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A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress and 




Supervising Editor 



Chicago : 




To write of the good and true; to preserve a record of past events; to Ueep 
green the memories of by-gone days; to Iiold in recollection the deeds and 
achievements of those who have gone before us, that we may emulate their 
examples and profit by their mistakes, is a duty that every individual owes to 
a common humanity. It was with thoughts such as these in mind that the 
compilation of this History of Omaha the Gate City and Douglas County was 
undertaken. How well the task has been performed is for the reader to de- 

Less than a century ago the region now comprising the State of Nebraska 
was shown upon maps of the United States as the "Great American Desert." 
The Indian and the buli'alo were the only occupants. The hills and dales of 
Douglas County were covered with the primeval forest or the tall grass of the 
prairie. Then came the white man and the Great American Desert vanished 
before his industry' as the mists of morning \anish before the rising sun. 

To tell the story of the hardships encountered and the obstacles overcome by 
the pioneers, as well as the accomplishments of those who came after them, 
has been the object in view in the writing of this history. The work has been 
one involving great care and labor, but the publishers confidently assert that 
no effort has been spared to give to the people of Omaha and Douglas County 
a history that is at once authentic and comprehensive. Authentic, because, as 
far as possible, the official records of city and county have been consulted as 
sources of information; and comprehensive, because, it is believed, no important 
event has been overlooked or neglected. 

Aluch credit is due to old residents and others for their ready and willing 
co-operation in the collection of data regarding events of years gone by, their 
scrap-books, collections of old letters and photographs having played no incon- 
siderable part in the compilation and illustration of the history. 

The editor and his assistants take this opportunity to express their obligations 
to the Omaha newspapers, the various city and county officers and their deputies, 
and especially to thank the attaches of the Omaha Public Library for their 
uniform courtesies while the work was in course of preparation. 






































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Bastiat, the eminent French economist, once wrote an essay entitled "The 
Seen and the Unseen," in which he showed how necessary it is to be able to reason 
from the effect (The Seen) back to the cause (The Unseen). The theory can 
be applied to history as well as to economics. The people of the present genera- 
tion see the City of Omaha, with its busy marts and other evidences of civic 
prosperity; the State of Nebraska, with its fertile fields, commercial centers 
and great arteries of transportation : but do they stop to consider the forces that 
brought about the present state of development? The old saying, "Rome was 
not built in a day," applies with equal appropriateness to every city, every 
political division or subdivision of the civilized countries of the world. Long 
before Omaha was even dreamed of, the discovery of America by Christopher 
Columbus constituted the first link in a chain of events that culminated in the 
establishment of the American Republic and the division of the central portion 
of North America into states and counties. It is therefore deemed advisable to 
give an account of these events, in order that the reader may form some idea 
of the evolution of the State of Nebraska and the City of Omaha. 

In 1493, the year following the first voyage of Columbus to the New World, 
the pope granted to the King and Queen of Spain "all countries inhabited by 
infidels." At that time the extent of the continent discovered by Columbus was 
not known, but, in a vague way, this papal grant included the present State of 

Three years later Henry VII of England granted to John Cabot and his 
sons a patent of possession and trade "to all lands they may discover and lay 

Vol. 1—1 



claim to in the name of the EngHsh crown." Between that time and the close 
of the century the Cabots explored the Atlantic Coast and made discoveries 
upon which England claimed practically all the central part of North America. 

Farther northward the French, through the discoveries of Jacques Cartier, 
laid claim to the valley of the St. Lawrence River and the region about the 
Great Lakes, from which they pushed their explorations westward toward the 
headwaters of the Mississippi River and southward into the Valley of the Ohio. 

Thus, at the very beginning of American history, three great European 
nations were actively engaged in exploring the Western Hemisphere. Follow'- 
ing the usage of nations, by which title to land was claimed ''by right of dis- 
covery," it is not surprising that in course of time a controversy arose among 
these three great powers as to which was the rightful possessor of the soil. 

In November, 15 19, Hernando Cortcz, with a strong force of Spanish 
soldiery, entered Mexico, captured Montezuma, the ''Mexican emperor," and 
after a two years' war succeeded in establishing Spanish supremacy. Cortez 
fell into disfavor with the Spanish authorities, but that nation retained posses- 
sion of Mexico, to w'hich was given the name of New Spain. Alilitary gover- 
nors failed to give satisfaction in controlling the affairs of the conquered province, 
and in 1535 Antonio de Mendoza was appointed viceroy, with almost unlimited 
powers. He was known as "the good viceroy." By his diplomacy he succeeded 
in establishing friendly relations with the natives and did much toward advancing 
the interests of the people. Under Mendoza and his successors, many of the 
Indians were converted to the Catholic faith and exploration and settlement 
were pushed northward into Texas, New Mexico and California. 


The grant of the pope to "infidel countries" was strengthened in 1541-42 by 
the expedition of Hernando de Soto into the interior of what is now the United 
States. De Soto was born in Spain about 1496 and had been connected with 
some of the early expeditions to Peru, in which service he demonstrated his 
qualifications to command. Charles I appointed him governor of Florida and 
Cuba in the spring of 1538 and one of his first official acts was to issue orders 
for the fortification of the Harbor of Havana. Under orders from King Charles, 
he left Cuba on May 12, 1539, with about one thousand men, for the pur[)ose of 
exploring the interior of Florida. 

With his- little army he left P'lorida early in June and marched in a north- 
westerly direction. At a place called Tascaluza he met a large body of hostile 
Indians and a battle ensued which lasted for several hours. Many of the 
Indians were killed and the rest finally Hed. The Spanish loss was seventy 
killed and a number wounded, among whom was De Soto himself. Taking up 
a position that could be easily defended, the expedition delayed until the wounded 
could resume the march. Like nearly all the early Spanish explorers, De Soto"s 
chief object was to find rich mines of the precious metals. After wandering 
about for several months he came to the Mississippi River in the spring of 
1541. He then tried to reach the Spanish settlements in Mexico, but was stricken 
with fever and died in the wilderness, his body being buried in the river he had 
discovered. A few of his men finally managed to reach Florida and gave an 


account of the expedition. Upon tlieir report Spain claimed "all the land bor- 
dering on the Grande River and the Gulf of Mexico." 


Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, a native of Salamanca, was appointed 
governor of New Gallicia, one of the northern provinces of Mexico, about the 
same time that De Soto was appointed governor of Florida and Cuba, or per- 
haps a little earlier. He has been described as cold and cruel, ambitious and 
always looking for an opportunity to distinguish himself and win the favor of 
his royal master. 

In 1536 four men reached the City of I\[exico, having spent some time in 
wandering among the Sierra Mountains and over the sandy plains farther to 
the northward. One of these men, called Estevan or "Stephen the Moor," gave 
a circumstantial account of an expedition of some four hundred men that left 
Florida eight years before, but had been reduced by hardships, toil and captivity 
among the Indians to the four men who at last escaped and found their way 
to the Spanish settlements in Mexico. This Moor also told of opulent cities, 
known as the "seven cities of Cibola," of which he had heard frequent reports 
from the Indians but had never seen. 

In these reports Coronado saw a chance to win fame and establish himself 
more firmly at court. He sent out a small expedition under Father ^larcos de 
Xiza, a Franciscan friar, to reconnoiter the seven cities, Estevan accompanying 
the party as guide. The Moor, with a few men, went on in advance and reached 
the cities before the friar and the main body had covered more than half the 
distance. Incited by that avarice which was such a distinguishing characteristic 
of the early Spanish explorers in America, he proceeded to plunder the houses 
and killed some of the natives who refused to part with their property. The 
inhabitants then took up arms against the invaders, with the result that Estevan 
and his associates were compelled to beat a hasty retreat. Upon meeting Father 
de Niza they told him what had happened, and from this point accounts of the 
expedition differ. The friar reported that he went on until he came to an 
eminence, from which he could plainly see the cities of Cibola, the lofty houses, 
the abundant evidences of great opulence, but some of the private soldiers say 
he turned back in great fright. In the light of subsequent events, the latter 
report seems to be the most plausible. 

Coronado, however, did not abandon the idea of leading an expedition to 
the fabled cities and appropriating the wealth he might find there. Accord- 
ingly, in the spring of 1540, with 300 Spanish soldiers and 800 natives, he left 
New Gallicia and took up his march for the seven cities. Some writers have 
attempted to show that the cities of Cibola were located northeast of Zuni, 
New Mexico, and that the Zuni ruins are but the remains of the fabled cities. 

Three accounts of the Coronado expedition were afterward published — one 
by Coronado himself, one by his lieutenant, Jaramillo, and the third by a private 
soldier named Castaneda. All agree that when they reached the cities of whicli 
they had heard so much, they found only seven insignificant native villages, 
with no lofty buildings, no gold, no jewels. Fearing that he would be laughed 
at if he returned empty-handed, Coronado inquired if there were not some other 


cities it might be profitable to visit. The natives, glad of an opportunity to get 
rid of the Spaniards, told glowing accounts of a rich province about one hundred 
leagues to the eastward. Thither the adventurer wended his way, only to meet 
with another disappointment. He found some Indian villages, but not the fabu- 
lous wealth of which he was in search. Chagrined at this defeat, Coronado 
made war on the peaceable natives and practically annihilated their villages. 

Castaneda's account says they spent the winter of 1540-41 at this place, 
which he calls Cicuye, and which archaeologists have located in the Pecos Valley, 
not far from the present Town of Puerto de Luna. While at Cicuye an Indian, 
who claimed to be a prisoner, came to Coronado and with an air of great mysterv' 
told of a country called Ouivira, some three hundi'ed leagues farther toward the 
northeast, in which there was a great river, seven miles wide, with fish as large 
as horses. The ruler of this country, he said, was named Tartarra.x, an old man, 
qtiite wealthy, who worshiped a cross of gold and the image of a woman, and 
who prayed liy means of a string of beads. The commonest utensils were of 
silver and many of the vessels were of the finest beaten gold. He told his storv' 
in so impressive a manner that the cupidity of the Spaniards was fully aroused, 
and proposed to Coronado that if the Spaniards would assist him to escape he 
would guide them to this rich province. 

Some writers have advanced the theory that this entire story was con- 
cocted for the ptirpose of getting rid of the Spaniards and that the Indian was 
not a prisoner, but a member of the tribe who was willing to sacrifice his life 
if need be for the safety and welfare of his people. Whether this theory has 
any foundation or not, the storv' had the desired effect, for on j\Iay 5, 1541, the 
expedition left the Pecos \'alley for the realm of Tartarrax. 

The Spaniards called their Indian guide "the Turk," because of some real or 
fancied resemblance to that people. Some of the more observing members of 
the expedition noticed that when they met some wandering party of Indians on 
the i)lains. if the Turk was the first to converse with them, they confirmed his 
story concerning Ouivira, but if the white men were the first to question them 
they knew nothing of such a country. Castaneda says that after leaving Cicuye 
they marched about two hundred and eighty leagues, when they came to "a con- 
siderable river." Arch;eologists believe this to have been the Arkansas, and the 
place where Coronado first reached it is not far from Great Bend, Kansas. 

By this time the stock of provisions was almost exhausted, the principal 
article of diet being buffalo meat. Coronado called a council of his lieutenants 
and it was decided that the main body should return to the Pecos Valley, while 
the commander, with thirty of his best soldiers, should continue northward. 
Believing that the Turk had deceived him, Coronado ordered him to be securely 
bound and guides were obtained from a party of plains Indians. Coronado's 
account of the remainder of his march is so fanciful that it is difficult to determine 
just how far north he continued. He says that he reached another large river 
(supposed to have been the Kansas), where he sent a message to the lord of 
Harahey (the Pawnee chief) to visit him, which he did with 200 naked warriors. 
He finally reached Tartarrax's country, where he found an old man wearing 
a copper breastplate, which he seemed to prize very highly, but found no silver 
utensils, no vessels of beaten gold, no cross, no image of the Virgin Mary, no 
lofty buildings. The only satisfaction left to Coronado was the hanging of the 


Turk, who had so grossly deceived him. Just before his death the Indian in- 
sisted that the cities to which he was guiding the Spaniards were "just a Httle 
farther on." 

In his report of the expedition Coronado says: "The place where I reached 
Ouivira is in the fortieth degree." If he was correct in his estimate of latitude, 
he probably struck the present State of Nebraska somewhere on the Republican 
River, about Franklin or \^^ebster County. In 1881 or 1882 some work-men 
engaged in making an excavation near the little Town of Stockton, in Franklin 
County, unearthed an old saddle stirrup of the design used by Moorish horse- 
men of the sixteenth century. It was found several feet below the surface 
and strengthens the theory that Coronado and his associates were the first white 
men to set foot upon Nebraska soil. 

A great deal of speculation has been indulged in regarding the location of 
Ouivira. Some have attempted to show that it was near the head of the Gulf 
of California; several places in Colorado claim the honor; others think the site 
of this mythical province is marked by the ruins called "Gran Quivira" in New 
Mexico, and still others have claimed that the country of Tartarrax was near 
the present Junction City, Kansas. The engineers engaged in building the 
Union Pacific Railroad found near the mouth of the Loup River mounds and 
other evidences of populous villages. These evidences of a once densely popu- 
lated region support, in some degree, the statement of the Turk when he was 
about to die his tragic death that the cities of which he had spoken were "just a 
little farther on." 


In 1599 Don Juan de Onate led an expedition eastward from New Mexico, 
but the accounts concerning his movements are so conflicting and uncertain that 
little definite information can be gained from them. In his own story he says 
he came to the City of Ouivira, "which is on the north bank of a wide and shallow 
river." Some historians think that the river mentioned is the Platte, and the 
location of the city as described by Onate corresponds fairly well to the ruins 
found in the Valley of the Loup near its mouth. He also says he fought with 
the Escanzaques and killed a thousand or more of them. If such a battle really 
occurred it might have taken place within the limits of the present State of 
Nebraska. Onate, however, was given to romancing and not much credence is 
placed in his story. 


Another Spanish expedition into the Missouri Valley was that of the so-called 
"Duke of Penalosa." On March 6, 1662, he left Santa Fe with great pomp and 
state, riding in a carriage drawn by four horses, and for three months led his 
forces over prairies "so agreeable that not in all the Indies, Peru and New Spain, 
nor in all Europe, have any other such been seen so delightful and pleasant." At 
least such is the report of his chronicler, Nicholas de Freytas, one of the friars 
who accompanied the expedition. 

At the end of three months Penalosa came to "a wide and rapid river," where 


lie met a war party of the Escanzaques, numbering about three thousand men, 
on an expedition against the Ouivirans. De Freytas' narrative says the Escan- 
zaques hved along the fortieth parallel of north latitude and that they were a 
powerful and warlike tribe. Penalosa made some sort of a friendly agreement 
with the war party and marched with it toward Ouivira. After a march of 
several days they reached another large river, on the opposite side of which 
they could see a stream of considerable size entering it from the north. Along 
this tributary could be seen "a vast settlement or city, in the midst of a spacious 
prairie." This city, the Escanzaque chiefs said, was in the Province of Quivira, 
and De Freytas says "it contained thousands of houses, circular in shape for 
the most part, some two, three, and even four stories in height, framed of a 
hard wood and skillfully thatched. It extended along both sides of this second 
river for more than two leagues." 

Penalosa and his Indian allies encamped on the south side of the large river 
(probably the Platte), intending to cross over the next morning and honor the 
chief with a visit. But during the night the Escanzaques stole out of the camp, 
crossed the river and attacked the city. All the inhabitants who were not killed 
fled in fright, so that Penalosa did not meet a single live inhabitant of that fabled 
province which had so long commanded the attention of the Spanish adven- 
turers in Newr Spain. Not a very likely story, but it served to increase Penalosa's 
importance with the Spanish authorities, which was doubtless the purpose for 
which it was told. 


As early as 1611 Jesuit missionaries from the French settlements in Canada 
were among the Indians who inhabited the shores of Lake Michigan and Lake 
Superior. In 1634 Jean Nicollet, the agent of the Company of One Hundred 
authorized by the King of France to engage in the fur trade, explored the western 
shore of Lake xMichigan about Green Bay and went as far west as the Fox River 
Country, in what is now the State of Wisconsin. He is said to have been the 
first man to make a report upon the region west of the Great Lakes. 

Early in the year 1665 Claude Allouez, one of the most zealous of the 
Jesuit fathers, visited the Indians in the vicinity of what is now known as 
Ashland Bay, on the southern shore of Lake Superior. In the fall of the same 
year he held a council with representatives of several of the western tribes at 
the Chippewa village, not far from Ashland Bay. At this council were chiefs 
of the Chippewa, Sioux, Sac, Fox, Pottawatami and lUini. Allouez promised' 
the Indians the protection of the great French father and opened the way for 
a profitable trade with the natives. At the council some of the Illini and Sioux 
chiefs told the missionary of a great river farther to the westward, "called by 
them the Me-sa-sip-pi, which they said no white man had yet seen (they knew 
nothing of De Soto's expedition of more than twenty years before), and along 
which fur-bearing animals abounded." 

Three years later Allouez and another missionary. Father Claude Dablon, 
founded the mission of St. Mary's, the oldest white settlement within the pres- 
ent State of Michigan. The French authorities in Canada, influenced by the 
reports of Nicollet and the missionaries, sent Nicholas Perrot as the accredited 


agent of the French Government to arrange for a grand council with the Indians. 
The council was held at St. Mary's in May, iC)/i. Before the close of that 
year Jacques Marquette, another Jesuit missionary, founded the mission at 
Point St. Ignace for the benefit of the Huron Indians. For many years this 
mission was regarded as the key to the great unexplored West. 


Father Marquette had heard the reports concerning the great river to the 
westward and was filled with a desire to discover it, but was deterred from 
doing so until after Perrot's council of May, 1671, which resuUed in the estab- 
lishment of friendly relations between the French and Indians. Even then he 
was delayed for nearly two years, but in the spring of 1673, having received 
authority from the Canadian officials, he began his preparations at Michili- 
mackinac for the voyage. It is related that the friendly Indians there tried to 
dissuade him from his undertaking by telling him that the Indians who lived 
along the great river were cruel and bloodthirsty, and that the stream itself was 
the abode of terrible monsters that could easily swallow a canoe loaded with men. 

Such stories had no eflfect upon the intrepid priest, unless it was to make 
him the more determined, and on May 13, 1673, accompanied by Louis Joliet, 
an explorer and trader, and five voyagers, or boatmen, in two large canoes, the 
little expedition left Michilimackinac. Passing up the Green Bay to the mouth 
of the Fox River, they ascended that stream to the portage, crossed over to the 
\Visconsin River, down which they floated until June 17, 1673, when they first 
saw the Mississippi, opposite the present Town of McGregor, Iowa. Turning 
their canoes southward, they descended the Mississippi, carefully noting the 
landmarks as they passed along. On the 25th they landed on the west bank 
"sixty leagues below the mouth of the Wisconsin River," where they noticed 
footprints in the soft earth. This was about twelve miles above the present 
City of Keokuk. Iowa. Following the footprints back from the river, they 
came to a village of the Illini Indians, where they remained for several days. 
They then continued their voyage down the Mississippi to the mouth of the 
Arkansas. There they came to a tribe of Indians whose language they could 
not understand and from here returned to Canada. They reached the French 
settlements about Michilimackinac after an absence of some four months, dur- 
ing which they had traveled about two thousand five hundred miles. 

Joliet was a good topographer and he prepared a map of the country through 
which he and Marquette had passed. The reports of their voyage, when pre- 
sented to the French authorities, made the knowledge of the Mississippi's exist- 
ence certain and it was not long until steps were taken to claim the country 
drained by it for France. 

LA SALLe's expeditions 

In 1674 Robert Cavelier. Sieur de La Salle, was granted the seigneury of 
Fort Frontetiac, where the City of Kingston, Canada, is now situated, and on 
May 12, 1678, Louis XIV, then King of France, granted La Salle a permit to 
continue the explorations of Marquette and Joliet, "find a port for the king's 


ships in the Gulf of ^lexico, discover the western parts of New France, and find 
a way to penetrate Mexico." 

Late in the year 1678 La Salle made his first attempt to reach and descend 
the Mississippi, but it ended in failure, chiefly because his preparations had not 
been made with sufficient care. Afifairs at Fort Frontenac then claimed his 
attention until December, 1681, when he started upon his second, and what 
proved to be his successful expedition. He was accompanied by his lieutenant, 
Henri de Tonti ; Jacques de la ]\Ietarie, a notary ; Jean Michel, who was the 
surgeon of the expedition; Father Zenobe Membre, a Recollet missionary, and 
"a number of Frenchmen carr\'ing arms." It is not necessary to follow this 
little expedition through all its vicissitudes and hardships in the dead of winter 
and a wild, unexplored country. Suffice it to say that on April 8, 1682, La Salle 
and Tonti passed through two of the channels at the month of the Mississippi 
leading to the Gulf of Mexico. The next day La Salle formally took possession 
of "all the country drained by the great river and its tributaries in the name of 
France, and conferred upon it the name of Louisiana, in honor of Louis XIV, 
the French king." Under this claim Nebraska became a dependency of France. 


Before the close of the year 1682 small trading posts were planted by the 
French at Kaskaskia and Cahokia- — the oldest settlements on the Mississippi 
River. In April, 1689, Nicholas Perrot took formal possession of the upper 
Mississippi Valley in the name of France and built a fort and trading post on 
a river, to which he gave the name of St. Nicholas. 

In 1712 the French Government granted to Antoine Crozat, a wealthy mer- 
chant of Paris, a charter giving him exclusive control of the Louisiana trade 
under certain conditions. Crozat sent his agents to America, but when they 
arrived in the Gulf of Mexico they found the Spanish ports closed to their 
ships, for Spain, while recognizing the claim of France to Louisiana, as based 
upon the discovery of La Salle, was jealous of French ambitions. At the end 
of five years, tired of combating Spanish opposition and other difficulties, Crozat 
surrendered his charter. 

Crozat was succeeded by the Mississippi Company, which was organized by 
John Law as a branch of the Bank of France. In 1718 Lav/ sent some eight 
hundred colonists to Louisiana and the next year Philipe Renault took about 
two hundred people up the Mississippi, the intention being to establish posts and 
open up a trade with the Indians. Law was a good promoter, but a poor execu- 
tive. In 1720 his whole scheme collapsed, and so dismal was the failure that 
his company is known in history as the "Mississippi Bubble." Ten years later 
the entire white population of Louisiana was only about three hundred and 
fifty. On April 10, 1732, Law surrendered his charter and Louisiana once more 
became a French crown province. 


The first explorations in Nebraska, of which there is any authentic account, 
were made by Pierre and Paul Mallet, of New Orleans. Accompanied by six 


other Frenchmen, the two brothers ascended the Mississippi and Missouri rivers 
in 1738 and spent the winter near the mouth of the Niobrara. The next season 
they went to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the account of their journey fonns 
part of Margry's Narrative. 

From the Margry Papers it is learned that upon breaking camp in May, 
1739, they followed for several days a course nearly parallel to the Missouri 
River. On June 2d they "reached a river which they named the Plate, and see- 
ing that it took a direction not far from the route they had in mind, they followed 
it, going up its right bank for seventy miles, where they found the river made 
a fork with the river of the Padoucas, which just there flows in. Three days 
afterward (June 13th), they crossed to the left bank of the river, and traveling 
over a tongue of land, they camped on the 14th on the other bank of the River 
des Castes (Hill River), which here falls also into the River Plate." 


In the meantime the English had not been idle in the matter of claiming 
territory in the New World. In 1620 the British crown, ignoring Spain's papal 
grant and the explorations of De Soto, issued to the Plymouth Company a 
charter including "all the lands between the fortieth and forty-eighth parallels 
of north latitude from sea to sea." As the fortieth parallel now forms the 
southern boundary of Nebraska, the entire state was included in the Plymouth 
Company's grant. Eight years later (1628), the Massachusetts Bay Company 
received a charter from the English Government to a strip of land about one 
hundred miles wide "extending from sea to sea." Had the lands of the Alassa- 
chusetts Bay Company ever been surveyed, the northern boundary would have 
been almost coincident with the northern boundary of Nebraska, and the southern 
would have crossed the Missouri River about twenty miles above the present 
City of Omaha. 

Thus it was that Nebraska was early claimed by both Spain and England "by 
right of discovery," and some years later by France as part of the Province of 
Louisiana. No efforts were made by either England or Spain to colonize the 
interior, the former nation being content with the settlements along the Atlantic 
Coast, and the latter so intent on discovering rich gold or silver mines that no 
attention was given to founding permanent settlements. 

The Hudson's Bay Company was organized by the English in 1670 and its 
trappers and traders went into all parts of the interior, in spite of the French 
claim to the Mississippi \'alley. In 171 2 the English traders incited the Fox 
Indians to hostilities against the French. Again in 1730 the English and Dutch 
traders influenced some of the tribes to make war on the French in the hope of 
driving them from the countrj'. The first open rupture between France and 
England did not come, however, until 1753, when the French began building a 
line of forts from the Great Lakes to the Ohio River to prevent the English 
from extending their settlements west of the Allegheny Mountains. This 
brought on the conflict known in history as the "French and Indian war," which 
kept the American colonies and the Indian tribes in a state of unrest for several 

The war was ended by the Treatv of Fontainebleau, which was concluded on 


November 3. 1762, and was ratified by the Treaty of Paris, on February 10, 
1763. By these treaties France ceded all that part of Louisiana lying east of 
the Mississippi River, except the City and Island of New Orleans, to Great 
Britain. On the day the Treaty of Paris was concluded it was announced that, 
by an agreement previously made in secret, the City and Island of New Orleans 
and "all that portion of Louisiana lying west of the Mississippi, including the 
whole country to the head waters of the great river and west to the Rockv 
Mountains," was ceded to Spain. Thus the jurisdiction of France in that part 
of North America now forming the United States was brought to an end and 
Nebraska became a part of the Spanish possessions. The French inhabitants 
became Spanish subjects, many of them remaining in the province and taking 
an active part in business and political affairs. 

Then came the Revolutionary war, which again changed the map of Central 
North America. At the close of the French and Indian war, many of the people 
living east of the Mississippi refused to acknowledge allegiance to Great Britain 
and removed to the west side of the river. At the beginning of the revolution 
a number of these persons rccrossed the river and allied themselves with the 
colonists in the struggle for independence. The British had established several 
military posts in the territory acquired from France at the close of the French 
and Indian war, the most important of which were the ones at Detroit, Michigan, 
Vincennes, Indiana, and Kaskaskia and Cahokia, Illinois. In 1778 the Vir- 
ginia Legislature authorized an expedition under Gen. George Rogers Clark 
for the reduction of these posts. The expedition was successful, all the British- 
establishments in the Northwest, except the one at Detroit, falling into the 
hands of the Americans. 

At first glance it may seem that Clark's conquest of the Northwest had little 
or no effect upon the subsequent fate of Nebraska. But this is another case 
of "The Seen and the Unseen." It must be remembered that the capture of the 
British posts of the Northwest was the cause of the western boundary of the 
United States being fixed at the Mississippi River by the Treaty of 1783, which 
ended the Revolutionary war and established the independence of the United 
States. Had it not been for General Clark's successful campaign, the Territory 
of the United States would in all probability have been confined to the thirteen 
original colonies and the history of the great Mississippi Valley in that case 
can only be conjectured. But by extending the limits of the new republic to 
the great Father of Waters the way was opened for the acquisition of territory 
west of that river, and in time Nebraska became one of the sovereign states of 
the American Union. 






When Christopher Columbus made his first voyage to the Western Hemi- 
sphere in 1492, he beheved that he had reached the goal of his long cherished 
ambitions, and that the country where he landed was the eastern shore of Asia. 
The first European explorers in America, entertaining a similar belief, thought 
the country was Indian and gave to the race of copper colored people they found 
there the name of Indians. Subsequent explorations established the fact that the 
land discovered by Columbus was really a continent hitherto unknown to 
the civilized nations of the world, but the name given to the natives still remains. 
The North American Indians are divided into several groups or families, each 
of which is distinguished by certain physical and linguistic characteristics. At 
the close of the fifteenth century the various leading groups were distributed 
over the continent as follows : 

In the far North were the Eskimo, a tribe that never played any conspicuous 
part in history. They still inhabit the country in the vicinity of the Arctic Circle, 
where some of them are occasionally employed as giiides to polar expeditions. 

The great .\lgonquian family, the largest and most powerful of all the 
Indian nations or groups, occupied a large triangle, roughly bounded by the 
Atlantic Coast from Labrador to Cape Hatteras and lines drawn from those two 
points to the western end of Lake Superior. In the center of the Algonquian 
country — along the shores of Lake Ontario and the upper water of the St. Law- 
rence River — was the home of the Iroquoian tribes, viz : The Oneida, Onon- 
daga, Mohawk, Cayuga and Seneca. To the early colonists these tribes became 
known as the "Five Nations.'' Some years later the Tuscarora tribe w-as added 
to the confederacy, which then took the name of the "Six Nations." 

South of the Algonquian triangle, extending from the ^iississippi River to 
the .'\tlantic Coast, the country was inhabited by the ^Muskhogean family, the 
principal tribes of which were the Creek, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Cherokee. 
The people of this group were among the most intelligent, as well as the most 
warlike and aggressive, of the North American Indians. 

In the great Northwest, about the sources of the Mississippi River and 
extending westward to the Missouri, lay the domain of the Siouan family, 



which was composed of a numl)er of tribes, closely resembling each other in 
appearance and dialect, and noted for their physical prowess and warlike 

South and west of the Siouan country the great plains and the foothills of 
the Rocky Mountians were inhabited by the bold, vindictive Comanche, Apache, 
Cheyenne, Arapaho and other tribes, and still farther south, in what are now 
the states of Arkansas and Louisiana, was the Caddoan group. Scattered over 
other parts of the country were a number of minor tribes which claimed kinship 
with none of the great families. These tribes were generally inferior in num- 
bers, often nomadic in their habits, and consequently are of little historic 

Volumes have been written on the North American Lidian — his legends, 
traditions and customs — and the subject has not yet been exhausted. In a 
work of this nature it is not the design to give an extended account of the entire 
Indian race, but to notice only those tribes whose history is intimately connected 
with the territory forming the present State of Nebraska, and especially the 
region about Omaha. These tribes were the Pawnee. Ponca, Otoe and Omaha. 


Some early writers took the position that the Pawnee were the descendants 
of the ancient Aztec nation, but the best authorities agree that the tribe belones 
to the Caddoan family and that the original habitat was probably on the Red 
River of Louisiana. In the Caddoan migration toward the northeast the Pawnee 
became separated from the main body and established themselves in the Valley 
of the Platte, where they were found by the Siouan tribes at a very early date. 
They called themselves Cha-hik-sic-ha-hiks or "men of men." Fletcher thinks 
the name Pawnee is derived from Parika (a horn), owing to the custom of 
these Indians of stiffening the scalplock with paint and grease until it resembled 
a horn. The Indian called "the Turk," mentioned in connection with the expe- 
dition of Coronado, is believed by some ethnologists to have been a Pawnee. 

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, their territory in the Platte 
Valley being remote from the French and Spanish settlements and trading posts, 
the Pawnee escaped the influences that proved so fatal to other tribes. At the 
beginning of the nineteenth century their domain lay between the Niobrara 
River on the north and the Prairie Dog Creek on the south, extending from the 
country of the Omaha on the east to that of the Cheyenne and Arapaho on 
the west. After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, they came in close touch with the 
trading posts of the fur companies, and even the trading center at St. Louis. 

The religious ceremonies of the Pawnee dealt with the wind, the thunder, 
other cosmic forces and the heavenly bodies. Their dominating deity was "Ti- 
rawa," w-hom they addressed as "father." A. C. Fletcher, of the United States 
Bureau of Ethnology, says: "Through the sacred and symbolic articles of the 
shrines and their rituals and ceremonies, a medium of communication was be- 
lieved to be opened up between the people and the supernatural powers, by which 
food, long life and prosperity were obtained. The mythology of the Pawnee is 
remarkably rich in symbolism and poetic fancy, and their religious system is 
elaborate and cogent. The secret societies, of which there were several in each 


tribe, were connected with the belief in supernatural animals. The functions of 
these societies were to call the game, heal diseases, and to give occult powers. 
Their rites were elaborate and their ceremonies dramatic." 

The first treaty between the United States and the Pawnee Indians was 
concluded in June, 1818, and was merely one of peace and friendship. On 
October 9, 1833, at the Grand Pawnee Village, was negotiated a treaty, by which 
the tribe ceded to the United States all their lands south of the Platte River. 
By the Treaty of Fort Childs, August 6, 1S48, the tribe sold to the United States 
a strip sixty miles wide on the north side of the Platte, in the vicinity of 
Grand Island. A grand council was held with the Pawnee at Table Creek, 
Nebraska, September 24, 1857, which resulted in a treaty by which the tribe 
ceded to the United States all their lands in Nebraska, except a reservation 
fifteen by thirty miles in extent on the Loup River. They continued to occupy 
this reservation until 1876*. when it was sold to the Government and the tribe 
removed to Oklahoma, then part of the Indian Territory. 

Early in the seventeenth century Iberville estimated the number of Pawnee 
Indians at 500 families. At the time of the treaty of October 9, 1833, the 
United States commissioners reported that the tribe numbered 10,000 people. 
Fire water and new diseases that came with their introduction to the white man's 
civilization gradually decimated their ranks until in 191 2 there were only about 
five hundred full blooded Pawnee drawing their annuities from the Government. 


The Ponca was one of the five tribes constituting the so-called Dhegiha group 
of the Siouan family, the other four being the Kansa, Osage, Omaha and Quapaw. 
They spoke practically the same language as the Omaha and the two tribes were 
probably originally one people. A Ponca tradition says their home was at first 
on the Red River of the North, from which they were driven by stronger tribes 
and they became associated with the Omaha, whose migrations they followed 
through Iowa and Minnesota until the ^Missouri River was reached. There 
the two tribes separated, the Ponca taking up their abode in the vicinity of the 
Black Hills. Many years later they again joined their former allies and settled 
near the mouth of the Niobrara River. Here another separation occurred, the 
Omaha leaving the Ponca in possession of the country at the mouth of the 
Niobrara and migrating to Bow Creek. 

According to Morgan the tribe was divided into eight clans or gentes as 
follows: Wa-sa-be (Black Bear), Dea-ghe-ta (Many People), Nak-o-poz-na 
(Elk), Moh-kuh (Skunk), Wa-sha-ba (Buffalo), Waz-haz-ha (Snake), Noh-ga 
(Medicine), Wah-ga (Jerked Meat). 

The first white men who came to the Missouri \'alley found the Ponca living 
in what is now Dixon County, Nebraska. Catlin visited them there in 1832 and 
found their village to consist of "seventy-five or eighty lodges made of buflfalo 
skins in the form of tents." He estimated their total strength at "four or five 
hundred." At that time the chief of the tribe was Shoo-de-ga-chas, or Big 
Smoke. Concerning him Catlin says : "He is a noble specimen of native dignity 
and philosophy. I conversed much with him, and from his dignified manners. 


as well as the soundness of his reasoning, I became fully convinced that he 
deserved to be sachem of a more numerous and prosperous tribe." 

The Ponca were never a strong tribe numerically. In 1841 Dorsey says they 
numbered but 750, and it is probable that they never afterward exceeded that 
number. In 1858 they sold their lands at the mouth of the Niobrara to the Gov- 
ernment and went on a reservation near the Yankton band of Sioux Indians in 
what is now South Dakota. They could not live amicably with their Sioux 
neighbors and in 1865 the Government gave them a new reservation at the 
mouth of the Niobrara. Here they lived for about twelve years, when they gave 
up their reservation and were removed to the Indian Territory. In his report 
for 1878 the commissioner of Indian affairs says: "The Ponca are good Indians 
and in mental endowment, moral character, physical strength and cleanliness 
superior to any I have met." 


In connection with the Ponca Indians occurred one of the most interesting 
cases in the legal annals of Nebraska. After their removal to the Indian Ter- 
ritory in 1877 they suffered hardships and endured privations that decided some 
of them to return to their old reservation at the mouth of the Niobrara River. 
Accordingly, in the early part of the winter of 1878-79, a party of twenty-nine 
men, women and children, under the leadership of Chief Standing Bear, started 
for their old home. Upon reaching the Omaha reservation they were warmly 
welcomed and given food and shelter, as well as land to cultivate upon the 
arrival of spring. This was considered a violation of the Government policy 
that all Indians must remain upon their own reservation, and orders were sent 
from Washington to Brig.-Gen. George Crook, then in command at Fort Omaha, 
to return the Ponca party to the Indian Territory. On March 23, 1879, ^ 
detachment of troops connnanded by Lieutenant Carpenter went to the Omaha 
reservation, arrested Standing Bear and his followers and took them to Fort 
Omaha, intending to return them to the Indian Territory. 

T. H. Tibbies, then on the editorial staff of the Omaha Herald, went out to 
the fort, where he interviewed Standing Bear and others of the party, and then 
published a full account of the affair in the Herald. The stoiy awakened the 
sympathies of several of the leading ministers of Omaha, notably Rev. W. J. 
Harsha, of the Presbyterian Church; Rev. A. F. Sherill, pastor of the Congre- 
gational Church; Rev. E. FI. E. Jameson, of the Baptist Church, and Rev. H. D. 
Fisher, the ]\Iethodist Episcopal pastor. These gentlemen joined with Mr. Tib- 
bies in espousing the cause of the Indians. A. J. Poppleton and J. L. Webster, 
two of the leading lawyers of Omaha, volunteered their services and the follow- 
ing petition for a writ of habeas corpus was filed in the United States District 
Court : 

"In the District Court of the L^nited States 

"For the District of Nebraska: 

"Ma-chu-nah-sha ( Standing Bear) vs. George Crook, a brigadier-general 
of the United States and commanding the Dei»rtment of the Platte. 

"The petition of Ma-chu-nah-sha (then follow the names of the twenty-nine 
Indians under arrest), who respectfully show unto your Honor that each and 


all of them are prisoners, unlawfully imprisoned, detained, confined and in 
custody, and are restrained of their liberty, under and by color of the alleged 
authority of the United States, by George Crook, a brigadier-general of the 
United States and commanding the Department of the Platte, and are so 
imprisoned, detained, confined and in custody, and restrained of their liberty, 
by said George Crook, at Fort Omaha, on a military reser\'ation under the sole 
and exclusive jurisdiction of the United States, and located within the territory 
of the District of Nebraska. 

"That said imprisonment, detention, confinement and restraint by said George 
Crook, as aforesaid, are and were done by him, under and by virtue of some 
order or direction of the United States, or some department thereof, and which 
order or direction is not more particularly known to these complainants, whereby 
they are unable more particularly to set the same forth, save that the com- 
plainants are informed and believe that said order or direction is to the eflrect 
that these complainants be taken to the Indian Territory as prisoners. 

"These complainants further represent that they are Indians of the nation- 
ality of the Ponca tribe of Indians, and that for a considerable time before and 
at the time of their arrest and imprisonment, as herein more fully set forth, 
they were separted from the Ponca tribe of Indians, and that so many of the 
said Ponca tribe of Indians as maintain their tribal relations are located in the 
Indian Territory. 

"That your complainants at the time of their arrest and imprisonment were 
lawfully and peacefully residing on the Omaha Reservation, a tract of land set 
apart by the United States to the Omaha tribe of Indians, and within the terri- 
tory of the District of Nebraska, and were so residing there by the wish and 
consent of the said Omaha tribe of Indians, on lands set apart to your com- 
plainants by said Omaha tribe of Indians. 

"That your complainants have made great advancement in civilization, and 
at the time of the arrest of your complainants some of them were actually engaged 
in agriculture, and others were making arrangements for immediate agricultural 
labors, and were supporting themselves by their own labors, and not one of these 
complainants was receiving or asking support of the Government of the United 

"That your complainants were not violating, and were not guilty of any 
violation of any law of the United States for which said arrest and imprison- 
ment were made. 

"That, while your complainants were so peacefully and lawfully residing on 
said Omaha Reservation, as aforesaid, they were each^nd all unlawfully impris- 
oned, detained, confined and restrained of their liberty, by said George Crook, 
as such brigadier-general, commanding the Department of the Platte, and as 
such prisoners were transported from their said residence at the Omaha Reserva- 
tion to Fort Omaha, where they are now unlawfully imprisoned, detained, con- 
fined and restrained of their liberty, by said George Crook, as aforesaid. 

"Wherefore, these complainants say that their imprisonment and detention 
are wholly illegal, and they demand that the writ of habeas corpus be granted, 
directed to the said George Crook, brigadier-general of the United States, com- 
manding the Department of the Platte, commanding him to have the bodies of 
(here follow the names of the chief and twenty-nine complainants), before 


your Honor, at the time and place therein to be specified, to do and receive what 
shall then and there be considered by your Honor concerning them, together 
with the time and cause of their detention, and that the complainants may there 
be restored to their liberty." 

Judge E. S. Dundy, of the United States District Court, granted the petition 
:ind summoned General Crook to appear and show cause why the Indians should 
not be released from custody. The cause came on for hearing on April 30, 1879, 
Poppleton and Webster appearing for the Indians and United States District 
Attorney G. M. Lambertson representing General Crook. Two days were spent 
in hearing evidence and the argument of the attorneys, when Judge Dundy 
handed down his decision, the principal points of which were as follows : 

I — The Indian is a person within the meaning of the law, and therefore has 
the right to sue out a writ of habeas corpus. 

2 — That General Crook had custody of the relators under color of authority 
of the United States and in violation of the laws thereof. 

3 — That no lawful authority existed for the removal by force of any of the 
relators to the Indian Territory. 

4 — That Indians possess the inherent right of expatriation. 

5 — The relators must be discharged from custody, and it was so ordered by 
the court. 

The case was watched with considerable interest by attorneys all over the 
country, because, no matter which way the court decided, it would establish a 
precedent in the nation's legal history. The court's decision, releasing Standing 
Bear and his band from custody, went into effect on Monday, May 19, 1879, 
and the Poncas returned to the Omaha Reservation. On Sunday before his 
departure. Standing Bear, accompanied by his interpreter, went to the city to 
say good-bye to his lawyers. He first went to the residence of Mr. Webster, 
whom he addressed as follows : 

"You and I are here. Our skins are of a difl'erent color, but God made us 
both. A little while ago, when I was young, I was wild. I knew nothing of the 
ways of the white people. I see you have nice houses here. I look at these beau- 
tiful rooms. I would like to have a house too, and it may be after a while I can 
get one, but not so nice a house as this. That is what I want to do. 

"For a great many years — a hundred years or more — the white men have 
been driving us out. They are shrewd, sharp and know how to cheat ; but since 
I have been here I have found them different. They have all treated me kindly. 
I am very thankful for it. Hitherto, when we have been wronged, we vi'ent to 
war to assert our rights aijd a\enge our wrongs. We took the tomahawk. We 
had no law to punish those who did wrong; so we took our tomahawks and went 
to kill. If they had gvms and could kill us first, it was the fate of war. 

"But you have found a better way. You have gone into court for us, and I 
find our wrongs can be righted there. Now I have no more use for the toma- 
hawk. I want to lay it down forever." 

Here, suiting his action to his words, he stooped down and laid his tomahawk 
at his feet. Then, drawing himself up to his full height, he folded his arms 
across his chest in all his native dignity and repeated : 

"I lay it down ; I have no more use for it ; I have found a better way." 

He then picke<l up the tomahawk, placed it in ^Ir. Webster's hands, and 


concluded his speech as follows : "I present it to you as a token of my gratitude. 
] want you to keep it in remembrance of this great victory which you have gained. 
I have no further use for it. I can now seek the w'ays of peace." 

After a brief but appropriate response by Mr. Webster, the old chief went 
to Mr. Poppleton's rooms. To Mr. Poppleton he said: "I believe I told you in 
the court room that God made me and that I was a man. For many years we 
have been chased about as a dog chases a wild beast. God sent you to hel]> me. 
1 thank you for what you have done. I want to get my land back. That is what 
1 long for all the time. I wish to live there and be buried with my fathers. 

"When you were speaking in the. court room, of course I could not under- 
stand, but I could see that you were trying very hard to release me and my 
people. I think you are doing for me and my people something that never has 
been done before. If I had to pay you for it, 1 could never get enough to do it. 
T have here a relic which has come down to my people through a great many 
generations. I do not know how old it is ; it may be two or three hundred years 
old. I desire to present it to you for what you have done for me." 

The relic presented to Mr. Poppleton was a sort of head dress, rescmliling 
in some respects a wig and in others a war bonnet. It was worn by the head 
chief in the tribal council when weighty matters were under consideration. 
Relic collectors had re])eatedly tried to buy it from Standing l^ear, but in vain. 
He then presented it to Mr. Poppleton as a token of his gratitude in regaining 
his liberty. 

But perhaps the most touching incident in connection with this whole affair 
was the old chief's parting with J\lr. Tibbies. The day before the Indians left 
(he fort to return to the Omaha Reservation, the editor went out to bid Standing 
Bear good-bye. After a brief conversation, the chief announced that he had 
something to say that he did not want others to hear. Mr. Tilibles, Standing 
Bear and the interpreter therefore walked to the top of a little hill where the 
chief said : 

"When I w'as brought here a prisoner my heart was broken. I was in 
despair. I had no friend in all the big world. Then you came. I told you the 
story of my wrongs. From that time until now you have not ceased to work for 
me. Sometimes, in the long days while I have been here a prisoner, I have come 
out here and stood on this hill and looked toward the city. I thovight there is 
one man there who is writing or speaking for me and my people. I remember 
the dark day when you first came to speak to lue. I know if it had not been for 
what you have done for me I would now be a prisoner in the Indian Territory, 
and many of these who are with me would be in their graves. It is only the 
kind treatment they have received from the soldiers, and the medicine the army 
doctor has given them, which has saved their lives. I owe all this to you. I 
can never repay you for it. 

"I have traveled around a good deal, and have noticed that there are many 
changes in this w'orld. You have a good house to live in. A little while ago I 
had a house and land and stock. Now I have nothing. It may be that some 
time you may have trouble. You might lose your house. If you ever want a 
home come to me or mv tribe. You shall never want as long as w-e have any- 
thing. All the tribe in the Indian Territory will soon know what you have done. 


While there is one Ponca alive you will never be without a friend. Mr. Popple- 
ton and Mr. Webster are my friends. You are my brother." 

The trio then returned to the chief's lodge, where he presented Mr. Tibbies 
with a pair of beautiful buckskin leggings— all he had to give, but they expressed 
a heart's gratitude as fully as though the gift had been a coronet studded with 
costly gems. 


This was one of the three tribes forming the Tciwere group of the Siouan 
family. The other two tribes of the group were the Iowa and Missouri. One 
of the tribal traditions says the tribes forming the Tciwere group were separated 
from the Winnebago at a very early date, while occupying the country around 
Green Bay, Wis. The French called these Indians the Otontanes and some early 
writers claim that they and the Missouri originally formed one tribe. Their his- 
tory, however, shows them to have been most intimately associated with the 
Iowa. When Le Sueur made his voyage up the Mississippi in 1700 he found 
the Otoe living in the southern part of the present State of Minnesota, though 
Marquette's map of 1673 places them on the upper waters of the River Des 
Moines, not far from the site of the present City of Fort Dodge. At the begin- 
ning of the nineteenth century they lived in mud huts on the south side of the 
Platte River, though they claimed the country as far north as Omaha. 

The Otoe never was an important tribe and their history during their various 
migrations is chiefly one of struggles to defend themselves against more power- 
ful tribes, though Lewis and Clark say they were once a powerful nation, which 
had been reduced in 1805 to about five hundred people. Catlin. who visited them 
in 1832, estimated their number at twelve hundred. On June 24, 1817, the Otoe 
and Missouri entered into a treaty of peace with the white men and the same 
tribes were included in several treaties of cession. In 1882 the two tribes were 
removed to the Indian Territory and placed under the same agency as the Ponca 
Indians. The number of the Otoe Indians at that time was about four hundred. 
They have been described as good natured, but lazy and shiftless. 


Last, but not least in importance of the four tribes that inhabited the country 
about Omaha at the beginning of the nineteenth century, were the Omaha, who 
with the Kansa, Osage, Ponca and Ouapaw constituted the Dhegiha group of 
the great Siouan family. Hale and Dorsey, of the United States Bureau of 
Ethnology, after studying the languages and traditions of the Dhegiha tribes, 
came to the conclusion that their earliest habitat was on the Wabash and Ohio 
rivers. About the year 1500 the Ouapaw left the group of five tribes, went 
down the Ohio to the mouth of that stream and thence down the Mississippi, 
finding a new abode in what is now the Slate of Arkansas. The Osage a few 
years later took up their abode on the stream that bears their name, the Kansa 
went up the west side of the 3.Tissouri, while the Omaha and Ponca crossed over 
to the east side of that river and dwelt for some time in Iowa, their hunting 
grounds extending as far north as the present Town of Pipestone, Minn. They 


were driven back by some of the Dakota tribes to the mouth of the Niobrara 
River, where about 1650 the Ponca separated from the Omaha and went to the 
region of the Black Hills in the western part of South Dakota. 

The Omaha are first mentioned by Father Marquette, who heard of them 
in his voyage down the Mississippi in 1673, and in his journal he speaks of them 
as the "Maha Indians." On the map of his expedition the location of the tribe 
is shown with tolerable accuracy — on Bow Creek, Neb. In 1761 Jeffreys located 
the Omaha on the east side of the Missouri River, beyond the Iowa tribe and 
immediately above the Big Sioux River. Jonathan Carver, who visited the North- 
west in 1766, says the Omaha and Sioux were then on friendly terms, as he found 
the two tribes living amicably together on the Minnesota River. 

At the beginning of the nineteenth century their favorite dwelling place was 
near Omadi, in what is now Dakota County, Nebraska. When Lewis and Clark 
went up the Missouri River in 1804 they found the principal portion of the tribe 
on the south, or west, side of the Alissouri River, opposite Sioux City. From 
(heir chiefs Lewis and Clark learned that some three or four years earlier the 
tribe had been living at a point farther up the river, where they were visited by 
smallpox, which greatly reduced their number and caused their removal. Then, 
as in later years, they were almost constantly at war with the Sioux. In 1845 
they were living on the west side of the Missouri, a few miles ;ihove the mouth 
of the Platte. 

According to a tribal tradition the name Omaha originated in the following 
manner: Two tribes met on the Missouri River and engaged in a battle. All 
on one side were killed except one warrior, who was thrown into the river. As 
his enemies stood upon the bank to watch his drowning struggles he arose sud- 
denly to the surface, threw one arm above his head, and exclaimed "O-nia-ha !" 
The word had never been heard before, but as the supposedly drowning Indian, 
immediately after uttering it, swam to the opposite shore and made his escape, 
the victorious tribe took it to mean that even in the face of the gravest difficul- 
ties one should not give up and adopted the strange word as the name of the 
tribe. After the Kansa and the Osage separated from the Dhegiha group and 
the Omaha and Ponca went up the Missouri, the name has been interpreted as 
"those who go against the current," or the "up river jjeople." 


The Omaha men were divided into three classes. I. Ni-ka-ga-hi. or chiefs, 
who possessed all the executive, legislative and judicial powers of the tribe. 

2. Wa-na-ce, the braves or warriors, who ser\'ed as policemen, or as servants and 
messengers of the chiefs, and who had almost unlimited authority during a 
buffalo hunt, particularly at the time of surrounding the herd. 3. Cen-u-jin-ga, 
the young men who had not yet distinguished themselves in war, the chase, or 
the council. These might be called the "common people." 

The tribe was divided into two "half-tribes" called the Han-ga-ce-nu and 
the Ic-ta-san-da, each of which was divided into five clans or gentes. The 
gentes of the Han-ga-ce-nu were: i. We-jin-cte (elk), 2. Inke-sabe (buffalo), 

3. Hanga (ancestral), 4. Ca-ta-da (meaning uncertain), 5. Kan-ze (wind 
people). Those of the Ic-ta-san-da were: i. Ma-cin-ka-gaxe (earth lodge 


makers), 2. Te-sin-de (buffalo people), 3. Ta-da (deer people), 4. Ing-ce-ji-de 
(eat no buffalo calf), 5. Ic-ta-san-da (thunder or reptile people). In their 
migrations the camp was always formed in a circle, each gens taking its proper 
place, the main entrance to the circle being guarded by the Wejincte or elk gens 
of the Hangacenu on the right, and the Ictasanda gens on the left, the others 
occupying position in the order named above. Inside the circle were the three 
sacred tents, the war tent near the Wejincte and those of agriculture and the 
buffalo hunt in front of the Hanga. The sacred tents of the Omaha and all the 
objects kept in them are now in the Peabody iMuseum of Archeology and Eth- 
nology at Cambridge, IMass. 

In the early history of the tribe there were two old men called Wa-kan-man- 
cin and Te-han-man-cin, who were the real governors of the half-tribes. They 
were exceedingly wise and were reverenced almost as deities, being given valua- 
ble presents by the people and were the first custodians of the sacred tents. 
Some ethnologists have expressed a belief that the two old men were mysterious 
medicine men of some sort, but their history is shrouded in tradition and 


An-ba-he-be. the tribal historian, tells the story of the sacred pipes of the 
Omaha as follows : 

"The old men made seven pipes and carried them round the tril)al circle. 
They first reached Wejincte, who .sat there as a male elk and was frightful to 
behold, so the old men did not give him a pipe. Passing on to Inke-sabe, they . 
gave the first pipe to the head of that gens. Next ihey came to Hanga, to whom 
they handed a firebrand, saying, 'Do thou keep the firebrand,' that is, 'You are 
to thrust it into the pipe bowls." Therefore it is the duty of Hanga to light the 
pipes for the chiefs. 

"When they reached the bear people (a subgens of the Catada) they feared 
ihem because they sat there with the sacred bag of black bear skin, so they did 
not give them a pipe. The blackbird people (another subgens) received no pipe 
because they sat with the sacred bag of bird skins and feathers. And the old 
man feared the turtle people (a third subgens of the Catada). who had made a 
big turtle on the ground, so they passed them by. But when they saw the eagle 
people (the fourth subgens), because they did not fear them, they gave them the 
second pipe." 

There is another tradition that the eagle people did not receive a pipe at first, 
and when thev found themselves slighted started oft' in anger, threatening to 
leave the tribal circle. The old men ran after them, oft'ered them a bladder filled 
with tobacco and a buffalo skull, saying, "Keep this skull as a sacred thing," but 
the eagle people refused to be thus appeased and the old men then gave them a 
pipe to purchase their allegiance. But to continue the story of Anbahebe: 

"Next the old men came to the Kanze, part of whom were good and part 
were bad. To the good ones they gave a pipe. The Macinkagaxe people were 
the next gens. They, too, were divided, being half bad. The bad ones had some 
stones, as well as their hair, painted orange red. They wore plumes in their 


liair and a branch of cedar around their heads, and were awful to behold. So 
the old men passed on to the good ones, to whom they gave the fourth pipe. 

"They then reached the Tesinde, half of whom made sacred a buffalo and 
are known as 'those who eat not the lowest rib." Half of these were good and 
they received the fifth pipe. 

"All of the Tada (Anbahebe's own gens) were good, so the deer people 
obtained the sixth pipe. But the Ingcejide took one whole side of a buffalo and 
stuck it up, leaving the red body but partially buried in the ground, after making 
a tent of the skin. They who carried the pipes around were afraid of them, so 
they did not give them one. 

"Last of all they came to the Ictasanda. These people were disobedient, 
destitute of food, and averse to staying long in one place. As the men who had 
the pipes wished to stop this they gave the seventh pipe to the fourth subgens 
of the Ictasanda and since then the members of this gens have behaved 


The primitive dwellings of the Omaha were chiefly lodges of earth, though 
some lived in tents or wigwams of skins, and a few formed for themselves huts 
of bark or mats. Their earth lodges, similar to those of the Mandan Indians, 
from whom it is supposed the Omaha learned the art of building them, were 
intended mainlv for summer use, when they were not hunting. The bark huts 
were usually oval or elliptical in shape and often were provided with two fire- 
places and two smoke holes. During the hunting season tents of buffalo skin 
were used, because at such times the tribe was constantly changing position to 
keep in touch with the game, and skin tents were more easily removed. 

Prior to the beginning of the nineteenth century, and probably for a few 
years later, the potterv' was made by the Omaha, but the art seems to have been 
forgotten. When the first white men came in contact with these Indians they 
possessed a few vessels of clay, of rude construction, and some spoons made of 
horn. Mortars were made by burning a depression in a block of hard wood, 
and in these mortars grain was reduced to a coarse meal by pounding and rubbing 
with a smooth stone. 

A man could not marry a woman of his own gens. It is said that Two Crows, 
a Hanga chief, wanted to marrv- a Tesinde woman, but was not permitted to do 
so because his mother had belonged to that gens. He therefore took a wife from 
among the Wejincte women. Polygamy w-as practiced to some extent, but no 
man, not even the greatest chief, was permitted to have more than three wives. 
A man was always compelled to consult his first wife before takine a second and 
if she objected he could not marry during her lifetime. If she consented, the 
second wife must be either her sister, her aunt or her niece. In the event of a 
second, or even a third marriage, the first wife was never deposed, but always 
remained in control of the household affairs. 

Their greatest feast was one adopted from the Mandan tribe. If the last 
guest at this feast was tardy he was given several pounds of food to eat as a 
penalty for his tardiness. If he could not eat the entire quantity it was necessary 
for him to give a present or bribe to some one outside of his own gens to help 


him. After the banquet the pipe was started on its rounds, and the first man 
took a puff and held it to the second one in the circle. If the second man touched 
the pipe before taking his puft" every one present gave the "scalp yell" and the 
offender was required to make a present to some one of the guests not of his 
own gens. Each man, after taking a putt at the pipe held by another, could take 
the pipe in hi.s hand and hold it for the next one, but woe to the unfortunate 
brave who happened to touch it before he took his puff. No one was allowed to 
get angry on such occasions, under penalty of being expelled from the feast. 
After the banquet and the smoke the festivities closed with a dance, in which 
each man wore upon his arms rattles made of deers' hoofs. This Mandan cere- 
mony and dance was observed after the death of Logan Fontenelle. 

The Omaha had several dancing societies. One of their most noted dances 
was called the Calumet, wliich was invented for the adopted son of a celebrated 


Little is known of the Omaha chiefs prior to the year 1800, but tradition 
says it was the custom to select two principal chiefs from the Hangacenu half- 
tribe, though there was no law that prevented their selection from some other 
clan. Can-ge-ska (White Horse), was a member of the Macinkagaxe gens. He 
was the grandfather of Wa-jin-ga-sabe (Blackbird), who was the first chief of 
which the white man's history gives any definite account. 

Blackbird, a member of the Wejincte gens, was the principal chief during 
the closing years of the eighteenth century. He was no doubt one of the great- 
est chiefs the Omaha ever had to rule over them, and his name is still revered 
l)y them. In 1790 Baron Carondelet, then Spanish governor of Louisiana, pre- 
sented Blackbird with the curious document in the form of a parchment, on which 
are pen and ink drawings of the arms of Spain, trophies of war, an Indian and 
a white man shaking hands, and the text of the "diploma" sets forth in eloquent 
Spanish phrase the proofs of fidelity shown by the great chief to the Spanish 
Government, and that a medal was then bestowed on him by the Spanish king. 
This diploma is now in the collections of the Nebraska Historical Society. 

Irving tells of a foray made by the Ponca into the land of the Omaha, when 
they carried off a number of women and a herd of horses. Blackbird collected 
his warriors and declared that he would "eat up the Ponca." that expression 
being used as a threat of extermination. The Ponca fought from behind earth- 
works, but Blackbird assaulted with such vigor that for a time it looked as though 
he would make good his declaration. In this dire strait the Ponca chief dressed 
his daughter in all her finery and sent her out with a calumet as a sort of flag 
of truce to appeal to Blackbird to stop the fight. The sight of the beautiful 
damsel touched Blackbird. He took the calumet from her hand and ordered 
his warriors to desist from further hostilities. Says Irving: 

"This beautiful Ponca maiden in all probability was the favorite wife, whose 
fate makes so tragic an incident in the story of Blackbird. Her youth and beauty 
had gained an absolute sway over his rugged heart so that he distinguished her 
above all his other wives. The habitual gratification of his vindictive impulses, 
however, had taken away from him all mastery over his passions and rendered 


him liable to the most furious transports of rage. In one of these his beautiful 
wife had the misfortune to offend him, when, suddenly drawing his knife, he 
laid her dead at his feet with a single blow. 

"In an instant his frenzy was at an end. He gazed for a time in mute 
bewilderment tipon his victim; then, drawing his buffalo robe over his head, he 
sat down beside the lifeless body and remained brooding over his crime and his 
loss. Three days elapsed, yet the chief continued silent and motionless, tasting- 
no food and apparently sleepless. It was apprehended that he intended to starve 
himself to death. His people approached him in trembling awe and entreated 
him to uncover his face and be comforted, but he remained unmoved. At length 
one of his warriors brought a little child and, laying it on the ground, placed the 
foot of the chief upon its neck. The heart of the gloomy savage was touched 
by this appeal. Throwing aside his robe, he made a harangue upon what he had 
done, and from that time forward seemed to have thrown the load of grief and 
remorse from his mind. It was also noticed that he maintained a better control 
of his temper." 

There is a story to the effect that Hlackbird's undisputed authority and abso- 
lute sway over the people of his tribe were acquired and maintained through his 
mysterious power to foretell the death of some one, especially one who hap- 
pened to oppose some of his schemes. Like all uncivilized peoples, the Indian 
was ignorant and superstitious. After Blackbird had predicted the time and 
manner of the death of some of his enemies, others of the tribe were careful not 
to offend him and came to regard his slightest wish as law. It is said that some 
fur trader, who was accustomed to visit Blackbird at his village on the Missouri 
River, and who was anxious to hold the chief's trade, made him acquainted with 
the properties of arsenic as a means of getting rid of those who stood in his way, 
and agreed to keep him supplied with the drug. Under such circumstances it 
was not a difficult matter for Blackbird to predict the death of any person, for 
it was only necessary to find some way to administer the arsenic and the pre- 
diction was fulfilled. 

In a few instances, just to show that his predictions were not all based upon 
malice, Blackbird prophesied the death of some of his friends, and the result 
was the same. The individual died at the time and in the manner predicted. 
His people could see the effect of his prophecies, though of course they knew 
nothing of the manner in which the deaths were brought about, and even after 
Blackbird grew old and corpulent, so that he could hardly move about without 
assistance, they still stood in mortal fear of his supernatural power. One whose 
death he predicted was the Chief Little Bow, who failed to get enough arsenic, 
and after he recovered withdrew with his band, fearing that IBlackbird would 
again prophesy and might be successful. After Blackbird's death Little Bow's 
story became known. Catlin heard this storj' some years after Blackbird's death, 
when he visited the Omaha village on the Missouri. Says he : 

"This story may be true and it may not. I cannot contradict it and I am sure 
the world will forgive me if I say I cannot believe it. It is said to have been 
told by the fur traders, and although I have not always the highest confidence in 
their justice to the Indian, yet I cannot, for the honor of my own species, believe 
them to be so depraved and wicked, nor so weak as to reveal such iniquities of 


this chief, if they were true, which must directly impHcate themselves as acces- 
sories to his most wilful and unprovoked murders." 

About the beginning of the nineteenth century the Omaha were attacked by 
a smallpox epidemic of unusual virulence and Blackbird fell a victim to the 
scourge. About eighty miles above Omaha, on the west side of the Missouri 
River, is a bluff which rises above those on either side of it. Here Blackbird, 
while in the heyday of his manhood, was wont to stand and look up and down 
the river for the boats of the white traders. When he realized that death was 
near he requested his tribesmen to bury him on this eminence, so that he could 
still see the boats of his white friends. The Omaha village was then some sixty 
miles farther up the river, but as soon as he was dead his friends made prepara- 
tions to carry out his request. On the summit of this bluff Blackbird was placed 
astride his favorite white horse, with his bow in his hand, a quiver full of 
arrows, his pipe, medicine bag and a supply of pemmican and tobacco to supply 
him on his journey to the happy hunting grounds. Then every warrior present 
dipped his hand in red paint and left its imprint upon the sides of the horse. 
Turf was then placed around the feet and legs of the horse and the wall was 
slowly built up until the last plume of the mighty chief was covered. A mound 
of considerable size was then built around the turf, on the top of the mound was 
placed a staff from which hung the banner of the departed chief, after which 
the procession mournfully wended its way back to the village. For years after- 
ward the Indians would make pilgrimages to the bluff and place food and drink 
at the foot of the mound for the great warrior on his long journey. 

In 1832 Catlin visited the grave of Blackbird and discovered a hole near the 
foot of the mound, the burrow of some animal. Enlarging this hole he soon 
found some bones of the horse and a further search revealed the skull of the 
chief, which Catlin took away with him. _ It is now in the National Museum at 
Washington, D. C. 

Blackbird's successor was Alu-shin-ga (Big Rabbit), who lived but a short 
time. Then came Ong-pa-ton-ga (Big Elk), a good chief who kept his tribe 
on friendly terms with the whites until his death about 1845. He was buried at 
Bellevue. The next chief was Big Elk's son, who bore his father's name. 
Although the hereditary chief, he possessed none of the qualifications of a leader 
and was soon displaced by Es-ta-ma-zha (Iron Eye), the adopted son of Big 
Elk the first, who before his death expressed a wish that his adopted son might 
be made the chief of the tribe. Iron Eye was really the son of a Frenchman 
and a Ponca woman. He was called Joseph La Flesche by the white traders. 

One of the last and greatest chiefs of the Omaha was Logan Fontenelle. His 
father, Lucien Fontenelle was born at New Orleans about 1800, of parents who 
belonged to the French nobility. .'Kt the age of sixteen years he entered the 
employ of the American Fur Company, but later was transferred to the Missouri 
Fur Company, and in time became one of the owners of the trading post at 
Bellevue. He married an Omaha woman and Logan was one of the sons of this 

Logan Fontenelle was born on May 6, 1825, at old Fort Atkinson, a few 
miles up the Missouri River from where the City of Omaha is now situated. 
He was educated at St. Louis, but upon the death of his father in 1840 he 
returned to Bellevue, where he was made Lhiited States interpreter. In this 


capacity he became popular with his mother's people and in September, 1853, ho 
was chosen chief of the tribe, although at that time he was but twenty-eight 
years of age. His Indian name was Shon-ga-ska. In the negotiation of the 
treaty of March 16, 1854, he played an important part and his name appears 
at the head of the list of chiefs who signed the treaty. He was killed by a war 
party of Sioux in June, 1855, and was buried by the side of his father at Bellevue. 
At the time of his death he was interested in securing the establishment of a 
school on the Omaha Reservation. 


One of the first treaties in which the Omaha participated was that of July 
15, 1830, at Prairie du Chien, Wis., when the Sac and Fox. four bands of Sioux, 
Iowa, Otoe, Missouri and Omaha relinquished all their claims to a large tract 
of land in Minnesota, Iowa and jMissouri. The cession was surveyed by James 
Craig in 1835. By the treaty a reservation was established for the Omaha and 
other tribes on the Missouri River, extending from the Great to the Little Nemaha 
and ten miles back from the Missouri. 

On October 15, 1836, at the trading post at Bellevue, a treaty was negotiated 
with the Otoe, Missouri, Omaha, Yankton and Sanfee .Sioux, by which those 
tribes agreed to relinquish all claim to the northern half of Arkansas and a 
large tract of land in Southern Missouri — lands ceded to the United States by the 
Osage Indians by the Treaty of Fort Clark, November 10. 1808. 

The Treaty of March 16, 1834, was concluded at Washington, D. C, where 
the Omaha chiefs were taken for that purpose. By this treaty the Omaha ceded 
to the United States "all their lands west of the Missouri River and south of a 
line drawn due west from a point in the center of the main channel of the 
Missouri, due east of which the Ayoway River disembogues out of the bluffs, 
to the western boundary of the Omaha country, reserving their territory north 
of said line, with the understanding that if it should prove unacceptable other 
lands shall be assigned them, not exceeding three hundred thousand acres." 

The tract thus reserved north of the cession line proved to be "unacceptable" 
and the President gave them a new reservation, fronting on the Missouri River 
for thirty miles and extending back an average distance of twenty-eight miles, 
in the eastern part of Thurston County, Nebraska. 

On IMarch 6, 1865, at Washington, D. C, the Omaha chiefs and head men 
agreed to sell a strip off the north side of their reser\ation, to be used as a 
resen-ation for the Winnebago. By the act of Congress, approved on June 22. 
1874, an additional tract of 12,347.55 acres was sold to the Winnebago, the deed 
therefor bearing date of July 31, 1874. 

In the meantime an act had been passed by Congress on June 10, 1872, provid- 
ing for the sale of 50,(X)0 acres off the west end of the Omaha Reservation. The 
Indians consented to the sale, but the act never became effective. It was super- 
seded by the Act of August 7, 1882, which provided for the sale of that portion 
of the reservation lying west of the Sioux City & Nebraska Railroad. The same 
act also provided for the allotment of the remainder of the reservation to indi- 
viduals, who should receive patents in fee simple therefor at the end of twenty- 


five years, when all unallutted lands were lo 1)e patented in fee simple to the 

The original Treaty of March t6, 1854, has been carefully preserved by the 
Omaha Indians. On December 15, 1915, it was brought to Omaha by Silas 
Woods, a full-blooded Omaha, and loaned to Gen. John L. Webster to be exhib- 
ited by him at a banquet given by the Nebraska Semi-centennial Committee at the 
Fontenelle Hotel. It bears the signatures of George W. Manypenny, United 
States commissioner; Logan Fontenelle; Es-ta-ma-zha, or Joseph La Flesche ; 
Gra-tah-nah-je, or Standing Hawk; Gah-he-ga-gin-gah, or Little Chief: Tah- 
wah-gah-ha, or \'^illage Maker; Wah-na-ke-ga, or Noise, and Sa-da-nah-ze, or 
Yellow Smoke. 

By the Treaty of 1854 the lands once claimed and inhabited by the Omaha 
l>ecame the property of the white man. Their hunting grounds have become 
cultivated fields. The whistle of the locomotive has supplanted the war-whoop 
of the painted savage ; the old Indian trail has developed into the railway ; the 
teepee has given way to the schoolhouse ; halls of legislation have taken the place 
of the council wigwam ; Indian villages have disappeared and in their stead 
have come cities with all the evidences of modern progress. And all this change 
has been made within the memory of persons yet living. To tell the story of 
this progress is the province of the subsequent chapters of this history. 



STATES — Jefferson's diplomacy' — Livingston and monroe's negotiations 
— purchase of the province — full text of the treaty of PARIS — trans- 



How did the region now comprising the State of Nehraska come to be the 
territory of the United States? In order to answer the question it is necessary to 
give an account of one of the greatest diplomatic transactions in modern history. 
Under the claim of La Salle, in 1682, all the country drained by the Mississippi 
River and its tributaries, which included Nebraska, became a French possession 
and so remained until the close of the French and Indian war in 1762. Then 
France lost every foot of land she possessed in the New World, Canada and that 
part of Louisiana east of the Mississippi going to England, and all her territory 
west of the Mississippi .going to Spain. Nebraska thus became a part of the 
Spanish possessions in America. 

By the Treaty of September 3, 1783, which ended the Revolutionary war, 
the western boundary of the United States was fixed at the Mississippi River, 
though the mouth of that stream passed throtigh Spanish territory. It was not 
long until the new American republic became involved in a controversy with the 
Spanish authorities in Louisiana over the right to the free navigation of the 
great river. The final settlement of this question wielded a great influence upon 
the present State of Nebraska. The Mississippi constituted the natural outlet 
for the products of a large part of the United States, but the Spanish officials 
established posts along the river and every boat descending the stream was forced 
to land at these posts and submit to arbitrary revenue duties. This not only 
decreased profits, but it was also humiliating to the American traders. Through 
the influence of Don Manuel Godoy the Treaty of Madrid was concluded on 
October 27, 1795, one article of which stipulated that "the Mississippi River, 
from its source to the gulf, for its entire width, shall be free to American trade 
and commerce, and the people of the United States shall be permitted, for three 
years, to use the Port of New Orleans as a port of deposit, without payment 
of duty." 

The French Revolution brought into i)rominence two of the most noted char- 



acters in European history — Napoleon and Talleyrand. These two great French- 
men, feeling deeply the loss of their country's American possessions, soon began 
planning the rebuilding of a colonial empire, one feature of which was to regain 
Louisiana. Don Carlos IV was at that time king of Spain, but Channing says: 
"The actual rulers in Spain were Dona Maria Luisa de Parma, his queen, and 
Don Manuel Godoy, el Principe de la Paz, which title writers of English habitu- 
ally translate 'Prince of Peace.'" 

Godoy knew he was not liked by Napoleon and Talleyrand, and when they 
began negotiations for the transfer of Louisiana back to France he resigned from 
the Spanish ministry, leaving the king without his most efficient adviser. In 
exchange for Louisiana, Napoleon and Talleyrand ofifered "an Italian kingdom 
of at least 1,000,000 inhabitants for the Duke of Parma, prince presumptive, who 
was at once son-in-law and nephew of the ruling monarchs." The State of 
Tuscany was selected, and on October i, 1800, the secret Treaty of San Ilde- 
fonso was concluded. So well was the secret kept that the transaction did not 
become known in the United States for about eight months. 

The Treaty of San Ildefonso was confirmed by the Treaty of Madrid (March 
21, 1801), a copy of which was sent to President Jefferson by Rufus King, the 
LTnited States minister to England. It reached the White Llouse on May 26, 
1801. In August following Robert R. Livingston went to France as the United 
States minister to that country and immediately upon his arrival asked Talley- 
rand, then the French prime minister, if the Province of Louisiana had been 
receded to France. Talleyrand denied that such was the case, and in one sense 
of the word he was right, as the Treaty of Madrid was not signed by the Spanish 
king until in October, 1802. 

When President Jefferson received the copy of the treaty sent by Mr. King, 
he wrote to James Monroe : "There is considerable reason to apprehend that 
Spain cedes Louisiana and the Floridas to France. To my mind this policy is 
very unwise for both France and Spain, and very ominous to us." 

During the next year President Jefferson's administration was kept in a state 
of suspense as to the status of Louisiana and the navigation of the Mississippi 
River. On April 18, 1802, he wrote a letter to Mr. Livingston at Paris, in which 
he said the American people were anxiously watching France's movements with 
regard to Louisiana, and set forth the situation as follows: i. The natural feel- 
ing of the American people toward France was one of friendship. 2. Whatever 
nation possessed New Orleans and controlled the lower reaches of the river 
became the natural and habitual enemy of American progress, and therefore of 
the American people. 3. Spain was then well disposed toward the United States 
and as long as she remained in possession of New Orleans the people of this 
country would be satisfied with conditions. 4. On the other hand, France pos- 
sessed an energy and restlessness of a character which would be the cause of 
eternal friction between that country and the United States. In the letter he said : 

"The day that France takes possession of New Orleans fixes the sentence 
which is to restrain her forever within her low water mark. It seals the union 
of two nations who in conjunction can maintain exclusive possession of the 
ocean. From that moment we must marry ourselves to the British fleet and 
nation. * * * ^1-,^ fj^^j^ cannon which shall be fired in Europe will be the 
signal for tearing up any settlement she may have made, and for holding the two 


continents of America in sequestration for the common purpose of the united 
British and American nations." 

Jefferson did not desire an aUiance with England, but was firm in the con- 
viction that French possession of the Province of Louisiana would force the 
United States to adopt such a course. In November, 1802, news reached Wash- 
ington that the Spanish authorities at New Orleans had suddenly vi'ithdrawn the 
right of deposit at that port and the country- — particularly in the new settlements 
in the Mississippi and Ohio valleys — was ablaze with indignation. The federal- 
ists, Jefferson's political opponents, tried to force the administration into some 
policy that would give them a political advantage, but their efforts in this direction 
were futile. Says Channing: "Never in all his long and varied career did Jef- 
ferson's foxlike discretion stand him in better stead. Instead of following public 
clamor, he calmly formulated a policy and carried it through to a most successful 

In his message of December, 1802, he merely stated that the change in the 
ownership of Louisiana would necessarily make a change in our foreign rela- 
tions, but did not intimate what the nature of that change was to be. On January 
13, 1803, he wrote to Monroe that the federalists were trying to force the United 
States into war, in order to get into power. About the same time he wrote to 
Mr. Livingston that if France considered Louisiana indispensable to her interests, 
she might still be willing to cede to the United States the Island of Orleans, upon 
which stands the City of New Orleans, and the Floridas. Or, if not willing to 
cede the island, she might be induced to grant the right of deposit at New Orleans 
and the free navigation of the Mississippi, as it had previously been under the 
Spanish regime, and directed him to open negotiations to that end. 

A few days later, believing the cession could probably be best accomplished 
by sending a man direct from the United States for that purpose, he selected 
James Monroe to act as minister plenipotentiary, to co-operate with Mr. Liv- 
ingston. The Senate promptly confimied ^Ir. Monroe's appointment and placed 
rhe sum of $2,000,000 at the disposal of him and Mr. Livingston to pay for the 
island. And it may be well to note, in this connection, that the success of Liv- 
ingston and Monroe in their negotiations was probably due in a great measure 
to a letter written about this time by Pichon, the French minister to the United 
States, to Talleyrand. In his letter Pichon advised the French prime minister 
that the people of the United States were thoroughly aroused over the suspension . 
of the right of deposit, and that Jefferson might be forced by public opinion to 
yield to a British alliance. 

War between England and France had just been renewed, and Napoleon, 
realizing the superior strength of the British navy, saw that it would be a difficult 
matter to hold Louisiana, especially if an alliance should be made between that 
nation and the United States. He had a force under General Victor ready to 
send to New Orleans, but learned that an English fleet was Iving in wait for 
A'ictor's departure and countermanded the order. 

In the meantime Mr. Livingston had been trying for several weeks to buy the 
Island of Orleans and \\'est Florida, believing the Floridas were included in the 
Treaty of San Ildefonso. On April 11, 1803, Napoleon placed the entire matter 
of the cession of the island in the hands of the Marquis de Marbois, minister 
of the French treasury, and the same day Talleyrand startled Livingston by asking 


if the United States would not like to own the entire Province of Louisiana. 
Livingston replied in the negative, but Talleyrand insisted that Louisiana would 
be worth nothing to France without the City and Island of New Orleans and 
asked the American minister to make an ofifer for the entire province. Another 
conference was held the next morning, and that afternoon Monroe arrived in 
Paris. That night a long consultation was held by the two American envoys, the 
result of which was it was decided that Air. Livingston should conduct the 

Several days were then spent in haggling over terms, Marbois at first asking 
125,000,000 francs for the whole province, although it was afterward learned 
that Napoleon had instructed him to accept 50,000,000, provided better terms 
could not be obtained. The price finally agreed upon was 80,000,000 francs, 
ro,ooo,ooo of which v\'ere to go directly to the French treasury and the remainder 
was to be used in settling the claims of American citizens against the French 
Government. The next step was to embody those terms in a formal treaty, .^s 
this agreement gave a territory of nearly nine hundred thousand square miles to 
the LInited States, in which was included the present State of Nebraska, it is here 
given in full. It is knowii as the 


"The President of the L'nited States of America and the first consul of the 
French Republic, in the name of the French people, desiring to remove all 
sources of misunderstanding relative to objects of discussion mentioned in the 
second and fifth articles of the convention of the 8th \'endemaire, an 9 (30 
September, 1800), relative to the rights claimed by the United States, in virtue 
of the treaty concluded at Madrid, the 27th of October, 1795, between his 
Catholic majesty and the said L'nited States, and willing to strengthen the union 
and friendship which at the time of said convention was happilv re-established 
between the two nations, have respectfully named their plenipotentiaries, to wit: 
The President of the L'nited States of America, by and with the advice and 
consent of the Senate of said states, Robert R. Livingston, minister plenipoten- 
tiary of the United States, and James Monroe, minister plenipotentiary and envoy 
extraordinary of the said states, near the Government of the French Republic; 
and the first consul, in the name of the French people, the French citizen, Barbe 
Marbois, minister of the public treasury, who, after having respectfully exchanged 
their full powers, have agreed to the following articles. 

"Article I — Whereas, by the article the third of the treaty concluded at St. 
Ildefonso, the 9th Vendemaire an 9 (October i, 1800), between the first consul 
of the French Reptiblic and his Catholic majesty, it was agreed as follows : 'His 
Catholic majesty promises and engages on his part to retrocede to the French 
Republic, six months after the full and entire execution of the conditions and 
stipulations herein relative to his royal highness, the duke of Parma, the colony 
or province of Louisiana, with the same extent that it now has in the hands 
of Spain, and that it had when France possessed it ; and such as it should be 
after the treaties subsequently entered into between Spain and other states,' and 

"Whereas, in pursuance of the treaty, particularly of the third article, the 
French Republic has an incontestible title to the domain and possession of said 


territory; the first consul of the French Republic, desiring to give to the United 
States a strong proof of his friendship, doth hereby cede to the United States, in 
the name of the French Republic, forever, in full sovereignty, the said territory, 
with all its rights and appurtenances, as fully and in the same manner as they 
have been acquired by the French Republic in virtue of the above mentioned 
treaty, concluded with his Catholic majesty. 

"Article II — In the cession made by the preceding article, are included the 
adjacent islands belonging to Louisiana, all public lots and squares, vacant lands, 
and all public buildings, fortifications, barracks, and other edifices which are not 
private property. The archives, papers and documents relative to the domain 
and sovereignty of Louisiana and its dependencies, will be left in the possession 
of the commissioners of the United States, and copies will be afterward given 
in due form to the magistrates and municipal officers of such of the said papers, 
and documents as may be necessary to them. 

