Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska

Saunders County
Produced by
Jennifer Beatty.


Topography and Geology | First Settlers and Early History
A Reminiscence | Creeks of Saunders County | Political History

County Organization | County Progress | Education

Wahoo:   Early History | Political History | Religious | Schools | Societies | Manufacturing
Biographical Sketches
Ashland:   Business Interests | Schools | Societies | Religious
Ashland:   Biographical Sketches
Valparaiso:   Biographical Sketches

Chapman Precinct:   Biographical Sketches
Douglas Precinct: | Biographical Sketch
Rock Creek Precinct
Clear Creek:   Biographical Sketches
Chester Precinct | Marietta Precinct
Alvin (Mead P. O.):   Biographical Sketches
Elk Precinct:   Biographical Sketch
Richland Precinct | Center Precinct | Newman Precinct
Miscellaneous Biographies

List of Illustrations in Saunders County Chapter

Part 2


   The organization of Saunders County is the next important event in its history, which was accomplished by the general election held October 8, 1867. The first general election of the county was held October 8, 1866, when a full complement of county officers were elected, and the county seat located at Ashland. A dispute arising immediately afterward as to the illegality of the election, an act to quiet all doubts was passed at the next session of the Legislature. Section 1 (reads) That the organization of Saunders County, Nebraska Territory, is hereby legalized. Section 2 declares the officers of said county elected at the last general election for 1866, are hereby declared to be legal officers of the county for one year from the date of their election and until their successors are elected and qualified. Approved January 31, 1867. In spite of all these precautions, as near as we can learn from the most reliable sources, the county was not permanently organized until October 8, 1867. The following appears on the records of the Cass County Commissioners' Court record "B. P. 53, May Term, 1866. The following petition for a voting precinct in Saunders County was presented, to wit: We, the citizens of the north side of Saunders County, do hereby earnestly entreat the proper authority of Cass County to appoint and establish a voting precinct, to be within the following boundaries: Commencing at the northeast corner of Town 15, Range 9; thence running west to the west side of the county; thence north to the Platte River, said precinct to be known as Pohocco. The undersigned give as their reason for presenting the above as follows: We do not propose to go from twenty to fifty miles for the purpose of voting, all of which is respectfully submitted. Signed, E. B. Critten and twenty-eight others. Board granted said petition by establishing the precinct as prayed for."

   The year 1866 was an eventful period in the history of the State and of the county as well. The Territorial Legislature of this year framed a constitution, and submitted its adoption or rejection by the people, at an election ordered to be held the 2d day of June of that year; also to elect a full set of State officers and members of the Legislature, for the proposed new State. At this election Saunders County polled the following vote: For Constitution, twenty-one; against, twenty-one; for Governor, David Butler, twenty-four; J. S. Morton, fourteen; Secretary, T. P. Kennard, twenty-four; Charles W. Sturges, fourteen; for Auditor, John Gillespie, twenty-four; Guy C. Barnum, one; Treasurer, Aug. Hountz, twenty-four; St. John Goodrich, fourteen; Representative in Congress, T. M. Marquette, twenty; John Brooks, twelve; Chief Justice, O. P. Mason, twenty-four; William A. Little, fourteen; Associate, L. Crounse, twenty-four; George B. Lake, twenty-four; G. W. Thomas, fourteen; B. E. B. Kennedy, fourteen; State Senator, T. K. Hanna, sixteen; S. F. Cooper, fourteen; John Cadman, six; Representatives, W. F. Chapin, seventeen; Samuel Maxwell, nineteen; H. D. Hathaway, nineteen; A. Hinckly, twenty-six; Jacob Vallery, fourteen; Thomas Paterson, fourteen; John Mutz, fourteen; L. H. Bell, three.

