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 5


   The name Ashland may be traced to its giver, a Mr. Argyle. He was an ardent admirer of Henry Clay, and many years ago, in conversation with Hon. A. B. Fuller, told him that once while making a fishing excursion up the Salt Creek, he was charmed with the natural beauty of the scenery and its seeming advantages of becoming a future city, and named it Ashland, in honor of the home of his ideal statesman.

   It was formally organized at its first meeting, held March 4, 1870. Dennis Dean was elected Chairman, and M. Willsie, Clerk of the Board of Trustees. At a meeting held June 17, J. H. Snell was appointed Treasurer, and it was ordered by the Board that the Collector call upon Messrs. Hiemer and Locke and require them to take out a city license to retail malt and spirituous liquors, as is required by the statutes of this State. C. M. Folsom was appointed Clerk in place of Willsie, resigned. May 22, 1871, the second election was held, and the following officers elected: Andrew Marble, Chairman; H. H. Packard, Treasurer; A. B. Chamberlain, Clerk; J. B. Lininger, Street Commissioner.

   1872--Election held May 31. Henry Johnson, Chairman; A. B. Chamberlain, Clerk; M. C. Long, Treasurer.

   1873--May 19. Henry Johnson, Chairman; H. W. Curtis, Treasurer; J. A. Jury, Clerk; J. G. Whitlock, Marshall and Street Commissioner.

   1874--May 11. William B. Morris, Chairman; J. B. Lininger, Treasurer; J. A. Jury, Clerk.

   The issue of this election was the temperance question, and during this year no licenses were granted.

   1875--May 11. J. M. Bond, Chairman; H. W. Curtis, Treasurer; Joseph Arnold, Clerk; B. S. Clark, Marshall; J. G. Whitlock, Street Commissioner.

   1876--May 23. Henry Johnson, Chairman; H. B. Curtis, Treasurer; Joseph Arnold, Clerk; O. A. Pierce, Collector; George Buck, Marshall and Street Commissioner.

   1877--May 21. Same Board as for 1876.

   April 16, 1878, Ashland was organized as a city of the second class, and the following officers elected: Ben S. Clark, Mayor; J. R. Watts, City Clerk. Council--J. H. Snell, A. D. Frazier, First Ward; E. M. Park, W. C. Scott, Second Ward.

   The business of the first meeting of this honorable body was to ascertain if their organization was legal, which it was found to be in every respect. City Treasurer Jury resigned November 2, 1878. H. W. Curtis was elected to fill his place at a special election held January 4, 1879. H. H. Packard was also elected Councilman from the First Ward to fill vacancy. January 14, 1879, it voted to purchase fire apparatus for the city, and January 22 a contract was closed for three chemical engines and a hook and ladder truck, costing $1,700; and it was voted by the city to issue its bonds to that amount, which was done, and the fire apparatus arrived shortly after from the contractors, the Champion Fire Extinguisher Company, of Louisville, Ky.

   The second city election was held April 5, 1879, and the following complement of officials were elected: Ben S. Clark, Mayor; H. W. Curtis, City Treasurer; A. H. Gould, City Clerk; J. H. Snell, Dennis Dean, Councilmen, First Ward, and Samuel Stratton, Second Ward; David Wingood, Police Judge; William Hardin, City Engineer; George Hoffman, Marshal. Almost the first action of the incoming Council was to refuse to carry out the contract for the fire apparatus and deliver the bonds. A suit at law was commenced by the Louisville company against the city, and measures were taken to defend it; which was finally withdrawn, their agent coming to Ashland and shipping it back to Louisville, and Ashland's Fire Department was no more. An act of the Legislature passed in 1879, making it necessary for a city of the second class to have 1,500 inhabitants to retain its franchise, caused the premature death of the young city, the census returns failing to return over 1,100 inhabitants. Accordingly, April 8, 1880, Ashland was organized as a village, with the following Trustees and officers; Trustees, Dennis Dean, J. H. Snell, H. W. Curtis, Samuel Stratton and O. A. Pierce; Dennis Dean, Chairman; H. W. Curtis, Treasurer; A. H. Gould, Village Clerk. The present Board was elected April 25, 1881, and included Hon. A. B. Fuller, Chairman; David Dean, Treasurer; A. H. Gould, Clerk; Trustees, Hon. A. B. Fuller, J. H. Snell, J. W. Merrill. Ashland is under a total abstinence administration, and not a single license has been granted during the official year. In 1867, Haine & Valentine opened a large stock of general merchandise on the north side of Main street, and in the fall of 1868 built the first stone block upon the south side. The Snell Block was built in the winter of 1869-70, the Bank Block in the fall of 1871, on Silver street, and the court house in the summer of 1870. After a spirited contest, the county seat was removed to Wahoo, in the fall of 1873. An interesting incident is related by Hon. Moses Stocking, deceased: "During the summer of 1865, Gov. Saunders visited the place; and, as it was a rare thing for the frontiersmen of those days to see a Governor, the people, for miles around, turned out to make his acquaintance. As an assemblage of Americans cannot be happy unless they hear a speech, the Governor was invited to orate. But here was a dilemma that presented itself. There was no hotel, house, or other building of sufficient capacity to hold the audience. A happy thought occurred to some one; the mill yard was suggested as the place. The Governor and his auditors walked over, a rostrum was soon constructed of saw-logs, which the Governor mounted, while the audience seated themselves on other logs, and then and there listened to the first public speech delivered in the town.