"Article III — The inhabitants of the ceded territory shall be incorporated in 
the Union of the United States and admitted as soon as possible, according to 
the principles of the Federal Constitution, to the enjoyment of all the rights, 
advantages and immunities of citizens of the United States; and in the mean- 
time they shall be maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their lib- 
erty, property and the religion which they profess. 

"Article IV — There shall be sent by the government of France a com- 
missary to Lotiisiana, to the end that he do every act necessary, as well to receive 
from the officers of his Catholic majesty the said country and its dependencies 
in the name of the French Republic, if it has not already been done, as to 
transmit it in the name of the French Republic to the commissary or agent of 
the United States. 

"Article V — Immediately after the ratification of the present treaty by the 
President of the United States, and in case that of the first consul shall have 
been previously obtained, the commissary of the French Republic shall remit 
all the military posts of New Orleans and other posts of the ceded territory, to 
the commissary or commissaries named by the President of the United States 
to take possession; the troops, whether of France or Spain, who may be there, 
shall cease to occupy any military post from the time of taking possession, and 
shall be embarked as soon as possible, in the course of three months after the 
ratification of this treaty. 

"Article VI — The United States promises to execute such treaties and articles 
as may have been agreed between Spain and the tribes and nations of Indians, 
until by mutual consent of the United States and the said tribes or nations, other 
suitable articles shall have been agreed upon. 

"Article VII — As it is reciprocally advantageous to the commerce of France 
and the United States to encourage the communication of both nations, for a 
limited time, in the country ceded by the present treaty, until general arrange- 
ments relative to the commerce of both nations may be agreed upon, it has been 
agreed between the contracting parties, that the French ships coming directly 
from France or any of her colonies, loaded only with the produce of France or 
her said colonies, and the ships of Spain coming directly from Spain or any of 
her colonies, loaded only with the produce or manufactures of Spain or her 
colonies, shall be admitted during the space of twelve years, in the ports of New 


Orleans, and all other ports of entry within the ceded territory, in the same 
manner as the ships of the United States coming directly from France or Spain, 
or any of their colonies, without being subject to any other or greater duty on 
merchandise, or other or greater tonnage than those paid by the citizens of the 
United States. 

"During the space of time above mentioned, no other nation shall have a 
right to the same privileges in the ports of the ceded territory ; the twelve years 
shall commence three months after the exchange of ratifications, if it shall take 
place in France, or three months after it shall have been notified at Paris to the 
French Government, if it shall take place in the United States; it is, however, 
well understood, that the object of this article is to favor the manufactures, 
commerce, freight and navigation of France and Spain, so far as relates to the 
importations that the French and Spanish shall make into the ports of the United 
States, without in any sort affecting the regulations that the United States may 
make concerning the exportation of the produce and merchandise of the United 
States, or any right they may have to make such regulations. 

"Article VIII — In future, and forever after the expiration of the twelve 
years, the ships of France shall be treated upon the footing of the most favored 
nations in the ports above mentioned. 

"Article IX — The particular convention signed this day by the respective 
ministers, having for its objects to provide for the payment of debts due to the 
citizens of the United States by the French Republic prior to the 30th day of 
September, 1800 (8th Yendemaire, 9), is approved and to have its execution in 
the same manner as if it had been inserted in the present treaty, and it shall be 
ratified in the same form and at the same time, so that the one shall not be 
ratified distinct from the other. 

"Another particular convention signed at the same date as the present treaty, 
relative to a definite rule between the contracting parties, is in like manner 
approved and will be ratified in the same form and at the same time, and jointly. 

"Article X — The present treaty shall be ratified in good and due form, and 
the ratification shall be exchanged in the space of six months after the date of the 
signatures of the ministers plenipotentiary, or sooner if possible.' In faith 
whereof, the respective plenipotentiaries have signed these articles in the French 
and English languages, declaring, nevertheless, that the present treaty was 
originally agreed to in the French language ; and have thereunto set their seals. 

"Done at Paris, the tenth day of Floreal, in the eleventh year of the French 
Republic, and the 30th April, 1803. 

"Robert R. Livingston (L. S.) 
"James Monroe (L. S.) 
"Barbe Marrois (L. S.)"' 

The particular conventions referred to in the ninth article of the treaty 
related to the payment of the debts due the citizens of this country, and the 
creation of a stock by the L'uitetl States of $11,250,000, bearing 6 per cent inter- 
est, payable semi-annually at London, Amsterdam or Paris. The original cost of 
the entire territory ceded was about 3 cents an acre, but McMaster says : "Up 
to June 20, 1880, the total cost of Louisiana was $27,267,621." Out of the 
province acquired by the Treaty of Paris have been erected the following states : 


Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, North and 
South Dakota, about one-third of Colorado, nearly all of Montana, three-fourths 
of Wyoming, and Oklahoma. 

In the purchase of the entire province, Livingston and Monroe exceeded their 
authority and for a time President Jefferson took the view that an amendment 
to the Federal Constitution — an "act of indemnity" he called it — would be neces- 
sary to make the transaction legal. But the acquiescence was so general he aban- 
doned the idea. In his message of October 17, 1803, he said to Congress: 

"The enlightened government of France saw, with just discernment, the 
importance to both nations of such liberal arrangement as might best and per- 
manently promote the peace, interests and friendship of both; and the property 
and sovereignty of all Louisiana, which had been restored to them, have, on cer- 
tain conditions, been transferred to the United States by instruments bearing 
date the 30th of April last. When these shall have received the constitutional 
.sanction of the Senate, they will without delay be communicated to the repre- 
sentatives for the exercise of their functions, as to those conditions which are 
within the powers vested by the Constitution in Congress." 

The treaty was ratified by the Senate on October 20, 1803, and by the House 
on the 25th. On the last day of the month President Jefferson approved the 
measures providing for the creation of the stock of $11,250,000 and for the trans- 
fer of Louisiana to the United States. William C. C. Qaiborne, governor of 
Mississippi, and Gen. James Wilkinson were appointed commissioners, in accord- 
ance with Article IV of the treaty, to take possession, and on December 20, 1803, 
the transfer was formally made and the Stars and Stripes were raised at New 
Orleans. Thus the domain of the United States was extended westward to the 
summit of the Rocky Mountains and Nebraska became a part of the American 


In the summer of 1803 President Jefferson began making plans to send an 
expedition up the Missouri River to discover its sources, and to ascertain whether 
a water route to the Pacific Coast was feasible. It was late in that year before 
the Treaty of Paris was ratified and the expedition was therefore postponed 
until the spring of 1804. The President selected as leaders of this expedition 
Capt. Meriwether Lewis and Capt. William Clark, officers of the regular United 
States army. 

Captain Lewis was a native of Virginia and at the time of his appointment 
as one of the leaders of the expedition was twenty-nine years of age. He entered 
the army in 1795, received his commission as captain in 1800, and from 1801 to 
1803 was President Jefferson's private secretary. He died near Nashville, Tenn., 
October 8, 1809. 

Clark was also a Virginian and a brother of Gen. George Rogers Clark, who 
distinguished himself during the Revolution by the capture of the British posts 
in the Northwest. In 1792 he was commissioned lieutenant. Four years later he 
resigned his position in the army on account of ill health and settled at St. 
Louis. Regaining his health, he re-entered the army and was commissioned cap- 
tain. In 1813 he was appointied governor of Missouri Territory and held the 


office until the state was admitted in 1821. He was then appointed superintendent 
of Indian Affairs for the St. Louis district and remained in that position until 
his death at St. Louis in 1838. 

Such, in brief, was the character of the men appointed to conduct the 
first official explorations in the new purchase. They were accompanied by nine 
young men from Kentucky, fourteen regular soldiers, two French voyageurs or 
boatmen, an Lidian interpreter, a hunter, and a negro servant belonging to 
Captain Clark. The equipment consisted of a keel-boat fifty-five feet in length 
and drawing three feet of water, two pirogues and two horses, which were led 
along the bank, to be used in hunting game. The keel-boat had twenty-two oars 
and a large square sail to be used when the wind was favorable, and a cabin in 
which were kept the most valuable articles. The pirogues were fitted with six and 
seven oars respectively. 

Early in May, 1804, the little company assembled at the mouth of the Mis- 
souri River and on the 14th started up that stream on their long journey. On 
June 3, 1804, they met a raft of two canoes lashed together and loaded with fiirs, 
the property of two French traders, who stated that they had been eighty 
leagues (240 miles) up the Kansas River. These traders gave Lewis and Clark 
the first information they had of the country west of the Missouri. It is pos- 
sible that in ascending the Kansas for 240 miles they were on the Republican 
River, in what is now Southern Nel^raska. 

On the nth of July they camped on an island opposite the mouth of the 
Nemaha River, near the southern boundary of Nebraska and remained there until 
the 13th. Captain Clark took one of the pirogues and ascended the Nemaha 
for a distance of two miles. Upon his return to the camp he reported the dis- 
covery of some small mounds, supposed to be an Indian burial place. They 
remained here in camp until the 13th and that night their camp was pitched about 
twenty miles farther up the Missouri, near the north line of the present Richard- 
son County, Nebraska, where there was a large island of sand. Some idea of the 
difficulties encountered by these early explorers may be gained from the follow- 
ing entry in the journal of the expedition for July 14th : 

"We had some hard showers of rain before 7 o'clock, when we set out. We 
had just reached the end of the sand island, and seen the opposite banks fall 
in, and so lined with timber that we could not approach it without danger, when 
a sudden squall from the northeast struck the boat on the starboard quarter and 
would have certainly dashed her to pieces on the sand island if the party had not 
leaped into the river and, with the aid of the anchor and cable, kept her off. The 
waves dashed over her for the space of forty minutes, after which the river 
became almost instantly calm and smooth. The two pirogues were ahead, in a 
situation nearly similar, but fortunately no damage was done to the boats or the 
loading. The wind having shifted to the southeast, we came, at a distance of 
two miles, to an island on the north (east), where we dined. One mile above, 
on the same side of the river, is a small factory, where a merchant of St. Louis 
traded with the Otoes and Pawnees two years before. Near this is an extensive 
lowland, part of which is overflowed occasionally; the rest is rich and well tim- 
bered. The wind again shifted to northwest by north. At 7^ miles we reached 
the lower point of a large island on the north (east) side. A small distance 
aboTa this point is a river called by the Maha Indians the Nishnabatona. This 


is a considerable creek, nearly as large as the Mine River, and runs parallel to 
the Missouri the greater part of its course, being fifty yards wide at its mouth. 
In the prairies or glades we saw wild timothy, lambsquarter and cuckleberries 
(Clark's private diary says cockle burs), and on the edge of the river summer 
grapes, plums and gooseberries. We also saw today, for the first time, some elk, 
at which some of the party shot, but at too great a distance. We encamped on 
the north side of the island, a little above the Nishnabatona, having made nine 
miles. The river fell a little." 

As the lower portion of the Missouri River flows almost due east, the first 
entries in Lewis and Clark's journal refer to the north and south banks of the 
stream. This custom was kept up after turning northward, near where Kansas 
City now stands, the east bank being almost invariably referred to as the north 
and the west bank as the south. Elliott Coues, in his History of the Lewis and 
Clark Expedition, says the small factory or trading establishment mentioned in 
the journal of July 14th was that of a Mr. Bennett or Benoit, of St. Louis. It 
stood on the Missouri side of the river, nearly opposite the north line of the pres- 
ent Richardson County, Nebraska. 

On the 15th they passed the mouth of the Little Nemaha, and on the even- 
ing of the i6th camped in the northwest corner of Atchison County, Missouri, 
opposite Otoe County, Nebraska. Here they remained all day the 17th, but the 
next day made eighteen miles and camped "opposite the Oven Islands," a short 
distance below the present Nebraska City. At this camp "an Indian dog came to 
the bank ; he appeared to have been lost and was nearly starved ; we gave him 
food, but he would not follow us." 

The camp of the 19th was made on the western extremity of an island, a 
little above where Nebraska City is now situated, and not far from the line 
between Otoe and Cass counties. The journal for this day states: "The sand-bars 
which we passed today are more numerous, and the sands more shifting and dan- 
gerous than any we have seen; these obstacles increasing as we approach the 
Platte River. The IMissouri here is wider also than below, where the timber on 
the banks resists the action of the current; while here the prairies which ap- 
proach are more easily washed and undermined." Slow progress was made along 
this portion of the river, but on the 21st "the wind lulled at 7 o'clock and we 
reached, in the rain, the mouth of the great River Platte, at a distance of four- 
teen miles." 

Lewis and Clark took one of the pirogues and went up the Platte about a 
mile. "They found the current very rapid, rolling over sand and divided into a 
number of channels, none of which is deeper than five or six feet." The journal 
of the 2ist concludes: "With much difficulty we worked around the sand-bars 
near the mouth and came to above the point, having made fifteen miles." 

After going about ten miles on the 22d, they came to "a high and shaded 
situation on the north (east), where we camped, intending to make the requisite 
observations, and to send for the neighboring tribes for the purpose of making 
known to them the recent change in the Government and the wish of the United 
States to cultivate their friendship." Coues locates this camp near the line be- 
tween Mills and Pottawattamie counties, Iowa, and nearly opposite Bellevue, Neb. 
The expedition remained here until the 26th, "during which time we dried pro- 
visions, made new oars, and prepared our dispatches and maps of the country 


we had passed for the President of the United States, to whom we intend to 
send them by a pirogue from this place." The messengers sent out went to the 
Otoe and Pawnee villages, being absent from the camp for two days, but they 
found no Indians for the reason that this was the season of the buffalo hunt. 

The journey \Yas resumed up the river at noon on the 27th and after going 
about loyi miles they stopped on the west bank to examine "a curious collection 
of graves or mounds." The result of the examination is thus stated in the jour- 
nal: "Not far from a low piece of land and a pond is a tract of about two 
hundred acres in circumference, which is covered with mounds of different 
heights, shapes and sizes ; some of sand and some of earth and sand, the largest 
being nearest the river. These mounds indicate the position of the ancient village 
of the Otoes, before they retired to the protection of the Pawnees." 

The site of this ancient village, as noted by Lewis and Clark, is near the south- 
east corner of Douglas County, Nebraska. After examining the mounds, the 
expedition proceeded on up the river and camped "on the bank of a high, hand- 
some prairie, with lofty cottonwood in groves near the river." Some historians 
fix the site of this camp as a little above the present City of Omaha. 

On the 29th of July the expedition passed the mouth of the Boyer River and 
that day messengers were sent to the Indian villages with invitations to "meet us 
above on the river." On the 3d of August a council was held with some of the 
Otoe and Missouri Indians at a place named in the journal of the expedition as 
Council-bluff". Regarding the location of this place, Coues says: 

"That is Council Bluffs, the name of the now flourishing city in Pottawattamie 
County, Iowa, opposite the still greater City of Omaha, Douglas County, Ne- 
braska. Here is the origin of the name, though the city is much below the exact 
spot where the historical incidents took place, and on the other side of the river. 
In the text, the name usually stands Council-bluff', in one hyphenated word. 
The spot is not marked on Lewis' map of 1806; on Clark's of 1814 the words 
'Council Bluff' are lettered, but on the lowan side of the river, with no mark on 
the Nebraskan side to indicate the exact spot. Hence some confusion arose, and 
another element of vagueness was introduced by the fact that some maps extended 
the name 'Council Bluff's' to the whole range of hills along the river on either 
side. The spot is marked on Nicollet's map, as determined by him in 1839. It 
was later the site of Fort Calhoun, in the present Washington County, Nebraska." 

The location as determined by Nicollet is verified to some extent by the 
description of the place in Lewis and Clark's journal, which says : "The situation 
of it is exceedingly favorable for a fort and trading factory, as the soil is well 
calculated for bricks, there is an abundance of wood in the neighborhood, and 
the air is pure and healthy. It is also central to the chief resorts of the Indians ; 
one day's journey to the Otoes; ij^ to the Pawnees; two days from the Mahas; 
2>< from the Pawnee Loups village; convenient to the hunting grounds of the 
Sioux; and twenty-five days journey to Santa Fe." 

On the nth of August the expedition halted for a short time at IMack- 
bird's grave, and on the 13th Sergeant Ordway and four men were sent to the 
Omaha village "with a flag and presents, in order to induce the Mahas to come 
and hold a council with us." The next day they came "to the ruins of the ancient 
Maha village, which once consisted of 300 cabins, but was burnt about four 


years ago, soon after the smallpox had destroyed 400 men and a proportion of 
women and children." 

Some days before this a small party had been sent back to the Otoe village for 
a deserter, and to request the Otoe and Missouri chiefs to join the expedition at 
the Omaha village for the purpose of concluding a peace between the tribes. 
On the afternoon of the iSth this party returned, bringing in the deserter and 
accompanied by eight Otoe and Missouri chiefs and a French interpreter. From 
these chiefs Lewis and Clark learned the cause of the war between the Otoe and 
Omaha. It appears that two Missouri Indians went into the Omaha country to 
steal horses, but were caught and killed. The Otoe and Missouri felt called 
upon to avenge the death of their tribesmen, and over this trivial incident the 
two tribes became involved in a war. 

A council was held on the 19th, in which the Omaha, Otoe and Missouri 
chiefs took part. Captain Lewis explained the change in government and that 
the Great Father at Washington desired his red children to live in peace with 
each other. Presents, such as medals, flags and tobacco, were then distributed, 
the Indians agreed to bur\' the tomahawk, and at the conclusion of the council 
each Indian received a "dram of whisky." 

On Clark's map of the Missouri River country is shown the location of the 
Omaha village, not far from the present Town of Ponca, the county seat of Dixon 
County, Nebraska, and is marked "1,500 souls." 

The last camping place of Lewis and Clark in Nebraska is in Knox County, 
where they stopped on August 28, 1804, "in a beautiful plain to await the arrival 
of the Sioux, to whom messengers had been previously sent." The remainder of 
the expedition has no direct bearing upon Nebraska. They reached the sources 
of the Missouri, crossed the Rocky Mountains and descended the Columbia to 
the Pacific Coast. On their return they stopped on September 8, 1806, at Coun- 
cil Bluff (Fort Calhoun), and "were confirmed in our belief that it would be an 
eligible site for a trading establishment." 

That night they occupied their old camp opposite Bellevue and about 8 o'clock 
the next morning they passed the mouth of the Platte, noticing that the sand- 
bars which gave them so much trouble two years before had been washed away. 
On September 22, 1806, they reached a military camp on the Missouri, three 
miles above the mouth, and spent the day with the soldiers. The last entry in 
the journal says: "On the 23d we descended to the Mississippi and round to St. 
Louis, where we arrived at 12 o'clock; and having fired a salute, we went on 
shore and received the heartiest and most hospitable welcome from the whole 

It was through this expedition that the Government gained its first official 
knowledge of the territory acquired by the Treaty of Paris — a territory that 
nearly doubled the area of the United States, and from which has since been 
formed all or a part of thirteen states, not the least important of which is 








North America, above the thirty-sixth parallel of north latitude, was, at the 
time of its discovery by Europeans, the richest and most extensive field for col- 
lecting fine furs in the world. The Indians used the skins of some of the fur- 
bearing animals for clothing, or in the construction of their wigwams, but when 
the white man came he brought new wants to the savage — wants which could 
be satisfied by exchanging furs for the white man's goods. The fur trade was 
therefore an important factor in the conquest and settlement of Canada and the 
great Northwest. Lahontan, a French writer, in his "New Voyages," published 
in 1703, says: "Canada subsists only upon the trade in skins, three-fourths of 
which come from the people around the Great Lakes." 

The French were the pioneers in the fur trade. Long before Lahontan wrote, 
they were trading with the Indians in the A'alley of the St. Lawrence River, 
with Montreal as the principal market for peltries. From the St. Lawrence 
country they gradually worked their way westward, forming treaties of friend- 
ship and trade with new Indian tribes, crossed the low portages to the Mississippi 
A^alley. whence the ^Missouri River opened the way to the Rocky Mountains. 

THE Hudson's bay company 

Not far behind the French came the English traders. The Hudson's Bay 
Company was chartered in London on May 2, iG/O, and was the first of the 
great trading associations. Its agents or factors were mostly English and Scotch, 
though a number of Frenchmen entered the employ of the company. Many of 
these intermarried with the Indians. A. F. Chamberlain, of Clark University, 
says : "The method of the great fur companies, which had no dreams of empire 
over a solid white population,' rather favored amalgamation with the Indians 
as the best means of exploiting the country in a material way. Manitoba, Min- 
nesota and Wisconsin owe much of their early development to the trader and the 




What is true of Manitoba, Alinnesota and Wisconsin is also true in a lesser 
degree of every northwestern state. In 1783 the North-West Company was organ- 
ized at Montreal for the purpose of opening up a trade with the Indians west of 
the Great Lakes. Within four years from the time it commenced operations it 
was a formidable rival of the Hudson's Bay Company. It was reorganized in 
1801, after which it was popularly known as the "XY Company." A few years 
later it dissolved, but during its career its agents worked among the Indians as 
far west as the Rocky Mountains. 


Scarcely had the United States come into possession of Louisiana, when a 
desire arose among the citizens to know more of the new acquisition, and some 
hardy, adventurous spirits began to penetrate the remote interior, impatient to 
learn its resources and possibilities. The greatest attraction, and for many years 
the only one, it offered in a commercial way was its wealth in furs. Hence the 
roving trapper and trader was the first to venture into the great, unexplored West, 
where the foot of the white man had never before trodden, and bring back with 
him the product of his traps or the profits of his traffic with the natives. In fact, 
these trappers and traders were operating in Louisiana while it was still a 
Spanish possession. .\s early as 1795-96 a man named McKay had a trading 
post called Fort Charles on the west bank of the Missouri River, about six miles 
below where the old Town of Omadi, Neb., was afterward located. In 1804 
Lewis and Clark met trappers returning from the Kansas Valley with a raft 
loaded with furs, and on their return in September, 1806, they met several sinall 
parties wending their way into the very heart of the wilderness the explorers had 
just left. Says Chittenden: 

"It was the trader and trapper who first explored and established the routes 
of travel which are now, and always will he. the avenues of commerce. They 
were the 'pathfinders' of the West and not those later official explorers whom 
posterity so recognizes. No feature of western geography was ever 'discovered' 
by Government explorers after 1840. Everything was already known, and had 
been known for a decade. It is true that many features, like the Yellowstone 
wonderland, with which these restless rovers were familiar, were afterward 
forgotten and were rediscovered in later years ; but there has never been a time 
until very recently when the geography of the W^est was so thoroughly under- 
stood as it was by the trader and trapper from 1830 to 1840." 

The language of these roving traders and solitarj' trappers was a strange 
medley of French, .Spanish, English and Indian dialect. Their dress was fash- 
ioned after the Indian costume — buckskin hunting shirt and leggings — as being 
better adapted to the rough ways of the wilderness and more serviceable than 
clothing brought from "the States." The trapper's outfit consisted of a number 
of traps, an ax, a hunting knife, a horse and saddle, a few simple cooking utensils 
and the inevitable rifle. Sometimes he carried a small stock of sugar and coffee, 
but quite often the only provisions taken into the wilds were a little salt and a 
sack of flour. If he followed the streams, a canoe took the place of the horse 


and saddle. His dwelling was a rude hut, on the hank of some creek or river, 
but he often slept at night with a buffalo robe for a bed, his saddle or a pack of 
skins for a pillow, and the sky as his only shelter. Such men were known as 
"free trappers." The "free trader" was a similar character, only his outfit con- 
sisted chiefly of a small stock of trinkets, bright colored cloth, etc., which he 
exchanged with the Indians for their furs. They went where they pleased, were 
generally well received by the Indians, and traded with all whom they met until 
their stock of goods was exhausted. 

M.\NUEL L1S.\ 

One of the first men to engage in the fur trade in the Missouri River country, 
after Louisiana became the property of the United States, was Manuel Lisa. He 
was born in Cuba of Spanish parents, September 8, 1772, but soon afterward came 
with his parents to New Orleans. About 1790 he ascended the Mississippi River 
to St. Louis, where he became interested in the fur trade. In 1800 he secured 
from the Spanish authorities the exclusive right to trade with the Osage Indians 
on the Osage River. Here he quickly came into competition with the Chouteaus, 
who had controlled the Osage trade for fully twenty years. In 1802 he organized 
a company in opposition to the Chouteaus, but the members could not agree and 
it was soon disbanded. 

Lisa then formed the firm of Lisa, Menard & Morrison for the purpose of 
trading with the Indians on the Upper Missouri. There is a story to the effect 
that in 1805 he visited the spot where the Town of Bellevue, Neb., now stands 
and gave the place its name by exclaiming "Bellevue !" a Spanish term, meaning 
"a beautiful view." Some writers assert that he established a trading post there 
at that time, but Chittenden, who is regarded as one of the best authorities on 
the subject of the American fur trade, says this is a mistake. It is certain, 
however, that in 1807 he went up the Missouri as far as the mouth of the Big- 
horn, where he established a post. The next year he returned to St. Louis and 
was the moving spirit in the organization of the Missouri Fur Company. He 
continued in the fur trade and made annual trips up the Missouri until the year 
before his death, which occurred at St. Louis on August 12, 1820. He was twice 
married to women of his own people and also had an Omaha wife, his marriage 
to the Indian woman having been made purely for commercial purposes. His 
second white wife, who was Mary Hempstead Keeney — a daughter of Stephen 
Hempstead and widow of John Keeney- — spent the winter of 1819-20 at her 
husband's trading post, a short distance above the present City of Omaha, and 
is believed to have been the first white woman in Nebraska. She died at Galena, 
III, September 3, 1869. 

Of Manuel Lisa it has been said: "In boldness of enterprise, persistency of 
purpose and in restless energy, he was a fair representative of the Spaniard of 
the days of Cortez. He was a man of great ability, a masterly judge of men, 
thoroughly experienced in the Indian trade and native customs, intensely active 
in his work, yet withal a perfect enigma of character which his contemporaries 
were never able to solve." 



A few years after the expedition of Lewis and Clark, the American fur traders 
saw that if they were to compete successfully with the British traders, of the 
Hudson's Bay and Mackinaw companies and the French representatives of the 
North- West Company, some organization was necessary. The first fur company 
organized in the United States was the St. Louis Missouri Fur Company, though 
the "St. Louis" part of the title was dropped soon after the organization began 
business. The original members of the company were Manuel Lisa, Benjamin 
Wilkinson, Pierre and Auguste Chouteau, William Clark, Reuben Lewis, Pierre 
Menard, William Morrison, Andrew Henry, Sylvester Labadie and Dennis Fitz 
Hugh. The capital stock of the company was $17,000, a sum hardly sufficient 
for the successful competition with the Hudson's Bay and North- West companies, 
a fact that the projectors were to learn at some cost later. 

The company succeeded to the business of Lisa, Menard & jMorrison and 
began trading with the Indians of the L^pf>er Missouri country, with the post 
at the mouth of the Bighorn as the center of operations. It did not take long 
for Lisa to find out that the business in this section was not likely to be as profit- 
able as had been anticipated and at his suggestion the company withdrew the 
posts on the upper river and concentrated the trade at Fort Lisa. This post was 
established about iSii or 1S12. It was located some five or six miles below old 
Council BluflF, where Lewis and Clark held their council with the Indians in 1804, 
and commanded the trade of the Omaha, Otoe, Pawnee and other Indian tribes. 
From the time of its establishment until about 1823 it was the most important 
trading post on the Missouri. 

About the time that Fort Lisa was built the Missouri Fur Company was 
reorganized and IManuel Lisa became a more prominent figure in directing its 
afl:'airs. In June, 181 3, he was appointed by the United States sub-agent for 
all the Indian tribes along the Missouri River, above the mouth of the Kansas. 
War had just been declared against Great Britain and the Government felt that 
Lisa could do more than any other man to keep the Indians from forming an 
alliance with the British. In this he succeeded beyond all expectations. He 
not only secured pledges of loyalty and friendship from all the chiefs, but even 
went so far as to organize war parties against some of the hostile tribes farther 
to the east. In 1817 he resigned his position as sub-agent to become president 
of the ]\Iissouri Fur Company. After Lisa's death in 1820 the company gradually 
declined and a few years later discontinued operations altogether. 


On April 6, 1808, John Jacob Astor was granted a charter by the State of 
New York under the name of the American Fur Company, with liberal powers 
to engage in the fur trade with the Indians. For the Northwest trade, Mr. Astor 
adopted the name of the Pacific Fur Company, which Chittenden says "was in 
reality only the American Fur Company with a specific name applied to a specific 

A spirited rivalrj' soon commenced between the American and Missouri Fur 
companies. In the spring of 181 1 the former sent Wilson Price Hunt with an 


expedition up the Missouri to establish trading posts, while Alexander McKay, 
Donald McKenzie, David and Robert Stuart went with a party on a vessel around 
Cape Horn to found a settlement at the mouth of the Columbia River. The Mis- 
souri Fur Company was watching Hunt's movements and about three weeks 
after he started up the Missouri Manuel Lisa, with twenty-six well armed men 
and a long keel boat with swivel gun in the bow, set out in pursuit. He overtook 
Hunt a short distance above the mouth of the Niobrara River and traveled with 
him through the Sioux country, ostensibly for protection, but really to see that 
the American Fur Company opened no trading posts in that region. 

In the meantime Ramsey Crooks and Robert McLellan had established a 
post near the mouth of the Papillion Creek, not far from where the Town of 
Bellevue was afterward located. Some writers say this post was founded as 
early as 1807. In the spring of 181 1 McLellan joined Hunt's expedition at 
Nadowa and Crooks joined it at Fort Osage. Their post was then turned over 
to the American Fur Company, which placed Francis DeRoin in charge. When 
Hunt arrived in the neighborhood of the present City of Omaha, Crooks went 
over to the Platte River to close up his business with the Otoe Indians. He was 
accompanied by a Mr. Bradbury, an English naturalist, and the two men 
rejoined the expedition at the Omaha village. 

There is a conflict of authorities regarding the trading post at Bellevue, 
which was no doubt the legitimate successor of the post established by Crooks 
& McLellan. .Sorensen's "History of Omaha'' says Francis DeRoin "was suc- 
ceeded by Joseph Robidoux, who was widely known throughout the Alissouri 
\'alley and all over the western country. He was generally known as 'Old Joe,' 
and in later years he founded the City of St. Joseph, Mo. John Cabanne was 
the successor of Robidoux and held the position of trader at Bellevue from 1816 
to 1823, when he was superseded by Col. Peter A. Sarpy." 

Chittenden, in his "History of the American Fur Trade,'' says: "Cabanne's 
post was located near the site of old Rockport, nine or ten miles (by land-) above 
the Union Pacific bridge at Omaha and six or seven miles below Fort Calhoun. 
It was established between 1822 and 1826 for the American Fur Company by 
John P. Cabanne, who remained in charge until 1833, when he had to leave the 
country on account of the Leclerc affair. Pilcher succeeded him, and the post 
was later moved down to Bellevue." 

In another place the same writer says : "Fontenelle & Drips apparently 
bought Pilcher's post and established it in their own name, which it retained 
for many years. At a date between 1830 and 1840, which is not exactly known, 
the American Fur Company moved to Bellevue from Cabanne's post some 
distance above and established a new post there under P. A. Sarpy. The Indian 
agency of John Dougherty was also located near there about the same time. The 
agency was at Cote a Ouesnelle, just above the American Fur Company post." 

Chittenden is evidently mistaken as to the date of the establishment of the 
Indian agency at Bellevue. Fort Calhoun was evacuated as a military post in 
June, 1827, and the agency was removed from that place to Bellevue some three 
or four years before the fort was abandoned, and Peter A. Sarpy's biographer 
says he succeeded Cabanne as manager of the American Fur Company's post at 
Bellevue about 1824. 

After the organization of the American Fur Company, it was not long until 


it controlled by far the larger part of the trade in the Missouri \'alley and the 
Northwest. When a free trader could not be crushed bj' opposition, Mr. Astor 
would buy him out and then give him a lucrative position as agent or factor. 
Among those who thus became associated with the company were : Ramsey 
Crooks, Robert McLellan, Pierre Chouteau, Jr., Kenneth McKenzie, William 
Laidlaw, Alexander Culbertson, David ]\IitchelI, James A. Hamilton, John P. 
Cabanne, Daniel Lament, Lucien Fontenelle, Andrew Drips, Joseph Robidoux, 
Charles Larpenteur, Thomas L. and Peter A. Sarpy, and a number of others, 
all of whom understood the fur trade and were well known to the Indians. 

There were a few independent traders, however, who refused to be absorbed 
by the American Fur Company. Up to the time of the Civil war the remains 
of an old fort could be plainly traced on the block bounded by Ninth Street, 
Capitol Avenue, Tenth and Dodge streets in the City of Omaha. Some thought 
these remains were those of a defensive work erected by the Otoe Indians and 
others insisted they showed the location of old Fort Croghan. Father De Smet, 
the Jesuit missionary, and Joseph La Barge, an early Missouri River pilot, say 
that Fort Croghan was located on Cow Island. Under date of December 9, 1867, 
Father De Smet wrote from St. Louis to A. D. Jones, secretary of the Omaha 
Old Settlers' Association : "A noted trader by the name of T. B. Roye had a 
trading post from 1825 to 1828 established on the Omaha plateau, and may be 
the first white man who built the first cabin on the plateau where now stands 
the flourishing City of Omaha." 

Some authorities give the name of this trader as J. B. Royce. It is not 
certain why he gave up his post at this point and nothing can be learned of his 
subsequent history. During the war the United States had a corral on the block 
where the old post was located and all traces of it were obliterated. 

On the east bank of the Missouri, nearly opposite the trading post above 
mentioned, were the remains of another old fortification. When Mr. Jones wrote 
to Father De Smet, making inquiry about the ruins in Omaha, he also inquired 
about this old relic. In reply Father De Smet said: "The remains alluded to 
must be the site of the old trading post of Mr. Heart (Hart). When it was in 
existence the Missouri River ran up to the trading post. In 1832 the river left it, 
and since that time it goes by the name of Heart's cut-ofT, leaving a large lake 
above Council Elufl: City." 

Besides these two independent trading posts, several members of the Chouteau 
family continued to trade with the Kansas and Osage Indians. In 1819 Pratte 
& X'asquez, with a capital of $7,000, established a post at Blackbird Hill, nearly 
opposite the present Town of Onawa, Iowa. Robidoux & Papin had a post at 
the mouth of the Nishnabatona. Their capital was $12,000 and for several years 
they commanded a good trade with the Otoe, Osage and Pawnee Indians, as 
well as some of the Iowa tribes. What was known as the Ponca Post was 
situated a short distance below the mouth of the Niobrara, where a post was 
later established by the Columbia Fur Company, and there were a few smaller 
posts scattered along the Missouri at various points. 


For thirty years or more no man wielded a greater influence upon the Indian 
tribes of Eastern Nebraska than Peter A. Sarpy. He was born in 1804 and it is 


said that his father, Bcrald Sarpy, was the first man to attempt the navigation 
of the Missouri River with a keel-boat. Being the son of an adventurer, it was 
natural that Peter should become an adventurer. His family was related to the 
Chouteaus and he was educated in New Orleans. Two of his brothers were 
engaged in the fur trade — Johji B. as a free trader and Thomas L. as an attache 
of the American Fur Company. In 1823, when only about nineteen years of 
age, Peter came to Nebraska as a clerk under John P. Cabanne, and about a year 
later was appointed manager of the American Fur Company's post at Bellevue. 
Not long after his appointment to this position he established another trading 
post on the Iowa side of the river called "Traders' Point." This was intended 
for the accommodation of the white people, the post at Bellevue being devoted 
exclusively to the Indian trade. Some years later the Missouri shifted its 
course — a trick for which it was noted in early days — and almost washed the post 
at Traders' Point into the river. It was then abandoned and a new post, called 
St. Mary, was established about four miles farther down the river in 1853. In that 
year Mr. Sarpy established flat boat ferries across the Elkhorn River, near where 
Elkhorn City now stands, and across the Loup Fork, near the present City of 
Columbus, for the accommodation of emigrants and the Pawnee Indians. 

Mr. Sarpy was not a large man, but was well knit and of great physical 
endurance. He was a great friend of the Omaha Indians, who called him the 
"white chief," and he was always welcome in their wigwams. He married an 
Omaha woman named Ni-co-mi, who saved his life on several occasions when 
he was threatened by imfriendly Indians. His dark complexion showed his 
French blood and he possessed in a marked degree that excitable disposition so 
common among the French people. A correspondent signing himself "Duncan," 
related the following story of Mr. Sarpy in the Omaha Herald some years ago : 

It seems that several persons, one of them a stranger, were gathered in the 
large room of the Bellevue trading house one evening in 1855, and were engaged 
in conversation of a general nature. Mr. Sarpy denounced the methods of the 
white men in trading with the Indians and declared that most of the treaties made 
by representatives of the United States with the Indian tribes were one-sided, 
and that the Government had taken the lands of the natives without giving them 
a fair price. To this the stranger replied : 

"All this talk about the Indians as good, brave and intelligent may be to the 
interest of you traders, who have become rich by exchanging your gewgaws for 
their valuable furs and buffalo robes, but I have lived among them, too, and I 
know them to be a lying, thieving, treacherous race, incapable of distinguishing 
right from wrong, and the sooner they are exterminated the better it will be for 
the country." 

This speech aroused the indignation of the trader, who walked- up to the 
stranger and said in an excited tone of voice: "Do you know who I am, sir? 
I am Peter A. Sarpy, the old horse on the sand bar, sir. If you want to fight, 
I am your man, sir; I can whip the devil, sir; if you want satisfaction, sir, choose 
your weapons — bowie knife, shot gun or revolver, sir; I am your man, sir." 

He then whipped out his revolver, which he always carried, fired and ex- 
tinguished the candle about ten feet distant, leaving the room in total darkness. 
When the candle was re-lighted it was discovered that the offending stranger 


had made his escape. This incident goes to show the character of Mr. Sarpy, 
who, ahhough kind at heart, was always ready to resent an insult. 

In 1854 he was a member of the town company that laid otit the Town of 
Bellevue. With Stephen Decatur and others he laid out the Town of Decatur, 
where there had once been a trading post. In 1862 he removed to Plattsmouth, 
Neb., where he died on June 4, 1S65. In his will he left an annuity of $200 to 
his Indian wife, which was regularly paid as long as she lived. Sarpy County 
was named in his honor. 


William H. Ashley, a young Virginian, went to St. Louis in 1802 and a few 
years later became interested in the fur trade. In 1822 he formed a partnership 
with Andrew Henry, one of the members of the original Missouri Fur Com- 
pany, for the purpose of trading with the Indians along the Rocky Mountains. 
The firm sent two boats up the Missouri to the mouth of the Yellowstone, but 
met with such determined opposition from the Indians that several men were 
killed and about half the goods taken by the savages. The name of the Rocky 
Mountain Fur Company was then adopted and three more attempts were made 
to open trade with the Indians on the upper waters of the IMissouri, but without 
success. In 1826 .A^shley and Henry sold out to Jedediah S. Smith, William L. 
Sublette and David E. Jackson. The new Rocky Mountain Fur Company car- 
ried on a successful business for about five years. Smith died in 1831, Jackson 
withdrew from the company, and Sublette then formed a partnership with 
Robert Campbell, a long time friend, and the two operated on the Upper Mis- 
souri and Platte rivers. For several years Sublette & Campbell were the strong- 
est competitors of the American Fur Company. Then Campbel^died and Sub- 
lette sold out to the Astor interests. 


About the time that Ashley and Henry formed their partnership in 1822, 
Joseph Renville, an old British trader who had been in the employ of the 
Hudson's Bay Company, organized the Columbia Fur Company, for the purpose 
of trading in the Columbia River country. He established several posts in the 
Mandan Indian territory and farther up the Missouri and for a few years was 
the most formidable competitor of the American Fur Company. One of his 
posts was near the mouth of the Niobrara and another was located a few miles 
below Fort Calhoun. The Columbia and American companies were consolidated 
in July, 1827, another instance of the methods employed by Mr. Astor to 
overcome competition and extend his power and trade. 

With the extinction of the Rocky Mountain and Columbia companies, the 
American Fur Company acquired a complete monopoly of the trade along the 
Missouri River, with the possible exception of a free trader here and there, 
who could hardly be considered as a competitor. The post at Bellevue then 
became the most important trading point on the river. Indians came for 
hundreds of miles to the agency and brought their peltries to e.xchange for 
the white man's goods. This trade continued until after the negotiations of the 


treaty of Alarcli i6, 1854, and the removal of the Omaha Indians to their 
resen'ation farther up the Missouri River. 


For many years the City of St. Louis was the center of the fur trade. Once 
a year, sometimes oftener, the furs at the various trading posts were made into 
packs or bales to be taken down the Missouri to market. Each bale weighed 
about one hundred pounds and contained 10 buffalo robes, 14 bear skins, 60 otter, 
80 beaver or raccoon, 120 fox, or 600 muskrat skins, the skins of different 
animals never being mixed in the pack. When the bales were ready they were 
loaded upon a pirogue or a keel-boat and started down the river. 

There was an element of romance in the early navigation of the Missouri 
by the fur traders. The most common craft was the canoe, which was used 
chiefly in local traffic, or on journeys where speed was of more importance than 
capacity. But the canoe of the fur trader was not the thin, highly polished 
veneer affair, with cushioned seats, used by the modern clubman. It was made 
by hollowing out a log to a thin shell, pointed at the bow, and was generally 
referred to as a "dug out." Sometimes two canoes would be lashed together 
and a raft built on top, capable of carrying several bales of furs. 

Next in importance was the pirogue, which was either a large dug-out or 
a flat-bottomed boat with no keel. It was used for carrying larger cargoes 
than could be carried in the ordinary canoe and in waters too shallow for the 
keel-boat. During the prosperous days of the fur traders, it was no unusual 
sight to see a fleet of twenty or more pirogues descending the Missouri laden 
with furs for the warehouses at St. Louis. 

The keel-boat was a more pretentious craft, measuring from fifty to seventy- 
five feet in length and fifteen to eighteen feet wide, with a cabin and sail. Where 
the water was not too deep, it was propelled by long poles, ten or a dozen 
voyageurs walking along each side, each with a pole reaching to the bottom 
of the river, pushing the boat forward. In deep water oars were used, or a 
long line called a cordelle would be passed to the bank, where it would be seized 
by a number of men who pulled the boat onward, those on the boat keeping it 
from striking the bank with their poles. From twelve to fifteen miles up stream 
was a good day's journey for a keel-boat. On the downward trip, where the 
current was favorable, twenty-five miles could be made. 

Then there was the "bull-boat," a craft made of buffalo or elk skins sewed 
together and stretched over a frame work of light poles. This kind of boat 
was usually twenty-five or thirty feet long, ten or twelve feet wide, and about 
twenty inches in depth. A good bull-boat had a carrying capacity of from 
two to three tons. Owing to the fact that it drew but little water it was a 
favorite in shallow streams like the Platte River. 

After the organization of the great fur companies the steamboat came into 
use and made annual trips up the river with provisions for the employees and 
goods for the Indian trade. On the return a cargo of furs would be taken on 
at the trading posts along the river. While none of the Missouri River steamboats 
drew more than four or five feet of water, all being of the flat-bottomed type, 
some of them were rather commodious in their appointments and carried 


passengers as well as freight. With the introduction of the steamboat the 
light-hearted voyageur, with his picturesque garb, who always lightened his labor 
with song, disappeared, and the fur trade was robbed of much of its romance. 


Shortly after the great fur companies began their extensive operations 
Congress passed an act forbidding the sale of liquor to the Indians. The 
Canadian fur companies were not restricted by such legislation and the United 
States traders saw that they were likely to be placed at a disadvantage in the 
Indian trade. They therefore resorted to all sorts of tricks to get "fire water" 
up the Missouri to their trading posts. In 1843 the Omega, Capt. Joseph A. Sire 
master, Joseph La Barge, pilot, was sent up the river liy the American Fur 
Company. She carried as a passenger the naturalist Audubon, who was provided 
with a permit authorizing him to carry with him a quantity of liquor for himself 
and the members of his party. 

Bellevue was the last point where a rigid investigation was likely to be made. 
Upon arriving there Captain Sire was rejoiced to learn that the Indian agent 
was absent. He hurriedly discharged his freight for the post and proceeded on 
up the river, felicitating himself that the danger was past. About 9 o'clock 
that evening he tied up, not far from where the City of Omaha now stands, but 
resumed his voyage at daylight. In leaving his post the agent had delegated the 
duty of making the inspection to a Captain Burgwin, who happened to be 
encamped with a detachment of troops some distance up the river. The sudden 
departure of the Omega from Bellevue awakened him to a realization of the 
fact that he had been somewhat remiss in his duty and he sent a few dragoons 
under a lieutenant to overtake and arrest the progress of the boat until an in- 
spection could be made. The boat was hardly under way the next morning when 
the lieutenant and his dragoons appeared on the bank and two rifle shots were 
fired across the bow. The boat landed and the lieutenant presented a note from 
Captain Burgwin stating that his orders required him to inspect the boat. 

Consternation reigned on the Omega, but Mr. Audubon came to the rescue. 
He showed his permit to carry on the boat a certain quantity of liquor, and 
expressed the desire to visit Captain Burgwin in his camp. Borrowing a horse 
from one of the dragoons, while another acted as escort, the naturalist set out 
for the camp, which was some four miles distant. Two hours were spent in 
conversation with Captain Burgwin and in shooting some birds about the camp. 
At the end of that time the captain and his guest set out for the boat. 

Meantime Captain Sire and his crew had not been idle. The hold of the 
Omega was divided by a bulkhead running lengthwise, on either side of which 
was a narrow tramway to facilitate the handling of freight. At the bow of the 
boat the tramway passed around the end of the bulkhead. All the liquor was 
loaded on the little cars on one side of the bulkhead, after which the men sat 
down to await the arrival of the inspector. When Captain Burgwin arrived he 
was hospitably received. Drinks and dinner were served before the inspection 
was commenced. It was dark in the hold and Captain Sire was careful to provide 
but a single candle. That side of the hold in which there was no liquor was first 
examined, when they came on deck and crossed over to the other side. Some 


little delay occurred, during which the men in the hold swiftly and noiselessly 
pushed the cars bearing the casks around the end of the bulkhead into that side 
of the hold that had already been inspected. The other compartment was then 
examined, Captire Sire insisting upon the most thorough examination, and 
Captain Burgwin expressed himself as entirely satisfied there was no liquor on 
the boat except that authorized by Mr. Audubon's permit. The Omega then 
proceeded on her way. 

The next year Captain Sire and Pilot La Barge passed up the river in charge 
of the Nimrod, with supplies for the American Fur Company's posts. At that 
time the Indian agent at Bellevue was a Mr. Miller, who had formerly been a 
Methodist minister, and who had a wholesome prejudice against whisky in addi- 
tion to his desire to perform his official duty according to instructions. Captain 
Sire knew that this man was carefully examining every craft that went up the 
Missouri and decided to outwit him by placing kegs of liquor in barrels of flour, 
which were then marked "P. A. S.," as though consigned to Peter A. Sarpy 
at Bellevue. The Nimrod had no sooner tied up at the Bellevue landing than 
the barrels of flour were rolled ashore and deposited in the company's ware- 
house. Mr. Miller then went on board and examined every nook and corner of 
the vessel. Finding nothing of a contraband nature, he gave the captain permis- 
sion to proceed on his voyage. 

But this year Captain Sire was in no hurry and announced his intention of 
remaining at Bellevue vmtil the following morning. Sire's reputation as a 
smuggler was by this time well known ,and the uncalled for delay aroused Mil- 
ler's suspicions. He therefore placed a man on watch, with instructions to report 
immediately any unusual action on the boat during the night. About midnight, 
when everything was quiet and the sentinel had dropped ofif to sleep, there was 
suddenly developed a great activity on the part of the Nimrod's crew. The bar- 
rels of flour were hastily reloaded and the guard awakened to discover that the 
boat was under a ftill head of steam. He at once gave the signal, but the mis- 
chief had been done. La Barge seized an ax and cut the line that held the boat 
to the landing, shouting at the same time to the men ; "Get aboard, quick ! The 
line has parted!" 

The boat dropped out into the current and the engineer crowded on all steam 
just as the agent appeared on the wharf and wanted to know the reason for this 
unwarranted proceeding. "Ofi, the line broke," said La Barge, "and as it was 
so near daylight we thought it was not worth while to tie up again." As a matter 
of fact it was not quite 3 o'clock, and the agent could not understand how the 
engineer happened to have steam up at that hour. Nor did he place credit in La 
Barge's statement that the line had parted. Lie did not believe in such coinci- 
dences as a broken hawser and a full head of steam at 3 A. M., and he became 
more skeptical when he discovered that Mr. Sarpy's flour had been reloaded. 
His chagrin over the way he had been deceived was so great that he reported the 
Nimrod to the United States authorities. Some difficulty followed and the 
(jovernment threatened to revoke the fur company's license, but the whisky 
reached its destination and was sold to the Indians at the usual profit. 



While the traders, trappers and agents of the great fur companies were navi- 
gating the Missouri in their canoes, pirogues and keel-boats, or roaming over the 
plains westward to the Rocky Mountains, the United States Government sent 
several expeditions into the West, some of which passed through Nebraska. 

In 1819 General Atkinson passed up the Missouri with what was known as 
the "Yellowstone Expedition." One result of this movement was the establish- 
ment of the military post a few miles above the present City of Omaha. It was 
successively known as ''Camp Missouri," "Fort Atkinson" and "Fort Calhoun," 
and was located near the site of the present Village of Fort Calhoun, in Washing- 
ton County, Nebraska. The post was occupied for about eight years, chiefly by 
detachments of the Sixth United States Infantry, but, "owing to the unhealthi- 
ness of the place and other considerations,'' it was abandoned on June 27, 1827, 
the soldiers quartered there going to Jefferson Barracks. 

The same year (1819) Maj. Stephen H. Long led an expedition from Pitts- 
burgh, Pa., to the Rocky Mountains, under orders of John C. Calhoun, then 
secretary of war. The object of the expedition was topographical. Major Long's 
steamboat, the Western Engineer, reached the mouth of the Big Nemaha early 
in September. On the 15th he passed the mouth of the Platte River and two 
days later tied up at Fort Lisa, the trading post of .the Missouri Fur Company, 
a few miles above where Omaha is now situated. The Western Engineer was 
the first steamboat to ascend the Missouri as far as Omaha. At Fort Lisa Major 
Long went into winter quarters. During the winter councils were held and 
friendly relations established with a number of Indian tribes. In the summer 
of 1820 Long explored the valleys of the Elkhorn and Platte rivers. His report 
was published in 1823. 

Capt. Nathaniel J. Wyeth, with eighteen men, passed through Nebraska in 
May, 1832, over the route known as the "Oregon Trail." He was accompanied 
to the Rocky Mountains by William L. Sublette's company of trappers and 
traders, who acted as guides to the expedition. Wyeth led a second expedition 
over the same route in 1834. 

In 1835 Col. Henry Dodge led an expedition from Fort Leavenworth up the 
Platte Valley, following the south fork to the Rocky Mountains. The two expedi- 
ditions of Col. John C. Fremont, in 1842 and 1843, passed through the same 
region, with Kit Carson as guide. These expeditions gave to the people of the 
United States official information concerning the country west of the Missouri 








The story of the Mormon emigration is closely identified with the history of 
Omaha and Douglas County, for the reason that the first white settlements within 
the limits of the present State of Nebraska were those made by the Mormons in 
1846. In connection with the story of that emigration, although not an essential 
part of Omaha's history, it may be of interest to the reader to know something 
in general of this peculiar sect. 

Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, or, more properly speak- 
ing, the "Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints," was born at Sharon, 
Vt., in December, 1805. His mother took a deep interest in religious subjects, 
was somewhat visionary at times, and it is said she predicted that a prophet would 
come out of her family. In 1816 the family removed to Palmyra, N. Y., where 
Joseph acquired a meager education. In the spring of 1820 a great religious 
revival was conducted at Palmyra. Joseph had inherited from his mother a fond- 
ness for all subjects of a supernatural character, and about the close of the 
revival meetings announced that he had had a vision, in which he "saw two per- 
sonages above me in the air. They told me to join no denomination, for all their 
creeds are an abomination in the sight of the Lord." 

On September 21, 1823, he had his second vision, when an angel appeared to 
him and revealed the hiding place of the golden plates upon which was written 
the history of the ancient peoples of America. The next day he went, as the 
angel directed him, to the hill of Cumorrah, near Manchester, N. Y., and saw 
the plates, but the angel would not let him take them away. Each year there- 
after for three years, on the 22d of September, he went to the place and saw the 
plates, but each time the angel informed him that the hour for their removal 
had not yet arrived. On the occasion of his fourth annual visit, September 22, 
1827, he was given permission to take the plates and, as they were written in a 
strange language, he was endowed with the supernatural power of translating 



ilieir contents into English. More than two years were spent in this work, but 
in the spring of 1830 the "Book of Mormon" was published. 

Converts to the new faith were not wanting and a colony was established 
at Kirtland, Ohio. There Smith had a "revelation" to go to Independence, Mo., 
and build a temple. But the Mormons were not popular in Independence and 
in the fall of 1833 they were driven out. They took refuge in what is now 
Caldwell County, Mo., where they founded the Town of Far West and again 
began the erection of a temple. Here, also, they became unpopular with the 
residents and Governor Boggs issued a proclamation ordering them out of the 
state. They were expelled by force in the fall of 1838 and took refuge at Nauvoo, 
111., which city they founded. 

.■\bout this time eight shiploads of Mormon converts arrived from Europe. 
The political leaders in Illinois saw that the -Mormons were likely to become a 
power in public affairs and granted Smith a charter for the Town of Nauvoo that 
conferred extravagant and dangerous power upon the municipal officials. An 
Iowa writer says : "Under this charter Nauvoo became a breeding place for 
outlaws, and probably the true story of all the outrages committed by these out- 
laws will never be told. Fugitives from justice sought refuge there, and if 
anyone should be arrested witnesses could always be found to prove an 'alibi.' '' 

In 1842 Governor Boggs was shot and seriously wounded and the attempted 
assassination was charged against the Mormons. The opposition thus started 
continued until in January, 1845, the Illinois Legislature revoked the Nauvoo 
charter. In the meantime Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, had been arrested 
and confined in the jail at Carthage, 111., where they were killed by a mob on the 
night of June 27, 1844. The loss of their leader and the determined opposition 
of the people of Illinois determined the Mormons to seek a more congenial cli- 
mate. Brigham Young was chosen as the head of the church, and in the spring 
of 1846 they began their migration westward. 

Young divided the "forces of Israel" into companies of hundreds, fifties 
and tens, and in their march across Iowa they moved with as great a precision 
as a well-disciplined army of soldiers. By the middle of May, 2,000 wagons 
and 15,000 Mormons were on their way to the Missouri River. It was a wet, 
backward spring, the roads in places were almost impassable and their progress 
was slow. Several hundred stopped at Garden Grove and Mount Pisgah, in Iowa, 
for the purpose of raising a crop. On the 14th of June the advance guard, under 
the leadership of Brigham Young, reached the Missouri River opposite where 
the City of Omaha now stands and there established a "camp of Israel" until a 
ferryboat could be built. This camp soon became known as "Miller's Hollow." 
so named for one of the Mormon elders. 

The war with Mexico was then in progress and the United States Govern- 
ment authorized Capt. James Allen to raise a battalion of five companies among 
the Mormon emigrants. The Mormons readily answered the call and the volun- 
teers were organized by Col. Thomas L. Kane, a brother of the Arctic explorer. 
At Fort Leavenworth each Mormon volunteer received a bounty of $40.00, 
which was sent back to his family. Colonel Kane took it upon himself to 
see that the money reached its destination, and for this and other kindnesses 
shown the emigrants the name of the camp at "Miller's Hollow," was changed 
to Kanesville. A few vears later the citizens sent to Glenwood, Iowa, for .\. D. 


Jones to come and survey the town. At that time there was a postoffice called 
Council Bluffs at Trader's Point, a few miles below Kanesville, and after Jones' 
survey was completed the new town was named "Council Bluffs City," but after 
a time the word city was dropped. 

The Mormon battalion joined the command of Col. Stephen W. Kearney and 
marched to Santa Fe, thence to California, where it arrived after the war was 
over. Some of them then worked in the construction of Sutter's mill race and 
were there when the first gold was discovered. After the departure of the 
battalion those who remained behind set to work to establish quarters for the 
coming winter. Friendly relations with the Pottawattami and Omaha Indians 
were the first consideration. A council was held with the Omaha, and Brigham 
Young made known the wants of his people. At the close of Young's speech to 
the Indians the chief. Big Elk, replied as follows : 

"My son, thou hast spoken well. All that thou hast said I have in my heart. 
I have much to say. We are poor. When we go to hunt game in one place 
we meet with an enemy, and so in another place our enemies kill us. We do 
not kill them. I hope we shall be friends. You may stay on these lands two 
years or more. Our young men shall watch your cattle. We would be glad 
to have you trade with us. We will warn you of danger from other Indians." 

But Young was not willing to accept the mere verbal promise of the chief. 
He drew up a formal lease for five years, w-hich was signed by Big Elk, Little 
Chief and Standing Elk. After the conclusion of the council the i\Iormons gave 
a banquet to the Indians. A ferry was then established across the Missouri, 
nearly opposite the present Town of Florence, though some crossed the river 
at Sarpy's Ferry at Bellevue, and the "Winter Quarters" were located about 
where the Town of Florence now stands. Here the Mormons built several hun- 
dred log cabins, nearly a hundred sod houses and an "octagon council house, 
resembling a New England potato heap in time of frost." Sorensen says: 
"The industry of the people was plainly evidenced by the workshops, mills and 
factories which sprang up as if by magic." 

Although the Mormons raised a crop and divided the products of their fields 
and gardens with their Indian friends, their activity destroyed so much timber 
that the game were driven away and the Omaha chiefs complained to their 
agent. An investigation showed that the Indians had good grounds for their 
complaint and the Mormons were ordered to vacate the Omaha country. In 
the fall of 1S46 there were probably fifteen thousand Mormons encamped in the 
Missouri Valley on the Omaha and Pottawatomi lands. The following winter 
was one of unusual severity and to make matters worse a plague of a scrofulous 
nature broke out among the emigrants. This disease made its appearance among 
the Indians in 1845 'I'ld was "attributed to the rank vegetation and decaying 
organic matter on the river bottoms." Clyde B. Aitchison, in a paper read 
before the Nebraska Historical Society, January 11, 1899, says there were 600 
deaths in the Mormon settlement at Florence. 

On January 14, 1847, Brigham Young had a revelation to seek a new loca- 
tion farther west. The order of the Indian agent to vacate the Omaha lands 
may have had something to do with the "revelation," but at any rate a company 
of 146, three of whom were women, with seventy-three wagons loaded with pro- 
visions and supplies, left the winter quarters on April 14, 1847, just three months 


after the revelation. Another company under Parley P. Pratt and John Taylor 
left a little later. It numbered 1,553 persons, with 560 wagons and a number 
of domestic animals. In May a third company, numbering 1,229 people, with 
397 wagons, under the personal direction of Brigham Young, started to follow 
those who had gone before. Heber C. Kimball was the leader of another com- 
pany which left in July. It consisted of 662 persons and 226 wagons. A week 
or two later Willis Richards led 526 persons, with 169 wagons, up the Platte 
Valley, and with the departure of this company the winter quarters were deserted. 
Those who did not go west with the main body recrossed the Missouri and set- 
tled in the Pottawatomi counti-y along the bluffs from Glenwood to the mouth of 
the Boyer River. 

On July 21, 1847, Erastus Snow and Orson Pratt, the leaders of the first 
company sent out from the winter quarters, saw from the top of an eminence 
the panorama of the Great Salt Lake Valley and sent a message back to Brigham 
Young that they had found the place for the Mormon colony. During the next 
live years fully one hundred thousand Mormons passed through Iowa and up 
the Platte Valley on their way to Salt Lake. A history of the Mormons entitled 
"Route from Liverpool to Great Salt Lake Valley" was published in 1853, edited 
by one James Linforth. It says : 

"The next consecutive event of importance in President Young's career after 
his arrival at Kanesville or Council Bluffs, was his starting in the spring of 
1847, at the head of 143 picked men, embracing eight of the Twelve Apostles, 
across the unexplored country in search of a new home for the Saints beyond 
the Rocky Mountains. (Young accompanied this company only as far as the 
Elkhorn River.) The pioneer band pursued their way over sage and saleratus 
plains, across unbridged rivers and through mountain defiles, until their toilsome 
and weary journey was terminated by the discovery of Great Salt Lake Valley 
and the choice of it for the gathering place of the Saints. They then returned 
to Council Bluffs, where they arrived on the 31st of October, and an epistle was 
issued on the 23d of December by the Twelve Apostles, noticing the principal 
events since the expulsion from Nauvoo and the discovery of the Great Salt 
Lake Valley." 

In the march of the Mormons across the plains each man carried a rifle or 
a musket and such discipline was maintained that it is said the Indians would 
frequently pass a small party of Mormons and attack a much larger body of 
other emigrants. The route they followed from the Mississippi River near 
Keokuk became known as the "Mormon Trail," and Omaha was a favorite 
crossing place for the emigrants. Thus the Mormons paved the way for the 
"Gate City," and in after years the "Mormon Trail" was developed into the great 
Union Pacific Railway. 

The Mormon emigration continued until about the beginning of the Civil war 
in 1861 and some of the Omaha merchants did a thriving business for several 
years in furnishing outfits and supplies to the emigrants, as the Missouri River 
was the last point on the Mormon Trail where purchases could be made for the 
trip across the plains. In the latter '50s a number of outrages were committed 
upon emigrant trains and some of these depredations were charged against the 
Mormon organizations known as the "Avenging Angels" and the "Danites." 
When the United States announced, in the fall of 1857, that an expedition was 


to be sent into Utah to preserve order and prevent a recurrence of such outrages, 
considerable anxiety was felt among the settlers of the West, for fear the Mor- 
mons would retaliate by sending expeditions of the "Angels" and "Danites" 
against the frontier settlements. 

That at least some of the people of Nebraska were affected by this feeling of 
anxiety is seen in a communication to the Omaha Times, edited and published by 
William W. Wyman. This contribution appeared in the columns of that paper 
in April, 1858, over the signature of "Fair Warning." As it shows how badly 
some of the western settlers were alarmed, it is given below in full : 

"Circumstances of the most alarming character are being developed, which 
should arouse attention to the movements of the Mormons in this locality, and 
which warrant and loudly demand of the United States Government that a militarj' 
post be established not far distant from this city. Not less than one hundred of 
these people are now housed in our midst. It is well known that near Florence, 
but six miles distant from us, the Saints have a village on the north bank of Mill 
Creek, where are their v^'arehouses, hotel and other fixtures requisite for fitting up 
a small army without risk of detection. There, too, are their powder magazines. 

"In our city just now a great stir is going on amongst them, but for what 
immediate purpose is not known. It is known, however, that every saintly dollar 
not absolutely required to keep together body and soul is given for the purchase 
of munitions of war. A large number of Mormons are leaving this vicinity 
this spring. They do not, as usual, go in hand or ox-cart trains, but small, strag- 
gling squads are seen moving westward toward the South Pass. Horses and 
mules are used instead of oxen on account, as is supposed, of their better adapta- 
tion to quick movements. When met thus on their journey and asked 
their destination, the common reply is, 'Washington Territory, Oregon or Cali- 
fornia.' By this means they hope to pass Colonel Johnston and his army, or, 
perhaps, slfp around him by some of the secret mountain passes. 

"In the event of failure in both these moves, then the Mormon city (Genoa), 
some twenty miles west of the Loup Fork, will afford a very suitable retreat 
whence to sally forth and lay waste the towns and settlements west of this 
]joint — Columbus, Monroe, lUichanan. I^'ontenelle, Fremont, North Bend, Elk- 
horn, and many others, now without the least show of protection. Last fall 
this Mormon city contained not less than five hundred souls ; at this time it no 
doubt numliers one thousand. It is well known that the Mormons are in pos- 
session of the mails whilst they are being transported across the plains; instance 
the recent de])redations under the walls of Fort Kearney, where, in an old smith 
shop by the wayside, the United States mail was held twelve days and all tlie 
Government dispatches for the army were stolen and sent slyly to Brigham 

"When our army in Utah shall enter the \'alley of Salt Lake the Mormons 
en masse will rise in hostile array, for they are sworn to resist. At that moment 
let the good people west of us look well to their safety. We hesitate not to say 
that those 1,000 Mormons near Loup Fork, armed and equipped as they are, can 
and will sweep from existence every Gentile village and soul west of the Elk- 
horn. As to Omaha City, the nursling of a Government hostile to Mormon rule, 
the rival of Mormon towns and the victim of sworn Mormon vengeance, how 
shall she share in this strife? In the space of one night the too Saints now here 


could lay in ashes every house in our city, whilst the armed bands in our vicinity 
should pillage and revel in our blood. The Deseret News proclaims to the wide 
world from the great leader of the hosts of the anointed thus: 'Winter quarters 
is mine, saith the Lord. Nebraska will 1 lay waste. With fear and with sword 
shall my people blot out from the face of the earth all those who kill the 
prophets and stone the Lord's anointed.' 

"Aside from the teachers in the Mormon Church, the laymen are fully per- 
suaded in their minds that they are the chosen of the Lord. One thousand Mor- 
mons, imbued with this spirit, will, on the tield of battle, defeat ten thousand of 
die regular soldiery and lav waste a territory whilst the (Government is yet 
beginning to oppose. 

"For verity of the statements herein contained as to the movements of this 
sect, let those who wish inquire of the merchants who sell ammunition here, at 
Florence and at Crescent City. Let them see if Council Bluffs merchants are 
not drained of these articles by the train which lately left that place. Then let the 
store houses of the Saints near blorence be searched, place scouts on the plains 
and there examine wagons and jiacks. That certainly should satisfy one and all, 
even the most skeptical." 

Truly, "Fair Warning" was a jiessimistic pro])het — a veritable "calamity 
howler" — but events proved his fears to be without foundation. The Deseret 
News mentioned in the communication was a Mormon paper published at Salt 
Lake City. At the time the first Mormons settled about Salt Lake in 1847, '^^^ 
territory was outside the boundaries of the United States. By the Treaty of 
Guadalupe Hidalgo, in 1848, which concluded the Mexican war, Utah, with other 
domain, was ceded by Mexico to the United States. The Mormons then organized 
the State of Deseret, adopted a constitution and sent a delegate to Washington 
to urge the admission of the state. 

Congress refused to admit the State of Deseret, or to recognize the delegate, 
but in 1850 the Territory of Utah was organized and Brigham Young was 
appointed governor. The trouble in 1857 grew out of the fact that Young could 
not agree with the other territorial officials appointed by President Buchanan. 
Perhaps the appointees may have been incompetent to a certain degree, but the 
Territorial Legislature had already adopted the laws of the State of Deseret and 
it became apparent that the Mormon Church \vas determined to rule the terri- 
tory. Instructions from Washington were disregarded and Young openly defied 
the United States authorities. It was finally decided by the administration to 
send a military expedition into Utah. Gen. William Harney was selected as 
leader, but was succeeded by Col. Albert Sidnev Johnston, who was afterward 
killed at the battle of Shiloh, while commanding the Confederate forces. The ex- 
pedition left Fort Leavenworth in the fall of 1857. and, while there was little actual 
fighting, the Mormons harassed Johnston's movements to such an extent by 
burning trains, etc., that the troops did not occupy Salt Lake City until in June. 
1858. Young was removed as governor and with the military occupation of the 
territory the Mormon trouble ended. A garrison was maintained there for 
several years as a ])recautionary measure against further disobedience on the 
part of the Mormon leaders. 






The first civilized nation to lay claim to the territory now comprising the 
State of Nebraska was Spain. Her claim was based on the discovery of the 
Mississippi River by Be Soto in 1541, but the wisest of her statesmen or geogra- 
phers did not know the extent of the great Mississippi Valley. Hence, while 
nominally included in the Spanish possessions in America, Nebraska remained 
untenanted, save for the wild beast and the roving Indian. 

Nearly a century and a half after De Soto's discovery of the Mississippi, 
the French explorers, Hennepin and La Salle, traversed the river for practi- 
cally its entire length and the latter, on April 9, 1862, laid claim to the entire 
region drained by it and its tributaries, giving the country the name of Louis- 
iana. Spain acquiesced in the French claim and for eighty years all the vast 
valley of the great Father of Waters was recognized as French domain. During 
that period some explorers, notably the Mallet brothers, visited what is now 
Nebraska, but no attempt was made to found a settlement or extend the pro- 
vincial government that far north. 

At the close of the French and Indian war in 1762, all the French possessions 
west of the Mississippi River were ceded to Spain and Nebraska again became a 
part of the domain of his Catholic Majesty. Spain remained in possession until 
by the Treaty of October i, 1800, the province was ceded back to France, though 
that country did not take actual possession for more than two years after the 
treaty. Between 1763 and 1800 settlements were extended up the Mississippi 
as far as St. Louis, and in a vague way civil government was applied for the first 
time to the country along the Missouri River. There were no permanent white 
inhabitants, though a number of white men went into the Indian country for the 
purpose of trading with the natives. 

By the Treaty of Paris, April 30, 1803, the Province of Louisiana was trans- 
ferred to the United States. On the last day of October following, Congress 
passed an act authorizing the President to take possession of the new purchase 
and "form a temporary government therein." The province was transferred 
from Spain to France and from France to the United States on December 20, 
1803, but the actual government in the upper or northern part of Louisiana, 



which included Nebraska, dates from March lo, 1804. On that day Maj. Amos 
Stoddard of the United States army assumed the duties of governor of Upper 
Louisiana. In his "Historical Sketches of Louisiana," Major Stoddard says: 

"The ceremony of the transfer (from Spain to France) occurred between the 
hours of II A. J\L and 12 M., March 9, 1804. The Spanish flag was lowered and 
the standard of France was run up in its place. The people, although conscious 
that the sovereignty of France was being resumed but for a moment and simply 
as a necessary formality in the final transfer, nevertheless could not restrain 
their joy at seeing float over them once more the standard which even forty 
years of the mild sway of Spain had not estranged from their memory. So deep 
was the feeling that, when the customary hour came for lowering the flag, the 
people besought me to let it remain up all night. The request was granted and 
the flag of France floated until the next morning over the city from which it 
was about to be withdrawn forever. At the appointed time on the next day, 
March 10, 1804, the ceremony of transfer from France to the United States was 
enacted. The flag of the French Republic was withdrawn and the Stars and 
Stripes waved for the first time in the future metropolis of the Valley of the 
Mississippi. Thus St. Louis became perhaps the only city in history which has 
seen the flags of three nations float over it in token of sovereignty within the 
space of twenty-four hours. 

By the act of Congress, approved Alarch 26, 1804, Louisiana was divided 
into the Territory (now the State) of Louisiana, and the District of Louisiana, 
which included all the remainder of the province. Under the provisions of the 
same act the District of Louisiana was made subject to the territorial government 
of Indiana, of which Gen. William H. Harrison was then governor. Some his- 
torians state that by this act all of Upper Louisiana was made a part of the 
Territory of Indiana. This is not correct. Technically speaking, the act merely 
regarded the District of Louisiana as unorganized territory and attached it to 
Indiana for judicial purposes, etc. 

About a year later a new arrangement was made. On March 3, 1805, Presi- 
dent Jefl^erson approved an act changing the name from the District of Louisiana 
to the Territory' of Louisiana and authorizing him to appoint a governor, secre- 
tary and two judges therefor. Gen. Tames Wilkinson was appointed governor; 
Frederick Bates, secretary ; Return J. Meigs and John B. C. Lucas, judges. 
St. Louis was made the capital of the territory and the officials above named 
were authorized to make such laws as they might consider necessary. Their 
task in this respect was not an arduous one, as outside of St. Louis and the 
immediate vicinity there were no white inhabitants for whom legislation was 
necessary, and such laws as were made were of the simplest character. 

On June 4, 1812, President Madison approved the act creating the Territory 
of Missouri, which included the present states of Arkansas and Nebraska. The 
Territory of Arkansas was cut off by the act of March 2, 1819, and Missouri 
became a state on August 10, 1821. Nebraska Vv-as then left without any form 
of civil government for more than thirty-two years, though it was attached to 
the United States judicial district of the State of Alissouri. 



As early as 1844 Stephen A. Douglas, then a representative in Congress from 
Illinois, introduced a bill to organize a territory west of the [Missouri River. It 
was referred to the committee on territories, but was never reported back to the 
House. In March, 1S48, he introduced a similar bill, in which he defined the 
boundaries as the fortieth and forty-third parallels of north latitude, the Missouri 
River and the summit of the Rock Mountains. This bill met the same fate as its 
predecessor and for over three years Nebraska continued without a government 
of any kind, except its attachment to the United States judicial district of the 
State of Missouri. 

In December, 185 1. W'illard P. Hall, of Missouri, introduced in the National 
House of Representatives a bill to create an organized territory immediately west 
of the Missouri, but he failed to give it the attention necessary to bring it to a 
final vote, allowing it to die of neglect. At the next session of Congress the 
same Hall introduced a bill to organize the Territory of Platte. Had this bill 
become a law, the territory would have included the greater part of the present 
State of Nebraska, but it was referred to the committee on territories and there 
its history ends. 

On February 2. 1853. William A. Richardson, a representative from Illinois, 
introduced a bill to organize the Territory of Nebraska, to extend from 36° 30' 
to 43^" north latitude and from the Missouri River to the summit of the Rocky 
Mountains. It seems that Mr. Richardson was more persistent in support of 
his measure than ]\Ir. Hall had been, for on the lOth of the same month it 
passed the House by a vote of ninety-eight to forty-three and was sent to the 
Senate. On the 17th it was reported in that body by Stephen A. Douglas and on 
March 2, 1853, the Senate, by a vote of twenty-five to twenty, refused to con- 
sider the bill. Thus ended the fourth attempt to organize a territory west of 
the Missouri. 

In the meantime settlers were convng into the Missouri \'alley, many of 
whom were looking forward to the time when the Indian title to the lands west 
of the river would be extinguished and the formation there of an organized 
territor)'. After the defeat of the Richardson Bill by the Senate, as above noted, 
some of these settlers decided to take a hand in the matter by electing a delegate 
to Congress to press the question of organizing a territory. No authority existed 
for the election of such a delegate, but on October 11, 1853, a number of citizens 
of Iowa crossed over to Sarpy's trading post at Bellevue, where they were joined 
l)y the few white people li\ing about the post, and an informal election was held, 
resulting in the choice of Hadley D. Johnson, of Council Bluffs, as the delegate. 
Farther down the river the settlers took similar action by the election of Rev. 
Thomas Johnson, who was in charge of an Indian mission in what is now the 
State of Kansas. 

The next, and what proved to be the successful effort, to organize a territor}- 
west of the Missouri had its inception on December 14, 1853, in a bill to organize 
the Territory of Nebraska, which was on that day introduced in the United States 
Senate by Augustus C. Dodge, then senator from Iowa. The Dodge Bill pro- 
\ided for a territory to extend from 36° 30' to 43" 30' north latitude, and from 
Uie Missouri River to the summit of the Rocky Mountains. It was referred to 

>• Jf«' ■■ 


the committee on territories of which .Mr. Douglas was chairman, and on Janu- 
ary 4, 1854, that committee reported back a substitute bill, including part of the 
[jresent State of Minnesota and most of the two Dakotas. 

. On the very day that the Dodge Bill was introduced in the Senate, Hadley D. 
Johnson started for Washington, where he arrived early in January. There he 
met the other Johnson, and although neither of them had any official standing as 
a delegate, both were freely consulted. Hadle)' D. Johnson presented the desires 
of his constituents so ably, and his arguments were so logical, that Mr. Douglas 
asked the Senate to resubmit the bill of January 4th to the committee on terri- 
tories for further consideration, which was done. On January 23, 1854, Mr. 
Douglas reported a bill for the organization of two territories — Nebraska on the 
north and Kansas on the south. This was the famous "Kansas-Nebraska Bill," 
which, after a long and acrimonious debate, passed the Senate on the night of 
March 3, 1854, by a vote of thirty-seven to fourteen. 

In the House the Richardson Bill, introduced by Mr. Richardson of Illinois, 
was practically a duplicate of the Senate bill offered and championed by Mr. 
Douglas. When final action was taken on the measure in the Senate, Mr. Rich- 
ardson promptly substituted the Senate bill for his own and under the operation 
of the previous question it passed the House by a vote of 113 to 100. The bill 
was signed by President Pierce on May 30, i8g4,..T!lie .boundaries of the Terri- 
tory of Nebraska, as defined by the bill, were-a^'i'fOTrdWsV- 

"Section i. Be it enacted by the Senate aiJd'-lHotiseiof-'Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled : That all that part of the 
territory of the United States included within the following limits, except such 
portions as are hereinafter expressly exempted* fr6ftf.:ffie:'o.perations of this act, 
to wit: Beginning at a point on the Missotiri River-where the fortieth parallel 
of north latitude crosses the same ; thence west on said parallel to the east 
boundary of the Territory of Utah, on the summit of the Rocky Mountains; 
thence on said summit northward to the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude ; 
thence east on said parallel to the western boundary of the Territory of Min- 
nesota ; thence southward on said boundary to the Missouri River ; thence down 
the main channel of said river to the place of beginning, be, and the same is. 
hereby created into a temporary Covernmetit, by the name of the Territory of 
Nebraska ; and when admitted as a state or states, the said territory, or any 
portion of the same, shall be received into the Union with or without slavery, 
as their constitution may prescribe at the time of their admission : Provided, 
That nothing in this act contained shall be construed to inhibit the Government 
of the United States from dividing said territory into two or more territories. 
in such manner and at such time as Congress shall deem convenient and proper." 

The motive for the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, creating two territories west of 
the Missouri, instead of one as originally proposed, is fotmd in the efi^orts of the 
advocates of slavery to maintain their balance of power in the United States 
Senate. Almost from the very beginning of the American Republic, the slavery 
question became a "bone of contention" in political afl^airs. By 1819 seven of 
the original thirteen states had abolished slavery within their borders. Ken- 
tucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama had been admitted as 
slave states and Vermont, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois as free states, making 
eleven of each at the time Missouri sought admission into the Lhiion in 1820. 


After a great deal of discussion that state was admitted under the provisions of 
the act known as the "Missouri Compromise," which admitted Missouri without 
any restrictions as to slavery, but expressly stipulated that in all the remaining 
portion of the Louisiana Purchase north of the line marking the latitude of 36° 
30' slavery should be forever prohibited. 

From that time forward the friends of slavery opposed the admission of a 
free state, unless a slave state was also admitted. Maine was admitted in 1820 
and Missouri in 1821, so that the Senate of the United States was composed of 
forty-eight members, half representing free states and half from slave states. 
The admission of Arkansas in 1836 was balanced by the admission of Michigan 
in 1837. Florida and Texas, both slave states, were admitted in 1845, giving the 
slave power a majority of four in the Senate. But Iowa was admitted as a free 
state in 1846 and the equilibrium was again restored by the admission of Wis- 
consin in 1848. California came into the Union as a free state under the pro- 
visions of the "Omnibus Bill," or Compromise of 1850, and when the bill for 
the organization of Nebraska Territory, north of the line of 36" 30', came up 
in Congress, the senators from the slave states saw the balance of power was 
about to be lost. They therefore insisted upon the creation of two territories, 
in the hope of making Kansas a slave state. Section one of the bill, above quoted, 
was a direct repeal of the Missouri Compromise, in that it provided that "when 
admitted as a state or states, the said territory, or any portion of the same, shall 
be received into the Union with or without slavery, as their constitution may 
prescribe at the time of their admission." 

Nebraska has been called the "Mother of States." As originally created by 
the act of 1854, the territory contained the present states of North and South 
Dakota; all that part of Montana east of the Rocky Mountains; about three- 
fourths of Wyoming, and parts of Colorado and Idaho. The area of the present 
State of Nebraska is 75,995 square miles. 

Pursuant to the provisions of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, President FrankHn 
Pierce appointed the following territorial officials for Nebraska : Francis Burt, 
of South Carolina, governor; Thomas B. Cuming, of lov.'a, secretary; Fenner 
Ferguson, of Michigan, chief justice ; James Bradley, of Indiana, and Edward R. 
Hardin, of Georgia, associate justices; Mark \Y. Izard, of Arkansas, marshal; 
E.xperience Estabrook, of Wisconsin, United States attorney. Governor Burt 
arrived at Bellevue on October 7, 1854. He was in bad health at the time, and 
on the i6th he took the oath of office and died two days later. 

Secretary Cuming assumed tlie duties of acting governor and served until 
February 20, 1855, when he was succeeded by Mark W. Izard. His first official 
act was to order a census of the territory, which was completed on November 20, 
1854. and showed a population of 2,732. He then divided the territory into 
eight counties — Burt, Cass, Dodge, Douglas, Forney. Pierce. Richardson and 
Washington — ordered an election for members of the Territorial Legislature on 
December 12, 1854, and issued a proclamation calling the Legislature to meet 
at Omaha on Tuesday, January 16, 1S55. The territorial government thus 
established lasted until 1867. 



On April ig, 1864, President Lincoln approved an act of Congress authoriz- 
ing the people of Nebraska to elect delegates to a constitutional convention in 
May and take the necessary steps for admission into the Union as a state. The 
act did not provide any means for the people to express their views on the ques- 
tion of statehood. During the Civil war, which was not yet ended, the growth 
of the territory had been slow, and conditions were aggravated by the hostile 
attitude of the Indians on the plains west of the white settlements. Under these 
circumstances, many of the inhabitants of the territory felt that the movement 
lor statehood was somewhat premature, and that it would be better to remain a 
territory, the expenses of which would be largely defrayed by the Federal Gov- 
ernment, than to become a state, with the prospects of burdensome taxes. James 
M. Woolworth, in a paper published in \'oIume V, "Transactions of the 
Nebraska Historical Society," says : 

"In the election for members of the convention, party lines were not drawn. 
On one side, candidates favorable to state organization were nominated ; on the 
other, candidates who were pledged to vote for an adjournment, sine die, as soon 
as the convention was organized, and before it proceeded to business. The result 
was, two-thirds of the members elected were favorable to adjourning, and they 
were elected by a large majority. For instance, in Douglas, one of the most 
populous and wealthy counties in the territory, but forty-five votes were cast 
for state organization." 

