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 3


[View of Wahoo.]

   Wahoo is situated on the Omaha & Republican Valley Division of the Union Pacific Railroad, fifty miles from Omaha, and is one of the important cities of this division between Omaha and its western terminus. It is an enterprising city of 1,500 inhabitants, whose appearance has nothing of the speculative or ephemeral, but a substantial, well-built city, located upon a series of elevations proudly overlooking the surrounding landscape of rolling prairie of knoll and vale, and stands a monument of the untiring energy of the citizens of Saunders County. Since 1873, it has been honored as the county seat, and the court house and the various county offices are located here.

   The streets are regularly laid out, crossing each other at right angles. They are of good width, and provided with substantial sidewalks. Many of the buildings erected in its earlier days have been replaced with solid and commodious blocks, and a spirit of improvement is everywhere manifest. As the seat of justice of a county containing so many desirable elements, including climate, soil and water, Wahoo in its growth has not only been rapid but permanent; and when we consider the fine business appearance this youthful city presents to-day, we can scarcely realize that it was ever other than we see it now. In the matter of public buildings it has seven churches, and two large frame school buildings. The professions of law, medicine and dental surgery are well represented, and can boast of men of talent. The press comprises three weekly journals, and numerous society organizations exist, furnishing good social opportunities, as well as instructing its inhabitants in intellectual and cultured tastes and propensities. The various branches of business that make up the commercial rank of every western city are liberally represented in Wahoo, and by establishments of unquestioned reliability.

   There is no feature in the business interests of the county of more actual necessity than banking institutions. Justly considered the leading feature of the business and monetary interests of Wahoo and Saunders County, are the private banking houses of Messrs. Anderson & Griffith and Dorsey Bros. The first named institution was organized by Mr. Henry Anderson in January, 1876, occupying at that time a small frame structure, with scarcely anything but the broad expanse of prairie for its surroundings. The present firm was organized in February, 1880, at which time Mr. John M. Griffith became the junior partner. The bank has an ample capital of $20,000, and its functions comprise a general banking, insurance and land business. They are the owners and occupants of a new brick bank building of handsome appearance and substantial construction, forty-four feet in length, by twenty-four in width, two stories high, provided with one of McNeale & Urban's large fire-proof vaults, which contains an additional fireproof and burglar safe guarded by a time lock. These gentlemen are possessed of valuable experience in banking pursuits, and were formerly identified for several years with the Omaha National Bank of Omaha, and are well known for probity of character as well as excellent and reliable business qualifications. The house of Messrs. Dorsey Bros. was established only about two years ago, under the name and style of the Saunders County Bank, and has already assumed a place in business circles second to none in this section of the State. This firm is made up of George W. E. Dorsey, Esq., proprietor of the Fremont Savings Bank, established some fifteen years ago, and Mr. H. H. Dorsey, for a number of years connected with the First National Bank of Fremont, upon whom the management of this institution now devolves. From their long experience in the business, both gentlemen have acquired an extensive acquaintance, and are looked upon as two of the best and expert financial men of Saunders County. Their capital covers $50,000, and their business includes general banking, land and insurance. They have just completed a handsome new bank building, sixty feet in length by twenty-two in width, two stories high, pressed brick front, and plate glass. The architectural design is imposing, attractive and convenient, furnished with large fire-proof vault, made by the Hall Safe & Lock Company, with a second burglar proof safe operated by time lock.


   In early days, the site of the village of Wahoo was a favorite camping-ground of the Otoes, a tribe of Indians once the owners of all the lands south of the Platte River. From them it received the name of Wahoo. There is some dispute as to the origin of the name Wahoo. One explanation is that it derives its name Wahoo from the "Euonymus," or "Wahoo," sometimes called the "burning bush," which grows in abundance along the banks of the Wahoo Creek, upon which the site of the old encampment borders. It is a fact of pre-historic lore that the creek received its name from the "Wahoo," and that this shrub was their favorite medical plant; "Wahoo" their principal camping-ground, and the spot where their dead are buried, in fact, a permanent Indian village. In the light of these facts, it is thought that the name came from "Wahoo shrub," and the home of the "medicine man" of the tribe. The other explanation is that the name Wahoo is corrupted from "Pahoo," meaning "not very bluffy," in opposition to "Pohoc," which means "very bluffy," from which Pohocco Headland takes its name, but is quite improbable from the physical appearance of the surrounding country. At the site of the old village, the circular mounds showing the position and location of the village still exists as a monument of the power of a once famous Indian tribe, whose extensive territory has dwindled down to a small reservation containing only about nine townships.