   Ashland is an enterprising village of about twelve hundred inhabitants--a station on the main line of the B. & M. R. R., and one of the brightest of Nebraska's fair cities. It is situated on a series of elevations bordering upon the Salt Creek, a location not wholly devoid of natural scenery, and presenting an agreeable contrast to the flat sameness that as a usual thing characterises the town site of a prairie country. For a young town, Ashland presents an unusually substantial and developed appearance, and the general aspect is one of prosperous permanency. Endowed with many natural advantages, the surroundings of Ashland have assumed a position as one of the wealthiest sections in the State, and it has ever kept pace with the improvements and advancements of its country by which it is surrounded. The Salt Creek or River, upon which the town is located, is quite a rapid running stream, and with considerable fall at this point, affording a most excellent water-power, and if practically improved and utilized, might be made one of the local resources of prosperity in contributing a motive force in the operation of industrial enterprises. In geographical position, it occupies the extreme southeastern portion of the county near the confluence of the Salt and Wahoo Creeks, and about two miles distant from the Platte River. It is the center of an extended tributary area of one of the finest agricultural districts in the State, and the focal shipping point of all the southern and southeastern part of Saunders County, as well as a portion of the counties of Sarpy, Cass and Lancaster, making it a most important shipping point, and ranking among the best in Eastern Nebraska as a stock and grain market. In short, Ashland seems to have been the inevitable results of the developments of superior surroundings; and the various elements that have combined to hasten and advance the growth of the place are among the most effective in existence. Excellent schools, numerous church edifices, open and sacred organizations of society bespeak the moral and religious tendencies of the inhabitants, and many evidences of prosperity may be observed in the construction of new and elegant residences, commodious blocks and business houses. The soil of the surrounding country is a rich, dark loam, attaining a depth of twenty feet at times, adapted to the growth of all cereals, and the extensive tracts of bottom or grass land make it one of the finest grain-growing regions in the "far West." To these superior agricultural advantages, Ashland owes her existence and past growth and prosperity, more than to any of the foregoing elements. To those who have watched its progress from its earliest origin, while Saunders County was a wilderness, until the present time, the accomplishments of by-gone years seem like a herculean task, but are, in reality, the sure and legitimate results of an advancing state of civilization.

   Of the more important business enterprises of Ashland, we may mention its pioneer industry--the Ashland Flouring Mills. Mr. Dennis Dean, one of the oldest settlers in Ashland, is proprietor, and laid the foundation of this now prosperous business in 1863, and it is one of the oldest flouring mills west of the Missouri River. Mr. Dean has always been actively identified with business interests, and has done much to build up and enhance the interests of Ashland. As a practical miller, he has devoted almost his exclusive attention to the business for nearly thirty years. His mill site and power, on Salt Creek, are considered one of the best in the State. Mr. Dean commenced business with a single set of buhrs, and had a capacity for grinding not only all the wheat raised in several counties, but was compelled to go into Iowa to get more, in order to keep his one run employed. At the present time there are over seventy-five set of buhrs in the same Territory, which are incapable of grinding one-tenth part of the products of the present time. The mill, as now equipped, is furnished with four sets of buhrs, and provided with all modern and late improvements. Mr. Dean, in company with his son, represents the lumber interest, and is quite extensively engaged in the manufacture of the Sor windmill pumps. He is the owner of a 400-acre farm, of which 300 acres are improved, situated one and a half miles from town, and gives considerable attention to fruit culture; many fine young orchards and a large vineyard are objects of interest.