No record of the election was preserved, probably for the reason that the 
project for state organization received such a meager support and the authorities 
attached but little importance to the results of the election. The convention met 
in July, 1864, elected officers and immediately afterward voted to adjourn sine 
die, according to the program. 

In 1865 the Civil war came to an end, the Indians were pacified, and there 
was a heavy tide of immigration to Nebraska. Prosperity returned and early 
in the winter of 1865-66 the subject of statehood was revived. A plan was set 
on foot to have the Legislature draft a constitution and organize a state govern- 
ment. Petitions to this end were sent to every settlement in the territory, but 
the response was not as enthusiastic as the advocates of statehood hoped for, 
only about six hundred signatures being received. At the beginning of the 
session a majority of the legislators were opposed to the proposition. Through 
the influence of Chief Justice Kellogg, Governor Saunders, Secretary Paddock, 
Hadley D. Johnson, William A. Little, Experience Estabrook, O. P. Mason, 
and perhaps two or three others, a majority was finally won over to the idea of 
having a constitution made by a self-constituted committee and submitted to the 
people. Says Woolworth : 

"In the calm and undisturbed retirement of private rooms, and under pro- 
tection, from interrtiption, of locks and keys, these gentlemen pursued their 
work. They produced an instrument suited to their purposes, which the Legis- 
lature was to adopt at their discretion. Its chief merit was that it provided a 
cheap government. .According to their estimates, its annual expenses would 
not exceed $12,000." 

This proposed inexpensive government was to insure the ratification of the 


constitution by the people, its framers being doubtful about the fate of a con- 
stitution that would provide for a state government that would necessarily 
involve any considerable increase in taxes. On February 4, 1866, the constitu- 
tion was introduced in the council, along with the following joint resolution, 
which was subsequently ado])ted by both branches of the Legislature: 

"Resolved, by the council and House of Representatives of the Territory of 
Nebraska, that the foregoing constitution be submitted to the qualified electors 
of the territory, for their adoption or rejection at an election hereby authorized 
to be held at the time and in the manner specified in the seventh section of the 
schedule of said constitution, and that the returns and canvass of the votes 
cast at said election be made as in said section prescribed." 

This resolution passed the council the same day by a vote of seven to six, 
and on the 8th it passed the House by a vote of twenty-two to sixteen. It was 
approved by Governor Saunders on the (jth and at the election on June 2, 1866, 
it was ratified by the people by a vote of 3,938 to 3,838. Congress was then in 
session and on July 28, 1866, a bill was passed providing for the admission of 
Nebraska. The final adjournment came a few days later, before the bill was 
signed by President Andrew Jackson, and it failed to become a law. 

At the next session of Congress another bill for the admission of the state 
passed the Senate on January 9, 1867, by a vote of 24 to 13, and just a week 
later it passed the House, 103 to 55. It was vetoed by President Johnson on the 
2gth, but on February g, 1867, it was passed over the veto, the vote standing 31 
to 9 in the Senate and 120 to 43 in the House. On Februarv' 20, 1867, the state 
Legislature, elected the year before, met in special session, pursuant to the 
proclamation of Governor Saunders, and on the ist of March the' President 
issued his proclamation declaring "the admission of the state into the Union is 
now complete." 

To recapitulate: During a period of 3>'_j centuries the territory now 
constituting the State of Nebraska was first claimed by Spain in 1541 ; 
by France in 1682. ceded to Spain in 1762; receded to France in 1800; sold to 
the United States in 1803; attached to the Territory of Indiana in 1804; made a 
part of the District of Louisiana a year later; became a part of the Territory 
of Missouri in 1812; was without any form of civil government from 1821 to 
1854; then became an original territory of the L^nited States by act of Congress, 
and since March i, 1867, Nebraska has been one of the sovereign states of the 
American Union. Its star was added to the flag on July 4. 1867. the thirty-seventh 
in the constellation. 





Douglas County, of which Omaha is the county seat, is situated on the eastern 
horder of the state. It is bounded on the north by Washington and Dodge coun- 
ties ; on the east by the Missouri River, which separates it from the State of 
Iowa ; on the south by Sarpy County, and on the west by the Platte River, which 
separates it from the County of .Saunders. The northern lioundary is about 
twenty-eight miles long, the southern about twenty-one, and the average width 
from the north to south is fourteen miles. 


Along the Missouri River what are known as the "second bottoms" are gen- 
erally from one to two miles wide, rising in gentle undulations to the bluffs. 
From the northeast corner of the county down to Omaha there are some low 
"first bottom" lands that overflow in times of high water, but southward from 
Omaha these bottoms are much narrower, the bluffs approaching nearer to the 
river. Westward from the bluffs of the Missouri to the west fork of the Papil- 
lion Creek the surface is rolling, but practically all the land in the central portion 
of the county is capable of cultivation. In the western part the valleys of the 
Elkhorn and Platte rivers are from six to twehe miles wide and comprise some 
of the finest agricultural lands in the state. Along the east bank of the Elkhorn 
River there is a range of bluffs, rising in places to a height of one hundred feet 
or more, from the top of which the broad valley to the westward presents to the 
eye a beautiful panorama. The soil in the valleys is a rich alluvial deposit. On 
the uplands it is a dark, vegeta]:)le mould, from eighteen inches to two feet in 


The principal streams are the Missouri and Platte rivers, whicii form respect- 
ively the eastern and western boundaries. The largest stream in the interior 
is the Elkhorn River, which flows in a sinuous course from north to south across 



the western part of the county. On this stream there are several places where 
good water power could be developed. Its principal tributary is the Rawhide 
Creek, in the northwestern part of the county. There is some beautiful scenery 
along the Rawhide. 

Next in importance is the Big Papillion Creek, which rises in Washington 
County and flows in a general southeasterly direction through Douglas, a few- 
miles east of the center of the county. East of the Big Papillion is the Little 
Papillion. It rises near the northern boundary' and flows southward, uniting 
its waters with those of the Big Papillion near the south line of the county. 
Farther to the west is the west fork of the P'apillion, which follows a general 
southeasterly course and crosses the southern boundary almost due south of the 
Town of Millard. 

There are also a few smaller streams, such as Punea Creek, which flows into 
the Missouri in the northeastern part of the county; Mill Creek, another tribu- 
tary of the Missouri, near Florence; and Cole Creek, which empties into the 
Little Papillion southwest of the City of Omaha. By these streams good natural 
drainage is afforded to all sections of the county. 

Originally there were fine groves of timber along the Missouri, Platte, Elk- 
horn and the three forks of the Papillion, and in the edges of the groves grew 
wild plums, grapes and various kinds of berries in abundance. The early 
settlers thought more of their immediate wants than of the preservation of the 
timber, hence most of the native groves have disappeared, but in many portions 
of the county artificial groves have been planted, afifording protection from the 


On June 24, 1854, President Pierce issued a proclamation announcing the 
ratification of the treaty made with the Omaha chiefs at ^^■ashington on the i6th 
of the preceding March. Five days later he appointed the territorial officials 
mentioned in a former chapter. The death of Governor Francis Burt at Bellevue, 
October 18, 1854, made it necessary for Thomas B. Cuming, the territorial 
secretary, to assume the duties of governor, which he did on the day following 
the death of Governor Burt. On October 21. 1854, .Acting Governor Cuming 
ordered a census to be taken. While the enumerators were taking the census, 
Mr. Cuming divided the lands ceded by the Omaha Indians in March into eight 
counties. As these were the first counties erected in Nebraska, it may be of 
interest to the reader to know where they were situated. 

The boundaries of Burt County, the most northern of the eight, were thus 
described: "Commencing at a point on the Missouri River two miles above 
Fort Calhoun; thence westwardly, crossing the Elkhorn River, 120 mil^, to 
the west boundary of the lands ceded to the United States ; thence northerlv 
to the Mauvaise River and along the east bank of the same to the Eau Qui Court, 
or Running Water; thence easterly to the Aaoway River and along the south 
bank of it to its mouth, and thence along the Misi^ouri River to the place of 

South of Burt County lay Washington, which commenced "at a point on the 
Missouri River one mile north of Omaha City ; thence due west to the dividing 


ridge between the Elkhorn and Alissduri rivers; ihcnce northwestwardly twenty 
miles to the Elkhorn River; thence eastvx'ardly to a point on the Missouri River 
two miles above Fort Calhoun, and thence southerly along said river to the place 
of beginning." 

Dodge County began "at a point on the Platte River twenty miles west of 
Bellevue; thence westwardly along said Platte River to the mouth of Shell 
Creek ; thence north twenty-five miles ; thence east to the dividing ridge between 
the Elkhorn and Missouri rivers, and thence southerly to the place of beginning." 

Douglas County was bounded: "Commencing at the mouth of the Platte 
River; thence north along the west bank of the Missouri River to a point one 
mile north of Ornaha City; thence west along the south boundary of Washington 
County twenty miles ; thence south ten miles, more or less, to the Platte River, 
and thence eastwardly along the Platte River to the place of beginning." 

Cass County began "at the mouth of the Weeping Water River; thence up 
that stream to its headwaters ; thence westwardly to the west boimdary of the 
lands ceded to the United States ; thence by said boundary north to he Platte 
River; thence down the Platte to its junction with the Missouri, and thence down 
the Missouri to the place of beginning." 

Pierce County was described as "commencing at the mouth of the Weeping 
Water River; thence westwardly along the south bank of the same to its head- 
waters; thence due west to the west boundary of the lands ceded to the United 
States (lOO miles) ; thence south twenty miles to the north line of Forney County ; 
thence due east along the north line of said Forney County to Camp Creek ; thence 
along the north bank of said creek to the Missouri River, and thence northerly 
along said river to the place of beginning." 

Forney County commenced "at the mouth of Camp Creek; thence to the 
headwaters of the same ; thence due west to a point sixty miles west from the 
Missouri River; thence due south twenty miles; thence east to the headwaters 
of the Little Nemaha River; thence along the north bank of said river to the 
Missouri River; thence along the Missouri River northward to the place of 

Richardson County was thus described: "Commencing at the northwest 
corner of the half breed tract ; thence westwardly along the south bank of the 
Little Nemaha River; thence westwardly to a point sixty miles west of the 
Missouri River ; thence south to the fortieth parallel — the boundary between 
Kansas and Nebraska; thence east along said parallel to the Missouri River; 
thence north along the Missouri River and west ten miles to the southwest 
corner of the half breed tract ; thence northerly along the boundary of said tract 
to the place of beginning." 

If one will take a modern map of Nebraska and trace the boundaries of 
these first eight counties he will notice numerous changes since 1854. For 
illustration: Sarpy County, originally a part of Douglas, was created by the 
act of February 7, 1857, and the northern boundary of Douglas, originally "one 
mile north of the City of Omaha," has been moved farther northward to its 
present position. 



The census was completed on November 20, 1854, and showed the popula- 
tion of the territor}- to be 2,732. The same day Acting Governor Cuming issued 
his proclamation ordering an election for members of the Territorial Legislature 
to be held on December 12, 1854, and apportioning the representation among the 
eight counties as follows : Burt County, one councilman and two representatives ; 
Washington, one councilman and two representatives; Dodge, one councilman 
and two representatives; Douglas, four councilmcn and eight representatives; 
Cass, one councilman and three representatives ; Pierce, three councilmen and 
five representatives ; Forney and Richardson each one councilman and two rep- 
resentatives, making a Legislature composed of thirteen members of the council 
and twenty-six members of the House. 

At the election on December 12, 1854, the first ever held in Nebraska by legal 
authority and recognition, the people of Douglas County selected the following 
named gentlemen to represent them in the first Territorial Legislature : Council- 
men — Alfred D. Jones, Taylor G. Goodwill, Samuel E. Rogers and Origen D. 
Richardson. Representatives — William N. Byers, William Clancy, Fleming 
Davidson, Thomas Davis, Alfred D. Goyer. Andrew J- Hanscom, Andrew J. 
Poppleton and Robert B. Whitted. 


Pursuant to a proclamation of Governor Cuming, the first session of the 
Legislature convened at Omaha on January 15, 1855. In the organization of 
the council Joseph L. Sharp, the member from Richardson County, was chosen 
president, and Dr. George L. IMiller, of Omaha, was elected chief clerk. Andrew 
J. Hanscom, of Douglas, was elected speaker of the House, and J. W. Paddock, 
one of the pioneer settlers of Omaha, was chosen chief clerk. 

In his proclamation calling the members of the Legislature together, the 
governor designated as the place of meeting "the brick building at Omaha City." 
This specific reference to "the" brick building would indicate that at that time 
there was but one building of that description in the town. It was located on 
the west side of Ninth Street, between Douglas and Famam. Two sessions 
of the Legislature were held here before the capitol building was ready for 
occupancy. In later years it was occupied by the first general offices of the Union 
Pacific Railroad Company until the fall of 1869. It is thus described in the 
Bellevue Palladium of January 17, 1855: 

"The building in which the session is to be held is a plain, substantial, two- 
story brick edifice, which we should judge is about thirty l)y forty-five feet. The 
entrance to the building is on the east side, into a hall, from which the various 
state apartments above and below are reached. As you enter the hall below, the 
representatives' room will l)e found on the left and the governor's apartment 
on the right. A winding staircase leads to the hall above, at the head of which, 
upon the left, you enter the council chamber, while the committee rooms are on 
the right. The building is a neat, substantial one, but altogether too small for 
the purpose intended. 

"We were struck with the singularity of taste displayed in the curtain fur- 



niture of the different rooms, which consisted of two folds of plain calico, the 
one green and the other red, which we took to be symbolic of jealousy and war — 
which monsters, we fear, will make their appearance before right is enthroned 
and peace established." 

It must be remembered that the Palladium was published at Bellevue, which 
town had been an aspirant for the honor of being the first seat of government. 
The editor's criticisms regarding the size of the building and his caustic remarks 
about "jealousy and war" were no doubt inspired by the general disappointment 
that reigned there. Possibly he had in mind the idea that the enthronement of 
right and the establishment of peace could be brought about only by removing the 
legislative session to Bellevue. And this brings us to the subject of 


Although the question of locating the seat of government was of vital 
interest to the whole territory, it was one of the living issues in the early history 
of Douglas County. The act creating the Territory of Nebraska made it the 
duty of the governor to select the place where the first session of the Legislature 
should assemble— or, in other words, to designate the temporary capital of 
the territory. During the eleven days' residence of Governor Burt in the 
territory he was the guest of Rev. Williarn Hamilton, then the head of the 
Presbyterian iMission at Bellevue. Although i-n poor health, he was almost 
daily besieged by delegations from Plattsmouth, Omaha, Florence, Nebraska 
City, and perhaps some other prospective towns, importuning him to locate the 
seat of government at "our town.". .' Previbus td'his death on October i8, 1854, 
he expressed no choice in his official capacity, though Mr. Hamilton afterward 
stated that it was his belief the governor favored Bellevue. 

When Secretary Thomas B. Cuming assumed the duties of acting governor, 
the rival towns found in him a man younger, stronger and not so easily worried 
as Governor Burt. He listened with calmness to the claims of every delegation 
and then settled the question by issuing his proclamation in favor of Omaha. 
C. H. Gere, in a paper read before the Nebraska State Historical Society on 
January 12. i886' says : 

"By what pathways the acting governor was led to pitch the imperial tent 
upon the plateau of Omaha, it is not our province to inquire. If the statesmen 
of Kanesville, later Council Bluffs, had a hand in the matter, that city soon had 
reason to mourn that the nest of the new commonwealth was lined with plumage 
from her own breast. From its very cradle her infant despoiled her of her 
commercial prestige, and now scoffs at her maternal ancestor everv time she 
glances across the dreary bottom that separates the waxing from the waning 

After all, the selection of Omaha was a logical solution of the problem. At 
that time the few settlements in Nebraska were nearly all along the Missouri 
River. In dividing the ceded lands into eight counties, four were north of the 
Platte River and four south, and Omaha was about as near centrally located 
as any point in the settled portions of the territory. But the four counties north 
of the Platte were given one more councilman and two more representatives 
than the four counties south of that stream, which occasioned some discontent 


among the people of the southern counties. Certificates of election were issued 
by the acting governor to those elected to membership in the Legislature, but 
several persons from the southern counties presented themselves and demanded 
admission, on the grounds that the apportionment was unequal and that the 
southern district was entitled to a larger representation than the counties north 
of the Platte. In the contest for seats the friends of Omaha, under the leader- 
ship of Mr. Poppleton, argued that the governor's certificates of election were 
conclusive, and that no one without such evidence of election was entitled to a 
seat in the Legislature. This view was upheld and thus Omaha won the first 

On January 25, 1854, Mr. Latham, of Cass County, introduced a bill (House 
Bill No. 8) to locate the seat of government. Blanks for town and county were 
left in the bill and on second reading efforts were made to fill such blanks. 
After Plattsmouth and Brownsville had failed, Mr. Poppleton moved to refer 
the bill to a select committee of three, with instructions to decide what names 
should fill the blanks, but the motion was laid on the table. The tabling of his 
motion forced Mr. Poppleton into the open and he then moved to insert Omaha 
and Douglas County, but the motion was lost by one vote. Afr. Latham then 
made a second effort to have Plattsmouth inserted, which was lost by a tie vote. 
Meantime Mr. Poppleton had been doing some missionary work among the 
members and now renewed his motion to insert Omaha. This time it was 
carried by a vote of thirteen to twelve. As thus amended, the bill passed its 
third reading on the 26th. The next day it was passed in the council by a vote 
of seven to six and was signed by Governor Cuming on the last day of the month. 

At the second session, which convened in December, 1855, no agitation of 
the capital question came before the Legislature, ever\' one apparently being 
content for the capital to remain at Omaha. But when the third session met 
on January 5. 1857, it was not long until the question of removing the seat of 
government became the all-absorbing topic of legislation. Several new counties 
had been formed and wliile the council still consisted of thirteen members, 
the House had been increased to thirty-five. In the council Douglas ^ounty 
was represented by Leavitt L. Bowen (president). Dr. George L. Miller, Samuel 
E. Rogers and Alonzo F. Salisbury. The Douglas County delegation in the 
House was composed of George Armstrong, Joseph Dyson, John Finney, Andrew 
|. Hanscom, Charles T. Holloway, Richard Kimball, Harrison Johnson, William 
E. Moore, Michael Murphy, Jonas G. Seely, John A. Steinberger and Silas 
A. Strickland. 

Immediately after the House was organized by the election of Isaac L. Gibbs. 
speaker, and O. F. Lake, chief clerk, Jacob Saft'ord, joint representative from 
the district composed of Cass, Dodge and Otoe counties, introduced a resolution 
"that a select committee of three be appointed to take into consideration the 
expediency of relocating the seat of government of Nebraska Territory, with 
instructions to report at their earliest convenience, by bill or otherwise." 

The committee, consisting of Mr. Safford, Kirkpatrick, of Cass, and Clancy, 
of Washington, was appointed on the 6th. the second day of the session, and on 
the morning of the 8th presented their report, in which they said: "Your 
committee are loth to say what influences are universally believed to have been 
brought to bear in inducing the present location. It is, perhaps, sufficient for 


them to say that the people of the territory are by no means satisfied with the 
location or with the means by which it was located, and still less with the means 
by which it has been kept there." 

After this gentle intimation that Governor Cuming had been influenced by 
unworthy motives in locating the capital at Omaha, the committee went on to 
state that the growth of population justified the belief that the seat of govern- 
ment should be removed to some point "a suitable distance from the Missouri 
River;" that Omaha was not in the center of population; that the $50,000 appro- 
priated by Congress for the erection of a capitol building had been expended 
"in such a manner as to enhance the interests of Omaha City;" that those 
iiaving control of the capitol appropriations had done everything possible to 
create the impression that Omaha was to become the permanent seat of govern- 
ment, and concluded the report by introducing a bill "for the relocation of 
the seat of government of the Territory of Nebraska," the place selected being 
the Town of Douglas, in Lancaster County. 

The report was adopted and on the lOth the bill passed the council. In 
the House a determined opposition, led by Mr. Hanscom, developed and dilatory 
motions of all kinds were made to delay action on the measure. On the 15th 
the final vote was taken and the bill passed by a vote of twenty-three to twelve. 

Mark W. Izard, who had been appointed marshal on the organization of the 
territory, had been appointed governor and assumed the duties of the office 
on February 20, 1855. On January 19, 1857, he returned the capitol removal 
bill to the Legislature with his veto, and giving as his reasons therefor: First. 
That the removal had not been made an issue before the people in any county 
when the members of the Legislature were elected, and that it was his opinion 
the bill had been passed contrary to the interests of the people or without any 
instructions from them. Second. That for many years the principal settlements 
would be along the Missouri River. Third. That the location of Omaha was 
readily accessible, not only from the territory, but also from the country east. 
Fourth. That the capitol building would be completed during the year, without 
the cost of a single dollar to the people of the territory. Fifth, That the Town 
of Douglas did not contain even a sod shanty and that it was remote from the 
center of the territory. Sixth. Under the organic act the appropriation for the 
erection of a capitol building was made in evident recognition of the fact that 
the seat of government should remain there during the existence of the territory. 

The council passed the bill over the governor's veto by a vote of nine to 
four, but in the House it failed by one vote to secure the requisite two-thirds 
majority. After several futile attempts to secure its passage, Mr. Kirkpatrick, 
on February 5, 1857, moved to postpone indefinitely any further action and the 
capital was permitted to remain in Omaha for at least another year. 

The following autumn Governor Izard resigned his office and returned to 
his former home in Arkansas. Following his resignation Thomas B. Cuming, 
the territorial secretary, again became acting governor on October 25, 1857. 
When the fourth session of the Legislature met on December 8, 1857, Mr. 
Cuming, in his message, congratulated the members that they met for the 
fourth time "at the place first chosen for the territorial capital, and in the 
spacious and imposing edifice nearly completed under the appropriation by the 
general government and through the public spirit of the City of Omaha." 


On January 2, 1858, Air. Abbe, of Otoe County, notified the House that 
he would soon introduce a bill providing for the removal of the capital. His 
bill was read for the first time on the 6th and was a signal for the friends 
of Omaha to rally to that city's support. In this concerted action the friends 
of the removal bill saw, or pretended to see, imminent danger to themselves 
should they undertake the passage of the bill in Omaha. They therefore con- 
cocted a scheme to adjourn to Florence, six miles up the river. In the council 
Dr. George L. Miller was president and when the motion to adjourn to Florence 
was made he refused to entertain it. Reeves, of Otoe County, put the question 
and declared it carried. Eight councilmen retired from the chamber, but the 
others remained and voted to meet the next day in Omaha as usual. 

In the House a more stormy scene occurred. When the messenger from the 
council arrived to notify the House of the vote to adjourn to Florence, the House 
was in committee of the whole, with Dr. W. R. Thrall, of Douglas County, in 
the chair. Mr. Poppleton raised the point of order that the House, in its official 
capacity, was not in session, and under the rules could not receive a message 
from the council. Speaker Decker then undertook to force Doctor Thrall from 
the chair, but was prevented from doing so by the interference of Mr. Murphy 
and Mr. Paddock, two of the members from Douglas County. The evidence 
taken by the investigating committee afterward appointed, showed that Mr. 
Hanscom also took a hand in the proceedings and "rolled the speaker under the 

On the morning of the 8th the House met as usual, with Speaker Decker in 
the chair. Immediately after prayer by the chaplain, Mr. Donelan, of Cass 
County, moved that "the House do now adjourn to meet at Florence at 10 
o'clock tomorrow morning." The motion was seconded by Mr. Cooper, put 
by the speaker in a hurried manner, declared carried, and he, with twenty-one 
members, walked out. Those who remained behind then elected J. Sterling 
Morton speaker pro tern and the thirteen members voted to continue the sessions 
of the House in Omaha. 

On the 9th the members who had voted to adjourn to Florence made a 
demand on Acting Governor Cuming for the journals and documents belonging 
to the two branches of the Legislature. The demand, which was in the form 
of a resolution, was presented to Mr. Cuming by a committee composed of 
Messrs. Reeves, Hail and Taggart, and elicited the following reply : 

"executive office, nebr.\sk.\ territory 

"Omaha, January 9, 1958. 
"Messrs. Reeves, Hail and Taggart. 

"Gentlemen : — I have received from you a communication purporting to be 
a 'Resolution of the Council and House of Representatives of the Territory of 

"The General Assembly of the territory is now in session according to law 
at Omaha City, the seat of government, where the executive office is required 
to be kept, and where the public documents and records must be preserved. 
The communication furnished by you is not from that body, but was sent from 


Cnurlt-sy nf Garvin Brothers 



the Town of Florence, to which place a portion of the members of each House 
have adjourned. 

"My convictions, under the law and facts, are clear — that no act of such 
recusant members can be legal. Under the circumstances any communication 
from them as a legislative body will not require the official attention from this 


"T. B. Cuming, 

"Acting Governor." 

This was the condition of affairs when William A. Richardson, the newly 
appointed governor, arrived at Omaha and succeeded Mr. Cuming. On January 
II, 1858, the Florence Legislature appointed a committee of three — Bowen, 
Campbell and Donelan — to call upon Governor Richardson and present a resolu- 
tion setting forth that the members who had adjourned to Florence were 
forced to do so "by the turbulent acts of a minority of their own body, aided 
by the violence of an unrestrained mob at Omaha," and requesting the governor 
to communicate with the Legislature at that place. Governor Richardson replied 
in a letter, rebuking the seceding members for their unwarranted action and 
promising "the fullest and most ample protection" to all members of the Legis- 
lature, while engaged in the discharge of their official duties. But the Florence 
Legislature refused to return to Omaha aU'd cidritinued its sessions until the 
expiration of the forty days' limit, when both' Legislatures adjourned. 

The struggle for the removal of the capital went on, year after year, until 
Nebraska was admitted as a state in 1867. The first State Legislature appointed 
Governor David Butler, Secretary of State Thomas P. Kennard and Auditor John 
Gillespie as commissioners to relocate the seat of government. It is a coinci- 
dence that the site selected by these commissioners is the same as that suggested 
in the bill of 1857, to wit: "the Town of Douglas, in Lancaster County." 
Douglas was defeated for the presidency by Abraham Lincoln in i860. It is 
said that the Legislature of 1867 was about to adopt the name of "Central 
City" for the new capital, when Mr. Poppleton, although not a member, sug- 
gested that, as Mr. Lincoln had supplanted Mr. Douglas in the thoughts and 
admiration of the American people, it would be a fitting recognition of his 
great se.rv'ices to the country to confer his name upon the new seat of govern- 
ment. The Legislature accepted the suggestion and named the capital "Lincoln." 
The. first session of the Legislature held there began on January 7, 1869. 

.A few. politicians in and around Omaha were disgruntled over the removal 
of the capital to Lincoln, but upon, the whole neither the city nor Douglas 
County has sufifered by the removal. In fact, many of the citizens were glad 
to know that the turmoil that had existed for a dozen years was finally ended. 
They turned their attention to commercial and industrial development, and so 
well have they, succeeded that Omaha is universally recognized as the metropolis 
of the Missouri Vallev — the Gateway to the Northwest. 


When Douglas County was first created the following officers were appointed 
by Acting Governor Cuming : William Scott, probate judge ; Lyman Richard- 


son, register of deeds; Taylor G. Goodwill, treasurer; P. G. Peterson, sheriff. 
These gentlemen held office until the first regular election on October 8, 1856, 
when Jesse Lowe, Thomas Davis and James H. McArdle were elected county 
commissioners; Thomas O'Connor, register of deeds; Samuel Moffatt, treas- 
urer; Cameron Reeves, sheriff. A complete list of the county officials since 
that time will be found in another chapter. 


Section 5, Article X, of the Constitution of 1875, provides that "The Legis- 
lature shall provide by general law for township organization, under which any 
county may organize whenever a majority of the legal voters of such county 
voting at any general election shall so determine ; and in any county that shall 
have adopted a township organization the question of continuing the same 
may be submitted to a vote of the electors of such county at a general election 
in the manner that shall be provided by law." 

Under the provisions of this section, and the laws in accordance therewith, 
quite a number of the counties in the state have adopted township organization, 
but Douglas has never availed herself of that privilege. Outside of the City 
of Omaha, the county is divided into the following precincts: Benson, Chicago, 
Clontarf, Douglas. Dimdee, East Omaha. Elkhorn, Florence Jefferson, McCardle, 
Millard, Platte Valley, Union and Waterloo. Benson and Florence are cities of 
the second class, and Clontarf is a small precinct wholly within the corporate 
limits of the City of Omaha. 


When Douglas County was first established it included the present County 
of Sarpy, in which is the Town of Bellevue. The first settlement within the 
limits of Douglas County was therefore the one that grew up about the Bellevue 
trading post. The oldest settlement within the boundaries as they are at present 
was no doubt the trading post of Roye (or Royce), where the City of Omaha 
now stands. It was of short duration and little of its history can be learned. 

The first settlement that assumed any considerable proportions was at the 
Mormon Winter Quarters, where the Town of Florence is now situated. After 
the Mormons evacuated their quarters there and went to Salt Lake. Utah, what 
is now Douglas County was inhabited only by the Indian and the wolf for 
several years. There is no record of a white man dwelling within its borders 
from 1847 to about 1852 or the spring of 1853, when the first settlement was 
made at Omaha, an account of which is given in the next chapter. About the 
same time James C. Mitchell visited the site of the old Mormon settlement and 
later in the year laid out the Town of Florence. 

In the following chapters of this work will be found many interesting par- 
ticulars relating to Douglas County, its schools, railroads, industries, courts, etc. 






To Omaha belongs the distinction of being the first permanent settlement 
made by white men within the present confines of Douglas County. After the 
Mormons were ordered by the United States authorities to vacate their settle- 
ment at Florence in 1847, the western bank of the Missouri River remained a 
"wild and devious solitude" for some five years. In 1849, when hundreds of 
emigrants from the East were crossing the plains to the newly discovered gold 
fields in California, the steamboat El Paso was engaged for several weeks in 
ferrying the goldseekers across the Missouri, a short distance below the plateau 
on which the City of Omaha now stands. One day William P. Wilcox, clerk 
of the El Paso, accompanied by Charles M. Conoyer, a boy about eight years 
old, walked up to the plateau and some writers credit these two persons with 
being the first ever to set foot upon the site of the city. At that time, and for 
several years afterward, the lands on the west side of the river belonged to 
the Indians and had not been opened to settlement. In anticipation of a treaty, 
a number of land-sharks, speculators and prospective actual settlers began con- 
gregating at Council Blufifs. then a city of 2,000 population, in the fall of 1852. 
The number was increased in the spring of 1853, but still no treaty had been 
negotiated with the Indians for the cession of their lands. 

brown's lone TREE FERRY 

On June 3, 1853, William D. Brown, who had been operating a ferry a short 
distance up the river, made an investigation of the banks of the river opposite 
Omaha, with a view of establishing a ferry at that point. He foresaw that as 
soon as the lands west of the river were thrown open to settlement there would 
be a rush on the part of those gathered at Council Blufifs, and that a ferry would 
quickly become a paying institution. Along the east bank there was a wide 
slough; in the middle of the stream was a sandbar, and the west bank was 
marshy. Mr. Brown found landing places where he could dodge all these 
obstacles and soon had his ferry in operation. He called it the "Lone Tree 



Ferry'." When asked how he came to select that name he replied that there 
were several isolated trees on either side of the river any one of which might 
be designated as the "Lone Tree," and it made no difference to him which one 
might be selected. 

Later in the month of June, 1853, several residents of Council Bluffs con- 
ceived the idea of uniting with Air. Brown in the formation of a ferry and 
town company. On the 25th Dr. Enos Lowe, Jesse Williams, Joseph H. D. 
Street and William D. Brown, members of the company, accompanied by Jesse 
Lowe, crossed over to the Nebraska side to look at the "lay of the land." They 
returned to Council Bluffs and reported that a good town site could be located 
on the plateau, and on July 23, 1853, Dr. Enos Lowe was delegated to go to 
St. Louis and purchase a steam ferry boat. He found a suitable boat at Alton, 
Illinois, brought it around to Council Bluffs, where he arrived in September, 
and christened it the Marion. It was used until the spring of 1855, when high 
water threw it upon the east bank and it was never again put in commission. 
This was the first steam ferry on the Upper Missouri River. 

Other members of the town and ferry company were: James Jackson, Milton 
Tootle, Samuel S. Bayliss, Bernhardt Henn, Gen. Samuel R. Curtis, and the 
firms of Tanner & Downs and Street & Redfield, all of Council Bluffs. 


It has been claimed by some that William D. Brown, the proprietor of the 
Lone Tree Ferr\-, was the first man to locate a claim upon the site of the City 
of Omaha, but this claim is not well substantiated. The following account of 
the first attempt to locate claims on the west side of the Missouri, opposite 
Council Bluffs, is taken from "Andreas' History of Nebraska." 

"A. D. Jones had frequently expressed his determination to settle in Nebraska 
long before an opportunity was oft'ered to carry out his intention. He was a 
surveyor by profession and, when running lines on the Iowa side of the river, 
made observations as to the most desirable location for a claim, and in his own 
mind had selected that one of which he should endeavor to possess himself when 
occasion offered. The claim was subsequently selected as contemplated and in 
time became the property of Herman Kountze and S. E. Rogers. Among those 
with whom he canvassed the prospects and conferred in reference to the estab- 
lishment of claims was William Knight, a decided character of the day, and 

"In November, 1853, a party of gentlemen from Council Bluffs visited the 
landing of the ferry boat Marion, under a promise that the steamer would 
convey them to the Nebraska shore. A claim meeting was held, pending negotia- 
tions with the managers of the boat, in which William Knight occupied a 
prominent position and unbosomed himself of his views at every available 
period, the liveliest and most animated discussions occurring between Jones and 
Knight. The officers of the steam ferry failed to respond to the wishes of the 
anticipating claimants. The latter returned to their homes, with remarks from 
some that they would go to the upper ferry the next morning, cross in a canoe 
and come down and make claims on and in the vicinity of the plateau, now 


■'Believing that then was the time to strike, A. D. Jones conferred with 
'J homas and WiHiam Allen, subcontractors in the construction of what was 
formerly known as 'the grade' for the Council Bluffs & Nebraska Ferry Com- 
pany, to whom he set forth the importance of crossing the river at once. They 
agreed with his proposition and the trio visited Mr. Brown, from whom they 
procured a small, leaky scow that lay on the bank of the river, in which they 
proposed to cross, though it was considered a risky and dangerous undertaking. 
The plan of operations having been agreed upon, the point at which claims 
should be made, etc., the three men went to Thomas Allen's residence and 
obtained a supply of edibles preparatory to setting out. The frail craft was 
launched into the waters of the 'Big Muddy,' with Thomas Allen as oarsman, 
'Bill' Allen to bail out the water, and Mr. Jones as helmsman. Thus situated, 
these modem voyagers for the Golden Fleece struck out from the end of the 
grade opposite Davenport Street, passed the foot of the sandbar in the middle 
of the river, and landed below where Iler's distillery was located at a later day. 
The bottom was covered with a tall, stiif grass, much higher than the explorers' 
heads, which they were compelled to part with their hands to enable them to 
make their way through. They next came to a wide slough along the low 
plat of ground upon which the distillery above mentioned stands. This they 
crossed by wading, crawling over the tops of fallen trees. The bottom was then 
heavily timbered, but is now (1882) covered with city residences or manufac- 
tories. Being wet and fatigued, the explorers sought the first favorable place 
for camping for the night, and, after building a fire and cooking their supper, 
seated themselves about the embers and congratulated each other upon their safe 

"Being in a strange land, owned and occupied by aborigines, a feeling of 
timidity and insecurity was experienced. To the north, on the prairie bottoms, 
fires could be seen burning, and 'Bill' Allen informed his companions that the 
Indians were coming, fortifying his assertion by drawing their attention to what 
seemed to be hordes of savages moving rapidly to and fro before the flames 
to the northward, fed by the dry vegetation found in their path. The party 
gazed with wonder and alarm at the distant figures, but becoming satisfied that 
no danger menaced the camp, and quieting the fears of the too susceptible 'Bill,' 
each sought a log for his pillow, inviting sleep, occasionally awakening, however, 
to replenish the dying fire, as the night was chill and crisp. 

"Early the next morning, as soon as there was sufficient light to enable 
them to make their way through the brush, the party arose from their primitive 
and unsatisfactor\' couches, ate the last morsel of corn bread and bacon, and 
started out over an unknown region for the purpose of marking the claims 
which they had previously selected. Mr. Jones, with a hatchet he had brought 
with him, blazed a corner tree, near where the camp was located, and put therein 
the initials of his name with his survey marking iron. Then continuing, he 
blazed lines north (to the point afterward occupied by the residence of Mr. 
Kountze), thence south to a point (Mr. Goodman's present place) which he 
was desirous of taking into his claim, as it was the most prominent point on 
the hill. The Aliens now suggesting that Mr. Jones had taken in his share of 
the timber, the latter gentleman marked a corner on the ridge (east of Tenth 
Street) and started east, blazing line trees until he came to deep ravine heavil)' 


timbered with exceedingly tall trees, but somewhat clear of underbrush. He 
descended into the valley and named it 'Purgatory,' by which name it was 
afterward familiarly known. As he descended the valley he discovered that 
the creek which coursed within its confines ran sometimes above the surface and 
sometimes was hidden from view for a considerable distance. He also ascer- 
tained that the lower end of the ravine was the bed of an excellent article of 
building stone. Upon emerging from the valley and gaining the plateau, 
rejoicing over his discovered acquisitions, he met the Aliens, who had sur- 
rounded their respective claims, over which they were much pleased. Here Mr. 
Jones made his fourth corner and continued to mark a line along the margin 
of the plateau contiguous to the slough to the place of Ijeginning. He then went 
above (to where S. E. Rogers afterward resided) and laid his claim foundations 
regularly, completing the requisites for making a good and valid claim accord- 
ing to the laws and customs among squatters in other new portions of the 
public domain. 

"The previous afternoon, upon starting in the small boat, the captain of 
the Marion informed Mr. Jones and the Aliens that he would come after them 
on the succeeding day when they returned to the bank, but for some reason the 
captain failed to respond to their calls and si,gnals. The river was filled with 
floating ice on both sides of the sandbar, making it very dangerous for them to 
start out in their leaky craft, but there was neither house nor living person any- 
where about their surroundings, except one lone Indian who was seen on the 
blufifs, but who refused to approach them. They were without anything to 
eat ; and trouble seemed imminent, whether they ventured into the floating ice 
or remained on the Nebraska soil. They finally concluded to try their luck in 
the ice, and, dragging the scow up the shore for a considerable distance, launched 
it and struck out through the ice to reach the sandbar if possible. They barely 
reached the objective point, and. pulling the boat high along the east side of 
the bar, they again ventured into the turbid stream amid the floating ice, 
through which they drifted and after hard work landed on the Iowa shore 
about opposite Tier's distillery. 

"This was probably the first survey ever made in Douglas County, and the 
first claim made, not by right, but with the tacit consent of the Indians, Mr. 
Jones and his confreres becoming squatters by their acquiescence in the acts 
necessary to such privileges. During the remainder of that year, and in the 
winter of 1853-54, there was .some inspection of the lay of the land, but no 
claims or acts tending to establish settlements undertaken, other than those 
cited. The present state was still an unorganized territorv. in possession of 
the Indians, who were jealous of every intrusion and guarded their freehold 
with more than ordinary diligence. .Such then are the facts regarding the 
attempts primarily made to found a settlement west of the Missouri." 

No apologies are offered for the introduction of this extended quotation, 
for the reason that the main facts in the story as related in Andreas' History 
were furnished to the writer by Mr. Jones, who was one of the principal actors. 
It is therefore probably as nearly correct as any account of past events can 
be, where human memory has to be depended on for many of the details. The 
expedition of Mr. Jones and the Aliens was not made by the authority, or 
under the auspices, of the ferry company, but was purely a personal under- 


taking, the participants hoping thereby to forestall William Knight and his 
associates in the selection of the best claims on the west side of the river. 


Nebraska became an organized territory under the Act of May 30, 1854, 
and on the 24th of June following President Pierce issued his proclamation 
announcing the ratification of the treaty concluded with the Omaha chiefs in 
March. This meant that the lands on the west side of the Missouri were 
opened to settlement and the Council Bluffs & Nebraska Ferry Company lost 
no time in choosing a site and having a survey made of their proposed town. 
Alfred D. Jones was employed to make the survey and was assisted in the 
work by Capt. C. H. Downs, who carried the chain and drove the stakes. The 
original town plat consisted of 320 blocks, each 264 feet square. Capitol Avenue 
and Twenty-first Street, respectively running east and north from "Capitol 
Square," were each 120 feet wide. All other streets were made 100 feet in 
width. From Mr. Jones' plat the first "Map of Omaha" was lithographed and 
printed in St. Louis. The late Byron Reed had one of these maps in his collec- 
tion of historic relics. It bore date of September i, 1854, and in one corner 
was the legend : "Lots will be given away to persons who will improve them — 
private sale will be made on the premises. A newspaper, the Omaha Arrow, is 
printed weekly at this place ; a brick building, suitable for the Territorial 
Legislature is in process of construction, and a steam mill and brick hotel will 
be completed in a few weeks." 

While Mr. Jones was engaged in making the survey, the question of a name 
for the new town came up for discussion among the members of the ferry com- 
pany, and it is said the name "Omaha" was adopted at the suggestion of Jesse 
Lowe, who was for many years connected with the city's business interests. 
No better or more appropriate name could have been selected. 


On July 4, 1854, before the survey of the town was fully completed, a party 
of excursionists came over from Iowa to celebrate Independence Day upon the 
site of the future city. Among them v^'cre Alfred D. Jones, Andrew J. Hanscom, 
William D. Brown, Thomas Davis, Frederick Davis, Hadley D. Johnson, Har- 
rison Johnson, John Gillespie and several others. A number of women had pre- 
pared a quantity of food for the Fourth of July dinner and a wagon was brought 
into requisition to convey the baskets of provisions to the place appointed for the 
picnic. This was doubtless the first Fourth of July celebration ever held on 
Nebraska soil. In an address before the Nebraska State Historical Association 
on January 12, 1887, Hadley D. Johnson,, in speaking of the picnic, referred 
briefly to the fact that it occurred before the white men had acquired the right 
to locate permanently on the Indian lands and added : 

"I remember that some resolutions were adopted and a few speeches made. 
The stand on which the speakers stood was a common wagon owned by my old 
friend Harrison Johnson, now no more, who, with some of the members of 
his family, constituted a portion of the party." 


John Gillespie, who was the first state auditor of Nebraska after the state 
was admitted in 1867, in a communication to the Lincoln Journal the next day, 
said: "Now I wish to add to that brief bit of history of the early days of 
Nebraska, that the Hon. Hadley D. Johnson, then reputed to be Nebraska's 
delegate to Washington, was called upon for a speech. He responded and got 
up into the only wagon on the ground, that had hauled over the baskets of 
provisions and two blacksmith's anvils to fire a salute. After the salute was 
fired Mr. Johnson commenced a spread eagle speech, but had not gotten very 
far along when the reports of the anvils brought in sight a number of Indians. 
The women became frightened and baskets and anvils were piled into the wagon 
and the driver started the team for the ferry — followed by the entire audience. 
The result was that the speech was never completed, unless the honorable gentle- 
man intended his speech of last evening as the finish. His modesty no doubt 
prevented him from giving the details." 

Gillespie was one of the party and at the picnic offered the toast — "Nebraska; 
may her gentle zephyrs and rolling prairies invite pioneers from the muddy 
Missouri River to happy homes, and may her lands ever be dedicated to free 
soil, free labor and free men." 


On the day of the picnic above mentioned a log cabin was raised "to the 
square" and made ready for the roof, but the first completed building was the 
one erected by Thomas Allen for the ferry company. It was a rude log cabin 
at the comer of Twelfth and Jackson streets and was given the high-sounding 
name of the "St. Nicholas," though it was generally referred to as the "Claim 
House." William P. .Snowden and his wife came over from Iowa on July 11, 
1854, and soon afterward opened a hotel in the .St. Nicholas. 

The second house was built by I\L C. Gaylord at the corner of Twenty- 
second and Burt streets, and the third was the "Big Six" grocery and saloon 
of Lewis & Clancy, on the north side of Chicago Street, between Thirteenth 
and Fourteenth. 

William P. .Snowden is entitled to the honor of building the first dwelling 
in Omaha, the three structures that preceded his house being used for business 
purposes. The ferry company gave him a lot on the west side of Tenth Street 
and before the close of the summer of 1854 he erected thereon a cabin, the 
opening of which was celebrated by a big dance, in which most of the pioneers 
participated. At the time of this "house warming" the building was not com- 
pleted. Quilts were hung at the doors and windows while the guests "tripped 
the light fantastic toe." to the music of Ben Leonard's fiddle. The ferry com- 
pany also gave a lot to Mrs. Snowden as a prize for being the first woman to 
become a resident of the new town. She held it for some time and then sold 
it for about two hundred dollars. 

P. G. Peterson, who was .sulisequently the first sheriff of Douglas County, 
erected the fifth building. It was a frame structure and stood on the west side 
of Tenth Street, between Famam and Harney. A. J. Poppleton. the first lawyer 
to locate in Omaha, had his office in the Peterson block. Samuel E. and William 
Rogers built on the south side of Douglas Street between Tenth and Eleventh. 


Others who settled in Omaha before the close of the year 1854, most of 
whom erected buildings of some type, were: George Armstrong, Alexander, 
John and Thomas Davis, Lyman and Origen D. Richardson, John M. Thayer, 
Joseph W. Paddock, Patrick and Thomas Swift, Andrew J. Hanscom, James 
G. Megeath, James Ferry, Alfred D. Jones, Experience Estabrook, Hadley D. 
Johnson, Jesse Lowe, Andrew J. Poppleton, Dennis, Maurice and Michael Dee, 
Thomas Barry, Timothy Sullivan, O. B. Selden, John Withnell, Thomas 
O'Connor, Dr. George L. Miller, Dr. Enos Lowe and Lorin Miller. 

SETTLERS OF 1 855-56-57 

Before the close of the year 1857 three hundred or more men brought their 
families to Omaha and established their homes. Among these were quite a 
number who afterward became more or less prominently identified with the 
business, professional and official life of the city. In this list appear the names 
of G. C. Bovey, James E. Boyd, William N. Byers, Randall Brown, Clinton 
Briggs, Rev. Peter Cooper, the Creightons, the Crowells, George W. Doane, 
Frederick Drexel, Rev. Reuben Gaylord, George L Gilbert, Charles W. Hamil- 
ton, P. W. Hitchcock, John A. Horbach, J. R. Hyde, Harrison Johnson, B. E. B. 
Kennedy, Augustus and Hennan Kountze, George B. Lake, William A. Little, 
Samuel Megeath, Ezra and Joseph H. Millard, Samuel Moffatt, Thomas Murray, 
Samuel and A. R. Orchard, A. S. Paddock, William A. Paxton, John R. Porter, 
Patrick Ouinland, John L Redick, Byron Reed, J. Cameron Reeves, Jacob ShuU. 
Charles B. Smith and James M. Woolworth. 

Of these men James E. Boyd was afterward elected governor of the state, 
P. W. Hitchcock, Joseph H. Millard and A. S. Paddock served in the United 
States Senate ; Samuel Moffatt was elected treasurer of Douglas Comity in 
1856; J. Cameron Reeves was elected sheriff at the same time; Harrison Johnson 
wrote a history of Nebraska, and several others became prominent in professional 
and business circles. 


The first sermon ever preached in Omaha was by Rev. Peter Cooper, a 
Methodist Episcopal minister, who held services in the St. Nicholas on August 
13. 1854, his audience consisting of twenty-five persons. 

There are some contending claims, as is usually the case, concerning the 
first white child born in the city. Some insist that William N. Reeves, son 
of Jesse Reeves, is entitled to that honor, but investigation has shown that he 
was bom outside of the town limits. A daughter was born to Mr. and Mrs. 
James Ferry in October, 1854, wliile the family was living in a hay hut, not far 
from where the LTnion Pacific depot now stands, and she was doubtless the 
first white child born in the town. The Reeves child was bom about a month 

The first marriage was solemnized on November 11, 1855, the contracting 
parties being John Logan and Miss Caroline M. Mosier. Rev. Isaac F. Collins 
performed the ceremony. 

The first newspaper, the Omaha Arrow, made its appearance on July 28. 


1854, less than one month after the town was surveyed, though the paper was 
printed in Council Bluffs. 

The first brick yard was started in the summer of 1854. The town com- 
pany, being desirous of erecting a brick building for the use of the Territorial 
Legislature, induced Benjamin Winchester to come over from Kanesville (now 
Council Bluffs) and open a brick yard. The yard was located on the square 
bounded by Fourteenth, Leavenworth, Fifteenth and Marcy streets. Mr. Win- 
chester prepared a kiln ready for firing and covered it with canvass to protect 
it from the weather. One night the canvass was stolen and a heavy rain reduced 
the bricks to a shapeless mass of clay. Discouraged by his loss, Mr. Winchester 
gave up the yard and returned to Iowa. 

O. B. Selden was the first village blacksmith. Soon after his arrival in the 
summer of 1854, he established a forge on the north side of Howard Street, 
between Thirteenth and Fourteenth streets. No "spreading chestnut tree" 
shaded his smithy, but he made the sparks fly from his anvil "like chaff from a 
threshing floor," and proved to be a valuable addition to the population. 

The first saw-mill was built by Alexander Davis and Samuel S. Bayliss in 
the summer of 1854. It stood on Otoe Creek, a short distance north of where 
the Union Pacific depot is now located, and was kept busy manufacturing lumber 
for the pioneers. A little later it was traded to Thomas Davis for 400 acres 
of land. 

Charles Childs was the proprietor of the first grist mill, which was built 
in the spring of 1856. It was not in the town, but was located about six miles 
south, and consisted of one run of buhrs for grinding corn. He also had a 
saw-mill in connection and ran the grist mill but one day in the week. Farmers 
came from as far west as Grand Island to Childs' mill. Subsequently he added 
a flour mill and made the first flour ever manufactured in Nebraska. 

The first school was taught by Miss Adelaide Goodwill, the term begin- 
ning on July I, 1855, one room of the old state house being utilized as a school 
room. The school remained in session until Miss Goodwill was compelled to 
vacate the room for the assembling of the second session of the Legislature. 

The first hotel was kept by William P. Snowden and his wife in the St. 
Nicholas, as above stated. The St. Nicholas was not a very spacious edifice, 
being only sixteen feet square, and the first building erected for hotel purposes 
was a frame structure on the southwest corner of Eleventh and Harney streets. 
Tt was completed in the fall of 1854 and was opened as the "City Hotel." 

Tootle & Jackson were the first merchants. Their store, which was located 
on the comer of Tenth and Farnam streets, was opened late in the year 1854 
or early in 1855, the first stock consisting of a few wagon loads of goods suited 
to the wants of the few people then living in Omaha and vicinity. Other early 
merchants were James G. Megeath and John R. Porter. Megeath & Company 
had a large trade with the Mormons, who purchased their final outfits at Omaha 
on the way to Salt Lake, and while the Pacific Railroad was under construction 
this firm, by means of portable warehouses, kept a branch at the end of the line, 
where a thriving business was conducted. 

On January 17, 1867, the first railroad train from the east arrived at Omaha 
on the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad. The occasion was one of rejoicing 
f(ir the people, who were thus 'placed in touch with the eastern markets. 

View in Omaha taken in tlie late '60s 



When the first settlements were made in Nebraska the land had not been 
surveyed, and the only way of perfecting and protecting titles was by forming 
an organization among the settlers themselves for that purpose. Such organiza- 
tions, known as "Claim Clubs," were established in every settlement in the terri- 
tory. Their motto was: "An injury to one is the concern of all," and woe to 
the speculator or land-shark who tried to jump a squatter's claim. 

In the first issue of the Omaha Arrow was an account of the "Omaha Town- 
ship Claim Association," which was organized on July 22, 1854, at a meeting 
over which Samuel Lewis presided, M. C. Gaylord acting as secretary. Officers 
were elected as follows : Alfred D. Jones, judge ; Samuel Lewis, clerk ; ]\L C. 
Gaylord, recorder; Robert B. Whitted, sheriff. The organization soon became 
generally known as the Omaha Claim Club. Among its members were such 
men as John M. Thayer, Andrew J. Poppleton, Dr. George L. Miller, Lyman 
and Origen D. Richardson, Byron Reed, Gov. Thomas B. Cuming, Enos and 
Jesse Lowe, George E. and Joseph Barker, John L Redick and James M. Wool- 
worth — in fact, practically all the male residents of the town, prior to the 
completion of the government survey and the opening of the land office at Omaha 
in March, 1857. 

The Omaha Claim Club dififered from similar organizations throughout the 
territory, in that it permitted its members to hold 320 acres of land each, the 
general rule being to protect members in claiming only 160 acres. Those who 
"got in on the ground floor" with a claim for. 320 acres, together with the fact 
that the Town and Ferry Company claimed about six sections as town site, 
iiuickly monopolized all the most desirable lands in and around Omaha. Later 
immigrants grumbled at the conditions that allowed such large tracts of land 
to be held bv persons who could not make use of them, and in a few instances 
claims were "jumped" by these later arrivals. But the club was true to the 
jHirpose for which it had been organized. The intruders were notified that 
the land w-as claimed by a member of the club, whose rights would be protected 
at all hazards, and that the tre.spasser must vacate or there would be trouble. 
In a majority of such cases the would-be "claim jumper" yielded to force of 
numbers and surrendered the land to the original claimant. In a few instances, 
however, the new comer offered resistance and the club was called upon to 
act in its protective capacity, which it never refused to do. 

Early in 1855 Jacob S. Shull located on a quarter section just south of the 
town plat, which was claimed by another. Being warned that the Claim Club 
was going to pay him a visit, Mr. Shull left his shanty and went to the store of 
Brown Brothers, \vhere he remained concealed under the counter for several 
days. He then decided to surrender his claim to the land and was permitted to 
leave without further trouble, his shanty having been destroyed in the meantime by 
members of the club. The following spring he returned to Omaha with his 
family and lived but a few months after his arrival. IMrs. Shull then put in a 
claim to the land, which was finally allowed by the land department at Wash- 
ington, after a thorough investigation. 

George Smith, a surveyor, commonly called "Doc" Smith, took a claim in the 
northern part of the town in May. 1856. A few days later, when he had his 


house about finished, seventy-five or one hundred armed men appeared upon 
the scene, tore down the house, scattered the lumber to the four vkfinds, and 
ordered Smith to leave the territory. He went to Glenwood, Iowa, where he 
remained until the early part of 1858, when he employed a lawyer to prosecute 
his claim to the land. The commissioner of the general land office decided that 
as Smith had been absent for a year or more, without making any improvements 
on the land, he had forfeited all title to the same. 

Thomas B. Cuming, acting governor of the territory, took a claim, on which 
he built a small house and hired a man named Callahan to live in it, paying him 
forty-five dollars a month, to perfect his title. Callahan thought he saw an 
opportunity to get some land of his own, went to the land office and filed upon 
his employer's tract. The Claim Club immediately took the matter in hand and 
demanded of Callahan that he surrender his certificate. He refused and a com- 
mittee of the club took him to the Missouri River, where a hole was cut in the 
ice and the obstinate son of Erin was ducked until he changed his mind. He 
surrendered his certificate and afterward remarked to a friend that he "did 
not want that land very bad no how." He disappeared soon after his ducking 
and gave the club no further trouble. 

On February 20, 1857, a mass meeting was lield in the Pioneer block in 
Omaha, to which delegations from the claim clubs at Bellevue, Elkhorn City, 
Florence and Papillion were admitted by acclamation. A committee was 
appointed to draft resolutions, expressive of the clubs' attitude on the question 
of claims and titles, and the following was submitted to the meeting. 

"Whereas, It appears that evil disposed persons are giving trouble in different 
parts of this territory, in attempting to preempt claims, or parts of claims, held 
by bona fide claimants, to the great annoyance of the rightful owners, therefore, 

"Resolved, That we have the fullest confidence in the power of the claim 
associations to protect the rights of the actual settler, and we pledge ourselves 
as men, and as members of the difl^erent claim associations of Douglas and Sarpy 
counties, to maintain the claim title as the highest title known to our laws, and 
we will defend it with our lives. 

"Resolved, That persons shielding themselves under the act of Congress, 
to preempt a man's farm under color of law, shall be no excuse for the offender, 
who will be treated by us as any other common thief." 

The resolutions were unanimously adopted and the captain of the "regulators" 
was authorized to appoint a vigilance committee to see that their intent was 
carried out. About this time John I. Redick happened to incur the displeasure 
of the Omaha Claim Club, although he was a member of the organization. 
Judge Redick afterward gave the following account of the incident : 

"Several of us who were boarding at the Tremont House, on Douglas Street, 
attended a temperance meeting one night in the Methodist Church, just around 
the corner on Thirteenth Street. It was proposed to organize to secure the 
adoption of the Maine liquor law, and I was asked to say something. I objected 
to the proposition and said that such a law could not be carried out in Nebraska, 
and remarked, incidentally, that the United States laws allowed a man to enter 
but 160 acres of land, while the Omaha Claim Club said he could hold twice 
that amount and declared its readiness to defend him in claiming that amount. 
Next morning I went to my office and was met with a scolding by my partner, 


Tames G. Chapman, who said I had got myself and the firm of Redick & Chap- 
man in a nice muddle. He kept on with a regular tirade, but I finally got him to 
explain what he was talking about, and learned, to my astonishment, that I 
had been reported as using treasonable language against the Claim Club. 

"I soon found that the town was posted with notices for a meeting of the 
club and concluded that I had stirred up a good deal of a rumpus, unintentionally. 
The club was a powerful organization, I knew, for I was a member of it. I 
laid in a revolver that day, loaded it and put it in my overcoat pocket. Then I 
told Chapman that he owed it to me to see that I had a chance to speak when the 
club met. The meeting was held in the Pioneer block. The first speech was 
made by A. J. Hanscom, the president, who spoke in a very reasonable, moderate 
way. He was followed by Mitchell, of Florence, who was very abusive of new 
people who were coming into the territory to break down local institutions. 
Then a man from Bellevue talked. He was followed by John M. Thayer in a 
ponderous way, and in a tone similar to that of Mitchell. Then Jim Chapman 
said that his partner ought to be given a chance to explain his views as to claim 
clubs and other domestic institutions. 

"Thereupon I came to the front and for ten minutes dwelt upon the advan- 
tages of the Territory of Nebraska, and predicted its glorious future. Then I 
praised the Claim Club, and said I had improved the first opportunity I had to 
join it after coming to Omaha, a few months previously. I then said that I 
had no intention to reflect upon the club, and that what I had said had not been 
correctly reported. I added that I knew every man present was at least ordinarily 
a brave man, and with that I produced my revolver with one hand and took out 
my watch with the other, and said : T denounce the man who has thus misrepre- 
sented me as a liar, a coward and a sneak, and will give him just one minute 
to come out and face me.' As the time was ticked off, no one moved, and when 
I announced that the minute had expired, there was a burst of applause which 
convinced me I had nothing to fear." 


The first document placed on the Douglas deed records was a description 
of the lands claimed by Alfred D. Jones. It was dated November 6, 1854, and 
was recorded by Lyman Richardson, the first register of deeds, on February 20, 
1855. No survey lines had yet been established and it is interesting to note 
the manner in which land owners of that day would describe their holdings by 
"metes and bounds." Mr. Jones' description is as follows : 

"Commencing at the mouth of Purgatory Creek and running thence east to 
the Missouri River: thence down the said river to near the mouth of the slough; 
thence west to the bluff; thence up under the bluff to tne place of beginning, 
containing about forty acres between the slough and the river ; and bounded 
as follows: North by Peterson; east by the Missouri River; south by Reeves, 
and west by Hanscom and Allen. The lines are all distinctly and well marked 
so they can be easily traced, and all the improvements are on the part of my 
claim south of Omaha City, and also another part of my claim north of Omaha 
City, described as follows : North by H. D. Johnson ; west by W. Johnson ; 
south by W. Clancy, and east by T. Jeffries, containing about 160 acres ; and is 


well staked, so the lines can be easily traced, and a furrow on the north, west 
and south." 

One can readily see that the cutting down of blazed trees, the transfer of 
claims to others than those mentioned as owners in the description of the 
boundary lands, or the obliteration of the "furrow," would have a tendency 
to place a cloud on the title, but in the absence of the official survey such 
descriptions as the above were common. They were the best the claimants 
could do, and as a rule they were respected by everybody. The government 
survey of Douglas County was completed late in the year 1856 and the United 
States land office was opened at Omaha on March 17, 1857. The settlers 
anxiously awaited this event, as they could modify their claim boundaries to 
conform to the lines of the survey and obtain valid titles to their lands. Under 
the preemption laws each settler could enter only 160 acres, but it was a common 
practice to hire some one to preempt other tracts, and through this method some 
became large real estate owners. The first entry at the Omaha land office was 
made on the day the office was opened for business by Jesse Lowe and included 
the Omaha town site. The patent for this land bears date of October i, i860. 
At a public sale on July 5, 1859, John ]\IcCormick, as trustee for the Council 
Blufi^s & Nebraska Ferry Company, bid in certain lands for which the patent 
was issued on May i, i860, five months prior to that of Mr. Lowe. 


In the settlement of the United States there was hardly a frontier settlement 
that was not the resort of men who would rather live by appropriating the 
property of others than by honest labor. While the reign of law was in its 
infancy, the machinery of the courts imperfectly organized or at some distance 
from the ''margin of civilization," and isolated settlements were without methods 
of quick communication, the outlaws stood a much better chance of escaping 
the clutches of the law than they would have done in the older communities. 
It is therefore not surprising that they sought the new settlements to carry on 
their nefarious practices. 

Horse stealing was one of the most common of offenses. Early in the 
nineteenth century the notorious John A. Murrell organized what was probably 
the first regular chain of horse thieves and highwaymen in the United States. It 
extended from the central portion of the country to the Southern States, where 
there was at that time a great demand for horses. A stolen horse could be 
concealed throughout the day in some convenient thicket and at night passed 
on to the next station in the chain mitil the market was reached. Even after 
the death of Murrell, some of the men educated in this school continued to 
operate in Indiana, Illinois and Iowa, and no doubt the theft of horses from 
some of the early settlers of Douglas County could be traced to this gang. 

In the summer of 1856 two vagabond characters stole two horses near 
Omaha and sold them to the Pawnee Indians on the Elkhorn River. The 
horses strayed away from the Indian village soon afterward and returned to 
their homes. The Indians followed the trail and claimed the animals, but 
the owners refused to give them up. After being convinced that the horses 
had been stolen from the white men, the Pawnees agreed to hold the next 
persons who came to their camp with horses for sale and notify the settlers. 


Not long after this the same two men again appeared at the Pawnee camp and 
wanted to sell the Indians some mules. They were arrested and brought to 
Omaha. Douglas County was then without a jail worthy of the name, and the 
settlers, after a consultation, decided to give each of the thieves thirty-nine 
lashes on his bare back, shave one-half of his head and then turn him loose, 
with the admonition to get out of Nebraska and stay out. A colored barber 
named Uill Lee did the shaving, and it is said he hid an artistic job, after which 
the thieves were taken to an old liberty pole that had been erected the year 
before on the block bounded by Farnam, Harney, Twelfth and Thirteenth 
streets. One of the thieves was stripped to the waist and tied to the pole, when 
the question came up as to who should wield the rawhide that had been obtained 
from a nearby harness shop. It was finally suggested by someone that the 
Indians do the whipping. They assented and one of them started in to admin- 
ister the punishment, but he was too severe and was stopped by the crowd. It 
was then proposed that the owners of the two horses first stolen should each 
whip one of the thieves and this arrangement was carried out to the satisfaction 
of the bystanders. The thieves were then released and were never seen about 
Omaha again. 

While the mob was gathering Chief Justice Ferguson ordered P. B. Rankin, 
then United States marshal, to disperse the crowd, and confine the two men in 
order that they might be tried according to law. It is said that Rankin delivered 
the order to disperse in such a low tone of voice that he could be heard only by a 
few persons standing close to him and he was afterward charged by Judge 
Ferguson with being in sympathy with the mob — a charge he never took the 
trouble to deny. 

Early in March, 1858, John Daley and Harvey Braden, whose home was in 
Harrison County, Iowa, stole some horses near Florence. After a long chase 
they were captured and brought back to Omaha, where they were confined in 
jail. They were given a preliminary hearing and committed to jail in default 
of bail. A few days later a small crowd gathered at the courthouse on the 
northeast corner of Sixteenth and Farnam streets, where the Paxton Building 
now stands. There was no demonstration of any kind. One of the men walked 
quietly into the sherifif's office, probably knowing that Sheriff Reeves was absent, 
took the key to the jail, and before Mrs. Reeves could give the alarm unlocked 
the cells in which Daley and Braden were confined. The others then went into 
the jail, took the two prisoners in charge and moved hurriedly northward. 
About two miles north of Florence they came to an oak tree with a convenient 
limb extending almost horizontally over the highway. This was selected as the 
place of execution, but unfortunately the crowd had but one rope. The diffi- 
culty was overcome by throwing the rope over the limb and hanging one of 
the prisoners on each end of it, where their bodies were afterward found, back 
to back. 

Public sentiment condemned the lynching and the coroner made a rigid 
investigation of the affair. Dr. G. L. Miller was foreman of the coroner's jury 
and Byron Reed acted as clerk. Witnesses were brought in by main force by 
deputy sherififs, and though some of them admitted they witnessed the hanging 
they denied having a hand in it. The jury could not determine who were the 
leaders. Four men were afterward indicted, but they took a change of venue 
to Sarpy County, where they were acquitted. Sherifif Reeves was fined heavily 


by Judge Ferguson for dereliction of duty in not protecting the prisoners placed 
in his charge. 

Among the early settlers of Douglas County was George Taylor, who built 
his cabin on the military road, where it crossed the Big Papillion Creek, about 
ten miles west of Omaha. In the spring of 1861 James Bouve and John S. 
Her went to Taylor's house while he was absent, tied Mrs. Taylor and threw 
her on the bed, where she was struck several times by Bouve because she 
refused to reveal the hiding place of a sum of money which the robbers sup- 
posed to be in the house. Bouve wanted to set fire to the cabin, but Her 
objected. They then took what money and valuables they could find and 
departed, leaving Mrs. Taylor bound. Mr. Taylor returned home soon after- 
ward, and upon learning what had happened he hurried to Omaha, where he 
swore out warrants for "John Doe" and "Richard Roe." Thomas Riley, then 
city marshal, took the warrants and found Bouve and Her playing cards in the 
back room of a saloon. As they seemed to be flush with money he arrested 
them and took them before Judge Annstrong. They were identified the next 
morning by Mrs. Taylor and they were confined in separate cells in the court- 
house. Her confessed, telling where the booty taken from the Taylor house 
was concealed. The next day a mass meeting of citizens was held in front of 
in Pioneer Block, on Farnam Street, at which it was decided to try the prisoners 
by lynch law. Twelve men were chosen as jurors, William A. Little and Robart 
A. Howard were assigned to defend the prisoners, and the trial proceeded. 
After hearing the evidence, the jury returned a verdict of guilty, but recom- 
mended leniency as to Her, on account of his confession and his restraint of 
Bouve in wanting to burn Taylor's house. When the result was announced to 
the waiting crowd outside everyone seemed to be satisfied. About midnight that 
night a body of masked men went to the jail, overpowered Marshal Riley, took 
the keys and hanged Bouve to a beam in his cell. Her was not molested. 
Coroner Seymour held an inquest and the jury returned a verdict that "James 
F. Bouve came to his death by hanging, by persons unknown to this jur\'." Her 
was afterward released and entered the army, where he made a good record 
as a soldier, being mustered out as a sergeant. 

Mgilance committees were not unusual during the pioneer period, and 
Omaha was several times purged of gamblers and other imdesirable characters 
through their operation. On one occasion, late at night, a number of masked 
men, with drawn revolvers, entered a gambling house and notified the pro- 
prietors that they must leave Omaha within twenty-four hours. Further warn- 
ing was unnecessarv. Tf a resident whose honesty or morality was not above 
suspicion happened to find a placard bearing a skull and cross-bones attached 
to his door some morning, he knew what it meant and immediately departed 
for a more congenial climate. Sometimes this method of warning was abused 
hv one who took advantage of it to get rid of an undesirable neighbor, but in 
a majority of cases it was well deserved. 

But times have changed. As the population increased the law-abiding, order- 
loving people came into such a majority that outlaws stood no chance of escape 
from legal trial and punishment. Lynch law and the whipping post are no longer 
appealed to as a means of preserving order and protecting property, and Omaha 
ranks high among cities of her class in the enforcement of law and the preserva- 
tion of life and property through her established courts. 




In this year, 1916 of the Christian Era, the citizen of Omaha and Douglas 
County is in the full enjoyment of all the fruits of modern progress and develop- 
ment. When he has occasion to make a business or social call in another part 
of the city, or the adjacent rural districts, he can step into his motor car and 
smoothly glide along over paved streets or established highways to his destina- 
tion. Or, if he is not the fortunate possessor of an automobile, he can always 
find in the excellent street railway system a cheap and efficient means of 
transportation. If he desires to take a longer journey, several trunk lines of 
railroad, equipped with powerful locomotives and coaches almost palatial in 
their magnificence, are open to him. When he enters his residence at night, all 
he has to do is to push a button or turn a switch and the room is immediately 
flooded with electric light. He turns a faucet and receives a supply of pure, 
wholesome water, in any quantity he may need. It is an easy matter to telephone 
to the grocer to send up a sack of flour, or to the coal dealer for a load of coal, 
or to a friend in a distant part of the city an invitation to dinner. His children 
attend a modern graded school ; a boy brings the daily newspaper to his door : 
theaters offer choice of an evening's entertainment. He worships in a church 
heated by steam and lighted by electricity, and listens to the music of a pipe 
organ that cost several thousand dollars. 

But does he ever pause to think how all these comforts and convenience.^ 
were made possible? Let him for a moment draw upon his imagination foi 
conditions as they existed in what is now Douglas County at the time the Omaha 
Indians ceded the land to the United States in March. 1854. Or let him go a 
little farther back to November, 1S53, '^^^ trace the wanderings of Alfred D. 
Jones and the Allen brothers as they blazed the trees marking the boundaries 
of their claims in anticipation of the treaty. Let him read in another chapter 
of this history how these men crossed the Missouri in a leaky boat, waded 
through the tall marsh grass, slept at night on the bare ground, and all for what? 
That they might be the first to select lands in what is now the State of Nebraska. 

Compared with the conditions of the present day, the pioneer encountered 
a few actual hardships and a great many inconveniences. When the first settlers 
came to Omaha there were no automobiles, street cars or steam railways. An 



occasional steamboat on the Missouri River brought them supplies, and for land 
transportation the ox team was the most reliable motive power and the prairie 
schooner the most common vehicle. Instead of the electric light, the tallow 
candle was the best known method of illumination. Even kerosene was then 
unknown. Sometimes the supply of candles gave out, when the housewife 
would improvise a lamp by using a shallow dish, in which was placed a quantity 
of lard or other grease, with a loosely twisted cotton rag for a wick. One end 
of the wick was allowed to project slightly over the side of the dish and the 
projecting end was lighted. Such a lamp emitted smoke and odor that could 
hardly be tolerated by fastidious persons of the present generation, but it 
answered the purpose then. Often during the long winter evenings the family 
would have no light except that which came from the roaring fire in the 

BreadstufTs were not to be obtained by telephoning to the grocer then. The 
settler had to take his "turn of corn" or a sack of wheat and go several miles 
to mill, where he would wait his turn, and frequently he would not return home 
until the next day. On "grinding days" at the old mill a number of men, while 
waiting for their grists, would pass away the time in athletic contests, such as 
foot racing, wrestling or pitching horseshoes. Even cooking stoves were a 
luxury that many homes could not afford and the meals were prepared at the 
fireplace, an iron teakettle, a long-handled skillet and a large iron pot being the 
principal cooking utensils. 

Water for domestic purposes was obtained by digging wells to a depth 
sufficient to "strike a vein," the wells being walled with stone, brick or a wooden 
curbing to prevent their caving in. In times of drought many of these shallow 
wells went dry and water was obtained from the Missouri River. As there were 
no means of filtering this water, it was allowed to stand in vessels until the mud 
settled to the bottom, when the water was drained oflf and used unfiltered. 
Yet, notwithstanding all these difficulties, the pioneers toiled bravely on, im- 
proving a little here, a little there, and building step by step Nebraska's metrop- 
olis. And as one looks back over their labors and accomplishments, he cannot 
help agreeing with Robert Burns that 

"Buirdly chiels and clever hizzies 
Are bred in sic a way as this is." 

Following are individual sketches of some of the pioneers who were active 
in building up the city and county in the years immediately following the organ- 
ization of Nebraska Territory. It would be impossible to mention everyone 
who contributed in any way to the development of that period, but those selected 
are fair representatives of the real pioneer type — men who possessed the courage 
to meet and overcome obstacles, and who were buoyed up by the hope of a 
brighter future for the city they were engaged in building. For the convenience 
of the reader their names have been arranged in alphabetical order. 

James T. Allen came from Pontiac, ]\1ich.. in December, 1855, ''"f' located 
at Bellevue. He brought with him a numlier of fruit trees and ornamental 
shrubs, as well as a I)ushel of apple seeds, for the purpose of giving variety to 
the treeless prairies of Nebraska, of which he had heard. Some of his neighbors 
were inclined to laugh at his notions, while others availed themselves of his 


kind offices to establish orchards upon their claims. In 1859 he removed to 
Omaha, and two years later took charge of the Herndon House, which had just 
been built by Lyman Richardson and Dr. George L. Miller. After conducting 
the hotel for about six years he took a position in the postoffice and was the 
first superintendent of the free delivery system when it was inaugurated in 
Omaha. In 1809 he engaged in the seed, plant and nursery business, an occupa- 
tion more to his liking and for which he was eminently well qualified. Li 1880 
the Union Pacific Railroad Company made him superintendent of tree planting 
along the right of way of the road, a position he held until his death on No- 
vember 20, 1885. Mr. Allen was the author of several works on horticulture, 
and at the time of his death was president of the Nebraska Horticultural Society. 

George R. Armstrong, a pioneer of 1854, was born at Baltimore, Aid., 
August I, 1819. When eight years old he went with his parents to Ohio, where 
he learned the printer's trade. He continued in newspaper work until 1854, 
when he decided to "Go west and grow up with the country." After visiting 
several localities he selected Omaha as the place having the greatest possibilities 
for the future. The next spring he formed a partnership with George C. Bovey, 
and the firm of Bovey & Armstrong built the territorial capitol, the Pioneer 
Block, the Congregational Church, the first courthouse and a number of other 
early buildings. Mr. Armstrong was a member of the Legislature of 1857; 
was elected mayor of Omaha in 1859 and again 1862 ; served as probate and 
county judges; was clerk of the District Court from 1866 to 1875, and was also 
clerk of the Nebraska Supreme Court until the capital was removed to Lincoln, 
when he resigned. 

Soon after his election to the office of mayor in 1862, Mr. Armstrong resigned 
the office, entered the army and was commissioned major of the Second Ne- 
braska Cavalry. He served with his command in Nebraska and Colorado against 
the Indians and at the close of the war was made brevet colonel by President 
Andrew Johnson "for meritorious services." In 1877 he was employed in the 
law department of the Union Pacific Railroad Company, and was then for about 
five years chief deputy and cashier in the office of the internal revenue collector. 
In 1886 he erected a large warehouse on Izard Street, between Thirteenth and 
P'ourteenth, and engaged in the agricultural implement business with his son. 
Ewing L., under the firm name of Armstrong & Company. In January, 1891, 
he retired from active business pursuits and passed the remainder of his life in 
the quiet enjoyment of the fruits of his labors in earlier years. 

James E. Boyd, for years a prominent figure in Omaha business and political 
circles, was a native of County Tyrone, Ireland, where he was borne on September 
9, 1834. When he was about ten years of age he came to the United States 
with his father, who located in Belmont County, Ohio. In 1847 he went to 
Zanesville. Ohio, where he worked in a provision store for about three years 
and then began working at the carpenter's trade. In August, 1856, he and his 
brother, John M. Boyd, landed in Omaha and started in business as carpenters 
and joiners. The next year he was elected county clerk of Douglas County. On 
August 22, 1858, he was united in marriage to Miss Anna PI. Henry, of Council 
Bluffs, Iowa, resigned the clerk's office and went to Wood River, Neb., 
where he conducted a stock farm for several years. He was also engaged in 
operating a store about two miles west of Fort Kearney and in freighting across 


the plains. While living at Wood River he was elected to represent Buffalo 
County in the first State Legislature. In 1866 he became one of the contractors 
for the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad and during the next two 
years graded about three miles of the road bed. In February, 1868, he returned 
to Omaha and soon afterward purchased a controlling interest in the Omoha 
Gas Works, of which he was manager in 1868-69. His next venture was to 
organize the Omaha & Northwestern Railroad Company, of which he was the 
first president, and in 1870 he assisted in organizing the Central National Bank. 

Mr. Boyd was a delegate to the constitutional conventions of 1871 and 1875; 
was elected to the Omaha City Council in 1879; was elected mayor in 1881 ; and 
in 1883 received the votes of the democratic members of the Nebraska Legis- 
lature for United States senator; was a delegate to the democratic national con- 
vention in 1884 and supported Grover Cleveland for President, and was again 
a delegate to the national convention of 1888. In 1890 he was nominated by the 
democratic state convention for governor and was elected. Governor Thayer, 
whom he succeeded, raised the question of citizenship, claiming that Governor 
Boyd's father had never been fully naturalized and that the governor was there- 
fore not a citizen of the United States. The Supreme Court of Nebraska sus- 
tained this view, and on Alay 6, 1891, he was ousted, Thayer being given the 
office. Boyd appealed to the Supreme Court of tlie United States, which 
reversed the decision, and on February 8, 1892, he was reinstated as governor, 
serving out the remainder of the term for which he had been elected. 

Governor Boyd was one of the pioneer pork packers of Omaha, engaging 
in that business in 1872. Year by year his plant was enlarged, until 1876, which 
was a year of great prosperity to Nebraska, when he handled 40,000 hogs. 
His packing house was destroyed by fire on January 18, 1880, but was rebuilt 
on a larger scale, which enabled him to pack over one hundred thousand hogs 
annually. He sold this btisiness in 1887. 

Boyd's Opera House, on the northeast corner of Fifteenth and Farnani 
streets, was built by Governor Boyd in 1881, but was afterward burned, and in 
1890 he began the erection of the Boyd Theater on the southeast corner of 
Seventeenth and Plarney streets. The cost of this building was nearly a quarter 
of a million dollars. It is still one of Omaha's popular amusement houses. 
Governor Boyd died at his home in Omaha on the last day of April, 1906. 

William D. P)rov\'n, who established the Lone Tree Ferry across the Missouri 
in June, 1853, is entitled to recognition as a pioneer, though he left but little 
history. He was a member of the Council Blufifs & Nebraska Ferry Company, 
which was organized a few weeks after he began operating his ferry, and which 
established the first steam ferry on the upper waters of the ]\Iissouri. Some 
writers give Mr. Brown the credit of being the first man to locate a claim on 
the plateau where Omaha now stands, but he never claimed that distinction. 
Before coming to Council Bluft's, he had served a term as sheriff of Henr\- 
County, Iowa, and had been engaged in the manufacture of brick at Ottunnva. 
Iowa. One of his daughters became the wife of Alfred Sorenson and another 
was Mrs. Alexander McKenzie. 

William N. Byers, one of the representatives from Douglas County in the 
first Territorial Legislature, was born in Madison County. Ohio, February 22, 
1831. He was educated in the public schools and at W^est Jefferson Acadeniy 


in his native county, and in 1850 went with his parents to Iowa. Soon after 
the family located in that state, young Byers joined a surveying party working 
in the western part of Iowa and in this way gained his first knowledge of the 
country west of the Missouri River. In 1854 he came to Omaha and in Decem- 
ber of that year was elected as one of the representatives. Mr. Byers formed 
a partnership with Andrew J. Poppleton and their sign bore the legend : "Popple- 
ton & Byers, Surveyors & Attorneys." It is quite probable that Mr. Poppleton 
attended to the legal business of the firni, while Mr. Byers looked after the 
surveying. The latter was the first deputy surveyor appointed in Nebraska 
Territory. He made the first official plat and the first map of Omaha, and when 
the city was incorporated in 1857 he was elected a member of the first city 
council. In 1859 he became fired with journalistic ambitions, took a printing 
press to Denver with an ox team, and founded the newspaper that developed 
into the Rocky Mountain News. He was also connected with the Denver Street 
Railway Company and some of the leading banks of that city. He died at 
Denver on March 25, 1903. 