   At the general election held October 8, 1867, a full Congressional, State and county ticket was voted upon, together with the location of the county seat and county organization. The total number of votes polled in the two precincts of the county, was ninety-five. The Congressional ticket received eighty; the State ticket an average of about fifty-three votes; the county ticket ninety votes; for county organization, seventy-eight votes were cast; for county seat at Ashland, seventy-eight votes were cast; for county seat on northwest quarter Section 1 and northeast quarter Section 2, Town 16, Range 7 east, sixteen votes were cast. William Reed and Austin Smith were elected County Commissioners by seventy-six votes, and Thompson Bissell by seventy-eight votes; Hobert Brush, eighty-two votes for County Clerk; J. Richardson, eighty-two votes for County Treasurer; Loomis Wickwire, eighty-six votes for County Sheriff; Andrew Marble, eighty-five votes for Probate Judge; S. E. Wilson, ninety votes for County Surveyor; Marcus Brush, eighty votes for Prosecuting Attorney.

   All of the above-named county officers appear to have been elected without opposition. Pohocco Precinct did not vote on the county organization, but gave sixteen of her seventeen votes for county seat at a point immediately west of the farm of James Hilbourn, and south of John Staats. Saline Ford, the other precinct, gave seventy-eighty votes for the county seat at Ashland.

   At the first session of the Commissioner's Court, held at Ashland November 10, 1866, there were present Thompson Bissell, Austin Smith and William Reed, Commissioners, and Hobert Brush, Clerk. The only business transacted was to instruct the Clerk to procure all blanks and blank-books necessary for his office, that of the Probate Judge, the District Court and Commissioner's Court, and pay for the same out of the first moneys collected. At a second term, held December 3, 1866, the same Commissioners being present, the following orders were made, viz.: That Saunders County is divided into three Commissioner Districts, designated as Nos. 1, 2 and 3. Second, That Saunders County is hereby divided into three precincts, to be known as Pohocco, Douglas and Union. At a third term, held January 1, 1867, at which the above Commissioners were present, it was ordered that Samuel Twiss assess Pohocco Precinct, and the Clerk make a requisition upon the Territorial Auditor for a list of land entries. Adjourned to April.

   April 1--Ordered that A. B. Fuller is hereby appointed to act as Superintendent of Schools, and it appears that Mr. Fuller served as Superintendent of Schools until the general election.

   The first tax levy was made July 8, 1867, to wit: For State purposes, as directed by State Board State General Fund, 2½ mills on the dollar; State Sinking Fund, 1½ mills on the dollar; State School Fund, 2 mills on the dollar; County General Fund, 6 mills on the dollar; County Sinking Fund, 2 mills on the dollar. The first appraisement of school lands was made by S. E. Wilson, William Webster and Jacob Sanders, under an order issued November 4, 1867, appointing and directing the above-named gentlemen to appraise the school land of Saunders County. At the December Term the following order was made: "That Dennis Dean be instructed to receive all moneys in the hands of the Treasurer of Cass County belonging to Saunders County.

   The first license to sell spirituous or malt liquors in the county was granted April 6, 1868, which act added $25 to the school fund of the State.

   The first recorded settlement with the County Treasurer was made May 4, 1868, as follows:

                      DENNIS DEAN.  DR.
      To State General Fund on hand..............$163 47
      To State Sinking Fund on hand..............  88 74
      To State School Fund on hand............... 141 45
      To County General Fund collected........... 426 08
      To County Sinking Fund collected........... 138 78
      To County Land, Road, collected............  48 41
      To Union Precinct, Land, Road and Poll.....  96 18
      To Pohocco Precinct, Land, Road and Poll...  14 18
      To Pohocco Schoolhouse.....................  30 14
      To County District School Fund............. 189 10
      To County Dog Fund.........................  31 68
      By amount of orders paid...................$326 78
      Paid for express...........................   8 75
      On orders.................................. 115 00
      Supervisor.................................  57 75
    The tax assessment for 1868 was as follows:
      For State General Fund, 2½ mills on the dollar;
        amount realized......................... $451 02
      Sinking Fund ½ mills....................  270 61
      School Fund 2 mills.......................  360 82
      County General Fund 6 mills...............1,082 46
      County Sinking Fund 2 mills...............  360 82
      Total levy on County.....................$2,525 73

   August 17, 1868, we find the following orders recorded: That all moneys in the hands of the County Treasurer be applied to the interest-bearing orders of H. D. Hathaway and St. A. D. Balcombe. Second, Ordered, That the sinking fund of 1867-68, which is collected, be consolidated with the general fund, and orders drawn thereon.

