Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska

Produced by
Vickie Coe.

RED WILLOW County is situated in the valley of the Republican River. In extent it is twenty-four miles from north to south and thirty miles for east to west. As to boundary lines, it has Frontier County on the north, Furnas on the east, Decatur County, Kan., on the south, and Hitchcock County on the west. The county is well watered by numerous streams. The Republican River flows through the county from west to east, at a distance varying from fourteen to eighteen miles north of the Kansas line. On the north side of the Republican River, its principal tributaries are Red Willow Creek, which enters the county near the northwestern part and flows southeast, entering the Republican not far from the center of the county; Coon Creek, which empties into the Republican at Indianola, and Dry Creek, a little farther to the east. On the south side of the river are Driftwood Creek, which enters the county from Hitchcock, about six miles south from the Republican and flows northeast, emptying into the river about six miles from the western boundary; then in succession and only a few miles apart, and all flowing in the same general direction, are Ash, Buffalo, Berger, School and Silver Creeks. The only other stream of any importance is Beaver Creek, which enters the county from the southwest., and at a point about twelve miles east of the western boundary, and flows east of northeast, entering Furnas county at a point about six miles north of the Kansas boundary. This stream, however, as well as a number of the other larger ones of the county, has a number of small streams tributary to it, that are of no importance except to furnish stock water.

The valley of the Republican River itself is broad, level and fertile. The other larger streams--Red Willow, Driftwood and Beaver Creeks--have quite broad and level valleys. Of the smaller streams, the valleys are narrow, and have but a small extent of bottom land. From the bottoms to the uplands, going back from any of the streams. the surface of the land varies from gentle slopes to high and steep bluffs. The divides between the streams consist of high and rolling prairie.

The best farming lands are along the Beaver , Driftwood and Red Willow Creeks, though the greater portion of the county has a soil and surface of land suitable to crop-raising. But a small portion of the land of the county is too rough for cultivation.

All parts of the county are adapted to stock-raising, and the steep and broken bluff lands along the larger streams are particlarly suited to this purpose.

The bottom lands are covered with a rich growth of grass, and in some places it grows to a great height. the uplands and divides are covered principally with a rich and heavy growth of buffalo grass, though this, with the advance in the improvement of the country, is fast giving way to a blue stem variety.

There is but little timber in the county, and this only skirting the streams. Along the Republican is but a slight growth of trees. Along the banks of the Red Willow is the best timber in the county, and in some places it is quite heavy. The Driftwood and the Beaver have considerable timber along their banks, and there is a slight growth of trees along all the streams of the county.

Early History

About the year 1870, the first settlements in the Republican Valley commenced, and the next year attention was called to and a settlement planned in what is now Red Willow County.

In the fall of 1871, a company was formed in Nebraska City for the purpose of making a settlement somewhere in the Republican Valley. It was intended to start a town and induce a heavy settlement to the surrounding country, and in due time to organize a county. The company was incorporated with a capital of $100,000. The books were opened with a subscription of $15,000 of which 5 percent was at once paid in. The officers of this company were as follows: President Royal Buck: Secretary, B. M. Davenport: Treasurer, J. V. D. Patch: Directors, Dr. J. N. Converse, John Roberts, W. W. W. Jones, John F. Black, Samuel Tate, J. H. Madison, V. S. Utley.

On November 4, 1871, the Board of Directors ordered Royal Buck, the President, to organize an exploring and locating party from among the directors and stockholders, the party to consist of not less than ten members with Lathrop Ellis as engineer and surveyor, to proceed to the Republican Valley, to select a location for the settlement, and to survey a town.

Accordingly, Royal Buck set to work at once to organize a party, which, besides himself, consisted of John Roberts, J. F. Black, W. W. W. Jones, John Longnecker, L. K. Sittler, William Byfield, Frank Usher, William McKinney, J. M. Davis and Lathrop Ellis as the Surveyor and Engineer.