William Clancy, also a member of the first Territorial Legislature, was a 
pioneer of 1854. He established the grocery, eating house and saloon known as 
the "Big Six," which he conducted for some time, in connection with a partner 
named Lewis. In the first session of the Legislature, when the question of 
removing the capital came up for consideration, he stood firmly by Omaha. 
But in the session which convened on December 8, 1857, ^^ ^ member of the 
council, he changed his views. He was a member of the special committee that 
made a favorable report on the Safl:'ord resolution and presented a bill providing 
for the removal of the seat of government, and he was one of the signers of the 
"manifesto" issued by the members of the Legislature who adjourned to 
Florence on January 9, 1858. Clancy was a typical Irishman, and his "Big 
Six" was not always conducted as an orderly place of entertainment. Criticisms 
of his place, coupled with the fact that he had made himself unpopular with 
the people of Omaha by his change of attitude on the capital removal question, 
were no doubt the cause of his leaving Nebraska after a brief residence. He 
first went to the Cherry Creek gold mines in Colorado (now Denver), thence 
to Montana, where he passed the remaining years of his life. 

Smith S. Caldwell, for rnore than a quarter of a century identified with the 
banking and railroad interests of Omaha, came to this city from Marion. N. Y., 
in 1859, when he was about twenty-five years of age. Soon after locating 
in Omaha he became associated with the banking house of Barrows. Millard & 
Co., which was subsequently changed to Millard, Caldwell & Co. Upon the 
organization of the Omaha National Bank, he organized the firm of Caldwell 
Si Hamilton, which consisted of himself and Charles W. Hamilton. This firm 
was merged into the United States National Bank in 1883. In 1869 Mr. Caldwell 
was elected president of the Omaha and Southwestern Railroad Company, of 
which he was one of the incorporators. He was one of the promoters of the 
Grand Central Hotel, and in 1871 was elected mayor of the city. In connection 
with Ezra Millard he platted Millard & Caldwell's addition to the City of Omaha, 
and he was in other ways influential in advancing the material welfare of the 
city. His death occurred on June 26, 1884. 

In the spring of 1856 two brothers, Edward and John A. Creighton, and 


a cousin, James Creighton, came to Omaha. Edward Creighton was born in 
Belmont County, Ohio, August 31, 1820, and came west in 1856 as one of the 
builders of the telegraph Ime from the Missouri River to the Pacitic Coast. 
Later he built lines in Missouri and Arkansas, and in i860 constructed the line 
from Omaha to St. Louis. He became a large stockholder in the Pacific & 
Western Union Telegraph companies, and by the appreciation of his stock 
accumulated a large fortune. For some years he was extensively engaged in the 
cattle business on the western plains; was interested in the building of the 
Omaha and Northwestern Railroad, and was the iirst president of the First 
National Bank. At the time of his death on November 5, 1874, he was reputed 
to be the wealthiest man in Omaha. His widow gave a large sum of money to 
found Creighton University, a history of which is given in the chapter on schools. 

John A. Creighton was born in Licking County, Ohio, October 15, 1831, 
came to Omaha in June, 1856, and found employment as a clerk in the mercan- 
tile establishment of J. J. & R. A. Brown. In 1883, in connection with his 
cousin James, he took a cattle train loaded with supplies to Montana. The gold 
excitement was then at its height and John A. Creighton engaged in the mer- 
cantile business in Virginia, where he remained for about three years. He was 
interested in the building of the telegraph line from Helena, Mont., to Salt 
Lake City, Utah, and in 1868 engaged in the wholesale grocery business as the 
senior partner of the tirm of Creighton & Morgan. Upon the death of his 
brother Edward in 1874 he was appointed administrator of the estate and came 
to Omaha. He was one of the incorporators of the nail works, a stockholder 
in the cable street railway, and was one of the projectors of the South Omaha 
Land Syndicate. Mr. Creighton took a lively interest in public affairs and was 
a delegate to the democratic national convention in 1884. He contributed 
liberally to Creighton University and other Catholic institutions. His death 
occurred on Febniary 7, 1907. 

James Creighton was born in Guernsey County, Ohio, March i, 1822, and 
became a resident of r)maha in May, 1856. For some time he was engaged as 
a freighter between Omaha and the gold mines of the West, and in 1861 he 
had the contract to deliver the telegraph poles for the Pacific Telegraph Company 
from Fort Laramie to Fort Bridger. He also had grading contracts on the 
Union Pacific Railway while it was in course of construction. In 1857 he was 
appointed a member of the Omaha City Council, to fill out the unexpired term 
of Taylor G. Goodwill, and was afterward elected as one of Douglas County's 
representatives in the Legislature of 1877. He was also a member of the first 
board of education under the present system, and was the chairman of the board 
of public works upon its organization in July, 1882. 

Thomas B. Cuming, the first secretary and acting governor of Nebraska 
Territory, was born in Genesee County, New York, December 25, 1828. His 
father, an Episcopal minister, afterward removed to Michigan and Thomas 
entered the first freshman class of the LTniversity of Michigan, graduating with 
honors when only a little over sixteen years of age. He then went with his 
father's family to Grand Rapids, where he engaged in teaching until the begin- 
i)ing of the Mexican war, when he enlisted and was promoted to lieutenant. Ill 
health compelled him to resign his commission in the army and not long after 
this he started for the California gold fields. L^pon arriving at St. Louis he 


formed the acquaintance of a telegraph operator who persuaded him to learn 
telegraphy. In less than a month he mastered the iVIorse alphabet and was as- 
signed to the telegraph office at Keokuk, Iowa, where he became acquainted with 
and married Miss Marguerite C. Murphy, a descendant of an old Maryland 
Catholic family. 

It was at Keokuk that Mr. Cuming made his debut into politics. He wrote 
an article for the Keokuk Dispatch, a newspaper on which Mark Twain was 
employed as compositor. It attracted considerable attention and he wrote 
another. The publishers of the paper then offered him the position of managing 
■ editor, which he accepted. His work as editor led to his appointment as secre- 
tary of Nebraska Territory by President Pierce in June, 1854. Upon the death 
of Governor Burt Mr. Cuming became acting governor and on the day of Burt's 
death issued a proclamation calling on the people of Nebraska to observe 
Thanksgiving day. His next act was to order a census of the territory, after 
which he called an election for December 12, 1854, when Napoleon B. Giddings 
was elected delegate to Congress and members of the Territorial Legislature 
were chosen. He continued to discharge the duties of acting governor until 
February 20, 1855, when he was succeeded by Governor Mark W. Izard. When 
the latter resigned in November, 1857, Mr. Cuming again became acting governor 
and served until the arrival of Governor Richardson in January, 1858. A few 
weeks later the governor was called away from the territory and the secretary 
again assumed the duties of the gubernatorial office. He was not well at the 
time and the added responsibilities no doubt aggravated his illness. He died on 
March 23, 1858. In an address shortly afterward James M. Woolworth, one 
of the leading attorneys of Omaha, paid this tribute to Mr. Cuming: 

"The executive energy which in stormy times organized this territory ; the 
rich, full, nervous rhetoric which captivated the people on more than one occa- 
sion ; the rare, curious, thorough learning on the 'philosophies,' which, a year 
ago, charmed and astonished this auditory ; the hearty grasp of the hand ; the 
generous warmth of the heart ; the decision which even in sickness withstood 
the Florence recusants — all these qualities characterized the man, who seems 
to me a striking example of western character." 

Mr. Cuming was only about three months past the age of twenty-nine years 
when he laid down the burden of life, and few men ever accomplished more 
in that brief period. As teacher, soldier and journalist he acquitted himself 
with credit, and was only twenty-five-and-a-half years old when he was appointed 
secretary of Nebraska Territory. The last three years of his life were eventful 
ones. Undaunted by lack of years and experience, he organized the government 
of the territory according to the dictates of his own judgment. At all times 
courteous to his opponents, he never allowed himself to be turned aside from 
what he considered the plain path of duty. None of the pioneers was a better 
friend of Omaha in the early days and his memory is still revered by the people 
of Nebraska. Cuming County and a street in the Citv of Omaha were named 
in his honor. 

Fleming Davidson, who was one of Douglas County's representatives in the 
first Territorial Legislature, was born near Wheeling, in what is now West 
Virginia. July 27. 1827. When he was about three years old his parents removed 
to Vermilion County, Indiana, where he received his education in the common 


schools, in June, 1854, he married Miss Mary A. Brown at Havana, 111., 
and on October 28, 1854, he landed in Omaha. Mr. Davidson was the first man 
to engage in the ice business in Omaha. In i86i he went to California, where 
he became a farmer on an extensive scale. Becoming dissatisfied with Cali- 
fornia, he removed to Wichita, Kan., in the fall of 1876 and died there on 
July 6, 1891. 

Thomas Davis, another Douglas County representative in the first Territorial 
Legislature, was born in Hawarden, Wales, February 2, 1822. In 1844 he was 
united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth Benion and the couple lived in Liverpool 
for about four years. They then returned to A\'ales and in 1849 came to the 
United States. In 1853 JMr. Davis located in Cotincil Blufts and the next year 
crossed the Missouri as an Omaha pioneer. He built his cabin at the southeast 
comer of Eleventh and Farnam streets, purchased the sawmill of Bayliss & 
Davis and made cottonwood lumber for the early settlers. He was one of the 
builders of the first territorial capitol, on the northwest corner of Ninth and 
Farnam streets; was a member of the first board of county commissioners of 
Douglas County ; one of Omaha's first aldermen ; was appointed a member of 
the first board of regents of the Omaha High School in .\pril, 1S69, and in 
other ways contributed his mite to the progress of the city and county. In 1870 
he went to Indianapolis, Ind., where he was engaged in manufacturing until 
the spring of 1891, when he returned to Omaha. His death occurred on .April 



Among the early settlers of Douglas County was a man calling himself 
Stephen Decatur, who claimed to be a nephew of the famous commodore of 
that name. He was born in Stissex County, New Jersey, about 1808, and 
married there, but left home in the early '40s. During the Mexican war he 
served in Donovan's regiment and not long after the war came to Bellevue, 
Neb., where he entered the employ of Peter A. .Sarpy at the trading post. 
He learned several Indian dialects and when ilr. Sarpy established the ferry 
across the Loup Fork he placed Decatur in charge. Returning to Bellevue, he 
became a member of the company that laid out the town. In 1855 h^ organized 
the "Decatur Town and Ferry Company," which laid out the Town of Decatur, 
the patent for the site being obtained in 1862, after Decatur had left the territor}'. 
A spring there is still known as Decatur's spring. 

It is not known whether Decatur's New Jersey wife obtained a flivorce or 
died, but at any rate he married again after coming west. Although he "cut 
a wide swath at times," and was called "Commodore," he was not a good 
financier. In 1859 he told his wife he was going west to make his fortune, 
when he would return. Several years elapsed before anything was heard of him. 
It was then learned that he was connected with the Georgetown Miner, a news- 
paper published at Georgetown, Colo. Later he crossed the divide and in 
the heart of the mountains established another little town and mining camp 
called Decatur. Some years afterward a party of prominent men, including 
Horace Greeley, Schuyler Colfax and William Bross, editor of the Chicago 
Tribune and at one time lieutenant governor of Illinois, made a trip across the 
continent. Upon reaching Denver, Bross said : "I want to stop here for a day 
or two ; I believe I have a brother near here, somewhere, living in the mountains 


as a kind of hermit. I have traced him once or twice and I now intend to 
find him and settle the qtiestion whether he is the man or not." 

When he did find him he tried to induce the eccentric commodore to 
acknowledge the relationship, btit in vain. It was pretty well understood after 
this time, however, that Decatur was really Stephen Decatur Bross, brother to 
the editor and a relative of the Bross family of Illinois. From Georgetown he 
went to a place called Silver Clift, in Southern Colorado. He was well educated 
and could speak or write intelligently upon a multitude of subjects. In 1876 
he was the Colorado commissioner at the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia, 
where it is said he had the most curious collection on the grounds and was 
proud of it. He died at Rosita, Colo., June 3, 1888. His second wife, whom 
he married at Council Bluffs, and who was a Mrs. Thompson before her mar- 
riage to Decatur, went to Los Angeles and died there. 

Charles H. Downs, one of the earliest settlers in Omaha, was born near 
New Haven, Conn., February 14, 1819. He was educated in the common 
schools and in 1843, '^^'•th four other young men, went to Ohio In 1850 he 
went to California, but in the spring of 1854 he returned east as far as Council 
Bluffs, where he became captain of the steam ferry boat. General Marion, and 
soon afterward took up his residence in a cabin the ferry company had erected 
on the west side of the river. After the loss of the Marion in the spring of 
1855, Captain Downs bought for the ferry company another boat, called the 
Mary Cole, but she sank before reaching Plattsmouth. He then bought the 
"Nebraska No. i," from P. A. Sarpy and remained connected with the ferr>' 
until 1862. Subsequently he was one of the organizers of the Omaha & Grant 
-Smelting Company, and took an active part in the organization of the Omaha 
& Northwestern Railroad Company. In 1857, when Omaha was incorporated, 
he was elected a member of the first city cotmcil, and he took an active interest 
in every measure calculated to advance the interests of the city. 

Edric L. Eaton, who was the first man to establish a photographic studio 
in Omaha, was a native of Franklin County, Vermont, v^-here he was bom on 
May 31, 1836. In May, 1856, he came to Omaha and opened a studio. During 
the years 1858-59 he spent some time in Florence, taking photographs of the 
Mormons and their outfits on the way to Salt Lake. When the Civil war broke 
out in 1861 he closed his studio and for nearly five years followed the First 
Nebraska Infantry, making views of camp and army life. He reopened his 
place in 1866 and for years was one of the best known photographers in the 
Missouri Valley. 

John Evans, who was prominent in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, 
came to Nebraska in the spring of 1855. He first located in Dodge County and 
represented that county in the lower branch of the second Territorial Legislature. 
Not long after that he removed to Omaha, where he became intimately identified 
with the city's business and official affairs. For years he was a member of the 
school board under the old system : was elected to the city council in 1867, and 
was secretary of the committee of fifteen which drafted the metropolitan charter 
of Omaha in 1886. Two years later he was chosen as one of the committee 
of twenty-one to draft certain amendments to the charter, and on various occa- 
sions he rendered important services to the municipality. 

Shortly after coming to Omaha Mr. Evans joined Omaha Lodge, No. 2, 


Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and remained prominently identified with 
that order until his death. He served as grand secretary of the Nebraska Grand 
Lodge; was grand scribe of the Grand Encampment; and for several years was 
one of the grand representatives to the Sovereign Grand Lodge of the United 

In 1864 Air. Evans embarked in the general grocery business, in which he 
continued for over twenty years, when he began dealing in seeds, garden tools, 
etc., in which he passed the remaining years of his active business life. 

Taylor G. Goodwill, one of the four members from Douglas County in the 
upper house of the First Territorial Legislature, was born at Springfield, 
Mass., in 1809. Some time in the '30s he removed to the State of New York, 
where he followed farming for a number of years. In the spring of 1854 he 
decided to try his fortunes in the West, and later in that year he located in 
Omaha. Being a man of good judgment and excellent business training, he 
quickly became associated with the leaders of the new settlement. On December 
12, 1854, he was elected a member of the Territorial Council and served through 
the first session of the Legislature. When Douglas County was organized in 
1855, he was appointed the first county treasurer. He was commissioned 
adjutant-general of the territorial militia, where he won the title of "colonel," 
and when Omaha was incorporated in 1857 he was elected one of the first board 
of aldermen, but died in May, 1857, before the expiration of his term. Mr. 
Goodwill was one of the builders of the First IMethodist Church, and his 
daughter, Julia A., afterward Mrs. Allen Root, taught the first school in Omaha. 

Alfred D. Goyer, a member of the House in the first Territorial Legislature, 
was a native of Michigan, where he was born about 1822. He came to 
Nebraska soon after the territory was organized in 1854 and began farming 
near Omaha. In December of that year he was elected one of Douglas County's 
representatives, and during the first session of the Legislature he vi'as chairman 
of the House committee on agriculture. Toward the close of the session he 
made a long report, which abounded in good suggestions for the promotion of 
the agricultural interests of Nebraska. Some of these suggestions were after- 
ward enacted into law. Mr. Goyer was not a man who sought notoriety, and 
at the expiration of his term as representative retired to his farm. But little 
is known of his subsequent history. 

Charles W. Hamilton, one of Omaha's early bankers and financiers, was 
bom in Chenango County, New York, January i, 1831. He came to Omaha 
in May, 1856, and was one of the company that in that year built the Hamilton 
House, a brick hotel, on the south side of Douglas Street, between Fourteenth 
and Fifteenth. The first proprietor of this hotel was a man anmed Burnham. 
In the spring of 1862 he entered tlie employ of the banking firm of Barrows, 
Millard & Co., and three years later was made a member of the firm. Another 
chanf^e was made in 1868. when the firm name was changed to Caldwell, 
Hamilton & Co., which continued until the business was organized as the 
United States National Bank in 1883, with Mr. Hamilton as president. 

Mr. Hamilton married Miss Fannie Murphy about two years after coming 
to Omaha, and two of his sons, C. Will Hamilton and Frank Hamilton, after- 
ward became identified with the banking interests of the city. He was one of 
the organizers of Trinity Episcopal Church (now Trinity Cathedral) and was 



the first junior warden of the parish. He was also a member of the board of 
education under the present school system, and was an early member of Capital 
Lodge No. 3, Free and Accepted Masons. He died March 25, 1906. 

Andrew J. Hanscom, one of Douglas County's representatives in the first 
Territorial Legislature, was born m the City of Detroit, Michigan, February 
23, 1828. When the Mexican war broke out he enlisted as first lieutenant of 
Company C, First Michigan Infantry, in which Thomas B. Cuming enlisted 
as a private. In 1849 Mr. Flanscom started for California, but stopped at 
Council Bluffs, Iowa, where he built a mill, conducted a store and sometimes 
practiced law. When Omaha was laid out he removed across the Missouri 
River and located in what is now Shinn's addition, where he put up a claim 
house and a little later built a frame house at the southwest corner of Fifteenth 
and Farnani streets, which was used as a printing office by B. B. Chapman, 
publisher of the Nebraskian. In December, 1854, he was elected to the Legisla- 
ture and in the first session was speaker of the House. He also served in the 
sessions of 1857 and 1859; was a member of the school board in early days and 
was a member of the city council in 1859. Under the act of 1855 he was com- 
missioned a colonel of the First Regiment of the Nebraska militia, and in June 
of that year was admitted to practice law in the territory. He was one of the 
organizers of Trinity Episcopal Church, and in 1867 was one of the incorporators 
of the "Omaha Horse Railway Company." In 1872 Mr. Hanscom and James 
G. Megeath gave to the City of Omaha the tract of land now known as Hanscom 
Park, and in many other instances his public spirit was made manifest. His 
death occurred on September 10, 1908. 

John A. Horbach was another man who played a conspicuous part in building 
up the City of Omaha. He was born in Pennsylvania in 1831, and when about 
nineteen years of age went to Pittsburgh, where he held a position with the 
Ohio & Pennsylvania Railroad Company for nearly six years. In April, 1856, 
he landed in Omaha and for three years was a clerk in the office of Colonel 
Gilmore, receiver of the United States land office, beginning his work in that 
capacity when the office was opened in March, 1857. He then accepted the 
agency for a line of steamboats running on the Missouri River between Omaha 
and St. Louis and at the same time was engaged in the commission business. 
Later W. J. Kennedy became associated with the steamboat, storage and general 
commission business established by Mr. Horbach. During the years 1866 and 
1867 Mr. Horbach was the Omaha agent for the Merchants' Union (afterward 
merged into the American) Express Company. Competition was lively in those 
days in the express business, and Mr. Horbach used to say that he stood ready 
to accept anything from a steel pen to a steam engine for shipment, at rates 
satisfactory to the shipper. He was one of the organizers of the Omaha & 
Northwestern Railway Company; was a member of the committee appointed 
in 1874 to inspect the waterworks of certain cities, and was one of the incor- 
[)orators of the smelting works. He was also connected with other railroad 
and banking interests and owned a large cattle ranch in Southwestern Kansas. 

Hadley D. Johnson, the "unofficial" delegate to Congress, elected on October 
II, 1853, was a native of Indiana. In 1850 he located at Council Bluffs, Iowa, 
and two years later was elected to represent Pottawattamie County in the State 
Senate. On October 11, 1853, an election was held at Sarpy's trading post at 


Bellevue and, although Mr. Johnson resided on the east side of the river, he was 
elected as a delegate to Congress, with instructions to do all he could to secure 
the passage of a bill organizing a territory west of the Missouri River. Early 
in January, 1854, he arrived in Washington and was given several hearings by 
the committee on territories, his arguments having much to do with the forma- 
tion and passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill. Soon after Nebraska Territory 
was organized, Mr. Johnson located in Omaha. In 1858 he established the 
Omaha Democrat, which lived but a short time. At the second session of the 
Legislature he was elected territorial printer. After giving up the publication 
of the Democrat he practiced law for a short time and then went to Salt Lake 
City, where he died on July 2, 1898. 

Harrison Johnson, who is probably best known as the author of a "History 
of Nebraska," was born near Dayton, Ohio, November 11, 1822. About the time 
he arrived at his majority he went to Montgomery County, Illinois, where he 
married Minerva Hambright. Soon after his marriage he went to Columbia, 
Missouri, but returned to Illinois, and in 1854 came to Omaha. He built his 
house on St. Mary's Avenue, and it is said the reason that street runs at an 
angle is due to Mr. Johnson's desire to have the shortest route to "get down 
town." Some years ago efforts were made to have the avenue altered so it 
would run due east and west, but they were not successful. He was a member 
of the third Territorial Legislature, which met on January 5. 1857; was elected 
county commissioner in 1859, and the same year was elected to the Omaha 
City Council. He was also a member of the first grand jury in Douglas County. 
In 1880 he published his "History of Nebraska" and the same year removed to 
Brown County, Nebraska, where he died on October 6, 1885. 

Alfred D. Jones, the first man to select and mark a claim on the plateau 
where Omaha is now located, was born in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania, January 
30, 1814. In his youth he learned the trade of bricklayer and plasterer, but 
afterward became a surveyor. In the early '40s he went to Jackson County. 
Missouri, where in September, 1847, he married Miss Sophronia Reeves. .\ 
year or so later he went to Iowa as a surveyor and while working in the western 
part of that state his attention was directed to the possibilities on the west side 
of the Missouri. On November 15, 1853. six months before the passage of the 
bill creating Nebraska Territory, he marked his claim and gave it the name of 
"Park Wild" (now Forest Hill). He was one of the first actual settlers in 
Omaha ; made the first survey of the town : was appointed the first postmaster 
when the office was established in 1854; was elected judge of the Omaha Claim 
Club when it was organized in July, 1854, and in December, 1854, was one of 
the four men elected to represent Douglas County in the upper house of the 
Territorial Legislature. In June, 1835. he was admitted to the bar, but never 
practiced. He was a member of Omaha's first city council in 1857, and intro- 
duced the first ordinance in that body; was a member of the first school board 
in 1850; was speaker of the House in the Legislature of 1861, and was actively 
identified with many enterprises calculated to promote the interests of the city 
and its people. 

Mr. Jones was a prominent figure in fraternal circles. He w-as one of the 
early members of the Capital Lodge No. 3, Free and Accepted Masons ; the first 
noble grand of Omaha Lodge No. 2, Independent Order of Odd Fellows : was 


grand treasurer of that order for the State of Nebraska and representative to 
the Sovereign Grand Lodge, and was grand chancellor and supreme representa- 
tive of the Knights of Pythias. The latter years of his life were spent in com- 
parative leisure, looking after his property interests. He died on August 30, 1902. 

Augustus Kountze was one of four brothers — Augustus, Herman, Luther and 
Charles — who were prominently connected with the banking business in Omaha, 
New York and Denver. He came to Omaha in 1854 and purchased forty-five 
acres of what was known as the Clancy claim, where he lived for some time in 
a log house. The banking house of Kountze Bros, was opened in December, 
1857, just after the great panic, Augustus having been previously the president 
of the Bank of Dakota. It was afterward reorganized as the First National 
Bank, of which Herman Kountze was president for several years. Augustus 
Kountze was the first president of the Omaha Board of Trade when it was organ- 
ized in 1865; was one of the incorporators and a director in the Union Pacific 
Railroad Company; was connected with the Omaha Horse Railway Company, 
organized in 1867, and he and his brother Herman were actively interested in 
the Omaha & Northwestern Railroad. When the state, by an act of the Legis- 
lature in 1869, donated the old territorial capitol to the City of Omaha for a high 
school building, Mr. Kountze was one of the first board of regents to manage 
the institution. He was a member of the society known as the Sons of Omaha, 
of which Dr. George L. Miller was the founder, and was keenly interested in 
every movement for the advancement of his adopted city. 

Herman Kountze came here at the same time as his brother Augustus. He 
was the first cashier of the First National Bank upon its organization in 1864, 
and upon the death of Edward Creighton succeeded to the presidency. He was 
one of the incorporators of the Omaha Library Association in 1871 ; was a 
member of the committee to inspect the waterworks of certain cities in 1874; 
donated the ground for the site of the Plymouth Congregational Church; was 
one of the founders of Forest Lawn Cemetery, and was interested in the Union 
Stock Yards Company and the Stock Yards Bank. He was a member of Capital 
Lodge No. 3, Free and Accepted Masons, and was a charter member of Mount 
Calvary Commandery No. i, Knights Templar, when it was organized in 1865- 
Mr. Kountze died at his home in Omaha on November 20, igo6. 

Enos Lowe, M. D., one of the founders of the Council BlufTs & Nebraska 
Ferry Company, was born at Guilford Court House, North Carolina, Alay 5, 1804. 
When he was about ten years old his parents removed to Bloomington, Indiana, 
where he began the study of medicine. He began practice about the time he 
reached his majority and a few years later entered the Ohio Medical College, at 
Cincinnati, where he completed the course and received his long coveted degree. 
For some years he practiced at Greencastle and Rockville, Indiana. While 
located at Rockville he was elected to represent Parke County in the Legislature. 
In the fall of 1837 he removed to Burlington, Iowa, where he continued in 
active practice for about ten years. 

In 1847 President Polk appointed Doctor Lowe receiver of public moneys 
of the United States land office in Iowa City and from that time he gave up hi.s. 
profession. While living at Iowa City he was elected to the State Senate and was 
made president of that body. He was a delegate to two constitutional conven- 
tions in Iowa and was president of the second. In 1853 he was appointed receiver 


for the land office at Kanesville (now Council Bluffs) and removed with his 
family to that place. The Council Uluffs & Nebraska Ferry Company was 
organized in June, 1853, and Doctor Lowe went to Alton, Illinois, where he 
bought the steam ferry boat. General Marion, loaded. her with a cargo of goods 
at St. Louis and brought her round to Council Blufifs. He was a member of the 
town company that laid out the City of Omaha in 1854 and quite a number of 
the important industries and enterprises of the city owe their origin and success 
to his initiative and executive ability. He was one of the organizers of the 
Omaha Gas Company; was active in promoting the Omaha & Southwestern 
Railroad Company, and was one of the incorporators of the State Bank of 
Nebraska. When the Old Settlers' Association was organized in 1866, he was 
elected president and held that office until his death on February 12, 1880. 

Doctor Lowe was married in July, 1828, to Miss Kitty A. Mead, who died 
at Burlington, Iowa, February 19, 1870. At the beginning of the Civil war in 
1861, although beyond the age where he would be subject to military duty. 
Doctor Lowe entered the army as surgeon of the First Nebraska Infantry, but 
was transferred to the Army of the Cumberland, where he served as brigade 
and division surgeon until failing health compelled him to resign. His only son, 
William W. Lowe, graduated at the West Point Military Academy in July, 1853, 
and was made lieutenant of dragoons. He served at various places until the 
beginning of the Civil war, when he was promoted to captain in the Second 
United States Cavalry and took an active part in the war. Among the engage- 
ments in which he participated were the capture of Fort Donelson, the cavalry 
operations in Tennessee and Alabama, especially around Nashville, and a number 
of skirmishes in Northern Georgia. He remained in the army until June 23, 
1869, when he resigned and took up his residence in Omaha, having been bre- 
vetted brigadier-general at the close of the Civil war "for gallant and meritorious 

Jesse Lowe, a brother of Dr. Enos Lowe, was born at Raleigh, North Carolina, 
March 11, 1814. After the family removed to Bloomington, Indiana, he attended 
the State University of Indiana; studied law with Gen. Tilghman Howard, and 
was admitted to the bar, but never practiced his profession. During the Mexican 
war he served as commissary of a regiment of Missouri volunteers commanded 
by Sterling Price, and later as paymaster At the close of the war he joined his 
lirother in the land office at Iowa City, Iowa, and accompanied him to Council 
Blufifs as an assistant in the office of receiver. W'hen the Town of Omaha was 
laid out in 1854 he suggested the name. He built the first banking house in the 
city — one of the first brick buildings erected — and, after being occupied by several 
private banking firms, it was the first home of the United States National Bank. 
Mr. Lowe was chosen the mayor of Omaha vmder the charter of 1857 : 
was one of the first board of county commissioners of Douglas County ; served 
on the school board under the old system, and was one of the promoters of the 
first county fair in 1858. He died on April 3, 1868. 

James G. Megeath, a pioneer of 1854, was born in Loudoun County, Virginia, 
November 18, 1824, and was married in that state in 1851 to Aliss Virginia 
Cooter. About the time of his marriage he went to California and engaged in the 
mercantile business. In 1S34 he started back to Virginia, but upon arriving at 
Omaha he was so impressed with the new town that he concluded to remain. 



Two years later the firm of Megeath, Richards & Company was organized, com- 
posed of James G. Megeath, Burr H. Richards and Samuel A. ^Megeath. The 
first place of business was a frame building on the south side of Famam, a few 
doors east of Fourteenth Street, but they soon built a new store on the north 
side of Famam, a short distance west of Thirteenth. In 1866 James G. and 
Samuel A. Megeath bought the ^IcCoy Distillery at Council Bluffs and removed 
it across the river to Omaha, where it was reopened as the Willow Springs Dis- 
tillery. The next year James G. ^Megeath formed a company, under the firm 
name of Alegeath & Co., to carry on a general forwarding and commission 
business, operating from the terminus of the Union Pacific Railroad — wherever 
that terminus happened to be — and built up a large trade. It is said that the 
company paid the Union Pacific $40,000 in one day for freight charges, and the 
trade with the Mormons amounted to more than a million dollars annually. 

Notwithstanding the great demands of his private business, Mr. Megeath 
found time to serve the public in an official capacity. He was elected to the city 
council in 1866 and again in 1877; ^^'^^ a member of the lower branch of the 
Legislature at the session of January-, 1866, and in July, 1866, was a state senator 
in the special session called to inaugurate the state government under the new- 
constitution. In conjunction with A. J. Hanscom, he donated to the city the 
ground now included in Hanscom Park, one of the city's beauty spots. 

Ezra Millard, who came to Omaha in 1856, was for more than a quarter of 
a centur}' a prominent figure in financial and municipal affairs. He was a native 
of Hamilton, Canada; located at Dubuque, Iowa, in 1850: came to Omaha six 
years later and organized the banking firm of Barrows, ^lillard & Co., later 
IMillard, Caldwell & Co. This firm dealt extferfsively in real estate and was 
influential in bringing a number of people to Nebraska. When the Omaha 
National Bank was organized in 1866 he was elected president and held the office 
until 1884, when he withdrew and organized the Commercial National Bank, 
of which he was chosen president, remaining at the head of the institution until 
his death at Saratoga, New York, August 26, 1886. 

]Mr. Millard was elected to the Territorial Legislature in i860; was one of 
the organizers of the Omaha Horse Railway Company in 1867: was elected 
mayor of Omaha in 1869; was one of the incorporators of the Omaha & North- 
western Railroad Company in that year; was also one of the incorporators of the 
Omaha Library Association in 1871 ; was treasurer of the Union Elevator Com- 
pany for some time, and was actively connected with other enterprises. In the 
spring of 1870 he laid out the Town of Millard, on the Union Pacific Railroad 
twelve miles southwest of Omaha, and in 1882 was one of the principal stock- 
holders in the company which built the Millard Hotel. His brother, Joseph H. 
Millard, who came to Omaha at the same time, served one term as United States 
.senator, was for six years a Government director of the Union Pacific Railroad, 
and is now president of the Omaha National Bank. 

Lorin Miller, surveyor and civil engineer, was bom in Oneida County, New 
York, in the year 1800. He was educated in his native state and studied for 
the profession of civil engineer. In October, 1854, he came to Omaha, his wife 
following him a few months later. One of his first commissions in Nebraska was 
to surv'ey an addition for the Council Bluffs & Nebraska Ferrv' Company. This 
addition, at first known as "Scrip Town" and later as North Omaha, was laid 


out in 1S55, Mr. iMiller receiving for his services eight lots and $2,000 in money. 
He also platted other additions to the city. In 1858 he vi'as elected to the city 
council; was chosen mayor in 1865; served at various times on the school board, 
and was one of the early members of Capital Lodge No. 3, Free and Accepted 
Masons. His death occurred on July 31, 1888. His son, Dr. George L. Miller, 
who is still living in Omaha, was the first physician of the city. 

Joseph W. Paddock, who for forty years was an influential citizen of Douglas 
County, was born at Matena, New York, April 27, 1825, and came to Omaha 
in September, 1854. He was the clerk of the first House of Representatives in the 
Territorial Legislature, which met in January, 1855. In 1857 he was elected to 
the lower branch of the Legislature and soon after the expiration of his term 
was appointed territorial secretary. At the beginning of the Civil war he resigned 
his office to enter the army as captain of Company K, First Nebraska Infantry. 
In November, 1861, he was detailed on staff duty and the following year was 
attached to the stalif of Gen. Frederick Steele. He served to the close of the 
war, when he was mustered out and returned to Omaha, where he became secre- 
tary and manager of the Western Transportation Company, which was engaged 
in freighting westward from the end of the Union Pacific Railroad. Mr. Paddock 
was again elected to the Legislature in 1865. and was a member of the House 
at the time the first constitution was adopted in 1866. In 1867 he was one of 
the incorporators of the (Jmaha Horse Railway Company, and in 1885 he 
assisted in organizing the Thomson-Houston Electric Light Company. His 
last public service was as county commissioner, having been elected a member 
of the board in i8qi to fill the unexpired term of P. J. Corrigan. Upon the 
expiration of his term as commissioner he retired to his farm, a few miles 
west of Omaha, where he passed the closing years of his life, his death occurring 
on January 17, 1895. 

William A. Paxton, who is remembered by the people of Omaha as a wide- 
awake, energetic citizen, was born in Washington Cotmty, Kentucky, January 
26, 1837. He received a limited education in the common schools and at the 
age of thirteen years left home to "shift for himself."' He first went to work 
on a farm for $8 a month, but in 1854 he took charge of a farm in Montgomer)' 
County, Missouri, for $200 per year. The owner of the farm was M. J. Regan, 
who took the contract for building the bridges on the old military road between 
Omaha and Fort Kearney, and in January, 1857, ^^r. Paxton, then only twenty 
years of age, came to Omaha as foreman for Mr. Regan. The work was finished 
in December following, when young Paxton returned to Missouri, where he 
married Miss Mary J. Ware on February 22, 1858. 

About two years later he returned to Omaha and during the summer and 
fall of i860 was engaged in freighting from Omaha to Denver. The next year 
he was employed by Edward Creighton in the construction of the Western 
Union telegraph line across the plains. In December, 1861, he returned to 
Missouri and resumed farming, but the Civil war was then going on. Missouri 
was racked by internal dissensions and his savings were swept away. In July, 
1863, he came to Omaha for the third time, bringing his wife and $135, his 
entire capital. By this time he had come to the conclusion that he was not 
"cut out for a farmer" and took employment as foreman of a livery stable. 
From 1864 to 1867 he was engaged in freighting, and in the latter year he took 


a contract to grade ten miles of the Union Pacific Railroad, starting at Julesburg 
and running westward. During the next two years he made some money out 
of his railroad contracts and in 1869 he engaged in the cattle business, in which 
he laid the foundation of his future success. In 1883 he sold his cattle ranch 
at Ogallala, Nebraska, for $657,000. Three years before that he engaged in 
the wholesale grocery business as the senior member of the firm of Paxton & 
Gallagher, their trade ultimately reaching more than two millions of dollars 
annually. He was one of the organizers of the Union Stock Yards Company ; 
one of the founders of the Paxton & Vierling Iron Works ; president of the 
Union Trust Company and of the Stock Yards National Bank; was elected to 
the lower branch of the State Legislature in 1880, and state senator in 1888; 
erected the P'axton Block at the northeast corner of Sixteenth and Farnam 
streets, which at the time was considered one of the finest business buildings 
in the city ; and was always ready to assist any movement for the betterment of 
Omaha. Mr. Paxton died on July 18, 1907. 

Byron Reed, one of the most progressive and philanthropic men who ever 
lived in Omaha, was born in Genesee County, New York, March 12, 1829. 
He left school in his boyhood and went with his parents to Walworth County, 
Wisconsin. Soon after the invention of the Morse telegraph he learned to 
be an operator and from 1849 to 1855 he worked on the line between Cleveland 
and Pittsburgh. When Nebraska Territory was organized he notified the super- 
intendent that he was going to give up his position to go west, but he was 
induced to remain another year. On November 10, 1855, he landed in Omaha 
and opened a real estate office in the old state house. In connection with the 
real estate business he acted as correspondent of the New York Tribune. In 
i860 he was elected city clerk and held the office until 1866, part of that time 
serving also as county clerk, and in 1871 he was elected a member of the city 
council. For many years he devoted considerable time to the collection of rare 
coins, historic relics, interesting documents, etc., his collection of coins being 
valued at $50,000. 

Mr. Reed gave fifteen acres of ground in 1859 to Prospect Hill Cemetery. 
In his will he left the lot at the southeast corner of Nineteenth and Harney 
streets in trust to his son, Abraham L. Reed, as a site for a public library, with 
the provision that, if the city accepted the bequest under certain conditions, his 
collections of coins, relics and curios should also be given to the library. The 
city accepted the conditions and the "Byron Reed Collection" is one of the 
attractions of the Omaha Public Library. About three years before his death 
he organized the Byron Reed Company, with a capital stock of $200,000, which 
is still in existence, his son. A. L. Reed, now being president of the company. 
Mr. Reed was a member of the ]\Iasonic fraternity and was at one time grand 
secretary of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows for the State of Nebraska. 

At least on one occasion after coming to Omaha. Mr. Reed took up his old 
occupation of telegrapher for a brief period. In March, 1861, an ice gorge in 
the Platte River interfered with the wires between Omaha and St. Louis and 
the Omaha Telegraph announced that Operator Peck "has gone down to attend 
to the matter and will cross from side to side in a skifF. forming the connections 
with the wire on either side, and through Mr. Byron Reed, at Omaha, will 
keep up the transaction of public and private business as heretofore." 


Between Mr. Peck and Mr. Reed the following messages were exchanged, 
which show the latter's sense of humor, even in the face of the most discourag- 
ing circumstances: 

"North Bank Platte River, March i, M. Dear Reed: — Have just arrived. 
Platte River flooded and running full of ice. Think it very dangerous to cross, 
but will make the attempt. 


"Omaha, 12 M. Dear Peck: — Leave all your valuables on this shore, so 
that if you are drowned the loss may be as light as possible. 


Mr. Reed died at his home in Omaha on June 6, 1891, leaving a widow and 
two children: Abraham L. Reed and Mrs. Frank B. Johnson. 

Lyman Richardson, the first register of deeds of Douglas County, was born 
in Pontiac, Michigan, June 6, 1834, a son of Origen D. Richardson, a pioneer 
member of the Nebraska bar. After attending the public schools, he entered the 
University of Alichigan and graduated with the class of 1854. For several 
months he was employed with a party of engineers engaged in surveying the 
lower Des Moines River for slack water navigation, but in 1855 h^ joined his 
father in Omaha. Soon after his arrival he was appointed register of deeds, 
but was succeeded before the close of the year by Thomas O'Connor. Mr. 
Richardson then took up the study of law under George B. Lake and in 185S 
was admitted to the bar. Finding the practice of law uncongenial, he formed a 
partnership with Dr. George L. Miller and they erected the Herndon House, 
which soon became Omaha's most popular hotel. In September, i860, he 
married Miss A'lrginia, daughter of John M. Clarke, and when the Civil war 
began the next year he entered the military service as second lieutenant of 
Company F, First Nebraska Infantry. He served with his regiment until the 
close of the war and was mustered out as captain of the company. He was then 
engaged in lumbering in Arkansas until 1868, when he returned to Omaha and 
became associated with Dr. George L. Miller in the publication of the Omaha 
Herald. Here he remained until the Herald was sold in March, 1887, to a stock 
company, of which John A. McShane was the head, after which Mr. Richardson 
gave his attention to his large real estate holdings and other private affairs until 
his death. 

Milton Rogers, one of the early merchants of Omaha, was born in Maryland, 
June 22, 1822. Going to New Lisbon, Ohio, he there learned the tinner's trade, 
at which he worked in Muncie, Indiana, and Cincinnati until 1850. In August 
of that year he located at Council Bluffs (then called Kanesville), where he 
established a tin shop and put in a stock of stoves. A little later he added a 
general hardware line, and in June, 1855, opened a branch store in Omaha— 
probably the first of its kind in Nebraska. That store was located in a frame 
building on the north side of Farnam Street, between Ninth and Tenth streets. 
It was only 20 by 40 feet in dimensions. In 1861 he moved over to Omaha and 
put up a frame building at the southeast corner of Fourteenth and Farnam 
streets, into which he moved in March, 1862. Five years later he united with 
the adjoining property holders in the erection of a three-story brick block. Mr. 
Rogers was married in Council Bluffs on November 27, 1856, to Miss Jennie 


S. Spoor, and when his sons became old enough to take part in the business the 
firm took the name of Milton Rogers & Sons, under which it is still conducted 
on the south side of Harney Street, a few doors east of Sixteenth. 

Mr. Rogers was one of those who came over from Council BlulTs and 
assisted in organizing the first Odd Fellows Lodge in Omaha; was a member 
of the company that put in the first waterworks for the city; was one of the 
incorporators of the South Omaha Land Company ; served as a director of the 
Union Stock Yards Company, and was generally recognized as a public spirited 
citizen. He died on November 12, 1895. 

It is a common thing, when an old resident dies, for the newspapers to publish 
an obituary notice under the headline — "Another Pioneer Gone." As a matter 
of fact, the real pioneers are exceedingly scarce. There always have been, and 
always will be, old settlers, in the sense that they have long been residents of 
the community, but the pioneers — the men who came before the Indians departed 
and developed the country from the beginning — have nearly all passed away. 
However, there is one real pioneer still living in Omaha. That man is Samuel E. 
Rogers, who first came here in August, 1854. 

Samuel E. Rogers was born in Fleming County, Kentucky, February 11, 
1822. In 1848 he married Miss Martha Brown, of Michigantown, Ind., and 
in 1852 received the degree of Bachelor of Arts from Wabash College, at Craw- 
fordsville, Ind. He then went to Havana, III, and in 1853 was admitted to the 
bar by the Supreme Court of that state. He served as postmaster and in the 
city council of Havana, and in .August, 1854, came to Omaha to look at the 
country. Liking the prospect, he returned to Havana for his family and became 
a resident of Omaha on October 28, 1854. His father, William Rogers, had 
taken a claim of 320 acres just south of the town plat, but died on October 14, 
1854, his property rights descending to his son, who moved upon the land in 
1856 and lived there for four years. He was a member of the council in the 
first four sessions of the Territorial Legislature, and in June, 1855, was admitted 
to practice law in the Nebraska courts, but never followed that profession. He 
was one of the original stockholders in the State Bank and when it was reor- 
ganized as the Merchants National Bank in 1882 was made vice president. He 
was one of the company that built the old Coliseum, at Twentieth and Lake 
streets in 1888, and was one of the incorporators of the South Omaha Land 
Company. Mr. Rogers was one of the early members of Capital Lodge, No. 3, 
Free and Accepted Masons. On Fel^ruary 11, 1916, he celebrated his ninety- 
fourth birthday anniversary and is a real pioneer. 

Alvin Saunders, the last territorial governor of Nebraska, was bom in 
Fleming County, Kentucky, July 12, 1817. When he was about twelve years 
old his parents removed to Illinois and in 1836 Alvin "struck out for himself." 
Going to Mount Pleasant, Iowa, he first found employment as a farm hand, later 
clerking in a country store and attending school as opportunity offered. The 
postoffice at Mount Pleasant was established in 1837 and President Van Buren 
appointed Mr. Saunders the first postmaster, although he was a whig, but no 
one else would accept the place. He was removed by President Polk in 1847. 
Mr. Saunders was a delegate to the constitutional convention that framed the 
constitution under which Iowa was admitted to the LTnion, and afterward served 
two terms in the State Senate. He was a delegate to the republican national 


convention in i860 and voted for the nomination of Abraham Lincoln, who 
appointed him governor of Nebraska Territory in 1861. In 1865 he was reap- 
ponited, his commission for the second term being dated April 14, 1865, the 
day President Lincoln was assassinated. 

When Governor Saunders first came to the territory, Nebraska was practically 
without money and without an established credit, yet, despite these conditions, 
he issued his call for volunteers, with the result that the territory, with a popula- 
tion of less than thirty thousand, raised about three thousand troops. (See 
chapter on Military History.) On March 27, 1867, Governor Saunders received 
official notice from Washington that Nebraska had been admitted to statehood 
and turned the office over to Governor David Butler. In 1868 he was a delegate 
to the republican national convention and in 1877 was elected United States 
senator. He was president of the board of regents which erected the high 
school building; was one of the original stockholders in the Omaha Smelting 
Company; engaged in the banking business in 1875 and was a director in the 
Merchants National and the Nebraska Savings and Exchange banks ; was vice 
jjresident of the Mutual Investment Company and the Omaha & Southwestern 
Kailroad Company; controller of the Omaha Real Estate and Trust Company, 
and was interested in other enterprises for the advancement of Omaha's inter- 
ests. His son, Charles L. Saunders, is a prominent real estate man of Omaha 
and has served several terms in the State Senate, and a daughter is the wife of 
Russell B. Harrison, son of the late President Benjamin Harrison. 

William P. Snowden, mentioned elsewhere as the man who built the first 
dwelling in Omaha, was born in Jessamine County, Kentucky, April 19, 1825. 
His father was a clergyman and in 1833 the family removed to Missouri. There 
William received a limited education and in 1846 enlisted in Donovan's regiment 
for service in the Mexican war. In July, 1847, he married Miss Rachel Larrisu, 
in Ikichanan County. Alissouri, and in 1853 came to Council BlufTs bringing his 
effects in a wagon drawn by a team of oxen. Mr. Snowden used to be fond 
of telling of his first night's experience in Council Bluffs. Robert Whitted then 
conducted a hotel there and "Sir Snowden applied for accommodations for him- 
self and wife He was informed that the hotel had plenty of provisions, but the 
rooms were all occupied, most of them with "two in a bed."' It was finally 
arranged that Mr. and Mrs. Snowden might furnish their own bedding and 
make a "shake down" on the floor of the dining room. Late that night some 
more guests arrived and Mr. Whitted came to the dining room to borrow some 
of the Snowdens' bed clothes, which were cheerfully loaned, though Mr. Snow- 
den. in telling the story, says : "Bob W'hitted didn't make any allowance for 
this the next morning when he presented his bill." 

On July II, 1854, he crossed over to Omaha and took up his residence in 
the "claim cabin" of the Council Bluffs & Nebraska Ferry Company, where 
he conducted a sort of hotel, at the same time working in the brick yard. In 
the Civil war he enlisted in the cavalry company known as the "Curtis Horse," 
which afterward became part of the Fifth Iowa Cavalry. He re-enlisted and 
remained in the army until August 20, 1865. After being mustered out he 
returned to Omaha, where he sensed four years as city marshal and four years 
as deputy sheriff of Douglas County. 

John M. Thayer, soldier and politician, was born at Bellingham, Mass., 








H ^ 

--.- :..^. /r...... 



where he attended school and studied law. He came to Omaha on November 
28, 1854, crossmg the Missouri River in a canoe with Thomas O'Connor and 
another Irishman named Bo}de. Soon after becoming a resident of the town 
he joined the Omaha Claim Club. In 1859 he commanded the expedition against 
the Pawnee Indians and the same year was a member of the convention at 
Bellevue which organized the repubhcan party in Nebraska. He was the candi- 
date of the new party for delegate to Congress, but was defeated by Mr. Daily, 
lie was again defeated for delegate in i860, but was elected to the council in 
the Territorial Legislature. At the commencement of the Civil war he was 
commissioned colonel of the First Nebraska Infantry, and in 1862 was promoted 
to brigadier-general. He was one of the first United States senators from 
Nebraska, elected in 1867; was elected governor in 1886 and re-elected in 1888. 
Governor Thayer was a Mason and an Odd Fellow. His death occurred on 
March 19, 1906. 

Robert B. Whitted, one of Douglas County's representatives in the first 
lerritorial Legislature, was born in Maury County, Tennessee, April 26, 1822, 
of Welsh stock, his ancestors having been among the first Quaker immigrants to 
the United States. Both his grandfathers served under Gen. Nathaniel Greene 
in the Revolutionary war and his father was with Gen. Andrew Jackson in 
the War of 1812. About 1837 h's parents removed to Parke County, Indiana, 
and in 1846 Robert went to Keokuk, Iowa, where he started a tanyard. There 
he married Miss Lucinda Hurley and in 1850 started for California, but stopped 
at Council Bluffs, where he conducted a hotel until the organization of Nebraska 
Territory. He selected a claim in 1854 where Omaha now stands; was the first 
sherff of the Omaha Claim Club, and in December^ 1854, was elected one of 
the representatives in the Territorial Legislature. In 1857 he removed to Gray- 
son County, Texas, and died there in 1864. 

This list of pioneers might be prolonged indefinitely, but the men mentioned in 
this chapter were among the representative "Builders of Omaha." True, they 
were actuated by selfish motives to a certain degree, but in building up their 
own fortunes their prosperity was reflected upon those around them. In the 
chapters on Bench and Bar and the Medical Profession will be found sketches 
of the early attorneys and physicians, and pioneers in other callings will be men- 
tioned in the proper places. A study of what these men accomplished shows 
that they were of the stuff of which heroes are made. They were not great, 
in the sense that they were conquerors of empires, famous artists or sculptors, 
noted inventors or eminent statesmen, but each played his part in the building 
of Nebraska and the Citv of Omaha. 








When the Council Bluffs & Nebraska Ferry Company decided in 1853 to 
lay out a town on the west side of the Missouri River, the site was "fresh from 
the hands of nature." There was not a civilized habitation nearer than the 
trading post at Picllevue on the south, and the old Mormon settlement at Flor- 
ence on the north. The progress of the new town was even more rapid than 
its founders had anticipated, as may be seen from the following "facts and 
figures," taken from the Omaha Times of June 7. 1857: 

"The growth of Omaha astonishes — is a fact few can comprehend. Look at 
its chronology : 

"1853, June — Town claim made by the company and kept by them by paying 
tribute to the Indians, whose title had not been extinguished. 

"1854, June — No settlement but a single house, the old St. Nicholas, of round 
logs, si.xteen feet square, built by the company as an improvement to hold the 

"1855, June — Nimiber of inhabitants 230 to 300. Best lots sold at $100. 

"1856, June — Number of inhabitants about 800. Best lots sold at $600. 

"1856, October — Number of inhabitants 1,600. Best lots sold at $2,500." 

The editor predicted that another year would see Omaha with a population 
of 5,000. Even allowing for the tendency of local newspapers to boom 
the town, the growth of Omaha during these early years was all that its pro- 
moters could reasonably expect or desire. 


The Third Territorial Legislature was convened on January 5, 1857, and 
early in the session a bill was introduced "to incorporate the Town of Omaha 
City." After some discussion and amendment the bill passed and was approved 
by Governor Izard on Februarj' 2. 1857. The bill fixed the "middle of the main 



channel of the Missouri River" as the eastern boundary, and tlie corporate limits 
included the following described tracts of land: 

"Sections 12 and 22; fractional sections 11, 14 and 23; the south half of frac- 
tional section 10; the south half of the north half of fractional section 10; the 
southeast quarter of section 9; the east half of section 16; the northeast quarter 
of section 21 ; the east half of the southeast quarter of section 21 ; the northeast 
quarter of the northeast quarter of section 28; and the north half of the north 
half of fractional section 26 — all in township 15 north of range 13, east of the 
Sixth Principal Meridian." 

The name, "City of Omaha," was given in the bill as the official designation 
of the new town. Prior to the passage of this measure the town had been 
known as "Omaha City," but the act of the Legislature in changing llie form 
to the City of Omaha caused the word "city" to be dropped entirely and in a 
short time the municipality became generally known in common parlance as 
"Omaha." The public officials provided for were a mayor, recorder, treasurer, 
assessor, marshal and nine aldermen. The Legislature of 1858 reduced the 
number of aldermen to six. 


Under the provisions of the act of incorporation an election was held on 
the first Monday in March (March 2), 1857, for city officials. At that election 
Jesse Lowe was chosen mayor; H. C. Anderson, recorder; Lyman Richardson, 
assessor; J. A. Miller, marshal; George C. Bovey, William N. Byers, Thomas 
Davis, C. H. Downs, Taylor C. Goodwill, A. D. Jones, Thomas O'Connor, H. H. 
Visscher and William W. Wyman, aldermen. A man named .Mien (first name 
apparently forgotten) was elected treasurer, but failed to qualify, and John H. 
Kellom was elected to fill the vacancy. 


Mayor Lowe was inaugurated as soon as the results of the election were 
known, and his first official act was to issue a call for the board of aldermen to 
convene on March 5, 1857, "for the transaction of such business as may legally 
come before it." Every member of the council was present at that meeting and 
the work of starting the municipal machinery was commenced by. the adoption 
of the rules of the upper house of the Territorial Legislature for the guidance of 
the council. Notices were given by several of the members that at an early day 
ordinances would be introduced relating to the following subjects: i. To define 
the duties of the city recorder in the matter of official bonds and oaths of office ; 
2. To protect the city marshal in the performance of his official duties ; 3. To 
divide the city into wards and establish the boundaries thereof ; 4. To prevent 
hogs from running at large ; 5. To establish a city pound for stray animals ; 
6. To create the office of city engineer and define his duties ; 7. To regulate 
billiard rooms and bowling alleys ; 8. To regulate the sale of intoxicating liquors ; 
9. To suppress gambling and gambling rooms. The board also instructed the 
recorder to have the following printed and posted in conspicuous places about 
the city : 


"Notice is hereby given that the City Council of the City of Omaha has 
organized for the transaction of such business as may be brought before it for 
the welfare of said city, and at the first session thereof it was resolved that all 
petitions to their honorable body be addressed or presented to the city recorder, 
and by him presented to the council for their consideration, and that the citizens 
of said city be and are hereby requested to make known their wishes by petition 
at as early a day as possible." 

At the second meeting of the council a few days later, the following standing 
committees were appointed: Judiciary, Claims, Streets and Grades, Improvements, 
Printing. The firm of Hapburn & Chapman submitted a proposition to supply 
the council with certain printed forms and blanks, but the figures were evidently 
not satisfactory, as T. H. Robertson was elected city printer. The first ordinance 
was introduced at this meeting. Its author was A. D. Jones and it provided for 
the division of the city into wards and the establishment of ward boundaries. 
T. G. Goodwill introduced an ordinance to regulate the sale of intoxicating 

For some time the council held meetings nearly every day. After a few 
months the necessity for such frequent meetings no longer existed and it was 
ordered that the regular meetings be held on Tuesday evening of each week. At 
one of these early sessions the recorder was directed to communicate with the 
city authorities of Chicago, "or some other well regulated city," and procure 
ten copies of the city ordinances for the use of the council. Recorder Anderson 
procured ten copies of the ordinances of Iowa City, Iowa, and it has been said 
that his reason for not obtaining the Chicago ordinances was because "he did 
not regard Chicago as a proper model for Omaha." 


In laying out the town the seven blocks bounded by Eighth, Ninth, Jackson 
and Davenport streets were designated as "The Park." One of the great needs 
of Omaha at the time of its incorporation was a hotel large enough and conducted 
in such a manner as to accommodate the strangers visiting the city. At the 
meeting of the council on March 13, 1857, Dr. George L. Miller presented a 
petition, signed by 130 citizens, asking that a part of the park be appropriated 
to aid in the erection of such a hotel. The petition was referred to the committee 
on public grounds, and, as if to influence the committee in reaching a decision, 
the following resolutions were adopted : 

"Resolved, That a portion of the public grounds known as 'The Park' be 
donated for the purpose of securing the erection of a hotel, worth not less than 

thousand dollars, said hotel to be located between Fifth and Twentieth 

and Howard and Webster streets, said location, with the above restrictions, to 
be determined by the builder; and be it further 

"Resolved, That a committee of three be appointed to receive proposals for 
the building of said hotel, and that they be authorized to close a contract with a 
responsible partv who will undertake to build said hotel for the least quantity 
of said grounds." 

The special committee of three, to which the question was referred, made a 
report recommending that "a. plan and specifications of such hotel be made by a 

=3 5 




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5- X 

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competent and experienced architect and submitted to the council for approval ; 
and after said plan and specifications shall have been approved by the council, 
the same shall be published in the papers of Omaha and Council Bluffs for two 
weeks, and give notice that all bids shall contain all the securities' names which 
may be offered, and the bids sealed and directed to the president of the city 
council, which bids shall specify the number of lots on said park they will ask 
as a donation by the city as a bonus towards the erection. Said proposals shall 
be handed in before the first day of April, and shall be opened and acted upon in 
open council at the first regular session after that date." 

The first meeting of the council after the bids were submitted was on Tuesday 
evening, April 7, 1857, when four proposals were acted upon by the council. 
After the bids had been considered Mr. Byers moved that Dr. George L. Miller 
be declared the successful bidder for the hotel contract. The motion carried and 
the city attorney was directed to draw up a contract, to be signed by ]\Iayor Lowe 
and Doctor Miller. As a decision had previously been reached by the council 
to have the hotel erected upon some part of the tract known as "The Park," the 
city engineer was instructed to proceed at once to plat that tract into blocks 
and lots corresponding with those adjacent. 

Charles Grant, who had been elected city attorney on March 12, 1857, drew 
up the contract according to the instructions of the cotmcil,; and A. S. Morgan, 
who had been elected city engineer at the same time, irnmediately divided "The 
Park" into blocks and lots to correspond to those adjoining. Before the contract 
was signed. Doctor Miller associated with him Lyman Richardson and George 
Bridge as partners in the undertaking, and a little later these gentlemen were 
given permission to erect the hotel on lots No. 7 and 8. block 124 — the northwest 
corner of Ninth and Farnam streets. The hotel, the first of any size in Omaha, 
was four stories high, built of brick and cost $75,000. It was opened in June, 
1858, under the name of the "Herndon House," with M. W. Keith as the pro- 
prietor. After being used as a hotel for many years it was sold to the Union 
Pacific Railroad Company for a general office building. 

It may seem strange to the people of the present day, when private capital 
can be found to build hotels, that the city fathers would lend their aid and 
appropriate lands belonging to the city for such a purpose. But in 1857 condi- 
tions were different. The demand for a hotel was much greater than private 
capital could supply, and the first aldermen deemed it the part of wisdom to give 
to Omaha a hostelr\' that would accommodate the traveling public. For years 
the Herndon House was the point where the Overland Stage Route landed its 
passengers in Omaha, before the railroads came and put the stage driver out 01 


One of the most serious problems that confronted the new municipal govern- 
ment was to provide sufficient funds to make needed improvements, pay the 
salaries of officials and maintain the city institutions. A considerable sum of 
money had been donated toward the erection of the territorial capitol, as told in 
another chapter, which left the funds of the new city at a low ebb. On June 23. 
1857, the council authorized the mayor "to procure plates and have $30,000 of 


city scrip issued, and to enter into a contract with the different banks for the 
circulation and redemption of said scrip, on the best possible terms." 

At a special meeting of the council held on August 29, 1857, the following 
communication was received : 

"We, the undersigned, do hereby agree to receive from the mayor of the 
City of Omaha, of the scrip issued by said city, the amount opposite our respective 
names, and to protect the same for nine months from the date of issue, for 10 
per cent interest for the nine months, to be promptly redeemed in currency, pro- 
vided the amount issued shall not exceed $30,000, unless protected by a responsi- 
ble party who shall stamp the same and redeem it either in Omaha City or the City 
of Council BlufTs, but in no event shall the issue exceed $50,000. It is understood 
that this agreement shall not be binding on us until arrangements be entered into 
to protect the whole amount issued. 

A. U. Wyman, Western Exchange Fire and Marine In- 
surance Company $ S'OOO 

Samuel Moffatt, Cashier Bank of Nebraska 5,000 

Bank of Tekamah, F. M. Akin, Cashier 5,000 

F. Gridley & Co 3,000 

G. C. Monell 3,000 

S. E. Rogers & Co., B. B. Barkalow, Cashier 3,000 

William Young Brown 3,000 

John McCormick & Co 3,000 

Total $30,000" 

The proposition of these bankers and financiers was accepted by the council 
and the mayor was given authority to close the contract, though the amount of 
scrip authorized at this meeting was $50,000. An additional $10,000 was author- 
ized at the council meeting on September 22, 1857, the additional issue to be 
loaned to the hotel company, on condition that they would pay all expenses con- 
nected with the issue of the scrip and protect its circulation and redemption. 

The "Panic of 1857" is still remembered by old residents. Owing to the 
great industrial depression that was felt by all parts of the country in that 
year; the City of Omaha was unable to redeem its scrip according to the 
original plan, and on December 14, 1857. the council adopted a resolution favor- 
ing an issue of city bonds to the amount of $50,000 to retire the scrip from 
circulation — except the $10,000 issued to the hotel company. Subsequently 
this was included, when it was ascertained that the actual amount of scrip out- 
standing was $57,500, and the mayor was directed to order an election to be 
held on Saturday, December 26. 1857, when the people might pass upon the 
c|uestion of issuing the bonds of the city to that amount. Assuming that the 
majority of the voters would favor the proposition, the council ordered the 
recorder to have 2,000 affirmative and 500 negative ballots printed. The total 
number of votes cast at the election was 641. of which 598 were in favor of 
the bonds and 43 oj^posed. This was the first issue of bonds ever authorized 
liy the City of Omaha. 

On November 22, 1858. the citv assessor made a report showing that he had 
fixed the assessed valuation of the property of the citv as follows: Lots, 


:pi, 110,6/8; improvements, $202,074; personal property, $178,362, making a 
total of $1,491,114. Upon this amount a tax of 5 mills on the dollar was 
levied, producing a revenue of $7,455.51 for the fiscal year ending on March 
10, 1859. At the close of that fiscal year the council appointed an auditing 
committee, which reported on March 23, 1859, that the total receipts for the 
year amounted to $7,842.85, and the total expenditures to $12,592.98, leaving a 
deficit of $4,750.13. The committee was inclined to take an optimistic view of 
the situation, closing its report with this statement : 

"As a large portion of the expense was to defray the liabihties of the city 
on account of the capitol improvements, which will not again occur, and as other 
items of expense can be dispensed with, without detriment to the general 
prosperity of the city, it is hoped that, by a judicious and economical adminis- 
tration of the city finances, the receipts will defray the expenses of the present 
fiscal year and perhaps cancel a portion of the city debt." 

The committee further showed the total indebtedness of the city, including 
the bonds voted to retire the scrip, outstanding warrants and a floating debt 
of $275.45, to be $72,689.59, against which they found assets of $51,197.07, the 
largest single item of which was the bond and mortgage of the hotel company, 
amounting to $15,000. Such was the financial condition of Omaha two years 
after its incorporation. 


Various suggestions were made to the council as to the best means of increas- 
ing the city's revenues, one of which was to' sell all the lands and lots belonging 
to the city, including the tracts set apart for public parks and other public pur- 
poses, but the city attorney, George I. Gilbert, in 1858, reported against such a 
course and cited instances where cities had made sales of such property, the 
deeds to which were afterward set aside by the courts. As it was plainly seen 
that Mr. Gilbert's decision would cast a cloud on the title to lands thus sold, 
and have a tendency to prevent bidders from paying as much for the lands as 
they would otherwise, the council declined to undertake the sale. Subsequently 
a number of lots belonging to the city were disposed of, but no tracts that had 
been set apart for public use. 

Unable to augment the public funds by the sale of such lands, the council 
adopted the policy of rigid economy by cutting down claims presented against 
the city, etc. M. H. Clark, who had succeeded T. H. Robertson as city printer, 
presented a bill for $110, which the judiciary committee of the council recom- 
mended be reduced to $70. but the council as a whole thought this amount too 
much and voted I\Ir. Clark "the sum of $50 as a payment in full." M. W. 
Keith, proprietor of the Herndon House, asked $11.50 for a room for election 
purposes and was allowed $3.50. Judges and clerks of election, when they 
presented bills for $5 and $3 respectively for their services, were compelled to 
accept just one-half of those amounts. Numerous instances of this character 
are to be found in the early records. 

On the other hand, the council was sometimes inclined to be lavish in its 
expenditures, where the interest or prospective welfare of the city was at stake. 
On December 21, 1858, a resolution was adopted appointing Dr. Enos Lowe 


a special commissioner "to proceed to Washington and urge upon tlie general 
land office prompt action in considering and canceling the private pre-emptions 
illegally made within the corporate limits of the city, and to do what else he 
can in matters of interest to Omaha now pending in Congress." 

Doctor Lowe went to Washington, where he spent some two months, and 
later made a report of what he had accomplished. In that report he said: "I 
reached Washington ahout the 20th of January and remained there until the 
4th of March, 1859, devoting all my time to the objects of my mission, and 
succeeded in obtaining a hearing and favorable decision of much the larger and 
more important portion of the cases; but, not being able to get all of them taken 
up within that time, and being unable to remain longer, I employed M. Thomp- 
son, Esq., to attend to the remaining cases. Having no money to pay him, I 
agreed to send him a deed for five of my own lots, within the limits of Council 
Blufifs, where the titles were complete, for $250. This I have done, as you will 
more satisfactorily learn from his own acknowledgment, herewith submitted, 
and I now respectfully asked to be reimbursed therefor. I disclaimed at the 
outset any compensation for my time and services, but I cannot afford to give 
also the money actually paid out for necessary personal expenses in going and 
returning, and for my board while there. Therefore I submit the following 
charges and ask their allowance in cash or its equivalent, viz: Paid to Thompson 
for city, $250; actual expenses going to and returning from Washington, $120: 
board forty-two days at $1.50 per day, $63; total, 433." 

The council voted to give the doctor five lots in Omaha, in the place of those 
he had deeded to Thompson, and in addition was allowed $183 for his expenses, 
according to his report. Another instance of the council's liberality is seen in 
the action of a few weeks later, when 30x3 lots, supposed to be worth $200 each. 
were donated by resolution to the firm of Irving & Company, on condition that 
the "said Irving & Company will keep and maintain during the continuance of 
their contract with the LInited States, at or within two miles of the City of 
Omaha, a depot for the reception and delivery of goods to be transported by 
them for said Government." 


For some years after Omaha was incorporated the steamers on the Missouri 
River constituted the principal means of reaching the city or bringing goods to 
its merchants. If a boat landed late on Saturday, it was no unusual thing for the 
crew to work all day Sunday in discharging or taking on cargoes. In 1863 
Peter Htigus, county clerk, presented to the city council a petition asking for 
the passage of an ordinance prohibiting this custom. The petition was referred 
to a committee, of which John H. Kellom was chairman and at the next meeting 
of the council he brought in a report recommending the passage of such an 
ordinance. A minority report was presented by D. C. Sutphen, asking that the 
petition be again referred to the committee. The minority report was adopted 
and nothing more was ever heard of the matter. 

It may seem strange to the people of Omaha today to learn that in 1864 
the council made an appropriation of $100 to pay for "clearing away the brush 
on Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh streets, south of Jones Street," or that as late as 







1866 residents in the southern part of the city were permitted to work out their 
poll tax by cutting brush and clearing other obstructions from the streets in that 

In March, 1866, a resolution was adopted by the council declaring that "the 
privilege heretofore granted to E. B. Chandler to stack hay upon certain streets 
of the city shall expire on the first day of May, 1866." Imagine some one asking 
and receiving permission to stack hay on any of the streets of Omaha in 1916! 
About the time this resolution was adopted an ordinance was passed requiring 
the barbers to close their shops on Sunday. Some people who were in the habit 
of getting shaved on Sunday morning expressed their dissatisfaction at what 
they called "blue laws," and O. P. Ingalls, a member of the council, gave notice 
that he would ofier a repealing ordinance, but the record does not show that 
such an ordinance was ever introduced or passed. 


The first mention in the records of the council proceedings relating to pro- 
tection against fire v^as on October 27, 1857, when Councilman Bovey, chairman 
of a committee appointed to investigate the matter, reported in favor of the 
organization of a hook and ladder company and the purchase of four ladders- 
two 20 feet long, one 40 feet long, and one 60 feet long. The report was adopted, 
but no immediate action was taken toward the formation of the company or 
the purchase of the ladders. About a month later the firm of Schneider & 
Hurford offered to sell the city a fire engine for $1,500, one-half payable in one 
year and the remainder in two years, but the proposition was rejected and Alder- 
man Visscher was appointed a committee of one to procure at once the ladders 
previously recommended by the committee and "a sufficient number of hooks." 
It is presumed that Mr. Visscher carried out his instructions and for about three 
years the hooks and ladders thus provided for constituted the whole of Omaha's 
fire-fighting apparatus. 

On June 25, i860, the following petition, or communication, was presented 
to the council : "To the Honorable Mayor and City Council of Omaha : The 
undersigned, officers of Pioneer Hook and Ladder Company No. i, respectfully 
show to your honorable body that the said company is fully organized ; that thev 
have under contract and nearly completed a truck with the necessary hooks and 
ladders: that the whole will be complete and in running order by the ist day of 
July, i860, and that they are without a place to keep the same. We therefore 
respectfully ask your honorable body to procure for us a proper place to keep 
the said truck and its appurtenances. 

"Benjamin Stickles, 


Assistant Foreman 
"J. W. Van NosTRAND, 

"W. J. Kennedy, 



The constitution of the company accompanied the petition and the city clerk 
was directed to issue to each member of the company a certificate of member- 
ship. The petition was referred to a committee, with instructions to hnd a 
suitable place for keeping the hook and ladder truck, and at the next meeting 
it reported that a building on Twelfth Street had been secured for the use of 
the company. This was the humble beginning of Omaha's fire department. 

Among the members of this first volunteer fire company were several who 
were prominent in Omaha affairs. Benjamin Stickles, the foreman, was 
appointed the first city fire warden in November, 1862, and held the position for 
about four years. Josiah S. McCormick, the assistant foreman, was a member 
of the first wholesale grocery firm in Omaha. During the Civil war he served as 
quartermaster of the Second Nebraska Cavalry, and in 1869 was elected a mem- 
ber of the city council. James W. Van Nostrand, the secretary, was county 
clerk at the time the company was organized, having previously served as city 
clerk, and was secretary of the first school board. W. J. Kennedy, the treasurer, 
established the first jewelry store in Omaha, afterward extensively engaged in 
the agricultural implement business, and closed up the af¥airs of the old Omaha 
and Chicago Bank. He was connected with the city fire department in an 
advisory capacity for thirty years. Henry Gray served as second lieutenant of 
Company D, Second Nebraska Cavalry; was elected to the city council in 1862; 
city treasurer in 1868, and was one of the promoters of the Omaha & South- 
western Railroad. M. H. Clark was city printer and proprietor of the Nebraskian 
at the time the company was organized. In 1861 he was elected a member of 
the Legislature. Henry Z. Curtis, a son of Gen. Samuel R. Curtis, published 
the first daily paper in Omaha. He enlisted at the beginning of the Civil war 
and died while serving his country. Andrew J. Simpson established the first 
carriage factory in Nebraska. He was one of the promoters of the first county 
fair in 1858, exhibiting one of the first vehicles ever built in the state. In 1866 
he was elected to the city council and the same year was made chief of the fire 
department. At one time he was grand treasurer of the Knights of Pythias for 
Nebraska. Phineas W. Hitchcock was a delegate to the republican national con- 
vention that nominated Abraham Lincoln for the presidency in i860: served as 
3 delegate to Congress from Nebraska during the territorial days ; was one of 
the founders of the Evening Tribune in 1870, and in Januar}', 1871, was elected 
to the L^nited States Senate. 

On IVTay 25, 1862, a special election was held to vote on the question of 
allowing the city to borrow $800 for the purchase of a hand fire engine. Only 
thirty-five votes were cast, all but one in favor of the loan, but the council found 
it difficult to borrow the monev and the subject was allowed to rest for about 
eighteen months. Not long after this election the city purchased part of the 
lot at the corner of Twelfth and Douglas streets of Redick & Briggs for $215 There was a small buildin? on the premises and the property was turned 
over to the Pioneer Hook and Ladder Company. 

In March. 1864, the question of better fire protection again came before the 
citv council and a committee was appointed "to ascertain the cost of a fire engine 
and other necessary apparatus, and of a suitable number of cisterns to afford 
adeouatc protection against fire." If the committee ever made a report it has 
disappeared from the records. Early in September. 1865, a council committee 


of three was appointed to solicit contributions for the purchase of a tire engine. 
But the people took the view that, as they paid taxes to support the city govern- 
ment, the engine should be purchased by the city. A special election was then 
called for October 14, 1865, to vote on the question of the city making a loan 
of $3,000 to buy an engine, hosecart and a supply of hose. At this election 132 
votes were cast, all in favor of the proposition, indicating that the citizens of 
the city were well aware of the importance of better protection against tire. 

In December following the mayor was authorized to enter into a contract with 
the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company for a No. 3 steam lire engine and 1,500 
feet of hose, at a price not exceeding eight thousand dollars. The contract was 
made, but a short time afterward Alderman Charles H. Brown called attention 
to the condition of the municipal finances and offered a resolution to counter- 
mand the order to the Amoskeag Company and purchase a hand fire engine and 
hose "to cost not more than five thousand dollars." The contract w-as accord- 
ingly canceled and another efl'ort was made to have the city buy the engine that 
had been brought to Omaha by the hardware firm of Schneider & Hurford, but 
it was not successful. 

In March, 1866, Alderman A. J. Simpson reported that he had carried out 
the instructions of the council and purchased a hand fire engine at Davenport, 
Iowa, the cost of which was $800, which sum was appropriated by the council. 
About the same time a petition, signed by some two hundred residents, asking 
for the purchase of a steam fire engine and protesting against the purchase of 
the hand engine, was presented to the council. A special meeting was called to 
consider the petition and a resolution was adopted providing for the purchase 
of a steam engine, provided the citizens of Omaha would take the $3,000 of 
city bonds ordered by the special election of the preceding October, and guarantee 
the additional $5,000 necessary to make the purchase. This the citizens were 
unwilling to do and the purchase of a steam engine was again postponed indefi- 

The hand engine bought by Mr. Simpson for the city was christened the 
"Fire King" and turned over to the Pioneer Fire Company No. i, which com- 
pany was accepted by the council as the official fire department of the city. In 
August, 1866, a lot was purchased from Aaron Cahn, where the Chamber of 
Commerce was afterward located, and the following spring a building was 
erected thereon, at a cost of a little over four thousand dollars, for an engine 
house. This building was erected by H. FI. Visscher, who received in payment 
city bonds payable in one year. An effort was made to borrow $12,000 to 
develop the department, but the committee appointed to dispose of the bonds 
reported that the only offer was one from Edward Creighton, who agreed to 
take $6,000 of the bonds at go cents on the dollar, the city to pav 12 per 
cent interest on the face value. The bonds were not sold. Twenty years later 
Omaha city bonds, bearing only 5 per cent, were sold at a premium. 

By 1870 the financial condition of the city had improved sufficiently to justif\- 
the purchase of a second class Silsby rotary engine for $5,500 and feet 
of hose for $2,000. The same year an electric alarm system was put in by the 
Gamewell Company at a cost of $5,000, with ten alarm boxes and about seven 
and a half miles of wire. The Omaha fire department, as thus equipped, was 


an object of pride to the citizens. In 1885 the change was made from a semi- 
volunteer organization to a full-paid department; with John H. Butler as chief. 
From that time the growth of the department has been steady and continuous. 
Without attempting to follow all the steps in the great improvements that have 
been made, it is deemed sufficient to say that Chief Charles A. Salter's report for 
the year 1915 shows 285 officers and men in the department, divided as follows: 
I chief, 2 assistant chiefs, 4 battalion chiefs, 26 captains, 26 lieutenants, i master 
mechanic, i secretary, 5 first and 5 second engineers of steamers in active service, 
72 drivers, 100 pipemen and 42 truckmen. The total amount expended in 
support of the department during the year was $307,979.59, quite a change from 
1866, when the city "strained a point" to pay $800 for a hand fire engine. Fully 
as great an improvement is seen in the quarters occupied. Instead of one little 
building that cost $215, the city had at the close of the year twenty-one fire 
stations, so located that every portion of the city is well provided with protection 
against fire. The ground upon which these buildings are situated is valued at 
$i28,ocx3, and the buildings at $253,000, or a total of $381,000. Add to this 
the value of the six steam fire engines (one of which is held in reserve), five 
hook and ladder trucks, four automobiles, hose wagons, etc., and the city has 
over half a million dollars invested in its fire department. The Gamewell alarm 
system has been developed until there are now 123 boxes, so distributed that 
every resident of the city is within easy reach of an alarm station. During the 
year 1915 the department responded to 1,131 alarms. 


For nine years after Omaha was incorporated the only police officer was the 
city marshal. On March 22, 1866, the council passed an ordinance establishing 
a police force of four men and appointed John Logan, John Morrissey, Patrick 
Swift and Thomas Welch to the positions. The ordinance provided that the 
"captain of the city police shall place his men on their beats from 8 o'clock 
until sunrise." Two additional patrolmen were appointed a few weeks later. 
This was the beginning. 

For about two years the policemen wore no uniforms, but in Alarch, 1868, 
the council adopted the following preamble and resolution : 

"Whereas, The council believes that the wearing of some uniform dress by 
the members of the jjoiice would give general satisfaction, therefore be it 

"Resolved. That the policemen be and are hereby directed to provide them- 
selves with dark blue, single-breasted coats, trimmed in dark buttons, with pants 
of the same material, and caps with brass plate in front marked with the words 
'city police,' said suits and caps to be worn when the policemen are on duty.'' 

In 1869 the force was increased to eighteen men — three for each ward in 
the city — to be elected by the council. Maurice Sullivan was chosen captain and 
Rodney Dutcher, lieutenant. Sullivan resigned after a short service and Dutcher 
was promoted to the captaincy. A. P. Sanders was then elected lieutenant. In 
December, 1870. William G. Hollins, the city marshal, who had served as cap- 
tain of Company E, First Nebraska Infantry, in the Civil war, recommended 
that the force be reduced to tw-elve men, which recommendation was adopted 
bv the council in an ordinance passed on the last day of January, 1871. 


A communication from Smith S. Caldwell, then mayor of the city, dated 
October 9, 1871, called the attention of the council "to the probability of the 
personal property of our citizens being without the protection of insurance, in 
consequence of the unprecedented conflagration now raging in Chicago, involving 
the destruction of nearly the entire city and bankrupting, as it doubtless will, 
all the insurance companies of the city, I would therefore recommend that the 
city marshal be instructed to employ a special force of night watchmen, to serve 
until the insurance of our people can be examined and readjusted, say ten days 
or two weeks." The mayor's recommendation was adopted and a night force of 
twelve extra men was appointed to serve for two weeks. 

The office of police captain was abolished in 1874 and the force placed under 
the control of the city marshal. This system continued for about twelve years, 
or until the State Legislature of 1887 passed an act creating a board of fire 
and police commissioners of five members, one of which was the mayor of the 
city. Pursuant to the provisions of the act, Governor John Al. Thayer appointed 
as the other four members L. M. Bennett, Christian Hartman, George L Gilbert 
and Howard B. Smith. The commissioners took office on May 10, 1887, held 
their first meeting the next day, and at a second meeting on the i6th adopted 
and filed with the city clerk "rules and regulations governing the appointment, 
promotion, removal, trial and discijjlinc of the officers and men of the police 
department of Omaha." 

When the board met on May ig, 18S7, to appoint a chief of police, a con- 
flict arose between the commissioners and the city council. There were several 
applicants for the jwsition, but the board selected Webb S. Seavey, who had 
served as officer in the Fifth Iowa Cavalry during the Civil war. Two days later 
Mr. Seavey filed with the board a bond in the sum of $10,000, which bond was 
accepted and approved by the board and sent to the city council. City Marshal 
Cummings vacated his office on May 25, 1887, and Chief Seavey assumed control 
of the police force. In the council, the chief's bond was referred to the judiciary 
committee, and on June 7, 1887, that committee submitted majority and minority 
reports on the matter. The minority report recommended that the appointment 
of Mr. Seavey be recognized as legal and that his bond be accepted. The majority 
report was as follows : 

"The judiciary committee, to whom was referred the pretended official bond 
of one Seavey, together with the report from the police committee, have had the 
same under consideration and report thereon as follows : 

"First. That the board of fire and police commissioners, without the neces- 
sary rules and regulations to be prescribed by ordinance, have no authority to 
make any such appointment ; and, as the ordinance to prescribe rules is under 
consideration by the council and has not passed, the pretended appointment is 
premature and uncalled for. 

"Second. That no authority exists at the present time for the presentation of 
the pretended bond to the city council, and the same is not in form prescribed 
by any law now in existence. For these reasons we recommend that the pre- 
tended bond be rejected. 

"I. S. Hasc.^ll, 
"Leavitt Burnham, 
"Michael Lee." 