   Banking interests are well represented by the Bank of Ashland. John R. Clark, Cashier of the First National Bank, Lincoln, is President, and Samuel Waugh, Cashier. It is a private institution, and the management devolves upon Cashier Waugh. Mr. Clark succeeded the Simington Bros. only a short time ago. They occupy a new brick bank-building, fifty feet in length by twenty-two in width, two stories high, handsomely and conveniently arranged, furnished with a superb fire and burglar-proof safe, secured by a Yale chronometer lock, and have one of the finest banking offices in this section of the State. The institution does all legitimate banking business, and is regarded as safe and reliable.

   The leading commercial interests represented at Ashland are stock and grain, general merchandise, lumber, hardware, drugs and agricultural implements. The principal grocery and furniture houses of the county are located here, and it has the largest clothing and dry goods house. The amount of capital invested, and the extensive proportions of the business houses, bespeak the developed resources of the surrounding section of country and the wealth of its inhabitants.

   Near the B. & M. R. R. station, across the creek, now spanned by a magnificent new iron bridge just completed, are three large grain elevators, operated by steam-power, with adjacent buildings of sufficient capacity for storing purposes.

   The professions of law, medicine and dental surgery, are most ably represented by reliable and talented men. The medical fraternity include Dr. Alex S. V. Mansfelde, of the Omaha Medical College Faculty, and Secretary of the State Medical Society; Dr. E. M. Park and Dr. E. W. Gray. The members of the bar are T. O. Wilson, Joseph Arnold and C. W. Brown. Mr. Wilson is the oldest attorney of the county. Mr. A. E. Jenks is the Village Magistrate.

   The Leola Mill, situated one-half mile north of Ashland, is another important manufacturing enterprise, owned and operated by Mr. Wigginhorn. It was built in the summer of 1873, at a cost of $21,690. It is thirty by forty feet, two stories high; has three sets of buhrs, with all late improvements of machinery in the manufacture of fine grades of flour. It has a capacity of 100 barrels of flour per day, and does an annual business of $75,000. The greater portion of its products are consumed at home, but much of it is shipped to Chicago, where it finds a ready market.

   The leading hotel of the village is the Exchange. It was opened July 4, 1880. The house is owned by a stock company, and is now operated by Mr. C. B. Hackney. The Exchange has a splendid outward appearance; is a large two-story frame, of the most recent and practical design of hotel architecture; has twenty-five guest rooms, elegantly furnished. The dining-rooms, parlors, office, reading-room, etc., are all large and commodious. In short, it is complete in all its appointments. Hotel interests are also well represented at the Snell House.

   Ashland Creamery.--A new industry, and one that has proved a success, is the Ashland Creamery, established in the spring of 1879, by J. R. Merrill. It is the first one operated in Saunders County and one of the first in the State. The present proprietor is Mr. Homer Merrill, and the creamery has a capacity of utilizing the milk of 1,000 cows, and turning out 1,000 pounds of butter per day.


   In the summer of 1864, Mrs. John Aughe taught the first school established in Saunders County. It was maintained through the efforts of the settlers, and was held at her home, a small dug-out, situated on Section 34, about one and a half miles west of the town. The following summer, Miss Emma Throckmorton taught a three months' school under the same auspices as the first, in a deserted log house, formerly owned by Mr. John Berton, situated near the pioneer residence of Mr. John Aughe, and the ensuing winter Mr. Eb. Campner taught a third term of school of three months' duration in the same building. So far as the writer has been able to learn, these three terms of school were all that were maintained in the county up to the organization of District No. 1, at Ashland.

   The organization of this district was begun in the winter of 1865-66, and perfected the following spring. The School Board consisted of Alexander Hinckley, Chairman; John Palmerston, Secretary, and W. P. Snell, Treasurer. During this winter, Mr. John Bliss taught the first school in the town proper, in a small log building, fourteen by sixteen feet, situated on the banks of the creek on Dean street.

   During the spring and summer, Mrs. Gertrude Clark taught the schools in a small frame building, located near the first log building.

   The old brick schoolhouse on Main street was completed in the spring of 1867, and school opened in it with Rev. C. A. Miller, assisted by Mrs. Gertrude Clark, as teachers. This was used for three months only, owing to certain claims arising to the lot on which it stood, and was abandoned.