Preparations were at once made for the trip, and two wagons were loaded with provisions sufficient to last thirty days, and placed in charge of J. M. Davis and L. K. Sittler, who were ordered to proceed to Sutton on the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad in Nebraska. This they did, and, on the 9th day of November, the remainder of the party left Nebraska City, arriving at Sutton the next day. On the 11th, they started from here across the country to the mouth of the Red Willow Creek.

During their trip, a severe snow storm came up, but, after some delay, the party got through with but little suffering, and arrived at the mouth of the Red Willow on the forenoon of the 22nd day of the month.

They then spent one day in making examinations, when they selected a location for the town on the east side of Red Willow Creek. But upon making some surveys, this was found to be a school-land section, and they then selected a town site on the west side of the creek, on Section 17, Town 3, and Range 28 west.

In their examination of the country, the party found wild game, such as buffalo, antelope and various other kinds of game common to the Western prairies, very numerous. It was no uncommon thing to see herds of buffalo numbering several hundred. It was plain to the party that during the early years of settlement, before crops and the various stock raised on a farm could be produced in abundance. that the settlers need not be in need of meat, as the wild game was sufficiently plentiful to meet their wants.

After the examining and locating party had returned to Nebraska City, and made their report, the company resolved to at once take measures to induce settlement. John Roberts was employed at a salary of $100 per month, to serve as Superintendent of the affairs of the company. Proceeding upon his duties, a town was at once laid out, modeled after the city of Lincoln, Neb. The town site was large, wide streets were laid out and named, and Section 17 of the town and range before-mentioned, was filed as a town site in the United States Land Office at Beatrice.

The town company entertained great ideas of the prosperity of their new town site. This was an era of speculation, and one of the periods in the history of Nebraska when large and numerous town sites were laid out, which, in the imagination of their founders, were soon to make great and magnificent cities. The most of these, however, never became towns at all, and the others grew slowly, though they generally kept pace with the settlement of the country , and made prosperous villages in the end.

The State Legislature was in session, and a bill was framed to organize a county, twenty-four miles north and south and thirty miles east and west, covering the same territory now embraced in the county, and that its name should be Red Willow. John Roberts, the Superintendent, was sent to Lincoln, to lobby and get this bill passed by the Legislature. Though Roberts tried hard, the bill failed to pass at this session of the Legislature. The company also endeavored to secure a new United States land office at the site of their new town, but in this they were unsuccessful.

A newspaper, designed more especially for advertising the county, was started by the company early in 1872, and called the Red Willow Gazette. This paper was, however, edited and published at Nebraska City, and immense numbers of the paper were sent East, to advertise the advantages of the proposed county of Red Willow. to all who contemplated settling in Nebraska.

It had been less than three years since the Indians had been very troublesome in the Republican Valley, and they had fought to the very last for the retention of their favorite hunting grounds, and the company now making settlement fearing that these troubles would be renewed and that the settlers would be unprotected, prevailed on Gen. E. O. C. Ord. then in command of the Department of the Department of the Platte, to send two companies of soldiers to the county to guard against any surprises by the Indians. Gen. Ord sent two companies of soldiers--one of cavalry and one of infantry--to the mouth of the Red Willow, where they were stationed during the year 1872. Late in the year, however, finding that there was no danger from the Indians, the soldiers were ordered away.

In the spring of 1872, W. W. W. Jones was sent out to survey the town site as platted, into lots. But nothing ever came of this. Already over $1,000 had been spent, and the company could not as yet see where they could ever secure payment for the time and money that had been expended. Dissatisfaction among the members of the Town Company soon began to be exhibited. Dissensions arose, and the funds of the company failing, and none desiring to invest any more in a scheme where the prospects were no better than were those of the town site at this time, the company failed and was dissolved. In 1873, the town site was contested and homestead claims entered on it , as follows: On the southeast quarter, W. M. Wilson; on the southwest quarter, Mrs. M. A. Lawton; on the northwest quarter, G. W. Rowley; and on the northeast quarter, W. D. Wildman.