   The first settlement made in this precinct was by Hon. Moses Stocking, in 1865.

   In 1869, Messrs. J. M. Lee and J. R. Lee located upon Section 4, Town 14, Range 7 east, the original site of the town. The following year a company composed of Messrs. J. M. Lee, J. R. Lee, William B. Lee, H. Dorsey, E. H. Barnard, J. J. Hawthorn and Mr. Miner, made claim to the town site of the present village of Wahoo, surveyed the town, and subsequently became the original proprietors of the village. Mr. J. M. Lee built the first house, in 1869, and opened the first store, carrying on the business of general merchandise. Dayton Andrews and Charles P. Beebe came to Wahoo in 1872. Mr. Beebe, in company with Mr. Lee, opened the second store, and, in the fall of this year, Dayton Andrews commenced business, making three general merchandise houses for the new settlement. John Stevens erected the first hotel in 1869, giving it the name of the Wahoo House, which supplied the wants of the traveling public until Dr. R. B. Morton built the Commercial Hotel, in 1878. John Bracken commenced business as a blacksmith in 1869, supplying an important need of the settlers.

   Dr. R. B. Morton settled upon his homestead in 1870, and, in 1874, opened the first drug store at Wahoo. Dr. Morton is the pioneer physician in this portion of the county. Dayton Andrews was the first Justice of the Peace. Messrs. Frank Dean and N. H. Bell were the first to represent the legal profession in this field, Mr. Dean locating in 1870, and Mr. Bell about the same time.

   In 1873, Mr. J. Manners opened a general merchandise store, and the town began to have a decidedly business appearance.


   During the year 1873, at the general election, the question of removal of the county seat from Ashland to Wahoo resulting in favor of the latter came up, and virtually decided its future.

   At a meeting of the County Commissioners held September 1, 1874, the following petition appears of record: "Now comes H. D. Perky in behalf of the citizens of the town of Wahoo, and presents a petition, signed by a majority of the taxable inhabitants of said town, asking that said town may be incorporated as provided by Chapter 81 of the Revised Statutes of Nebraska." And the Board, finding that the said petition is signed by a majority of the taxable male inhabitants of the said town, and that the prayer of the petitioners is reasonable, the Board does therefore declare Wahoo, in Saunders County, Neb., incorporated, and that the following territory be included in said incorporation, to wit: The west half of Section No. three, except a strip of the south side, 641 feet wide, and the east half of the south quarter of Section No. four, all in Town No. fourteen north, Range No. seven east of the Sixth Principal Meridian, in said county; and it is further ordered that Charles Beebe, H. D. Perky, D. Andrews, S. Pickett, M. B. Reese, be and are hereby appointed Trustees for the town of Wahoo." Certified by the County Clerk, F. M. Stratton. The Trustees appointed by the Commissioners met at the law office of Tompson & Reese, and formally organized the town of Wahoo September 3, 1874, electing Dayton Andrews Chairman of the Board, and appointing J. R. Gilkerson, Clerk; C. M. Burr, Treasurer; Harmon Gilkerson, Marshal; but from the records it appears that N. H. Bell qualified and took his seat as town Clerk. At a meeting held February 4, 1875, J. A. Knepper was appointed Town Clerk, and on April 5, J. C. Saylor was appointed Town Clerk.