   Fourth, Ordered, That Townships 14, Range 6, and 15, Ranges 6, 7 and 8, be attached to Wahoo Precinct.

   As an indication of the population in 1868, we give the total number of votes polled in the county at the general election held in October, and the vote of each precinct: Total vote polled in the county, 383. Union Precinct, 147; Pohocco, 19; Oak Creek, 28; Wahoo, 33; Ashland, 147; Douglas, 14. Total, 383. In the spring of 1865, the entire county comprised but one voting precinct. In 1866, it contained two precincts and polled ninety-five votes. In 1867, the county polled 260, and the precincts had increased to four, and registered the following vote: Pohocco, 12; Douglas, 14; Ashland, 117; Union, 117; and, in 1868, six precincts polled 383 votes. A singular coincidence of these elections is that Union and Ashland Precincts should poll the same number of votes in the years of 1867 and 1868. Twenty-two pages of record comprise all the business transacted by the first Board of Commissioners.

   The event of 1869 was the near approach of the Burlington & Missouri Railroad in Nebraska. This company came before the County Commissioners with a proposition, asking of the county her bonds in the sum of $40,000, to aid them in the construction of their road. This proposition was submitted to a vote of the people at an election ordered for the 8th of May, 1869, with the following result: Number of votes polled, 431; for bonds and tax, 267; against bonds and tax, 167; majority for bonds, 97. The proposition was declared carried at a meeting of the Board, May 27. This election shows an increase of forty-eight votes since the previous October. The following is a list of county officers for each year since its organization:

   County Commissioners, 1866, Thompson Bissell, Austin Smith, William Reed; 1867, Thompson Bissell, Austin Smith, William Reed; 1868, Bissell, Smith, Elias Beasley; 1869, Smith, Hon. Moses Stocking, Beasley; 1870, Smith, Hon. Moses Stocking, Beasley; 1871, Stocking, Beasley, J. R. Haywood; 1872, Andrew Johnson, Peter Lansing, W. H. Harvey; 1873, Lansing, Harvey, D. A. March; 1874, March, Lansing, A. Nelson; 1875, March. Nelson, J. A. Te Poel; 1876, Nelson, C. D. Smith, Te Poel; 1877, Smith, John H. Clauson, Te Poel; 1878, Smith, Clauson, John Fleming; 1879, Clauson, Fleming, John D. Lehmkuhl; 1880, Lehmkuhl, Fleming, S. K. Bryan; 1881, Lehmkuhl, Bryan, W. H. Mead; 1882, Bryan, Mead, M. S. Hill.

   County Treasurer, 1867, Jasper Richardson; 1868-69, Dennis Dean; 1870-71, ---- Chapman; 1872-73, O. M. Carter; 1874-75, R. H. Knapp; 1876-77-78-79-80-81, Henry Anderson; 1882, Charles Perky.

   Probate Judge, 1867-68-69, Jacob Saunders, Andrew Marble; 1870-71, A. L. Sprague; 1872-73, J. Mosher; 1874-75-76-77-78-79, I. R. Mengle; 1880-81, D. C. Hall. The office was changed from Probate Judge to County Judge in 1877.

   Prosecuting Attorney, 1867, Marcus Brush; 1868-69-70-71-72, John C. Cowan; 1873-74-75, W. J. Connell; 1876, M. B. Hoxie; 1877-78-79-80-81-82, M. B. Reese.

   County Clerk and District Clerk (ex-officio), 1867, Hobert Brush; 1868-69, Reuben L. Warbritton; 1870-71, Charles A. Walker; 1872-73-74-75-76-77, F. M. Stratton. District Clerk, 1878-79, F. M. Stratton; 1880-81-82, S. G. Chaney.

   County Clerk, 1878-79, Isaac Coberley; 1880-81, E. E. Lyle; 1882, C. L. Meilenz.