A week later the city attorney, John L. Webster, to whom the question had 
been referred, gave an opinion in which he practically sustained the action of 
the commissioners. The council then passed an ordinance requiring the com- 
missioners each to give bond in the sum of $5,000. The bonds of Bennett and 
Hartman were approved by the council on August 9, 1887, but the bonds of 
Gilbert and Smith were rejected on the technicality that the names of the sureties 
signing the bond did not appear in the body of the instrument. The two com- 
missioners then prepared new bonds correcting this defect and filed them with 
the council on the 30th of August, but that body neglected to approve or reject 
the bonds. The commissioners continued, however, to perform their duties with- 
out objection. 

All the members of the fire department were appointed by the board to the 
positions they had held before the passage- of the act creating the commission. 
This was done on June 28, 1887, and on July 26th the board met to examine 
applicants for positions on the police force. Among those who appeared for 
examination were all the members of the old force and a number of new appli- 
cants. Two days later the board announced the appointment of forty-two men, 
several of whom were new men, fourteen members of the old force being 
dropped. This action of the board increased the opposition of the council. That 
body had refused from the first to recognize Mr. Seavey as the chief of police 
or to pay his salary, and now refused to recognize or pay any of the new ap- 
pointees of the board, except those who had previously been members of the 

On. October i, 1887, the board of fire and police commissioners adopted 
resolutions setting forth that the board could not bring suit in the Supreme 
Court of the state to settle the relative powers of. the board and the city council, 
while the council could ; requesting the council to take the necessary steps to 
bring such an action ; and also requesting that the salaries of the police officers 
appointed by the board be paid out of the funds available for that purpose. The 
council ignored the resolutions and a public mass meeting was called to meet 
at the rooms of the board of trade. At that meeting resolutions condemning 
the action and attitude of the council were passed and a "Policemen's Relief 
Association" was formed for the purpose of raising money to pay the men until 
the council should do so. This plan was continued for several months, when 
Edward W. Simeral, county attorney, instituted a suit in the Nebraska Supreme 
Court, to test the title of Chief Seavey to his office. J. C. Cowin and G. W. 
Ambrose were employed as attorneys to represent the city and filed an amend- 
ment to the petition in the Supreme Court. They also instituted quo warranto 
proceedings against the commissioners to test their title to office. Chief Seavey 
was represented in this suit by George B. Lake. The Supreme Court sustained 
the title of the chief and the commissioners to their respective offices, whereupon 
suit was commenced in the District Court against the city by the commissioners 
for their salaries and judgment was rendered in their favor. The money advanced 
by the Policemen's Relief Association was also recovered in an action in the 
District Court. This ended the trouble. 

The police force as constituted in 1916 consists of 181 persons, with H. W. 
Dunn as chief. There are four captains, seven sergeants, four desk sergeants, 
one traffic sergeant, four patrol conductors, six chauffeurs, one Rertillon man. 


fourteen detectives under the chieftainship of Stephen Maloney, seven motor- 
cycle men, one matron, one pohce woman, eleven tratnc men and nmety-six patrol- 
men, the other twenty-two men being assigned to various duties connected with 
the department. 


Savage & Bell, in their History of Omaha, say : "The public improvements 
carried on by the city were insignificant in extent until about 1882, when the 
necessity therefor became so apparent that a general system of grading, sewerage 
and paving was inaugurated. In January of that year a board of public works 
was appointed by the mayor and council, consisting of James Creighton, chair- 
man, Joseph Barker and John Wilson. Previous to the appointment of this 
board, a very considerable sum had been expended by the city, under direction 
of the street commissioner, for grading, and Farnam Street had been macadam- 
ized from Ninth to Fifteenth at a cost of $25,000; but general improvements 
were conducted so loosely that the aggregate amount thus expended cannot now 
be ascertained." 

The first asphalt pavement in the city was laid on Douglas Street, from 
Fourteenth to Sixteenth, in the fall of 1882. It was put down by the Barber 
Asphalt Company, under the superintendency of John Grant, at a cost of $2.98 
per square yard. About the same time Farnam Street was paved with Sioux 
Falls granite, making a roadway that would withstand the heavy traffic to which 
that street was subjected. In some of the early paving contracts wooden blocks 
were used, but they were found to be unsatisfactory as a paving material and 
were abandoned about 1890, since which time vitrified brick and asphalt have 
been chiefly used. On January i, 1916, Omaha had 218 miles of paved streets 
and alleys, and during the year 191 5 the city expended $580,878.99 for new 


\'isitors to Omaha sometimes speak of it as "a city of hills and hollows," 
but had they been here forty or forty-five years ago they would have had much 
better reason for applying that appellation. The conversion of the Town of 
Omaha, as it was when incorporated in 1857, into its present condition has 
involved the removal of a vast amount of earth in cutting down hills and filling 
up hollows. The first established grade in the city was on St. Mary's Avenue in 
1873. The avenue then was an important thoroughfare and the property holders 
along it remonstrated against the radical change in the grade. The result of 
this opposition was a modified grade, necessitating the removal of a less quantity 
of earth, and even then some of the property holders insisted that the change 
was too radical. 

On Farnam Street the grade has been changed three times, the last grade 
involving a cut of over forty feet at Seventeenth Street and a fill quite as much 
between Twentieth and Twenty-fourth streets. The City Hall, on the northeast 
corner of Eighteenth and Farnam, stands on an elevation, but it may not be 
generally known that the elevation was much higher, and that in cutting it down 


to the present grade the handsome residence of Governor Alvin Saunders, which 
then occupied that corner, was destroyed. Just across Farnam Street, the block 
bounded by Farnam, tiarney, Seventeenth and Eighteenth streets had been pur- 
chased by the county as a site for a new courthouse. The county commissioners, 
knowing that the grade of the surrounding streets was to be changed, removed 
a large quantity of earth from the premises before erecting the building. For this 
they were criticized by some of the citizens, but after the new grade was estab- 
lished the board came in for equally as much criticism from visitors to the court- 
house, because of the long flights of steps they had to climb to get into the 

Douglas Street, from about Seventeenth Street west, was cut down forty 
feet or more, the heaviest excavation being in the neighborhood of Nineteenth 
Street. Just a block north of this point, on the southwest corner of Nineteenth 
and Dodge streets, a little of the original hill remains, and the foundation of 
the house standing on that lot is higher than the roofs of some of the surround- 
ing buildings. 

At the intersection of South Sixteenth and Jones streets about fifty feet of 
earth was removed ; over sixty feet were taken from the natural grade at the 
intersection of South Eleventh and Pierce streets ; fully forty feet were taken 
from the lot at the southwest corner of Sixteenth and Harney, where the Burgess- 
-N'ash stores are now located, which lot was once the property of Gen. W. W. 
Lowe, a son of Dr. Enos Lowe, one of the founders of Omaha; the creek that 
once flowed along Nicholas Street has been filled up, and in fact, in nearly every 
])art of the city changes in grade have been made to facilitate traffic and accom- 
modate pedestrians. 


The first sewers in Omaha were constructed on what is known as the Waring 
system, but the almost marvelous growth of the city was not taken into consider- 
ation and the sev\-ers built by this method were soon found to be entirely 
inadequate to the demand for sanitary sewage. Then the plan of building large 
trunk sewers, with lateral branches, was adopted and has given much better 
satisfaction. All the trunk sewers of Omaha proper discharge their contents 
into the Missouri River, but in the western part of Dundee, where the natural 
drainage is in the opposite direction, a separate system has been installed. Here 
a septic tank was built in 1914, sufficiently large to receive and disinfect all the 
sewage of that suburb. During the year 1915 the city expended $220,1,^6.55 
upon the sewers, bringing the total mileage up to 297. Few cities of its size can 
boast a better sewer system than Omaha. 


-Mthough a number of the first streets were named before the city was 
incorporated, in 1857, it may be of interest to note in this connection how their 
.names were derived. But after the lapse of more than three score years since 
the first streets were marked and named, and in the absence of records relating 







to the subject, it is impossible to give accurate information regarding the origin 
of lHc names of some of the city's thoroughfares. 

No explanation is needed concerning the numbered streets, from First to 
Fifty-third. These streets run north and south, beginning with First Street at 
the Missouri River and numbering consecutively westward to the city limits. 
The same is true of several streets which bear the names of states, such as 
Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Indiana, Ohio, etc. Names of trees were given 
to quite a number of the streets, and in South Omaha twenty-six streets running 
east and west are named for the letters of the alphabet from A to Z inclusive. 

Ames Avenue was named for Oakes Ames, a friend of George Francis Train, 
one of the promoters of the Union Pacific Railroad and one of the largest stock- 
holders in the Credit Mobilier. 

Bancroft Street was doubtless named for the historian, George Bancroft, 
whose history of the United States is regarded as the most authentic ever 

Bauman Street was named for Otto Bauman, a large property owner and 
hotel proprietor of early days, who died some years ago at West Point, Neb. 

Blaine Street was named for James G. Blaine, of Maine, who was for many 
vears in Congress and served as secretary of state in the cabinet of President 
Benjamin Harrison. 

Boyd Street was named for James E. Boyd; 'one of the early settlers of 
Omaha, mayor of the city in 1886, and in 1890 was ielected governor of Nebraska. 

Burdette Street bears the name of Robert Burdette, humorist and lecturer, 
for many years editor of the Burlington (Iowa) Hawkeye. 

Burt Street was named in honor of Francis Burt, the first territorial gov- 
ernor of Nebraska, who died at Bellevtie on October 18, 1854. a few days after 
his arrival in the territory. 

Caldwell Street was named for Smith S. Caldwell, who came to Omaha in 
1859, was one of the early bankers and was elected mayor of the city in 1871. 

California Street is said to have been so named because the gold seekers of the 
early '50s, on their way to California, landed near the foot of this street upon 
crossing the Missouri River. 

Capitol Avenue derived its name from the fact that it formed the main 
approach to the old territorial capitol building, which stood on the elevation 
where the high school is now located. 

Carter Street was named for O. M. Carter, president of the American 
Savings Bank, one of the early financial institutions, and vice president of the 
Nebraska Central Railroad Company. 

Cass Street was named for Gen. Lewis Cass, of Michigan, a prominent leader 
in the democratic party and secretary of state in the cabinet of President 

Castellar Street bears the name of Emilio Castelar, a Spanish statesman and 
journalist, who was born in 1832. In 1865 he made an attack on the Queen in 
a radical journal, for which he was sentenced to death, but escaped to Switzer- 
land and later to Paris. In 1868 he returned to Spain and five years later was 
made minister of foreign affairs. Just why his name should have been selected 
for an Omaha street is not certain. There is also a public school called the 
Castelar school, in which the name is spelled correctly, with only one "1." 


Clark Street, according to some authorities, was named for S. H. Clark, one 
of the early superintendents of the Union Pacific Railroad. Others say it was 
named for William Clark, of the Lewis and Clark expedition which went up 
the Missouri in 1804. 

Clarkson Street was no doubt named for the Rt. Rev. Robert H. Clarkson, 
the first bishop of the Nebraska diocese of the Protestant Episcopal Church and 
founder of the Clarkson Memorial Hospital. 

Davenport Street was named by a firm of bankers who came from Daven- 
port, Iowa, and established a bank at Florence. The street was named in honor 
of their home town and also a leading family of that city. 

Decatur Street was named for Stephen Decatur, an eccentric character of 
pioneer days, an account of whom may be found in another chapter of this 

Dewey Street was named for Charles H. Dewey, who came to Omaha about 
the close of the Civil war and was for years one of the leading furniture dealers. 

Dodge Street bears the name of a prominent Iowa family, but more particu- 
larly the name of Augustus C. Dodge, who introduced the bill in the United 
States Senate that resulted in the organization of Nebraska Territory in 1854. 

Dorcas Street was named by Samuel E. Rogers for his mother, whose maiden 
name was Dorcas Kent. 

Douglas Street was named for Stephen A. Douglas, United States Senator 
from Illinois, who championed the Kansas-Nebraska Bill that resulted in 
Nebraska becoming an organized territory, and who was the democratic can- 
didate for president in i860. 

Drexel Street was named for Frederick Drexel, one of Omaha's early settlers, 
who was elected to the Legislature in 1866 and was at one time county com- 

Dupont Street is so named because the Dupont Powder Company once had a 
powder house in the grove near Gibson Station. This powder house was blown 
up — accidently it is supposed- — by four young men while out hunting, all of 
whom were killed by the explosion. 

Ed Creighton Avenue was named for Edward Creighton, founder of Creigh- 
ton University. John Creighton Boulevard is named for another member of 
the family. 

Emmet Street was probably named for Robert Emmet, the Irish orator and 
patriot, as a compliment to some of the Irish pioneers of Omaha. 

Farnam Street was named for Henry Farnam, a banker of Hartford, Conn., 
who was one of the principal promoters of the Chicago. Rock Island & Pacific 

Florence Boulevard was so named because it is the thoroughfare that leads 
to Florence, a suburban town in the northeastern part of Douglas County. 

Fontenelle Boulevard needs but little explanation to those at all familiar 
with Omaha history. It bears the name of Logan Fontenelle, the last chief of 
the Omaha Indians. 

Funston Avenue was named for Gen. Frederick Funston, of Kansas, who 
won distinction in the Philippine war by the capture of Emilio Aguinaldo, the 
insurgent leader. 

Goodwill Street (now Grand Avenue) was originally named for Taylor G. 


Goodwill, a member of the upper branch of the first Territorial Legislature and 
the first treasurer of Douglas County. 

Grover Street bears the first name of Grover Cleveland, the twenty-second' 
President of the United States. 

Hamilton Street was named for Charles \V. Hamilton, one of the early 
settlers, who was at one time president of the United States National Bank, 
and was a member of the first board of education under the present school 

Hanscom Boulevard, which connects Hanscom and Deer parks, was named 
for Andrew J. Hanscom, a member of the first Territorial Legislature, and was 
for many years prominently identified with Omaha affairs. 

Harney Street bears the name of Gen. William S. Harney, a noted Indian 
fighter in the days before Nebraska Territory was organized. 

Hascall Street was named for Isaac S. Hascall, county judge of Douglas 
County in 1865; state senator in 1867 and again in 1871, and who was elected 
a member of the city council in 1S83 and 1887. 

Himebaugh Street was named for Pierce C. Himebaugh, one of the active 
promoters of the Omaha Young Men's Christian Association, of which he was 
president for seven years. He was also president of the Dime Savings Bank 
and vice president of the Omaha Union Grain Company. 

Howard Street, some claim, was named for the father-in-law of Henry 
Farnam. Other authorities say it was named for Thomas P. Howard, who was 
a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804. 

Jones Street's name has been attributed to two individuals of that name — 
Alfred D. Jones, who made the first survey of the town of Omaha, and George 
W. Jones, a prominent figure in Iowa politics in early days. The former is 
more likely correct, as he was actively identified with Omaha's early history. 

Lafayette Street "bears the name of the Marquis de La Fayette, who came 
from his native France with a large body of soldiers and fought on the side of 
the American colonists in the War for Independence. 

Lake Street has been considered by some as being inappropriately named, 
for the reason that there is no lake in the vicinity. It was named for George 
B. Lake, an early member of the Omaha bar and one of the first justices of the 
Nebraska Supreme Court when the state was admitted in 1867. 

Leavenworth Street was named for Gen. Henry Leavenworth, a noted mili- 
tary figure in the West in early days, and founder of Fort Leavenworth, Kan. 

Manderson Street was named for Charles F. Manderson, a delegate to the 
constitutional conventions of 1871 and 187c;, city attorney of Omaha in 1877, 
after which he served two terms in the United States Senate. 

Marcv Street was named for William L. Marcy, secretary of war in the 
cabinet of President Pierce at the time Nebraska Territorv was organized. 

Martha Street was named by S. E. Rogers for his wife, whose maiden name 
was Martha Brown, whom he married in Indiana in 1848. 

Mason Street is said to have been named for Judge Charles Mason, an 
eminent lawver and jurist of Iowa in early davs. 

Mercer Street, or Boulevard, was named for one of the early families of 
Omaha, of which Dr. .Samuel D. Mercer and David H. Mercer were the best 


known representatives. The latter was elected to Congress from the Oniaha 
District in 1892. 

Meredith Avenue was in all probability named for John R. Meredith, a native 
of Pennsylvania, for years one of the leading attorneys of Omaha, a member 
of the city council in 1868 and one of the incorporators of the Omaha Horse 
Railway Company. 

Military Avenue derives its name from the fact that it leads to the old 
military road. 

Miller Street was named for Dr. George L. Miller, the first practicing phy- 
sician in Omaha and one of the builders of the Herndon House, the first 
pretentious hotel in the city. 

Orchard Avenue, in South Omaha, is named for Andrew 1\. and Samuel A. 
Orchard, who were among the purchasers of the land by patents from the gen- 
eral government on which South Omaha is now situated. 

Oregon Trail is so named because it forms a part of the once famous thor- 
oughfare over which emigrants from the eastern states were accustomed to 
pass on their way westward. 

Park Wild Avenue ( now written Parkwild ) derives its names from the 
claim staked off by Alfred D. Jones before Omaha was surveyed, which he 
named "Park Wilde." 

Pa.xton Boidevard and Paxton Avenue are named for William A. Paxton, 
who was for many years one of Omaha-'s leading business men. 

Poppleton Avenue was named for Andrew J- Poppleton. the first attorney to 
locate in Omaha, member of the first Territorial Legislature, and in other ways 
intimately associated with the city's development. 

Pratt Street is said to have been named after Augustus Pratt, a member of 
the first board of park commissioners, and at one time a member of the board 
of education. 

Redick Avenue was named for John I. Redick, one of the pioneer lawyers 
of Omaha, a member of the Legislature of i860, and who was appointed one 
of the territorial judges of New Mexico by President Grant. 

Redman Avenue was named for Joseph Redman, a member of the first 
board of education, and who was elected to the city council in 1878. 

Riverview Boulevard, a short thoroughfare leading northward from River- 
view Park, derives its name from the park and from the fine view of the 
Missouri River that may be obtained. 

Ruggles Street was named for Gen. George D. Ruggles, who graduated at 
the West Point Military Academy in 1855 and was in command of the garrison 
at Fort Kearney at the breaking out of the Civil war. 

St. Mary's Avenue takes its name from an institution there in early days 
known as St. Mary's Convent. The convent is gone but the name still remains. 

Sahler Street, in the northern part of the city ; was named for John H. Sahler, 
who went with O. D. Richardson to Washington in 1850 "to urge legislation in 
behalf of the city," and who was the first police judge of Omaha when that 
office was created in 1868. 

Saratoga Street takes its name from the old Saratoga Precinct on the north 

Seward Street is one about whose name there is a difference of opinion. 


Some are inclined to favor the theory that it was named for William H. Seward, 
secretary of state in the cabinet of President Lincoln, and others say it was 
named for H. L. Seward, who was city marshal for a short time in 187 1. 

Stone Avenue was named for E. L. Stone, for many years associated with 
Charles H. Dewey in the furniture business in Omaha. 

Templeton Street was named for W. G. Templeton, one of the founders of 
the Citizens Bank and its first cashier when it was incorporated in 1888. 

Underwood Avenue, in Dundee, was named for W. A. Underwood, president 
of the American Waterworks Company, which acquired the Omaha Waterworks 
in 1891. Mr. Underwood was also one of the active promoters of the Nebraska 
Central Railroad. 

Wakeley Street was named in honor of Eleazer Wakeley, who was appointed 
one of the territorial judges in January, 1857, by President Pierce, and who was 
for many years a leading member of the Omaha bar. 

William Street, in the southeastern part of the city, was named by S. E. 
Rogers for his father, William R. Rogers, who came to Omaha in 1854 and 
died soon after his arrival. 

Woolworth Avenue bears the name of James M. Woolworth, one of Omaha's 
early and best known lawyers, who was elected city attorney in 1857, a delegate 
to the constitutional convention of 1871, and was honored by the lawyers of 
the nation by being chosen president of the American Bar Association. 

There are a number of streets that have been named for eminent American 
citizens who distinguished themselves in statesmanship or military affairs, to-wit : 
Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Lincoln, Madison, Mon- 
roe, Pierce, Polk, Sherman, Taylor, Washington and Webster. No explanation 
is necessary as to the origin of those names. In like manner, Cuming and 
Izard streets bear the names of the first territorial secretary and one of the 
territorial governors. 

In the southern part of the city there is a short street, one block in length, 
running from Twenty-first to Twenty-second Street, which was once known as 
"Turkey Lane." The adoption of this name has been thus explained : "The 
belief is that in the early days the people living on this street were lovers of 
turkeys, and that these proud birds of the Thanksgiving season strutted up and 
down the street without molestation." 


The Legislature of 191 1 passed an act providing that any city in the State 
of Nebraska might adopt what is known as the commission form of govern- 
ment, in the following manner : 

"Within twenty days after the filing of a petition with the city clerk of any 
such city, signed by such a number of electors qualified to vote at the last pre- 
ceding general city or state election as equals 25 per centum of the votes cast for 
all candidates for mayor at such preceding general city election, the mayor shall 
by appropriate proclamation and notice call and proclaim a special election," etc., 
for the purpose of submitting the question to the people. 

A special election was held in Omaha, according to the provisions of the 
act, and the proposition to adopt the commission government carried by a sub- 


stantial majority. The first commissioners were elected on May 7, 1912, and 
took office on the 13th. They were James C. Dahhnan, Thomas McGovern, 
Daniel B. Butler, Joseph B. Hummel, A. C. Kugel, John J. Ryder and Charles 
H. Withnell, the law requiring that in all cities having a population of 100,000 
or more seven councilmen should be chosen. 

The law further provided that at the first meeting of the commissioners, or 
councilmen, one of their number should be elected president and should be known 
as the mayor of the city. At the meeting on May 13, 1912, James C. Dahlman 
was elected mayor and the business of the city was divided into departments, 
each of which was placed under the control of a member of the council as super- 
intendent, to-wit: James C. Dahlman, department of public affairs; Thomas 
McGovern, public improvements; Daniel B. Butler, accounts and finance; Joseph 
B. Hummel, parks and public property ; A. C. Kugel, street cleaning and main- 
tenance ; John J. Ryder, police and sanitation; Charles H. Withnell, fire protec- 
tion and water supply. 

Messrs. Dahlman, Butler, Hummel and Withnell still held their positions in 
the spring of 1916, but Mr. Kugel was then in charge of the department of police, 
sanitation and public safety ; John C. Drexel had succeeded Mr. Kugel as the 
head of the department of street cleaning and maintenance ; and W. S. Jardine 
had succeeded Mr. McGovern in charge of the department' of public improve- 
ments. Although the commission form of government has been applied only 
about four years at this writing, it has given abundant evidence of being superior 
to the old system and Omaha is moving steadily forward in its metropolitan 


Early in the legislative session of 191 5, E. E. Howell, a state senator from 
Douglas County, introduced a measure providing for the consolidation of Omaha, 
South Omaha and the village of Dundee. The bill passed both houses and was 
approved on March 31, 1915. Pursuant to its provisions, Governor Morehead, 
on April 26, 1015. issued his proclamation calling a special election in the three 
municipalities for June i, iqi5, at which the electors should vote on the question 
of consolidation. The result of that election was 11,428 votes in favor of the 
proposition and 1,585 in the negative. Returns were made to the g^overnor, 
who on Jmie 10, 1915, issued a proclamation declaring "the consolidation of the 
cities of Omaha, South Omaha and the village of Dundee, as one city, the said 
consolidation to take effect and become operative ten davs after this proclama- 
tion is filed in the office of the city clerk of said City of Omaha." The proclama- 
tion was promptly filed with the city clerk and ten days later the consolidation 
was annoimced. Through the uniting of these three separate corporations was 
formed the "Greater Omaha." 








One of the first demands upon a new state, county or city, is that of providing 
suitable buildings for the transaction of the public business. The first structure 
of this nature in Omaha, and perhaps the first west of the Alissouri River, was 
erected by the Council Bluffs & Nebraska Ferry Company, soon after it became 
known that the seat of government of Nebraska Territory was to be located at 
Omaha. It stood on the west side of Ninth Street, between Douglas and Farnam, 
opposite the center of the strip marked on the original plat as "The Park," was 
two stories high, 33 by 75 feet in dimensions, and was the first brick building in 
Omaha. The cost was about three thousand dollars. It was not a public build- 
ing in the sense that it belonged to the commonwealth, but it was the first 
building used for public purposes. During the Civil war it was used as a post 
hospital. A few years later it was torn down and a public school building was 
erected upon the site. 


Section 15 of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, the act which organized Nebraska 
as a territory, provided "That there shall hereafter be appropriated, as has been 
customary for the territorial governments, a sufificient amount, to be expended 
under the direction of the said governor of the Territory of Nebraska, not 
exceeding the sums heretofore appropriated for similar objects, for the erection 
of suitable public buildings at the seat of government," etc. 

Subsequently Congress authorized the appropriation of $50,000 for the erec- 
tion of a territorial capitol, which was commenced under the administration of 
Governor Mark W. Izard. The construction of this building proved to be 
something of a "white elephant" to Nebraska Territory and the City of Omaha. 
During the third session of the Territorial Legislature, which was convened on 
January 5, 1857, a bill was introduced to remove the seat of government from 
Omaha, and the committee to which the hill was referred said in its report : 

"It will be remembered that the appropriation by Congress for the purpose of 



erecting a capitol was $50,000. This was deemed and is in fact amply sufficient 
for the purpose, if properly applied. But, by reference to the governor's message 
of December 18, 1855, it will be seen that the Executive indulges in the most 
pleasing reflections on the magnificence and grandeur of the future capitol; 
challenging in fact the whole architecture of the Union and at the same time 
estimating the cost at $79,705.79, which will appear by reference to the Council 
Journal of 1S55, pages 6 and 7. At the last session of Congress the territory 
failed to get an additional appropriation, and now, after the lapse of another 
year, we are told by the Executive that it will be necessary to ask of Congress 
an additional appropriation." 

About four months later the City of Omaha took a hand in the matter. 
George C. Eovey, senior member of the firm of Bovey & Armstrong, which had 
the contract for erecting the capitol, was a member of the first city council. On 
May 26, 1857, he introduced in the council the following resolution, which was 
adopted : 

"Resolved, That the mayor of the City of Omaha be, and he is hereby, 
instructed to proceed immediately with the erection of the capitol building, 
expending thereon such money as there may be in the treasury appointed for 
that purpose, which funds he may increase at such times as he may think best, 
by selling the lands set apart for that purpose, or by using the credit of the city." 

Following the adoption of this resolution, appropriations were made from 
time to time by the city until $60,000 had been appropriated. This sum, added 
to the $50,000 appropriated by Congress, made a total of $110,000 expended upon 
the building, and in his message to the Legislature of 185Q Governor Black esti- 
mated that a further sum of $30,000 would be required to complete the building 
according to the original plan. He recommended that the I^egislature memorialize 
Congress to make the additional appropriation and expressed as his opinion that 
the amount would be promptly voted by the national law makers. Congress 
declined to make the appropriation and as a matter of fact the building never 
was completed. It served the purpose, however, until the seat of government 
was removed to Lincoln in 1867. Two years later an act was passed by the 
Legislature authorizing the governor of the state to deed the old capitol building 
and site to the City of Omaha, "on or before April i, 1S69," on condition 
said property should be used by the city for educational purposes only. The 
Omaha High School now occupies the site. 


The first mention of a courthouse in the records of Douglas County appears 
under date of December 27, 1856, when the commissioners voted "to levy a 
tax of two mills on the dollar in order to provide funds for building a court- 
house and jail." Then came the question of locating the building. In making 
the survey of Omaha the block bounded by Fifteenth. Sixteenth, Douglas and 
Farnam streets was set apart for public use and designated "Washington Square " 
Early in March, 1857, the county commissioners made overtures to the Omaha 
city council to enter into some sort of an arrangement by which the courthouse 
could be erected on that square. On the 13th the following resolution came 
before the council : 





"Resolved, That a committee of three be appointed to make arrangements 
with the commissioners of Douglas County to provide for the disposition of 
Washington Square, in Omaha City, for the purpose of having erected thereon 
such buildings as may be agreed tipon, to be used as a courthouse and jail, a 
portion of which to be appropriated for the use of Omaha City, with instructions 
to report to this body at its earliest convenience." 

The committee appointed did not lose any time, evidently, for on the i8th 
a special session of the council was held "to ratify the contract made by the 
committee appointed to confer and stipulate with the county commissioners of 
Douglas County, for the appropriation of Washington Square, to be used in the 
erection of a courthouse and jail thereon." The contract, prepared by Charles 
Grant, city attorney, was signed by Jesse Lowe and Thomas Davis, two of the 
county commissioners, and by Taylor G. Goodwill and William N. Byers on 
behalf of the council. Its full text was as follows: 

"Articles of agreement made and entered into the iSth day of March, 1857, 
at the City of Omaha, in the Territory of Nebraska, by and between the city 
council of Omaha of the first part, and the county commissioners of the County 
of Douglas, and Territory of Nebraska, of the second part, witnesseth : That 
the said party of the first part, in consideration of the covenants and agreement 
hereinafter made by the party of the second pa:Bti ixlotli hereby agree to, and 
with the party of the second part that they will- and do, from and after this date, 
lease and forever let and convey and relinquish to the said party of the second 
l)art, all right, title to, and interest in, that parcel of ground known as Wash- 
ington Square, and so marked and named on the'plat-of Omaha City, surveyed 
and platted by A. D. Jones, to the said party of the Second part and their suc- 
cessors forever, for the uses and purposes of a courthouse and jail in the County 
of Douglas, Territory of Nebraska; and the said county commissioners are 
hereby authorized and empowered to give deeds for the said lots to any and all 
persons purchasing any part of said Washington Square, except 132 feet square 
of the southwest corner of said square, to be used for the purpose of building 
said courthouse and jail thereon, but for no other purpose, without the consent 
of the city council of Omaha City; and when the said party of the second [jart 
shall cease to use said property as a courthouse and jail, then the said property 
so used for a courthouse and jail, viz: 132 feet square of the southwest comer of 
said Washington Square as above, with all the Iniildings thereon, to revert to 
the party of the first part and the title to rest in the party of the first part as 
though the agreement conveying the same to the said party of the second ]iart 
had never been made. 

"And the said party of the second part, in consideration of the foregoing 
covenants and agreements on the part of the party of the first part, doth herel)v 
agree to and with the said party of the first part, that they will build a good and 
sufficient jail and courthouse for the County of Douglas, and will furnish to the 
party of the first part four rooms in said building, which is to be constructed 
after the plan and specifications drawn by E. C, Barker — one room suitable for 
a council room and mayor's court room, one for a city recorder's office and two 
for watch houses, or for such other purposes as the council may direct, said 
rooms to be completed by the ist of January, 1858." 

The plans and specifications furnished by Mr. Barker contemplated a build- 


iiig 40 by 70 feet, two stories in height, with a stone foundation of ten feet, 
which afforded a basement six feet high, the two upper stories to be of brick 
and the walls to be thirty-five feet from the top of the stone foundation to the 
cornice. Not long after the contract between the city and county was concluded 
the following contracts were awarded by the county commissioners for the 
erection of the building: 

John Green, excavation and stone work $ 1,510 

Bovey & Armstrong, brick and iron work 25,000 

Boyd Brothers, carpenter, tinwork, painting and glazing... 11,975 
Hunt & Manning, plastering ii975 

Total $40,460 

Early in April a public sale of lots in Washington Square resulted in the 
sale of five parcels of land for $5,870, which was turned into the courthouse 
fund. For a time the work of erecting the building was pushed rapidly, after 
which it dragged slowly for lack of means, three and six months time having 
been allowed in some of the lot sales in April. In June the remaining portion 
of the square was sold for $5,670, of which only $1,890.05 was paid in cash, 
notes for two and four months being taken for the deferred payments. The 
money derived from the sale of lots, with the 2-mill tax levied the previous 
December, enabled the contractors to complete the building, and on January 4, 
1858, the commissioners notified the city authorities that the four rooms specified 
in the contract were ready for occupancy. 

Then a question arose as to the city's rights in the matter, which was finally 
settled by a decision that the deed made by George Armstrong, as mayor, was 
a clear transfer, without conditions of any kind, and that the City of Omaha 
liad no ownershi]) in the building whatever. For a time, however, city prisoners 
were confined in two of the rooms in the basement. 

In connection with the history of this first courthouse may be mentioned an 
interesting incident showing the financial condition of Douglas County as late 
as 1861. In November of that year the Presbyterian Society was granted per- 
mission to hold services in the court room on Sundays, at an annual rental of 
$50. In renting the court room the board of commissioners were no respecters 
of persons, as the room was rented for public balls at $10 per night, and for meet- 
ings at not less than $2. Late in the year the county clerk reported that he had 
received $23 from the Presbyterian Society od account, and $20 for the use of 
the court room two nights for public balls. He was instructed by the commis- 
sioners "to use $33.75 of the money to pay the express charges on a package of 
books addressed to the register of deeds, held by the express company for want 
of funds to pay charges." 


In March, 1869, the board of county commissioners, then composed of Jonas 
Gise, Henry Eicke and Hamrtn Chapman, adopted the following: 

"Whereas, The public interests will in a few years imperatively demand the 
erection of a new courthouse, jail and other coimtv buildings, nnd 


"Whereas, The present site of the courthouse is wholly insufficient in and 
for the purpose aforesaid, and 

"Whereas, it is deemed expedient that immediate action he taken to secure 
ample grounds for the purposes above indicated, therefore, be it 

"Resolved, That the owners of property in Omaha be, and they are hereby 
invited to make propositions to convey to the county not less than two acres of 
ground for the purpose aforesaid, in some convenient and acceptable location, 
and that such propositions shall he received until the ist day of ]\Iay, 1869." 

No further reference to this resolution appears in the county commissioners' 
records, probably for the reason that no propositions were submitted, no one hav- 
ing a tract of two acres "in some convenient and acceptable location" that he 
was willing to sell to the county for a courthouse site. 

Nothing definite toward the erection of a new courthouse was done until 
1878, when the commissioners purchased the block bounded by Seventeenth, 
Eighteenth, Farnam and Harney streets for a site. The following year a 
jail was built on the southwest corner of this square at a cost of $35,000. An 
election was then ordered to be held in November, 1880, at which the voters 
of the county expressed themselves in favor of a bond issue of $125,000 for a 
new courthouse, the building to cost not more than $150,000. The vote on this 
proposition was 3.550 for and 1,541 against the bond issue. Plans and specifica- 
tions were submitted by several architects and those of E. E. Myers, of Detroit, 
Mich., were accepted, with a proviso that the courthouse, including the heating 
plant, should not exceed $139,000. Before contracts could be let there was a 
substantial advance in the prices of building materials and the original estimate 
of $139,000 was found to be too low. In November, 1881, the question of 
increasing the cost of the building to $198,000 was submitted to the people, who 
voted to issue an additional $50,000 of bonds. The contract for the erection of 
the building was then awarded to John F. Coots, of Detroit, for $198,616. 

The comer-stone was laid with appropriate ceremonies on October 25, 1882, 
and the work on the structtire progressed rapidly under the superintendency of 
D. L. Shane, who had been appointed by the commissioners. Changes in the 
plans as the work went on brought the total cost of the building up to $204,787. 
About the middle of May the commissioners announced that the new courthouse 
would be formally received from the contractor on May 28, 1885, and extended 
an invitation to the public to visit and inspect the building on that date. A large 
number of people accepted the invitation and all were enthusiastic in their praises 
of Douglas County's new courthouse. In the evening formal dedicatory exer- 
cises were conducted in the main court room. George W. Ambrose presided and 
addresses were made by Judges Eleazer Wakeley, James Neville and James W. 
Savage, John C. Cowin and Commissioner Richard O'Keefe. The general tenor 
of the speeches was that Douglas County had a courthouse that would answer 
every purpose for many years, but the continued growth of the City of Omaha 
and the increase in the volume of county business made it apparent in less than 
a quarter of a century that the courthouse of 1885 was too small and not 
arranged to meet the constantly increasing demand. An agitation of the question 
was therefore started that culminated in the erection of 



On Tuesday, March 17, 1908, the following resolution was unanimously 
adopted by the board of county commissioners : 

■'Be it resolved by the board of county commissioners of the County of 
Douglas, State of Nebraska, that at a special election of the qualified voters 
of said County of Douglas, which is hereby called to be held on the 5th day of 
May, A. D. 1908, there shall be submitted to the voters of said county the propo- 
sition to issue and sell the negotiable bonds of the County of Douglas to and in 
tile sum of $1,000,000, for the purpose of aiding in the construction, erection 
and completion of a courthouse building upon the site now occupied by the 
courthouse of said county, for county purposes and all other purposes for which 
such courthouse may be legally used ; all the cost and expenses of the construc- 
tion of said building not to exceed the sum derived from the sale of said bonds 
and the salvage or the proceeds thereof from the buildings and improvements 
now on the courthouse square of said county ; said bonds to be coupon bonds 
])ayable to bearer, and to bear date of October i, A. D. 1908." 

The resolution also set forth that the bonds should bear 4 per cent interest, 
l^ayable semi-annually, that the first $50,000 of the bonds should become due and 
payable ten years after date and $50,000 annually thereafter until 1928, when 
the remainder of $500,000 should become due ; that they should be issued in the 
denomination of $1,000 each, numbered from i to 1,000 inclusive, and that they 
should not be sold at less than par value. To provide for the payment of the 
interest and the redemption of the bonds, the resolution also provided for the 
submission to the voters of this proposition: 

"And shall the lioard of cnuntv commissioners of said Douglas County be 
authorized to levy annually upon all the taxable property in said county a tax 
sufficient to pay the interest on said bonds as the same shall accrue, and shall 
the board of county commissioners be authorized to levy annually upon all the 
taxable property in said county, beginning with the year T917 and continuing 
until the niaturitv of said bonds, a tax sufficient to provide a sinking fund for 
the redemption of said bonds at maturity, said annual tax for sinking fund pur- 
poses to be equal to one-tenth of the principal of said bonds?'' 

At the special election on Tuesday, May 5, 1908. 4,249 of the votes cast were 
in favor of the propositions to issue the bonds and provide for a sinking fund. 
2.329 were opposed and t2 voted blank ballots. On the 8th the commissioners 
adopted a resolution authorizing the issue of the bonds. 

Record E. page 398. shows that on July 8. 1908. the commissioners entered 
into a contract with John I.atenser. an architect of Omaha, to make plans and 
specifications for a courthouse, the cost of which should not exceed $1,000,000. 
His work was completed early the following year and on April 9. 1909. the con- 
tract for the erection of the building was awarded to Caldwell & Drake, of 
Columbus. Ind. for $824,846. Through some subsequent modifications the 
contract price was reduced to $822,571. On page 46 of the county clerk's report 
for the year 1913 appears the following itemized statement of the cost of tlie 
new courthouse : 





John Latenser, Architect $ 50,000.00 

IJuilding Contract 822,571 .00 

I'lumbing and Heating 69,562.00 

Electric Wiring 11 ,262 . 00 

Elevators 28,420.00 

\ acuum System 3,200.00 

Grading Courthouse ( Grounds 13,096.69 

Clock System i ,924 . 00 

Burglar Alarm System 800.00 

Mail Chutes 765 . 00 

Hydraulic Ash Hoist 890.00 

Sundry Extras 2,136.51 

Miscellaneous Expenses 2,878.26 

Total cost $1,007,505.46 

The amount derived from the sale of the courthouse bonds and accumulations 
was $1,017,497.92, so that when the building was finished there was a balance of 
$9,992.46, which was transferred to the county general fund. The new court- 
house was occupied by the various courts and coin;ty -officials on October i. i(;i2. 
It is one of the most practical courthouses .iii ,thie' Uhited States, the principal 
object of the architect apparently having been^to, de'sSgH a' building for use rather 
than show. The outside walls are of Indiana oolitic limestone (commonly called 
r.edford stone), with verv little ornament, creating a building that gives the im- 
pression of solidity, and beautiful in its simplicity.-- ' O.n -{he Harney Street side, 
where the building stands flush with the str.eetVMf;.is-six stories in height, while 
on the side fronting Farnam .Street the height is but five stories. Between the 
courthouse and Farnam .^treet is a neat lawn, with circular walks from the north- 
e;isl and northwest corners of the square to the main entrance. These walks are 
bordered by stone copings and provided with electroliers. In the interior the 
halls and corridors are fitted with mosaic floors and marble wainscotings. The 
main, second and third floors are occtipied by the several county offices, the fourth 
lloor by the court rooms, and on the top floor is the county jail. Easy marble 
stairways and four elevators afford the means of ascent or descent to the differ- 
ent floors. The offices are finished in hard wood and fire proof vaults have been 
])rovided for the preservation of the county records. 


In connection with the Federal Building, a history of the Omaha postoffice 
may be appropriate. Early in the spring of 1854. before the Town of Omaha 
had been platted, application was made to the postoffice department to establish 
an office on the west side of the Missouri River, opposite Council f'.luffs, the 
new office to be known as "'Omaha City." A petition, duly prepared and signed 
by a number of those who expected to take up their residence in Nebraska, was 
forwarded to Bernhart Hcnn. then a member of Congress from Iowa, who was 
instrumental in securing the estalilishment of the postoffice. On the day he 


received the notice from the postoffice that the petition had been granted, he 
wrote to Dr. J. D. Test, of Council Bluffs, as follows: 

"Washington City, May 6, 1854. 
"Dr. Test: — Yours of the loth ultimo, relative to Omaha City postoffice 
has been received. I got the office established today and had A. D. Jones 
appointed postmaster. 

"Yours truly, 

"Bernhart Henn." 

It seems that Mr. Jones had also written to Congressman Henn regarding the 
establishment of a mail route from Council Bluff's to the new office at Omaha 
City. On the same day that Mr. Henn wrote to Doctor Test he also wrote to 
Mr. Jones, the letter being the first ever directed to "Omaha City, Nebraska.'' 
The letter was as follows : 

"Washington City, May 6, 1854. 
"A. D. Jones, Esq., 

"Omaha City, Neb. Ter. 

Dear Sir: — Yours of the 15th ultimo has been received, but as the post route 
bill has already received final action, I can not carry out your suggestion as to 
the route from Council Bluft's to Omaha City at this session. Perhaps, however, 
it is not necessary, as it is already covered by the route I had established last 
Congress from Council Bluffs to Fort Laramie, and although said route has 
not been let, you may get that part put in operation by petitioning the depart- 
ment to do so; which course I would suggest be adopted at once. H you do so, 
send me the petition directed to Fairfield and T will forward it. 

"Yours truly, 

"Bernh.\rt Henn." 

Although this letter bears date of I\Iay 6, 1854. twenty-four days before 
President Pierce signed the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, it will be noticed that it 
was addressed to Mr. Jones at "Omaha City, Neb. Ter.," though at that time the 
city consisted mainly of hazel brush thickets and tall grass, and the territory had 
not been established. So certain, however, was ]\Ir. Henn of the passage of the 
bill then under consideration that he anticipated it by more than three weeks. 

The petition to place Omaha City on the Council Bluffs & Fort Laramie mail 
route evidently failed to secure the official approval of the postoffice department, 
for a little later Mr. Jones was instructed to employ some one to carry the mail 
and pay him "out of tlie proceeds of the office." As the proceeds did not offer 
sufficient inducement to any one to undertake the work, Mr. Jones became mail 
carrier "ex-officio." In March, 1916, Paul B. Burleigh presented to the public 
library a painting in oil of "Omaha's First Postoffice." From the title one would 
expect to see some kind of a building, but not so. The painting presents a view of 
Omaha in 1855 — one log cabin, a few tents and a small clearing amid the forest 
trees. The "postoffice" is Mr. Jones himself, standing in the foreground in the 
act of taking a letter from his hat to hand to a woodman with an ax in his hand, 
who has paused in his labors long enough to welcome the mail carrier and receive 
his mail. The picture was painted by Mr. Jones and presented to Mr. Burleigh, 
who in turn presented it to the public library. 

For a short time the postoffice was then kept in the grocery of William 


Clancy, known as the "Big Six," which is said to have been the third building 
ever erected upon the Omaha town site. It was a shanty-like structure of cotton- 
wood boards banked with sod and stood on the north side of Chicago Street 
between Thirteenth and Fourteenth. Here Mr. Jones was wont to "hand out the 
mail" on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings, after the arrival of the stage. 
On January 12, 1855, David Lindley was appointed postmaster and kept the office 
for a little while in a small house on Thirteenth Street, directly in the rear of the 
Douglas House, of w^hicli he was the proprietor. He served but eighteen days, 
when he was succeeded by Lawrence H. Frank. William W. Wyman, editor and 
publisher of the Omaha Times, was appointed postmaster on June 25, 1855, and 
removed the office to the first floor of his brick building on the northwest corner 
of Thirteenth and Douglas streets, the upper floor being used as the publication 
office of the Times. The office was next located on the northeast corner of 
Fourteenth and Fa mam streets. From there it was taken to a room in the 
Academy of Music, on Douglas Street, and when Joel T. Griffin was made post- 
master in 1871 he removed the office to the first floor of the A. J. Simpson Block, 
on the west side of Fourteenth Street between Dodge and Douglas. The follow- 
ing year Casper E. Yost was appointed postmaster and took the office to the 
Creighton Block, on Fifteenth Street, where it remained until removed to the 
building erected for the purpose at the southwest corner of Fifteenth and Dodge 
streets. A list of the postmasters is given later on in this chapter. 


For more than fifteen years after the postoffice was established it had no 
permanent quarters, each successive postmaster removing it to such location as 
suited his convenience. The first building erected by the United States Govern- 
ment for postoffice purposes in Omaha, was commenced in 1870 and completed 
in 1874, at a cost of $300,000. As already stated, it is located on the southwest 
corner of Fifteenth and Dodge streets and is now known as the Army Building, 
in which are located the military headquarters of the Department of the Platte 
Casper E. Yost was the first postmaster to officiate in this building, which at the 
time it was completed was thought to be sufficient to answer Omaha's demands for 
mail service for years to come. But before fifteen years had passed, it became 
apparent that the growth of the city made necessary better facilities for handling 
the mails and a movement was started for a new building, which, after the usual 
formalities and delay, culminated in the 


On January 21, 1889, President Cleveland approved a bill appropriating 
$1,200,000 for a new postoffice building and site, the latter to cost not more than 
$400,000 and the secretary of the treasury was not to approve any plan for a 
building that would cost over $800,000. The passage of this measure was due to 
the combined efforts of Senator Charles F. Manderson and Congressman John 
A. McShane, the former a republican and the latter a democrat. Numerous 
sites were offered, but the block bounded by Sixteenth, Seventeenth, Dodge and 
Capitol Avenue was finally selected and the property was appraised by a board 


appointed by Judge E. S. Dundy, of the United States District Court. The 
valuation agreed upon by the appraisers was slightly under the $400,000 allowed 
by the bill and was accepted by the property holders. President Cleveland's wife 
was the owner of some of the property. 

At the next session of Congress, Senator Manderson tried to have the appro- 
priation increased to $2,000,000. A bill to that effect passed the Senate, but failed 
in the House. Work was commenced on the foundation in the spring of 1892 by 
O. J. King, who had been awarded the contract. The building, according to the 
original plan, was located on the east side of the grounds, so that if an additional 
appropriation could be" obtained the structure could be extended toward Seven- 
teenth Street without making any changes. This was what followed, appropria- 
tions being made from time to time until the building in its present form was com- 
pleted. The first part — the eastern portion — was completed in 1898, and the 
entire structure was finished in 1906, at a cost of $1,938,506.69, exclusive of the 
price paid for the ground upon which it is located, but including the furnishings. 

The walls of the basement and first story are of St. Cloud granite, all above 
that being of sandstone. The main entrance is on Douglas Street, through five 
massive arches, over the center of which rises a tower 190 feet high, with a large 
clock showing a dial on each of the four sides. There are also entrances on 
Dodge Street and Capitol Avenue, the Seventeenth Street side being used for the 
reception and departure of mails. The postmaster's office is in the northeast 
corner; the money order department in the southeast corner; facing the main 
entrance are the private boxes, nearly two thousand in numlaer; the general 
delivery is on the north side, facing the Capitol Avenue corridor; south of the 
private boxes in the main corridor are the windows for the sale of postage stamps 
and the parcels post department, and the registry division is located on the corri- 
dor next to Dodge Street. The upper stories are devoted to the customs and 
internal revenue offices, the United States Court, etc. 

At the close of the year 191 5 there were 404 people employed in the Omaha 
postoffice. The first carriers were put on in 1874, when the first postoffice build- 
ing was ready for occupancy. Four were then appointed. In 1915 there were 
167, while the office force of seven people in 1874 has grown to 192. The receipts 
of the office in 1855 — the first full year after its establishment — amounted to 
$76.21. The receipts for 1915 were $1,505,259.71. These figures show the 
growth of Omaha in a general way, but especially in its importance as a mail 
distributing center. 


Following is a list of the postmasters from the time the office was established 
to April, 1916, with the date of appointment of each: Alfred D. Jones, May 5, 
1854; David Lindley, January 12, 1855; L. H. Frank, January 30, 1855; W. W. 
Wyman, June 25, 1855; T. H. Robertson, November 9, 1857; Charles W. Ham- 
ilton, March 3, 1859; W. W. Wyman, April 19, 1859; George R. Smith, April 
t8, 1861; John H. Kellom, July 11, 1870; Joel T. Griffin, May 23, 1871 ; Casper 
E. Yost, July 2, 1872; Thomas F. Hall, March 16, 1877; Charles K. Coutant, 
July 9, 1883; C. V. Gallagher, March 30, 1887; T. S. Clarkson, October i, 1890; 
Euclid Martin, February 12, 1895; Joseph Crow, March 11, 1899; Henry E. 








Palmer, January 22, 1904; B. F. Thomas (date of appointment not learned) ; 
John C. Wharton, March 27, 1912. On April 14, 1871, the name of the office was 
changed from Omaha City to Omaha. 


About 1880 the necessity for some permanent quarters for the city offices 
began to be recognized. The question of a city hall was discussed for several 
months and at the city election in 1882 the selection of a site was left to a vote of 
the people. Of the several locations under consideration, a majority of the votes 
were in favor of the lot at the northeast corner of Eighteenth and Farnam streets. 
No immediate action was taken by the city toward the erection of a city hall and 
after a year or two flattering offers were made by some real estate men for that 
corner. The question was therefore again submitted to the people at the spring 
election in 1889, when the majority of the voters reaffirmed the result of the 
former election. 

Charles F. Beindorff was then employed to make plans, bids were advertised 
for, and the contract was awarded to John F. Coots, of Detroit, Mich., who 
had built the Douglas County courthouse only a short time before. Between 
March i, 1S88, and February i, 1892, bonds were sold to the amount of $527,- 
082.03 and the school board appropriated $20,000 additional toward the erection 
and completion of the building. The corner stone was laid on Thursday, June 
19, 1890, by the Masonic Grand Lodge of Nebraska, -which happened to be in 
session in Omaha at the time. A large concourse of people gathered to witness 
the ceremonies, and upon the platform were eight ex-mayors of Omaha — .'\. J. 
Poppleton, George .\rmstrong, B. E. B. Kennedy, Charles H. Brown, Joseph H. 
Millard, Champion S. Chase, James E. Boyd and William J. Broatch. When 
everything was ready. Mayor R. C. Gushing delivered the following address: 

"Fellow citizens of Omaha, Gentlemen of the Common Council and of the 
Masonic Fraternity : We are assembled today to deposit a block of enduring 
granite stone which will, we trust, uphold years after all present shall have 
departed, a fabric devoted to our city's business. 

"To its sealed recesses we confide such evidences of our city's present size 
and prosperity as may serve to interest the busy populace of some future genera- 
tion, when these firm walls shall have crumbled and the secrets of this corner 
stone shall have been brought to light. 

"The pyramids and sphinx of the Nile tell today an Egyptian tale better 
than the ashes of the great Alexandrian library. The ruins of our ancient cities, 
for instance, the Coliseum of Rome, speak louder in the descriptive than the 
scribes of that day. Therefore, it is altogether fitting that such memorials of 
our day should be entrusted to the strong guardianship of stone. 

"Here and there, even at this time, as our hills are leveled, or our founda- 
tions laid, the busy spade of the workman exhumes from their long forgotten 
grave, Indian relics, some domestic utensil, or some weapon of war. upon which 
we gaze with absorbing interest as the sole histories of nations long vanished. 
In their rugged outlines we may venture to read something of their wars, their 
daily pursuits, and their homes, which, but for these recovered implements of 
stone, would have remained a blank forever. 


"To the people of some long distant day, we offer a more legible story, and 
one which we believe is more in accord with the spirit of the present age. From 
this recess, hereafter, will be taken no weapon of death, no evidence of barbaric 
wars, but tokens only of peace and prosperity, which have hitherto blessed the 
city, and which we devoutly hope may continue to bless it for ages yet to come. 

"Upon this stone now to be placed will rise, we hope, a structure which will 
be an honor to our city and a satisfaction to its inhabitants. Within its walls, we 
trust that no ignoble motive, no corrupt suggestion, may ever find a place, and 
that it may be not only an edifice for the transaction of the city's business affairs, 
but also a temple of integrity, justice and patriotism. And may the figure which 
the architect has designed for its summit look down for many years upon a com- 
munity happy, united, prosperous, honest and charitable. 

"To you, gentlemen of the Masonic Fraternity, I now extend my most hearty 
thanks for your interest in the occasion, and turn over this block to be fitted in 
its place by your skillful and experienced hands." 

The stone was then placed in position according to Masonic rites and usages, 
and the work of raising the superstructure went forward. Several years passed 
before the city hall was ready for use, the last transaction connected with it, as 
shown by the records, taking place on December i8, 1900, when $10.11 of the con- 
struction and equipment fund was turned into the general fund. The total cost 
of the building and furnishings was $547,765.65. 

The walls of the basement and first story are of granite, those of the second, 
third, fourth and fifth stories of sandstone. A flight of marble steps leads from 
the main entrances on Farnam and Eighteenth streets into a central hall or 
court, around which are arranged the various city offices, council chamber, rooms 
for the board of education, etc. At the southwest corner is a tower which rises 
to a height of nearly two hundred feet. 


The large convention hall known as the auditorium, located at the southeast 
corner of Fifteenth and Howard streets, was the outgrowth of a series of band 
concerts given during the months of July, August and September, 1900, in a 
large tent at the corner of Fourteenth and Capitol Avenue, where the "Billy Sun- 
day Tabernacle'' was afterward erected. The net proceeds of these concerts 
amounted to about ten thousand dollars and the question arose as to what should 
be done with the money. One of the needs of Omaha at that time was a hall 
large enough to accommodate great conventions. In the fall of 1900 F. E. San- 
born, A. Hospe, Fred F. Paffenrath, H. S. Weller, J. S. White and a few others 
incorporated the Auditorium Company, with a capital stock of $300,000, the 
money derived from the band concerts becoming the nucleus. Later the capital 
stock was increased to $500,000, of which $300,000 was preferred stock. Stock 
sales went on for a year, other funds being rasied by entertainment of various 
descriptions. In the early part of 1901 a mid-winter fair was held in the building 
now occupied by the Baum Iron Works, under the management of J. M. Gillan. 
Goods exhibited at the fair were given at its close to the Auditorium Company 
to be disposed of and the proceeds turned into the stock fund. 

Toward the close of the year 1902 there was a reorganization, when F. .'\. 


Fornu-rly the Federal Buihliiifj and I'ostoftioe 



Nash, Arthur C. Smith, T. C. Byrne, T. J. Mahoney, Joseph Hayden, Frank Car- 
penter, W. M. Burgess, F. H. Davis, F. T. Hamilton, H. J. Penfold, Charles D. 
Beaton and some others became actively interested in the movement to erect an 
auditorium. F. A. Nash was elected president and held that position until the 
time of his death in 1914. Early in 1903 J. M. Gillan was elected secretary and 
the following year was made manager. Mr. Nash and Mr. Gillan devoted a great 
deal of time and energy to the work and bore the greater share of the arduous 
burden of handling the complex problem of carrying the undertaking through 
several years of financial adversity. 

Shortly after the reorganization, the lot at the southeast comer of Fifteenth and 
Howard streets was purchased for $55,000 and contracts were let to different 
parties for the erection of the building. Schall & Company were awarded the con- 
tract for the stone work ; Rochef ord & Gould, the brick work ; Paxton & Bierling, 
the iron work ; Henry Hamann, the carpenter work, and there were some minor 
contracts, painting, glazing, plumbing, electric wiring, etc., which brought the 
total cost of the building up to $220,000. 

The auditorium was opened on June 7, 1904, although not fully completed, 
by Innes' band in a series of concerts lasting three weeks. Some of the attrac- 
tions, conventions and entertainments offered in the auditorium were the four 
very successful horse shows, the first of which was in the fall of 1904, the other 
three following annually in succession. These shows were visited by horsemen 
from all parts of the United States and some came from Canada. Sarah Bern- 
hardt, the celebrated French actress, played Camille here to a large and apprecia- 
tive audience. Two electrical shows, the first in the fall of 1908 and the second 
a year later, were largely attended. The latter was opened by wireless from Fort 
Omaha by William H. Taft, then President of the United States, and during the 
progress of the exhibition Mr. Milner, of the Union Pacific Railroad, turned the 
lights on and ofT by wireless, the first time in history that such a feat was accom- 
plished. The New York Metropolitan Opera Company gave two performances in 
the auditorium in the year 1905, presenting Parsifal and Lucia, and the proceeds 
amounted to $19,000. Among the prominent people who have delivered addresses 
in the building may be mentioned W. H. Taft, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow 
Wilson, General Booth, of the Salvation Army, Senator Tillman, of South Caro- 
lina, Booker T. Washington and Lieutenant Shackelford, the English explorer. 
Conventions of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, the Shriners, and 
the democratic state convention have been held in the building, and the annual 
automobile show has become a regular feature. 

In the erection of the auditorium the projectors found it necessary to give a 
mortgage of $100,000 to raise funds to complete the edifice. While the roller 
skating continued to be a popular amusement, dividends on the stock and interest 
on the mortgage were paid regularly, but after a few years interest in skating 
ceased and the company began to experience difficulty in meeting obligations. 
Early in 1915 negotiations for the transfer of the property to the city were com- 
menced. The result was that in July the city purchased the property for $150,- 
000, the final transfer being made on August 2, 1915. 

All in all, the City of Omaha is as well provided with public buildings as most 
cities of its class. The same holds true of Douglas County. Besides the struc- 


Nash, Arthur C. Smith, T. C. Byrne, T. J. Mahoney, Joseph Hayden, Frank Car- 
penter, W. M. Burgess, F. H. Davis, F. T. Hamilton, H. J. Penfold, Charles D. 
Beaton and some others became actively interested in the movement to erect an 
auditorium. F. A. Nash was elected president and held that position until the 
time of his death in 1914. Early in 1903 J. M. Gillan was elected secretary and 
the following year was made manager. Mr. Nash and Mr. Gillan devoted a great 
deal of time and energy to the work and bore the greater share of the arduous 
burden of handling the complex problem of carrs'ing the undertaking through 
several years of financial adversity. 

Shortly after the reorganization, the lot at the southeast corner of Fifteenth and 
Howard streets was purchased for $55,000 and contracts were let to different 
parties for the erection of the building. Schall & Company were awarded the con- 
tract for the stone work ; Rochef ord & Gould, the brick work ; Paxton & Bierling, 
the iron work; Henry Hamann, the carpenter work, and there were some minor 
contracts, painting, glazing, plumbing, electric wiring, etc., which brought the 
total cost of the building up to $220,000. 

The auditorium was opened on June 7, 1904, although not fully completed, 
by Innes' band in a series of concerts lasting three weeks. Some of the attrac- 
tions, conventions and entertainments offered in the auditorium were the four 
very successful horse shows, the first of which was in the fall of 1904, the other 
three following annually in succession. These shows were visited by horsemen 
from all parts of the United States and some came from Canada. Sarah Bern- 
hardt, the celebrated French actress, played Camille here to a large and apprecia- 
tive audience. Two electrical shows, the first in the fall of 1908 and the second 
a year later, were largely attended. The latter was opened by wireless from Fort 
Omaha by William H. Taft, then President of the United States, and during the 
progress of the exhibition Mr. Milner, of the Union Pacific Raliroad, turned the 
lights on and off by wireless, the first time in history that such a feat was accom- 
plished. The New York Metropolitan Opera Company gave two performances in 
the auditorium in the year 1905, presenting Parsifal and Lucia, and the proceeds 
amounted to $19,000. Among the prominent people who have delivered addresses 
in the building may be mentioned W. H. Taft, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow 
Wilson, General Booth, of the Salvation Army, Senator Tillman, of South Caro- 
lina, Booker T. Washington and Lieutenant Shackelford, the English explorer. 
Conventions of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, the Shriners, and 
the democratic state convention have been held in the building, and the annual 
automobile show has become a regular feature. 

In the erection of the auditorium the projectors found it necessary to give a 
mortgage of $100,000 to raise funds to complete the edifice. While the roller 
skating continued to be a popular amusement, dividends on the stock and interest 
on the mortgage were paid regularly, but after a few years interest in skating 
ceased and the company began to experience difficulty in meeting obligations. 
Early in 1915 negotiations for the transfer of the property to the city were com- 
menced. The result was that in July the city purchased the property for $150,- 
000, the final transfer being made on August 2, 19 15. 

All in all, the City of Omaha is as well provided with public buildings as most 
cities of its class. The same holds true of Douglas County. Besides the struc- 


tures described in this chapter — which are really devoted to the transaction of 
public business — there are a number of fine school buildings, the several fire 
stations, the county asylum and some others that are public buildings in the sense 
that they belong to the public, but as they are intended for special purposes they 
are treated in other chapters of this work. 








In the matter of public utilities and public service corporations, Omaha is 
as well supplied as most cities of its size. Many of the comforts and necessities 
in the modern city are dependent upon such utilities and corporations — a fact 
that the people of the Gate City have not been slow to recognize. One of the 
most serious problems that cities have been called upon to solve is to provide a 
plentiful supply of water suitable for all purposes. Another problem is to light 
the streets at night, and as the city expands over a larger territory those living in 
the outskirts require some method of transportation to enable them to reach the 
business center quickly and at small expense. Water, light and transportation are 
therefore three of the essential features of the progressive city. 


Before the City of Omaha had been incorporated three months the members 
of the council recognized the necessity of some system of water supply, especially 
as a matter of protection against fire. The records show that early in April. 
1857, the city engineer was instructed to ascertain and report "whether it will be 
practicable to bring the water from Omaha Creek, west of the capitol, by means 
of a siphon, to the principal streets, to be conveyed into cisterns for use in case 
of fire, and the probable cost of the same." 

The engineer made the examination and reported that the plan was not prac- 
ticable and the cost would be greater than the city could at that time afford. For 
nearly seven years the subject was allowed to rest, but in March, 1864, the coun- 
cil directed O. F. Davis, then city engineer, "to examine and report whether there 
are any springs within the city limits from which water may be brought into the 
city for the purpose of extinguishing fires, and, if not, that he be requested to 
report some other feasible plan to supply the city with water." If Mr. Davis 
ever made any report upon the subject it was not recorded in the minutes of the 

A year or two later cisterns were built in the business portion of the city and 



filled with water pumped from the Missouri River, but the water was unfit for 
domestic purposes and on several occasions the cisterns proved entirely inade- 
quate as a means of fire protection. It was apparent that some better method 
would ultimately have to be adopted, but the financial condition of the city would 
not permit immediate action. 

In April, 1870, T. T. Flagler, president of the Holly Manufacturing Company, 
of Lockport, N. Y., addressed the council upon the subject of waterworks, urging 
the advantages of the Holly system of direct pressure as being superior to all 
others. His company had built waterworks in a number of cities and Mayor 
Ezra Millard read letters from the mayors of some of these cities stating that 
the system was entirely satisfactory. While the council was impressed by Mr. 
Flagler's address and returned him a vote of thanks, no action toward installing 
a system of waterworks was taken. 

In the fall of 1873 the council decided to try the plan of boring one or more 
artesian wells and advertised for bids for sinking a well 2,000 feet deep. The 
lowest bidder was W. E. Swaim, of Joliet, 111., who offered to bore the well, 
six inches in diameter, and provide proper casing for $6 per foot for the first 
500 feet, $8 per foot for the second 500 feet, $9.50 for the third 500 feet, and 
$10.50 per foot for the fourth 500 feet, or $17,000 for the well complete, with 
a rebate of $2.40 for each foot not cased. These figures were so far above the 
anticipated cost of the well that the council declined to authorize the issuance 
of bonds to do the work and this ended the attempt to obtain water by means of 
artesian wells. 

-Another futile attempt to establish waterworks was made in March, 1874, when 
the council adopted a resolution authorizing a bond issue for that purpose. At 
the same time J. H. Congdon, James Creighton, Herman Kountze. J. E. Boyd, 
W. W. Marsh, J. E. House, Jonas Gise, John A. Horbach and Alvin Saunders 
were appointed a committee to visit various eastern cities and inspect the differ- 
ent systems of waterworks, and there the matter ended. 

In February, 1879, the council adopted a resolution directing the committee 
on public property "to inquire into the feasibility and expediency of establishing 
a system of waterworks, and also to investigate and advise the council as to the 
propriety of submitting to a vote at the spring election the question of voting 
bonds for that purpose." The following month the committee reported that the 
financial condition of the city was such that the council would not be justified in 
making the outlay necessary to establish a system of waterworks commensurate 1 
with the city's needs. The report closed with the recommendation that the city 
attorney "be requested to advise the council just what proceedings, legislative 
or otherwise, are necessary to enable the city to raise the funds required to pro- 
cure a permanent and efficient system of waterworks. The report was adopted 
and on July 9, 1879, an ordinance was passed on first and second readings, author- 
izing the city to enter into a contract with S. L. Wiley & Company for the con- 
struction and maintenance of a system of waterworks. 

The introduction of this ordinance was the beginning of a contest which 
lasted for a year or more, in which a great deal of ill feeling was engendered. 
On July 23, 1879, Dr. J. T. Gushing, agent for the Holly Manufacturing Com- 
pany, invited the twelve members of the city council to accompany him to Ot- 
lumwa, Iowa, to inspect the waterworks put in there by S. I.. Wiley & Company, 

I,. 3. 



and then go on to Burlington, Iowa, for the purpose of inspecting the Holly system 
in use in that city. Councilmen Jones, Hascall, Stephenson, Kaufman, Labagh 
and Redman, half the members, accepted the invitation, but the others declined. 
Jones, Hascall, Kaufman, Labagh and Redman were converted by this visit to 
the Holly system and won over to their side Councilmen Riepen, Shannon and 
Slaven. These members became known as the "solid eight," but every measure 
they tried to put through the council to install the Holly system was vigorously 
opposed by Councilman Dailey, Dodge, Kennard and Stephenson, and their vari- 
ous ordinances were vetoed by the mayor. Public sentiment generally favored 
the reservoir and gravity system to that of direct pressure, such as was employed 
by the Holly Company, and mass meetings were held in the courthouse to give 
expression to this sentiment. On August 9, 1879, a petition, signed by James 
E. Boyd, William A. Paxton, James K. Ish and O. C. Campbell, was presented 
to Judge James W. Savage, of the District Court, asking for an injunction to 
restrain the city authorities from taking further action with regard to entering 
into a contract for the construction of waterworks under an ordinance passed 
the day before by the "solid eight," authorizing the installation of the Holly 
system, but which had been vetoed by the mayor. 

While this petition was pending in the District Court, Edward Rosewater, 
editor of the Omaha Bee, on August 20. 1S79, caused the arrest of Dr. J. T. 
Cushing, the Holly agent, on the charge of "bribery and the attempt to bribe 
certain members of the city council." In the hearing before Justice Powell, Dis- 
trict Attorney A. N. Ferguson appeared for the prosecution and Doctor Cushing 
was represented by John C. Cowin. A number of witnesses were examined in 
the effort to show that one of the councilmen had been offered a suit of clothes 
to change his vote in favor of the Holly system, but the evidence was not suffi- 
cient to sustain the charge and Cushing was acquitted. The incident shows, how- 
ever, to what extent the ill feeling over the subject had developed. 

On September 6, 1879, the injunction proceedings came up before Judge Sav- 
age. The petitioners were represented by George W. Doane, Edward Simeral 
and John D. Howe, and the city council by Eleazer Wakeley, John C. Cowin and 
George E. Pritchett. In the complaint submitted by the petitioners it was set 
forth that the ordinance was unconstitutional ; that the law authorizing the con- 
struction of waterworks contemplated that the city should be the owner thereof ; 
that the ordinance was unreasonable in its provisions and void because it granted 
exclusive privileges to one company, allowing no opportunity for competition; 
that it was prejudicial to the city and favorable to the waterworks company in that 
it did not provide for limiting the franchise in price, and in not providing 
that the city might purchase either the franchise or the works at the expiration 
of a given number of years ; and that the necessary expenses of the city already 
provided for would more than consume the entire revenue derived from the tax 
levy of that year. Two days were occupied with the hearing and Judge Savage 
took the question under advisement until the 13th, when he rendered an exhaustive 
opinion in favor of the petitioners and granted the injunction. 

On the same day this opinion was handed down by the court, the "solid eight" 
called a special meeting of the council and passed substantially the same ordi- 
nance, except that the word "exclusive" was stricken out as applying to the fran- 
chise in the former ordinance. It was promptly vetoed by the mayor, but four 


days later was passed over his veto, Councilman Stephenson, of the opposition 
being absent. Before anything could be done under the new ordinance, injunc- 
tion proceedings were commenced in the District Court and again Judge Savage 
rendered a decision adverse to the ''solid eight" of the city council. This was 
followed by a "cessation of hostilities," but on October 14, 1879, an ordinance 
was introduced authorizing the city to enter into a contract "with any responsible 
person or corporation to construct waterworks." Several amendments, favor- 
able to the Holly system, were offered and adopted and the amended ordinance 
was finally passed over the mayor's veto. In February, 1880, the council entered 
into a contract with the Holly Manufacturing Company (the mayor refusing to 
sign the contract) and that company shipped to Omaha and distributed along 
some of the principal streets large quantities of pipe for the water mains. In 
March a tract of ground immediately north of Hanscom Park was procured as a 
site for reservoirs and the company commenced work on the plant. 

At the city election on April 6, 1880, several new members of the council — 
men who had been opposed to the Holly system from the beginning — were 
elected. Among these was James E. Boyd, who had been the leader in the injunc- 
tion proceedings. Ten days after the election the new council held a meeting, 
at which the city attorney was asked to give some information as to "the present 
status of the contract between the city and the Holly Manufacturing Company." 
At another meeting on the 20th A. J. Poppleton, who had been asked to give a 
legal opinion as to the legality of the contract, presented as his opinion that the 
ordinance under which the contract had been made was not legally passed ; that 
the acceptance and bond of the Holly Company were without effect, because its 
articles of incorporation had not been acknowledged ; that the ordinance passed 
was in effect the granting of illegal, exclusive franchises ; and that the mayor, in 
his official capacity, was a necessary party to a valid contract in respect to the 

Being thus advised, the council passed a repealing ordinance under a suspen- 
sion of the rules and on April 22, 1880, J. D. Cook, an engineer of Toledo, 
Ohio, was employed by the council to prepare plans for a system of waterworks 
for the City of Omaha. Upon the completion of his plans and his report to the 
council, an ordinance based upon the requirements of his plans, which provided 
for reservoirs for settling and storage, was introduced and passed without a dis- 
senting vote. The city clerk was directed to advertise for bids for the construc- 
tion of the works in accordance with the provisions of the ordinance, and on 
July 20, 1880, the contract to construct the waterworks for the city was awarded 
to a company of local capitalists, composed of Sidney E. Locke. Samuel R. John- 
son, Charles H. Dewey, Nathan Shelton, John T. Clark and Milton Rogers, under 
the style of "Sidney E. Locke and Associates." This contract, which was for 
twenty-five years, required the plant to be completed and in operation within 
two years. The company was soon afterward reorganized as the "City Water- 
works Company" and pushed the construction of the waterworks with such vigor 
that the water was turned into the mains early in September, 1881. The vexed 
problem was at last solved. 



The waterworks as first established by the City Waterworks Company 
inchuled seventeen miles of pipe and was a combination of the direct pressure and 
gravity systems. A pumping engine, with a capacity of 5,000,000 gallons, raised 
the water to a reservoir of 10,000,000 gallons capacity on Walnut Hill, 305 feet 
above low water mark in the Missouri River. On July i, 1886, the original com- 
pany sold its stock to a syndicate represented by S. L. Wiley, of Boston, for 
$1,300,000. A year later the Wiley syndicate sold the plant and franchise to the 
American Waterworks Company, of Chicago, a corporation with a capital of 
$4,000,000, which operated the plant until September, 1891. It was then sold to 
the American Waterworks Corporation, of New Jersey, which operated the water- 
works at Omaha and Denever, Colo. 

In the meantime the Chicago company had greatly increased the capacity and 
usefulness of the C)maha works by removing the pumping plant to F"lorence, 
where the water supply would be free from contamination by sewage, the new 
works there being opened on August i, 1889. On February 11, 1892, owing to a 
dispute among the stockholders and a contest for control of the company. Judge 
E. S. Dundy appointed Ellis L. Bierbower receiver, but the suit for possession 
and the appointment of the receiver did not in any way interfere with the service 
rendered to the people of Omaha. 


In 1S96 the C)maha Water Company secured an extension of its franchise 
from the city council, although the original franchise still had twelve years to 
run. R. B. Howell, then city engineer, reported against the extension and the 
ordinance granting it was vetoed by Mayor Broatch. The council was then 
enjoined from passing the ordinance over the mayor's veto. This started a fight 
for municipal ownership and in 1897 the State Legislature passed an act provid- 
ing that no franchise could be granted without a vote of the people. Notwith- 
standing this act of the Legislature, the new city council granted the franchise as 
asked by the water company, which action was approx'ed by Mayor Moores, liut 
the ordinance was subsequently declared void by the Supreme Court. 

In 1900 the people voted, by an overwhelming majority, to issue bonds for the 
purchase of the waterworks, but the council declined to act. Thus matters stood 
for three years. In 1902 R. B. Howell, formerly city engineer, was elected to 
the State Senate, where he introduced and secured the passage of a bill requiring 
the city council to obey the mandate of the people by purchasing the water plant. 
The bill also provided for the establishment of the -Omaha Water Board. .\s a 
result of this measure the council appointed appraisers. WHiile these appraisers 
were engaged in their work, the Legislature of 1905 passed an act depriving the 
city council of all authority in connection with the waterworks and vesting tliat 
power in the w-ater board. 

The appraisers appointed by the council made their report in 1906, a majority 
of them agreeing upon the value of the water plant as being $6,253,000. The city 
appealed to the United States District Court, which declared the appraisement 
invalid. Then the water company appealed to the United States Court of Appeals, 


where the decision of the District Court was reversed and a decision handed 
down in favor of the water company. In 1908 the city carried the question to the 
United States Supreme Court and while it was pending the city in 1909 voted to 
issue bonds to the amount of $6,500,000 to pay for the water plant. The decision 
of the United States Supreme Court sustained the Court of Appeals in the 
appraisement case and when the city tried to sell the bonds voted in 1909 they 
were found to be unsalable on account of the interest rate. A special election 
was therefore called in July, 191 1, to vote on the question of a new bond issue, 
but the proposition failed to receive the required two-thirds vote. Fradulent 
election practices were openly charged by the friends of municipal ownership and 
the question was again submitted to the people within thirty days. This time the 
citizens were fully alive to the importance of the sittiation and the bonds carried 
by a vote of twelve to one. The bonds were sold to Kountze Brothers, of New 
York, and on July i, 1912, the city took possession of the water plant and all its 

But the struggle was not yet over. South Omaha and the large packing houses 
located there threatened to withdraw their patronage, which would occasion a 
loss of $220,000 annually in the income derived from the sale of water. To over- 
come this difficulty, the Legislature of 1913 passed an act creating the Metropoli- 
tan Water District, which gave the water board control of the entire territory 
furnished with water by the works, thus saving the income. 

Since the water plant became the property of the city in July, 1912, improv- 
ments costing $400,000 have been made. These improvements include the raising 
of some of the settling basins, thus increasing the storage capacity 3,000,000 
gallons; the construction of a new basin (No. 6); with a capacity of 15,000,000 
gallons; the erection of a new smoke stack 11 feet in diameter and 200 feet 
high ; new coal bunkers ; the installation of an electric light plant and arc lights 
over the 1 19 acres belonging to the plant, and a number of minor improvements 
to reduce the cost of operation in the future and insure the purity of the water 
supplied to consumers. 

On March 14, 1916, was published the first report of the audit of the water 
board's accounts by state officials, under a law passed by the last preceding Legis- 
lature. The report covered the year 1915. The report shows the income from 
operation of the plant for the year as being $774,880. Deducting the cost of 
operation, a reserve for depreciation and doubtful accounts, the net income was 
$436,842. The report then goes on to say : 

"For the period under review the saving to small consumers approximates 
$263,363, due to a change in the service and a 40 per cent reduction in the maxi- 
mum water rates. For the same period the saving to the city has been $12,762, 
due to the installation of a large number of hydrants without a corresponding 
increase in taxation. 

'"These two items, amounting to $276,125, are a saving in addition to the net 
profit of operation of $217,985, of which $130,034 was placed in the sinking fund 
and $87,951 added to the surplus. The approximate saving and net profit have 
thus amounted to $494,110, from which should be deducted $129,763, the prob- 
able maximum amount of all taxes which would have been payable under private 



In 1867 the Territorial Legislature passed an act, in which Ezra Millard, 
George W. Frost, Alfred Burley, David Butler, A. J. Hanscom, Joel T. Griffin, 
J. F. Coffman, J. W. Paddock, William Ruth, C. S. Chase, R. A. Bird, Augustus 
Kountze, George M. O'Brien, E. B. Chandler, John McCormick and J. R. Mere- 
dith were named as the incorporators of the "Omaha Horse Railway Company.'' 
The act of incorporation gave the company the right "to lay out, construct, main- 
tain and operate a single or double track railway, in, on, over and along such 
streets, highway or highways, bridge or bridges, river or rivers, within the present 
or future limits of Omaha, or within five miles adjacent thereto, as said company 
may order or direct, for the uses herein specified ; but the said company shall not 
build a track through, except for crossing purposes, Fourteenth Street, or any 
other street through which any other railroad company has already obtained the 
right of way." 

The franchise was granted for a period of fifty years from January i, 186", 
and the capital stock of the company was fixed at $100,000. Under the provisions 
of the act, the company was required to have one mile of properly equipped road 
in successful operation within two years; steam was prohibited as a motive power, 
and at the expiration of the franchise the property of the company was to revert 
to the city. 

With commendable zeal the company went to work on a line, one terminus 
of which was at the intersection of Ninth and Farnam streets and the other at 
Eighteenth and Cass streets, which was completed and in operation before the 
expiration of the two years, as required by law. The fare on this line was 10 
cents, though by buying tickets at the rate of eight for 50 cents the cost of 
transportation was somewhat reduced. Stockholders rode free, and as there were 
a large number of small stockholders the income of the road for the first few years 
was just about sufficient to pay the operating expenses. In the spring of 1872 
the company took oft' the conductors, installed fare boxes in the cars and reduced 
the fare to 5 cents. 

About the beginning of the year 1873 -^- J- Hanscom. who had been engaged 
in purchasing the interests of a number of small stockholders, took control of the 
road and operated it until the first of the following July, when he sold his inter- 
ests to W. W. Marsh. In 1878 the road, with all its equipment, was sold to the 
highest bidder for cash by the sherifl^, to satisfy certain mortgages against the 
property. Mr. Marsh was the highest bidder, securing the entire outfit for about 
twenty-five thousand dollars. He extended the lines to St. Mary's Avenue. Six- 
teenth and Eighteenth streets, and otherwise improved the property, adding 
materially to the service. Frank Murphy, Guy Barton and S. H. H. Clark each 
bought a one-fifth interest in 1883, when a new company was formed with a capi- 
tal of $500,000. 

About this time a competitor appeared in the field. The Cable Tramway Com- 
pany of Omaha was incorporated in June, 1884, by Isaac S. Hascall, Casper E. 
Yost, Fred Drexel, Charles B. Rustin and Samuel R. Johnson. A power house 
was built at the corner of Twentieth and Harney streets and the first line was 
completed in December, 1887. Within a short time about four and a half miles 
of double track were in operation. In May, 1888, the company secured a new 


franchise, giving broader privileges, including the right to run cars upon any of 
the streets of the city. A reorganization was effected in December, 1888, when 
the capital stock was increased to $2,000,000, the amount fixed by the new fran- 
chise. In the reorganization, Samuel R. Johnson was elected president'; L. B. 
Williams, vice president; C. B. Rustin, secretary. 

The third street railway to operate a line in Omaha was the Benson Motor 
Company, which was organized in the winter of 1886-87, ^Y W. L. McCague, 
C. E. Mayne and E. A. Benson. Early in the spring work was commenced on a 
line running from the interesection of Lowe and Mercer avenues to the center of 
"Benson Place," a large tract of ground just west of the city limits, which tract 
had been platted the preceding winter. This line was about three and a half 
miles long and was ready for business in a few weeks. The first motive power 
was a "dummy" locomotive, but objections were raised because of the tendency 
of such a machine to frighten horses, and a petition was presented to the board 
of county commissioners to declare it a nuisance. The locomotive was discarded 
and horses substituted. Subsequently the line was made an electric railway 
under the name of the Benson & Halcyon Heights Railroad. 