   The first town election was held at the court house May 5, 1875. M. B. Reese, E. Pickett, J. W. Perkins, J. R. Gilkerson, C. P. Beebe were elected Town Trustees. The Board met and elected M. B. Rees, Chairman, and appointed J. A. Knepper, Town Clerk; R. H. Knapp, Treasurer; L. E. Bamhouse, Marshal. In 1876, the election was held May 8, and the successful candidates as Trustees were Henry Anderson, M. B. Reese, R. H. Knapp, I. R. Mengel, G. W. Burton. This Board chose M. B. Reese as Chairman; J. G. Saylor acted as Town Clerk; R. H. Knapp, Treasurer; H. Anderson and I. R. Mengel a Committee on Fire and Water; R. H. Knapp and G. W. Burton, Committee on Finance. At a meeting of the Board held December 6, 1876, C. F. Williams was appointed Town Clerk, and a petition, signed by the citizens of Wahoo, for further protection against fire, was laid before the Board May 14, 1877. At the election of 1877, called May 14, Messrs. Burr, Knapp, Koudelle, Reese and Stratton were elected Town Trustees. Mr. Knapp was elected Chairman; C. F. Williams was appointed Town Clerk, and H. Anderson, Treasurer. C. M. Burr and F. M. Stratton, Committee on Finances; M. B. Reese and F. Koudelle, Committee on Fire and Water; C. M. Burr, F. M. Stratton, Committee on Streets and Alleys. In April, 1878, a call for an election to elect a Mayor, City Council and all city officers, was issued, the election to be held April 6, 1878, at the court house. The result was as follows: Mayor, R. H. Knapp; City Clerk, J. A. Smith; City Treasurer, Charles Perky; City Marshal, Arthur Perry; Police Judge, John Masher; City Engineer, W. H. Dickinson. Council--First Ward, C. H. Burr, E. E. Lyle and ____ Clapp; Second Ward, N. H. Bell, Frank Koudelle; Third Ward, N. R. Gregory, E. Pickett; Judges of Election--First Ward, G. W. Chase, C. Beebe; Clerks of Election--First Ward, C. S. Johnson, E. Price; Second Ward, Judges, P. Marsh, J. L. Reed, F. Koudelle; Clerks, M. L. Elsworth, George Ebling; Third Ward, Judges, W. G. Keefer, W. Andrews, N. R. Gregory; Clerks, H. Brown, L. T. Burnett. Pursuant to a call the Mayor and Council met April 10, 1878, and declared Wahoo a city of the second class, electing N. H. Bell as President of the Board of Councilmen. At this meeting, F. M. Stratton appeared before the Board, stating that he was still a member of the Board of Trustees of the town of Wahoo, and asking to be recognized, and to be allowed to act in the official capacity of Trustee of the town of Wahoo. The Board passed a resolution refusing to recognize his authority, and proceeded to carry out its routine of business as Mayor and Council of the city of Wahoo. The bonds of the City Clerk, Police Judge, Engineer and Marshal were placed at the sum of $500; of the City Treasurer, at $2,000; of the Mayor, $1,000. At a regular meeting of the City Council called January 10, 1879, Mayor Knapp appointed the following Standing Committees: Fire and Water--Councilmen Burr and Koudelle. Finance--Councilmen Lyle and Bell. Streets and Alleys--Councilmen Gregory and Clapp. At a regular meeting of the City Council called July 27, 1878, proposals for two No. 5 Champion Chemical Fire Engines and one No. 3 Hook and Ladder Truck, with complete outfit, were presented and accepted. An order was passed to issue the city's coupon bonds to the amount of $2,000, in sums of $100 each, bearing 8 per cent interest, payable at the First National Bank of Omaha, upon the arrival of the apparatus at Wahoo. The election for 1879 was held April 9, and the following are the successful candidates: Mayor, E. E. Lyle; Police Judge, S. H. Sonberger; City Clerk ___ Johnson; City Treasurer, Charles Perky; City Engineer, W. H. Dickinson; City Marshal, Almer Raynolds. Councilmen--First Ward, E. Picket; Judges of Election, E. Authers, G. W. Chase, G. W. Sturtevant; Clerks of Election, H. Gilkerson, S. P. Stevens; Second Ward, Councilman N. H. Bell; Judges of Election, George Ebling, A. W. Mills, P. Marsh; Clerks of Election, Frank Koudelle, E. W. Chaney; Third Ward, Councilman, A. Anderson; Judges of Election, P. Andrews, M. T. Clapp, W. B. Clapp. Clerks of Election, L. T. Burnett, J. Newlean.

