Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska

Gage County
Produced by
Brenda Busing, Diana Busing, and Lori Laird.


Climate, Soil and Rainfall | Water Courses | Natural Products
Early Settlements | Indians


Pioneer History | First Things | Additions to the County
Early Modes of Travel

Progress of the County | Official Roster

Beatrice:   Robert Emery | Educational | Town-Lot Steal | The Press
Churches | Post Office | Societies | Bank

 5 ~ 7:

Beatrice Biographical Sketches:


Blue Springs:   Public Schools | Churches | Societies
Biographical Sketches


Wymore:   Biographical Sketches
Liberty:   Biographical Sketches

PART 10:

Odell:   Societies | Biographical Sketches
Holmesville:   Biographical Sketches
Adams:   Biographical Sketches

PART 11:

Caldwell:   Biographical Sketches
Biographical Sketches:
Grant Precinct | Holt Precinct | Highland Precinct | Clatonia Precinct
Nemaha Precinct

List of Illustrations in Gage County Chapter

Part 3


   The progress and development of the county was slow until the immediate prospect of a railroad, in 1870. The increase in population in that year was greater than during any previous year. In November, 1871, the Omaha & Southwestern was completed to Beatrice and the Atchison & Nebraska was completed across the northeast corner of the county in 1872. Although these were only limited in their accommodation, they gave a new impetus, and the population increased rapidly during the next two or three years, or until the grasshopper plague, in 1874. This not only checked immigration, but disheartened many, although the plague was not so severe here as in other points and in Kansas. The people of this county had enough to carry them through, but some farmers the following spring had to purchase seed. The grasshoppers have been here seven times in the last twenty-four years, but never did any serious damage, except in 1874, when the plague was general and widespread.

   In the year 1872, the Burlington & Missouri secured control of the Omaha & Southwestern, and have since extended the line south to a mile and a half below Blue Springs, where it turns to the west, and, in 1882, will be completed through to Denver, Colo.; then the through passenger and freight business of the Burlington & Missouri road, from Burlington, Iowa, to Denver, Colo., is expected to pass through this county, and it is believed that this outlet to the markets of the mining districts will bring farm products up to the same prices as those of Iowa and Illinois. There is a branch that turns east from the same point, and, passing through Pawnee, extends to the Missouri. The Union Pacific is soon to complete its line from Beatrice to Lincoln, where it will unite with the Omaha & Republican River Branch, that joins the main line at Valley, on the Platte. There are at present other lines that are discussed, and one or two very likely will be constructed.

   Since 1876, the population has more than doubled, and it is mainly due to the railroad facilities. A rich country has been opened up by them, which is proving mutually beneficial to the roads and county.

   One of the first considerations of the early settlers was the education of their children, and good, neatly-painted schoolhouses were to be seen in all parts of the county before the settlers secured for themselves convenience, elegance and even comfort in their homes. They had come from a land of schoolhouses, not to deprive their children of the advantages of education, but to secure a greater competence. But they were not going to let their children grow up in ignorance, and not be able to appear in society and meet the demands of the advanced civilization, as well as the children of their friends and relatives they had left behind; hence, they sacrificed everything else to the privileges of education. This is commendable and it is far more gratifying to the historian to gather up these facts and dwell upon them, than have to wander over a vast catalogue of crimes, of which ignorance causes generally more than one-half. It is by this fact that he has such a pleasant task in writing up this early history and he is fully aware that it will be a gratification for these people to read this history which they have helped to provide with facts, and a pleasure for their posterity to peruse and ponder upon.

   The first schoolhouse built in the county was at Beatrice, on the property known as the School Block, in 1862. The first teacher was Mrs. Frances Butler, and the pupils enrolled were about fifteen in number. There are now about 113 school districts in the county, with over 100 schoolhouses, most of which would do credit to older and wealthier counties. There are between 5,000 and 6,000 children in the county at present. The increase since 1872 has been so rapid that the accommodations are the more noteworthy. There is one schoolhouse in a country district that cost $2,000, and is, perhaps, the finest country schoolhouse in the State.

   The County Superintendent, M. Weaverly, visits all the schools and has a general supervision. He issues three grades of certificates, the first on a scholarship of 90 per cent or above, the second, 80 to 90 per cent, and the third, on a 75 per cent. The average wages are $37.

   The first newspaper in the county was the Blue Valley Record, edited by J. R. Nelson, and issued first in 1867.