Of the above, G. W. Rowley afterward moved farther west and was murdered by the Cheyenne Indians in the fall of 1878. W. D. Wildman removed to Culbertson, where he is now Postmaster, and sold his claim on the Red Willow to Brown & Leland, who in the spring of 1876 tried to start another town there.

The first real settler in the county was John S. King, who located on the Republican River in the eastern part of the county in the fall of 1871, about the time of the projection of the Red Willow town site. John S. King lived on this place many years, and as the county became settled he became one of its leading men, and was at one time County Commissioner. Early in the year 1880, however, he became insane, and, in April of that year, he was taken to the Insane Asylum at Lincoln, where he died in a short time, and was lamented by all the old settlers of the county.

Another town site, selected in the early days of the county's history, that never resulted in the building of a town, was one located in the fall of 1871, by a man named Billings, from Cheyenne, W. T. The town was called Billingsville, and comprised the west half of Section 6, Town 3, Range 26, and the east half of Section 1, Town 3, Range 27. Billings soon became discouraged, however, and left the country, and all that remained was a board nailed to a post, on which was inscribed in chalk, "Billingsville," and a partially finished log house, built four logs high. The next year. the town site was entered as homesteads by P. J. Francis and others.

In, 1872, there were several settlements commenced in the county. On and near Coon Creek, and covering the present town site of Indianola and beginning in June. E. S. Hill, William Weygint, William Reddick, George A. Hunter and Mr. Forstrand took homestead claims, and began improvements. On Red Willow Creek, Royal Buck, John Longnecker, John F. Black and Russell F. Loomis located. The settlement at the mouth of Dry Creek was begun by P. J. Francis and Mr. Rammel. W. H. and J. E. Berger settled on Beaver Creek, in the south part of the county. Still later in the year, Charles Briegel located on Coon Creek, and W. M. Hinman settled on the Republican River, opposite the mouth of Red Willow Creek, and put up a saw-mill. A number of Swedes also settled near Dry Creek. During the year 1872, the settlements were not great, but sufficient to form a nucleus around which the immigrants of the future years might settle.

In the spring of 1873, quite a heavy immigration commenced. Among those locating on or near Coon Creek were: I. J. Starbuck, George S. Bishop, A. A. Meyers, O. H. Cobb, C. A. Hotze, Richman Brothers, Dr. J. S. Shaw, John M. Ferguson, A. Goddard, W. H. Corbin, Frank Fritsch, Jesse, John and Frank Welborne, James Hetherington and R. H. Crisswell.

Organization and County Seat Troubles

The settlement of Beaver Creek began to grow considerably in 1873. Among others who located there, were Dolph Brothers, Mr. West, Lyon Brothers, Boyer Brothers, B. F. Bradbury and Dr. I. Bennett.

The settlement on Driftwood Creek began about the same time, and among the first settlers were the following: William Stone, Dr. Baker and Son, Messrs., Schwerdt, Schibel, C. L. Nettleton, Kelley, Everest, W. S. Fitch and Dr. Randall.

In May, 1873, the town of Indianola was laid out, near Coon Creek, on the northwest one-fourth, and on the southwest one-fourth of Section 18, Town 3, Range 27 west. The town was laid out by the Republican Valley Land Association, and was located by D. N. Smith, who had charge of locating the town sites for the association.

By authority of the State Government, an election was called for the organization of Red Willow County. The day of the election was designated as the 27th of May, 1873, and W. M. Hinman, M Lawton and E. S. Hill, were appointed judges of election, and J. E. Berger and John Byfield, clerks.