   Sheriff, 1867, Loomis Wickwire; 1868-69, Henry Reasoned; 1870-71, John Whitelock; 1872-73-74-75, L. B. Reno; 1876-77, John Moore; 1878-79-80-81, Henry Johnson; 1882, C. E. Lillibridge.

   County Surveyor, 1867, Seth Willson; 1868 to 1873, Fred Talbot; 1874 to 1881, W. H. Dickinson; 1882, W. E. Horden.


   The progress of the county in population and wealth previous to the spring of 1869, was slow indeed, as may readily be inferred by a glance at the history of the county up to that date. The Census Marshals made no returns of the population in 1860. In fact, there could not have been more than twenty people in the county limits. The total vote polled October, 1868, was only 383, at which date the population consisted largely of adult males. The total assessment of property for that year amounted to only $180,412. But a new era was dawning upon the county. The fame of her healthful climate and fertile soil had gone abroad; the State had stepped from tutelage to manhood; the continental railroad had already traversed the State centrally, and now another great road was to penetrate the South Platte country, and develop its resources. These events and prospects had attracted the attention of immigrants and directed their steps to the State and county, increasing the population of the latter to 4,594 in June, 1870; and the valuation of property had advanced to $958,913. Every acre of Government land had been taken up by the new settlers, who continued to arrive as long as they could find cheap lands to settle upon. This influx of population was checked in 1871; not, however, because all the lands in the county was settled upon, but because one-half of it was claimed by two powerful railroad corporations, who were in dispute about their respective titles to the same; neither of which could under the circumstances sell. This unfortunate collision has proved a great detriment to the county, retarding its immediate progress, keeping out immigration and preventing improvement. Another drawback was the lack of railroad facilities through the county, to assist in the building up of towns and manufacturing establishments, whereby to handle and consume the immense surplus products which her fertile soil is capable of producing; for no people can thrive when their productions go abroad to enrich others, instead of remaining at home among artisans and manufacturers. In the light of these palpable truths, the great mistake of the people of this county in 1871, in failing to secure the Omaha & Southwestern, and the Ashland & Columbus railroad lines, becomes apparent. The completion of these roads, in their stipulated time, would ere this have added 50 per cent to the population, and doubled the wealth of the county. Little realizing the important communication it would have effected both East and West, nor foreseeing their future wants, but misled by the false representations of interested parties abroad, the friends of the scheme were abused, and the opportune moment passed.

   The time for sober second thought arrived; a revolution in public sentiment occurred, and the people became warmly in favor of railroad communications. In 1875, an effort was made to inaugurate the building of a road through the county. Meetings were held for this purpose. A committee was appointed to confer with railroad corporations and capitalists. This resulted in obtaining two propositions. One from parties living at Omaha, who agreed to build a narrow gauge road from that city westerly through Wahoo, to some point in Polk County, in consideration that the county issue to them $140,000 in coupon bonds, they promising to build the road previous to the first day of November, 1876. The other proposition came from a corporation known as the Atchison & Nebraska Railroad Company, which agreed to build a broad gauge extension of their road from Lincoln to Fremont, in Dodge County, connecting with the Union Pacific, Sioux City & Pacific, and the F. & E. A. roads at that point; also asking $140,000 of the county's coupon bonds as a consideration, and promising to build and operate the road on or before October 1, 1876. The people met in convention through their delegates to decide which proposition should be accepted, and the Atchison & Nebraska proposal was carried by a majority of two-thirds of all the votes cast. The Omaha party now modified their proposition, asking precinct instead of county bonds to the amount of $140,000. This amended proposition was submitted to the people at a special election called for October 16, 1875. The Atchison & Nebraska proposition was carried in the county by a majority of the votes polled, and the amended Omaha proposition was favored in sixteen of the twenty-one precincts. The Atchison & Nebraska Company made a preliminary survey of their proposed line during the following winter, but nothing further was done. The Omaha Company have made no move since the election.