   Rev. Mr. Miller with his able assistant taught three terms, and was succeeded by Mr. John Green, who taught a number of terms, covering a period down to the spring of 1869, when Albert Nichols, assisted by Miss Nancy Tower, was given charge, and taught the school until 1871, at which date the present building was erected at a cost of $15,000. Miss Ida Manson is also one of the early teachers.

   After the brick schoolhouse was given up, Snell's Hall was used for a time, and finally a frame building situated in the west part of town, now occupied by Mr. Knicely as a store.

   Prof. C. E. Stratton, the present incumbent, assumed the position in the fall of 1881. He is a graduate of the State University, and under his systematic tuition, the schools of Ashland have assumed a prominent place in the educational interests of the State.

   The course consists of eight grades in the preparatory department, and a High School course of three years.

   The Primary Department is in charge of Miss Emma L. Simms, and eighty-two pupils are in attendance.

   The Second Primary Department is in charge of Miss Emma Wooley, and fifty pupils are in attendance.

   The Intermediate Department is in charge of Miss Annie J. Roberts, with fifty-eight pupils in attendance.

   The Grammar Department is in charge of Miss Bella Taylor, with forty-five pupils in attendance.

   Prof. Stratton has charge of the High School, and is assisted by Miss Della Stratton, and forty pupils in attendance.

   The aim and purpose is to give the scholar a thorough and practical common school education, and fit him for the active duties of life.

   The building is furnished with patent desks and furniture, and all necessary apparatus.

   The present Board of Trustees are: William Leavitt, Director; T. B. Wilson, Moderator; J. H. Snell, Treasurer; S. H. Nichols, Dennis Dean and Richard Gray.


   The leading secret organization of Ashland is the Saunders Lodge, No. 17, I. O. O. F. A dispensation was granted to the lodge May 6, 1870, Grand Master A. P. Cogswell, and a charter was issued by the Grand Lodge, October 16, 1871, with the following charter members: S. H. Nichols, J. C. Wolfe, H. A. Wakefield, Henry Boyer, Alonzo Throckmorton. The lodge is one of the strongest in this section of the State, and its roll of seventy-five members includes Ashlands's best business men and citizens. It is in a prosperous and working condition; occupies a large, elegant hall but recently built, over the store of Dr. E. M. Park. S. H. Nichols was the first Noble Grand of the lodge, and the present officers are: Jacob Johnson, N. G.; S. P. Hall, V. G.; H. H. Dowden, R. S.; George Hatch, P. S., and Joseph Arnold, Treasurer.

   G. A. R.--Prominent in interest and influence is the Bob McCook Post, No. 31, G. A. R. It was organized in 1880 with fifteen charter members as follows: H. C. Brown, John K. Clark, T. E. Margrave, J. A. Jury, S. Crane, W. W. Crane, B. S. Clark, E. J. Whipple, J. Dech, O. A. Pierce, J. S. Tyler, S. P. Hall, R. D. Pine, P. J. Hall, K. Hoffman, R. Gray, J. P. Brook, H. Wakefield and R. H. Dexter. Present officers: J. K. Clark, Commander; H. C. Brown, Senior Vice Commander; S. B. Hall, Junior Vice Commander; P. J. Hall, Secretary; J. A. Jury, Adjutant; David Anderson, Chaplain; E. J. Whipple, Officer of the Day; J. P. Brook, Officer of the Guard; R. Gray, M. D., Post Surgeon. This body, although so recently instituted, has already become a permanent organization, and at the last annual re-union took the first prize of $50 for discipline and drill.


   The first missionary who visited Saunders County was Rev. I. A. Martin, who came to Ashland in 1865. He remained but a short time, but during his stay organized the First Baptist Church of Ashland July 8, of that year, which is the first church organized in the county. The church society was formed mainly through the efforts of Mr. Dennis Dean, who was its first and only Deacon for a long time. The names of the pioneer members are Dennis Dean and wife, William Anderson and wife, Joseph Arnold and wife, Mrs. Barnhill, Mrs. Biggs and Mrs. Laura Brush. A short time after its organization, funds were raised to build a church, but the society loaned them to the school district, and after the schoolhouse was constructed held their services in it until the present substantial brick church was built in 1870. The first resident pastor of the church was Rev. C. A. Miller, who settled at Ashland in 1867, making it the field of his labors until 1873, and under his earnest and careful tuition the church made wonderful advancement. He was succeeded by Rev. J. N. Webb, who presided over the church but one year, being succeeded by Rev. Henry White, whose labors also ended in one year. In 1875, Rev. G. O. Yeiser was pastor, and after remaining at Ashland for one year closed his labors and was succeeded by Rev. Mr. Sturtevant, who was succeeded by Rev. F. M. Williams in 1877, the present pastor. The church property is valued at $6,000, and the society has a membership of 140.