The two settlements--the one on Red Willow Creek and the other on Coon Creek--were antagonistic to each other, as each wished to secure the greater number of settlers. Each wished to secure the county seat, and therefore insure the location and permanent growth of a town. An active and aggressive campaign commenced, and two tickets were put in the field. The Indianola or Coon Creek ticket was: Judge, E. S. Hill; Clerk. I. J. Starbuck; Treasurer, J. E. Berger; Sheriff, George A. Hunter; Superintendent of Schools, Mr. Lyons; Surveyor, P. J. Francis; Commissioners, William Berger, B. F. Bradbury and W. S. Fitch; and for the proposition to locate the county seat at Indianola.

The other ticket, known as the Red Willow ticket, provided for the location of the county seat on Red Willow Creek, on Section 16, Town 3, and Range 28 west. The nominees for county officials were: Judge, W. M. Hinman; Clerk, D. E. Bothwell; Sheriff, J. F. Black; Superintendent of Schools, J. G. Eaton; Coroner, E. S. Hill; Surveyor, P. J. Francis; Commissioners, John Longnecker , J. H. Prickett and Andy Boyer

The election took place on May 27, at the residence of Welburn Morris, on Section 15, Town 3, Range 28 west, as appointed, and resulted in a victory for the Indianola ticket by a small majority. An the same day, D. N. Smith entered into a bond with the county, to, deed to it 100 town lots in Indianola, and also to build a small building, to be used for a court house, which he would furnish to the county free of rent. It was intended that the sale of the lots should form a fund sufficient to build a good court house, by the time the three years had elapsed. The bond referred to was canceled in 1875, its conditions having been complied with.

The election board having decided that the Indianola ticket was elected, the Red Willow party commenced a contest of this election. The case was taken before George W. Colvin, a Justice of the Peace at Arapahoe, in Furnas County, who summoned both parties to appear before him. The Indianola party, with the exception of E. S. Hill, did not recognize his authority, and refused to appear. Colvin, therefore, decided the election illegal, and that Hill was the only man on the Indianola ticket that was elected. The case was then appealed by the defendants to the District Court, where, some time afterward, the decision of Colvin was reversed, and the parties composing the Indianola ticket declared elected.

Acting on the decision of Colvin, the Red Willow party sought to control the county. The men claiming to have been elected, met and qualified for their respective offices, among themselves, and then began a suit against the Indianola party, to compel them to give up the county records. This suit was commenced before J. G. Eaton, who was declared by Colvin to have been elected Justice of the Peace.

Not being able to gain possession of the records by any other means, the Red Willow party went to Indianola and took the county records and county seal by force, and carried them away. The county officers tried to recover them, by they were hid where they could not be found. For some time a great deal of hard feeling existed between the two parties, but when the Red Willow people learned that the case had been appealed to the District Court, and had allowed their passion to cool a little, they returned the records, and awaited the decision of the higher court.

The first regular meeting of the County Commissioners took place June 13, 1873, at the residence of E. S. Hill. The Commissioners, William Berger, B. F. Bradbury and W. S. Fitch, were all present.

At the time of the regular election, October 4, 1873, E. S. Hill was elected Judge; I. J. Starbuck, Clerk; B. B. Duckworth, Treasurer; G. B. Nettleton, Superintendent of Schools; P. J. Francis, Surveyor; J. D. Hill, Coroner; B. F. Bradbury, commissioner. In the spring of 1874, Duckworth removed from the county, and R. H. Crisswell was appointed in his place. The same year J. R. Meyers was elected Commissioner to fill a vacancy.

In political affairs the contention between the two principal settlements as to who should take the lead, was still kept up, and in the fall of 1875, other bitter campaign was fought. Two conventions were held early in the fall, and tickets put in the field by each. The election on October 13, 1875, resulted in the election of some from each ticket, and was as follows: John Hetherington, Clerk; F. Stewig, Judge; G. A. Hunter, Treasurer; William Springer, Sheriff; M. H. Skinner, Superintendent of Schools; P. J. Francis, Surveyor; Isaiah Bennett, Coroner; Elias Canaga, Commissioner.