   The population of the county as returned by the several precinct Assessors under a law of the State was as follows: For 1874, 8,754, being a gain since the United States census of 1870 of 90½ per cent. In 1875, 10,382, a gain for the year of 18.6 per cent. In 1818, 12,514: 1880, 15,827. In 1868, the assessed valuation of the county was $180,411; 1869, $603,931; 1871, $1,279,688; 1874, $2,125,779.44. For 1876, amount not given. To show the number and value of each class of property in the county as assessed and furnish a comparison for other years, the following is a partial abstract of the Assessors' returns for this year. The number of horses returned was 4,852, valued at $200,130; average per head, $41.24. Number of mules, 524, valued at $25,377; average per head, $48.42. Neat cattle, 7,831, valued at $111,418. Sheep, 2,257, valued at $2,295. Hogs, 10,285, valued at $25,988. Number of vehicles, 1,740, valued at $42,443. Amount invested in merchandise, $51,959. Amount invested in manufactures, $50,000. Total valuation of personal property, $636,172.29. Value of railroad property, $27,081. Total number of acres of land assessed, 365,654, valued at $1,240,579. The value of town lots amounts to $140,531. Total valuation of real estate, $1,381,110. Total value of real and personal estate, $2,044,442. Total number of all classes of live stock returned reaches 25,743 head, valued at $367,749. The total number of inhabitants, 10,563, and the amount of property to each inhabitant is $195.40. Since 1876, with the advantage of railroad facilities, the county has advanced very rapidly both in population and wealth. After the completion of the Republican Valley Branch of the Union Pacific Railroad, which traversed the county nearly central, connects the county with Fremont, the North Railroad entered via Valley Junction on the Union Pacific, and from thence to all points north and west, and via Valley Junction and the Union Pacific Railroad, Omaha is reached, and at that point all points of the compass are accessible. At present, the facilities for shipping which the two great railroad lines of the West furnish are important interests to the immigrant, and by their aid, the county has assumed a position as fifth in the State, and the following statistics based upon the assessment of the county will show its advancement since the Centennial year.

   The assessed valuation for 1881 reaches $2,123,740.20, which is estimated to be one-third of the actual value. The rate of taxation is 3 cents on the dollar of the assessed valuation. The actual valuation upon the above estimate is $6,371,220.60, which includes real estate to the amount of $3,564,312, averaging $8.25 per acre. Total actual value of all personal property, $2,435,778.60; 8,783 horses valued at $182,573; average value, $62.35; 19,747 neat cattle of all ages, valued at $393,279; average value, $19.92; 730 mules and asses valued at $51,015; average value, $69.87; 3,626 sheep, valued at $7,659; average value, $2.10; 36,545 hogs, valued at $113,454; average value, $3.09; 2,760 carriages and wagons, valued at $79,299; average value, $28.71; 205,313 acres of improved land, valued at $2,120,307; average value, per acre, 10.35; 227,502 acres of unimproved land, valued at $1,644,005; average value, per acre, $6.36; 980 improved village lots, valued at $303,474; average value, $309.67; 4,067 unimproved village lots, valued at $67,656; average value, $16.65; value of railroad property, $551,616.60; value farm machinery, $101,814; number of acres under cultivation--wheat, 62,477; corn, 92,715; oats, 17,430; barley, 624; meadow, 474; number of fruit trees, 54,598; number of forest trees, 15,528,603; number of grape vines, 6,058.

   The population of Saunders County, according to the last census returns, is 15,827, composed of almost every nationality on the globe whose people emigrate to America. From every State and Territory in the American Union there are representatives, all of whom become Westernized and mingle harmoniously in the common cause of procuring homes and promoting wealth, industry, intelligence, good society and general happiness. English, Irish, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Bohemian, Danes, Hollanders, Russians, French and Canadians, comprise many of the more industrious farmers and business men, but English-speaking people and Americans from the States comprise about two-thirds of the present population.

   Independent of the fact that this county is looked upon and acknowledged to be one of the best in the State, there are other reasons why it is desirable, which fact is proven by the numerous nationalities which reach these lands, and these are its relative position to the metropolis of the State, to the capital, to the railroad centers, its railroad connections, its markets, east and west, and its accessibility from all points of the compass.


