Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska

Madison County
Produced by
Connie Snyder.


Topography and Geology | Natural Resources | Early Settlements
Indians | Organization | Railroads | Public Schools | Crops
Taxable Property | Population

Norfolk:  Incorporation | Biographical Sketches

Madison:   Biographical Sketches
Battle Creek | Other Towns

List of Illustrations in Madison County Chapter

Part 3




   This town was made the county seat October 12, 1875. It is beautifully situated at the junction of Union and Taylor Creeks. It is immediately surrounded by valley and rolling prairie, most of the land in all directions for a number of miles being well adapted to mixed farming. To the westward, in what is called the Knapp & Scheer settlement, are to be found farms equal, perhaps, to any in the State, both as regards their fertility and the improvements that have been made upon them. Good barns have been erected on most of the farms, which, on account of the scarcity of the timber, are seldom seen in Northeastern Nebraska, and, as a consequence many thousands of dollars have been lost to the farmers by the exposure to the weather, of their farm implements, vehicles and stock.

   The first settlement made in Madison was by H. M. Barnes and his sons, Frank W. and William J., the town site being located on the claim of Frank W. Barnes, who built the first log house in the fall of 1868. The first frame house in Madison was built by H. M. Barnes, in May, 1867, and the first store was started in May, 1872, by Michael Bauch. The post office was established in 1871, Sylvester Speed, Postmaster. The first marriage was that of Frank W. Barnes to Phebe Bauch, May 2, 1871; the first birth that of their son, Edward Y., February 19, 1872. The first marriage in Union Creek settlement was that of Leroy S. Rounds to Mary E. Flowers, early in 1869.

   The Presbyterian Church was organized in 1870. Rev. J. M. Wilson preached the first sermon during the same year, and their church was built in 1871.

   The Methodists were organized in 1870. Their first sermon was preached to them the same year, by Elder S. P. Vandoozer, and their church was built in 1875.

   The Catholics organized their church in 1880, and built their church edifice in 1881.

   The Lutherans organized in 1875, but have no building.

   The Madison County Sunday School Association was organized at Madison July 5, 1878.

   Madison was incorporated July 6, 1876. Her first Board of Trustees were F. W. Barnes, C. Neidig, T. M. Blakely, E. F. Prince and H. E. Becker.

   The village now contains five general stores, two hardware stores, two harness shops, two blacksmiths, two shoe shops, one furniture store, five agricultural implement dealers, one flouring-mill, two banks, three law firms, one doctor, two lumber yards, one brick yard, five stock-breeders, two hotels, two public and one private schools, one newspaper and about six hundred inhabitants.

   On March 31, 1882, the question of bonding the school district in which Madison is located, in the sum of $5,000, for the purpose of building a new schoolhouse, was submitted to the electors.

   One hundred and forty-nine votes were cast, thirty-one of them by women. Twenty-nine of these voted in favor of the bonds, which carried by eleven over the necessary two-thirds majority.

   The first newspaper published in the county was the Madison Review, established in 1874, by T. M. Blakely, who continued its publication until 1878. The Madison Chronicle was started in 1879, by Phillip Bauch, and is the only paper in Madison. It is one of the few country newspapers that have discarded the ready print feature, and is bright and newsy.


   W. J. BARNES, proprietor of Madison Hotel, is a native of Dutchess County, N. Y. In the spring of 1866, the family came to Columbus, Neb. The following year, they removed to Madison County, where he has since resided. The family are among the first settlers of the county. His brother pre-empted this land and laid out this town. His father pre-empted a quarter section on the north. W. J. also pre-empted a quarter section, making about one section which the family entered. He has since been engaged in farming, and has recently opened this house.

   F. W. BARNES, firm of Barnes & Tyrrel, bankers, is a native of Dutchess County, N. Y. In 1866, the family came to Columbus, Neb. May 3, 1867, they removed to Madison County, where he has since resided. Mr. Barnes entered 160 acres, on which the town of Madison is now situated. He laid out this town in 1870. In 1872, he engaged in banking, also in real estate, has since been engaged in this business. He has held the offices of County Surveyor, County Judge, Town Treasurer, Town Clerk and other offices.

   PHIL BAUCH, editor Madison Chronicle was born in Kankakee, Ill. Came, with his parents, to Madison in 1871. They engaged in merchandising, which they continued till 1878. This paper was established in 1877.

