Whitehorn, 1868; E. Durnall, 1869; resigned in March, succeeded by W. H. Lawton; W. H. Lawton, 1870.

City Engineers.--A. S. Morgan, 1857; Chauncey Wiltse, 1858-59; Philip Galey, 1859-60; O. F. Davis, 1860-61; O. F. Davis, 1862-63-64-65-66, resigned November 22, succeeded by W. E. Harvey; George Smith, resigned May 16, succeeded by R. C. Barnard, 1867-68; William Kip, 1869-70; J. E. House, 1871; Andrew Rosewater, 1872.

Health Officers.-- A. Chappel, 1857; George L. Miller, 1861; A. Roeder, 1863; G. C. Monell, 1865; J. R. Conklin, 1866-68.

Street Commissioners.--Jeremiah Mahoney, 1858-59; no record until 1867, when J. Mahoney's name appears; John Logan, resigned January 5, 1869, succeeded by William Knight, latter resigned July 21, 1870, followed by A. R. Hoel, who also resigned April 19, 1870, succeeded by H. B. Case; Jerry Dee, 1871; Robert G. Jenkinson, 1872.

City Collectors.--G. W. Kessler, 1859-60; R. A. Brown, 1860-61.

Police Judges.--John H. Sahler, 1869; John R. Porter, 1871; E. G. Dudley, 1873; C. R. Porter, 1875; G. Anderson, 1877; P. O. Hawes, 1879.

City Council.--1857--A. D. Jones, resigned March 23; T. G. Goodwill, died May 18; G. C. Bovey, H. H. Visscher, Thomas Davis, William N. Byers, William W. Wyman, Thomas O'Connor, C. H. Downs, J.. H. Kellom and James Creighton.

1858-59--Thomas Davis, John E. Dailey, William W. Keith, resigned September 21; Lorin Miller, resigned November 20; B. T. C. Morgan, resigned April 27; G. W. Wood, resigned April 27; J. G. Seeley; O. P. Ingalls, resigned November 30; D. F. Richards, resigned September 28; John Campbell, H. M. Judson, Albert S. Clarke, John Ritchie and O. D. Richardson.

1859-60--Thomas Davis, William A. Gwyer, resigned October 14; Harrison Johnson. A. J. Hanscom, John McCormick, John Ritchie and Joseph Barker, Jr.

1860-61--James K. Ish, Charles P. Birkett, First Ward; J. J. Brown, John R. Porter, Second Ward; Asa Hunt, W. J. Kennedy, Third Ward.

1862-63--C. P. Birkett, B. E. B. Kennedy, resigned November 5; St. John Goodrich, D. C. Sutphen, Henry Gray, resigned December 15; J. F. Sheeley, A. J. Hanscom and William F. Sapp.

1863-64--T. O'Connor, resigned April 21; St. John Goodrich, G. B. Lake, D. C. Sutphen, Henry Grebe, J. Campbell and J. H. Kellom.

1864-65--Vincent Burkley, George M. Mills, Joseph F. Sheeley, resigned August 17; L. C. Huntington, J. R. Porter, William E. Harvey and J. B. Allen.

1866--James Callahan, Vincent Burkley, Jonas Gise, C. H. Brown, O. P. Ingalls and George Smith.

1867--C. P. Birkett, James Callahan, Jonas Gise, A. J. Simpson, resigned January 2; C. H. Brown, O. P. Ingalls and D. F. Richards.

1868--John H. Green, Charles Maguire, John R. Porter, resigned in March, succeeded by J. Rudowsky, Henry Browning, James Creighton, William Jones, resigned January 5, succeeded by E. Patrick.

1869--J. Rudowsky, Thomas Davis, resigned in January, 1870, succeeded by G. C. Mericle, G. W. Homan, J. E. Kelley, D. T. Mount, D. F. Richards, J. S. McCormick, S. O. Williams, J. W. Paddock, James Creighton, S. C. Rose, J. H. Lacey.

1871--George C. Mericle, E. A. Allen, J. E. Kelley, G. W. Homan, L. C. Richards, R. P. Kimball, G. O. Williams, J. A. Horbach, J. W. Paddock, James Creighton, J. H. Lacey and George Smith.

1872--E. A. Allen, M. J. McKelligon, G. W. Homan, J. S. Gibson, Henry Lykens, John Campbell, J. A. Horbach, Byron Reed, J. P. Bartlett, James Creighton, George Smith and Thomas Martin.

1873--M. J. McKelligon, A. J. Doyle, J. S. Gibson, Thomas Swobe, John Campbell, J. M. Thurston, Byron Reed, John D. Jones, J. B. Bartlett, J. H. Lucas, Thomas Martin and C. L. Bristol.

1875--J. P. Kelley, M. Cummings, C. C. Sperry, C. J. Karbach, W. M. Dwyer and E. Loveland.

1877--R. G. Jenkinson, J. G. Megeath, Charles Bankes, George H. Boggs, F. W. Gray, W. M. Dwyer and Robert Taft.

1879--Charles Kaufman, G. F. Lebaugh. F. R. Reipen, J. D. Jones, L. J. Kennard, T. H. Daily and James Stephenson.

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