The election in the fall of 1877 resulted in the election of J. G. Eaton, Commissioner; F. Stewig, Judge; James Hetherington, Clerk; J. W. Welburn, Treasurer; W. A. Springer, Sheriff; S. F. McDonald, Superintendent of Schools; E. S. Hill, Surveyor; I. Bennett, Coroner.

At the election in November, 1879, the following officers were elected: commissioner, S. W. Stilgebouer; Clerk, James Hetherington; Treasurer, B. B. Duckworth; Sheriff, Moody Starbuck; Surveyor, E. S. Hill; Superintendent of Schools, C. L. Nettleton; Coroner, J. S. Shaw; Judge, R. B. Daley

First Things

In the spring on 1872, the first post office in the county was established at Red Willow, with Royal Buck, Postmaster

The first store in the county was established in the fall of 1872 by T. P. Thomas, at his residence near Red Willow Creek. He had only a small stock of goods, however, and gave up business the next year. The second store was established by John Byfield, at his home on the west side of Red Willow Creek, some time in the winter of 1872-73. This store was well stocked, and was well kept up until the winter of 1875-76

The first white child born in the county was Edna, daughter of William and Mrs. Berger, born in 1872.

The second birth in the county was that of Ralph Hunter, in the winter of 1872-73

The first transfer of real estate was on the 18th day of February, 1873, when Henry Jansen deeded to Allen N. Ghost, the east half of the northwest quarter of, and Lots 1 and 2 in Section 7, Town 3, Range 26.

The first Fourth of July celebration was held in 1873. Nearly all the settlers in the county were present, and a very enjoyable time was had. Besides many enthusiastic speeches, the people took particular pains to become acquainted with each other, and the day was spent in a grand social entertainment.

The first term of school in the county was taught in the court house at Indianola during the winter of 1973-74; O. H. Cobb was the teacher.

The first marriage in the county was that of William S. Fitch, to Miss Fanny E. Nettleton, March 23, 1874; Judge E. S. Hill, officiated.

Progress of the County

During the year 1873, the settlement of the county had been great, and a great deal of the choicest lands along the streams of the county had been already taken up. The land that had been broken in the year 1872, was planted to crops of which there was a fair yield, taking into consideration the dryness of the season and the newness of the country.

In 1874, the grasshoppers appeared in immense swarms, and in a few days after their coming, all the crops that were yet green were destroyed. The settlers were all poor, and suffering was imminent. The families of many were only saved from intense suffering with cold and hunger by aid being sent in from the Eastern States. Royal Buck and Dr. A. J. Shaw were sent East to solicit aid, and through their efforts, a large quantity of provisions, grain and clothing was secured by the needy settlers.

In 1875, everything passed along quietly. The immigration to the county was not so great as it had been the two former years, yet there was a considerable settlement. The summer was a rather hard on account of the failure of the crops the year before.

The crop yield for 1875 was rather light

The first term of District Court ever held in the county was April 28, 1876; Judge William Gaslin presided, and District Attorney C. J. Dilworth was present.

During the year 1876, the county made but little progress. By this time, however, there was a large acreage of land under cultivation.

In 1877, there was a very good crop planted, with a yield not varying much from that of previous years.

In the year 1878, a great addition to the population of the county was made. A great deal of breaking was done, and a large crop planted, which resulted in an average yield.

In the year 1879, the railroad up the Republican Valley was building, and now there was a great immigration to every county in the Valley. Much of the vacant land of the county was taken up and a great deal of breaking and many other improvements were made. The success of the county began to be assured.

In the spring of 1880, the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad, in Nebraska, on the route to Denver, was finished as far west as Indianola, which town was, for the time, made the terminus of the road, and now new settlers came to the county in vast numbers. In June, the population was upward of three thousand, and this was increased considerably during the year. A large number of improvements was made this year in the various parts of the county.