In the spring of 1887 the Omaha Motor Railway Company was incorporated 
])y Dr. S. D. Mercer, S. S. Curtis, E. L. Stone, H. J. Davis. C. E. Mayne, 
C. B. Brown and J. F. Hertzman, with a capital stock of $500,000, all of which 
was paid in before the work of construction was commenced. Owing to the 
opposition of the rival companies, through injimctions and otlier obstructions, 
much of the construction work of this company was done at night, especially on 
Saturday nights, beginning about midnight, in order to get down as much track 
as possible before the courts could be called upon to interfere. Work was com- 
menced at the intersection of Fourteenth and Davenport streets one night in 
July, 1887, and by morning nearly a mile of track was laid. It ran north on 
Fourteenth to Cass, west on Cass to Seventeenth, thence north to Webster, west 
on Webster to Twenty-second, north from there to Burt, and west on Burt to 
Twenty-sixth. The work was of the most temporary and flimsy character, but 
the track once down the company set about improving it so that it would be safe 
and permanent. In a short time the light "T" rails, that had been used in the 
great haste, were taken up and replaced by others of modern design and more 
substantial. Before the coming of winter about seven miles of track had been 
laid and cars were making regular trips over the entire system. In addition to 
this, about two and a half miles were laid in South Omaha and the companv 
acquired a ])art of the Benson line. By the first of 1888 Doctor Mercer had pur- 
chased almost the entire stock of the company and in February, 1888, he sold 
about a one-fourth interest to John A. and Paul W. Horbach. 

Still another street railway corporation came into existence in 1887. In tiic 
summer of that year the Omaha & .'southwestern Street Railway Company was 
organized and incorporated by S. J. Howell, Cyrus Morton, Henry Ambler, J. T. 
Paulsen and C. F. Harrison. Three miles of road were built that fall, starting 
from the northwest corner of Hanscom Park and running to Windsor Place, 
Howell Place, ,'\mbler Place, Eckerman Place and the West Side, The cars 
were drawn by horses. 

In the fall of 18S8 the Council Bluffs & Omaha electric motor line was com- 
pleted. This road, connecting the cities of Council Bluffs and Omaha, was built 

•^ p 

^ X 

CO c 


chiefly by Council Bluffs capitalists and owned the bridge over which their cars 
passed between the two cities. The cost of the bridge and the five miles of 
track was about seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars. 


From the foregoing it will be seen that at the close of the year 1888 there 
were six street railway companies doing business in Omaha and Council Bluffs. 
The Legislature which assembled on January i, 1889, decided that better service 
could be obtained by a fewer number of companies and passed an act authoriz- 
ing the consolidation of street railway companies in cities where more than one 
corporation of that nature existed. 

In the meantime Doctor Mercer, of the Omaha Motor Railway Company, had 
purchased back the stock he had sold to the Horbachs, after which he sold three- 
fourths of the entire stock to a syndicate composed of E. W. Nash. J. J. Brown 
and J. H. Millard, of Omaha, and N. W. Wells, of Schuyler, Neb. Probably his 
reason for doing this was on account of some trouble that commenced in Novem- 
ber, 1888, when his company was granted permission to erect poles, build a 
power and run cars by electricity, using the overhead trolley system. 
Strong opposition quickly developed, the citizens living along the lines being 
generally opposed to the erection of the poles and stringing wires along the 
streets. The Omaha Horse Railway Company and the Cable Tramway Com- 
pany took a hand in the fight and the District Court-was appealed to for an 
injunction to prevent the Mercer Company from carrying out its purposes. 
Judges Groff, Doane and Wakeley. sitting as a court of equity, heard the case. 
A mass of testimony was introduced to show. th^'.ieiative.rnerits of the overhead, 
underground and storage systems, as used ih differentre-ities, and a number of 
witnesses were examined. The court refused to grant the injunction and the 
company went ahead with its plans, erecting a jjower house at the corner of 
Nicholas and Twenty-second streets and completing all the necessary equipment 
for operating its cars by electricity. 

The Omaha Horse Railway Company and the Cable I'rannvay Company 
were then consolidated on April i. T889. under the name of the Omaha Street 
Railway Company. This was the beginning of that process of amalgamation 
which finally united all the street car interests of the city into one system and 
greatly improved the service. Not long after this was eft'ected, overtures were 
made to the officials of the Mercer Company to consolidate its interests with 
those of the newly organized Omaha Street Railway Company. Little progress 
was made until the following November, when the Mercer lines were acquired 
by purchase. On the first day of January, 1890, the Omaha Street Railway 
Company owned and oj^erated 36>^ miles of horse railway, 9K' miles of cable 
lines, and forty miles of electric railway, or a total of eighty-six miles. During 
the next five years the greater part of the horse car lines were equii)i)C(l with 

There seems to have been a sort of mania for organizing street railway com- 
panies in Omaha about this time. In the spring of 1891 the Metropolitan Street 
Railway Company — a small corporation with a big name — built what afterward 
became popularly known as the "Dundee Line." which extended from the inter- 


section of Forty-first and Farnam streets north and west to J. N. H. Patrick's 
place, a little over a mile in length. 

On July 3, 1891, the Interstate Bridge & Street Railway Company began 
running electric cars on its line from the intersection of Locust Street and Sher- 
man Avenue to East Omaha. Its line was about 2^4 miles long and arrange- 
ments were made with the Omaha Street Railway Company for the transfer of 
passengers to and from the Sherman Avenue Hne of the latter company. 

Some few changes in ownership and management were made during the next 
ten years. In the fall of igoi the Omaha & Council Bluffs Street Railway Com- 
pany took the preliminary steps for the consolidation of all the street railway lines 
into one system. The deal was consummated the following spring, whereby all the 
lines in the city became the property of the Omaha & Council Bluffs Company, 
and the line from Omaha to Council Bluffs, with the bridge, is operated by the 
same company under a lease. The company thus operates 162 miles of track, 
has about 175 cars in daily service on ordinary days, employs 1,500 people in the 
car service, the power house at the corner of Fifth and Jones streets and the 
shops at the corner of Twenty-sixth and Lake. The officers of the company on 
April I, 1916, were: Gurdon W. Wattles, president; Frank Hamilton, vice presi- 
dent; W. A. Smith, second vice president and general manager; R. A. Luessler, 
assistant general manager; W. G. Nicholson, secretary and auditor; and A. S. 
Widenor, treasurer. 


On January 15, 1868, two petitions came before the city council, each asking 
for a franchise to supply the people of Omaha with illuminating gas. One of 
these petitions was presented by George B. Graff and others, representing the 
Omaha Gas Company, and the other was presented by Dr. Enos Lowe, who, with 
his associaties, desired to establish The Omaha Gas Manufacturing Company. 
Both petitions were referred to a special committee, which afterward relumed a 
favorable report, with the result that an ordinance was passed authorizing both 
companies to engage in the manufacture of gas. The Graff company never did 
anything toward establishing gaS works, but Doctor Lowe's company perfected 
its organization and soon commenced active operations. On February 19, 1868, 
two lots were leased by the city to the company for a term of thirty years, at a 
rental of $5 per year, and the city was given the privilege of buying the works 
at an appraised value at the expiration of fifteen years. 

Progress was somewhat slow at first, the company reporting in November, 
1869, only 198 consumers of gas. A year later there were about one hundred 
street lamps in the city. Then the business began to grow more rapidly. The 
two lots leased from the city became too small for the company's purposes and 
the block bounded by Eleventh. Twelfth, Jones and Leavenworth streets was 
occupied, the company's buildings covering three-fourths of tlie block. In the 
early '90s the company purchased three acres at the intersection of Twentieth 
and Center streets and removed the manufacturing plant to that site. At that 
time the company was working with a capital stock of $500,000, had eighty-five 
miles of mains, and a storage capacity in its three retorts of 900,000 cubic feet. 
At the beginning of the year 1916 that capacity had been doubled, the capital 


stock of the company increased to $3,750,000, and large sums of money had been 
spent in extending the mains and improving the quahty of the service to con- 

Although many former consumers of gas have installed electricity for light- 
ing purposes, there are still a large number of Omaha people who depend upon 
gas to illuminate their homes, and a still larger number who use gas for cooking. 
The company also furnishes gas for 1,250 street lights. The officers of the com- 
pany on April i, 1916, were as follows: F. T. Hamilton, president; George W. 
Clabaugh, vice president and secretary; I. W. Morris, treasurer; L. W. Wey- 
muller, assistant treasurer; W. H. Taylor, manager. The company employs 
about three hundred people. 


The first company to introduce electric light into the State of Nebraska was 
the Northwestern Electric Light Company, which was organized in 1883, with 
Henry T. Clarke, president ; Nathan Merriam, secretary ; John T. Clarke, treasurer 
and manager. The first power house was in what was known as the Strang Build- 
ing, at the comer of Tenth and Farnam streets, but after a few months the plant 
was removed to the Woodman Linseed Oil Mills. On November 16, 1886, the 
Omaha Illuminating Company was incorporated by Pierce C. Himebaugh, C. C. 
Warren, H. T. Clarke, Frank Warren and Ralph Breckenridge, with a capital 
stock of $20,000 and leased for ten years all the rights and interests of the 
Northwestern Electric Light Company. 

Meantime the Sperry Electric Light Company had been organized in 1883, 
soon after the Northwestern, with a capital stock of $56,000, of which $15,000 
was represented by the patents of the Sperry Company and the exclusive privilege 
of using the same in Nebraska. It was the plan of this company to furnish 
electricity by the storage system. A brick building was erected on Dodge Street, 
between Eleventh and Twelfth, but the storage method was soon discovered to 
be unreliable. The project was then abandoned and a consolidation was effected 
with the Omaha Thomson-Houston Electric Light Company, which was just 
then starting in business in the city. Among the stockholders of the Sperry 
Company were: George C. and George W. Ames, Dr. V. H. Cofi^man, A. J. 
Simpson, John A. McShane, J. H. Dumont, George Armstrong, Guy Barton and 
W. A. L. Gibbon. 

The Thomson-Houston Electric Light Company numbered among its stock- 
holders J. C. Reagan, J. W. Paddock, George Canfield, J. E. Riley, M. A. 
McMenamy, Alfred Shroeder, George W. Duncan and C. G. Reagan. It was 
organized on September 26, 1885, and was soon afterward reorganized as the 
New Omaha Thomson-Houston Electric Light Company, with S. L. Wiley as 
president and general manager, and H. E. Chubbuck, secretary, treasurer and 
superintendent. The new company had a capital stock of $600,000. It built a 
substantial brick power house, three stories high, 118 by 135 feet, at the foot of 
Jones Street and within a year had about seventy miles of line in operation. 
For a time it furnished current to the Northwestern Company, then to its suc- 
cessor, the Omaha Illuminating Company, and finally absorbed the interests of 
both these concerns. 


In 1903 the Omaha Electric Light and Power Company was organized and 
took over the entire business, plant and good will of the Thomson-Houston Com- 
pany. F. A. Nash, who had been president of the latter company for some time, 
was made president of the new company. The capital stock of the Omaha Electric 
Light and Power Company is now $4,000,000, of which $3,500,000 represents 
common stock and $500,000 preferred. The company furnishes the City of Omaha 
with 2,600 street lights — 1,400 arcs and 1,200 incandescents. It also has a large 
number of private consumers and furnishes power to a number of manufacturing 
plants. Since the new company took possession, great improvements have been 
made at the power house and the lines have been extended into new districts. The 
officers of the company on April i, 1916, were: (ieorge H. Harries, president; W. 
]). McLIugh, vice president and general counsel ; Ward M. Burgess, vice president ; 
S. E. Schweitzer, secretary and treasurer ; H. A. Lloldrege, general manager. 


Within the last thirty-tive years the telephone has become an important factor 
in business circles, so that a telephone company can be classed with the public 
utilities. The first move toward the introduction of the telephone in Omaha was 
made in May, 1879, when the Omaha Electric Conipany was organized with C. W. 
Mead, president; J. J. Dickey, vice president and general manager; L. H. Korty, 
secretary and treasurer. The first exchange was established soon after the organi- 
zation of the company, and on July 10, jS/t), tlie first telephone directory made its 
appearance, showing the names of 121 subscribers. Truly, a small beginning, but 
there was plenty of opj^ortunity to grow. 

In July, 1S82, the Nebraska Telephone Com])any was incori)orated and took 
over the business already established. .S. H. H. Clark was elected president of the 
new company; J. J. Dickey, vice president; L. H. Korty, secretary and treasurer; 
Flemon Drake, general manager. The company secured from the .\merican Cell 
Telephone Company a perpetual and exclusive franchise for the State of Nebraska 
and Pottawattamie County, Iowa, the county in which Council liluiTs is located. 
At the time of organization the ca]iital stock was fixed at $250,000, which a few 
years later was increased to $700,000. .Subsequent increases have since lieen made 
from time to time until at the beginning of the year 1916 the capital stock was 

From the time the first exchange was opened in the Union Block, at the corner 
of Fifteenth and Farnam streets in 1879, it took ten years for the company to 
secure its first ten thousand subcribers. Ilcfore the expiration of that ten years, 
the exchange was removed to the fifth floor of the Ramge F)uilding. at Fifteenth 
and Harney, where eighteen rooms were occupied by the exchange and the com- 
pany's offices. Between the years 1898 and 1908 over twenty thousand telephones 
were installed and the long distance system was extended to ])ractically all parts 
of the state. Early in the jiresent century the company moved into the row of 
buildings on Douglas Street, from Eighteenth to Nineteenth, where a modern 
telephone exchange is in n|)cration, connecting about forty thousand suliscribers 
with each other. 

The officers of the company on .\pril i, 1916, were as follows: Casper E. 
Yost, ijresident; W. B. T. Belt, vice president and general manager; S. E. Mors- 
man, second vice president; C. W. Lyman, third vice president; J. W. Christie, 
secretary and treasurer. 





At the time Omaha was surveyed in 1854, few cities in the country had given 
much attention to the estabHshment of pubhc parks and pleasure grounds. Never- 
theless, the founders of Omaha made some provisions for parks — provisions that 
their successors failed to observe and carry out. The seven blocks bounded by 
Eighth, Ninth, Jackson and Davenport were reserved for park purposes, but this 
tract of ground was divided into lots soon after the town was incorporated in 1857, 
the lots sold and a portion of the proceeds used to aid in the erection of the Hern- 
don House, as told in another chapter. In addition to this reservation, Washington 
Square, bounded by Fifteenth, Sixteenth, Farnam and Douglas streets, and Jeffer- 
.son Square, bounded by Cass, Chicago, Fifteenth and Sixteenth streets, were also 
set apart for public parks. The former was afterward sold to the county for a 
courthouse site, so that Jefferson Square is the only one of the original parks 
left. Several attempts were made to divert this square to other uses, but they all 

In the fall of 1872 A. J. Hanscom and James G. Megeath gave to the city a 
tract of fifty-seven and a half acres in the southern part of the city for park pur- 
poses, on condition that $3,000 be expended in 1873 for improving it; $4,000 for 
each of the next three years; $5,000 in 1877 and the same amount in 1878. The 
gift was accepted by the city council and the tract named "Hanscom Park." It 
is bounded by Woolworth Avenue on the north ; Park Avenue on the east ; Ed 
Creighton Avenue on the south, and Thirty-second Street on the west. For more 
than fifteen years after this donation, Hanscom Park and Jefferson Square were 
the only public parks or places of rest and recreation owned by the City of Omaha. 
Then came a change in the law that allowed greater freedom of action on the part 
of the municipality. 


The Legislature of 1889 enacted a law providing for a general system of 
public parks in all cities of the metropolitan class in the State of Nebraska. 
Omaha was the only city affected by this law, and as the system of parks and 



boulevards has been built up under its provisions the full text of the act is given 

"Section i. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Nebraska, 
That in each city of the metropolitan class there shall be park commissioners, who 
shall have charge of all the parks and public grounds belonging to the city, with 
power to establish rules for the management, care and use of public parks and 
parkways ; and it shall be the duty of said board of park commissioners from time 
to time to devise and suggest to the mayor and council a system of public parks, 
parkways and boulevards within the city, and within three miles of the limits 
thereof, and to designate the lands and grounds necessary to be used, purchased or 
appropriated for such purpose ; and thereupon it shall be the duty of the mayor 
and council to take such action as may be necessary for the appropriation of the 
lands and grounds so designated, and for the purpose of making payments for 
such lands and grounds, assess such lands and grounds as may be specifically bene- 
fitted by reason of the appropriation thereof for such purpose, and issue bonds 
as may be required in excess of such assessment. Said board of park commis- 
sioners shall be composed of five members, who shall be resident freeholders of 
such city, and who shall be appointed by the judges of the judicial district in which 
such city shall be situated. 

"Section 2. The members of said board shall be appointed by said judges, a 
majority of said judges concurring, on the second Tuesday of May, 1889, or on 
the second Tuesday of May following the creation of this act of any city of the 
metropolitan class, one for the term of one year, one for the term of two years, 
one for the term of three years, one for the term of four years and one for the 
term of five years; and after the appointment of said five members it shall be the 
duty of said judges, a majority concurring, to appoint or reappoint one member of 
said board each year on the second Tuesday of May. 

"Section 3. A majority of all the members of the board of park commissioners 
shall constitute a quorum. It shall be the duty of said board of park commissioners 
to lay out, improve and beautify all grounds owned or hereafter acquired for 
public parks and employ a secretary and also such landscape gardeners, superin- 
tendents, keepers, assistants or laborers as may be necessary for the proper care 
and maintenance of such parks, or the improvement or beautifying thereof, to the 
extent that funds may be provided for such purposes. The members of the board 
at its first meeting each year after the second Tuesday in May shall elect one of 
their members as chairman of such board. Before entering upon their duties, 
each member of said board shall take an oath to be filed with the city clerk that he 
will faithfully perform the duties of his appointment, and in the selection or desig- 
nation of land for parks and boulevards and in making appointments he will act 
for the best interests of such city and the public, and will not in any manner be 
actuated or influenced by personal or political motives. 

"Section 4. The chairman of such board shall receive a salary of si.x hundred 
dollars per annum and the other members of said park commission shall receive 
a salary of two hundred dollars per annum. 

"Section 5. For the purpose of paying such salaries, providing funds for lay- 
ing out, improving or benefiting parks and public grounds and providing for the 
salaries and wages of employees of said board, the mayor and the council shall 
each vear, at the time of making the levy of taxes for general city purposes, make 


a levy of not less than one and a half mills and not exceeding three mills on the 
dollar valuation on all the real and personal property within the corporate limits 
of such city taxable according to the laws of this state ; and such fund shall be 
known as the park fund, the warrants thereon to be drawn only in the payments 
of accounts or claims audited by the said board of park commissioners." 

Under the provisions of this act Judges Wakeley, Groff, Hopewell, Doane and 
Clarkson met on May 14, 1889, that day being the second Tuesday of the month, 
and appointed Alfred Millard, George B. Lake, Augustus Pratt, George W. Lin- 
inger and Dr. George L. Miller as the first board of park commissioners. The 
terms of these commissioners were from one to five years in the order named. 
On the day following their appointment the commissioners met and elected Dr. 
George L. Miller president, and Guy R. Doane was chosen secretary. Letters 
were written to landscape gardeners in St. Louis, Chicago, Cincinnati, Minnea])olis 
and St. Paul, asking suggestions for the establishment of the Omaha park system. 
The result of this correspondence was that H. W. S. Cleveland, of Minneapolis, 
was employed to prepare plans for the use of the commission, in the improvement 
of the parks and public grounds of Omaha. In June, 1889, the commissioners 
visited Chicago and Minneapolis to examine the public parks and gain information 
regarding the methods pursued in those cities. Upon their return, William R. 
Adams was engaged as park superintendent and the work of improving the two 
parks owned by the city was commenced, as well as a movement for the acquisition 
of new park lands. From the beginning thus inaugurated Omaha now has twenty 
public parks, to wit : Bemis, Bluff View, Clearview, Curtiss Turner, Deer, Elm- 
wood, Fontenelle, Hanscom, Highland, Himebaugh, Jefferson Square, Kountze, 
Levi Carter, McKinley, Mandan, Mercer, Miller, Morton, Riverview and Spring 
Lake. The combined area of those parks is 980.33 acres, Levi Carter being the 
largest and Bluff View the smallest. 

Bemis Park was the first to be acquired by the park commission after its 
organization. In the fall of 1889 the owners of a strip of land about two hundred 
feet wide and extending from Thirty-third to Thirty-sixth streets, a short distance 
north of Cuming, offered to donate the ground to the city for park purposes. As 
this strip consisted of a deep and narrow ravine, the park commission recommendctl 
the purchase of the land lying between that donated and Cuming Street. The 
tirst parcel of land was purchased in 1892, and the last in 1908, giving Bemis 
Park an area of ten and a half acres. The total cost of the lands so purchased 
was $45,522. Neighboring property owners also acquired some of the adjoining 
lots, in order to prevent erection of unsightly buildings thereon that would 
obstruct the view into the park. Little permanent improvements have been made 
in this park, but the natural features are such that in time it will doubtless become 
one of Omaha's beauty spots. It is connected with Hanscom Park by the Lincoln 
and Turner boulevards. 

Bluff View, the smallest park owned by the city, contains but little over half 
an acre. It was acquired by donation in 1905 and since that time $2,500 have 
been expended in improvements. It is located two and three-fourths miles north 
of the old postoffice building at the corner of Fifteenth and Dodge streets and is 
so named because of the commanding view. 

Clearview Park, also called Hillsdale Park, was acquired jjy the city througli 
the annexation of South Omaha in 1915. It is bounded by G, H, Forty-second 


and Forty-third streets and has an area of 4.22 acres. Having been the property 
of the city but a short time, no expenditures have as yet been made for its 
improvement, though it will doubtless come in for its share in the future develop- 
ment of the park system. 

Curtiss Turner Park, of 7.58 acres, is situated about a mile west of the city 
hall and is bounded by Farnam, Dodge, Thirtieth and Thirty-tirst streets. It 
was donated to the city in 1900 and since then nearly four thousand dollars have 
been expended in its improvement by the park commission. On the south it is 
connected with Hanscom Park by the Turner Boulevard, and on the north with 
Bemis Park by the Lincoln Boulevard. 

Deer Park is an irregularly shaped tract of land west of Rivervievv Park and 
contains 19.30 acres. It was acquired by purchase and condemnation proceed- 
ings in 1899, the cost of the land to the city having been $11,578.65. About two 
thousand five hundred dollars ha\e since been expended in improvements and 
maintenance. The Deer Park Boulevard connects it with Riverview Park on 
the east, then runs westwardly from Deer Park, crosses the railroad tracks at 
the Vinton Street viaduct and connects with the Hanscom Boulevard. 

Elmwood Park, the second largest of the entire system, is situated in the 
extreme western part of the city, about three and one-fourth miles from the city 
ball. Its total arear is 208.13 acres. Fifty-fi\e acres of this were donated in i88y 
by Lyman Richardson, John T. Bell, Leopold Doll and one or two others. The 
lands thus donated are situated in the southeast quarter of Section 24, Township 
15, Range 13, and the park board, realizing that a large and beautiful park could 
be made here, recommended the acquisition of the remainder of the quarter 
section. Between the years 1889 and 1892 the additional lands in the park were 
acquired, partly by purchase and partly by condemnation. These lands cost the 
city $135,110, and since then nearly one hundred thousand dollars have been 
expended in improvements and maintenance. The extension of the West Leaven- 
worth Street car line to the main entrance of the ])ark a few years ago brought 
Elmwood into greater popularity and since then it has been a favorite resort for 
picnic parties. One of the features of this park is the"mineral spring, the waters 
of which contain silica, magnesia, soda and some other minerals. 

Fontenelle Park, of 107.53 acres, is located in the northwestern part of the 
city, about three miles from the city hall. In November, 1891, upon the recom- 
mendation of the park commissioners, the city council submitted to the voters a 
proposition to isstie bonds to the amount of $400,000, the proceeds to be used in 
purchasing lands for park purposes. The proposition was carried by a large 
majority and the bonds were sold for a premium of $26,728. One of the tracts 
recommended by the board for purchase was that known as the "Distin Tract," 
lying immediately south of Ames Avenue and east of Forty-Eighth Street. It was 
])urchased in 1892 for $90,000 and was named Fontenelle Park in honor of 
Logan Fontenelle, the last head chief of the Omaha Indians. .Some fifteen thou- 
sand dollars have been expended in im]:)rovements and maintenance. I'ontenelle 
is connected with Bemis Park by the Northwest ISoulevard. 

Hanscom Park, mentioned in the early part of this chapter as the gift of A. 
L Hanscom and James G. Megeath, is one of the handsomest parks belonging 
to the city. As it is the oldest park in the city, except Jefiferson Square, it has 
naturally received more attention than some of the more recent acquisitions. 


Nearly three hundred thousand dollars have been expended upon this park. In 
the early years of its history the city was in financial straits at times and could 
not carry out the conditions attached to its acceptance by the donors. But both 
Air. Hanscom and Mr. Megeath were fully cognizant of the situation and allowed 
the deed of gift to stand without insisting upon the burdensome restrictions. In 
this park the lake, the beautiful walks and drives, the flower beds and shrubbery, 
all combine to make it one of the most beautiful parks in the country. 

Highland Park is one of the small parks in South Omaha. It is bounded by 
Twenty-fifth, Twenty-sixth, B and D streets and contains 5.88 acres. It is situ- 
ated only about three squares south of the Deer Park Boulevard, with which it 
will probably be connected in the future. 

Himebaugh Park, in the northwestern part of the city, about 23^ miles from 
the city hall, was donated by Pierce C. Himebaugh in 1893, in the platting of 
Saunders & Himebaugh's addition. It contains only acres and very little 
lias ever been expended upon it in the way of improvement or maintenance. 

Jefferson Square, the oldest park in Omaha, was set apart for park purposes 
when the city was first laid out in 1854. In 1858 a resolution was adopted by 
the city council authorizing the use of part of the square for school purposes. 
Later in the year it was proposed to sell the ground, but George I. Gilbert, then 
city attorney, to whom the matter was referred, reported that the council could 
not dispose of public grounds legally. The schoolhouse was then erected and 
used until its removal was ordered by the council in October, 1867. The follow- 
ing January J. L. Williams submitted a proposal to lease the square and erect a 
market house thereon. A committee of the council later reported that they had 
conferred with a number of property holders, all of whom were in favor of the 
market house, and recommended that Mr. Williams be granted the lease, the 
city reserving the right to purchase the market house at the end of six years, at 
a fair valuation. The report was laid on the table and the records of the council 
do not show that it ever received further consideration. The school board then 
came forward with a proposition to lease the square for a term of twenty-five 
years and the mayor was ordered to execute a lease, on condition that the school 
board would erect a brick building on the ground, "said building to be three 
stories high and to cost not less than $40,000, to be completed by October i, 
1869, and that at the expiration of the twenty-five years said city shall either 
purchase, at a fair appraised value, the improvements on said square, or extend 
the lease on such terms and for such length of time as the parties thereto may 
agree upon, the choice of the alternative to rest with the city." 

For some reason unknown this arrangement was not carried into effect, and 
in 1870 Lyman Bridges came forward with a proposition to build a market house 
on the square, which proposition was indefinitely postponed by the council. 
About that time the United States was looking for a location for buildings for 
the headquarters of the Department of the Platte and a special committee of the 
council was appointed to bring the matter before General Ord, then commanding 
the department, to recommend the purchase of Jefferson Square. This scheme 
failed and in 1877 the council submitted to the voters of the city a proposition 
to establish two market houses — one on Jefferson Square and the other some- 
where south of Farnam Street. A majority of the voters expressed themselves 
as opposed to the plan and in the spring of 1878 James T. Allan was employed 


by the council to sow grass seed, plant trees upon and fence the square. Hardly 
had this order of the council been carried out, when it was proposed to transfer 
the property to Douglas County for a site "upon which to erect, jointly with the 
city, public buildings for the use of the city and county, subject to the valuation 
as fixed by the city council, to-wit : $16,000, two-thirds of which amount to be 
allowed to the city by the county for the privilege of the joint occupancy of said 

As the county commissioners at that time were already negotiating for the 
purchase of the square where the present courthouse stands, the proposition was 
not accepted. Two or three other schemes were advanced during the next decade 
to divert Jefferson Square from its original purpose, and in 1888 a strong effort 
was made to have the citizens select by their votes the square as a site for the 
city hall. Not long after this the square was one of the sites proposed for the 
new postoffice, but its location was considered as unfavorable. When the park 
commission was created in 1889 it took charge of the square and since that time 
nearly twenty thousand dollars have been expended in its improvement as a park. 

Kountze Park, a beautiful tract of nearly eleven acres, was donated to the 
city in the year 1897, by members of the family whose name it bears. It is lo- 
cated north of the business district and is about two miles from the city hall. 
Florence Boulevard passes north and south through the park, which is bounded 
by Pratt, Pinkney, Eighteenth and Twenty-first streets. Since it became the 
property of the city the park commission has expended nearly forty thousand 
dollars in its improvement and maintenance. 

Levi Carter Park, sometimes called Carter Lake Park, is situated about two 
and a half miles northeast of the city hall. This is the largest park owned by the 
city, containing 303.51 acres. It is also one of the newest parks of the system, 
the land having been donated to the park commission in 1908. One of the most 
popular features of this park is the lake, which is a favorite resort for boating 
in the summer season and skating in winter. About seventy-five thousand dol- 
lars have been expended by the commission in improving and maintaining the 
park since it became the property of the city. Carter Boulevard connects the 
])ark with Florence Boulevard about half-way between Kountze and Miller parks. 

McKinley Park is one of the small parks that came into the city by the annex- 
ation of South Omaha in 1915. It is bounded by Jackson and Harrison streets 
on the north and south respectively, and extends from Twenty-eighth to Twen- 
ty-ninth streets. Its area is a little over four and one-half acres. 

Mandan Park is also located in South Omaha, in the extreme southeast cor- 
ner of Douglas County, its southern boundary being the county line. It contains 
10.90 acres and overlooks the Alissouri River. Like all the South Omaha Parks, 
its acquisition by the City of Omaha is so recent that no steps have as yet been 
taken for its improvement. 

Mercer Park, which adjoins Bemis Park on the west, is one of the most 
recent acquisitions to the city's park system. In 1910 some of the owners of 
the lands offered to donate the grounds on condition that part of the taxes 
accrued should be remitted and the city would undertake to make certain im- 
provements within a given time. The offer was accepted and some of the ad- 
joining lands were acquired by condemnation proceedings. The improvements 
stipulated by the donors were completed in August, 1914. 


Miller Park, containing seventy-eight acres, was purchased of the Parker 
heirs with part of the proceeds of the $400,000 bond issue authorized by the 
voters in 1891, the property being transferred to the city in 1893. The original 
purchase price was $75,000 and the park commission has expended about the 
same amount in improvements and maintenance. This park is situated in the 
northern part of the city and is bounded by Redick and Kansas avenues on 
the north and south, and by Twenty-fourth and Thirtieth streets on the east and 
west. Florence Boulevard runs near the east side of the park, and the south- 
west comer is only a little over a square from the grounds of Fort Omaha. Miller 
Park has a fine golf course and a pavilion with locker rooms and shower baths 
in the basement. Its lake, artesian well, fountain, beautiful walks and flower 
beds, open lawns and shady groves make it one of the finest parks of the city, 
it was named for Dr. George L. Alilier, the first president of the board of park 

Morton Park is situated about half a mile southwest of the Union Stock 
Yards, its western boundary being the city limits. V and W streets form the 
northern and southern boundaries and Forty-second Street runs along the east 
side. Its area is about two acres. 

Riverview Park, situated about two miles southeast of the city hall, on the 
blufifs overlooking the Missouri River, possesses all the natural advantages for 
a beautiful park. As its name indicates, one of the most commanding views 
about Omaha may be obtained here. It was acquired by condemnation pro- 
ceedings between the years 1893 and 1899, the 11 1.57 acres costing the city 
?90.0S3-50- Since 1899 about one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars 
have been expended for improvements and maintenance. By means of Deer 
Park or South Central Boulevard, Riverview Park is connected with Deer 
and Hanscom parks, and Riverview Boulevard rtms north to connect with Belle- 
vue Boulevard. 

Spring Lake, fonnerly known as Syndicate Park, was laid out by the South 
Omaha Land Company when the town of South Omaha was platted in the 
early part of 1884. It originally contained -loS acres, with fine springs and 
numerous shade trees. The land company expended about thirty thousand 
dollars in improving the park and after the law authorizing the park commis- 
sion was passed a strong pressure was brought to bear to induce the commis- 
sioners to purchase the park, but as South Omaha was not at that time a part 
of the city the offers were declined. In October, 1892, the company built a 
high board fence around the park and placed persons in charge to keep trespassers 
from entering upon the premises, thus giving notice that the park was regarded 
as the private property of the company. Some influential property owners in 
the vicinity claimed that the surrounding lots were sold by the original owners 
with the understanding that this tract should be a park, and that such being 
tlie case it was unnecessary for the city to purchase it. The matter was finally 
adjusted by part of the land being divided into lots and sold and the remainder 
(36.80 acres) being thrown open to the public as a park. 

Spring Lake Park, as thus reduced in size, is a triangular shaped body of 
land a little southwest of Deer Park. Twenty-second Street forms the western 
boundary and Hoctor Boulevard runs along the southern and northeastern sides. 
A project is on foot to connect this park with Riverview by a boulevard. From 


this stretch of boulevard, when it is completed, can be seen practically all the 
City of Council Blufts and a large section of the surrounding country, while 
on the south can be seen Childs' Point and the country beyond almost as far as 
the eye can reach. That it will be a favorite drive goes without saying, and, 
coupled with the natural scenery of the park, Spring Lake is destined to become 
one of the city's popular pleasure resorts. 


In one sense of the word, public parks are a luxury, their acquisition and 
maintenance costing large sums of money. But practically every city of the 
country has, in recent years, come to look upon parks as a necessity and the 
people have rarely failed to respond to the demand for funds to purchase land 
and make the necessary improvements for a more or less elaborate system of 
parks. In their annual report for the year 1911, the board of park commis- 
sioners gives the following account of how Omaha's parks were built up: 

"The first park lands acquired were paid for by bonds issued by the city. 
All the later improvements have been acquired by condemnation proceedings; 
the funds to pay for the same being created by the assessment of property 
specially benefited. Since the latter system was adopted, the city has acquired 
lands for parks and boulevards at reasonable prices. Probably no park lands 
in the world, not donated, have been acquired at as nearly their market value as 
the lands that have been acquired by the City of Omaha in the manner stated. 

"The system of raising funds to pay for the lands so acquired is unique. 
Districts benefited by the improvement have been created. A relatively large 
proportion of the cost of improvements has been assessed against the abutting 
lands on the assessed value thereof, exclusive of improvements. This has been 
scaled back — the rate of assessment growing less as benefits from the improve- 
ment were less, until they cease at the boundaiy of the district. 

"This system, original to Omaha, has worked so satisfactorily that out of 
about six thousand pieces of property assessed less than six hundred protests 
have been filed with the board of equalization, only three actions have been 
commenced to resist the assessment, of which but one has reached the Supreme 
Court of the state, where the system was approved. Besides being a very 
equitable system of taxation for the purpose, this system has been advantageous 
in another way. No lands have been acquired unless the people who would have 
to pay for the same believed their acquisition desirable. Log rolling has been 
prevented. The people who had to pay for the land were the best judges of the 
value of the lands acquired, and willing assistants to the city officers to prevent 
excessive awards. We attribute the fair prices at which lands have been 
acquired to this system of raising funds with which to pay for theili. So much 
land has been acquired under this system that it would be unjust and a double 
taxation to depart from it in the future." 

The commissioners might also have added that, as the several parks com- 
prising the system are located in dift'erent parts of the city, the burden of 
assessment has not fallen upon any particular district or portion of the taxpayers, 
practically every citizen of Omaha having been called upon at some time or 
another to bear his share of the cost of the park system. And the fact that 





the assessments have been paid with so few objections or protests speaks well 
for the public spirit of the people. A few years more and Omaha will have a 
system of parks and boulevards that will excite the admiration, if not the envy, 
of her sister cities. With twenty parks and about thirty-five miles of boulevards 
and park drives, it will not be necessary to acquire a great quantity of additional 
land, so that the funds of the park department in future can be used to beautify 
the grounds and make permanent improvements. Already this work has been 
commenced. A new golf course has been recently laid out at Elmwood Park ; 
Mandan Park is to have a new pavilion in 1916; several miles of new boulevard 
have been projected, and a large number of trees and shrubs are to be planted 
in the parks during the season of 1916. 


Besides the public parks, there are a number of private clubs, or other 
associations, that maintain pleasure grounds. Before the introduction of the 
park system, the grove known as "Redick's Park," on what is now the West 
Central Boulevard, was a famous resort for picnic parties. The Omaha Country 
Club has a beautiful tract of ground bounded by Hancock, Polk, Fifty-Second 
and Fifty-Sixth streets, upon which is a beautiful club house of the bungalow 
style, with broad verandahs inviting rest and comfort, while the golf links offer 
an opportunity for those who enjoy the game. 

Just north of the country club grounds is Krug Park, extending north to 
Bedford Avenue. This park is private property, but is open to picnic parties, 
etc., who desire greater exclusiveness than c^n, be obtained in a public park 
belonging to the city. »:,.•." •.. „ , 

West of Dundee are the grounds of the Happy "Hollow Club, which can boast 
one of the finest golf courses in the country. About 1910 the city extended one 
of the boulevards to pass the Happy Hollow Club grounds, to connect Elmwood 
Park with the general park system. 

At the intersection of Woolworth Avenue and Thirty-Sixth Street, just east 
of the county hospital, are the club house and grounds of the Omaha Field Club, 
and there are some other private parks and grounds of lesser note about the 











The military history of Omaha and Douglas counties began with the passage 
of an act by the Territorial Legislature in 1855, for the organization of the 
militia of Nebraska. The act provided for two regiments and the legislature 
appointed the following ofScers : 

First Regiment — Andrew J. Hanscom, colonel; William C. James, lieutenant- 
colonel; Hascal C. Purple, major; J. D. N. Thompson and Thomas L. GritYey, 
adjutants; John P.. Roberts, quartermaster; Anselum Arnold, commissary; M. B. 
Clark, surgeon; George L. Miller, assistant surgeon. 

Second Regiment — David RI. Johnson, colonel ; Richard Brown, quarter- 
master; Gideon Bennett, commissary; William McLennan, adjutant; Isaiah H. 
Crane, surgeon ; William Hamilton, assistant surgeon. No lieutenant-colonel or 
major was appointed for the Second Regiment, and the entire enrolled militia 
of the territory consisted of the above named officers, the non-commissioned 
officers and privates being "conspicuous by their absence" from the muster rolls. 



In July, 1855, a few months after the passage of the act above referred to, 
a wandering band of Sioux Indians visited the camp of a Mr. Porter and his 
wife at Francis' Lake, near the town of Fontenelle. With the Porters was a 
young man named Demaree and while parleying with the Indians one of them 
snatched Demaree's hat from his head and rode off with it, the others following. 
Demaree called to the Indian to return his hat, when the savages fired and killed 
the two white men immediately, after which they galloped rapidly away. News 
of the tragedy spread rapidly and great excitement prevailed. The settlers around 
I'ontenelle made preparations to defend themselves against attack, and as the 



country was then inhabited by a large number of savages it was feared that a 
general uprising would follow. Governor Izard was appealed to for aid and in 
response to his call for volunteers a company was organized in a few days at 
Omaha with William E. Moore as captain; John Y. Clopper, first lieutenant; 
George Hepburn, second lieutenant. A company was also organized at Fonte- 
nelle, of which William Kline was captain; Russell McNealy, first heutenant John 
VV. Pattison, second lieutenant. 

Captain Moore's company was sent up to Fontenelle, where its presence, in 
connection with that of Captain Kline's company, quieted the excitement of the 
settlers. No uprising came, but the "soldiers" remained encamped near Fonte- 
nelle until they were ordered to disband by the governor. While in camp they 
spent a large part of their time in fishing along the Elkhorn River, so that the 
campaign was frequently referred to as the "Catfish War." 

The military renown won by Captain William E. Moore may have aided his 
election to the Territorial Legislature that fall. In 1859 he was chosen by Theo- 
dore Robertson, editor of the Nebraskian, as his second when he challenged 
John M. Thayer to fight a duel, and in a dinner at the Hemdon House in 
February, 1859, he responded to the toast : "The veterans of the Fontenelle War ; 
they who shed their blood in the defense of their country deserve well of that 
country in time of security." 


About the middle of June, 1859, the Pawnee Indians then living on the south 
side of the Platte River, nearly opposite the town of Fremont, started up the 
Elkhorn on their annual buffalo hunt. As they went along they committed a 
number of depredations on the north side of the river. The inhabitants of 
West Point, hearing of the depredations, deserted their homes, leaving them to be 
ransacked and looted by the Indians. A small company was organized at 
Fontenelle, well armed and equipped, and hurried to the relief of West Point, 
but arrived after the Indians had departed. Going on up the river about six 
miles they came upon a party of the Pawnees and tried to entice some of them 
into a log cabin, in which most of the company was concealed, with a view of 
capturing them and holding them as hostages until the tribe made some repara- 
tion. The Indians were too wary to be captured, but a skirmish ensued in which 
several of them were killed or wounded. 

Governor Black was soon notified of what had taken place, and, fearing the 
Indians would attempt to avenge the death of their warriors, organized a force 
to assume the offensive by following the Pawnees and punishing them for their 
depredations. Most of those who participated in this great military movement 
have long since passed over to the silent majority, but when one reads of their 
elaborate preparations, if he has any sense of humor, he can hardly repress a 
smile. It it doubtful if Napoleon ever displayed more of the "pomp and cir- 
cumstance" of war in planning his campaigns. Governor Black, with half a 
dozen of his staff' officers, repaired to the rendezvous on Maple Creek, near 
Fontenelle, and General John M. Thayer, who was selected to command the 
expedition, was plentifully supplied with orderlies, aides-de-camp, etc. Lieuten- 
ant Beverly H. Robertson came in with a small detachment of United States 


Dragoons and was immediately promoted to lieutenant-colonel. John McConihie, 
R. E. Bowie, A. S. Paddock, Samuel A. Lowe, Witt Black, Charles D. Wool- 
worth and Robert H. Howard, all of Omaha, served on General Thayer's staff. 

The battalion was organized by the selection of William A. West as colonel; 
Beverly H. Robertson, lieutenant-colonel; Peter Reed, major; Samuel R. Curtis 
(afterward a major-general in the Civil war), inspector; Experience Estabrook, 
adjutant; W. T. Clarke, quartermaster; A. U. Wyman, commissary; Henry Page, 
wagonmaster; Doctors J. P. Peck and William McClelland, surgeons. The 
battalion was composed of the following companies : 

1. The Omaha Gun Squad (with one brass six-pounder j, of which James 
H. Ford was captain; E. G. McNeeley, first lieutenant; William Searight, 

2. The First Dragoons, with George F. Kennedy as captain ; J. C. Reeves, 
first lieutenant; C. A. Henry, second lieutenant; John S. Bowen, sergeant. 

3. The Second Dragoons, R. W. Hazen, captain ; William West, first lieuten- 
ant ; H. C. Campbell, second lieutenant ; Abram McNeil, sergeant. 

4. The Fontenelle Mounted Rifles, William Kline (the veteran of the "Cat- 
fish war"), captain; James A. Bell, first lieutenant; William S. Flack, second 
lieutenant; John H. Francis, sergeant. 

It is said the Fontenelle Mounted Rifles were so called because the members 
of the company rode in wagons and were armed with shot guns and old army 
muskets, and a member of the expedition, in telling about it some years afterward, 
remarked; "Mixed up among this array of shoulder straps were a few privates." 

Early in July the little army broke camp on Maple Creek and moved up the 
Elkhom River. Near the mouth of a small stream (since called Battle Creek), 
which flows into the Elkhorn from the west, the scouts came upon the Indian 
encampment and reported. The Indians fled, closely pursued by the white men, 
and after a chase of some two miles were overtaken. A parley was then held, 
which resulted in six young braves being surrendered by the chiefs as the ones 
who had committed the outrages, and the chiefs also agreed that the expenses of 
the expedition should be paid out of certain funds due the Pawnee Tribe from 
the United States Government. On the way back to Omaha all but one of 
the prisoners escaped and that one was released after a short confinement in the 
Douglas County Jail. The United States authorities refused to recognize the 
agreement made with the chiefs regarding the payment of the expedition's 
expenses, and those who enlisted, as well as those who furnished horses, wagons 
and supplies, were doomed to disappointment. 

Some time after the expedition. Experience Estabrook, who served as adju- 
tant, wrote the following verses commemorative of the event. These verses have 
been published before, but they are too good to be lost and are here reproduced. 


" Ye warriors from battle fields gory. 
Come listen a moment to me, 
While I sing of deeds full of glory 
In the war with the bloody Pawnee. 


" Beneath our commander's broad pennant, 
We marshaled our forces in line, 
And took Uncle Samuel's lieutenant. 
And made him a colonel so fine. 

'■ The picked men, the wise, the respected. 
The flower of the country-, were there; 
From these with great care was selected 
The staff of the brave General Thayer. 

" Their merits were tested severely — 
They were men from whom foes never ran — 
But, to give you my meaning more clearly, 
I will say 'the subscriber was one.' 

" We had great men, but some didn't know it — 
Men of mark with the sword and the pen — 
The statesman, the scholar, the poet, 
And candidates — say about ten. 

" Were we pained with a bruise, or a felon, 
The belly-ache, or a stiff neck. 
We had only to call on McClelland, 
Or our own faithful surgeon. Doc. Peck. 

" There are many of water suspicious. 
Especially if it be cool, 
Let such quaff' a potion delicious. 
Like us, from the green mantled pool. 

" 'Midst the slime where the buft'alo wallows. 
Let him stoop, the potion to draw. 
And reflect, as the foul draught he swallows, 
On the julep, the ice and the straw. 

" At meals, 'mid confusion and clatter, 
When halting at night, or at noon. 
Some five of us ate from one platter. 
And ten of us licked at one spoon. 

" Our eyelids were strangers to slumber. 
We heeded not hunger or pain. 
While we followed them, days without number. 
Over sand-hill, and valley, and plain. 

" No false one his treason was showing, 
No timid one wished to turn back, 
While along the dark trail we were going. 
We watched for the moccasin track. 


" At length, far away in the valley, 
The light of their camp-fires appeared. 
And the bugle notes, bidding us rally. 
With joyful emotions were heard. 

" Pat, on a peck of petaties. 
Like Diedrich, on cabbage or kraut. 
So we, on those dangerous traitors 
Descended and put them to rout. 

■' Like rats, from a ship's conflagration, 
Like fleas, from a well littered stye, 
So scattered the whole Pawnee nation 
At the sound of our rallying cry. 

" And now, when the wars are all over, 
And peace and security reign, 
Let us bring forth the big bellied bottle 
And drink to the Pawnee Campaign." 

Although the people now can regard the Pawnee war as a joke, and laugh with 
Judge Estabrook at some of its ludicrous features, it was no laughing matter in 
1859, when the scattering settlements of Nebraska were surrounded by Indian?, 
many of whom were incensed at what they regarded as the white man's encroach- 
ment upon their hunting grounds. The expedition had a salutary effect upon the 
Indians, as it taught them that the settlers would band themselves together for 
protection and defense, and after 1859 there were but few depredations com- 
mitted by the Pawnee tribe. 

WAR OF 1861-65 

The passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill in 1854 was one of the principal 
causes that led to the organization of the republican party, which opposed the 
extension of slavery beyond the territory where it already existed. In i860 
the new party nominated Abraham Lincoln for President and during the campaign 
of that year some of the slave states announced their intention of withdrawing 
from the Union in the event of Mr. Lincoln's election. The people of the North 
regarded these declarations as idle threats, made solely for political effect. 
Through a division in the democratic party, Mr. Lincoln was elected and on 
December 20, i860, a convention of delegates, chosen for the purpose, met at 
Charleston, South Carolina, and passed an ordinance of secession, in which it was 
declared that all allegiance on the part of that state to the Government of the 
United States was at an end. Thus South Carolina made good her threat to 
withdraw from the Union in case of a republican victory. Mississippi's state 
convention passed a similar ordinance on January 9, 1861 ; Florida seceded the 
next day; Alabama, January nth; Georgia, January 19th; Louisiana, January 
26th, and Texas, February ist. On February 4, 1861, delegates from six of 
these states (Texas was not represented) met at Montgomery Ala., adopted 


a tentative constitution, elected Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, provisional 
president, and Alexander H. Stephens, of Georgia, provisional vice president of 
the "Confederate States of America." Davis and Stephens were inaugurated on 
February 22, 1861, the anniversary of the birth of George Washington. 

As a result of this action on the part of the Southern States, when Mr. Lincoln 
was inaugurated on March 4, 1861, he found seven states, with an organized 
government, in open opposition to his administration. Yet, despite this serious 
condition of affairs, the President, his immediate advisers, and the people of the 
North generally, entertained the hope that the situation could be met without an 
open rupture between two sections of a country that had been at peace for three 
quarters of a century, and that the people of the seceded states could be per- 
suaded to return to their allegiance. Vain hope I Instead of the recusant states 
returning to their allegiance, four others — Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina 
and Virginia — seceded and a hard struggle was required to keep the border states 
of Kentucky, Maryland and Missouri in the Union. The loyal people of Western 
Virginia refused to secede and organized a new state, now known as West 

About the beginning of the year 1861, Maj. Robert Anderson, then in com- 
mand of the harbor defenses at Charleston, S. C, decided to remove his 
garrison from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter, the latter place offering better 
opportunities for defense. The change was made secretly, after which the guns 
at Fort Moultrie were spiked, rendering them unfit for service. The secessionists 
claimed that Anderson's action was a violation of an agreement made with 
President Buchanan, who was still in office. On the other hand, the people of 
the North approved Anderson's conduct and the northern press was almost 
unanimous in demanding that supplies and reinforcements be sent to him at 
Fort Sumter. Deeming it unwise to ignore this demand, and thus invoke further 
criticism from the loyal North, Buchanan sent the steamer Star of the West, with 
250 men and a stock of provisions, munitions of war, etc., to Fort Sumter. On 
January 9, 1861, the vessel was fired upon by a masked battery on Morris Island 
and forced to turn back. In the official records this incident is regarded as the 
beginning of the Civil war, but the popular awakening did not come until some 
three months later. 

Early in April, 1861, General Beauregard, who was in command of the Con- 
federate forces at Charleston, opened negotiations with Major Anderson looking 
to the evacuation of the fort. Anderson's provisions were about exhausted and 
on April nth he advised Beauregard that the fort would be vacated on the 15th. 
unless he received positive orders from the war department to remain and the 
needed supplies were sent to the garrison. This reply was not satisfactory to 
the Confederate commander, who feared that Anderson might be reinforced 
before that time. At 3:20 A. M. on Friday, April 12, 1861, he sent word to 
Anderson that fire would be opened on the fort within an hour. At 4 130 
Capt. George Janes, in command of a battery at Fort Johnson, fired the signal 
gun, the shell bursting almost directly over Fort Sumter. A few minutes later 
a solid shot from a battery on Cummings Point went crashing against the walls of 
the fort. The war had begun. 

The little garrison returned the fire and throughout the day the cannonading 
continued. Fire broke out in one of the casemates of the fort and the Confed- 


crates, seeing this, increased their fire, hoping to force a surrender. Anderson 
held out against desperate odds until Sunday morning, April 14th, when he was 
permitted to evacuate the fort with all the honors of war, even saluting his flag 
with fifty guns before hauling it down. 

When the telegraph flashed the news of Sumter's fall through the North, all 
hope of conciliation was abandoned. Political differences of the past were for- 
gotten in the insult to the flag. Governors of loyal states sent assurances to the 
President and tendered troops to suppress the rebellion. On Monday, April 15, 
1 861, President Lincoln issued his proclamation calling for 75,000 militia and 
appealing to "all loyal citizens for state aid in this effort to maintain the laws, 
integrity, national union, perpetuity of popular government, and to redress wrongs 
long enough endured." 


Although Nebraska was only a territory and far removed from the seat of the 
trouble, the people were undivided in the sentiment that "The Union must and 
shall be preserved." Soon after the fall of Fort Sumter rumors became current 
in Omaha that the city was to be invaded by the secessionists of Missouri. These 
rumors occasioned some excitement, but about that time Colonel Miles came down 
from Fort Kearney with Companies E and F of his regiment — the Second United 
States Infantry — to await transportation down the river. The Omaha Telegraph, 
edited by Maj. Henry Z. Curtis, son of Gen. Samuel R. Curtis, said in its issue 
of April 25, 1861 : 

"As the Omaha is almost hourly expected the two companies now here will 
probably join the four expected from Fort Randall, and it is hardly to be sup- 
posed that six full companies, well drilled and equipped, commanded by a brave 
and gallant officer, will allow themselves to be trifled with, or their orders go 
unfulfilled, in their own land by a parcel of rebellious rowdies of no patriotism 
and less judgment. We had the pleasure of meeting Colonel Miles, now in com- 
mand of the two companies here, and who will be by seniority of rank in command 
of the united six; and from his personal qualities and past history we would 
caution the people of St. Joseph against meddling with him or his men. Consider- 
able excitement prevails in the city to learn what has been really the fate of the 
Omaha, and what is to happen at St. Joseph to the troops on their way down the 
river. It is reported that the St. Joseph people will endeavor by mob violence 
to prevent the soldiers from obeying their orders and from garrisoning Fort 
Leavenworth, upon which point, we take it, the Missourians have an eye for 
plunder. We believe that the people of St. Joseph will not prove such desperate 
fools as to attempt so hazardous an undertaking, for we feel sure that mob 
violence, opposed to the drill of the regulars, must in any case result greatly to 
the damage of the former, and would be but amusement for the latter." 

Colonel Miles and his command embarked on the steamer West Wind on 
April 28, 1861, but, in order to avoid any trouble at St. Joseph, the troops were 
disembarked at Forest City, Kan., and marched across the point, taking pas- 
sage on the boat again at Palermo. The steamer Omaha passed down on May 
3, 1 86 1, carrving the heavy equipage of three companies of the Fourth .'\rtiller}' 


from Fort Randall, but the men were marched across the countr>' to Eddyville, 
Iowa, at that time the terminus of the railroad. 

The troops called for by the President's proclamation of April 15, 1861, were 
to be made up of militia and mustered in for three months. As Nebraska at 
that time had no organized militia, no volunteers were furnished under this 
call. Early in May I'resident Lincoln issued another proclamation, calling for 
troops for three years' service, and on May 18, 1861, Governor Alvin Saunders 
issued the following: 


"Whereas, The President of the United States has issued his proclamation, 
calling into the senice of the United States an additional force of infantry and 
cavalry to serve for a period of three years, unless sooner discharged, and the 
Secretary of War having assigned one regiment to the Territory of Nebraska, 
now therefore I, Alvin Saunders, Governor of the Territory of Nebraska, do 
issue this proclamation and hereby call upon the militia of the territory im- 
mediately to fomi in the different counties volunteer companies, with a view 
of entering the service of the United States under the aforesaid call. Com- 
panies, when formed, will proceed to elect a captain and two lieutenants. The 
number of men required to each company will be made known as soon as the 
instructions are received from the war department, but it is supposed now that 
it will not be less than seventy-eight men. As soon as a company is formed and 
has elected its officers, the captain will report the same to the adjutant-general's 

"Efforts are being made to trample the Stars and Stripes, the emblem of our 
liberties, in the dust. Traitors are in the land, busily engaged in trying to over- 
throw the Government of the United States, and information has been received 
that these same traitors are endeavoring to incite an invasion of our frontier 
by a savage foe. In view of these facts I invoke the aid of every lover of 
his country and his home to come promptly forward to sustain and protect 
the same." 


The work of recruiting was commenced at once and during the months of 
Tune and July, 1861, the First Nebraska Infantry was mustered into the United 
States service, with the following officers: John M. Thayer, colonel; Hiram 
P. Downs, lieutenant-colonel; William D. McCord, major; Silas A. Strick- 
land, adjutant; John Gillespie, commissary; Enos Lowe, surgeon; William 
McClelland, assistant surgeon; Thomas W. Tipton, chaplain. Several changes 
were made in the field and staff' officers, during the term of service. Colonel 
Thayer was promoted to brigadier-general on October 4, 1862. and was suc- 
ceeded by Robert R. Livingston. Lieutenant-Colonel Downs resigned in De- 
cember, 1 861, and Major McCord was promoted to the vacancy. He resigned 
in April, 1862, when Captain Livingston, of Company A, was made major, 
afterward becoming colonel of the regiment. Doctor Lowe was transferred to 
the Curtis Horse on January 5, 1862, and was succeeded by Dr. James H. Sey- 


nioiir, who died at Helena, Ark., September 5, 1862, when Doctor McQel- 
land became regimental surgeon. Other promotions are noted on the muster 
rolls of the various companies. 

Regimental Band — All the members of the band except one (Benjamin Hem- 
pie, of Plattsmouth), were from Omaha, viz: Joseph Brown (leader), William 
Achter, Fred Bimmerman, Fred Boehm, Francis Brown, Fmil Burmeister, 
Gustavus Eberdt, Andreas Frank, Ferdinand Rendelman, Augustus Saltzman, 
John Smith, Engelbert Wagner, William Wagner. 

Company A — Most of this company came from about Plattsmouth. The 
Douglas County members were : Corporals George H. Dudley, Leonidas Rogers 
and James Bates; C. H. Catlin, blacksmith; Robert A. Collins, musician; 
John W. Kirwin, farrier, and the following: 

Privates — Edward W. Allen, William T. Billeter, Benjamin A. Brown, Will- 
iam R. Couch, James H. Harris, Jonas O. Johnson, Frederick Koup, Sylvanus 
S. Lockart, William R. Melius, Lewis Teas. 

Company B — This was a Douglas County company and at the time the 
regiment was organized was officered as follows : William Baumer, captain 
(promoted to lieutenant-colonel); Walter Peter, first lieutenant; Henry 
Koenig, second lieutenant ; Ernest Bimmerman, first sergeant (promoted to 
first lieutenant) ; Charles Schmidt, C. N. Karstens, William Leugsfeld, 
sergeants; Jacob Kedenburg, Anton Althaus, Christopher Salzer, George Ram- 
stein, corporals (all promoted to sergeant except the last named) ; Henry 
Hand, wagoner. 

Privates — Richard Barlow, William Battermann, Thomas Bauer, Joseph 
Boegle, Luke Boyce, Louis Buttron, Orin Dailey, William Ehlers, John J. Fess, 
Charles Friederich, Joseph Geschwind, Isaac Gillman, C. F. Goldammer, John 
Hansen, Philip Imhofi, John Jack, Edward Johnson, C. N. Karstens (promoted 
corporal), Fred Langtim, Fred Lauber, Joachim Lippold, William F. McKinsey, 
John Mergen, Matthias Mergen, Henry Metting, Jacob Miller, John Miller, 
William Mohle, James Noonen, Henry Pfister, Christ. Retzloff, Frank Rittenhouse, 
John Roggensack, John Rumor, F. J. Rust, Frank Saltzman, Christian Schmidt, 
John Schwab, Samuel Shaw, Joseph Shipley, Charles Torrence, and Abraham 

Company C was raised in the southeastern part of the territory, though the 
names of a number of Douglas County men appear upon the muster rolls. 
William W. Ivory served as first lieutenant after August 11, 1862; John J. 
Mathews was a sergeant; Charles Cross was a corporal, and the following 
served as privates : Eli Caldwell, Jacob Canaga, Nathaniel B. Curtis, Patterson 
S. Martin, Smith N. Reed, Martin Ryan, Calvin L. Searl, Thomas Smith, Lewis 
Wallace, James C. Waugh, Albrecht Werth, Oliver Whitney, George S. Williams, 
Andre Wilson and Isaac V. Zook. 

Company D was organized at Nebraska City and was mustered in at Omaha 
on June 15, 1861. Charles E. Provost, of Omaha, was mustered as second 
lieutenant and promoted to captain of Company B, May i, 1862; Ellam Thomas 
served as corporal, and the following Douglas County men were enrolled as 
privates: Richard Birt, Charles E. Evans, Levi B. Folsom, Samuel M. Ford, 
William J. Ford, John J. Glendenning, George P. Hall, Christian Hartman, 
Calvin Heller, George Hufif, Henry Huff (promoted corporal), John D. Joyce, 


Samuel Moran, William Schoeb, Wilson S. Shoemaker, Washington Stogdeu 
and John S. Ward. 

Company E, which was mustered in at Omaha on June 18, 1861, contained 
quite a number of Douglas County men. At the time of muster in, William 
G. Hollis was captain; Sterrit M. Curran, first lieutenant (promoted captain); 
J. H. N. Patrick, second lieutenant (promoted to regimental quartermaster) ; 
Abijah S. Jackson (promoted second lieutenant), L. B. P. Bartholomew, George 
W. Reeves, Parson Sears, William O'Byrne, sergeants; Israel Harr, William T. 
Harvey, John H. Quinn, George F. French, Rufus P. Cady, Louis J. Boyer, 
William Harbin, John M. Hoey and Fcank Parkinson, corporals (Llarvey, 
Boyer, and Hoey were promoted to sergeant) ; L. P. Ifenry and Jared Norton, 
musicians; Isaac Gillman, teamster (transferred from Company B) ; Anthony 
Cole, blacksmith. 

Privates — William Alsop, William Atkinson, Colvin P. Ball, Richard Bar- 
low, William L. Barnhart, James M. Bender, Luke Boyce (transferred from 
Company B and promoted corporal), J. F. Bremer, Alexander C. Brown, Thomas 
B. Carlin (promoted corporal), William Carliss, George B. Comey, Edward 
Crandall, John Crane, Lyman G. Crippen (promoted corporal), John D. Dailey, 
Orin Dailey (transferred from Company B), John Delany, James H. Derosset, 
Charles Donk, James Dougherty, Patrick Doyle, John Fitzgerald (promoted to 
quartermaster sergeant), Raymond Foster, Henry T. Fullerton, James Gosling, 
Lycurgus Grice, William H. Harrison, James Higgins, Thomas Jefferson, Ed- 
ward Johnson, George Johnson, William Johnson, Josiah Jordian, William 
Knoller, Fred Lauber, Richard Lindley, Josiah Logan, Owen Macenroo, William 
Mayberry (promoted corporal), William F. McKinsey (transferred from Com- 
pany B), Herman Mehrens, George H. Moore, 'William H. Mower (promoted 
corporal), John Mowry, Philip Mowry, Orris F. Odell, John O'Neil, William 
Osbom, Jackson B. Pierce, Joseph Rich, Frank Rittenhouse (promoted corporal), 
Arthur Rose, John Rose, Adam Shoemaker, Charles Smith (promoted sergeant), 
Orlando .Smith (promoted commissary sergeant), Frank Staples, Charles H. 
Stewart, George W. Sweetland, Lemon Sweagar (promoted corporal), William 

E. Swihart, August Wadden, Firman C. Washburn (promoted corporal), Will- 
.'am Watson, William Wickliff, Claiborne Wilkinson. 

Company F, which was mustered in on June 24, 1861, consisted chiefly of 
men from about Clarinda, Iowa, and Plattsmouth, Neb. The Douglas County 
members of this company were as follows: William Evans (bugler), Dayton 

F. Fairchild, Jabez Fickling (promoted corporal), William H. Frank (pro- 
moted corporal), William Irvin, James Smith, Edward P. Talcott (wagoner"), 
John Tucker, Amariah B. Wagner (promoted corporal). 

Company G contained a number of men from Douglas County. It was 
mustered in at Omaha on the last day of June, 1861, with John McConihie, 
captain ; John G. Clopper, first lieutenant ; Thomas J. Weatherwax, second 
lieutenant (promoted captain). The sergeants were: Luther M. Cook, Hance 
A. Morgan (promoted second lieutenant), Alexander J. Burke, Harvey W. 
Campbell, Michael Riley. Corporals, Mark Hanson (promoted sergeant), Wil- 
liam Millen (promoted sergeant), Nicholas Corrigan, Henry Erdman (pro- 
moted sergeant), Loraine Dutton, Daniel Murphy, George M. Gordon, George 


Larkins. Buglers, John Lennctt and Leonidas Stout; musician, John W. Max- 
well ; farrier, John Hahn ; blacksmith, Harrison Martin. 

Privates — Andrew Adams, Casper Arnold, George Arkle, Charles Baroth}-, 
Lewis B. Bartholomew, Samuel T. Bell, Lewis Benescheans, Joseph Blanche, 
Patrick Brady, Henry Bullinger (promoted corporal), Thomas Burns, John 
Butler (promoted sergeant), Timothy Calnan (promoted sergeant), James Col- 
lins, Richard Cox (promoted corporal), William B. Crawford, David P. Crawley 
(promoted corporal), Lewis Cunningham, Anthony Dailey, Charles W. Davis, 
Michael J. Davis (promoted corporal), John Devine, John H. Dixon, August 
Dock, James Donohue, Timothy Donohue, Charles Doty, Franklin Doty, Albert 
Engel, Dennis Farrell, Robert Fitzmorris, Francis M. Gibson, John Glenn, Charles 
Grady, William Hare, Gustave A. Hess, Thomas Hogan, U. V. Jeffries, George 
Johnson, John Kehoe, John Kelley, Thompson A. Kemmis, Horace Ivent, Henry 
W. Kuck, James Lane, Martin Larkins, Henry Laskowski, Frederick Lauber, 
Edward F. Lee (promoted sergeant), John H. Luce, John Lucy, William 
Maholla, Martin D. Marriman, Alexander K. Martin, James G. Mawson (pro- 
moted corporal), James W. Maxwell, Patrick McNertney, Charles E. Merritt, 
Omar Miller (promoted corporal), Joseph Motley, Westle Norton, John Orchard, 
John Reilly, George J. Reeves, Alexander Rice, Thomas Scholia rd, John 
Scratchley, Anthony Shershon, Dennis Shea, Henry Shelby, Arthur Short, John 
B. Sullivan, Timothy Sweeney, Michael Twiney (promoted corporal), Joseph 
Tucker, Lewis P. Wall (promoted corporal), Thomas A. Wallace, Daniel Web- 
ster, James Welch, Michael Welch, William Welch, George A. White, William 
A. Wicks, George Willis, John Woolums. 

Company H, a large part of which came from Douglas County, was mustered 
in at Omaha, July 3, 1861, with George F. Kennedy, of Florence, as captain; 
Lyman M. Sawyer, first lieutenant; Silas A. Strickland, of Bellevue, second 
lieutenant. Lieutenant Strickland was appointed regimental adjutant on July 
24. 1 861, and William T. Clark was made second lieutenant. Claiborne Wilkinson 
and John Haney served as sergeants; James Jones, George N. Russell and 
John W. McNabb were corporals ; Nils Mortenson, farrier, and the following 
were enrolled as privates : 

Rufus Anderson, William B. Crawford, Charles li. Dingee, Daniel Dingec, 
Richard Dingee, George Dungan, William W. Ivory (transferred to Company 
C as first lieutenant on August 11, 1862, and on September 7, 1862. was pro- 
moted to the captaincy of Company H), Henry C. Landon, Carl Mathieson, 
Ludwig Mathieson, Henry A. Moore, James H. Moran, John Moran, Samuel 
W. Nurse, Daton Penterpaugh, Thomas Powers, Christopher Reeves, George 
J. Reeves, Henry Sage, Hans Schneckloth, Stephen W. Seward, Thomas Shay- 
lor, George H. Slightam, Augustus Swenson, Solomon Taylor, Barney Tunisson, 
Thaddeus Warner, George W. Wilburn, John G. Wilhelm. 

Company I was composed chiefly of men from Missouri and Iowa. John 
Talbot, of Omaha, was first lieutenant of the company from September 2-|, 
1864, and the following Douglas County men served as privates: George Acton 
(bugler), Martin Agon, Christian Anderson, Louis Backstein, George Bigway, 
Albert H. Bliven, John Bordeaux, John Brown, Edward Burgess, James Carson, 
Andrew P. Christenson (promoted sergeant), William L. Crippen, George VV. 
Criss, Francis A. Curtis, Zachariah C. Dosler, John Earl (promoted corporal), 


Jonathan Edwards, Jr., Nelson Feants, Levi W. Ferry, Frank Fisher, Henry 
C. H. Fitzgerald (promoted corporal), Stanton Fordice, James M. Gibbs (pro- 
moted corporal), Gottlieb Green (promoted corporal), George P. Hall, Hans- 
ford Henson (promoted sergeant), Theodore F. Hickman, Leroy L. Holman, 
William L. Humes, Isaac Hutchins, George B. Lewis (promoted sergeant), 
Andrew Lundwall (company saddler), William C. Mayer, Robert L. McElroy 
(promoted corporal), Samuel A. Musser, William S. Rancier, Richard Sellers, 
Alarion Summers, James S. Surles, Joseph S. Surles, Charles Waldron, Walter 
Walker (promoted musician). 

Company K was organized at Omaha, but contained men from all parts of 
Nebraska and a few from Missouri and Iowa. It was mustered in on July 
21, 1861, with Joseph W. Paddock as captain; Robert A. Howard, first 
lieutenant ; Edward Lawler, second lieutenant. Captain Paddock was trans- 
ferred to General Steele's stafl: in April, 1862, when Lieutenant Lawler be- 
came captain. Lieutenant Howard having been transferred to Merrill's Horse. 
Henry F. C. Krumme was captain of the company from August 31, 1864, to 
December 23, 1865, when he was succeeded by Lewis Lowry, promoted from 
second lieutenant. James Steele, who was mustered in as a private and pro- 
moted to quartermaster sergeant, was first lieutenant at the time of muster 
out. All the commissioned officers, with one exception, were from Douglas 
County. Lyman Richardson was second lieutenant for a time until transferred 
to Company F as captain. 

The sergeants from Douglas County at the time of muster in were ; Charles 
W. Cox, William G. McMurtrie, William G. Hackett, Theodore S. Gillmore, 
Michael O'Rourke and Thomas Burgoyne. The corporals were : James C. 
McNulty (promoted sergeant), Thomas Kelley, Lewis Lowry (promoted cap- 
tain), Charles Thompson (promoted regimental commissary sergeant), Andrew 
Dunn, Thomas Doak and John T. Nelson. Hans P. Jensen was enrolled as 
musician and promoted to commissary sergeant. 

Privates — Peter Albertson, L. B. P. Bartholomew (^transferred from Com- 
pany E), Joseph H. Badger (promoted corporal), Jacob Boliber, Hamilton 
Bridwell, Levi Buchanan, Victor Buchanan, Emil Burmester (transferred to 
regimental band), Arthur P. Callahan (promoted corporal), James W. Chip- 
man (promoted corporal), John Combs, John Connell, William Denison, James 
H. Doak (promoted sergeant), Joseph Effelberg, Charles Friderick, James 
Garner, Franklin Hallowell (promoted sergeant), William H. Hendricksoii 
(promoted sergeant), John Hensman (promoted corporal), Hugh F. Humphreys 
(promoted sergeant), John B. Hutchinson, Peter Jensen, David B. Johnson, 
John T. Johnson, John F. Kendrick (promoted corporal), Peter Kingrey, James C. 
Lornson, Lewis Loskey, James Lyons, Jonathan Lyon, Jr., (promoted sergeant). 
William M. May, Francis O. McCauley (promoted sergeant), Thomas B. McDaniel 
(promoted corporal), James McKinniss (promoted corporal), Nathan Middaugh 
(promoted corporal), James P. Morgan (promoted corporal), Daniel Murphy 
(promoted corporal), John Murphy, Jerry Myncham, James O'Neil, No. i (pro- 
moted corporal), James O'Neil, No. 2 (promoted corporal), John L. Parker, 
William C. Pavey, James Peterson, John Pickels, Jasper Privett, William 
Proffit, James H. Radift', Christopher Reeves, Christian Retzloff, John Roggen- 
sach, Festus W. Salem, Alfred B. Seay, John Sheffield, George Shoaf, Robert 


M. Slagle, Joseph 1*". Smtih, Philip Smith, Robert W. Stevenson, Mordecai 
Stout, David D. Terry, Claybrook F. Thomas, Richard Turpin, Joseph Watkins, 
WilHani W. Watson (promoted corporal), Joseph Young. 

On the regimental records appear the following names as "unassigned re- 
cruits" : Joseph Baskan, John Brown, Albert G. W. Crowell, Alfred G. Davis, 
Samuel Gardner, Reuben Kiser, Joseph Morris, John Murray, Benjamin F. 
Sperry, Joseph Stogden, Charles Walker, Charles Whalen. 

Shortly after the regimental organization was completed, the First Infantry 
was ordered south. Its first engagement with the enemy was at the capture 
of Fort Donelson, Tenn., February 15, 1862. From there it moved to 
I'ittsburgh Landing and was actively engaged in the battle of Shiloh, April 6-7, 
1862, where it lost a number in killed and wounded. It was next ordered to 
Memphis, Tenn., where it remained but a short time, going from there to 
Missouri. During its service in that state and Arkansas, it was engaged at 
Cape Girardeau, Pilot Knob, Grand Prairie, and in numerous skirmishes with 
guerrilla bands around Devall's Bluff and Helena. In y\ugust, 1864, those whose 
time had expired were mustered out, and on July 10, 1865. the re-enlisted men 
were consolidated with the 


Company A of this battalion was mustered into the United States service 
at Omaha on January 14, 1864, with George Armstrong as captain. The last 
company was mustered in on August 31, 1864, when Captain Armstrong was 
promoted to major, in command of the battalion. Charles F. Porter was mus- 
tered in as first lieutenant, but was promoted to the captaincy when Captain 
Armstrong was commissioned major, and Henry F. C. Krumme was second 
lieutenant. He was later transferred to Company D as captain and Merrill S. 
Tuttle was made second lieutenant. John Talbot, of Company I, First Regiment, 
was commissioned first lieutenant on November 29, 1864. The roster of 
non-commissioned officers shows the following Douglas County men : William 
Carroll, first sergeant; Francis O. McCauley, quartermaster sergeant; Merrill 
S. Tuttle, William P. I'udney, sergeants; Smith N. Reed, John S. Crume, War- 
ren B. Franklin, Judson A. Langstafi:, corporals. Tuttle was promoted to second 
lieutenant and Crume, Franklin and Langstafif to sergeants. Hugh H. Hunter 1 
was the company saddler, and C. H. Catlin the blacksmith. ' 

Privates — Edward W. Allen, Peter Artman, Adoniram I. Bailey (promoted 
commissary sergeant), William A. Ball, James Bates, William T. Biliter, Ben- 
jamin A. Brown, William R. Couch, George li. Dudley (promoted corporal), 
.•\bel Halleck, James H. Harris, James Johnson, John W. Johnson, Jonas O. 
fohnson, William Johnson, John W. Kirwin,_Frederick Koup, Alfred Lowe, 
John J. Mathews (promoted sergeant), William R. Melius, John Miller, James 
H. Ogburn, Patrick O'Sullivan, Sylvester Pockett, Charles H. Ray, Hiram J. 
Ritchey, Leonidas Rogers (promoted corporal), Robert Rogers, Calvin L. Searl, 
Thomas Smith. John 11. Sullivan. Joseph Watkins. Dudley Walts, James C. 
Waugh, Henry Young. 

Company B was mustered in during the months of March and April, 18O4. 
\\ . H. IS. Stout was mustered in as second lieutenant and promoted to first lieu- 


tenant in January, 1865. George J. Reeves was quartermaster sergeant; William 
A. Tiffany, commissary sergeant; Charles Monroe, sergeant; John Brown, 
William H. Weeks, James Ratlift", G. W. Wilburn, corporals; John Lennett, 
bugler, Harrison Martin, blacksmith; John llahn, farrier; ],orenzo S. Mills, 
saddler, and Edward P. Talcott, wagoner. 

Privates — Andrew Adams, Kasper Arnold, Charles Barothy, Frank Bradley 
(promoted corporal), Charles W. Davis, Michael J. Davis, Francis M. Gibson 
(promoted corporal), Thompson A. Kemmis, Henry W. Kuck, James Lane, 
Henry Laskowski, Frederick T. Longley (promoted corporal), Carl Mathieson, 
Ludwig Mathieson, Henry A. Moore, James H. Moran, John Moran, Samuel 
W. Nurse, Thomas Powers, John Price (promoted corporal), George N. Russell, 
Henry Sage, Hans Schneckloth, Thomas Shaylor, George H. Slightam, Charles 
Summerlad, Solomon Taylor, John G. Wilhelm. 

Company C contained comparatively few Douglas County men. It was 
mustered in June 7, 1864, with Henry Kuhl, of Plattsmouth, as captain. Calvin 
P. Moore, of Omaha, was mustered in as commissary sergeant; Louis Wachtel, 
sergeant; Jonathan Lyon, Jr., Orris F. Odell and John Hughes, corporals; 
William Evans and Birchard Whitcomb, buglers ; John Springer, wagoner. 

Privates — Calvin Ball, James M. Bender, Alexander C. Brown, Robert Carrie, 
John Crane, John Creek, William H. Harrison, Thomas Jefferson, Richard 
Lindley, Benedict O'Neil, William Osburn, Jackson B. Pierce, James Smith, 
William E. Swihart, John Tucker, Lewis Wallace, Albrecht Werth, Oliver 
Whitney, Andre Wilson, James W. Wood, John Wright, Isaac V. Zook. 

Company D was mustered in on the last day of August, 1864, with Henry 
F. C. Krumme as captain; Louis Neals, quartermaster sergeant; John Haney, 
commissary sergeant ; Charles W. Benton, Joseph W. Crowell, Andrew P. 
Christensen and George B. Lewis, sergeants; Hansford Henson, James Lyons, 
William E. Opelt, Louis Backstein, James Jones and Thomas McCauley, corpo- 
rals; John Bordeaux, bugler; Nils Mortenson, farrier; Augustus Swenson, 
blacksmith; Leonard A. Collins, wagoner. 

Privates — Peter Albertson (appointed bugler). Christian Anderson, William 
Barry, George Bigway, Albert H. Bliven, John Brown (appointed bugler), Ed- 
ward Burgess, James Bush, Arthur P. Callahan (promoted corporal), James 
Carson, William L. Crippen, George W. Criss, Zachariah T. Dozier, John Earl 
(promoted corporal), Jonathan Edwards, Jr., Nelson Feanto (promoted corpo- 
ral), Henry C. H. Fitzgerald (promoted sergeant), Stanton Fordice, James M. 
Gibbs, Gottlieb Green, George P. Hall, Oscar Hart, Theodore F. Hickman, 
Leroy L. Holman, William L. Humes, Alonzo R. Hunt, Isaac Hutchins, Larsen 
Janson, Peter Jensen, David B. Johnson, John T. Johnson, William King, James 
C. Lornson, Andrew Lundwall, Jacob P. Maple (promoted sergeant), William 
M. May, John W. McNabb (promoted corporal), Christopher Merchenter, 
Walker M. Monday, James P. Morgan (promoted corporal), Isaac Moorin, John 
L. Parker, William C. Pavey, James Peterson, John Pickels, Jasper Privett, 
Wilson Ramaly, Festus W. Salem, Alfred B. Seay, Richard Sellers, Robert 
M. Slagle, Joseph F. Smith, Robert W. Stevenson, Mordecai Stout, James S. 
Surles, Joseph S. Surles, Joseph Tucker (appointed wagoner), Barney Tunisson, 
Thaddeus Warner, George S. Williams, William H. Worthly. 

While the Civil war was in progress the Indians of Nebraska and adjoining 

Vol 1—12 


states took advantage of the situation to go on the war path. The service of 
the First Battalion, Nebraska Veteran Volunteers, was therefore confined to 
warfare against the savages, and at least two engagements occurred in Nebraska 
— Smith's Station, May 12, 1865, and Alkali, October 22, 1865. In both these 
actions the Indians were defeated, the loss of the battalion in killed and wounded 
being slight. The battalion was mustered out on July i, 1866. 


The Second Nebraska Regiment, known as the Second Cavalry, was organ- 
ized between October, 1862, and March, 1863, and was mustered into the 
United States service for nine months. At the time of muster in Robert 
W. Fumas, of Brownville, was colonel; William F. Sapp, of Omaha, lieutenant- 
colonel; George Armstrong, major; Aurelius Bowen, surgeon ; H. O. Hanna, 
assistant surgeon; Josiah S. McCormick, quartermaster; Charles Powell, 
hospital steward; Charles S. Moore, farrier and veterinary surgeon. The other 
field and staff officers came from outside of Douglas County. 

Company A was organized at Florence and was mustered in at Omaha on 
October 23, 1862, with Peter S. Reed, of Fontenelle, captain; Silas E. Seely, of 
Fontenelle, first lieutenant; Elias H. Clark, of Fort Calhoun, second lieutenant. 
All the other members of the company are credited on the muster roll to 
Florence. The non-commissioned officers at the time of muster in were as 
follows : Presley H. Green, first sergeant ; John C. Seely, quartermaster 
sergeant; William R. Bowen, commissary sergeant; Bradford Bailey, George 
W. Wolcott, Jonathan E. Dorsey, John K. Smith and James S. Riddler, sergeants ; 
John Lyons, James C. Crawford, Charles F. Eisley, Elisha Aldrich, Peter Lemon, 
Henry L. Howard, Daniel G. Selden and Andrew J. Critchfield, corporals ; 
George A. Hamer and John H. Stork, farriers; John A. Hall, saddler (promoted 
regimental saddler) ; Isaac M. Davis, wagoner (promoted quartermaster ser- 
geant) ; Daniel W. Case, teamster. 