   Methodist Episcopal.--Many of Ashland's citizens well remember Joseph Throckmorton and his early labors in behalf of the Methodist Church. It is related of the old gentleman how he prayed earnestly for the destruction of a certain groggery, situated near, or at the settlement called Shaffers, about three miles from Ashland, and as if a kind providence had answered his prayer, a terrible hurricane came and swept it almost out of existence. The owner came to remonstrate with him as the cause of all his late misfortunes, and the old gentleman told him "to desist and lead a better life, or he would pray God to wipe him out also." He labored in sod houses and dug-outs, and in time became a noted character in the surrounding settlements, and was even feared and reverenced by some. The history of this church is a tale of hardship. Rev. Mr. Swarts came to Ashland as a missionary in the winter of 1868, and organized its first class. Joseph Throckmorton and his wife head the list of this first class, followed by the following names: Emma A. and Ella M. Throckmorton, P. A. Gould and wife, Alzina Block, Rodney Dexter and wife, James E. Aughe and wife, Mrs. C. Cole and John Aughe. In the spring of 1869, Rev. Mr. Munhill was sent to Ashland and preached the first series of sermons. The society met at Snell's Hall until January 30, 1870, when on this particular morning, going to worship, they found the hall rented and themselves locked out. After this, they held meetings in unfinished buildings, sometimes piling shingles and lumber for a pulpit, while the congregation sat on impromptu seats. In May, 1870, Rev. Charles Munson came to Ashland, but remained only until the following summer, and during this year the church was built. In 1871, Rev. D. Blake officiated; in 1872, Messrs. Deal and I. L. Simington. In 1875, Rev. A. L. Folden was given charge of Ashland by the Annual Conference, and upon his arrival was informed that the society was almost bankrupt and could not support him, being heavily in debt for the church. It was a gloomy outlook, but he went to work with a determination and energy that we may honestly admire. Under his administration, the church was completed and relieved from debt. Ashland passed through one of the strongest and most stirring revivals of religion it has ever experienced. Its membership increased to eighty, and it acquired a foothold it has ever retained. Its audiences were so great that standing room could not be found for them; the church grew and prospered, and to use the reverend gentleman's own words, he "didn't starve worth a cent," and closed his labors at the beginning of 1877, being succeeded by Rev. John Galligher; 1878 found Rev. J. H. Worley in the pulpit; 1879, Rev. D. S. Davis; 1880, Rev. G. H. Wehn, and in 1881, the present incumbent, Rev. C. P. Hackney, assumed his duties. Mr. Hackney comes to Ashland after years of earnest labor in Wisconsin, and is a most able and efficient minister. The present membership reaches 140, and the church property is valued at $4,000.

   First Congregational Church.--Rev. Asa Farwell organized the church in 1872, and was its pastor up to 1877, when he was succeeded by Rev. Mr. Leavett, the present officiating pastor. The society owns a fine, large frame church, and its property is valued at $3,000; membership, sixty-eight.

   St. Stephen's Protestant Episcopal Church.--In compliance with the canons of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Diocese of Nebraska, a meeting to organize a parish at Ashland was held in the the Public Hall at Ashland July 10, 1871, and the following voters were present: Messrs. A. B. Fuller, J. B. Lininger, C. H. Walker, O. M. Carter and Richard Gray, M. D. Mr. Walker was elected Secretary. The constitution of the diocese was adopted, and the parish named St. Stephen's. O. M. Carter was chosen Senior Warden and Dr. R. Gray, Junior Warden; J. B. Lininger, A. B. Fuller, C. H. Walker, William Haynes, G. H. Bascom, Vestrymen; J. B. Lininger, Treasurer; Richard Gray, M. D., Collector. A building committee, consisting of Messrs. A. B. Fuller, O. M. Carter and the rector, Rev. Samuel Goodale, were appointed.

   The church was completed in 1872, and Rev. Samuel Goodale officiated as rector until 1874; a part of 1874, and until the spring of 1876, it was attended by Rev. H. B. Burgess, of Plattsmouth. Rev. Mr. Whitney came in 1876, and assumed the rectorship until 1879, since which time it has been supplied by Rev. H. B. Burgess. It has a good membership, and the church property is valued at $2,500.

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