In the fall, R. B. Daley was elected Representative in the Legislature from his district, and resigning his office as County Judge, W. H. Corbin was appointed in his place

The winter of 1880-81 was a cold one, with much snow. In the latter part of February, 1881, after the thaw commenced, all the streams in the county were flooded and much damage was done. On the Republican, near the old Hinman place, at the mouth of the Red Willow, a gorge of ice was formed, and the water rose high over the flats north of the river and around S. Lyon's residence, so that he was compelled to remove his family. The new bridge across the river had been commenced, and here was the worst gorge, the ice piling very high and crushing the partly finished bridge. Of thirteen bents, only three were left. On the island of the river, between the two bridges, most of the grade was all washed away. On the south side of the river the grade was all washed away. Three days later, the ice gorged near Maj. Crisswell's place, letting the water raise upon the flats. William Reddick's house was in danger of being washed away, but finally stood. Great damage was done to farm property in different places. There were five wash-outs on the railroad in the county.

In the spring of 1881, the immigration to the county was kept up, though not to so great an extent as for the two previous years.

On May 9, 1881, a heavy wind storm passed over the county. The section over which the storm passed was the table-lands south of the Republican River. The most of the houses along its course were built of sod and but little damage was done. The only serious mishap was the blowing away of the house of J. C. Lafferty, about four miles north of Danbury Post Office. As the storm approached, the family started for the cellar. Lafferty taking two children, led the way, and was followed closely by Mrs. Lafferty, with a little child in her arms. Just as Lafferty reached the landing and his wife was stepping on the stairs, the storm struck the house and it was literally torn to splinters, and Mrs. Lafferty and the child carried away with it. After the storm subsided, their dead bodies were found about twenty rods away, in a mutilated condition. Pieces of the house were blown several miles. Wagons and other farming machinery were demolished, In other places in the county, sod houses were unroofed and damage done on the farms, but no other lives were lost.

In the spring of 1881, a bridge across the Republican at Indianola was built. The precinct voted $1,500 in bonds. which were issued to the Lincoln Land Company, who built the bridge at a cost to them of about $3,000, they paying about one-half on account of their landed interest in the town and vicinity.

At the election of November 8, 1881, W. H. Corbin was elected Judge; J. W. Welborne, Sheriff; James Hetherington, Clerk; R. F. Loomis, Treasurer; P. J. Francis, Surveyor; C. L. Nettleton, Superintendent of Schools; and Henry Crabtree, Commissioner.

The crop yield for 1881 was very poor, and the railroad having extended on through the county, the excitement died out, and at the present time the county is about at a standstill, though there are natural advantages here that must make this one of the prosperous counties of the Republican Valley. The settlers are fast learning that it is injudicious to depend on crop raising alone and are fast getting stock of some kind about them. There is a large number of cattle in the county and generally owned by farmers, who combine stock-raising with farming, and those who have done this have always been prosperous and are making money, while those who have depended on grain-raising alone have been rather unsuccessful, on account of light crops some years. There has at times been a very large yield of crops, enough to prove that farming is a success here, but the judicious farmer will combine crop and stock-raising, and then his success is assured.

The present population of the county is estimated at a little more than four thousand. The estimated valuation of taxable property is $350,000. In 1881, there were 37,000 acres of deeded land in the county, and this has been largely increased as the settlers are fast "proving up" their homesteads and receiving their patent from the United States Government

There are church organizations in every portion of the county. The denominations generally represented are Congregational, Baptist and Methodist.

In the early days of settlement, districts were formed, school houses built and the greatest possible attention given to the educational interests of the county. There is not a neighborhood but where there is a good school. In many districts, however, the schoolhouses are yet poor, but they are rapidly giving place to large frame structures.