Privates — Oney Aldrich, Adoniram J. Bailey, Andrew Baker, Levi Baker, 
Seth M. Baker, Chester Bannister, Charles H. Barber, Horatio G. Barber, 
Austin W. Beals (promoted corporal), Robert B. Beals, John Beebe, William 
Bell, James Billeter, Marks J. Billeter, William G. Bingham, Arthur Bloomer 
(promoted corporal), Sherod Boone, John S. Bowen, Isaac B. Burton, Josiah 
Cox, James Craig, Jr., William R. Dickerson, Edgar A. Dodge, Casper Eberline, 
Edward Fleicheneur, Samuel A. Francis, Lemuel Franklin, Warren B. Franklin 
(promoted sergeant), Leonard Gilbert, Frank Gravier, William F. Green (pro- 
moted saddler), Charles Grovihan, James Gugins, John Gugins, John G. Hausc, 
Thomas Heaton, Christy Heneman, Fernando C. Howard, Joseph H. Hutchinson 
(promoted corporal), Thomas Johnson, Benjamin L. Keyes, John W. Kirwin, 
John Kneoll, John G. Kjiight (promoted corporal), Frederick Koup, Henry 
Koup, William E. Lee, John Lepray (promoted corporal), Josiah Long, Wil- 
liam N. McCandlish (promoted sergeant), John R^cGinness, William R. Melius, 
George Moore, William Mulliken (promoted sergeant), Henry B. Myers, John 
Osterloh, Thomas S. Patterson, George W. Peck, Joseph F. Pugsley, Sidney 
Reese, Washington Runyan, Qiester O. Sampson, John J. Schademan, Jacob 
Schwab, John F. Scott (promoted corporal), Amos Shick (transferred to the 


artillery with General Sully's expedition), Julius Shuth, George H. Slightam, 
Thomas Smith, Ferdinand Stankey, Dolphin Swarts, William H. Turner, Charles 
Valentine, George Wagner, Augustus L. Ward, George W. Wilburn, Thomas 
Wilson, Absalom Yost (promoted corporal), Milo F. Young. 

Company B was organized at DeSoto and was mustered in on October 24, 
1862. Benjamin F. Dilley, of Douglas County, was mustered in as quarter- 
master sergeant; James S. Gibson, corporal; James Isom, farrier; James 
Foley, saddler; Lyman A. Harmon, wagoner, and the following privates were 
credited to the county : 

Augustus Ault, Edward Blackstone, Daniel Bostwick, Jesse Bowman, Edwin 
T. Ferris, Milton M. Harney, Stevenson Ide, George Lawrence, Hiram C. 
Lydick, William A. McAllister, William G. Olinger, Frederick Shield (promoted 
quartermaster sergeant), Jesse Spillman, Porter S. Walker and Charles R. 

Company C was mustered in on October 30, 1862. It contained only a few 
men from Douglas County, all of whom enlisted as privates, to-wit : Moses Har- 
rison, Oscar M. Johnston, John Mathews, Nephi Stewart. 

Company D was mustered in at Omaha on November 3, 1862, with Henry 
Gray, of Douglas County, first lieutenant; Wilbur B. Hugus, second lieutenant; 
Horace C. Newman, sergeant; James R. Crandall, corporal, and the following 
Douglas County privates : 

George Acton (appointed saddler), Peter Albertson, Samuel M. Buckenridge, 
John Chafman, Andres Chestersen, John H. Clauson, George W. Crist, Joseph 
W. Crovvell, Dominique Deyback, James Douglas, Henry C. H. Fitzgerald, James 
M. Gibbs, Moses Hotaling, Peter Jensen, James Johnson, John Knudsen, An- 
drew G. McCausland, John McCune, James McEvoy, Michael McGary, Daniel 
McMillan, William H. McTwiggan, John Orchard, Robert W. Paddock, William 
P. Rowe (promoted corporal), Louis Scherb and Walter Walker. 

Nelson Brown and Alexander W^elch served as privates in Company E; 
Douglas County was not represented in Companies F and G; Daniel Clemins 
was farrier of Company H, in which Joseph H. Badger, Asa Coleman, James 
H. Clark and William G. Fowler served as privates. Company I was organized 
at Dakota City and contained no Douglas County boys, but in Company K the 
county was well represented. 

Company K was mustered in at Omaha on Januar>' 22, 1863, with Edwin 
Patrick, captain; William B. James, first lieutenant; Philip P. Williams, 
second lieutenant, all from Omaha. Of the non-commissioned officers Douglas 
County furnished Samuel Stopher, quartermaster sergeant; Jacob A. Denham, 
commissary sergeant; Albert W. Merrick, Hugh S. Blair, E. H. Gibson and 
Robert C. Avery, sergeants; Andrew J. Harmon, Judson A. Langstait, Cyrus 
P. Smith, John Hensman, Henry A. Pierce, Edward \\\ Hutchinson, James B. 
Davis and Albert J. Skinner, corporals; Perry Stuck and Frank Dozier, far- 
riers; Joseph Tucker, wagoner; E. C. Whiting, saddler. 

Privates — John C. Anderson, Jacob Bohliber, Edward Britton, William S. 
Brown, Charles Buck, Stewart S. Caldwell, Winchester Cheeney, Robert Clemens, 
James Gormen, Isaac V. Cornish (promoted corporal), John H. Coulter, Wil- 
liam H. Doyle, Alfred H. Guinn, Abel Hallock, Samuel A. Hamilton, Henry 
Hawkins, Andrew Helms, James H. Hindsley, John A. Holly, Thomas H. 


Holtani, A. Hopkins, James Hudson, Calvin C. Kinney (promoted corporal), 
M. Kowski, David A. Logan, Thomas McKnight, Gotfried Milverstedt, Henry 
H. Moore, Warren T. Moore, James Moran, John Moran, Charles T. Morgan, 
William Pickett, Elijah R. Pollard, Garvin Prior, William P. Putney, George W. 
Pyles, Jeremiah Pyles, George Richardson, Henry Richardson, H. C. Rowell, 
Thomas J. Smith (promoted corporal), W. J. Sowder, Edgar Stopher (pro- 
moted corporal), George Stuart, John B. Sullivan, Joseph \V. Taylor, Thomas 
Thompson, Charles Van Alstyne, George C. Ward, Smith G. Ward (promoted 
sergeant). Freeman Wilkerson, Junior Wilkerson, John A. Wing, John Ziegler. 

Company L was organized at Falls City and contained but two Douglas 
County men — Zachary T. MuUin and Samuel C. Pitzer — both of whom were 
enrolled as privates. 

Company M was organized around Nemaha City, where it was mustered 
in on March 24, 1862. The only Douglas County man upon the rolls of this 
company was Stearns F. Cooper, who was commissioned captain on the day 
the company was mustered in. 

The Second Cavalry was employed against the hostile Indians in Nebraska 
and the Territory of Dakota. Its most severe engagement was the battle of 
White Stone Hill, Dakota Territory, September 5, 1863, where it suffered a slight 
loss in killed and wounded. It was mustered out by companies during the 
month of December, 1863. 


The cavalry organization called the Curtis Horse was organized during the 
summer and early fall of 1861 and consisted of four companies. On December 
20, 1861, it was consolidated with other organizations to form the Fifth Iowa 

Company A was mustered in at Omaha on September 14, 1861, with M. T. 
Patrick, captain ; William Kelsay, first lieutenant. Captain Patrick was pro- 
moted lieutenant-colonel in November and Lieutenant Kelsay was commis- 
sioned captain. In this company Douglas County furnished the following non- 
commissioned officers: Marion A. Hinds, quartemiaster sergeant (promoted 
first lieutenant); Charles Edwards, Thomas W. Ritchie (promoted first lieu- 
tenant), Charles Mason, sergeants; James Campbell, Dudley Mizner, Alonzo 
H. Taylor, Joseph Graham, William Burt, corporals; William A. Thayer, 
bugler; James Pegg, farrier; Charles Tamblin, wagoner. Corporals Mizner, 
Taylor and Graham were each promoted to the rank of sergeant. 

Privates — Napoleon B. Adkins (promoted corporal), Thomas Billings, Wil- 
liam Campbell, John W. Carter, Marion Crandall, Rudolph Crandall, Charles 
Feldman, Joseph Franklin, Charles Goodrich, John Griffey, Patrick Gwinn, 
Justice Hall, Thomas H. Hamed, Francis M. Harris (appointed bugler), Martin 
Headley, Hugo Holdoegel, Joel Hoover, John D. Hurd, William Lawrence, 
Isaac J. Lewis, William Martins, C. McEvers, Patrick M. McGuire, William 
McGuire, Joseph Musgrave, Francis J. Melville (promoted corporal). Christian 
Olson, John N. Owens, George T. Paddock (promoted corporal), Carl Pulsifer 
(promoted corporal), Frank Pulsifer, Thomas J. Reese, O. C. Ruttan, Wil- 
liam D. Rnnyan, Milton Sailing, George Thomas (promoted corporal). Waiter 



Tuttle, John W. Warren, Thomas Warren, Michael Waters, Thomas Waters, 
Charles Watson, Thomas Wilson, George Whiting. 

Company B was mustered in at Omaha on September 21, 1801, and its 
muster roll bears the names of the following Douglas County men; John T. 
Croft, captain; Jeremiah C. Wilcox, second lieutenant (promoted captain of 
Company H) ; Erastus G. McNeely, first sergeant (promoted captamj ; Wil- 
liam P. Snowden, George McLean and Charles Edwards, sergeants; D. B. 
Thopham, O. H. Bonham, John S. Thompson, William Pierce and Philip Mc- 
Gary, corporals; Joseph Hensman, bugler. 

Privates— F. A. Allen, E. Atkinson, David Baker, M. C. W. Bayliss, A. 
Beninger, P. A. Bevington, J. K. P. Billings, Richard Braschonsky, Nelson 
Brown, T. E. Chatfield, J. B. Clark, Warren Davis, Lewis Disher, William 
Dougherty, Antonio Giago, George F. Herral, Joseph G. Hersey, Samuel H. 
Hopkins, William iMartin, H. B. Monciaran, James P. Pollock, Henry Shuth, 
Charles L. Slade (promoted corporal), William Torey, Manuel Toris, J. B. 
Towers, George R. Travor, Thomas S. Wallace, George Williams, August 

Company C was composed largely of men from Iowa and the southeastern 
part of Nebraska. Douglas County furnished to this company the following 
privates : Florence Allen, James Burns, Daniel Knight, John B. McCabe, Philip 
Oswald and Nathaniel F. Russell. 

Company D was mustered into service at Benton Barracks, St. Louis, Mis- 
souri, November 13, 1861. Joseph S. Rich, of Omaha, was mustered in as 
quartermaster sergeant and afterward promoted to first lieutenant; Cyrus Day 
and Edmund G. Coombs were mustered in as sergeants, and the following 
Douglas County men were enrolled as privates: Elisha B. Day, Wiston Gar- 
rison, Edward R. Lane, George M. McAllister. 

The service of the Curtis Horse was principally in Kentucky and Tennessee. 
On March 11, 1862, it was engaged in a sharp fight with the enemy at Paris, 
Tenn., and on August 27, 1862, it was engaged at Cumberland Iron Works, 
where it lost a number in killed, wounded and captured. For some time it was 
stationed at Fort Heiman, Kentucky, where it had a number of skirmishes with 
the guerrilla bands that infested that section of the state. It was mustered out 
on August 1 1, 1865. 


In the summer of 1864 the Indians because so menacing that the governor 
ordered out the territorial militia. Company A, First Regiment, First Brigade, 
was mustered into the service of the territory at Omaha on August 30, 1864. 
for a period of sixty days. Of this company John R. Porter was captain; 
Allen T. Riley, first lieutenant; Martin Dunham, second lieutenant; Henry 
C. Hall, first sergeant; Abner G. Murphy, commissary sergeant; Justin Davis, 
quartermaster sergeant ; Frank Winship, Jarvis H. Kimball, Perry Cain, famos 
S. Neighley, sergeants; Henry Wait, Andrew J. Swartz, John J. Donalsoii, 
William Trumbull, corporals. 

Privates — Thomas B. Adams (promoted corporal), John A. Arnold, Henry 
Astman (or Artman), William Boden, Louis Bouvier, John Brown, Childs 


Canon, William Crowell, John W. Denton, James Dooley, Edward Givens (pro- 
moted corporal), Henry Gotzche, Frank Go\v, Grant Hamilton, Samuel Higgs, 
George Hunt (promoted corporal). States C. Incho, Frank M. Jenkins, Joseph 
H. Johnson, Charles Lee, Greenberry B. McMichael, William H. RIcMichael, 
Pardou Marshall (promoted corporal), James Menhenett, William Menhenett, 
Joseph S. Morgan, Daniel Murphy, Henry Nye (appointed farrier), James Rus- 
sell, James L. Sheldon, Charles S. Smith, Samuel C. Smith, Benjamin F. 
Stevens, George W. Wilburn, Peter Windheim, Charles Young. 

A portion of the First Regiment, Second Brigade, was also called into service, 
but the above were all that went out from Douglas County. The Omaha com- 
pany was mounted and took part in the campaign against the Indians in the 
western part of the territory. It was mustered out at Omaha on November 12, 
1864, and the men returned to their homes, ready to answer a second call should 
occasion require. 


A small detachment of artillery belonging to the territorial militia was mus- 
tered into service at Omaha on August 30, 1864, for sixty days. Edward P. 
Child was captain; James M. Johnson, first lieutenant; William Miller, ser- 
geant; Barton Arlington and William Quinn, corporals, and the following served 
as privates : Timothy Donovan, Wallace Homer, Joseph Kuhn, Nicholas 
O'Byme, James O'Fallon, Donald Reed, John Sickles, Thomas J. Stewart. 
This detachment was in the Indian campaign and was mustered out at Omaha 
on November 12, 1864. 

The foregoing rosters, of the several commands in which Douglas County 
was represented during the Civil war, have been compiled from the "Roster of 
Nebraska Volunteers," prepared by Edgar S. Dudley, first lieutenant of the 
Second United States Artillery, and published by authority of the state in 188S. 
It is possible that some of the names are mis-spelled, but they appear above jusi 
as they appear on the adjutant-general's official records. 


For four hundred years after the discovery of America, the Island of 
Cuba was a dependency of Spain. While Spain was losing her other American 
possessions one by one, the people of Cuba remained loyal to the mother country, 
and when the Spanish dynasty was overthrown by Napoleon in 1808, the Cubans 
declared war against Napoleon. Their loyalty during all these years received a 
poor recompense, however, for in 1825 a royal decree placed the lives and 
fortunes of the Cubans at absolute disposal of the captains-general, or governors 
of the island. The "conquistadores" were slow in coming, but they had at last 

Four years after this decree a conspiracy was formed for the purpose of 
throwing off the Spanish yoke, but the movement was discovered and crushed 
by the Spanish authorities before the revolutionists were ready to begin active 
operations. Then followed the uprising of the blacks in 1844, which, like the 
conspiracy, was suppressed with great critelty on the part of the Spaniards. In 


1S49-50 Narcisso Lopez, whose ideas were too Quixotic for a military leader, 
fitted out an expedition at New Orleans for the overthrow of the Spanish 
power in Cuba. His expedition proved futile and some of his men perished in 
Spanish dungeons. After eighteen years of comparative peace came the "Ten 
Years War" — from 1868 to 1878 — during which Spain threatened to make a 
desert of the island. In that conflict the Spanish Government sent 257,000 soldiers 
to Cuba and so great was the sacrifice of life that fewer than fifty thousand 
of them returned to their native land. Three hundred million dollars' worth 
of property was destroyed during the war and an enormous debt was con- 
tracted, which was saddled upon the Cubans as a penalty for their revolt. 

One effect of the Ten Years War was to make the captains-general more 
tyrannical in their administration of affairs ; another was to render the Cubans 
more determined to achieve their independence. The cruelty of the island gov- 
ernors and the heavy burden of the war debt were such that it was not long 
until the people of the island began planning another insurrection. Experience 
had taught them to move with caution and for more than fifteen years they 
carried on their preparations with the utmost secrecy. In 1895 the insurrection 
broke out at several places simultaneously. The revolutionists were led by Maceo 
and Gomez. Captain-General Campos, then governor of the island, conducted 
his military movements along the lines established by civilized warfare, but 
this policy did not meet the approval of the Spanish authorities at Madrid. He 
was therefore removed and General Weyler was placed in his stead. Weyler 
adopted the policy of removing the people from the rural districts, where they 
were in a position to furnish supplies to the insurgents, and herding them in the 
cities, where they were kept under guard. The supply of food in the cities was 
inadequate to the demands of the "reconcentrados," as the -people confined in 
the cities were called, and many actually starved to death. Weyler was no 
respecter of persons and women and children were the greatest sufferers. 

The inhumanity of such a policy soon aroused the indignation of the civilized 
world. European nations sent protests to the Spanish Government, and in the 
United States political conventions, commercial bodies and some of the State 
Legislatures adopted ringing resolutions calling on the Federal Government to 
intervene in behalf of the oppressed and suft'ering Cubans. Charitably inclined 
people in this country proposed to raise a fund to feed the starving recon- 
centrados, but when this became known in Havana riots resulted, friends of 
Spain telling the people that intervention of any kind by the United States meant 
the ultimate annexation of Cuba to that country. 

The Atlantic Squadron of the United States Navy was ordered to the Dry 
Tortugas, within six hours sail of Havana, and on January 25, 1898, the Battle- 
ship Maine dropped anchor in Havana Harbor. The presence of this great 
war vessel, while the United States and Spain were supposed to be at peace, 
was not pleasing to the Spanish officials, who, as a measure of retaliation, or- 
dered the Cruiser Vizcaya to New York. Thus matters stood until February 9, 
1898, when the Spanish minister to the United States resigned his position and 
demanded his passports. On the evening of February 15, 1898. the Maine was 
blown up, with the total loss of the vessel and over two hundred of her officers 
and men. A court of inquiry afterward reported that the vessel had been blown 


up "by a submarine mine, which caused the partial explosion of two or more of 
her forward magazines." 

The destruction of the Maine, with its consequent loss of life, increased the 
excitement in the United States and the demands for intervention grew more 
and more insistent. Still the Government declined to intervene, for the reason 
that General Weyler had been superseded by General Blanco, who issued a 
proclamation declaring a cessation of hostilities and announced that the recon- 
centrados would be permitted to return to their homes. American consuls soon 
reported that this promise was not being fulfilled and that the suffering among 
the imprisoned people had not been abated in the least. 

On March 8, 1898, Congress appropriated $50,000,000 for the national de- 
fense, but no further action was taken for more than a month, or until it was 
definitely learned that Blanco's promise to release the reconcentrados had been, 
and was being, systematically ignored. On the i8th of April Congress adopted 
a concurrent resolution recognizing the independence of Cuba and demanding 
that Spain relinquish authority over and withdraw her forces from the island. 
The resolution closed with these words : "The United States hereby disclaims 
any disposition or intention to exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction or control over 
said island, except for the pacification thereof, and asserts its determination 
when that is accomplished to leave the government and control of the island to 
its people." 

The resolution authorized the President to employ the forces of the United 
States Army and Navy to aid Cuba, and an act was passed providing for in- 
creasing the army to 61,000 men. Rear Admiral Sampson was ordered tu 
blockade the Cuban ports. This order was quickly followed by a formal declara- 
tion of war against Spain, and on April 23, 1898, President McKinley issued a 
call for 125,000 volunteers, "to be supplied from the militia of the several states 
as far as practicable." 

Two days later Gov. Silas A. Holcomb received the following telegram : 

"Washington, D. C, April 25, 1898. 
"To the Governor of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska : — 

"The number of troops from your state under the call of the President, 
dated April 23, 1898, will be two regiments of infantry. It is the wish of the 
President that the regiments of the National Guard, or state militia, shall be used 
as far as their numbers will permit, for the reason that they are armed, equipped 
and drilled. 

"Please wire as early as possible what equipments, ammunition, arms, 
blankets, tents, etc., you have, and what additional you will require. Please also 
state when troops will be ready for muster into LTnited States service. 

"Secretary of War." 

Upon receipt of this telegram. Governor Holcomb directed Adjt.-Gen. 
Patrick H. Barry to order the First and Second Regiments, Nebraska National 
Guard, to mobilize at the old fair grounds at Lincoln, which was named Camp 
Alvin Saunders arid placed under the command of Brig.-Gen. Charles J. Bills. 
On April 26, 1898. the adjutant-general issued General Order No. 10, calling 
for the mobilization of the two regiments and by the 28th all the companies com- 


posing the First and Second Infantry were in camp, ready to be mustered into 
the service of the United States. 


This regiment was mustered in on May lo, iSgS/Hvith John i'. Bratt, of 
Bennet, Nebraska, as colonel. Harry B. Mulford, of Omaha, was one of the 
three majors, and Robert P. Jensen was second assistant surgeon. 

Company A came from York and at the time of muster in contained but 
three men from Douglas County, viz.: James H. Duncanson, William H. Grant 
and Willie Smith. In June several recruits from Douglas County were added 
to the company, to-wit: George W. Boltz, William R. Diebold, Harry A. Mc- 
Hugh, Gustave Meyer and William S. Orr. 

The greater portion of Company B came from about Fullerton. Cenjamin 
Irwin and M. Clay McCoy were the only two Douglas County men in this com- 
pany. Company C was from Beatrice and Company D from Lincoln, though 
in the latter the following Douglas County boys were enrolled as privates on 
June i8, 1898: James I. Bowes, John J. Boyle, Frank D. Buzzell, Albert D. 
Girton, Zebulon L. Martin, Charles J. McKenzie, Orville C. Page, Ralston N. 
Patmore and Andrew F. Schons. 

Company E was organized at David City. Arba B. Ammerman and Ira M. 
Wilson, of Douglas County, were enrolled as privates at the time of muster 
in, and in June the following recruits added to the company were credited to 
Douglas County: Jefferson W. Bedford, Charles Breining, William H. 
Clinchard, John J. Collins, Charles Cooley, Samuel D. Graves, Otto E. Meyer 
and Walter L. Smedley. 

Company F came from the vicinity of Madison. Joseph Tierney, of South 
Omaha, was mustered in as a sergeant, and Warren H. Cook and Clarence A. 
Pinney as privates. 

Company G was a Geneva organization and contained no Douglas County men. 
Company H came from Nelson and Holdrege, with a few men from other places, 
but none from Douglas County. William E. Stockham, of Omaha, was mustered 
in as second lieutenant of Company L and the next day was made captain of 
Company I, in which Charles F. Evans was enrolled as a private. The greater 
portion of Company I came from Bennet. 

Company K was a Columbus company, but Company L was distinctly an 
Omaha organization. It was mustered in with Wallace C. Taylor as captain ; 
Lee Forby, first lieutenant ; William E. Stockham, second lieutenant. Lee Forby 
was promoted adjutant of the regiment and Charles M. Richards, who was 
mustered in as first sergeant was made first lieutenant, and when Lieutenant 
Stockham was commissioned captain of Company I, Sergeant Jesse M. Tompsett 
was made second lieutenant. 

The non-commissioned officers at the time of muster in were as follows : 
Fred Fisher, quartermaster sergeant ; John T. Buchanan, Jesse M. Tompsett, 
Garrett F. Coleman, sergeants ; William L. Baehr and Jerome A. Lillie, corporals 
(both promoted sergeant) ; William L. Baxter and James W. Thompson, 

Privates — Charles A. Anderson, Guernsey H. Anderson, William F. Asscn- 


heimer, Oliver W. Auch Moedy, David O. Barnell, Gaylord S. Blakely, William 
O. Belden, Harry A. Bennett, Everett Brown, Frank D. Bryant, Willard V. Carter, 
Joseph Ceyner, Adalbert E. Coltrin, Jesse O. Coy (promoted corporal), Edward 
W. Crook, Harry M. Cross, Henry F. Dailey, James W. Downs, John E. Farmer, 
Warner E. Field, George L. Fisher, Clyde W. Garrett, Robert W. Gillespie, James 
A. Godfrey, Fred L. Greene, Frederick G. Gross, William D. Hall, Francis E. 
Hanson, Harry E. Harrison, Mortimer B. Humphrey, Daniel B. Jones (promoted 
corporal), Robert W. Kells, William J. Koopman, William j\I. Kincaid, Thomas 
S. Lamb, Martin O. Legg, Peter G. Lewis, Gustave Limdquist, William C. 
McKell, William L Malone, Daniel F. Maloney, Charles Martin, Williard B. 
Mason, Eugene Meyer, Samuel B. Alumaugh, John Muerhead, Victor H. Muti- 
necke (promoted corporal, Charles M. Primeau, promoted corporal), Fred C. 
Roberts, Royal E. Riley, Theodore A. Rohn, Charles O. Sandstrom, Maynard 
E. Sayles, George B. Scrambling, Lewis W. Schock, William A. Schwichtenberg, 
Charles A. Sheeler (promoted corporal), Samuel F. Shannon, Guy D. Solomon, 
Arthur B. Stokes, Herbert B. Taylor, Fred Taylor, William A. Templeton, 
George A. Wageck, Amos W. Whitacre, Robert H. Whitacre, Patrick J. White, 
Harry T. Whitman (promoted corporal), James H. Whitmore, Charles F. Willie, 
Arthur H. Wilson. 

Recruits — Charles A. Ballenger, Ward C. Crawford, Herman Dittmer, James 
Fanning, William L. Foster, Howard W. Gies, Robert A. Heller, William 
Howard, George A. Johnson, Edward J. Lafferty, William Lanipmann, James P. 
McKinney, Harvey W. Majors, Paul R. Alartin, Bernard A. O'Connell, Edward 
A. Pegan, William E. Patterson, Frank L Reed, Albert Rotts, Arthur Waterfall, 
Herbert S. Walsh, Sherman A. Yule. These recruits were mustered in on 
June 17, 1898. 

Company M, the last of the twelve companies composing the First Regiment, 
was from Broken Bow and contained no Douglas County men. 

On May 15, 1898, the First Infantry received orders to proceed to San 
Francisco, California, and on the 20th it went into camp at Camp Merritt, where 
it remained until June 14th, when it embarked on the steamer Senator for the 
Philippine Islands. The Senator dropped anchor in Manila Bay on Sunday, 
]uly 17, 1898, and on Tuesday the troops were landed. That evening, a portion 
uf the regiment on outpost duty had a slight skirmish with the enemy, m which 
one man was killed and several slightly wounded. The regiment remained on 
duty in the Philippines until June 16, 1899, when it was relieved from the 
firing line and ordered to take transports for the United States. On July i, 
1899. under command of Colonel Harry B. Mulford, who had been promoted to 
that rank on the 26th of the preceding April, it embarked on the transport Han- 
cock and arrived at San Francisco on the last day of July. 

At San Francisco it was met by Governor Poynter, Adjutant-General Barr>-, 
Congressman W. L. Stark and a number of prominent Nebraskans. The regiment 
remained in camp at the Presidio until August 23, 1899, when it entrained for 
Lincoln, arriving there on August 30 and receiving a fitting reception by the 
citizens of the state. The men were mustered out at San Francisco just prior 
to breaking camp. 



The Second Infantry, of which Charles J. Bills, of Fairbury, was colonel, was 
mustered into the United States service at Lincoln on May to, 1898. Michael 

A. Rebert, of Omaha, was mustered in as first assistant surgeon. Company A 
came from Kearney ; Company B, from Ord ; Company C, from Nebraska City ; 
Company D, from Fairbury; Company E, from North Platte; Company F, from 

Company G was from Omaha and was mustered in with Harry B. Mulford as 
captain; Charles H. Wilson, first Heutenant ; Eli Hodgins, second lieutenant. 
Captain Mulford was transferred to the First Regiment as major and was mustered 
out as colonel of that regiment. Upon his being transferred. Lieutenant Charles 
H. Wilson was promoted captain and Private James A. C. Kennedy was made 
first heutenant. John G. Lund was first sergeant; William M. Barnum, quarter- 
master sergeant ; Oliver G. Osborne, Bower E. McCague and George R. Purvis, 
sergeants; George H. Conant, Herman B. Kinney, Lee L. Hamlin, James Allen, 
William S. Bowen, Frank A. Freeman and George E. Kinney, corporals; Benjamin 
W. Cotton, James P. Eskildson and George O. Miles, musicians. 

Privates — William S. Adams, William H. Anderson, James Anglin, John C. 
Arnout, Nels Arvidson, William E Baker, Harry V. Blenkiron, Marshall H. 
Bumham, Jr.. Coit G. Campbell, Edward S. Chadwick, Harry E. Close, Charles 
K. Cralle (promoted corporal), John Cranswick, Ralph H. Deverell, Henry L. 
Drake, Paul Epeneter, Albert D. Fetterman, Leo Fisher, Lester M. Folger, 
Edmund Q. Forsyth, John H. Gainey, Thomas AL Guerin, Edwin B. Hadfield, 
Robert A. Hays (promoted corporal). Elmer A. Heller, George L. Horn, Jr., 
Harry Hugh, Martin T. Johnson, Wilber S. Lininger, Samuel F". Macfarland, 
John C. Mathieson, Max Morrison (promoted corporal), Ralph Moxham, Joseph 
H. McKenna, Erick Miller, Thomas Munster (promoted corporal), Frank S. 
Neucomb, William Newton, Frank C. O'Hollaren, Hugh M. Packard, Jay 
Packard, Peter Peterson. John J. Pringle, Lucien E. Quinby, Edward B. Richards, 
David Ritter, Robert C. Ross (promoted corporal), Ralph L. Shepard, Gardner 

B. Stearns (promoted quartermaster sergeant, July 29, 1898, when Sergeant 
Barnum was discharged), Harry O. Steel (promoted corporal), George F. Stoney, 
John Sullivan. Eddie D. Thompson, Alonzo C. Tinker, John F. Trayner, Eugene 
Turcot (promoted regimental sergeant-major). Jay VanSchoick, Gains H. Wal- 
lace. Alfred C. Wedgewood, Richard E. Wilcox. 

Recruits — Harry S. Askwith, George L. Adams, John E. Arundel, Charles 
Baysdorfer. Charles L. Benawa, Christian E. Diehl, Judson B. Douglas, Warren 
M. Douglas, Frank C. Gately, Benjamin D. Hayes, Albert H. Harlow, Michael 
J. Healy, Julius Hohlfield, Patrick A. Ivins, Joseph W. E. McElrath, Charles 
W. Martin, Richard D. Maxon, Michael E. Mullin, John Ostrom, Charles A. 
Powell. William R. Scott. Henrj^ A. Stoney, Edmond W. Warner, William M. 
Wood, Morgan A. Yule. 

The Second Regiment left Camp Alvin Saunders on May 19, 1898, for Chica- 
mauga Park, Georgia, and arrived at Camp George H. Thomas on the 22nd. 
It was assigned to the Second Brigade, First Division, Third Army Corps. The 
division was commanded by Brig.-Gen. Fred D. Grant. The war with Spain 
was of much shorter duration than had been anticipated, and in August a number 


of volunteer regiments were ordereil home for muster out. The Second Nebraska 
arrived at Omaha on September 2, 1898, and after performing some duties in 
connection with the Trans-Mississippi and Intemational Exposition, then in 
progress, it was mustered out on October 24, 1898. Many of the members of the 
regiment regretted that they were not given an opportunity to meet the enemy, 
and from the general personnel of the organization they would no doubt have 
rendered a good account of themselves as well on the field as in camp. 


On July 13, 1S9S, the Third Infantry was mustered in at Omaha, with William 
J. Bryan, of Lincoln, as colonel. Alva S. Pinto, of Omaha, was mustered in as 
one of the regimental stewards, and Ernest A. Ittner, Harry C. Lyon and Harry 
C. Parkhurst were members of the regimental band. 

Company A contained a few men from Douglas County. John J. Ford 
served as corporal; Wilson N. Miller, as musician; and the following were 
enrolled as privates : Errett B. Bigelow, Cottle Bliss, John H. Collins, Fred E. 
Ferro, Herbert C. Gladwin, Charles Harrahan, Thomas N. Marksbury, Joseph 
Nader, John J. O'Leary, Frank W. Pierce, George Roach, William Schneider, 
Charles T. Wolf and Herman Zarbock, Jr. 

Company B came from about Plattsmouth and Weeping water, but the fol- 
lowing privates in this company were credited to Douglas County : Andrew C. 
Adair, Leslie L. Bowers, Thomas Clancy, John M. Ellis, Michael J. Frahcr, 
William Greenlee, George W. Hobbick, James N. Keanes, Wellington King, 
George L. Leonard, Edmund M. Metts, Peter Mungoran, Daniel Rouse and 
Theodore Volsted. 

Company C was composed largely of Douglas County men and at the time of 
muster it was officered as follows : Charles H. Marple, captain ; William G. 
Doane, first lieutenant; Henry M. Morrow, second lieutenant; Thomas R. White, 
first sergeant; Agustus A. Tylee, quartermaster sergeant; Charles H. Grouse, 
sergeant ; Frank C. Bailey, Frank Housman, Frederick C. Darlington, Fred C. 
Paddelford, Samuel H. Dillon, Emil Sydow. Henry B. Corliss (transferred to 
Company B), William E. Miller, William C. Berghahm, Harry B. Burket and 
John P. Oliver, corporals; Noyes B. Spefard and Charles E. Eberhart, musicians; 
Nathan W. Freeman, artificer. Lieutenant Doane was promoted adjutant of the 
regiment on October 20, 1898; Lieutenant Morrow was promoted first lieutenant, 
and Sergeant White, second lieutenant. 

Privates — Martin L. Allen, Alfred Arneman, Jr., William F. Bowerman, 
Philip Brechwald, Calvin N. Brewster, John M. Bride, Martin E. Carlson, 
William R. C. Cook, Michael F. Costello, Lincoln Crumrine, John H. Cusick, 
Albert Dobbins, James Farrell, Charles A. Faulkner, Christian T. Gritzka (trans- 
ferred to hospital corps as steward), Elgrin C. Hawkins, Walter S. Heller, 
William Henrv', Fred Henske, Robert E. Hileman, Harry H. Howell, Edward 
Humphrey, John E. Joyce, John F. Keliher, Adrian C. Keller, Michael J. 
Kenney, John J. Kirkpatrick, Herman O. Koch, Andrew Koss, Alma D. Lanyon, 
Era W. Lown, Dennis A. Lynch. Cornelius J. Mack, Joseph P. Maguire, Emil 
Medinnus, Edward F. Mitchell, Peter Murphy, Ernest H. Norton, Thomas J. 
O'Donnell, Henry C. Paul, William C. Payne, Peter J. Peterson, James F. Pool, 


Ralph R. Ralston, George W. Riley, Charles H. Robinson, Charles Rowles, 
Orland W. Royce, Andrew J. Russell, Daniel J. Sheil, Dewayne D. Shepherd, 
James K. Short, Len Sledge, John A. Sick, Albert Sparks, Fred Stolze, Henry 
F. Strupp, Oscar Swanson, John Schnake, Edward Taylor, Charles B. Tower, 
George A. Vernon, Arthur J. Wade, Albin F. Wahlstrom, Davis Watson, Otis 
C. West, William A. Whisenand, Joseph B. Wilshire, William W. Wilton, Harry 
E. Wyman, Thomas A. Wyman, James Zurbusky. 

Company D might be termed a Douglas County company. At the time of 
muster in the commissioned officers were as follows : William Neve, captain ; 
Fritz J. Nygaard, first lieutenant; Fred Hansen, second lieutenant, all from 

The non-commissioned officers credited to Douglas County were: Adolph M. 
Hansen, first sergeant; Jens P. Thompsen, quartermaster sergeant; Walter D. 
Reynolds, Albert G. Dennett and Frank Andersen, sergeants ; Fred B. Abernethy, 
Lorens Petersen, Adolph S. Nielsen, Jens Jensen, John Toft, Julius F. Miller and 
Albert L. Ashbrough, corporals; Walter Thaning, wagoner; James P. Lingaard, 

Privates — John C. Allwein, Andrew Anderson, Edward Anderson, Marius 
Andersen, Morris Andersen, Sylvan K. Adams, Albert Carlsen, Christian Clausen, 
Jabez Cross, James E. Cooney, Sigurd Flor, Joseph Flynn, Charles C. Gamst, 
Christian A. Gercke, Daniel Hope, Walter Horton, John F Ickes, Anders F. 
Jensen, Nels P. Jansen, Christian Jergensen, Hans Jensen, Lawrence C. Jorgensen, 
Lewis C. Jones, John j\L Juul, Schack Krog, William C. Lang, Lewis D. McQueen, 
Peter Madsen, Thomas Maher, Frank O. Malowski, Paul Manskowski, Lester 
Morrow, Michael J. Murphy, Fred J. Nestlebush, Andrew Oelsen, Samuel Ohles, 
Gustav A. Pearson, Armaand Pederson, Henry Rebar, Ralph S. Rief, Ernest 
Robie, Frank Salisbury, Clyde Sellers, Frank E. Sutton, Peter Thompson, 
Clarence VanWie, Walter H. Warren, Berthold Wittkowski, John H. Woodward. 

Company E came from the northeastern part of the state. On its muster 
rolls appear the names of thirteen Douglas County men, viz. : Claus Anderson, 
Miner Beals, Luther W. Cartwright, Grant W. Cowan, John A. Finkenkeller, 
James Knudson, Samuel C. Lewin, John D. Ohe, Fred Reinbold, Charles H. Van 
Deusen, Frank Van Deusen, Bert L. Van Epps, DeWitt C. Wood. 

Company F was organized at Fremont. The following privates in this com- 
pany were credited to Douglas County : George Benda, Frank F. Blakeslee, 
Frank Brunner, John Cauley, Harry E. Dally, Elmer Gage, Austin Griffiths, Louis 
A. Holonbek, Anton Hon, Charles Houdek, Arthur M. Huntington, Edward J. 
Igoe, Orville Ivins, Joseph Kment, Fred Knopp, Thomas J. Miller, James T. 
Nicholson, Victor L. Owens, David Sandon, Howard Shinrock, x\nton Sramek, 
Harvey C. Wagner. 

Five privates in Company G were credited to Douglas County, to wit: 
Charles Borg, Frank Christopher, Guy W. Fuller, Garfield Hoag and Frank E. 

Company H came from the western part of the state. Edgar W. Robinson, 
of Waterloo, was the company wagoner, and the following Douglas County 
boys served as privates : James W. Abraham, David F. Blair, Lee Colvin, Frank 
J. Jordan, Charles J. McCarthy, George E. Moyer, John \\'. Moore, Ernest E. 


Purchase, Andrew M. Robinson, Edward Stumpf, Axel Sund, Bert F. Talcolt 
and Otto Whitaker. 

Company I contained a number of Douglas County men. George R. Lunn was 
a corporal and the following served as privates: Matthew J. Burke, John J. 
Callanan, William C. Dotson, Fred W. Margwadt, Warren H. Ray and William 

Company K came from Hastings. The only Douglas County men in the 
company were Troy Nicholson and Patrick J. Reardon. 

Company L was made up of men from all parts of the state. It was mustered 
in on July 8, 1898, with Cleveland W. Brown, Charles J. Nicholson and Walter 
Lowe as corporals, and the names of the following Douglas County men appear 
on the muster roll as privates : William Black, Thomas H. Bradshaw, James L. 
Bums, William P. Conway, Samuel V. Fitzsimmons, Clarence M. Garton, Samuel 
Gibson, George W. Grove, Joseph B. Jones, Robert S. Kelly, Herman Kratzsch, 
Charles Kropp, Gilbert B. Laflin, Jestivin E. Lee, John McCall, Benjamin D. 
McCormick, John E. Mardock, Michael P. May, August Miller, Edwin Morrison, 
Charles A. Nystrom, Gust E. Nystrom, George H. Pendarvis, Cyrus R. Redfield, 
William R. Simpson, James Snyder, John W. Sperry, Carlton B. Turner and 
Henry Werth. 

Company M bore upon its muster rolls the names of ten privates from 
Douglas County, viz. : George B. M. Alter, Charles S. Chenoweth, Samuel Constan, 
Marshall Custard, Bert Griggs, Jason L. Ratekin, Charles W. Stolze, Henry Stiter, 
Andrew J. Trapp and Frank Wagner. 

The regiment remained in camp at Fort Omaha until July 18, 1898, five days 
after it was mustered in, when orders were received to move at once to Jackson- 
ville, Florida, and report to Maj.-Gen. Fitzhugh Lee. It arrived at Jacksonville 
on the 22nd and went into camp Panama Park, about six miles north of the 
city. In December it accompanied General Lee's Army of Occupation to Cuba, 
where it remained on duty until April, 1899. It was then ordered to Augusta, 
Georgia, where it was mustered out on May 11, 1899, and the men immediately 
returned to their homes in Nebraska. 


After the Spanish-American war the Nebraska National Guard underwent 
a complete reorganization, and since then several changes have been made. 
According to the last available report of the adjutant-general, the National 
Guard of the state is composed of two regiments, of twelve companies each, 
except that in the First Regiment Company F is missing. 

The First Regiment is made tip of the following companies : Company A, 
York ; Company B, Stanton ; Company C, Beatrice ; Company D, Norfolk ; Com- 
pany E, Blair; Company G, Geneva; Company H, Osceola; Company I, Auburn; 
Company K, Wymore ; Company L, Omaha ; Company M, McCook. The head- 
quarters of the first battalion of this regiment are at ]\Iadison ; of the second 
battalion, at Beatrice ; and of the third, at Stanton. 

The companies composing the Second Regiment and their location are: 
Company A, Kearney; Company B, Beaver City; Company C. Nebraska City; 
Company D, Hastings ; Company E, Holdrege ; Company F, Lincoln ; Company 


G, Omaha; Company K, Schuyler; Company L, Alma; Company M, Albion. 
Headquarters of the first battalion are at Aurora; of the second, at Nebraska 
City; juid of the third, at Schuyler. 

From this organization of the National Guard it will be seen that Douglas 
County is represented in time of peace as well as in time of war, having two 
full companies in the regular militar}' forces of the state. Annual camps of 
instruction are held, in which every company is required to participate. 


At the time hort Omaha was established as Shemian Barracks in 1868, it was 
outside the corporate limits of the city of Omaha. It is located about three miles 
north of the main business district, on a tract of ground bounded on the north by 
Laurel Avenue ; on the east by Thirtieth Street ; on the south bj' Redman Avenue ; 
and on the west by Thirty-third Street. In 1869 the name was changed to Fort 
Omaha, and since that time the city has grown out and beyond the post. In 
August, 1869, Emerson and Ellen J. Seymour conveyed by warranty deed to the 
United States the north half of the southeast quarter of Section 33, Township 16, 
Range 13, as a site for the fort, and on September 4, 1869, Charles B. Wells deeded 
to the United States twenty acres adjoining the Seymour tract on the north. 
Augustus Kountze leased to the Government forty-two and a half acres additional 
for military purposes, later selling the land to the United States. 

In the early '80s, Mr. Kountze and seventy-nine others agreed to give $100 
each for tlie purpose of purchasing additional land for the military post, with 
the understanding that it would be made a permanent institution. Before any- 
thing was accomplished in this direction. Senator Charles F. Manderson intro- 
duced a bill authorizing the Secretary of War to sell Fort Omaha and purchase 
not less than 320 nor more than 640 acres of suitable land, within ten miles of 
the limits of the City of Omaha, for a permanent military post. The bill passed 
both houses and was approved by President Cleveland on July 13, 1888. Under 
the provisions of this bill, 543 acres in the northeastern part of Sarpy County were 
purchased and Fort Crook was established. 

Fort Omaha was not abandoned, however, a small body of troops remaining 
quartered there until removed to the southern border of the United States on 
account of the unsettled conditions in jNIexico. 

During the Civil war the Department of the Platte was created and depart- 
ment headquarters were established at Omaha. For several years the com- 
manding general, his assistants, etc., occupied the Withnell Building at Fifteenth 
and Harney streets. Headquarters were next established in the Strang Building 
on the comer of Tenth and Famam streets, where they remained until 1889, when 
they were removed to the fifth floor of the Bee Building. When the present 
postoflfice building was completed the old postoffice was remodeled and made the 
permanent headquarters of the department. 








A little more than three score years ago the first settlers of Omaha crossed 
the Missouri River and began the work of building up a city in the wilderness. 
There were no weaklings among these pioneers. They were men of unquestioned 
courage and great energy, full of hope for the future, but unfortunately they 
possessed only a limited amount of ready cash, with which to defray the early 
expenses of the growing municipality. It is the history of almost every city and 
county in the Union that, during the early years of their career, the demand for 
public expenditures outstripped the sources of public revenue. During this 
period the burden of maintainiqg the public institutions fell heavily upon the few 
brave men who undertook the work of developing the natural resources of the 
new country. It was so in the case of the City of Omaha and the County of 


In a former chapter is given some account of the early financial difficulties of 
Omaha, in the years immediately following its incorporation in 1857; the issue 
of a large amount of scrip to meet current expenses, because the revenue derived 
from taxation was not sufficient to provide for municipal expenses ; and how the 
]3eople at a special election on December 26, 1857, by a vote of 598 to 43, 
authorized the issue of bonds to the amount of $57,500 — the first bonds ever 
authorized by the people of Omaha — to retire the scrip from circulation. For 
some reason the bonds were not sold, probably because the credit of the city at 
that time was such that dealers in bonds were wary of investing in her securities, 
though twenty-five years later Omaha bonds bearing only 5 per cent interest, a 
low rate for western cities then, commanded a premium in the market. 

As an illustration of the safeguards thrown around the city treasury in those 
trying times, the council, in the spring of 1858, ordered the treasurer "to accept 
only gold and silver specie in the redemption of lots sold for the non-payment of 
taxes." Not long after this order was issued a man named Shennehan presented 




a claim for a few dollars against the city, which the council ordered paid. John 
H. Kellom, then city treasurer, refused to pay the claim and a committee of the 
council called on him to inquire why the order of the council in the matter had been 
ignored. Mr. Kellom then called attention to the fact that he had previously 
been directed by the council "to reserve the lirst $500 received as a special fund 
to pay the expenses of caring for the poor and the land ofifice trials," and as there 
were not $500 in the treasury, he had no money with which to pay Shennehan's 
claim. It is said that a member of the committee then took up the claim of 
Shennehan and held it until financial conditions improved. 

In August, 1858, an ordinance was introduced in the council providing for the 
payment of certain warrants outstanding. It was referred to the committee on 
judiciary and at a meeting a little later Thomas Davis, chairman of that com- 
mittee, reported as follows: "The committee on judiciary, to whom was referred 
the ordinance providing for the payment of city warrants, would respectfully 
report that they have had the same under consideration and would recom.mend 
that the bill do not pass, for the reason that your committee are fully of the 
opinion that the bill is a virtual repudiation of the debt of the city, known as the 
scrip debt, vyhich has been ratified by a vote of over two-thirds of the citizens." 

M. W. Keith, a member of the committee, presented a minority report, in 
which he said; "In the first place, the city cannot proceed to make any improve- 
ment of streets and bridges, payment of its officers., relieve the poor, or even bury 
the dead, in those cases of citizens who are so imfortunate a^ to die poor, unless 
we reestablish the credit of the city by paying its legitimate indebtedness in 
preference to any other class of claims. The undersigned is fully of the opinion, 
from information derived from citizens, that _ nine-tenths of the citizens are in 
favor of the bill now under consideration, -and- be therefore respectfully recom- 
mends that the report of the chairman of tliis committee be laid on the table and 
that the bill do now pass and become a permanent ordinance of the city. The 
minority report was adopted and the ordinance was passed. 


Early in the year 1859, in order to know the exact financial condition of the 
city, the council appointed an auditing committee, which reported on March 23, 
T859, the following city indebtedness: 

Scrip issued in 1857 $60,000.00 

Warrants outstanding 12,414.14 

Floating debt 275.45 

Total debt $72,689.59 

The fKjpulation of the city at that time was about fifteen hundred, so that the 
debt was nearly five dollars per capita. On the other side of the balance sheet 
the committee found the following assets, which partly offset the indebtedness : 

One hundred and two lots $22,000.00 

Bond and mortgage of Hotel Company 15,000.00 

Taxes due 3.559-12 

Vol. I— I a 


City warrants redeemed 3,i30-39 

Scrip redeemed 2,868.68 

Interest in courthouse (estimated) 3,000.00 

Amount received at tax sales 1,286.03 

City engineer's instruments 200.00 

Cash in the treasury 09.82 

Balance in hands of collector 83.03 

Total assets $51,197.07 

Deducting the value of the assets from the total debt left a net indebtedness of 
$21,492.52. The courts afterward decided that the city had no interest in the 
courthouse, hence the item of $3,000 should be deducted from the assets. This 
loss was almost offset by an error on the part of the committee regarding the 
scrip. The total amount of scrip issued was $60,000, all of which was reported 
by the committee as outstanding, yet on the credit side of the ledger they report 
"Scrip redeemed, $2,868.68," which would leave only $57,131.32 to be carried 
on the debit side. 


The above brief analysis of the city's financial condition and struggles during 
the early years of municipal history has been introduced for the purpose of com- 
parison with the credit of Omaha at the present time. Since about 1890 the city 
authorities have experienced no difficulty in disposing of bonds bearing a low rate 
of interest at more than their par value. The last published report of the 
Department of Accounts and Finance gives the following as the bonded debt of the 
city on April i, 191 5. And as no new bonds have been issued since the publication 
of that report, the same condition applied on April i, 1916. The table therefore 
shows the amount of bonds outstanding on the latter date, and the purpose for 
which they were issued : 

Sewers $ 2,033,000 

Special issues 1,210,000 

Paving 798,000 

Intersections tpo,ooo 

Parks 000,000 

Funding bonds 595,000 

Fire engine houses 285,000 

City Hall 125,000 

Public Library 100,000 

Water bonds of 1914 7,500,000 

Total $14,146,000 

For $6,646,000 of these bonds — all except the water bonds of 1914 — no sink- 
ing fund was provided. The sinking fund for the water bonds on January i, 
191 5, amounted to $323,043.54. It is now considerably over half a million of 




Under the law the board of education can issue bonds for school purposes 
independent of the city authorities. From a handbook issued by th§ board in 
March, 1916, is taken the following statement regarding the amount of school 
bonds outstanding at that time : 

Issued in 1899, due 1919 $ 230,000 

Issued in 1901, due 1921 12,000 

Issued in 1908, due 1928 350,000 

Issued in 1909, due 1929 150,000 

Issued in 191 1, due 1931 750,000 

Issued in 1915, due 1945 1,000,000 

Total $2,492,000 

To this should be added $220,000, representing the bonds issued by the former 
South Omaha School District, and $83,000 issued by the former School District 
of Dundee, making a total bonded indebtedness of the Omaha Board of Education 
of $2,795,000. Although this debt is regarded as a separate obligation from the 
city debt proper, it nevertheless constitutes a lien upon the property of the people 
of the city, and added to the regular city debt of $14,146,000 makes the total 
bonded debt of the municipality $16,941,000. 


■ ■-■■• \'ji :.-, . 

While the City of Omaha was passing tfifbvTgli, some ha r^l times during the 
tirst years of its existence, the County of Douglas was, to use a vernacular expres- 
sion, "having troubles of its own." The assessment of 1855, the year in which 
the county was organized, showed property valued for tax purposes at $311,116, 
which included the City of Omaha. Five years later the valuation was over 
three-fourths of a million, and the total revenue, including poll taxes and license 
fees, was $31,437.38. In 1862 the tax levy was lowered about five mills on 
the dollar and the total income in that year was but $24,996.26. The liabilities of 
the county at that time amounted to $49,343.74, or nearly two dollars of indebted- 
ness to each dollar of income, and this despite an increase in the valuation of the 
property of the county to $1,203,931. This financial condition was due chiefly to 
the fact that during the first seven years of the county's history large sums of 
money (large for that period at least) had to be expended in making public 
improvements. A courthouse was erected at a cost of over forty thousand 
dollars; roads had to be opened, streams bridged, aid given to the poor, etc., so 
that the outlay each year exceeded the income. 

Aloney could be borrowed only at rates of interest that in this day would be 
considered the rankest kind of usury. As an illustration of the financial straits 
through which the people of Douglas County were passing in the early days, it 
is only necessary to note that in building the courthouse the county commissioners 
gave two notes — one for $3,000, drawing 30 per cent interest, and one for $1,000 
drawing 20 per cent. In September, 1862, a special election was held to give the 
voters of the county an opportunity to express their views upon the question of 


levying a tax of a half mill on the dollar to provide a sinking fund for the pay- 
ment of these two notes. At the election only 138 votes were cast, but every one 
was in favor of tlie tax. 


From time to time the county authorities have found it necessary to submit 
to the people the question of issuing bonds to make needed pubhc improvements, 
or for other specific purposes. The oldest county bonds outstanding in 1915 were 
$268,000 of refunding bonds, which were first issued in 1877 ^^'^ bore 8 per cent 
interest. By refimding these bonds in 1902, the interest rate was reduced to 
3% per cent. 

Under date of July i, 1892, improvement bonds to the amount of $150,000, 
bearing interest at the rate of 4^^ per cent were issued. These bonds were for 
the purpose of macadamizing certain roads outside the City of Omaha and South 
Omaha and have all been paid. 

On January i, 1903, refunding bonds to the amount of $119,000 were issued 
to redeem a like amount of the courthouse bonds issued on January i, 1881. 
The old bonds bore interest at the rate of 6 per cent and the new issue 3;H per 

In order to promote the Trans-Mississippi Exposition, the people of Douglas 
County voted $100,000 bonds, which were issued on January i, 1898, bearing 
4^4 per cent, due in twenty years. 

What are known as the Douglas Addition bonds were issued on January i, 
1898, the proceeds from the sale of said bonds to be used exclusively in the 
payment of judgments against the county on account of failure to give a clear 
title to lots sold in Douglas Addition, being the east fifty acres of the Douglas 
County Poor Farm. These bonds bear interest at the rate of 4}^ per cent and are 
payable in twenty years from date of issue The issue amounted to $180,000. 

The bonds issued for the purpose of building the present courthouse, amount- 
ing to $1,000,000 and dated October i, 1908, bear 4 per cent interest. These 
bonds are due at the rate of $50,000 a year, beginning on October i, 1918, and 
running for ten years, the last $500,000 becoming payable on October i, 1928. 
When these bonds were offered for sale, N. W. Halsey & Company, of Chicago, 
took $200,000, for which the county received a premium of $2,016.66, and the 
remaining $800,000 were taken by the State of Nebraska at par. 

For the purpose of furnishing and equiping the new courthouse, a bond issue 
(if $200,000 was made on October i, 191 1. These bonds bear 43^ per cent interest 
and are due in twenty years from date of issue. The total bonded indebtedness 
of the county on January i, 1916, was therefore as follows: 

Refunding bonds of 1902 $ 268,000 

Refunding bonds of i()03 1 19,000 

Exposition bonds 100,000 

Douglas Addition bonds 180,000 

Courthouse bonds 1,000,000 

Courthouse equipment bonds 200,000 

Total $1,867,000 



In a few instances bonds have been issued by some of the school districts, 
but as these are payable by the district issuing them they constitute no part of 
the county debt proper. The City of Omaha is a school district by itself and for 
that reason the city school bonds were included in the statement of total indebted- 
ness. If the county and city bonded indebtedness be added together, the sum total 
for which the people of Douglas County are responsible is $18,808,000. 


To some the above figures may seem appalling and the question may arise 
in the mind of the reader: What security has the bondholder for the payment of 
tliese obligations? Every dollar of this indebtedness is a lien upon the property 
of the taxpayers, which in 1915 was assessed for taxation as follows: 

City of Omaha $41,710,657 

City of Benson 898,275 

Chicago Precinct 594,210 

Clontarf Precinct 17.535 

Douglas Precinct 692,618 

Dundee (now part of Omaha) 360,208 

East Omaha Precinct , 183,921 

Elkhorn Precinct 41 1,573 

City of Florence 380,513 

Jefferson Precinct 455,650 

McArdle Precinct 529,021 

Millard Precinct 573,065 

Platte Valley Precinct , rr.i".'. . 609,649 

Union Precinct 397,8i7 

Waterloo Precinct 345,021 

Railroad terminals outside Omaha 173,721 

Total $48,333,454 

In the table the assessment of the property in the villages of Bennington. 
Millard, Ralston, Valley and Waterloo is included in that of the precincts in 
which they are located. Even at the assessed value, the property of the county 
represents over two and a half dollars of assets for each dollar of debt, and when 
it is remembered that the property is appraised for tax purposes at only one-fifth 
of its actual value it will be seen that the actual value is in excess of two hundred 
million dollars, or nearly eleven dollars of security for each dollar of bonded 
indebtedness. Under these circumstances it is not surprising that the credit of 
Douglas County has never been questioned in recent years. 


At the time Omaha was laid out in 1854 the old state bank system was at the 
zenith of its glory. The period from 1840 to 1857 is frequently referred to in 
the financial history of the country as "the era of wildcat banking." During that 
period charters were freely granted to banks of issue all over the nation, but 


particularly in the states of the new and growing West. The notes issued by 
these banks passed as currency, though in many instances their redemption was 
a doubtful question. Unscrupulous financiers found it an easy matter to get 
rich by organizing a bank, securing a charter from the state, issuing a large 
amount of notes or bills and then "closing the doors." The abuse of the system 
by such persons was what caused the state banks to become generally classed as 
wildcat banks, though many of them were established upon a firm basis and con- 
ducted by men whose integrity was beyond reproach. The panic of 1857 was so 
universal throughout the country that most of the state banks were forced to 
suspend. The system continued, however, until the national banking system was 
established in 1863. 

The first concern in Omaha to transact a general banking business was the 
Western Exchange Fire & Marine Insurance Company, which was organized in 
the spring of 1855 and opened for business at the corner of Twelfth and 
F~arnam streets, in the quarters afterward occupied b)' the United States National 
Bank. It was established under a charter granted by the Territorial Legislature, 
with Thomas H. Benton, Jr., a son of Senator Thomas H. Benton, of Missouri, 
as president; Leroy Tuttle, cashier, and A. U. Wyman, afterward treasurer of 
the United States, teller. In reality, the institution was a branch of the banking 
house of Greene, Ware & Benton, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. From the time the 
Western Exchange opened its doors it was greatly aided by Government deposits, 
such as receipts of the land office, etc., and it did a flourishing business for about 
two and a half years. On September 23, 1857, President Benton made public a 
statement that, owing to losses incurred in the East, the bank was forced to close 
its doors and make an assignment of assets for the benefit of the creditors. 
Doctor Enos Lowe, John A. Parker, Sr., and A. U. Wyman were appointed 
trustees to wind up the bank's affairs. They found assets of $288,083.75, of 
which a large part consisted of "discounted notes and bills receivable," upon 
which but little was realized. 

On June 7, 1856, the Bank of Nebraska was organized with B. F. .Allen, 
president ; Samuel Moftatt, cashier. Under the management of those two men 
the bank issued $37,000 in notes, which were redeemed in full. It weathered 
the panic of 1857 and in 1858 the interests of the founders was bought by B. R. 
Pegrani, of Council Blufl:"s, who became president, and D. C. DeForrcst was made 
cashier. The bank continued for about a year under the new management, when 
it went out of business, paying all obligations in full. 

Concerning the Western Exchange and the Bank of Nebraska, James M. 
Woolworth, in his "History of Omaha," published in 1857 while both banks were 
in existence, says : "The charters of these institutions are of the most liberal 
kind. No public securities are required, no control over them is exercised by the 
Government, they might issue their bills to any amount, without one dollar of 
gold with which to redeem them. It would be hard for the public to protect them- 
selves against fraud, should the officers please to close the institution, but the 
])ublic hold a strong protection against such a cotirse in the character and worth 
of the gentlemen who own the banks. Not only is their moral character above 
suspicion of such a gross act of public injury, but their business interests and 
relations are too dear and extended thus to be sacrificed. Indeed so careful have 
these gentlemen been to protect themselves individually, and the public from the 


possibility of such an act, that they did, on organizing their two institutions, 
place in the banks gold and securities exceeding the amount of money issued 
by them 

"The consequence has been that their bills have been and are regarded as a 
safe circulation both at home and abroad. But so large are the advantages which 
these banks secured and yielded to their stockholders that at the last session of 
the Legislature the Government was importuned for other similar charters for 
institutions like these all over the territory, by parties whose responsibility was 
doubted. The Legislature passed acts chartering eight of these banks, but the 
Government vetoed all the bills. The House passed two over his veto, the others 
were lost. The excitement, both in and out of the territory, was very great, in 
so much that Nebraska money fell into disrepute and both banks in Omaha 
thereupon began to draw in their circulation, and they have redeemed nearly all 
of it. Hereafter they will bank on some other circulation than their own." 

The United States National Bank — the oldest bank in the State of Nebraska 
by succession — is the outgrowth of a land agancy opened on Harney Street in 
1^55 by the firm of Barrows, ]Millard & Company, composed of Willard Barrows, 
of Dubuque, Iowa, Ezra and Joseph H. Millard. The following year the firm 
began doing a banking business. In i860 Smith S. Caldwell entered the firm as 
a partner and the name was changed to Millard, Caldwell & Company. Eight 
years later another change was made. Charles W. Hamilton, who had been with 
the firm as bookkeeper since 1861, was admitted to partnership in 1864, and 
when Ezra Millard withdrew on May i, 1868, the name was changed to Caldwell, 
"^'tniilton & Company. 

Under this name the bank continued until October 2, 1883, when it opened as 
the United States National Bank, with a capital stock of $100,000 and the fol- 
lowing officers: Charles W. Hamilton, president; Smith S. Caldwell, vice 
president; Milton T. Barlow, who became a member of the old firm in 1868, 
cashier. Mr. Barlow was president of the bank from January i, 1897, to January 
I, 191 5. Victor B. Caldwell, a son of the first vice president, was cashier of 
this bank from 1896 to January i, 1915. He was then elected president and 
ser\'ed until his death on December 26, 191 5, when Mr. Barlow again succeeded 
to the presidency. The other officers of the bank on April i, 1916, were: Wil- 
liam E. Rhoades and George Haverstick, vice presidents; Robert E. Morsman, 
cashier; Joseph C. McClure and Gwyer H. Yates, assistant cashiers; Gurdon W. 
Wattles, chairman of the board. On a statement issued by the bank at the close 
of business on March 7, 1916, the capital stock is shown to be $1,000,000; sur- 
plus and undivided profits. $835,812.26; circulation, $450,000; deposits, $15,661,- 
620.22. The building recently erected by the United States National, at the 
northwest comer of Sixteenth and Farnam streets, is one of the best appointed 
bank buildings in the West. 

The First National Bank is the successor of the private banking house of 
Kountze Brothers, which started in business on December 10, 1857, August 
Kountze having before that time been the president of the Bank of Dakota. 
The firm at first consisted of Augustus and Herman Kountze. but a little later 
two other brothers — Luther and Charles — became partners and assumed the 
management of the branch bank in Denver in 1862. It afterwards developed 
into the Colorado National Bank. The first quarters occupied by Kountze Broth- 


ers was a small, one-story frame building on the north side of Farnam Street, 
between Twelfth and Thirteenth streets. In the rear end of the single room 
stood a large, old-fashioned safe, fastened by means of a heavy iron hasp and a 
padlock. Such a safe would be considered poor protection now, but it was 
looked upon as impregnable then. 

On August 26, 1863, the reorganized firm of Kountze Brothers opened as 
the First National Bank of Omaha, with a capital stock of $50,000. Edward 
Creighton was the first president ; Herman Kountze, vice president ; Augustus 
Kountze, cashier; H. W. Yates, assistant cashier. This was the first bank in 
Nebraska to organize under the national banking laws, its charter number being 
209. It occupied the old quarters of Kountze Brothers until the fall of 1866, 
when it removed to the first floor of the two-story brick building on the south- 
east corner of Farnam and Thirteenth streets. Twenty years later that building 
was torn down to make room for the iive-story structure, on the main floor of 
which the bank fitted up new quarters, then considered the best in the city. In 
1915 the bank purchased the lot at the southwest corner of Farnam and Sixteenth 
streets, formerly occupied by the old board of trade building, erected thereon 
a fourteen-story office building, with new quarters for the bank on the main 

In the meantime the capital stock of the bank has been increased to $500,000. 
At the beginning of the year 1916 the First National reported $1,179,920 in sur- 
plus and undivided profits, and deposits of $9,352,070. The principal officers 
of the bank at that time were as follows : F. H. Davis, president ; C. F. Kountze, 
vice president and chairman of the board; L. L. Kountze, vice president; T, L. 
Davis, cashier. 

The Omaha National Bank was organized in 1866 by Ezra Millard, the senior 
member of the firm of ]\Iillard, Caldwell & Company and the first president of 
the new institution. Joseph N. Field was the first cashier. This bank opened 
its doors for the transaction of business on July i, 1866, in a one-story frame 
building, which stood in the street near the intersection of Fourteenth and 
Douglas streets. It was about 20x40 feet, with a small room cut ofif at the rear 
end by a board partition, the rear room being used as parlor and bed room. The 
counter in the bank was of pine boards painted white in front, the top being cov- 
ered with black oil cloth, and extended from the window to within about two 
feet of the board partition above mentioned. Although this bank boasted a "fire 
proof safe, with a burglar proof chest in the bottom," it was not considered safe 
to leave a large amount of money in it over night. Consequently, every after- 
noon, about closing time, one of the bank's employees would carry the greater 
part of the cash on hand over to the vault of jMillard, Caldwell & Company. 
Next morning it would be carried back. On these occasions the currency was 
usually wrapped in an old newspaper and the messenger passed through the 
streets with as little concern as though the package under his arm contained some 
trivial purchase instead of several thousand dollars. 

On January i, 1867, the Omaha National removed to the room at the corner 
of Thirteenth and Douglas streets, afterward occupied by the Omaha Savings 
Bank. Some years later the bank erected the building now known as the Bromley 
Block at No. 208 South Thirteenth Street, where it remained until it removed 
to its present quarters at the northeast corner of Seventeenth and Farnam streets, 









in Mie building erected in 1888 by the New York Life Insurance Company, which 
was; purchased by the bank for $605,000 and remodeled for banking purposes. 
A statement made to the comptroller of the currency on March 7, 1916, by the 
ofifiders of the Omaha National gives the capital stock as being $1,000,000; sur- 
plus and undivided profits, $1,024,443.32; circulation, $1,000,000, and deposits of 
$16,393,760.90. The officers of the bank at that time were: J. H. Millard, presi- 
dent ; W. H. Bucholz and Ward M. Burgess, vice presidents ; J. DeF. Richards, 
cashier; Frank Boyd, B. A. Wilcox, Ezra Millard and O. T. Alvison, assistant 

jrhe Merchants National Bank dates its beginning from the fall of 1S66, when 
the firm of J. A. Ware & Company opened a private banking house on the north- 
west corner of Thirteenth and Farnam streets. The firm was composed of J. 
A. Ware, of Nebraska City; John W. Hugus, of Omaha; and Posey S. Wilson, 
who had been associated with Mr. Ware for some two years as cashier. In 
November, 1867, he was succeeded in the business by W. D. Morton and the 
following year the bank was sold to Alvin Saunders and his associates, who 
reorganized it as the State Bank of Nebraska, with a paid up capital of $50,000; 
Alvin Saunders, president; J. R. Porter, vice president; Benjamin B. Wood, 
cashier. The capital was soon afterward increased to $100,000. In 1876 Mr. 
Saunders withdrew and Frank Murphy succeeded to the presidency. 

In the fall of 1882 the bank was reorganized and opened its doors on the 
morning of October 2, 1882, as the Merchants National, with a capital stock of 
$100,000. The first officers under the new regime were: Frank Murphy, presi- 
dent; Samuel E. Rogers, vice president; Benjamin B. Wood, cashier; Luther 
Drake, assistant cashier. The prosperity of the bank was such that in August, 
1885, the capital stock was doubled; in April, 1887, it was increased to $300,000; 
a month later to $400,000, and in May, 1888, to $500,000. In that year the build- 
ing at the northeast corner of Thirteenth and Farnam streets was erected by 
the bank, where it is still located. At the beginning of the year 1916 this bank 
reported a capital stock of $500,000; surplus and undivided profits of $890,670, 
and deposits of $5,968,550. Luther Drake was then president; F. T. Hamilton, 
vice president ; F. P. Hamilton, cashier. 

The Nebraska National Bank was organized in the spring of 1882 by Henry 
W. Yates and A. E. Touzalin. Mr. Yates had been connected with the First 
National for nearly twenty years, first as assistant cashier and later as cashier. 
He was therefore experienced in all lines of the banking business. When the 
bank opened on April 27, 1882, Samuel R. Johnson was president; A. E. Touza- 
lin, vice president, and Mr. Yates, cashier. The Nebraska National was at first 
located in a frame building, which had formerly been occupied as a clothing store, 
and which was moved into the street until the present bank building at the 
northwest corner of Twelfth and Farnam streets could be completed. The 
institution is still occupying these quarters. At the beginning of the year 1916 
the capital stock was reported as $200,000; surplus and undivided profits, $111.- 
090; deposits, $1,332,140. F. W. Clarke was then president; C. F. Coffee, vice 
president; H. W. Yates, cashier. 

The Corn Exchange National Bank is a comparatively recent institution. It 
was organized in 1909, with a capital stock of $300,000, and opened for business 
at the southwest corner of Fifteenth and Farnam streets, where it is still located. 


The officers of this bank at the beginning of the year 1916, according to the 
Bankers Directory, were as follows: W. T. Auld, president; H. S. Clarke, Jr., 
vice president; L. H. Tate, assistant cashier. The captital stock was reported 
the same as at the time of organization; surplus and undivided profits, $104,200; 
deposits, $1,337,700. 

The youngest bank in the City of Omaha is the State Bank of Omaha, which 
was organized in 1912 under the banking laws of the State of Nebraska. Its first 
place of business was on the northeast corner of Seventeenth and Harney streets, 
opposite the courthouse, but in the winter of 191 5-16 it removed to the City 
National Bank Building, at the southeast comer of Sixteenth and Harney. The 
capital stock of this bank on January i, 1916, was $300,000; surplus and undivided 
profits, $60,000; deposits, $3,000,000. A. L. Schantz was then president; J. R. 
Cain, Jr., vice president; F. N. High, cashier. 


On April i, 1916, two new banks in the City of Omaha were in process of 
organization, viz. : The Commercial State Bank, which will occupy the comer 
room of the Wead Building, on the southwest corner of Eighteenth and Famam 
streets, and the Central State Bank, which is remodeling the building on the 
southeast comer of Sixteenth and Dodge streets for its home. John F. Hecox, 
formerly of Chicago, is in charge of the organization work of the former, and 
A. S. White (vice president) of the latter. Among the stockholders of these 
banks are some of the city's substantial business men and capitalists. 


With the establishment of the Union Stock Yards and the platting of South 
Omaha in 1883-84, a large volume of business was drawn in that direction in 
connection with the live stock trade and the increase in population in the thriv- 
ing suburb. The result of this activity has been the establishment of several 
banks in that district. The oldest of these is the South Omaha Savings Bank, 
which was organized in 18S8, with a capital stock of $25,000 and has been in' con- 
tinuous business since that time. On the first of January, 1916, the surplus and 
undivided profits was just four times greater than the original capital stock, and 
the bank carried deposits of $300,000. H. C. Bostwick was then the executive 
head of the bank ; Truman Buck, vice president, and F. R. Getlj', cashier. 

The Packers National Bank, located at 4939 South Twenty-fourth Street, was 
organized in 1890. It has done a prosperous business ever since it was founded 
and in March, 1916, reported a capital stock of $200,000; surplus and undivided 
profits of $125,000, and deposits of over two millions of dollars. The officers of 
the bank at that time were : J. F. Coad, president ; W. J. Coad, vice president ; 
IT. C. Nicholson, cashier. 

The Live Stock National Bank began business in 1907. It has a large 
patronage among stockmen and at the beginning of the year, 1916, reported a 
capital stock of $200,000; surplus and undivided profits, $75,460; deposits, 
$3,011,430. The officers of the bank then were: L. M. Lord, president; W. A. 
C. Johnson and T. E. Gledhill, vice presidents ; T. W. Thomas, cashier. The 


bank is located at the intersection of Twenty-fourth and N streets, within easy 
access of the Union Stock Yards 

The Stock Yards National Bank was organized under its present name in 
191 1. It is located in the Exchange Building and succeeded to the business of the 
old Union Stock Yards National, which was organized a short time after the 
stock yards were opened. H. C. Bostwick was president of this bank at the begin- 
ning of the year 1916; J. C. French, vice president; J. B. Owen, cashier. At that 
time the capital stock was $750,000; surplus and undivided profits, $723,000: 
deposits, $6,183,000. 

In 1914 the Security State Bank was organized and opened its doors for busi- 
ness at number 4805 South Twenty-fourth Street, where it is still located. 
Although the youngest bank in South Omaha, it is doing a flourishing business and 
on January i, 1916, reported a surplus and undivided profits fund of $10,000 and 
deposits of $420,000. The capital stock of this bank is $100,000, with W. A. 
Rathsack, president; E. V. Svoboda, cashier. 

The aggregate bank deposits of Omaha are approximately sixty-five millions 
of dollars, or about three hundred dollars for every resident of the city. All 
the banks have the reputation of being conservatively managed and are recognized 
as reliable financial institutions both at home and abroad. The general business of 
the banks is regulated in a great measure by the recommendations of the Omaha 
Clearing House, of which J. C. French is president; Luther Drake, vice president; 
William B. Hughes, manager. 


For the convenience of the farmers of Douglas County and the business men 
in the towns outside of Omaha, banks have been established in practically every 
village of consequence in the county. The rural banks all operate under the state 
laws, several of them having been organized since the law guaranteeing deposits 
in state banks went into eitect in 191 1. 

The Bennington State Bank was opened in 191 1 and on January i, 1916, it 
reported a capital stock of $15,000, all of which was paid in; a fund of surplus 
and undivided profits of $3,000, and deposits of $125,000. Peter Bunz was then 
president ; John Domacker, vice president ; F. W. Suverkrubbe, cashier. 

The Bank of Benson was organized in 1904 with a capital stock of $25,000. 
The officers of this bank on Januar}' i, 1916, according to the Bankers Director}^ 
were as follows: J. A. Howard, president; N. H. Tyson, vice president; J. T. 
Pickard, cashier. At that time the bank carried deposits of $375,000 and had a 
surplus and undivided profits fund of $5,000. 

The State Bank of Elkhom is the oldest rural bank in the county. It was 
organized in 1888 and has therefore been in business for more than a quarter of 
a century. Its capital stock is $20,000; surplus and undivided profits, $5,500; 
deposits, $155,000. On January i, 1916, J. M. Brunner was president; B. B. 
liaklwin, cashier. 

Florence has two banks — the Bank of Florence and the Farmers State Bank. 
The Bank of Florence was organized in 1904 with a capital stock of $10,000, 
which still constitutes the capital of the institution. On Januar)' i, 19 16, this 
bank reported the surplus and undivided profits fund to be $10,240, and the 


deposits, $162,210. J. B. Brisbin was then president; Thomas E. Price, vice 

president; H. T. Brisbin, cashier. The building occupied by the bank was 

erected during the Mormon occupation, the bricks having been brought up from 

St. Louis by steamboat. 

The Farmers State Bank of Florence was organized in 1909. On January 

I, 1916, G. F. Kritenbrink was president; C. F. Kritenbrink, vice president; C. B. 

Pilant, cashier. At that time the capital stock was reported as .'; surplus 

and undivided profits, $5,000; deposits, $110,000. 

The German Bank of Millard was established in 1892. A. B. Delweiler was 

president at the beginning of the year 1916; William Von Dohren, vice president; 

W. T. Detweiler, cashier. This bank has a capital stock of $15,000; surplus and 

undivided profits of $6,500, and deposits amounting to $177,000. 

The Ralston State Bank is one of the new financial concerns of the county. 

It was organized in 1913 and began business with a capital stock of $15,000. On 

January i, 1916, it reported deposits of $25,000, with C. M. Skinner, president; 

L. S. Packard, cashier. At that time the fund of surplus and undivided profits 

amounted to $500. 

Valley Jias two banks. The oldest of these, the Valley State Bank, was 

organized in 1899. At the beginning of the year 191 6 its capital stock was 

$25,000; surplus and undivided profits, $12,000, and deposits, $175,000. C. I. 

Rogers was then president; F. Whitmore, vice president, and F. C. Kennedy, 


The Farmers State Bank of Valley was established in 191 5 with a cpaital 
stock of $20,000. Being a new institution, it reported no fund of surplus and 
undivided profits at the beginning of the year 1916, when its deposits amounted 

to $25,000. Andrew Wicklund is president; R. M. Envay, vice president; E. M. 
Warner, cashier. 

The Bank of Waterloo was organized in 1905 with a capital stock of $15,000, 
at which figure it has remained. On January i, 1916, the returns furnished by 
this bank for publication in the Bankers Directory show a surplus and undivided 
profits fund of $3,500, and deposits of $100,000. J. G. Seefus was then president; 
George Johnson, vice president; E. L. Lindquest, cashier. 

In the ten rural banks of the county the deposits amount to about one million 
and a half of dollars. Compared with the metropolitan banks, in the amount of 
money handled and the volume of business transacted, they are small concerns, 
but they serve their purpose and are proportionately as important to their patrons 
as the great banks of the larger cities. They provide a safe place for the deposit 
of money not wanted for immediate use, assist the farmer to move his crops 
during the market season, the merchant to make exchanges, and through their 
relations with the city banks are a factor in the collection of bills. 


Since the establishment of the Western Exchange and the Bank of Nebraska, 
mentioned previously in this chapter, a number of banking institutions have 
been organized in Omaha and did business for a time, but are no longer in 
existence. Some of these institutions failed, causing a loss to tjieir stockholders 
and depositors, while others voluntarily wound up their affairs and went out of 


business. A successful banker of Omaha recently remarked to the writer that 
a history of these banks reflects no credit upon the city. This may be true in a 
certain sense, but an account of their career forms part of the history of the city 
and county. Some of these banks failed through bad management, but others 
were forced to yield to circumstances they were unable to control and the men at 
the head of such banks are entitled to sympathy rather than censure. 

Going back to the state banking era, from 1854 to 1862, there were several 
private banking firms engaged in business in Omaha during that period. Among 
these may be mentioned Samuel E. Rogers, who was a banker and real estate 
broker in 1857, with an office at the corner of Eleventh and Douglas streets. Mr. 
Rogers was afterward connected with the Merchants National and is still living 
in Omaha. Gridley & Company, a firm composed of F. Gridley and John H. 
Kellom, engaged in the banking business in June, 1857, and continued for about 
three years. John McCormick conducted a money lending business for about 
five years, beginning in 1857. His office was on Douglas Street, just east of 
Thirteenth. H. C. Rariden & Company, "bankers and land agents," had an 
office on Harney Street for awhile in 1857-58. Dr. Gilbert C. Monell and his 
son, John J. Monell, conducted a private bank for a few months in 1857, probably 
extending into the succeeding year. Artemus Sahler & Company, Smith & Par- 
malee, and the Nebraska Land and Banking Company, of which Fleming David- 
son was president and R. C. Shain was cashier, were all engaged in banking 
about the same time. It is worthy of note that all these concerns were wountl 
up without loss to any one. 

The Omaha & Chicago Bank received a charter on February 10, 1857, with 
H. B. Sackett, president; J. V. Schell, cashier. It occupied the quarters formerly 
used by the Western Exchange Fire and Marine Insurance Company, at the 
southwest corner of Twelfth and Famam streets. For some five or six years 
it did an apparently prosperous business, when, like the proverbial clap of thunder 
from a clear sky, it closed its doors. Its afl:"airs were wound up by W. J. Ken- 
nedy. This is said to have been the last of the wildcat banks in Omaha. 

In 1858 William Young Brown, "real estate agent and exchange broker," 
came to Omaha with a flourish of trumpets and announced that he was engaged 
in lending money for capitalists. Shortly afterward he brought the main office 
of the Bank of Tekamah to Omaha, where it failed after a short but spectacular 
career, entailing a greater loss on the general public than any other bank failure 
in Nebraska up to that time. 

The Central National Bank was organized in April, 1868, with a capital stock 
of $100,000; John McCormick, president; James G. Chapman, vice president; 
James M. Watson, cashier; Benjamin B. Wood, teller. In January, 1871, the 
business of this bank was merged with that of the Omaha National, without loss 
to either stockholders or depositors. 

During the decade from 1880 to 1890 no less than twenty-two banks were 
established in Omaha, none of which is in existence today. The first of these was 
the Omaha Savings Bank, which began business on September 4, 1884, in the 
Millard Hotel Building, with James E. Boyd, president; William A. Paxton, 
vice president ; Charles F. Manderson, managing director; John E. Wilbur, cash- 
ier. A little later Mr. Boyd retired from the presidency and was succeeded by 
Mr. Manderson. The capital stock of this bank was $150,000. The general 


depression of 1893 caused a depreciation in some of the assets of this bank and 
forced its suspension in 1895. 

In March, 1880, John L. McCague opened a real estate office on the comer 
of Fifteenth and Dodge streets. Subsequently William L. McCague and Alexan- 
der Charlton became partners, and on September i, 1883, the firm announced 
that it would engage in a general banking business. In August, 1889, the busi- 
ness was divided into two banks — the American National and the McCague Sav- 
ings Bank. The former had a capital stock of $200,000. It was taken over by 
the Union National Bank a few years later, and the savings bank department 
wound up its affairs and went out of business. 

The Commercial National Bank was organized on April 7, 1884, with a capital 
stock of $250,000. Ezra Alillard, who had long been associated with the Omaha 
National, was the first president. The bank opened for business on May i, 1884. 
Upon the death of Mr. Millard in August, 1886, a change was made in the board 
of directors and in July, 1888, the southwest corner of Sixteenth and Farnam 
streets was purchased as a site for a new bank building, which was completed 
:-tnd occupied by the bank on May i, 1890. In July, 1905, the business of this 
institution was merged with that of the United States National Bank. 