   H. E. BECKER, furniture and undertaking, is a native of Germany. In 1853, came to New York. Soon after, removed to Connecticut. There followed the carpenter trade. He enlisted, in 1861, in Company I, Tenth Regiment Connecticut Infantry; was discharged in 1864; returned to Connecticut; continued the carpenter trade. In 1874, came to Madison, Neb. Soon after, established this business. Mr. B. was one term County Commissioner. He is Chairman of the Board of Trustees; has been a member since 1876. He is also Secretary of the Madison Town Hall and Court House Association. Was also School Director for one term.

   DR. S. J. BRIDENSTINE, physician and surgeon, is a native of Pennsylvania. When a child, came to Johnson County, Iowa, with his parents. He attended the State University about six years; graduated from the medical department in 1875. He then came to Madison, where he has since actively engaged in his profession. He is one of the Commissioners of Insanity for Madison County. He is also surgeon for the Omaha, Niobrara & Black Hills Railroad.

   P. A. CLARK, coal and farm machinery, was born in Otsego County, N. Y. Came to Decatur, Ill. In 1861, attended the State Normal School of Bloomington; also engaged in teaching. Graduated from that institution in 1866. He continued teaching till 1868, when he came to Fremont, Neb. Was engaged in insurance and implement business about two years. In the spring of 1870, returned to Bureau County. Taught school there about two years. He then went to Chicago, and sold school furniture about three years. He then removed to Peoria; was traveling partner in a wholesale drug and spice house three years. In 1878, came to Omaha; was engaged in the same business one year. In 1879, came to Madison, where he has since been engaged in his present business. He has been County Surveyor of Madison County. Is now Assessor of Union Creek Precinct. He owns the most of an eighty in the midst of the thriving town of Madison, and was a prime mover in acquiring the present railroad, to enhance his possessions.

   L. W. FINDEISEN, firm of Horst & Findeisen, hardware, stoves and tinware, is a native of New Franken, Brown Co., Wis. Assisted on their farm. In 1871, he began to learn the tinner's trade at Green Bay, Wis. September 1, 1875, went to the Northern Indiana Normal School. Afterward taught school for two years in Brown and Kewanee Counties. June, 1878, came to Columbus, Neb. There clerked in a tin and hardware store. In February, 1880, came to Silver Creek, Neb. The same year came to Madison, and established this business.

   HERMAN FRICKE, wines and liquors, is a native of Hanover. In 1861, came to McHenry County, Ill.; engaged in farming. In 1863, came to Richardson County, Neb.; also engaged in farming. In 1880, he removed to Madison, and engaged in his present business. Married, in 1866, Johannah Ruegge, of Hanover. They have eight children--three sons and five daughters.

   F. W. FRITZ, County Treasurer and firm of Fritz & Wolf, Madison Mills, is a native of Prussia. In 1856, came to Dodge County, Wis., with his parents. There assisted on their farm. Enlisted, in February, 1864, in Company H, Thirty-sixth Wisconsin Infantry; served to the end of the war. In 1865, came to Hardin County, Iowa; engaged in farming. In 1870, removed to West Point; engaged in merchandising, grain and implement business; also ran a branch store at Wisner; continued this business until 1873. He then came to Madison, and commenced the erection of this grist-mill, which was completed in the fall of 1873. He was also engaged in merchandising here about two years. In the fall of 1879, he was elected County Treasurer; was again elected in the fall of 1881.

   WILLIAM GERECKE, County Clerk, is a native of Germany. In 1854, he came to Dodge County, Wis., where he remained until 1872, when he came to Norfolk and opened a harness shop. This business he still carries on--firm of Spaulding & Gerecke. Hewas elected County Treasurer in the fall of1877. In the fall of 1879, he was elected County Clerk.

   F. HOFFMANN, jeweler and watchmaker, is a native of France. In 1874, came to New York City; worked at the Marion, N. J., watch factory about two years. In 1876, came to Elgin, Ill.; worked at the Elgin Watch factory about two and a half years. March, 1880, came to Madison, where he has since carried on this business. Married, in 1855, Anna Champion, of Switzerland. They have three sons--Louis P. (now Deputy County Treasurer), Charles and Julius.

   H. D. KELLY, firm of Searles & Kelly, attorney at law. Mr. K. commenced the study of law in Ohio; in the spring of 1877 came to Belle Plaine, Benton Co., Iowa, also continued his studies; he attended the State University, graduated from the Law Department in 1880; he then commenced the practice of law in Cedar Rapids; May, 1881, came to Madison; has since been a member of this firm.