The court house, until the present year, 1882, was the small one-story, one-room building, erected by D. N. Smith, on the organization of the county in 1873. In 1881, the money derived from the sale of a portion of the 100 lots, deeded to the county, had accumulated to such an extent that it was determined to build a large and comfortable court house. Work was commenced, and a brick structure, thirty-six feet wide by forty-six feet long, was erected. The building is two stories high, and designed for the county offices below and court-room above. Though now occupied by the county officers, it is not yet complete. It is estimated that when finished it will have cost $5,000.


This town is the county seat of Red Willow County, located on the north side of the Republican River, and near Coon Creek, not far from the center of the county. The greater part of the town and the business portion are located on the level valley lands. On the north side, however, the surface of the land rises in quite a steep, shelf-like hill, on the slope of which are located the court house and a few residences. Until the present spring it was the only town in the county, and also the only railroad station, therefore it commanded the entire trade of the county; it has been a prosperous little village, though the laying-out of the town of McCook, in the western part of the county, by the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad Company, who made it the end of a division, will take away a great deal of its trade. But it must retain a good share of prosperity.

Early History

The history of the town begins with its survey in May, 1873. The town, consisting of 320 acres, was laid out at this time by D. N. Smith, of the Republican Valley Land Association. The land on which the town was located was settled the year previous by George A. Hunter and E. S. Hill, who entered homestead claims here. The land association, having secured the land, and the settlement around its site being quite extensive, it was determined to, if possible, make it the county seat on the organization of the county. The town was named Indianola, from the town in Iowa by that name. The election for the organization of the county was held on the 27th day of the same month the town was laid out, and the county seat was located here. On the same day, D. N. Smith deeded to the county 100 town lots, the proceeds of the sale of which was to be used in the erection of county buildings in Indianola.

During June and July of 1873, a hotel, court house and a store were erected on the town site. These were all owned by the Republican Valley Land Association.

The post office was established here immediately after the location of the town, with A. J. Shaw, Postmaster.

As soon as the store building was completed, a stock of goods was put in by Allison & Wood.

The first sermon preached in the town was by Rev. Mr. Shaw, in September, 1873. The services were held in the court house.

Among the first settlers were G. A. Hunter, E. S. Hill, I. J. Starbuck, J. M. Ferguson, William Weygint, Lewis Korns, R. H. Crisswell and James Hetherington

The first school was taught in the winter of 1873-74, by O. H. Cobb, in the court house.

The first child born in the town was Clyde, son of A. Goddard, in April, 1874.

The first death was that of Mrs. Elisabeth Shaw, March 3, 1874

For several years the town made but little progress. In the early part of 1879, there were only about half a dozen buildings, but that year the town began to build up.

In 1880, the town which had, by the improvements of the year previous, become a quite respectable little village, now made rapid progress. April 29, the railroad to this point was completed, and Indianola made the terminus. Then there was a rush of business and professional men, and it was not long till the population numbered about three hundred. All was now bustle, life and energy, and great improvements in the town were made.

In the early part of the year 1881, the building of the town continued, but toward the latter part of the year, after the railroad was completed farther westward, and trains began running, the town came to a stand-still.

Present Prosperity

In December, 1880, Indianola was incorporated as a village, with the following officers: Trustees, E. D. Waterbury, V. Franklin, C. S. Quick, J. W. Maiken, J. D. Welborn; Clerk, C. D. Cramer; Attorney, R. B. Daley; Treasurer, Thomas Scott.

There is a banking institution located here. The Red Willow County Bank was established July 1,1880, by J. W. Dolan.

There is one weekly newspaper published here--the Indianola Courier--by G. S. Bishop, It is a folio, eight-column paper, Republican in politics, and is in a flourishing condition.

