KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS


Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska

Hamilton County
Produced by Barb Hruza and Alice Vosika.



PART 1: Topographical | Early History | First Things
PART 2:


Organization | Roster of County Officers
County Seat Fight | Agricultural Society
Educational Progress and History
PART 3:

Aurora:   Official Roster | Schools | Societies
Churches | Bank of Aurora
PART 4:
Aurora (cont.):   Biographical Sketches
PART 5:
Aurora (cont.):   Biographical Sketches (cont.)
PART 6:





Orville City
Hampton:   Biographical Sketches
South Platte Precinct (Biographical Sketch)
Other Towns

Illustration: [View of Aurora and Court House.]



Part 2


ORGANIZATION.

Hamilton Co. was organized at a general election, held May 3, 1870, at the house of John Harris, called for that purpose by a proclamation of Gov. David Butler. issued March 13th, 1870, of which the following is a copy:--

STATE OF NEBRASKA,    }
Executive Department.}

Whereas, a large number of the unorganized county of Hamilton herewith in a petition asking that an election be called for the purpose of choosing county officers preliminary to the organization of said county.

Therefore, I, David Butler, Governor of Nebraska, by virtue of the authority in me vested, do hereby order that an election be held at the house of John Harris in said county from 9 o'clock a.m., to 6 o'clock p.m. on Thursday the 3rd day of May, A. D., 1870, for the purpose of choosing three County Commissioners, one County Clerk, one County Treasurer, one Sheriff, one Probate Judge, one County Surveyor, one County Superintendent of Public Schools, one Coroner, three Judges of and two Clerks of Elections.

And I here designate and appoint John Laurie Norris, M. Bray, and Jarvie Chaffee as judges and Josias D. Wescott and William D. Young clerks, to conduct said election in accordance with the act for the organization of counties approved June 24, 1867, and the election laws of the State.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand, and caused to be affixed the great seal of the State of Nebraska.

Done at Lincoln, this 13th day of March, in the year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Seventy, of the Independence of the United States, Ninety-fourth, and of this State the Fourth.

           {SEAL}                    By the Governor,            DAVID BUTLER.
THOMAS P. KENNARD, Sec of State.

In accordance with this proclamation eighteen citizens, the voting population, assembled at the house of John Harris, in what is now known as Farmer's Valley Precinct on the Blue River, May 3, 1870, and organized Hamilton County, electing the following officers, as shown by the certificate of this election filed in the County Clerk's Office; "For County Seat, South half of northeast quarter, Section 22, Town 9, Range 6 west, had 18 votes, being the whole number cast at the first election held in Hamilton County. The officers elected were Josias D. Wescott, County Clerk; County Commissioners--Wm. D. Young, Norris M. Bray, Alexander Laurie; Clarence O. Wescott, Treasurer; Geo. F. Dickson, Sheriff; Robert Lamont, Probate Judge; John E. Harris, Surveyor; John Laurie, Supt. Pub. Instruction: James Rollo, Coroner.

Attest--Judges of Election--John Laurie, Norris M. Bray, Jarvis Chaffee; Clerks of Election, Josias D. Wescott, William D. Young.

The county seat as located by the vote of the people was named Orville City, in honor of Orville Wescott, son of C. O. Wescott, the first child born in the county whose birth is on record.

County Surveyor Harris laid out the town, and a courthouse was built in May, 1872, in which the records of the county were kept until their removal to Aurora, January 1, 1876, at which date Aurora was made the county seat after a long and spirited contest, during which five elections were held to decide the question of removal.

The following is the roster of county officials who have served since the organization of the county:--

ROSTER OF COUNTY OFFICERS.