   To the honor and glory of the pioneers of the "Great American Desert" be it said that they have not overlooked or neglected the religious interests of the community. They were a large-hearted, grateful class of men and women. They recognized the hand of a beneficent as well as an Omnipotent Creator in the vast fertile prairies that surrounded them, undulating in picturesque and useful beauty and watered by innumerable rills, rivulets, rivers and the generous ocean of the upper air, the clouds, and, fanned by the winds, though not always gentle, yet always pure. Hence, we find the tireless, ubiquitous Methodist circuit rider following close upon or accompanying the early settler, and, whenever two or three could be gathered together, there proclaiming his mission. July 5, 1857, he arrived at Beatrice and almost before the last log of the first house was laid in its place, the day after the patriotic celebration of the national anniversary, Rev. D. H. May, pastor of the M. E. Church of Nebraska City, gathered the willing settlers together and delivered Gage County's first sermon. In the fall of 1858, Elder Geddings, of Table Rock, Neb., preached the second sermon to the citizens of Beatrice, and from that time occasional preaching was enjoyed by the citizens up to the meeting of the M. E. Conference of Nebraska, when Rev. John Foster was appointed and sent to take charge of the church here, which had previously been organized. Mr. Foster held services every two weeks, preaching every alternate Sabbath at Blue Springs or other points in the county, where he could get a congregation together. Rev. John B. Maxfield, who was Presiding Elder of this district from 1871 to 1875, and now of the North Nebraska District, preached his first or "maiden" sermon in 1861 in a small house that stood near the present residence of Orr Stevens.

   Since these early efforts, the county has increased rapidly in denominations and places of worship, and it is as quiet, peaceful and religious a county as we have visited. There are about twelve different denominations and religious services are held in thirty-five or forty places in the county.


   County Commissioners.--1859--Albert Towle, H. M. Reynolds.
   1860--H. M. Reynolds, J. T. Alexander, J. B. Mattingly, J. M. Summers.
   1861--J. B. Mattingly, J. C. Waldrip, J. T. Sargeant, Fordyce Roper.
   1862--William Tyler, F. Roper, F. H. Dobbs.
   1864--F. H. Dobbs, William Tyler, H. T. Pierce.
   1866--William Tyler, George Grant, H. P. Freeman.
   1867--H. P. Freeman, William Tichnor, H. M. Wickham.
   1869--H. M. Wickham, William Tichnor, J. M. Pettegrew.
   1870--S. M. Hazen, H. M. Wickham, J. M. Pettegrew.
   1871--H. M. Wickham, S. M. Hazen, Elijah Filley.
   1872--W. S. Guffy, Elijah Filley, H. M. Wickham.
   1873--W. S. Guffy, Elijah Filley, H. M. Wickham.
   1874--Elijah Filley, H. M. Wickham, W. S. Guffy.
   1875--S. M. Hazen, Elijah Filley, H. M. Wickham.
   1876--S. M. Hazen, E. Filley, H. M. Wickham.
   1877--S. M. Hazen, E. Filley, H. Albert.
   1878--William Lamb, C. Albert, G. W. Talbot.
   1879--C. Albert, G. W. Talbot, William Lamb.
   1880--J. Blackman, H. Albert, William Lamb.
   1881--J. I. Gumaer, William Lamb, H. Albert.
   1882--T. B. Essex, J. I. Gumaer, H. Albert.

   County Clerks.--Hon. Nathan Blakely, 1858 to 1861; C. C. Coffinberry, 1861; Oliver Townsend, 1861 to 1869; Daniel Marsh, 1869 to 1871; W. D. Cox, 1871 to 1875 with William Wagner deputy; J. E. Hill, 1875 to 1881; A. J. Pethoud, 1881.

   Probate Judges.--Nathan Blakely, County Clerk and ex-officio Probate Judge; William Blakely, elected 1860; Albert Towle, 1862; H. M. Reynolds, 1866; C. A. Pease, 1869; J. W. Carter, 1871, re-elected 1873 and resigned in 1875; Alfred Hazlett, appointed and elected in 1875; William Forbes, 1877; P. Shafer, 1878; J. E. Cobbey, 1880; E. O. Kretsiner, 1882.

   Sheriffs.--P. M. Favor, elected in 1858, resigned 1860; E. B. Hendee, 1860; Joseph Clyne, 1862; Thomas Brown, 1864; L. P. Chandler, 1866; Daniel Freeman, 1868; L. Y. Coflin, 1870-72; A. P. Hazard, 1874-76; Eugene March, 1878; Nathaniel Herron, 1880-82.

   Coroners.--J. B. Mattingly, elected 1863; Daniel Freeman, 1864-67; Job Buchanan, appointed 1871, and elected 1879; D. A. Walden, 1880; O. O. Wells, 1882.

   Surveyors.--G. H. Toby, elected 1858; S. M. Hazen, 1856; A. J. Pethoud, 1860; Isaac Headly, 1864; A. J. Pethoud, 1866; Alfred Gale, 1868; A. J. Pethoud, 1872; Willis Ball, 1874; G. W. Minkler, 1882.

   District Clerks.--H. M. Reynolds, appointed 1866; H. P. Webb, 1868; Oliver M. Enlow, 1874; O. H. Phillips, 1876; J. E. Hill, 1878; A. V. S. Saunders, 1880.

