This town is situated in the northeastern part of Kearney County, and on the line of the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad in Nebraska. It is the oldest existing town in the county and its location is a beautiful one on the nearly level lands of the Platte Valley north of the railroad.
Though once the county seat, and principal town of the county, it has now so decreased in size that the population will not number more than fifty, and there are not more than a dozen buildings in the town.
The history of the town begins at a date in the summer of 1871, when the railroad had been surveyed through this part of the county, and the site was selected by D. N. Smith, the locator of towns for the railroad company. The site selected was on land belonging to the United States Government, and consisted of an entire section of 640 acres. The manner of gaining possession of it was as follows: D. N. Smith built a large hotel in the very center of the section, so that each corner of the building should be on a different quarter-section, and each quarter-section was entered by pre-emption claim by some man selected by Smith, who as soon as six months' residence, at the hotel had expired, proved up and paid for the land and then sold it to Smith, who at once proceeded to lay out the town. The hotel was kept by T. Munhall, who had been Chaplain at Fort Kearney.
The first settlers on the town site were P. and W. W. Peterson, Dr. H. T. Cooper, and T. Munhall. The first of the above mentioned men located near the present town of Lowell in 1860, and continued to reside there until after Lowell was laid out.
The post office was established in 1871, with Mrs. Gratney, postmistress.
The first store was opened in the summer of 1871, by A. A. Andrews.
The first birth in the new town took place on the 28th day of November, 1871, and was that of Jennie Munhall, who is now living with her parents in Bloomington, Neb.
The first marriage was that of William Dogget and Mattie Gratney.
The first death was that of James McGonegal, who was shot by Joseph Newell.
The first sermon preached in Lowell was in the fall of 1871, in the dining-room of the hotel, and by D. N. Smith.
The schoolhouse was built in the spring of 1872, and school was taught the following summer by Miss Evans.
On the organization of the county in June, 1872, the county seat was located here, and the court house was built the next year.
In 1872, the railroad was completed, and there then began a rush of settlers to the new town. Lowell was now the principal point to attract attention, and a great number of buildings were erected. During the summer, a United States Land Office was located here, and from that time until its removal to Bloomington, in the summer of 1874, Lowell was a thriving town. It had built up until it was one of the important towns of central Nebraska. The Land Office, among other things, drew large crowds. It was also an important shipping point for cattle from the plains of the southwest. The streets were continually thronged, and everything was life, bustle and energy. Many times, however, the town was a scene of disturbances from the half drunken cow-boys, roughs, and gamblers, who at times frequented the place, and four saloons were in operation.
In the years 1873-74, among the many other improvements, there was a bridge across the Platte erected, at a cost of $60,000, and a large schoolhouse was built.
In 1874, the town began suddenly to decline, and this was nearly as rapid as was its building up. The principal causes were the removal of the United States Land Office to Bloomington, and the building of a bridge across the Platte River at Kearney Junction. Previous to the building of the Kearney bridge, nearly all of the trade of Kearney County, and the country to the south and southwest, came to Lowell, but now a market was opened to a point at the junction of two rival roads, and the competition between the railroads, as well as among the dealers in Kearney, caused one grand rush of trade to that place, and after holding on for a time, the business men of Lowell gradually disposed of their goods and moved away. The final blow to this town was struck when the county seat was moved to Minden, in 1878. Another reason for the decline of this town is its proximity to the sand hills that border the Platte Valley, and extend along the northern part of the county. The town has now dwindled away until its population will not exceed fifty, and the only business done is a very light country trade.
This town is the county seat of Kearney County, and is pleasantly located in the center of the county. The surface of the land is nearly level and presents a beautiful appearance.
The population of thriving little town numbers about 200, and is made up of an exceptionally stirring and enterprising class of people.
Considering the fact that it has no railroad facilities the amount of business done here is great. The business houses are represented by three hardware, three general merchandise, one drug, one grocery, and two furniture stores, two hotels, two livery barns, two agricultural implement houses, one blacksmith shop, one wagon shop, one meat market, one harness shop, one printing office, one millinery store, and one stationery store. The professions are represented by two physicians, seven attorneys, one photographer, two editors, and besides these, the teachers and ministers having charge of the schools and churches in the town.
When selected as a town site, in December, 1876, after a vote the month previous, locating the county seat here, all was a naked, unbroken prairie. The Lowell people having served an injunction against the removal of the county seat, the records were not removed here until May, 1878.
The first building on the town site was a schoolhouse, built in the spring of 1877, and the first term of school was taught the following summer, by Mrs. Vansciver.
The post office had been established in December, 1875, with F. Bredemeier, Postmaster.
The first settler on the town site was W. T. Thorn, who opened a store in January, 1878.