   The act of 1879, making it necessary to have 1,500 inhabitants to enjoy the franchise of a city of the second class, sang the requiem of the infant city. At a special meeting of the City Council held March 18, 1880, a call was issued for an election to be held April 6, 1880, for the purpose of electing a village Board of Trustees. The successful candidates in this canvass were F. M. Stratton, E. Pickett, John Joseph, N. H. Bell, Thomas Killian as a Board of Trustees. F. M. Stratton was elected President of the Board, C. S. Johnson appointed Clerk, Charles Perky, Treasurer. Committee on Finance, E. Pickett, P. Killian; Fire and Water, P. Killian, N. H. Bell; Streets and Alleys, N. H. Bell, John Joseph.

   The election for 1881 took place April 5, and the present official roster of the village is as follows: Board of Trustees, Henry Anderson, President; N. H. Bell, Oscar Lent, Thomas Killian, W. H. Dickinson; Village Clerk, C. S. Johnson; Treasurer, Charles Perky; Prosecuting Attorney, C. S. Johnson. Committee on Finance, N. H. Bell and T. Killian; Fire and Water, Oscar Lent, Thomas Killian; Streets and Alleys, W. H. Dickinson, N. H. Bell.

   The court house is a neat-appearing frame structure of modern architectural design, the foundation of which partakes of the form of a Greek cross, and crowning one of the highest elevations of the city. It is commodious and roomy, two stories high, has a large, high court-room, and the several county offices are comfortably furnished, and provided with fire-proof vaults, giving ample and secure protection to the county records and documents.

   The county jail is also a frame structure, two stories in height, inclosing an iron cage of the most recent design and approved plan, for the safety and retention of prisoners; also apartments for the jailer's family. The cage is made of boiler iron, contains three large cells and an additional apartment. It will accommodate twelve prisoners, and is conceded to be one of the safest and most complete jails of the State.

   The corner-stone of the court house was laid in 1873, and it was completed in 1874. The jail was built in 1877, by Messrs. M. B. Reese, J. R. Gilkerson, N. H. Bell, G. I. Wright, Henry Sonberger, C. S. Johnson, C. S. Copp.

   Messrs. Williams & Lyle furnish abstracts of title. Maj. J. B. Davis is the Union Pacific Railroad Company's Land Agent. Mr. John Stein is the village Postmaster, and the village's Justices are Messrs. H. G. Gilkerson and Judge Isaac R. Mengel.


The history of the various religious denominations of Wahoo commences in 1868, at which time Rev. Mr. Giddings, a missionary, came to Wahoo upon invitation of Mr. J. M. Lee, preaching the first sermon to the infant city at the house of Mr. Lee, one Sabbath morning, and for two years services were held in the schoolhouse. In 1870, Rev. Mr. Giddings organized the present Congregational Church society of Wahoo. The church held its services in the schoolhouse, until 1880, when, mainly through the efforts of Rev. Mr. Giddings, their handsome edifice was erected. The present pastor is Rev. John Gray, and the church property is valued at $1,200. Too much praise cannot be said in behalf of the untiring energy of this pioneer missionary of Wahoo, who has ever been faithful "to keep his charge."

   Reformed Presbyterian.--This church was organized December 19, 1871, as the Fremont and Wahoo Reformed Presbyterian Church. Rev. D. McKay, commissioned by the Kansas Presbytery, performing the initiatory services in the schoolhouse, about two miles out of Fremont. The church was built at Wahoo in April, 1873, and is valued at $1,200. The first regular pastor was Rev. J. A. Thompson, and the society held its meetings in the schoolhouse before erecting its church. Rev. J. Willey is the present incumbent, locating at Wahoo in April, 1881. The next church organized is the Presbyterian, in 1874, through the efforts of Rev. William Fletcher, a missionary, sent by the Iowa Presbytery. Services were held in the schoolhouse until the church was erected in 1878, the pulpit being supplied until 1877, at which date Rev. Mr. Amlong became its pastor, remaining until 1879, since which date the society has been without any regular pastor, being supplied from the neighboring churches. Property valued at $1,500.