1870--Commissioners--William D. Young, Norris M. Bray, Alexander Laurie; Josias D. Wescott, Clerk; C. O. Wescott, Treasurer; George F. Dickson, Sheriff; Robert Lamont, Probate Judge; John E. Harris, Surveyor; John Laurie, Supt. Pub. Inst.; James Rollo, Coroner. 1871--Commissioners--W. D. Young, N. M. Bray, William Werth; J. D. Wescott, Clerk; C. O. Wescott, Treasurer; George F. Dickson, Sheriff; Robert Lamont, Probate Judge; John E. Harris, Surveyor; John Laurie, Supt. Pub. Inst.; James Rollo, Coroner. 1872--J. D. Wescott, Clerk; C. O. Wescott, Treasurer; George F. Dickson, Sheriff; S. M. Hunter, Probate Judge; E. J. Lewis, Surveyor; Byron D. Brown, Supt. Pub. Inst.; Alexander Salmon, Coroner; Commissioners--J. F. Glover, Norris M. Bray, Wilhelm Werth. 1873--Commissioners--Norris M. Bray, Wilhelm Werth, Philip C. Housel; J. D. Wescott, Clerk; C. O. Wescott, Treasurer; George F. Dickson, Sheriff; S. M. Hunter, Probate Judge; E. J. Lewis, Surveyor; Byron D. Brown, Supt. Pub. Inst.; Alexander Salmon, Coroner. 1874--Commissioners--Norris M. Bray, P. C. Housel, Edward Nugent; William R. Mitchell, Clerk; James H. Farris, Treasurer; J. M. Fodge, Sheriff; J. W. Ward, Probate Judge; W. H. Epla, Surveyor; J. T. Price, Supt. Pub. Inst.; J. L. Trobee, Coroner. 1875--Commissioners--P. C. Housel, Edward Nugent; B. F. Isaman; William R. Mitchell, Clerk; James H. Farris, Treasurer; J. M. Fodge, Sheriff; J. W. Ward, Probate Judge; W. H. Epla, Surveyor; J. T. Price, Supt. Pub. Inst.; J. L. Trobee, Coroner. 1876--Commissioners--Edward Nugent, B. F. Isaman, William Steele; J. H. Helms, Clerk; James H. Farris, Treasurer; D. A. Scoville, Sheriff; W. L. Whittemore, Probate Judge; George M. Hollenback; Surveyor; Brig.-Gen. Delavan Bates, Supt.. Pub. Inst.; Ira Westbrook, Coroner. 1877--Commissioners--Edward Nugent, B. F. Isaman, William Steele J. H. Helms, Clerk; James H. Farris, Treasurer; D. A. Scoville, Sheriff; W. L. Whittemore, Probate Judge; George M. Hollenback, Surveyor; Brig.-Gen. Delavan Bates, Sup. Pub. Inst.; Ira Westbrook, Coroner. 1878--Commissioners--William Steele, A. V. B. Peck, J. F. Adams; T. C. Klumb, Clerk; T. A. McKay, Treasurer; James Fodge, Sheriff; W. L. Whittemore, Probate Judge; D. B. Parks, Surveyor; Brig.-Gen. Delavan Bates, Supt. Pub Inst; Goodwin Noble, Coroner. 1879--Commissioners--A. V. B. Peck and S. H. Fry appointed to fill vacancy. J. F. Adams, Edward Huling; T. C. Klumb Clerk; T. A. McKay, Treasurer; James Fodge, Sheriff; W. L. Whittemore, Probate Judge; D. B. Parks, Surveyor; E. B. Barton, Supt. Pub. Inst.; Goodwin Noble, Coroner. 1880--Commissioners--Jonathan Foster, Edward Huling, George Leiphart; W. L. Whittemore, Clerk; T. A. McKay, Treasurer; R. H. Peard, Sheriff; W. L. Stark, Probate Judge; D. B. Parks, Surveyor; E. B. Barton, Supt. Pub. Inst.: F. H. Clark, Coroner. 1881--Commissioners--Edward Huling, George Leiphart, George W. Pierce; W. L. Whittemore, Clerk; T. A. McKay, Treasurer; R. H. Peard, Sheriff; W. L. Stark, Probate Judge; D. B. Parks, Surveyor; E. B. Barton, Supt. Pub. Inst.; F. H. Clark, Coroner. 1882--Commissioners--George Liephart, George W. Pierce, Joseph Stockham; W. F. Peck Clerk; James H. Farris, Treasurer; W. Z. Pollard, Sheriff; W. K. Ream, Probate Judge; D. B. Parks, Surveyor; E. B. Barton, Supt. Pub. Inst.; J. W. Ellerton, Coroner.

Hon. Thomas B. Johnson, of Aurora, represented the 28th Representative District for the years 1876 and 1877; and Hon. R. W. Graybill, of Aurora, for the years 1879 and 1880.

J. H. Helms, of Aurora, was elected as Representative in November, 1880, and is now serving his second year.

COUNTY SEAT FIGHT.