In May, 1878, the county records were removed from Lowell, and Minden now became the county seat. Among those who now removed here were, Joel Hull, Lewis A. Kent, M. Kieran, A. H. Harland, and R. P. Stein.
During the summer, a number of buildings were erected, and many improvements were made.
The first sermon was preached in August, 1878, at the schoolhouse, by Rev. J. N. Allen.
The first marriage took place on the 31st day of March, 1879, and was that of Joel and Elsie E. Hull.
The first death in the town was that of S. D. Richards, the monster murderer, who was hanged in execution of the law, on April 16, 1879.
The first birth was that of Joel L., son of Joel and Elsie E. Hull.
Since the date of the first settlement in 1878, the town has continued to grow steadily and surely, up to the present time, and now promises to become one of the finest of the interior villages of Nebraska.
The only church that has yet been erected here, is a fine structure, built by the Roman Catholics, which was completed early in the year 1882.
Besides the above church, the Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Christians and Lutherans, have organized societies, all of which are in a prosperous condition. The Lutherans and Presbyterians contemplate building at an early date.
The Sunday school is well attended, and is in a flourishing condition.
The public schools have, since the time of the first inhabitants, been given every possible encouragement; they are well attended, and inferior to no village schools.
There is one newspaper published here -- the Kearney County Gazette. This paper is the result of the combination of the Bee, which had been published at Newark, by R. M. Hardman. The Gazette made its first appearance in April, 1882, and is a bright and wide awake forty column paper, well filled with local news. It is published under the firm name of Williams & Hardman.
B. F. Williams, the senior editor of the Kearney County n y Gazette, was born in Champaign County, Ohio, December 9, 1826, and in 1829 removed to Warren County, Ind., with his parents. In 1842 he removed to Illinois and in 1846 to Iowa, where he was a merchant. He became a minister of the gospel in the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1854, and served until 1862, when he purchased a printing office in Knoxville, Iowa, and published the Marion County Republican until 1878. Assessor for Marion County, from 1862 to 1867. He then served two years as Mayor of Knoxville. Removed to Red Oak, Iowa, in 1869, and to Kearney County, Nebraska in October, 1879. In March, 1882, he purchased the Kearney County Bee, and in April, consolidated it with the Newark Herald, under the name of the Gazette.
R. M. Hardman, associate editor of the Gazette, came to Nebraska in May, 1880, from East Milan, Mich., and located at Kearney, where he worked on the Press, as book-keeper until November, 1880. He then removed to Newark where he established the Herald on the 14th day of November, 1880, which he continued to publish there until April, 1882, when he consolidated his paper with the Bee at Minden, under the name of the Kearney County Gazette. He was born at Clarksburg, Va., May 8, 1849. He learned the printer's trade at the above named town, which he left in 1869 and traveled through the West until 1871, when he removed to Michigan. He was married to 1873 to Miss Addie Blackburn, of East Milan, Mich. They have had five children, but Goldie, born in 1879, it the only one living.
This little town is situated in the Platte Valley, on the south side of the river, on the line of the Burlington and Missouri Railroad in Nebraska.
The population is small, but slowly increasing. The business houses consist of a grocery, dry goods, one furniture, one hardware, and one agricultural implement store, one grain elevator, one lumber yard, two coal yards, one hotel, one livery barn, a large railroad depot, and a schoolhouse. There are about half a dozen residences in the town.
The first settlement on the town site was by A. J. Sindbeck, in May, 1877.
The town was named Newark at the suggestion of A. E. Touzalin, who was then general manager of the railroad.
The post office was established in December, 1877, and A. J. Sindbeck was appointed Postmaster.
The first store was opened by A. J. Sindbeck, on the 10th day of June, 1878.
The first child born was a daughter to Mr. and Mrs. Frank Renwick.
The first marriage was that of Joseph Casper and Miss Maggie Jones, and took place in February, 1880.
The schoolhouse was erected in 1880 and school was taught therein the same year with Mr. Sears, teacher.
The first sermon was preached in the summer of 1881, at the schoolhouse by Rev. Mr. Buzzell.
The first death occurred March 1, 1882, and was that of May, the infant daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R. M. Hardman.
The first newspaper was started November 14, 1880, by R. M. Hardman. A. J. Sindbeck owned the building and material which he gave, rent free, to secure the publication of a paper. Mr. Hardman published the Herald here until April, 1882, when he removed to Minden and consolidated it with the paper published there, as elsewhere detailed.
The public school of the town is in a thriving condition.
There are several religious organizations but no church building. A union Sunday school is kept up and is in a flourishing condition, having a large attendance.
On the 1st day of January, 1881, there were only two buildings in the town and those were both owned by A. J. Sindbeck. The entire progress of the town has been made since that date. Business it thriving. In the fall of 1881, nearly two hundred carloads of wheat were shipped.