   Methodist.--This church organized its first class in 1873, at the schoolhouse in Wahoo, and although its members were few at first, it has grown to be a prosperous society. The present handsome edifice was constructed in 1881, at a cost of $2,500. The officiating pastor is Rev. J. W. Davis, a highly-cultured gentleman and an author of celebrity.

   Catholic.--The organization of this church dates back to 1879, at which period the present building was erected at a cost of $2,000. Rev. Father Winsel, of Pitzen, is attending priest, and has officiated since its organization.

   Baptist.--This church was organized in 1876, and built its church in 1878. Rev. Washington I. Price was its first regular pastor, and the present pastor is Rev. F. S. Witter. Value of church property, $1,800.


   The graded school is in charge of Prof. W. A. Vandeman, County Superintendent elect. There are 316 pupils enrolled; five teachers are employed, all ladies, except the Principal. In the Primary Department, which includes the first three years in school, are two assistants--Misses Rose and Bennett--and ninety pupils. In the Intermediate Department, extending over three years, two assistants--Misses Mengel and Brainard--and ninety-four pupils. The Grammar and High School Departments are under the personal charge of the Principal, and include eighty pupils in the Grammar School and fifty in the High School. The course of study of the Grammar course occupies about two years, and the High School course three years, and a preparatory year for pupils requiring extra training in elementary subjects. The School Board are liberal and hearty in their support of the schools, and many of the pupils give bright promise of success in school and in life. The school aims to afford to all the children of the district the opportunity of getting as much and as good education as possible. It is especially sought to teach all as early as possible to read intelligently and to write legible and correct English. It is not the aim of the school to finish scholars, but to teach them some important things well and to do them well. In the high school, thoroughness in the fundamental and directly practical subjects in a common-school education. When this is secured, pupils are encouraged to go on to higher subjects, and are aided in preparing for higher institutions or for life's business.

   At a point three miles north of Wahoo, on Section 26, adjoining the county poor farm, District No. 23 is located. In this school forty pupils are enrolled, taught by Miss L. B. Riddle. The first school was established in 1870, and was taught by Miss Maggie Lee. A small frame building was erected in the spring of this year through the efforts of Mr. J. M. Lee, of Wahoo, and the school was opened during the following summer. This was only temporary, for the town and vicinity settled very rapidly, and a comfortable building was soon erected, which was used until the present structure was completed in 1880.

   The dimensions of the first school building are small, twenty-four feet by sixteen feet, but fully supplied the wants of the first two years. It was located on the southeast quarter of Section 4.

   The present school building cost $5,000, and is a model in appearance and convenience. The foundation approaches the form of a Greek cross, on one side of which, forming the entrance to the building, a tower rises three stories in height, with French roof, surmounted with a belfry. The main part is two stories high, and the whole has an imposing appearance. It has a spacious playground and occupies a prominent site of the village.


   Pioneer Lodge, No. 25, C. S. P. S., was instituted by charter granted March 24, 1878. It is purely a benevolent society, and its acts of charity are widely known. The present membership is thirty-one and the following are the present officers: T. Killian, President; E. Fisher, Vice President; Frank Koudelle, Secretary; F. J. Lepsa, Permanent Secretary; Frank Hawlik, Treasurer; Joseph Kumboa, Warden; Frank Opocensky, I. G.; W. Doccekal, O. G.

   The Wahoo German Social Club was organized in 1879. Present officers: President, John Winter; Secretary, John Seamann; Treasurer, Hans Plunt.