   REV. WILLIAM E. KIMBALL, pastor of the Presbyterian Church. Is a native of Frankfort, Herkimer Co., N. Y. Enlisted in Company H, Fifteenth New York Cavalry, August 3,1863; promoted to the office of Corporal, and served until August 21, 1865. Prepared for college at Cazenovia Seminary, New York; entered Hamilton College, New York, in 1872, and graduated in June, 1876; entered Princeton Theological Seminary, New Jersey, the same year, and graduated from that institution April 29, 1879. Took charge of the Madison Presbyterian Church July 4, 1879; was ordained September 17, 1879, by the Presbytery of Omaha; served the Creston and Humphrey churches in connection with the Madison Church for three years, and now (July, 1882), gives his whole time and service to Madison. Was married, May 10, 1881, to Miss Linda E. Brown, of Sturbridge, Mass.

   C. NEIDIG, general merchandise. Is a native of Germany; in 1846 came to New York City with his parents; in 1852, they removed to Delaware County, N. Y.; in 1856, came to Kankakee County, Ill.; engaged in farming in 1868; came to Madison County, Neb.; followed farming three years, then removed to Madison, and has since been engaged in merchandising; is one of the oldest merchants in the county. He has been Justice of the Peace two years. He owns 320 acres of improved land, also property in Madison.

   E. F. PRINCE. proprietor of Prince Hotel, and dealer in general merchandise. Was born in Berkshire County, Mass., in 1827; came to Columbia County. Wis., engaged in farming; in 1876, came to Madison, built this hotel, which is the largest in the county; he also built this store, and in the fall of 1881, opened a general stock, and has since carried on this business. Mr. P. was appointed Town Trustee when the town was first incorporated; held the office four years, and held other local offices.

   W. M. ROBERTSON, firm of Robertson & Campbell, attorneys at law. Is a native of Delaware County, N. Y.; at about the age of ten, came with his parents to Forreston, Ill.; in 1867, he commenced the study of law; was admitted to the bar in 1869, at Ottawa, Ill.; has since been actively engaged in the practice of his profession, first practiced in Ogle County. In 1874, came to Norfolk, Neb.; soon after removed to Madison, where he has since resided; was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1875, which framed the Constitution of Nebraska. He enlisted in 1864, in Company D, One Hundred and Forty-second Illinois Volunteer Infantry; served about six months.

   WILLIAM T. SEARLES, County judge, was born in Jefferson County, N. Y.; there he took up the study of law; he took a classical course at the Union Academy, Belleville, Jefferson Co., N. Y.; in 1872, he came to Madison County, took a homestead of 160 acres, which he has improved; he was admitted to the bar in 1876; the following year he came to Madison, and has since been actively engaged in the practice of his profession; in the fall of 1877, he was elected County Judge; now serving on his third term. May, 1881, he formed a partnership with Mr. Kelly, firm of Searles & Kelly.

   H. G. SEIDEL, firm of J. E. North & Co., lumber, lime, etc., is a native of Germany; in 1867, came to Butler County, Penn.; worked at millwright business there about eight months, then came to Benton County, Iowa; also followed the millwright trade; in 1870, came to West Point, followed this business, rebuilt the Papillion Mills, the Lyons Mills, also the Madison Mills; in the fall of l873, he went to Oakland, built the Oakland Mills; he then returned to Madison County, engaged in farming; in 1877, he removed to Columbus, there engaged in lumber; in 1879, came to Madison, has since been a member of the above firm.

   M. C. SCOTT, Postmaster, is a native of Jefferson County, N. Y.; in 1849, came to Jefferson County, Wis.; followed the carpenter trade and farming; in the fall of 1865, came to Missouri; carried on the carpenter trade; in 1874, came to Madison, engaged in farming; was appointed Postmaster April, 1880.

   A. H. STEELE, druggist. Is a native of Huron County, Ohio; when a boy, came with his parents to Albia, Monroe County, Iowa, his father being engaged in banking there several years, after engaged in the hotel business. The subject of this sketch held the office of ticket agent of the C., B. & Q. R. R. at Albia, about four years; in 1880, he came to Madison, where he has since carried on this business. Was married, in 1877, to Miss Anna Wassen, of Columbus, Ohio; she came with her parents to Marion County, Iowa, at the age of six years.