The county seat was first located at Orville, a beautiful site near the south line of the county upon the Blue River, at the first general election in 1870, and this little town held the undisputed honor until 1873. During this year a petition to relocate was filed and at the election that followed a two-thirds majority was given for the town of Aurora, but the commissioners refused to move. A writ of mandamus was issued against them which they fought and carried to the Supreme Court and when final judgment was rendered Aurora was defeated. In the fall of 1874 Aurora was again successful in bringing up the question of removal at the general election, and again defeated her rival. The Commissioners still refused to move, basing their decision upon technical grounds.

At this junction Aurora mustered 150 of her faithful followers, and by the force of superior numbers captured the records and removed them to their present depository, but the following spring a writ of mandamus compelled their removal back to Orville, and a third court house election was ordered.

Hamilton now entered the fight, and it became a three-cornered battle; the law required a majority over all competitors to move a county seat, and on this ballot Aurora failed to get a sufficient number of votes. Not dismayed by all these bootless contests, Aurora quietly took her defeat, and in July, 1875, again succeeded in getting the question of removal submitted. After a hotly contested battle she was badly defeated, Hamilton getting a majority of 150 votes over Aurora, but not enough to remove the county seat from Orville. The vanquished charged fraud, corruption, ballot-box stuffing, but at that time the trick of going behind the returning board was unknown, and Orville still held the much coveted county seat.

The fifth election in this somewhat extensive series was, however, the Waterloo for both Hamilton and Orville. Aurora had by this time learned the tactics of her rivals, for when the last vote was counted Aurora had a majority of eighty over all, and her enemies laid down their arms. Aurora, to make her victory sure, built without expense to the county one of the finest court houses in Western Nebraska, and deeded it, with the handsome square around which the town is built, to the county.

Hamilton and Orville became merged in Aurora, which has become a thriving town, and Orville has fallen so low as to become the county poor farm, while Hamilton has almost become a deserted village.

AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY.

The first attempt made to organize an agricultural society in the county was in the fall of 1871, in the store of David Stone at Aurora. Preliminary steps were taken at this date, but the organization was perfected at Orville City, July 3, 1872. Joseph Glover was elected President; James Rollo, Vice President; George F. Dickson, Secretary; E. J. Lewis, Assistant Secretary; John Laurie, Treasurer.

The first fair was held in October, 1872, on the public square at Orville City. The court house was used as a floral hall, and for the display of the different exhibits and the prairie as a race course. Among the attractions at this first meeting was a bareback equestrian race in which the young ladies of the county participated and Miss Nellie Henderson won the race and premium. An annual fair has been held since the organization of the society, but no grounds were laid out until 1879.

During this year the present fair grounds, comprising a tract of forty acres situated on the northeast quarter of the northwest quarter of section nine (9), town ten (10), range six (6), was purchased and a good half-mile track laid.

The buildings comprise sheds for stock and substantial frame building used as a floral hall. The standing of the society will rank well with those of adjoining counties, and liberal premiums are annually offered.

The present officers of the society are W. A. Johnson, President; O. W. Cass, Vice President; E. S. Phelps, Secretary; Maj. J. S. Miller, Treasurer.

EDUCATIONAL PROGRESS AND HISTORY.

The progress of educational interests in Hamilton County has been sure and permanent in its character. In none of her sister counties has more rapid progress been made in the efficiency of the schools, or the number and character of its school buildings. They are the pride of the people of this county, and ample provision is made for their annual support and the maintenance of the firm enduring basis upon which they have been placed. The citizens of Hamilton County are above the average in intelligence, and contribute liberally in matters of educational work, and for a county so young as Hamilton its institutions of learning will compare favorably with many of the older counties in the state.

In some of the outlying districts a few rudely constructed school buildings are still to be found--relics of the pioneer days, but nearly all are furnished with large comfortable frame buildings, well furnished with patent seats and desks in a manner that would do honor to a more thickly populated state than Nebraska.

The school lands of this county are of the most valuable kind, and furnish a handsome yearly revenue, increasing with each succeeding year.

School district No. 1, the first organized in the county, included all the territory lying in town nine (9), range five (5), west. Notice of the first meeting was given to James Waddle by County Superintendent of Public Instruction, John Laurie, which was held at the house of James Waddle, September 27, 1870. Joseph Stockham was elected Director.