G. S. Bishop, the editor and proprietor of the Courier, came to Indianola in May, 1873, and engaged in the practice of law until the spring of 1877, when he went to La Porte City, Iowa, where he engaged in the practice of law and in the newspaper business until December, 1879, when he sold his paper, the Local Review, and returned to Indianola, when he began the publication of the Courier. He was Deputy Clerk one year, and is now a member of the Republican State Central Committee. He was born, May 9, 1850, in Livingston County, N. Y. When a boy, he removed, with his parents, first to Illinois, and then to La Porte City, Black Hawk Co., Iowa, where he attended school and studied law with his father. Attended the Iowa State University, graduating in the law class of 1872, and was admitted to practice before all the courts of the State. Removed to Indianola in May, 1873. Was married, May 13, 1877, to Miss Maria Seaman. They have one child-Mabel, born June 8, 1878

There are in the town two organized church societies. The Methodist Church was organized in August, 1876, with sixteen members, and with Rev. H. L. Heckman, pastor. In 1881, a neat and substantial church building was erected at a cost of about $1,500. The present membership of the church is about thirty-five, and Rev. Allen Bartley is Pastor.

The Congregational Church was organized July 11, 1875, with seventeen members. Rev. Amos Dresser was the pastor, and has remained until the present time. The church society now has twenty-seven members. They have no church building, but use that of the Methodists.

There is a Union Sunday School, which was organized in 1875, with about twenty-five members, and James Hetherington, Superintendent. The present membership is fifty, and H. S. West is Superintendent. The school is in a flourishing condition.

Biographical Sketch

V. FRANKLIN, general merchant, was born in Luzerne County, Penn., in 1841, and was reared on a farm. He enlisted in September, 1864, in Company H, One Hundred and Ninety-eighth Pennsylvania Infantry, and served until June, 1865; after the war, he returned to Luzerne County, and was for six years employed as a clerk in the mercantile business; then in Clay County, Kan., farming for three years, and subsequently was for three years or so engaged in mercantile business at Beloit, Kan. He came to Indianola in February, 1879, and purchased the merchandise stock of Wilbur & Brothers, carrying on the business since.


This town is situated on the north side of the Republican River, on the line of the Burlington and Missouri River R. R. in Nebraska. It is in the western part of Red Willow County, about midway between Indianola and Culbertson, and about half way between the Missouri River and Denver, Colo. The town as it now stands is built to the north of the railroad track on a surface, part of which is level and extending back over the slope of the low bluffs, which are at this point beautifully rounded at their apex.

To the south of the railroad track is a broad and level extent of second bottom land, which rises like a wide shelf from the low first bottom lands of the Republican River. This is the best location for buildings anywhere on the town site, but is reserved by the railroad company for their own shops and improvements.

In the spring of 1882, McCook was designated by the railroad company as the end of the division, midway between the Missouri River and Denver, and preparations were made to build large round houses and machine shops. Arrangements have already been made to put up a large round house, to contain twenty-five stalls. This will be built south of the railroad track.

The town is a new one, laid out by the Town Site Company of the railroad company, known as the Lincoln Land Company. The sale of lots did not begin until may 25, 1882, but it was not long before a large number of the lots were sold, and scores of buildings in process of building.

At the date of this writing, July 1, 1882, the prospects for this new railroad division town were very flattering. There were by this time nearly one hundred buildings of very good quality going up, some of which were completed and occupied as business houses and residences. Among the business houses already completed are three banks, two hardware stores, three grocery stores, three general merchandise stores, one clothing store, one meat market and commission house, three hotels, three lumber yards, two drug stores, one furniture store, one shoe shop, one printing house, two real estate offices, one jewelry store and many other business houses. At this writing, it is only a little more than a month since the sale of lots began, but the one hundred buildings. now completed or building, indicated the rapidity with which the town has grown.

The railroad round house to contain twenty-five stalls is already commenced, and is to be completed January 1, 1883. Machine shops and other building are soon to follow. A railroad eating house is now in progress which is to cost $8,000. A new depot is nearly completed, and is in dimensions 25x100 feet, and two stories high.

The first citizen of McCook was O. H. Phillips, mail agent on the railroad, who located in March, and contracted at once with H. C. Rider for the erection of his buildings.

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