   County Superintendent of Schools.--Oliver Townsend, County Clerk and ex-officio Superintendent; B. F. McNeil, appointed in 1861; L. B. Filley, elected 1868; J. R. Little, 1873-77; M. Weaverly, 1877-83.

   County Assessors.--William Blakely, elected 1868; George Gale, 1869; S. E. Tibbits, 1869; Charles Slocum, 1871-72-73.

   County Treasurers.--F. M. Colter, elected 1861; H. M. Reynolds, 1863; Albert Towle, 1866; H. P. Webb, 1869; John Ellis, 1876; J. F. King, 1881.

   We now come to the members of the Legislature and the District Judges. There have been many changes in the Judicial, Senatorial and Representative Districts since the organization of the Territory of Nebraska, as well as since its admission as a State. Under this apportionment as fixed by the new Constitution of the State, Gage County is made a Representative District, and entitled to two members. Gage and Jefferson are organized into one Senatorial District and given one member. The Judicial District has been greatly reduced in size. Gage County with Richardson, Pawnee, Johnston, Saline, Jefferson, Thayer, Nuckolls, Fillmore and Clay Counties constitutes the First Judicial District.

   Representatives.--Winter of 1859-60, Dr. Goshin; 1860-61, H. W. Parker; 1861-62, Nathan Blakely; 1862-63, ____ Cody; 1863-64, John Cadman; 1864-65, H. M. Reynolds; 1865-66, Oliver Townsend; 1866-67, Nathan Blakely. Up to this time, the Legislature convened at Omaha, and the sessions were annual. In 1867-68, Nebraska was admitted as a State, and the seat of government was removed to Lincoln and the sessions became biennial. Nathan Blakely was re-elected and served in the winter of 1868-69. In 1869, Fordyce Roper was elected to fill the vacancy caused by the appointment of Mr. Blakely as Receiver of the Land Office at Beatrice, Joseph B. McDowell elected in 1872-74; William H. Somers and William Anyan elected in 1875, to fill vacancies; L. B. Boggs, and William Anyan, 1877-78; John Sparks and William Curtiss, 1879-80; Elijah Filley and H. H. Silver, 1880-81.

   Senators.--The State Senators who have represented Gage since the admission of Nebraska as a State, have been Charles H. Gere, elected in 1868; Andrew J. Cropsey, 1870; N. K. Griggs, 1872 and re-elected in 1874 and represented twenty-three counties, it being the largest district in the State, both in territory and population; 1877-78, L. W. Colby; 1879-80, J. A. McMeans; 1881, R. B. Harrington who resigned as he was Receiver of the Land Office at Beatrice, and G. H. Castle was elected to fill the vacancy.

   District Judges.--During the Territorial period, Mr. Miller, Elmer S. Dundy, Daniel Gantt and Oliver P. Mason were successively Judges of this district. A. J. Weaver was elected in 1875, after the new apportionment, and has been Judge of the First District ever since.

   Members of the Constitutional Convention have been H. M. Reynolds and N. K. Griggs in 1871; R. B. Harrington and J. E. Doom in 1875.

   The United State Land Office for the Nemaha District was removed from Brownville to Beatrice in 1868, and the following persons have occupied the positions of Register and Receiver respectively since its removal: Registers, H. M. Atkinson and H. W. Parker. Receivers, John G. Carson, Nathan Blakely and R. B. Harrington. H. W. Parker is the present Register, and W. H. Somers, Receiver.

   Gage County had the honor of having one of its citizens, Hon. A. S. Paddock, elected first United State Senator from Nebraska. Hon. J. B. Weston, one of the Town Company that came on the memorable steamer Hannibal, was elected to the position of State Auditor in 1875, and Hon. N. K. Griggs has held the position of President of the State Senate.


      PRECINCTS                              PRECINCTS

   Beatrice..............3,703         Clatonia...............715
   Holt....................323         Logan..................494
   Rockford................776         Sherman................200
   Paddock.................831         Adams..................524
   Nemaha..................398         Mud Creek..............425
   Sicily..................606         Elm....................336
   Glenwood................647         Blakely................679
   Liberty...............1,036         Blue Springs.........3,072
   Hanover.................354         Lincoln................218
   Hooker..................245                             ______
   Grant...................479         Total...............16,598

   Taxable property, 440,250 acres of land; value, $2.50 per acre, $1,100,625. Value of town lots, $350,000. Money invested in merchandise, $275,450; money invested in manufacturing, $25,000; horses 8,465, value $175,325; cattle 19,375, value $125,801; mules and asses 945, value $23,850; sheep 38,040, value $45,525; swine 3,025, value $43,303; vehicles 3,405, value $35,908; sundries, value $15,504; moneys and credits, $55,273; mortgages, $145,462; other personalty, $25,000; libraries, $3,754; railroads, $224,372; total valuation, $2,669,678.

   The county has no floating debt, but a railroad bonded debt of $100,000. There are but few school bonds out, and $18,200 in the treasury at this time belonging to the different school districts.

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