District No. 2 was organized at a meeting held in the dug-out of Joseph Stockham, June 20, 1871. Byron D. Brown was chosen Director, and the district included the east one quarter of town nine (9) range (5), except the east one half of the east tier of sections on the east line.

District No. 3 comprised all of town ten (10), range (5), and was organized at the house of R. M. Hunt, March 3rd, 1870, with S. B. Chapman as Director.

District No. 4 was organized February 14th, 1872, at the house of C. H. Kimball, and included the south one half of town eleven (11), range six (6). S. W. Spafford, Director.

District No. 5 was organized at the house of M. Lewis, February 20th, 1872, and E. J. Lewis elected Director.

District No. 6 was organized February 14, 1872, at the house of John Mathews, notice being issued to J. E. McBride, and included the east one half of town ten (10), range six (6), which was extended March 27, 1872, to include all of that township. First Director L. W. Hastings.

District No. 7 was organized at the house of Wm. Werth, April 27, 1872. The first notice was issued to Robert Lamont and reissued to Wm. Werth, April 16, 1872. Wm. Werth was chosen the first Director, and the territory included the south east one quarter of town eleven (11), range five (5).

In district No. 8 notice of formation was issued to Noah Brotherton, March 12th, 1872, and the first meeting organizing the district was held at the house of Geo. Haner. The original territory comprised the south west one quarter of town eleven (11), range five (5), and extended March 26th to include all of range five (5), north of town ten (10). First Director elected James M. Fodge.

District No. 9 was organized April 9th, 1872, at the house of David Stone in Aurora, the notice of the first meeting being issued to Darius Wilcox. The territory covered by this district included all of town ten (10), west of range six (6), except the east one half of town ten (10), range six (6).

District No. 10 was organized at the house of Charles Pelan, June 22, 1872. Boundaries, northwest, one quarter of town nine (9), range five (5) west.

District No. 11 included the north east one quarter of town nine of range six (6), and was organized November 9, 1872.

The organization of district No. 12 includes all the districts formed up to the year 1873. It was organized at the house of L. A. Franklin. November 30th, 1872, and comprised all of town nine (9), range (7). During the year 1873 twenty-one districts were organized, making a total of thirty-three, and at the close of the year 1874 the number of districts had increased to seventy-one. In 1875 to seventy eight. There are now eighty-seven organized districts in the county, nine being organized since the close of the year 1875.

As yet only one graded school has been established in the county, which is located at Aurora and upon the completion of the new school building which is being rapidly pushed, a high-school department will be added, which will furnish the best of facilities for acquiring the best of common school educations.

The teachers, as a rule, are earnest, thoughtful, and hard working, and aim to afford all the children the opportunity of getting as much and as good an education as possible.

It is especially sought to teach all pupils as early as possible to read intelligently and to write legible and correct English, and give a course of study that the essential rudiments of an education may be acquired by those who are forced to leave school at an early age. The work is systematized as far as practical, and there is much earnestness found both in the teacher and pupil, as could be expected of those who earnestly desire to do well.

It is not the aim to finish scholars, but to teach them some important things thoroughly, and to do some things well.

In the more advanced classes the first thing sought is thoroughness in the fundamental and directly practical subjects in a common school education.

After this is secured pupils are encouraged to go on to higher studies and objects in life, and are materially aided in preparing for higher institutions of learning, or for the many business pursuits of life.

The following is a general summary of statistics for 1881 as furnished by County Superintendent of Public Instruction, E. B. Barton:

            GENERAL SUMMARY OF STATISTICS FOR 1881.

Number of districts...................................        87
Number of schoolhouses................................        77
Number of children of school age {males...............     1,533
                                 {females.............     1,368
Average number in each district {males................        18
                                {females..............        17
Number of teachers  {males............................        44
                    {females..........................        72
Number of days taught by teachers {males..............     3,623
                                  {females............     5,775
Average number of days taught by each {males..........        83
                                      {females........        81
Number of graded schools..............................         1
Number of districts having six months school or more..        51
Number of schoolhouses well furnished with patent
     desks and seats..................................        57
New schoolhouses built during the last year...........         9
Number of schools having some apparatus...............        30
Value of school property..............................$31,979.00
Total cost of maintaining the schools, including
     teachers' wages..................................$30,256.74
Total indebtedness....................................$11,180.42



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