With persons who find it necessary to sever the ties of relationship, acquaintance and the many endearing home scenes which bind them to their childhood's home and migrate to the far West, there is probably no tie stronger than that of the convenience of the common schools. To such we would say, that though you leave good schools in the East, you will find just as good in the West, taught by teachers of unquestioned ability, education and energy. True and efficient teachers, who are ever willing to take the little stranger by the hand, welcome him to the associations of our warm-hearted Western homes, and teach him self-reliance, whereby he may be enabled to stem the tide of hindrances and pass with honor to his merited standard. In educational interests, Saunders County is in no wise behind her sister counties. Her teachers are possessed of sterling merit, her buildings large, roomy and healthful, and her society and home influences of strict moral rectitude. In history we go back to 1869, and find that Saunders County formed its first school district at Ashland. During the winter of 1869-70, the county received its first apportionments of the State school fund, amounting to $762.91--the first being issued December 27, 1869, the second February 24, 1870--and the records show that nine districts were established during this school year. There were 337 children of school age. At the close of 1870, thirty-three districts had been established, and nine teachers were employed. There were 814 children of school age, 210 of whom were attending school. Two frame buildings had been erected, and one log and one sod house, making a total of four, valued at $584.90, and a total indebtedness for school purposes of $294.66. Highest wages paid males, $37.50; females, $25. Lowest wages paid males, $25; females, $15 (per month). In 1869, A. S. Pancoast was elected County Superintendent, and receives the honor of the historian. Two years later, at the close of 1872, we first find Walter Fleming occupying the official chair. The number of districts has increased to sixty-nine; number of children of school age, 2,068; number attending school, 917, taught by twenty-six male and thirty-six female teachers, whose wages average $37.41 and $24 respectively. The county owns twenty-two frame houses, one brick, four sod and one log, which sum up a total valuation of $21,198.02. Superintendent C. M. Whitney's term of office includes the years 1873-74, and, in 1875, when Superintendent S. H. Knepper assumed his duties--in which we pass over an interval of two prosperous years--we are able to report ninety-six school districts and 3,390 children of school age in the county; sixty-seven male and sixty female teachers are instructing 2,391 pupils, receiving wages that will average $34.33 and $24.93 per month. There are one brick and one sod and seventy-seven frame schoolhouses, valued at $52,586.21. The present incumbent, Superintendent J. A. Smith, served his first term in 1877-78, and at the close of this initiatory term, we quote the following statistics from his records: "Number of school districts, 101. Number of children attending school, 3,169; number of school age, 4,523. Highest wages paid teachers--males, $100; females, $45; lowest--males, $23.33; females, $20 per month. Number of teachers employed--male, 58; female, 78. Frame schoolhouses, 88; brick, 1; sod, 1. Value of school property, $55,662.95. District indebtedness, $33,249.21." Superintendent A. W. Vandman held the office in 1879-80, and, in 1881, Superintendent Smith was again re-elected. Under his careful management the schools are rapidly assuming a state nearly perfect in system and discipline. He reports the schools of Saunders County in a very flourishing condition, which the following statistics will bear out: Number of school districts, 103. Number of children of school age, 5,793. Number attending school, 4,083. Number of male teachers, 56; female, 85. Highest wages paid--males, $75; females, $45; lowest-- males $22.50; females, $20. Number of schoolhouses--frame, 100; brick, 1. Valuation of school property, $58,269.75, with a total indebtedness of $24,608.32. In 1880, the county received from the State fund $4,984.87 for school purposes; from the revenue of licenses, $307.50, and from dog tax, $986.22.

   Mr. W. P. Snell was chosen the first School Director, and Mr. C. A. Miller, assisted by Miss Gertie Clark, are the first to teach in the county. S. H. Nichols is the second School Director, and Albert Nichols, with Miss Nancy Tower as assistant, are the next teachers employed.

   In May, 1875, a teachers' institute was organized, with twenty-two members present, and another was called in August during the same year. Superintendent C. M. Whitney was elected Chairman; H. N. Rogers, Treasurer; and Miss Hattie Pickett, Secretary. Since that time, the institution has held regular sessions, and is now conceded to be one of the first in the State.

Top of Page   First Page   Next

County Index