   A., F. & A. M.--January 30, 1875, first meeting was held under dispensation granted by M. W. G. M. Frank Welch, empowering J. C. Polsley, W. M.; M. B. Reese, S. W.; M. L. Ellsworth, J. W.; A. Nelson, Treas.; N. H. Bell, Sec.; E. Pickett, S. D.; J. D. Cook, J. D., and others to open a lodge of A., F. & A. M. June 24 of the same year, a charter was granted by the grand Lodge, naming J. C. Polsley, M. B. Reese, M. L. Ellsworth, N. H. Bell, A. Nelson, T. W. Reeder, A. L. Farnsworth, J. D. Cook, J. N. Davis, James Reeder, E. Pickett, H. Farnsworth, R. B. Morton and John Mosher as charter members, the same officers holding their places until the first election, December 27, 1875, when the same were re-elected, with the exception of J. N. Davis being elected Treasurer in place of A. Nelson.

   Present officers of the lodge are M. B. Reese, W. M.; J. N. Davis, S. W.; W. B. Alexander, J. W.; Charles Perky, Treas.; H. Anderson, Sec.; J. Barnell, S. D.; C. E. Lillibridge, J. D.; C. A. Starks, Tiler. Present membership, fifty-two.


   The Wahoo Grain and Stock Company is worthy of prominent mention, and speaks volumes for the enterprise and go-ahead qualities of this busy little city. It was organized February 1, 1881, with a capital of $2,000, eighty shares being issued at $25 each. It owns a large and complete building for receiving, storing and shipping grain, and large and ample stock-yards. In addition to bringing an extensive trade to the business men of Wahoo, which is the chief aim of the company, it does an annual business of $500,000, thereby earning a handsome dividend for the stockholders, and furnishing a most valuable market for stock and grain.

   The present board of officers consist of the following-named gentlemen:

   J. M. Lee, President; John Steen, Vice President; William Grafe, Secretary; H. H. Dorsey, Treasurer. J. O. Smith, John Winters, W. H. Dickinson, manufacturing interests, consist of two flouring mills, one steam the other water-power, and the Wahoo Brewery. Mr. Robert Bradball is proprietor of the steam grist-mill, which is located upon Section 10, Town 14, Range 7, one mile southeast of Wahoo. The mill site was a donation by Mr. Charles L. Stocking to Messrs. Ray & Flor, who erected the first mill during the summer of 1872. The Wahoo at this point flows in its normal stage 800 inches of water. The dam is seventeen feet high, 100 feet long on the top. The mill, a well-finished structure is three stories high and contains three run of buhrs. For a lack of proper protection, the mill and 3,000 bushels of grain were precipitated into the Wahoo in consequence of being undermined by that stream the following May. During the summer of 1873, the proprietors erected a second mill, which was in operation at the close of autumn. About this time, Mr. J. C. Flor became sole proprietor. The present proprietor, Mr. Robert Brodball, has built up a large and extensive business, his trade even extending into a portion of Butler County. It has a capacity of 15,000 barrels of flour per year, and possesses three sets of buhrs. The last-mentioned mill is situated at Ithaca, a post office of Wahoo Precinct, about six miles down the stream from Wahoo. It was built in 1871 by Messrs. Roll & Meilenz, furnished with one run of four-foot buhrs. The present owner is Mr. J. F. Roll. The supply of water is practically inexhaustible, flowing at this point fully 1,200 cubic inches. The mill is now provided with three sets of buhrs, and has a capacity of grinding 300 bushels of grain per day.

   The manufacture of beer in Saunders County is a new feature in manufacturing interests, and a very important industry of Wahoo. The brewery has just been completed at quite an outlay of capital, by Messrs. Jonsa & Co., and comprises several extensive buildings. It is under the management of Mr. Jacob Dollinger, a practical brewer, and has a capacity of 2,000 barrels per annum.

   Business is generally well represented in all branches that make up the commercial list of a prosperous western city. It has numerous houses of general merchandise, hardware, tin shops, drug stores, lumber yards, furniture stores, feed and sale stables, four grain elevators, and all trades are faithfully represented, particularly those of the contractor and builder and mason.

   The fair grounds and hall of the County Agricultural Society are located here, and their one-half mile track is one of the best in the State.



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