   JAMES STUART, banker, is a native of Kent, Litchfield Co., Conn. In 1871, came to Chicago, was engaged there in the wholesale grocery trade about nine years. In the spring of 1880, came to Madison; has since been engaged in banking

   J. J. SHERLOCK, agent Union Pacific Railway, was born in Newport, Ky.; in 1869, came to Omaha; in 1873, he secured employment with this company, and has since been in their employ; December, 1879, he was appointed agent at Humphrey, remained there one year; he then removed to Lost Creek, was agent there about ten months; February 16, 1882, came to Madison, where he has since been agent of this company.

   F. W. WOLF, firm of Fritz & Wolf, proprietors of Madison Mills, was born in Germany; when a child came with his parents to Waukesha County, Wis.; assisted on their farm; in 1867, came to Franklin County, Iowa, there engaged in farming; April, 1881, came to Madison and became a member of this firm. Married, in 1876, to Carrie Stracke, of Waukesha County, Wis. They had two children, one living--Herbert Garfield.

   A. C. TYRREL, firm of Barnes & Tyrrel, bankers, was born in Berkshire County, Mass.; in 1863, came to Dodge County, Wis.; he attended the Northwestern Business College at Madison; after taught school in different counties in the State; in 1871, came to Madison, Neb.; the following year, he with Mr. Barnes established this business.


   This flourishing town is situated on Battle Creek, about one mile above its junction with the Elkhorn. It is surrounded by level prairie, better adapted to grazing and meadow than to the raising of cereals, though the soil is rich, and, where plowed, produces excellent corn.

   The town site, at the time of the laying-out of the town by J. D. Hoover, belonged to a company, consisting of F. J. Hale, John F. Tiedgen, Hogrefe and P. J. Neil. The first buildings erected were a store and dwelling combined, by F. J. Hale; a hotel, by John F. Tiedgen; a store, by Patrick O'Neill; and another store by J. D. Hoover--all in 1874. F. J. Hale was the first hotel-keeper and the first store-keeper. The post office was established in 1874; J. D. Hoover, first Postmaster. Since this time, the town has made steady progress, until now it contains two general stores, one hardware store, one grocery, one blacksmith, two agricultural implement dealers, one drug store, one grain dealer, one harness shop, two physicians, eighty-six school children and about two hundred inhabitants. There are three churches--Catholic, Baptist and German Lutheran; a fine new frame schoolhouse, 24x44 feet, costing $1,500; and an excellent flouring-mill, 26x36 feet, three stories high above the basement, containing two run of stone, and situated on Battle Creek, one-fourth mile north of the town.


   Blakely Post Office is situated on mostly level prairie. It was established in 1880, George B. Rouse being appointed first Postmaster. Mr. Blake was the first settler, in 1871; others were Messrs. Hutchins, Reynolds, Snow and Derry. The first birth was that of Mary Hamley, in August, 1871. E. Rouse taught the first school. Except the post office, there is only a blacksmith shop here.

   Warren Post Office is situated in the northwest part of the county, on the Elkhorn River. O. P. Goodrich, Postmaster. It is surrounded by a fine grazing section, and near it is some excellent farming land.

   Emerick Post Office is located in the western part of the county, near the head of Battle Creek. It was established in May, 1873, Charles Letheby being appointed first Postmaster, and was named after John Emerick, one of the old settlers in the vicinity. The first schoolhouse was built here in 1874, and the first school was taught in 1875 by L. C. Docker. A store was opened here in October, 1880, by J. L. Grant, one of the oldest settlers in the place.

   Kalamazoo is a post office in the southern part of the county. It is surrounded by a fine farming and well-settled country. C. D. Jenkins is the present Postmaster.

   Newman Grove is situated in the extreme southwest corner of the county, in Shell Creek Valley. This valley contains some of the finest farming lands in the county. The first settler was Newman Warren, who located in 1864. He died in 1867. John Blomfeel, Nils Nilson and William Mancoe came in 1866. First birth was Lewis M. Hovland, born in 1877. First marriage, George B. Hovland and Jennie Simonson, on April 13, 1876. A schoolhouse was built in 1872, and a church in 1881. A post office was established in 1874, G. J. Hamre, Postmaster, who also opened the first store.

   Munson is a post office and railroad station on the O. N. & B. H. R. R., about seven miles north of Madison.

   Clarion, in the central part of the county, Dry Creek, in the northwestern, and Deer Creek, in the northern, are country post offices.

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