Robert L. Garlichs and Frank B. Johnson opened a private bank in May, 
1S85, on the west side of Sixteenth, between Cass and California streets. On 
September i, 1886, these two men organized the Bank of Commerce, of which 
George E. Barker was president; Robert L. Garlichs, vice president; Frank B. 
Johnson, cashier. The authorized capital was $100,000, which was increased to 
$500,000 in July, 1888. On April 14, 1890. a reorganization was effected, the 
institution then becoming the National Bank of Commerce, with ]. N. Cornish, 
president ; George E. Barker, vice president ; Ellis L. Bierbower, cashier. It 
was then located in the Barker Building, at the corner of Fifteenth and Farnam 
streets, to which place it removed in July, 1888. After conducing a fairly suc- 
cessful business for a few years longer, the bank was merged with the Omaha 

The Douglas County Bank began business as a private concern in 1885, with 
C. S. Parrotte as the proprietor. Its place of business was on the northwest 
corner of Sixteenth and Chicago streets. After a few months the business was 
incorporated under the above name, with a capital stock of $100,000. C. S. 
Parrotte was elected president ; J. H. Parrotte, vice president ; Samuel E. Sample, 
cashier. Some four years later the place of business was removed to the Kirk- 
endall Building, on the southeast corner of Sixteenth and Dodge streets, and in 
November, 1889, the bank went into voluntary liquidation. 

The Bank of Omaha was organized in the summer of 1885 by Andrew Henry, 
of Columbus, Neb., and Thomas H. McCague, of Omaha. Under articles 
of copartnership dated October 15, 1885, the bank began business on Thirteenth 
Street near Jackson. About a year later Mr. McCague withdrew and in Septem- 
ber, 1888, Mr. Henry sold the business to Frank Wassermann, Peter Goos and 
Charles P. Needham, who made an assignment on June 5, 1889, the sheriff being 
appointed to wind up the bank's affairs. 

The Union National Bank opened its doors for business on July i, 1886, with 
a paid up capital of $100,000 and the following officers: W. W. Marsh, president; 
David Bennison, vice president; J. W. Rodefer, cashier. Until November, 1889, 


the bank was located in the Masonic Block on Sixteenth. It then removed to the 
southeast corner of Sixteenth and Dodge streets, to the quarters vacated by the 
Douglas County Bank, which at that time went into voluntary liquidation. On 
July I, 1892, the capital stock was increased to $250,000 and G. W. Wattles suc- 
ceeded JNIr. Bennison as vice president. The Union National continued in busi- 
ness until July, 1905, when it was merged with the United States National. 

On December 7, 1886, W. G. Templeton and A. D. King, two Iowa men, 
opened the Citizens Bank at 2408 Cuming Street. On September i, 1888, the 
bank was incorporated with an authorized capital of $100,000, about one-fourth 
of which was paid in, with George E. Draper, president ; F. C. Johnson, vice 
president; W. G. Templeton, cashier. Mr. King afterward disposed of his inter- 
est and went to Culbertson, Neb., where he became president of the Hitch- 
cock County Bank. In the latter part of November, 1890, the bank removed to a 
new building on the corner of Twenty-fourth and Cuming streets, where it con- 
tinued for a few years, when it wound up its affairs and went out of business. 

The State National Bank was established in the spring of 1887 at the north- 
west comer of Fifteenth and Harney streets. The capital stock of this institution 
was $100,000, with E. L. Lyon, of Marshalltown, Iowa, president ; A. A. McFad- 
den, cashier. Not long afterward Mr. Lyon sold his interest to E. E. Whaley, 
of Loup City, Neb. Immediately after this transaction the bank examiner made 
an inspection of the bank and discovered that a large part of the assets consisted 
of the notes given by Mr. Whaley in payment for Mr. Lyon's stock. He notified 
the directors that if this paper was not converted into actual cash within twenty- 
four hours the bank would be closed. Before the expiration of the twenty-four 
hours the directors met and adopted a resolution to close the bank, which was 
done and the work of winding up its affairs was commenced. Not long after this 
.Mr. Lyon repurchased his interest and permission was obtained from the comp- 
troller at Washington to resume business. The efforts to reestablish the bank 
in the confidence of the people were unsuccessful and after a few weeks it v^as 

In the summer of 1887 the Omaha Banking Company began business with 
a capital stock of $50,000; C. E. Mayne, president; Patrick Ford, vice president: 
J. W. Gross, cashier. It was first located at No. 320 South Fifteenth Street, but 
afterward occupied the quarters vacated by the State National. After two years 
of almost fruitless endeavor to build up a profitable business, the bank was closed 
on June 30, 1889, by order of the directors. 

The Nebraska Savings and Exchange Bank commenced business on October 
3, 1887, as the Nebraska Savings Bank in the Board of Trade Building, on the 
southwest comer of Sixteenth and Farnam streets. Its authorized capital was 
$400,000, of which $100,000 was paid in. John L. ^Nliles was president; Andrew 
Rosewater, vice president, and Dexter L. Thomas, cashier. In November, 1887, 
a branch was opened in South Omaha and W. A. L. Gibbon placed in charge as 
assistant cashier. At the annual meeting of the directors in Januarj', 1890, the 
"Exchange" was added to the name. The following July the South Omaha 
branch, with the building that had been erected there, was sold to the Packers 
National Bank, which had just been organized, and a few years later the main 
bank woimd up its affairs and was discontinued. 

The American Savings Bank was incorporated on June 22. 1888, with an 


authorized capital of $100,000; O. M. Carter, president; C. S. Montgomery, vice 
president; Philip Potter, treasurer; A. C. Powell, cashier. It first occupied the 
basement under the United States National Bank at the southwest comer of 
Twelfth and Farnam streets, but in January, 1S90, it was removed to the Opera 
House Building on the corner of Fifteenth and Farnam. On December 15, 1892, 
it removed to the main iioor of the New York Life Building (now the Omaha 
National Bank) and continued there until it finally went out of business. 

The Mechanics & Traders Bank opened on March i, 1888, at No. 318 South 
Fifteenth Street, with an authorized capital of $250,000, of which one-fifth was 
paid in. Richard C. Patterson and Frank Barnard were the principal stockholders 
and managers. This bank voluntarily closed its business on February i, 1890. 

In 1889 the German-American Savings Bank was opened in the basement 
of the Commercial National Bank Building, at the southwest corner of Sixteenth 
and Farnam streets, with an authorized capital of $250,000, only $25,000 of which 
was paid in prior to the opening. Jefterson W. Bedford was president; J. R. 
Harris, vice president; J. W. Harris, cashier. In November, 1892, the business 
of this bank was transferred to the American Savings Bank. 

The German Savings Bank began business on June 2, 1890, in the building 
at the southeast corner of Thirteenth and Douglas streets, which had just been 
vacated by the Commercial National, with an authorized capital of $500,000. 
Frederick Metz was president ; Charles J. Karbach, vice president ; L. D. Fowler, 
cashier. In December, 1891, it moved to the Karbach Block, at the comer of 
Fifteenth and Douglas streets, where it continued until it went into voluntary 

The Dime Savings Bank was incorporated on March i, 1890, under a new 
banking law enacted by the preceding Legislature, with a capital of $25,000 ; 
P. C. Himebaugh, president ; W. H. Russell, vice president ; G. H. Payne, cashier. 
The capital stock was later increased to $50,000, but the venture proved unprofit- 
able and the bank was finally closed. 

Another bank organized in 1890 was the Midland State Bank, which opened 
on the first day of Jidy of that year, succeeding to the business of the Sixteenth 
Street branch of the National Bank of Commerce. The paid in capital was 
$50,000. F. C. Johnson was elected president ; Allen T. Rector, vice president, 
and W. G. Templeton, cashier. After a somewhat precarious career of three or 
four years the bank closed its doors. 

Other banking institutions of this period were : the Anglo-American Mortgage 
and Trust Company ; the Globe Loan and Trust Company ; the Omaha Loan and 
Trust Company, and a private bank conducted by M. Toft in connection with his 
cigar store. Some of these concerns failed and others were absorbed by other 

The City National Bank began business under a charter dated June 30, 1909. 
A little later it bought out the German-American Bank, which first commenced 
business in the Board of Trade Building, at the southwest comer of Sixteenth 
and Farnam, and afterward removed to the corner of Fifteenth and Farnam 
streets, where it was located at the time of the sale to the City National. About 
this time a syndicate was formed and erected the City National Bank Building 
at the southeast corner of Sixteenth and Harnev streets for the new bank, but 


on October 9, 1915, the entire business of the City National was turned over to 
the Omaha State Bank, which now occupies the new building. 


Closely allied to the bank is the trust company, which is authorized to receive 
savings deposits, act as trustee or administrator of estates, guardian for minor 
heirs, etc. There are four trust companies in Omaha, accordmg to the Bankers 
Directory for January, 1916, with a combined capital of over one million dollars. 

The oldest of these is the Peters Trust Company, which was organized in 
1886. It has a capita! stock of $500,000 and occupies the basement of the Omaha 
National Bank Building at the northeast corner of Seventeenth and Farnam 
streets. R. C. Peters is president; M. D. Cameron and W. M. Rainbolt, vice 
presidents; C. J. Claasen, secretary. 

The City Trust Company, organized in 1907, occupies a portion of the main 
floor of the City National Bank Building, at the southeast comer of Sixteenth 
and Harney streets. O. C. Redick is president of this company; D. A. Baum, 
vice president; J. P. Webster, secretary; Harold L. Pritchett, treasurer. The 
capital stock is $200,000, and at the first of the year 1916 the company reported 
surplus and undivided profits amounting to $16,610. It then had $86,380 in trust 
lunds on hand. 

The First Trust Company was organized in 191 1. It is located at 1219 
Farnam Street and has a capital stock of $200,000. The president is F. H. Davis, 
who is also president of the First National Bank; C. F. Kountze, L. L. Kountze 
and G. H. Thummel are the vice presidents; M. W. Dimery, secretary; T. L. 
Davis, treasurer. On January i, 1916, this company reported surplus and un- 
divided profits of $12,200. 

The United States Trust Company, located at 212 South Seventeenth Street, 
was organized in 1913 with a capital stock of $200,000 and at the beginning of 
the year 1916 reported surplus and undivided profits amounting to $72,110. 
The officers of this company at that time were: A. L. Reed, president; G. W. 
Wattles, vice president; H. G. Jordan, secretary and treasurer; A. C. Reed, trust 


Some thirty-five or forty years ago the savings association, or the building 
and loan association, began to grow in popularity as a means whereby persons 
working for moderate salaries could obtain homes of their own. As the homes 
tlnis built offered the very best of security for the loans, and as the associations 
rarely failed to pay good dividends upon their stock and fair rates of interest, 
they became popular as investment institutions. In Omaha their popularity was 
heightened by the failure of several savings banks, causing a loss of confidence 
in that character of investments. In the spring of 1916 there were ten associa- 
tions of this class in the City of Omaha, all doing a flourishing business and rep- 
resenting resources of several millions of dollars. As they all operate under the 
same laws and follow the same general methods of doing business there is not a 
great deal of difference in their history. 


The Bankers Savings and Loan Association, located at loi South Sixteenth 
Street, is one of the best known in the city. The officers of this association are : 
W. D. Lincoln, president; N. A. Spiesberger, vice president; A. D. Touzalin, sec- 
retary; L. D. Spaulding, treasurer. This association also maintains a branch 
at 1325 William Street, for the accommodation and convenience of its patrons 
in the southern part of the city. 

The Commercial Savings and Loan Association has its headquarters at No. 
4931 South Twenty-fourth Street. P. J. Sheely is the president of this institu- 
tion; W. P. Adkins, vice president; J. J. Fitzgerald, secretary; F. W. Thomas, 

The Conservative Savings and Loan Association began business in 1893 and 
is now located in the Conservative Building at No. 1614 Harney Street. George 

F. Gilmore is president, and Paul W. Kuhns, secretary. This concern advertises 
resources of over eleven millions of dollars and a reserve of $290,000. 

The Home Builders, an incorporated institution, began business with a capital 
stock of $100,000, which was increased to $200,000 in 1914. The offices are in 
the Brandeis Building, with the secretary, C. C. Shimer, in charge. It has 
stockholders in several of the western states. 

The Home Savings and Loan Association, located at 4724 South Twenty- 
fourth Street, has been instrumental in providing a number of people in Omaha 
with homes. At the beginning of the year 1916 J. C. Michelsen was president; 
E. B. Brown, secretary; Perry McD. Wheeler, treasurer. 

Located at No. 211 South Eighteenth Street, a few doors north of the city 
hall, is the Nebraska Savings and Loan Association, one of the strongest in the 
city. T. A. Fry, president, and J. R. Brant, secretary, are the active managers of 
this association. 

The Occidental Building and Loan Association has its main offices at 103 1 
City National Bank Building, on the southeast corner of Sixteenth and Harney 
streets. The officers of this association at the beginning of the year 1916 were: 
J. F. Flack, president; R. A. McEachron, vice president; E. N. Bovell, secretary; 

G. C. Flack, treasurer. 

The Omaha Loan and Building Association has its main offices in the 
McCague Building, on the northwest corner of Fifteenth and Dodge? streets, with 
a branch at No. 503 North Twenty-fourth Street. G. W. Loomis was president 
of this association on January i, 1916; W. S. Wright, vice president; W. R. 
Adair, secretary and treasurer; and J. H. Kopietz was then the agent in charge 
of the branch office. 

The Prudential Savings and Loan Association is located at No. 120 South 
Seventeenth Street. On April i, 1916, the officers of the Prudential were: W. 
C. Bullard, president; D. H. Christie, secretary; D. D. Miller, treasurer. 

The State Savings and Loan Association is located at No. 1623 Harney 
Street, and on January i, 1916, was officered as follows: Samuel Rees, presi- 
dent ; L G. Baright, secretary ; E. C. Hodder, treasurer. 

Although some of the banks in past years failed under circumstances that 
left "a bad taste in the mouth," so to speak, the financial institutions of Omaha 
at the present time — banks, trust companies and savings associations — bear a 
reputation second to those of no city in the country. They are managed by 
men of recognized executive ability, sound business judgment and unimpeachable 


integrity. Conditions are different now from what they were thirty years ago, 
opportunities for investment of a stable character are more plentiful, and a bank 
failure now could hardly be accounted for except through bad management — 
a thing that is not likely to happen in the "Gate City." 




Back in the days when Omaha was young, when the population of all Douglas 
County did not exceed one thousand people, the merchants catered largely to the 
emigrant trains, supplying those who assisted the "Star of Empire" on its west- 
ward course with the common things they would need in developing the country's 
natural resources. Alormons, freighters, mining prospectors, etc., traveled "in 
light marching order" until they reached Omaha, where they would purchase 
their outfits. Even as late as 1866-67 the advertisements in the Omaha news- 
papers laid special stress upon the fact that the advertiser was prepared to outfit 
parties intending to cross the plains. 


One of the first mercantile houses in Omaha was the firm of Tootle & Jack- 
son, composed of Milton Tootle and James Jackson, two of the members of the 
original Council Bluffs & Nebraska Ferry Company. Mr. Tootle came from St. 
Joseph, Mo., and was a pioneer in many of the enterprises for the development 
of the country west of the Missouri River. The store of TootL- & Jackson, estab- 
lished late in the year 1854, stood on the corner of Tenth and Farnam streets. 
At first the stock consisted of a few wagon loads of staple merchandise — dry- 
goods, boots, shoes, certain lines of provisions, crockery, etc. In 1859 Mr. Tootle 
became sole proprietor and three years later placed W. G. Maul in charge of 
the business as manager, a position he held until the death of the proprietor in 
18S7, when the business was purchased by the Kilpatrick-Koch Dry Goods Com- 
pany, which was incorporated with a capital stock of $250,000 and the following 
officers : Thomas Kilpatrick, president ; Allen Koch, first vice president ; Robert 
Cowell, second vice president and treasurer; James Risk, secretary. The trade 
of this company extended over a large part of Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, 
L'tah and Colorado and the annual sales averaged over one million dollars for a 
number of years. Some changes were subsequently made in the personnel of the 


^^--. ?^ 


company, but Mr. Kilpatrick remained at the head of the concern until his death 
on January 14, 1916. 

Megeath & Company was another early mercantile firm that carried on an 
extensive outfitting business, a special feature of their trade being the Mormon 
patronage, of which they had the lion's share for several years. It was no uncom- 
mon occurrence for the last Mormon train in the annual emigration to take 
the entire remaining stock of this house. This train usually left Omaha about 
the last of July. While the Union Pacific Railroad was under construction, 
Megeath & Company adopted the somewhat novel plan of employing portable 
warehouses, which could be moved forward as fast as the railroad was com- 
pleted. By this method goods could be transported by train to the terminus 
of the railroad and freighted from there by wagon trains to their western desti- 
nation. The trade of this firm with the Mormons and other western emigrants 
amounted to more than one million dollars annually. James G. Megeath, the 
founder of the business, afterward turned his attention to coal mining and became 
one of the leading coal miners and dealers of the Middle West. 

In May, 1856, the first clothing store in Omaha was established by Vincent 
Burkley. He brought about eight thousand dollars' worth of clothing by steam- 
boat from Cincinnati, Ohio, and opened the "Morning Star Clothing House" 
on Farnam Street. A merchant tailoring department was conducted in connec- 
tion with the store. For some reason Mr. Burkley did not continue long in the 
clothing business, disposing of his stock in the winter of 1857-58. He was a 
native of Germany, where he was born on April 5, 1818, came to America in 1839 
and was engaged in business in Columbus, Ohio, before coming to Omaha. He 
served two terms in the city council; was a member of the Legislature which 
met on July 4, 1866; was a member of the board of education in 1872; served as 
inspector of customs from 1S86 to 1889, and afterwards founded the Burkley 
Printing Company, with which his two sons were also connected. 

Meyer Hellman, a native of Germany, came to Omaha in 1856, being at that 
time about twenty-two years of age. He formed a partnership with Aaron Cahn 
soon after his arrival and the two embarked in the clothing business under the 
firm name of M. Hellman & Company. Their first store was a one-story frame 
building, 22 by 40 feet, on the northwest corner of Thirteenth and Farnam streets. 
In 1857 Mr. Hellman had a building 22 by 80 feet framed in Cincinnati, brought 
it around to Omaha by boat and had it set up on the lot next to the southwest 
corner of Thirteenth and Farnam. As the new building doubled the amount of 
room, a merchant tailoring department was added. In 1865 the firm engaged in 
the wholesale clothing trade and two years later a five-story building was erected, 
the lower portion of which was occupied by the stock of clothing. The wholesale 
trade was abandoned in 1884 and a year or two later Mr. Cahn sold his interest 
to his partner. Mr. Hellman continued in the retail clothing trade until his 
death on March 29, 1892. At the time of his death his house was the oldest 
clothing establishment west of the Missouri River. He was succeeded by the 
Columbia Clothing Company, at the head of which was M. H. Cooke. 

The well known hardware house of Milton Rogers & Sons Company, now 
located at 1515 Harney Street, was founded by Milton Rogers in June, 1855, as 
a branch of his Council Blufifs establishment. His first place of business was a 
one-story building, constructed of cottonwood boards, and stood on the north 


side of Farnam Street between Ninth and Tenth. It was 20 by 40 feet in dimen- 
sions and the first stock consisted of some tinware and a few stoves. In 1868 he 
removed to a larger building and in the early '80s the firm became Milton Rogers 
& Sons, Thomas J. and Warren M. Rogers becoming partners with their father. 
The business is now incorporated with Herbert M. Rogers, president, and A. 
W. Spoerri, secretary. 

In the spring of 1859 Jesse H. Lacey and John McCormick started a whole- 
sale grocery — the first institution of its kind in Nebraska — under the firm name 
of Lacey & McCormick. They had a large share of the Pike's Peak trade and 
carried on quite an extensive business for that period. Their store was located 
on the north side of Faniam Street, just west of Thirteenth. The members of 
the firm were brothers-in-law, having married sisters. A little later Finley, 
Josiah S. and Albert McConnick came into the firm, which then took the name 
of John McCormick & Company. Mr. Lacey was a member of the city council 
in 1869 and a Missouri River steamboat was named the J. H. Lacey. Mr. 
McCormick served in the upper house of the Legislature in 1864; was one of 
the incorporators of the first Omaha Street Railway Company in 1867 ; was elected 
president of the Central National Bank when it was organized in 1868; and was 
one of the three men who built the first grain elevator in Omaha in 1875. 

The visitor to Omaha twenty-five years ago might have noticed on a modest 
brick building at No. 1218 Farnam Street a sign bearing the legend: "Henry 
Pundt, Teas and Groceries, Founded in 1856." When this business was first 
started in 1856 the firm was Pundt & Koenig and their place was on the corner 
of Thirteenth and Farnam, where the Merchants National Bank was afterward 
built. The house carried a large stock of such goods as were needed in outfitting 
emigrants and did a large business. Mr. Koenig died in 1863, after which Mr. 
Pundt continued under the firm name of H. Pundt & Company. From 1874 to 
1879 the firm was Pundt, Meyer & Raapke. During that five years the house 
did a jobbing as well as a retail business in groceries. In 1879 ^^^- Ptindt again 
became sole proprietor and ptit up the sign above mentioned. From that time 
until shortly befoi'e his death he carried a large stock of groceries and liquors, 
which were sold at retail only. 

Probably the first exclusive queensware house in Omaha was that of Samuel 
llurns, who began business in 1861. The same year L. C. Huntington opened a 
leather store and purchased hides. In 1875 ^""^^ ^O'"' '^^^^ admitted to partnership 
and in 1886 the business passed into the hands of C. S. and A. S. Huntington, 
sons of the founder. 

Immediately after the close of the Civil war several new mercantile establish- 
ments were opened in Omaha. The firm of Stephens & Wilcox (William Stephens 
and Capt. W. P. Wilcox) began business in 1865 in a small frame building on 
the south side- of Farnam Street just west of Thirteenth. At the end of one year 
they disposed of their stock of groceries, boots and shoes, to make room for a 
large supply of goods to be used in the Indian trade. The fire of 1867 destroyed 
nearly all the buildings on the south side of Farnam Street, between Thirteenth 
and Fourteenth, and the Central Block was erected upon the site of some of 
the burned structures. Stephens & Wilcox occupied the new block with what 
was considered the finest stock of dry goods ever brought to the West. Then 
the firm added a larger stock of beads, jewelry, hatchets, knives, small mirrors. 









blankets, vermilion, etc., for the Indian trade and large consignments of these 
goods were sent up the river to the Indian reservations. I'or several years the 
annual volume of business amounted to over three hundred thousand dollars. 
Delegations of Indian chiefs on their way to Washington to see the "Great 
Father," made the store of Stephens & Wilcox their headquarters during their 
stop in Omaha and held their councils on the second floor, sitting on rolls of 
carpet. Upon the death of Mr. Stephens in 1881 the firm passed out of existence. 

In 1865 John Trimble was manager of a furniture store at Nos. 11x5-1117 
Farnam Street, of which Louis Hax of St. Joseph, Mo., was the owner. C. H. 
Dewey and Mr. Trimble purchased the stock from Mr. Hax and in 1S66 E. L. 
Stone purchased an interest, the firm then taking the name of Dewey, Trimble & 
Company. Four years later Mr. Trimble sold his interest to his partners and 
the firm became Dewey & Stone. In 1888 the business was incorporated as the 
Dewey & Stone Furniture Company, with a capital stock of $500,000 and the 
following officers: C. H. Dewey, president; E. L. Stone, vice president; Wil- 
liam Gyger, secretary; George E. Crosby, treasurer; William I. Kierstead, man- 
ager. The five-story brick building occupied by this company on Flarney Street, 
built in 1882, was the first five-story building in the State of Nebraska. The 
company also had for years a large warehouse on Leavenworth Street and car- 
ried on a wholesale business that extended to the Pacific coast. 

Dr. George L. Miller, S. D. and D, Y, Barkalow engaged in the book and 
stationery business in the spring of 1865. Doctor Miller furnished the capital 
and the business was conducted by the Barlialdw brdtheri When the Union 
Pacific Railroad was completed as far as Columbus, Neb., the firm engaged in 
the railway news business, placing boys on the trains of the Union Pacific. 
Finding the trade profitable, they subsequently ■sccXired the news privileges on a 
number of railroads and established a'.branch-in,be«ver. The Barkalows then 
purchased Doctor Miller's interest, S. D. Barkalow assumed the management of 
the Omaha branch and D. V. Barkalow took charge at Denver. At one time this 
concern had about one hundred boys on the trains, or as agents at Kansas City, 
I'ort Worth, Ogden and Portland. The business is still conducted as the Barka- 
low Brothers News Company, of which G. H. Schnell is general manager and 
Denise Barkalow, secretary and treasurer. 

Smith & Hopkins, a firm composed of H. K. Smith and A. P. Hopkins, was 
formed in the latter part of the year 1866 and early in 1867 became agents for 
the "O" line of steamers running between St. Louis and Omaha. This firm car- 
ried on a general commission and forwarding business, occupying a building that 
had been erected for a flour mill on Thirteenth Street, between Farnam and 
Harney. C. C. Housel came into the firm as a partner in 1868, when the firm 
name was changed to Smith, Hopkins & Housel. The firm received on consign- 
ment entire steamboat cargoes, paid the freight, which sometimes ran into thou- 
sands of dollars, and held the goods for the consignees. A large portion of the 
wares received by Smith, Hopkins & Housel was shipped west overland. In 
1 871 Mr. Housel assumed entire control of the commission business. He was 
succeeded by a man named Troxel, who took a Mr. \A'illiains into partnership, 
the firm of Troxel & Williams continuing in Iiusiness until the railroads put 
the river traffic "out of commission." 

The pioneer jeweler was William J. Kennedy, who opened his store and 


watch repairing establishment in December, 1856. In 1865 he engaged in the 
storage and general commission business with John A. Horbach, and the next 
year Max Meyer started in the jewelry business in a small way on the south 
side of Famam Street near Eleventh. In 1869 two of Mr. Meyer's brothers 
became associated with him and the house then took the name of Max Meyer & 
Brother Company, with quarters in the Paxton Block, on the northeast comer 
of Sixteenth and Farnam streets. The imports of this firm sometimes reached 
as high as $50,000 a year and a wholesale trade was conducted for several years, 
the annual sales running to nearly one million dollars. A manufacturing depart- 
ment was added and jewelry of special designs was ttimed out by skilled work- 
men. The firm also handled musical instruments. 


The first mercantile institution that could properly be called a "Department 
Store" was the business started by Ross & Cruikshank in 1868, in a small frame 
building on the corner of Fourteenth and Farnam streets. The stock consisted 
principally of dry goods and notions, with a department of household furnish- 
ings. In 1871 N. B. Falconer purchased Mt-. Ross' interest, the firm then taking 
the name of A. Cruikshank & Company. Six years later Mr. Falconer erected a 
two-story brick building on the corner of Fifteenth and Douglas streets, into 
which the business was moved, and in 1883 he became sole proprietor. Book and 
toy departments had in the meantime been added. In 1887 Mr. Falconer built 
the store rooms now occupied by the Thomas Kilpatrick Company at Nos. 1505- 
1507 Douglas Street, when Browning, King & Company occupied the rooms on 
the comer of Fifteenth and Douglas as a clothing store. Mr. Falconer's sales 
ran as high as half a million dollars annually. 

In 1878 the W. R. Bennett Company began business in a four-story building 
located at Nos. 1502 to 1512 Capitol Avenue, and advertised as "wholesale and 
retail dealers in everything useful, ornamental and staple." At the start the two 
partners and a single clerk handled the business, but ten years later about one 
hundred people were employed. The stock was finally sold to other merchants 
and the firm went out of business. 

In 1883 J. L. Brandeis began a small jobbing trade in Omaha. Later he 
took his sons into partnership and built the Boston Store on the northwest corner 
of Sixteenth and Douglas streets, where the firm engaged in the retail trade as a 
department store under the firm name of J. L. Brandeis & Sons. The "Brandeis 
Stores" now constitute one of the best known retail mercantile establishments 
in the Missouri Valley. 

William 'and Edward Hayden, under the firm name of Hayden Brothers, 
began business at 116 South Sixteenth Street in May, 1888. They first occupied 
the lower floors of a building having a frontage of 132 feet on Douglas Street 
and running back 76 feet. In a short time more room was needed and the firm 
built the addition on Dodge Street, 66 by 132 feet and five stories in height. This 
store has about thirty different departments and carries in stock everything the 
average family needs. Over three hundred people are employed. 

The Burgess-Nash department stores, on the southwest comer of Douglas 
and Harney streets, carry a large stock of dry goods, household furnishings. 


shoes, clothing, men's furnishing goods, etc. This house is one of the most 
popular mercantile concerns of the Gate City. 

Then there are the Thomas Kilpatrick Company, located at Nos. 1505 to 151 1 
Douglas Street, the Thompson, Belden & Company stores on the northwest corner 
of Sixteenth and Howard streets, and a few smaller establishments in other 
localities, li the visitor to these several stores cannot find the article wanted, 
he may rest assured that it is not to be found in Omaha. 


The emigrant outfitting business of pioneer days naturally led to the estab- 
lishment of the wholesale houses of subsequent years. As the great Northwest 
was settled and towns began to grow up, the retail merchants of those towns 
depended more and more each year upon Omaha for their supplies. At first the 
wholesale merchants undertook to supply practically everything needed for the 
general store, but in the course of a few years the jobbers commenced to 
specialize, diffferent firms handling dififerent lines of goods. 

As early as 1867 the wholesale grocery house of Steele, Johnson & Company, 
of Council Bluffs, was doing a large business throughout the Northwest. In 1872 
the firm moved across the river into Omaha and occupied the three-story building 
on the corner of Thirteenth & Hamey streets. In 1885 the firm was reorganized 
as D. M. Steele & Company, the members being Dudley M. Steele, John M. 
Steele and Dudley Smith. As the trade increased a five-story building was 
erected on the corner of Jones and Twelfth streets, to which a railroad track 
was constructed, making it easy to receive and ship goods. About the same time 
a branch warehouse was built in Salt Lake City. For years the trade of this 
house extended to all parts of Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota, Montana, 
Idaho, the northern part of Kansas and the western portion of Iowa. 

Meyer & Raapke used to advertise as the "Pioneer Grocery House of Omaha." 
They began business as retail grocers in 1868 and entered the wholesale field in 
1872. For several years this firm was located at Nos. 1403-1407 Harney Street 
and carried on a business of half a million dollars a year. 

The Paxton & Gallagher Company, which today advertises as "Omaha's 
greatest wholesale grocers," dates back to 1879, when William A. Paxton and 
Benjamin Gallagher formed a partnership and embarked in the wholesale grocery 
trade. Ten years later the concern was employing fifty-five people, twenty-one 
of whom were traveling salesmen. Some years after the firm first started, certain 
lines of heavy hardware, stoves, rope, washing machines, etc., were added. The 
business now occupies the five-story building at Nos. 701-71 1 South Tenth Street, 
in which is housed the hardware department ; east of, and adjoining this building 
is a six-story structure (Nos. 901-91 1 Jones .Street) in which are the coft'ee roasters 
and special equipments for handling certain lines of groceries; next to the Jones 
Street Building is the nine-story warehouse, where orders are filled and goods 
started on their way to the retailer. The company is incorporated, the officers 
in 1916 being as follows: Charles H. Pickens, president; W. A. Gallagher, vice 
president ; F. G. Keogh, secretary ; P. C. Gallagher, treasurer. 

About 1880 the wholesale grocery firm of McCord, Brady & Company began 
business. In 1883 it occupied the five-story building at Nos. 719-733 South 


Thirteenth Street, where it is still located. The business was incorporated as 
the AicCord-Brady Company on January i, 1891, and at the beginning of the 
year 1916 the officers were: W. H. McCord, president; J. S. Brady, vice presi- 
dent; C. L. Deuel, secretary; F. J. Hoel, treasurer. This company's traveling 
salesmen visit the principal towns in Nebraska, Northern Kansas, South Dakota, 
Eastern Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Utah. 

The H. J. Hughes Company, located on the corner of Twelfth and Jones 
streets, is a wholesale grocery house of more recent origin, but one which com- 
mands a large share of the trade of the Northwest. This company occupies over 
fifty thousand scjuare feet of floor space and makes a specialty of goods bearing 
trade labels as a guarantee of quality. H. J. Hughes is president of the com- 
pany; Frank J. Hughes, vice president and manager; Clarence E. Hughes, sec- 
retary; Walter J. Hughes, treasurer. Fourteen traveling salesmen are employed 
and about fifty persons are constantly engaged in filling orders, etc. 

Omaha can claim something in the way of a novelty in the wholesale grocery 
line in the Italian Mercantile Company, which is located at Nos. 21 17-2123 Pierce 
Street. Samuel Mancuso is president; Stephan Zaghini, secretary; Fortunate 
Mauro, treasurer. The company imports large quantities of olives, olive oil, 
cheese, macaroni and other products of "Sunny Italy'' and the countries of South- 
ern Europe. There are probably half a dozen other firms tiiat do a jobbing busi- 
ness in groceries in a limited way, but the above houses control by far the greater 
part of the trade. 

In the wholesale dry goods trade the house of Ai. E. Smith & Company stands 
at the head. The firm began business in Council Bluffs almost half a century ago, 
but in 1886 moved across the Missouri River into Omaha. The first location 
of the company after coming to Omaha was on the corner of Eleventh and 
Douglas streets. In four years the quarters there were outgrown and a removal 
was made to Nos. 1101-1107 Howard Street, where buildings were erected for the 
special use of the finn. At that lime the house employed eighteen traveling 
salesmen, who covered all the country between the Missouri River and the Pacific 
coast, north of the fortieth parallel. The next removal was to the corner of Ninth 
and Farnam, where the eight-story, twin buildings form one of Omaha's land- 
marks. About the time the firm removed to Howard Street, a manufacturing 
ile{)artment was added for the production of workingmen's trousers, overalls, 
jumpers, women's aprons, wash dresses, etc. This department has been increased 
in capacity and now turns out house dresses, coats and suits for women, slcejiing 
garments for both sexes, mackinaws and sheep lined coats for men, and several 
hundred employees are kept busy in this line of work. In the sales department, 
the number of traveling salesmen has been increased to about seventy-five and the 
business now covers all the Northwest and Alaska, the sales running into millions 
of dollars every year. The officers of the company in 1916 were: A. C. Smith, 
president; W. M. Burgess, vice president; F. M. Smith, secretary and treasure". 

Thomas Kilpatrick & Company, on Douglas Street; Swenson Brothers, 11 12 
Howard Street : and the Byrne & Hammer Dry Goods Company, 417 South 
Ninth Street, all do a jobbing business in dry goods. The last named is a large 
concern and its salesmen cover practically all of the great Northwest. M. B. 
Koory, located at [405 -South Thirteenth Street, carries a large stock of dry 
troods and notions for the wholesale trade and covers a large territorv. The 

O'liirtesy ( f Garvin Bruthers 



^r 1 1 I 

Courtesy of Garvin Brothers 



Carson-Pirie-Scott Company of Chicago maintains a representative in Omaha 
who sells to the merchants of the surrounding towns, the orders being filled from 

The pioneer hardware jobber in Omaha was W. J. Broatch, who began deal- 
ing in iron, steel and heavy hardware in 1874 in a small building on the north 
side of Harney Street, between Twelfth and Thirteenth. Outgrowing his quarters 
there, he moved across the street. In 1880 he erected a four-story building and 
carried on a successful business for several years, when he disposed of his stock 
and engaged in other lines of activity. 

In 1888 the Baum Iron Company was incorporated with a capital stock of 
Sioo,000 and began business at 1208-1210 Harney Street. It built up a good 
business and sent its traveling salesmen into Nebraska. Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, 
Idaho and parts of Iowa and Kansas. About the beginning of 1916 the company 
was consolidated with the Omaha Iron Store Company (the successor of W. J. 
Broatch), under the name of the Omaha-Baum Iron Store, incorporated. By the 
consolidation of the two concerns, the new house has nearly fifty thousand square 
feet of floor space. The officers of the company at the time of the consolida- 
tion were: H. I. Adams, president and general manager; H. J. McCarthy, secre- 
tary; F. L. Adams, treasurer. The new company advertises "everything used 
by the blacksmith, the wagonsmith, contractor or miner in the way of heavy 
hardware, tools and supplies." 

In 1880 the firm of Lee, Fried & Company started in business handling 
hardware, cutlery and tinware. In January, 18S8, the Lee-Clarke-Andreesen 
Hardware Company was incorporated as the successor of the old firm, with a capi- 
tal stock of $300,000. Within a short time the sallesmen of this company were 
making regular trips to the principal towns of Nebraska, W'yoming, Utah, Idaho, 
Western Iowa and parts of Colorado and Dakota. For some time the place of 
business was at Nos. 1219-1223 Harney Street. Subsequently the name of 
the company was changed to the Lee-Clarke-Andreesen Company, still later to the 
Lee-Coit-Andreesen Company, and the place of business was removed to the corner 
of Ninth and Harney streets. Early in the year 1916 the old Bailey Hotel, 
on the corner of Ninth and Farnam streets, was purchased by the company, the 
hotel was torn down and a substantial six-story brick building, connecting with the 
one on the corner of Ninth and Harney, was erected on the site. The officers of 
the company in the spring of 1916 were: H. J. Lee, president; J. C. Coit, secre- 
tary and manager; E. M. Andreesen, treasurer. 

Located at Nos. 519-523 South Tenth Street is the Wright & Wilhelmy tlard- 
ware Company, which is the successor of the Rector & Wilhelmy Company, in- 
corporated in 1884. The officers of the company at the time of incorporation 
were: P. C. DeVol, president; F. B. Hochstetler, vice president; W. S. Wright, 
secretary; Allen T. Rector, treasurer. The capital stock of the company was 
8125,000 and the fifth member of the company was J. F. Wilhelmy. Most of 
these men had been in the hardware business for several years prior to the incor- 
poration of the company and brotight to the new enterprise the benefit of their 
experience. In 1916 F. B. Hochstetler was president; J. F. Wilhelmy, secretary; 
W. S. Wright, treasurer. The present quarters were first occupied in 1906. 

The firm of Henry & Allen, 1032 South Nineteenth Street; the C. .S. Bowman 
Hardware Company, 1207 Howard Street; and the H. F. Cady Lumber Com- 


pany, whose general offices are in the Woodmen of the World Building, all do a 
jobbing business in certain lines of hardware. 

Closely allied to the hardware trade is that of implements and machinery. 
In 1868 G. W. Lininger and E. L. Shugert formed a partnership and opened an 
agricultural implement house in Council Bluffs. Five years later, seeing that the 
west side of the Missouri offered better opportunities, Mr. Lininger came to 
Omaha and commenced business as G. W. Lininger & Company. In 1879 he 
sold out his business, but in 1881 organized the firm of Lininger, Metcalf & 
Company, which was incorporated with a capital stock of $100,000; G. W. Linin- 
ger, president; J. M. Metcalf, vice president; H. P. Devalon, secretary and 
treasurer. After a few removals, the company bought the property formerly 
occupied by the Bemis Brewing Company, Sixth and Pacific streets, which was 
remodeled and gave them ample room to expand. Eighteen branch houses were 
established at as many places in Nebraska and over one hundred persons were 
employed by this company for a number of years before it went out of business. 
In recent years the manufacturers of agricultural implements have adopted the 
plan of establishing a general agent in Omaha, who looks after the business in a 
given territory. The International Harvester Company, John Deere, and a num- 
ber of other concerns maintain general agents for the disposal of their implements. 

Fairbanks, Morse & Company have a branch house located on the corner of 
Ninth and liarney streets, of which Burton R. Hawley is manager. This com- 
pany makes gasoline and oil engines, windmills, etc., which are sold all over 
the State of Nebraska through agents, the volume of business running into thou- 
sands of dollars every year. 

The Crane Company, manufacturers of steam, gasfitters' and plumbers' sup- 
plies, have a large warehouse and sales rooms at Nos. 313-323 South Tenth 
Street. The headquarters of this company are in Chicago. R. T. Crane, Jr., is 
president; E. H. Raymond, vice president; J. B. Berryman, secretary; A. D. 
MacGill, treasurer. 

The jobbing trade in paints and glass is well represented by the Midland Glass 
and Paint Company and the Pioneer Glass and Paint Company. The former is 
located in the five-story building on the corner of Eleventh and Howard streets, 
where it has 100,000 square feet of floor space and carries an immense stock 
of Pittsburgh plate glass, common window glass, mirrors, paints, paint brushes, 
etc. F. W. Judson is the secretary and manager. The Pioneer Company is 
located on the northeast corner of Fifteenth and Davenport streets. This com- 
pany handles plate and window glass, the Zouri safety store front, a full line of 
paints and varnishes, lubricating oils, etc. L. P. Moore is president ; L. W. 
Kennard, vice president ; G. C. Cunningham, secretary and treasurer. 

The Carpenter Paper Company, wholesale dealers in paper, is located on the 
southeast corner of Ninth and Harney streets, in the heart of the wholesale 
district. Of this company I. W. Carpenter is president; J. A. Carpenter, of 
Kansas City, vice president; W. G. Carpenter, secretary; A. W. Carpenter, 

The above mentioned firms are all representative houses in their respective 
lines. There are also jobbers in boots and shoes, hats, electrical supplies, rubber 
goods, drugs, confectionery, cigars and tobacco, liquors, lumber, coal and coke, 
dental and photographic supplies and numerous lines of goods, each of which 


is equally representative. According to statistics compiled by the Omaha Com- 
mercial Club for the year 1915, the jobbing trade of the city amounted to $177,- 
251,059. Of this aggregate, considerably more than half included twelve leading 
lines, to wit: 

Agricultural implements $ 13,323,166 

Automobiles and accessories 18,288,000 

Building materials I3.557'740 

Coal and coke 8,933,316 

Drugs and druggists' sundries 3.318,785 

Dry goods 9,68i ,000 

Groceries 15,606,000 

Hardware 5,938,000 

Liquors 6,192,365 

Oils, illuminating and lubricating 5,41 1,500 

Paints and glass 2,745,000 

Tobacco and cigars 2,743,300 

Total $105,738,172 


There is no doubt that the first move toward the manufacture of any product 
in Omaha was the establishment of a brick yard. Hardly had the town been laid 
out in 1854, when the Council Bluffs & Nebraska Ferry Company, desirous of 
securing the location of the territorial capital in their town, employed Benjamin 
Winchester to make brick for a building, which was to be offered to the authori- 
ties for a Capitol in the event Omaha should be chosen as the seat of govern- 
ment. Winchester went bravely to work and in a short time had several thousand 
brick set in a kiln ready for burning. Lacking lumber for sheds to protect the 
kiln from the weather, he covered it with canvas. One night the canvas was 
stolen and a hard rain coming at the same time the brick kiln was reduced to a 
shapeless mass of clay. The bricks for the state house were then brought over 
from Iowa. 

A few years later, when Omaha was enjoying its first big boom, there were 
fifty-two brick yards in operation about the city, turning out 150,000,000 brick 
annually. By 1892 most of these yards had been discontinued, only fifteen being 
then engaged in the active manufacture of brick. One of the largest brick manu- 
facturers at that time was Martin Ittner, whose yards averaged over five million 
brick annually. Other brick makers during the boom and for some years after- 
ward, were the Withnell brothers, Rocheford & Gould, the Grand View Brick 
Company, G. W. McBrode, John P. Thomas, the Omaha Standard Brick Com- 
pany and Richard Smith. The last named began business in 1886 and brought 
the first brick making machine to Omaha. 

The brick making industry of the present day is well represented by the 
Hydraulic-Press Brick Company, which was established in 1891. The company's 
plant covers seven acres at Avery, about three miles south of Omaha. At Louis- 
ville, Neb., the company owns 120 acres of the finest fire clay deposits in the 
West. From seventy-five to one hundred men are employed and the annual 


product is about six million brick. The capital invested amounts to nearly half a 
million of dollars. The general ofliccs and display rooms of the company are in 
the Woodmen of the World Building, on the corner of Fourteenth and Famam 
streets. Other concerns in this line of business are the Omaha Brick and Tile 
Company, the Standard Brick Company, the Omaha Clay Works, the Smith Brick 
Company and the Twin City Brick Company. 


The truth of the old adage, "Necessity is the mother of nivention," was prob- 
ably never better exemplified than in the settlement of Douglas County. The 
pioneers were called upon to provide shelter for their families: hence lumber was 
a necessity. And this necessity became the maternal parent of the first saw- 
mills. It is believed that the first sawmill about Omaha was the one establislied 
in 1854, near the intersection of Ninth and Jackson streets, by Thomas Davis, 
who afterward added a grist mill. In 1855 Smith & Salisbury built a sawmill 
on the bank of the Missouri River, about two hundred yards above the place 
where the first waterworks pumping station was afterward located. Logs for 
this mill were rafted down the river for a distance of twenty-five or thirty miles. 
Sawmills were also established in other parts of the county at an early date. Com- 
pared with the modern lumber manufacturing concerns of the great pine vvoods, 
these primitive sawmills were small afifairs, but they proved a great boon to the 
settlers and were liberally patronized. So pressing was the demand for lumber 
that a settler would drive to the mill, back his wagon up as closely as possible, 
and take the boards as fast as they came from the saw, while other wagons •stood 
waiting their turn, for the rule was "First come, first served." With the destruc- 
tion of the forests the mills disappeared. 


In 1858 Andrew j. Simpson came to Omaha from Sacramento, Calif., and 
began making wagons and carriages in a small shop on Douglas Street, near 
Fourteenth. A few years later he erected a three-story brick building on Dodge 
Street, just west of Fourteenth, and enlarged his business until he employed 
thirty-five or forty men. Simpson's carriage factory was the first institution of 
the kind in the State of Nebraska. It is still in existence and is now operated 
under the name of A. J. Simpson & Son at No. 1407 Dodge Street. 

Andrew Murphy came to Omaha in 1867 and two years later opened a little 
blacksmith shop near the intersection of Fourteenth and tloward streets. As his 
business grew he met the demand by enlarging his Cjuarters until finally he built 
his present plant on the corner of Fourteenth and Jackson streets — a three- 
story-building valued at $200,000. The factory now employs nearly one hundred 
men, is equipped with modem tools and machinery, and carries on a general car- 
riage building business. One department is devoted to the building of automo- 
bile truck bodies to suit the purposes of the owner of the truck. The slogan of 
this factory, "Murphy did it," has become a by-word about Omaha. 

The firm of Meadimber & Daily began carriage making in 1875 on the corner 
of Sixteenth Street and Capitol Avenue, with only two men in the shops. In 1881 


Mr. Daily retired from the partnership and Mr. Meadiniber shortly afterward 
removed to the corner of Sixteenth and Chicago streets, where his factory was 
burned in July, 1890, entailing a loss of some thirty-five thousand dollars. The 
ruins of the building were hardly cold, when he stretched an awning over a portion 
of the walls and resumed operations. In less than two months his new factory 
at Nos. 1513-1515 Chicago Street was ready for occupancy and fifty men were 
at work in a four-story building 44 by 132 feet, turning out all sorts of vehicles. 

William Snyder engaged in the carriage making business in 1879. At first he 
did all the work himself, but he afterward removed to the comer of Fourteenth 
and Harney streets, where he employed about a dozen men. Most of his work 
was made to order. 

Harry Frost and L. D. Harris, two employees of A. J. Simpson, formed a 
partnership and began business for themselves in May, 1889, under the firm name 
of Frost & Harris. They located their shop on the corner of Twenty-third and 
Izard streets and in a short time had twenty-five men employed. Harry Frost 
is still in the business and is located at No. 1410 Leavenworth Street. 

William R. Drummond & Company, B. H. Osterhoudt, F. W. Simpson, Wil- 
liam Pfeififer and some others also operated carriage factories or repair shops at 
some period in the city's history and a few of them are still in business. 


In 1859 Frederick Krug established a brewery in a one-story frame building, 
22 by 40 feet in dimensions, on the south side of Famam Street between Tenth 
and Eleventh streets. That was the first brewery in the State of Nebraska. 
Before it was opened for business Mr. Krug took as a partner Rudolph Selzer 
and the firm started out as Krug & Selzer, Mr. Krug operating the plant and his 
partner taking charge of a retail department in the front of the little building. 
The brewery turned out from twelve to eighteen barrels every week, most of 
which were sold to the Mormons at Florence. In i860 Mr. Krug purchased his 
partner's interest and three years later built the malt house on the corner of 
Eleventh and Jackson streets. The whole plant was removed to that site in 
1867. The plant is now located at the junction of Krug Avenue and Boulevard 
and is operated under the name of the Fred Krug Brewing Company. 

Metz Brothers, a firm composed of Frederick, Sr., Frederick, Jr., and Charles 
Metz, embarked in the brewing business by purchasing the brewery established 
in 1861 by a man named McCumbe, located on the corner of Sixth and Leaven- 
worth streets, where the plant is still situated. The Metz Brothers purchased 
the brewery in 1864 and since then have greatly enlarged the plant. 

Joseph Baumann started a small brewery on Sherman Avenue in 1865. His 
'death occurred in 1876 and his widow continued the business for a time with 
Gottlieb Storz as foreman. In 1884 Mr. Storz and J. D. Her purchased the prop- 
erty and in 1891 the Omaha Brewing Association was formed with Gottlieb Storz 
as president. Such was the evolution of the Storz Brewing Company, located at 
No. 1819 Sherman Avenue. 

The Willow Springs Brewer}', located at No. 213 Hickory Street, and the 
Jetter Brewery, at No. 6002 South Thirtieth Street, are both modern plants. In 
1915 the output of the five Omaha brewing companies was valued at $3,205,375. 



In 1866 James G. and Samuel D. Megeath purchased the outfit and equip- 
ment of the McCoy Distillery at Council Bluffs, at a Government condemnation 
sale. Peter E. and Joseph D. Her and Marsh Kennard were taken into partner- 
ship, the plant was removed to Omaha and the business of making alcohol and 
whisky was commenced. In a few years the Megeaths sold their interest to the 
Hers and Kennard, who in 1872 incorporated the Willow Springs Distilling Com- 
pany, now known as the Willow Springs Branch of the Standard Distilling and 
Distributing Company. For twenty-five years the annual product of this distil- 
lery has averaged over three millions of dollars and the company has paid over 
two millions every year in internal revenue taxes. 


One of the earliest iron works in Omaha was the establishment of Davis & 
Cowgill, of which E. P. Davis was president; H. S. McDonald, secretary; and J. 
B. Cowgill, general superintendent. For several years they employed fifty or 
more men and were extensive manufacturers of electric street railway appli- 
ances, which were sold throughout the Middle West, from British Columbia to 

The Phoenix Foundry and Machine Works were established by John McLearie 
and E. Oehrle on the corner of Twenty-fifth and Patrick streets in the '70s. In 
1889 the plant was destroyed by fire and the works were removed to Pinkney 
Street at the crossing of the Belt Railroad, where a successful business was car- 
ried on for many years. 

The Paxton & Vierling Iron Works, located at No. 1312 South Seventeenth 
Street, is the outgrowth of a small concern started as the "Cass Street Foundry" 
about 1880 by T. W. T. Richards and L. G. Heybrook. The old Cass Street plant 
was destroyed by fire, when the works were removed to the present site, and in 
1886 passed into the hands of William A. Paxton, Robert, Louis and A. J. 
Vierling. For a number of years the output of this concern has been over three 
hundred thousand dollars annually. In 1916 C. J. Vierling was president; A. J. 
Vierling, vice president and Louis Vierling, secretary and treasurer. Since the 
death of Mr. Paxton the Vierlings have been the owners and managers of the 
works, though the firm name has never been changed. 

It may be news to some of the people of Omaha to learn that barbed wire was 
once manufactured in the city. Thomas Gibson, while secretary of the Omaha 
Board of Trade, began the industry in a small way at the foot of Capitol Avenue. 
.\ few years later his plant was purchased by a company composed of W. J. 
Broatch, M. M. Marshall, O. N. Ramsey and others, who removed the business 
to the corner of Fourteenth and Nicholas streets and expended about fifty thou- 
sand dollars in the erection of buildings, etc. Subsequently the institution was 
incorporated as the Omaha Barb Wire Fence and Nail Company. The capital 
stock was fixed at $150,000; Jeff W. Bedford was elected president; Charles 
Burmester, secretary and treasurer ; Thomas H. Taylor, manager. From four to 
five thousand tons of barbed wire were turned out annually for several years, 

The N. IB. Falconer House, corner of Nineteenth Street 



but the company was unable to compete with the larger and more favorably 
situated factories and it was closed in the fall of 1892. 

A nail factory was started in the spring of 1878 in a temporary building on 
the north side of the Union Pacific Railroad between Sixteenth and Seventeenth 
streets. John A. Creighton was president of the company; G. T. Walker, vice 
president and superintendent; James Creighton, secretary and treasurer. The 
authorized capital was $50,000 and about fourteen thousand dollars were invested 
in machinery. In 1879 ^^^"^ output was 40,000 kegs of nails. Legal complications 
arose and the factory remained inactive for several years, when the company was 
reorganized and the plant was removed to St. Joseph, Mo. 

The Omaha Structural Company, whose plant is located at the junction of 
Forty-eighth and Leavenworth streets, began business on a small scale in 191 1. 
Success was assured from the start and a statement recently authorized by the 
company says : "The company owns a large plant that covers about eight 
acres. Huge machines, each worth a small fortune, are used for handling and 
shaping the great masses of steel. One hundred and fifty men are employed 
at the plant and 250 more are kept continuously busy on work throughout the 
country, not including a score of engineers and office employees." 

Among the large contracts in steel construction that have been undertaken by 
this company may be mentioned the Government bridge over the Colorado River 
at Yuma, Arizona; the Grain Exchange Building, Omaha; the Miller & Paine 
Building, Lincoln ; the Colorado National Bank, Denver ; the Liberty Theater, 
Spokane; and the First National Bank of Omaha. John W. Towle is president 
of the company; W. L. Carey, secretary; Karl E. Vogel, chief engineer. 

The Western Bridge and Constmction Company, whose general offices are in 
the Bee Building, is another large concern of comparatively recent origin. Its 
operations include the building of bridges all over Nebraska, Iowa, Wyoming 
and South Dakota. F. J. Birss is president ; T. L. Travis, vice president ; C. L. 
Dettman, secretary; H. W. Anderson, treasurer; J. O. Hossack, superintendent 
of construction. Mr. Birss is a recognized authority on the subject of bridge 
building, and his expert knowledge on the subject has enabled him to equip his 
plant so that it is equal to any in the country of its capacity. 

The Omaha General Iron Works, located at the comer of Twentieth and 
Pierce streets, makes a specialty of ornamental iron work and fire escapes. It 
also does some structural steel work. George ]\Iesserschmidt is general manager. 
There are several smaller iron works in the city, but those enumerated are the 
representative concerns, past and present, in that line. 


Although not a plant that manufactures any product for general consump- 
tion, or one that finds a place in the open market, the Union Pacific shops con- 
stitute one of the institutions of Omaha that gives employment to a large force 
of men engaged in building and repairing the equipment of the great trans-con- 
tinental railway. The shops were started in a modest way about the time the 
construction of the Union Pacific Railroad was commenced. With the growth of 
the traffic the plant has been enlarged from time to time until now the shops 
and appurtenances cover an area of sixty acres and represent an investment run- 


ning into millions of dollars. In May, 1916, there were 1,550 men employed in 
the shops and fifty more in the store department adjoining. One feature of these 
great shops is the "tie doctoring department," in which more than half a million 
railroad ties were chemically treated in 191 5 for the purpose of increasing their 
durability. The payroll of the Union Pacific employees Hving in Omaha (shop 
men and all others) in 1915 was $4,346,328, about three-fourths of which went 
to the people employed in the shops. 


The Omaha Smelting Company was organized on October 15, 1870, by C. H. 
Downs, \\illiam H. Pier, John A. Horbach and W. W. Lowe, with a capital 
stock of $60,000, all of which was expended within the next two years in the 
constniction of buildings and the purchase of machinery. A. L. King, Leopold 
and Charles Balbach, C. \\". Mead, E. \V. Xash and C. B. Rustin came into the 
company during this period and Charles Balbach was made superintendent. In 
August, 1882, the Grant Smelting Company, of Denver, Colo., was consolidated 
with the Omaha company and the corporate name was then changed to the Omaha 
& Grant Smelting Company. Through the consolidation and reorganization, the 
capital stock was increased to $2,500,000 and ten years later the volume of busi- 
ness ran over twenty-one millions of dollars. For a number of years the two 
plants of the company, one at Omaha and the other at Denver, employed 1,000 
men and the company had the reputation of being the largest of its kind in the 
world. The Omaha Smelting Works cover about twenty-five acres of ground 
and the large smoke-stack, which rises to a height of 312 feet, is said to be the 
highest self-supporting metal stack known. The works are now operated by the 
American Smelting and Refining Company, with Walter T. Page as manager. 
The value of refined metals and by-products for the year 1915 was S39.1 13.510. 


Early in August, 1878, the Omaha ^^'hite Lead Company began the manu- 
facture of that product in Omaha. This was the first white lead works west of 
Chicago and St. Louis. The original company was composed of Levi Cart6r, 
Chris Hartman, William A. Paxton, C. W. ^Nlead. D. O. Clark, Xathan Shelton, 
S. E. Locke and W. B. Royal, ^^'hen first incorporated the capital stock was 
S60.OOO. C. W. Mead was chosen president; Xathan Shelton. secretar)'. and 
S. E. Locke, manager. In 1881 the capital stock was increased to 890,000 and the 
capacity of the works was increased from 1,000 to 1.500 tons annually. Toward 
the close of the year 1885 the low price of white lead caused the works to be shut 
down. In Januarj-, 1886, the buildings, etc., were purchased by Levi Carter, 
who organized the Carter WTiite Lead Company, with a capital stock of $150,000. 
Of the new company Levi Carter was president ; H. W. Yates, vice president : 
S. B. Hayden, secretarj-. It was Mr. Carter's idea that by enlarging the plant 
and producing larger quantities of white lead, the cost of production could be 
correspondingly decreased and the works operated at a profit. In 1889 the capi- 
tal stock was therefore increased to $500,000 and improvements costing $60,000 
were made, which increased the capacity to over four thousand tons annually. 


At that time Mr. Yates sold his interest to his partners. On June 14, 1890, the 
works were completely destroyed by fire, but new buildings were immediately 
erected at a cost of $2CX3,ooo, with a capacity of 10,000 tons per year. Two years 
later the output amounted in valu&^to $1,000,000. After a successful business 
for several years the works were absorbed by the White Lead Trust and closed 
and had not been reopened in September, 1916. 


Omaha has two factories for the production of ice making machinery, one of 
which was established in 1915. These two plants ship their machines to all parts 
of the world and during the year 191 5 reported sales of $404,500. 

On January i, 1891, the firm of Billow & Doup began the manufacture of 
mattresses and pillows in a small store room on the corner of Fourteenth Street 
and Capitol Avenue. A fire two years later caused a removal to Xo. 1301 
Nicholas Street. In 1896 L. G. Doup purchased his partner's interest and 
became sole proprietor. In 1905 !Mr. Doup erected a three-story fire proof build- 
ing and in 1915 a large four-story structure w-as added, making a total floor space 
of nearly ninety thousand square feet. This concern used in 1915 over a million 
and a half pounds of cotton lintel and more feathers than any similar factory 
west of Chicago. A furniture department has been added, which turns out chairs, 
tables, settees, davenports, etc., but the mattress feature is still the leading one 
of the factor)', 200 mattresses being turned out daily. 

There are two macaroni factories that ship goods to all parts of the East and 
South. One of these — the- Skinner Manufacturing Company — has the reputation 
of being the largest factory of the kind in the world. Of this company Paul F. 
Skinner is president ; John W. Welch, vice president ; Robert Gilmore, secretary. 
The \alue of the product of the two factories in 1915 was nearly three-quarters 
of a million dollars. 

Two large ice and cold storage companies — the People's and the Omaha — 
have a combined capacity of about three hundred tons of pure manufactured ice 
ever}- t\venty-four hours. Each company has two plants. The cold storage 
plant of the People's Company is at No. 1224 Chicago Street and the ice factory 
is on the comer of Nineteenth and Williams streets. The old plant of the Omaha 
Ice and Cold Storage Company at Fifth and Jones streets had a capacity of 
20,000 tons of ice annually, and a new plant recently erected at the intersection 
of Twenty-third and Boyd streets has a capacity of 30,000 tons. 

The Bemis Omaha Bag Company began business in the spring of 1887, with 
a capital stock of $750,000, as manufacturers of burlaps and cotton bags and 
dealers in grain bags, twine and cordage. A large five-story brick building was 
erected on Eleventh Street at the north end of the viaduct and the company soon 
had a business of more than half a million dollars annually. With the organiza- 
tion of the grain exchange and the increasing importance of Omaha as a grain 
market, this volume of business gradually grew until in 1915 it amounted to over 
two millions of dollars. 

As a butter producing city, Omaha claims to stand at the head of the proces- 
sion. Five large creameries turned out in 191 5 real creamery butter worth more 


than seven millions of dollars, and a sixth factory, devoted to what is known as 
"process butter," produced large quantities. 

There are two establishments for the manufacture of stock food from 
alfalfa — the M. C. Peters Mill Company and the Krogh Alfalfa j\lills. These two 
concerns use large quantities of alfalfa and molasses and their products are 
shipped to all parts of the Middle West and Northwest. Stock raisers seem to 
have learned the value of this food, for in 1915 the two mills turned out consider- 
ably over three million dollars' worth of the product and both of them enlarged 
their capacity for the future. 

According to statistics furnished by the Commercial Club concerning the 
manufacturing establishments of the city for the year 191 5, the total value of 
all manufactured products was $213,893,000. The following table shows the 
relative value of fifteen of the leading products: 

Alfalfa stock food $ 3,700,000 

Bags 2,160,000 

Beer 3,205,000 

Boots and shoes 800,000 

Bread, crackers, etc 2,417,575 

Butter 7,860,805 

Clothing 1,34^,574 

Confectionery 752,632 

Distilled liquors 3,210,000 

Dressed meats, etc 11 5,434,550 

Flour and mill products 3,216,513 

Grocers' specialties 2,344,750 

Macaroni 744,000 

Refined metals, etc 39.i 13,510 

Structural steel 855,980 

Total $187,157,889 

This leaves a balance of $26,735,111 to be distributed among a number of 
minor manufacturing enterprises, which turn out agricultural implements, art 
goods, artists' materials, athletic and sporting goods, bank and office fixtures, 
barber chairs, blank books, boxes, breakfast foods, brooms, burial caskets, cement 
blocks, church furniture, cigars, dental supplies, drain tile, electrical goods, hats, 
hospital supplies, jewelry, lodge furniture and supplies, marble work, photog- 
raphers' materials, pickles and vinegar, refrigerators, road building machinei-y, 
serum, soap, starch, surgical instruments, tents and awnings, washing powder, etc. 

By far the greater portion of Omaha's manufacturing progress has been made 
within the last quarter of a century. When the city was first settled, and for 
several years afterward, the lack of transportation made the fuel problem a serious 
one for manufacturers of the Gate City. But with the building of railroads and 
the opening of new coal mines in Iowa, Kansas and Missouri ; with the gradual 
reduction in freight rates ; and the introduction of electricity as a motive power, 
especially in factories where light machinery is principally used, the Omaha 
manufacturer has been placed more nearly on an equal footing with his competitor 
in other parts of the country. As late as 1892 the total capital invested in the 


manufacturing enterprises of the city was only a little over twelve millions of 
dollars. The factory payroll in 1915 was nearly one and one half times as great 
as the total capital of 1892, approximating seventeen millions. And the progress 
of the last quarter of a century is but the beginning. What the next twenty-five 
years will bring forth remains to be seen, but it will be safe to predict that in 1940 
the City of Omaha will be one of the leading manufacturing centers of the great 
central valley. 





In the development of the great Northwest wheat became one of the leading 
agricultural products. Minneapolis sprang into prominence as a grain market 
and milling center and Chicago forged to the front as the nation's great mart for 
handling all kinds of grain. By 1880 these two cities had a combined elevator 
capacity of over tifty million bushels, while Omaha, on the margin of the great 
wheat fields, had a capacity of less than one million, for the reason that railroad 
transportation was lacking to enable her to compete with Minneapolis and Chicago. 


In 1874 Fred H. Davis, David Barriger and John McCormick began the erection 
of an elevator at the comer of Seventh and Jones streets, the first ever built in 
Omaha. It cost about thirty thousand dollars and opened for business in 1875, 
with a capacity of 200,000 bushels. At that time the shipment of Nebraska wheat 
amounted to only a few hundred cars annually and the elevator was considered 
large enough to handle all the grain that was likely to be offered. The following 
winter the business was incorporated as the Omaha Elevator Company with 
Mr. McCormick as president ; Mr. Barriger, vice president ; and Mr. Davis, 
secretary and treasurer. The capital stock of this corporation was $50,000. 

In July, 1879, this elevator, with all its contents, was destroyed by fire, entail- 
ing a loss of $100,000, about three-fourths of which was covered by insurance. 
Mr. McComiick immediately erected a temporary office upon the grounds and also 
built a warehouse in order to continue the business, and Mr. Barriger began 
planning for the erection of the large elevator near Spoon Lake, on the opposite 
side of the Missouri River. It was completed in 1883, at a cost of $280,000, and 
had a storage capacity of 1,000,000 bushels. The business was conducted by 
the Omaha Elevator Company until Mr. Cormick's death in 1885, when H. W. 
Rogers succeeded to the presidency and the name of the corporation was changed 
to the Omaha Elevator & Grain Company. 




In the meantime C. W. Lyman and P. C. Himebaugh had entered the field under 
the firm name of C. W. Lyman & Company. In June, 1877, they opened their 
elevator, near the corner of Thirteenth Street and the Union Pacific Railroad. It 
was a modest afl^air, having a capacity of only 40,000 bushels, and the capital of 
the firm was equally limited. In August Air. Lyman retired and was succeeded by 
Nathan Merriam, the firm then becoming Himebaugh & Alerriam. The capacity 
of the elevator was increased to 150,000 bushels. In August, 1889, a new com- 
pany was formed by the consolidation of the firm of Plimebaugh & Merriam 
and the Omaha Elevator & Grain Company, under the name of the Omaha Union 
Cirain Company. 


In 1890 the Union Pacific Railroad Company, with the cooperation of a few of 
Omaha's leading citizens, erected the large elevator east of Twelfth Street, with a 
capacity of 700,000 bushels, and one of the same capacity in Council Bluffs, in 
which all the railroads from the east assisted. The entire business of these two 
elevators was taken over by a newly organized concern under the name of the 
Omaha Elevator Company, of which Frank H. Peavey, of Minneapolis, was 
j)resident; A. B. Jaquith, vice president and general manager; E. P. Peck, secre- 
tary; and C. T. Peavey, treasurer. These officers, with F. H. Davis, E. C. 
Michener and C. M. Champlin, constituted the first board of directors. Within 
tlie next five years, in addition to the two large elevators at Omaha and Council 
I'.lufifs, the Omaha Elevator Company was operating about seventy other elevators 
in Nebraska, with a combined capacity of 1,000,000 bushels, for which Omaha 
was the central market. 


In June, 1888, the Fowler Elevator Company began business on a small scale. 
'Jhe following year a stock company was formed with a capital stock of $50,000 
and the storage capacity was increased to 200,000 bushels. Of this company 
B. A. Fowler was president; C. T. Brown, secretary; and C. H. Fowler, treasurer. 
The elevator was located at the intersection of Tenth and Charles streets, but the 
general offices of the company were in the First National Bank Building. Subse- 
quently the company built and operated nine elevators on the Kearney & Black 
Hills division of the Union Pacific Railroad. 

On September i, 1890, the elevator of the Woodman & Ritchie Company was 
opened with a capacity of 600,000 bushels and the most improved methods for 
handling and storing grain. The officers of the company were: Clark Wood- 
man, president; Frank E. Ritchie, vice president; Charles L. Harris, secretary and 
treasurer. The capital stock of the company was $500,000 and the cost of the 
elevator was $250,000. 

The firm of Merriam & Haines, successors to Himebaugh & Merriam, pur- 
chased in 1898 the old Woodman flax house at the corner of Seventeenth and 
Nicholas streets and remodeled it for a grain elevator. In 1902 J. W. Holmquist 


purchased the interest of Mr. Haines and the Merriam & Holmquist Company 
was then organized, with Mr. Merriam as president and Mr. Holmquist, secretary 
and treasurer. This company is still doing business. 

During the quarter of a century following the building of the first devator 
in Omaha, the amount of grain handled increased from a few thousand bushels 
to 11,000,000 bushels annually. This was considered by some as a cause for 
congratulation, but early in the present century came the dawn of a new era in 
the grain trade, due largely to the inspiration of A. B. Stickney, president of 
the Chicago Great Western Railroad Company. In the fall of 1903 that company 
completed its line to Omaha. A short time before the road was finished, Mr. 
Stickney made a speech before the Omaha Commercial Club, in which he pointed 
out the greater possibilities of Omaha as a grain market. Not long afterward, at 
Mr Stickney's suggestion, a banquet was held at the Her Grand Hotel, at which 
the bankers, leading business men, grain dealers, etc., were present. Mr. Stickney 
again urged upon the guests the importance of taking steps to make Omaha a 
greater grain center and promised that he would use the force and influence of 
his railroad to establish rates west of the Missouri that would aid in building 
up a market for the city. The result was the organization of the 


Seventy-five of those present at the banquet subscribed for memberships at 
$500 each, and Gurdon W. Wattles was selected as the proper man to secure new 
members. In a short time he announced that he had secured eighty new members 
and in November, 1903, the exchange was organized with a membership of 155. 
It began business as an organization on February i, 1904, with Mr. Wattles as 
president, who was given the privelege of naming four of the nine directors. 
He selected E. E. Bruce, F. P. Kirkendall, Arthur Smith and A. L. Reed. The 
other four members of the first board of directors were N. B. Updike, Nathan 
Merriam, S. A. MacWater and A. B. Jaquith, all of whom were actively engaged 
in the grain business. The first home of the Grain Exchange was in the old 
Board of Trade Building, on the southwest comer of Sixteenth and Farnam 
streets. During the first year of the exchange, the total receipts of grain 
amounted to 16,433,285 bushels, the largest in Omaha's history up to that time. 
Each succeeding year showed an increase and in 1913, ten years after the organ- 
ization of the exchange, the receipts were 66,983,800 bushels, and the membership 
had increased to 193. 

The encouraging conditions led some of the more progressive members to 
advocate the erection of a building suitable for the transaction of all lines of 
business connected with the grain market. In 1914 William J. Hynes, Barton 
Millard and F. S. Cowgill were selected as a building committee, with instruc- 
tions from the board of directors "to choose a site, have plans drawn and proceed 
to the erection of a building." The committee secured the lot at the southwest 
comer of Nineteenth and Harney streets at a purchase price of $50,000, employed 
F. A. Henninger, an Omaha architect, to make plans, which were approved by 
the board of directors, and the handsome eight-story building was erected upon 
the site, at a cost of $450,000. It is of the "L" shape, fronting 140 feet on 
Nineteenth Street and 150 feet on Harney, with the court at the southwest 


J i\}J^-'^:^'-l 



comer. The walls are of yellowish brown vitrified brick, with terra cotta trim- 
mings; the front doors are of heavy art bronze metal; the lobby and halls are 
floored and wainscoted with marble, and toilet rooms on each floor are finished in 
the same manner. On the ground floor there are eleven store rooms. From the 
second to the sixth floors inclusive are the offices of members of the exchange; 
the seventh floor is occupied by the trading room, or exchange, 52 by 80 feet in 
dimensions, and on the eighth floor are the offices of the organization, the weigh- 
ing and inspection department, etc. 

The new building was opened with religious ceremonies on February i, 1904, 
just twelve years after the exchange was organized. Just before opening for 
the day's business, the grain men stood with bowed heads and listened to an 
appropriate prayer by Reverend E. H. Jenks, pastor of the First Presbyterian 
Church, after which the Omaha Grain Exchange started upon its new era. 

The officers of the exchange for 1916 were as follows: J. B. Swearingcn, 
president; Barton Millard, vice president; J. A. Linderholm, vice president; 
F. P. Manchester, secretary ; Frank H. Brown, treasurer. The board of directors 
is composed of the president, two vice presidents, treasurer, C. E. Niswonger, 
J. T. Buchanan, W. J. Hynes, H. L. Olsen and E. P. Smith. 

As an evidence of what the Grain Exchange has done for Omaha, it is only 
necessary to mention that at the time of its organization there were two eleva- 
tors — the Merriam and Twamley — doing business in Omaha, and two others — the 
Union and the Peavey — at Council Bluffs. The combined capacity of these four 
elevators was a little over three million bushels. Since the exchange commenced 
operations fifteen additional elevators have been built, giving the city a capacity of 
approximately eight million bushels, an increase of nearly 200 per cent in twelve 
years. In an interview on the opening day of the new building, G. W. Wattles, 
the first president of the exchange, said: "I believe the Grain Exchange the 
greatest thing that has come to Omaha. It has added millions and millions of 
dollars to the price of wheat to Nebraska producers. Some do not realize this, 
but they could easily figure it out it they tried." 

Concerning the increase in the volume of business transacted, C. D. Sturtevanl, 
chairman of the transportation committee of the exchange, says: "Before the 
grain men organized, there was considerable discrimination against Omaha in the 
matter of railroad freight rates and the first business of the exchange has always 
been to secure readjustment of those rates. Under the former tariffs, it was 
cheaper to ship grain from Wyoming and South Dakota by way of Minneapolis 
and the result was that very little grain from those states ever got past Minne- 
apolis. Now, Omaha is able to compete with the great northern milling center 
and is getting its full share of business from that section. 

"By the readjustment of freight rates, for which the Omaha Grain Exchange 
is directly responsible, Omaha is now receiving grain from South Dakota, Wyom- 
ing, Colorado, Missouri, Kansas, Montana and Minnesota. All this has helped 
to advertise Omaha, and our grain market stands today the largest primary- market 
in the United States ; that is, more grain is received in Omaha directly from the 
farmer and the small elevator man than on any other market in the country. It 
is the second corn market in the United States and ranks with the leaders in wheal 
and other grains." 



The first effort, of which there is any rehable account, to eslabhsh a general 
stock yards in Omaha was made in 1876, when John A. Smiley organized the 
Union Stock Yards Company and deeded to that company an eighty-acre tract 
of land then owned by him and lying just north of the city limits. The deed 
was to be held by Mr. Smiley, however, until the organization of the company was 
perfected. A number of Chicago capitalists interested in the live stock trade 
expressed sympathy with the movement and tentatively agreed to give it financial 
support, provided the Omaha Board of Trade would endorse the enterprise. 
But the Board of Trade had been organized only a short time and declined any 
official aid; so the whole project was abandoned. 

The following year (1877) a live stock committee was appointed by the 
()maha Board of Trade to investigate and report on the subject of encouragin; 
the establishment of stock yards in or near Omaha. This committee, aft' 
interviewing a number of persons, reported that it was impressed "with the ver 
generally expressed views of not only the business men of Omaha, but also of 
the stock raisers and shippers themselves, north, south and west, of the importance 
and necessity of erecting and maintaining extensive stock yards and slaughtering 
houses in this city. We have sufficient assurances, from our own personal 
observations, as well as the opinions of live stock men, packers and dealers 
interested in securing the best market for their products, that Omaha is destined 
to become the principal market west of Chicago for the sale of cattle, sheep 
and hogs." 

The committee further reported that it had interviewed Jay Gotild and 
Sidney Dillon, of the Union Pacific Railroad Company, "to secure the necessary 
franchise and privileges for the erection and maintenance of stock yards on a 
scale commensurate with the magnitude and growing importance of the cattle 
trade of Omaha." Messrs. Gould and Dillon made fair promises and gave verbal 
jjledges to the committee, but the promises and pledges were not kept and the 
stock yards failed to materialize under this plan. 

On April 27, 1878, the Omaha Stock Yards Company filed its articles of incor- 
poration, signed by A. P. Nicholas, H. K. Smith, S. R. Johnson, J. F. Sheely, 
E. Estabrook and C. F. Goodman. On the same day another company filed 
articles of incorporation under the same name. It was composed of J. L. Lovett, 
W. C. B. Allen and \\\ J. Broatch, but as the articles of incorporation of this 
company were not filed until an hour and a half after the first mentioned, the 
Nicholas Company secured the right to use the name "Omaha Stock Yards 
Company," and Mr. Lovett and his associates abandoned their project. Mr. 
Nicholas had previously arranged for a lease for thirty acres of ground owned 
by the Union Pacific Railway Company, just outside the city limits to the south- 
west, for a temi of four years, at an annual rental of about six hundred dollars, 
with the privilege of purchase at the expiration of the lease. 

On May 4, 1879, another stock yards company was organized in Omaha under 
the name of the Union Stock Yards Company — the name first proposed by Mr. 
Smiley, when he organized his company three years before. The promoters of 
this company were William A. Paxton, W. C. B. Allen, W. J. Broatch, Herman 
Kountze and J. L. Lovett. This company insisted upon having the privilege of 


using part of the tract leased to Mr. Nicholas, with the result that a portion of 
the Union Pacific grounds north of the tracks was leased to the Union Stock 
Yards Company. 

In the winter of 1879-80, Mr. Paxton and his associates removed their yards 
to the Iowa side of the Missouri River, and in May, 1880, the yards of the 
Omaha Stock Yards Company were turned over to the Union Pacific, Mr. 
Nicholas and his coadjutors having found the business an unprofitable one under 
the conditions at that time existing. The Union Pacific also operated what were 
known as the "Bridge Stock Yards," located on the north side of that railroad and 
about half a mile east of the depot. 

Notwithstanding these successive failures — or at least only partial successes — 
there were still to be found optimistic persons who believed that, by wo-king 
along the right lines, Omaha could be made a great live stock market center. 
In the fall of 1882 Alexander II. Swan, an extensive cattle raiser in Wyoming, 
entered into correspondence with Leverett M. Anderson, of Omaha, to whom he 
suggested the plan of securing about two hundred acres of land just south of 
the city, a tract then known as "The Summit," and establishing thereon stock 
yards, packing houses and canning establishments. As the scheme unfolded these 
two men came to the conclusion that the contemplated two hundred acres were 
not sufiicient for their purpose. Mr. Anderson was therefore authorized to 
secure options on a number of farms lying adjacent to "The Summit" — over 
eighteen hundred acres in all, including a large part of what was afterward 
platted as South Omaha. In this work Mr. Anderson was materially assisted 
by C. R. Schaller and by the middle of August, 1883, options were closed on 1,875 
acres, for which the total price of $312,972.73 was paid, or nearly $167 per acre. 

The stock yards movement received quite an impetus on November 27, 1883, 
when Thomas L. ICimball. then assistant general manager of the Union Pacific 
Railroad Company gave utterance to the following opinion: "On the subject 
of beef slaughtering and packing houses at Omaha, I have to say that it may not 
be out of place in this connection for me to state some of the considerations, which 
seem to us patent, why Omaha should be selected as the point for establishing such 
enterprises. Slaughtering and packing is a business which, besides calling for 
skilled labor and a large force of men, requires, when carried on extensively, 
the employment of a large capital in permanent improvement. It is therefore 
manifestly desirable to locate where the men can be employed, as nearly as 
possible all the year round. Here, during the months when grass-fed cattle are 
fat enough for beef, that class of stock could be slaughtered, and during the 
remainder of the year the business could be mn on corn-fed cattle. The estab- 
lishment of such an enterprise in Omaha would result in the shipment to Nebraska, 
and, to some extent, Iowa corn producing localities, of large numbers of cattle, 
about three years old, which had been raised to that age on western grass, for 
feeding a few months on corn. Corn can be had in this section of the country 
as abundantly and cheaply as in any part of the world ; in fact, I think it no 
exaggeration to say that com can be obtained more abundantly and cheaper than 

"By this process of corn feeding, several hundred potmds can be added to 
the vyeight of each animal, bringing it into prime condition for the supply of 
Omaha slaughtering all the year. The successful slaughtering of Kansas City 


furnishes us proof of this proposition, inasmuch as that city sustains the same 
relations to the corn producing states of Kansas and Western Missouri, as Omaha 
does to Nebraska and Western Iowa. No enterprise of this sort can be made 
equally profitable if located upon the Northern Pacific, as that line lies outside 
of the corn belt. Formerly there would have been an objection to this location 
as compared with Council Bluffs or some points on the east side of the Missouri 
River, on account of the arbitrary tolls charged by all bridges over that stream, 
but it has now become the established policy of the Iowa railways to maintain 
the same rates between the East and Council Bluffs and Omaha, so that it will 
cost no more for the shipment of the product from Omaha than from Council 
Bluffs. The existence of six strong eastern lines centering at this point and 
competing for the business of Omaha, gives all the assurance necessary that 
the business located here will at all times secure as favorable freight rates as may 
obtain at any other point in the Missouri Valley." 

The logic of Mr. Kimball's argument was acknowledged by all who professed 
to know anything about the subject, and the activity of Swan and Anderson in 
securing options upon a large tract of the most desirable land about the city 
caused others to become interested. In November, 1883, Mr. Swan made over- 
tures to Air. Paxton, who, it will be remembered, was at that time connected with 
the stock yards at Council Bluff's, and presented the situation so forcibly that Mr. 
Paxton joined the South Omaha enterprise. He also used his influence to induce 
others to take stock in the company. The result was that on December i, 1883, 
the Union Stock Yards Company was organized at Omaha and filed articles of 
incorporation, in which it was set forth : 

"That we, Alexander H. Swan, William A. Paxton, John A. Creighton, Peter 
E. Her, John A. McShane, Thomas Swobe and Frank Murphy, have associated 
ourselves together for the purpose of being incorporated under the laws of the 
State of Nebraska : That is to say, subdivision entitled 'corporations' of chapter 
entitled 'corporations,' being chapter sixteen of the Compiled Statutes of Nebraska 
of 1881 ; and, for the purpose aforesaid, we have adopted the following articles of 

"First. The name of this corporation shall be 'Union Stock Yards Company 
of Omaha (Limited).' 

"Second. The principal place of transacting the business of this corporation 
shall be the City of Omaha, in the County of Douglas and State of Nebraska. 

"Third. The general nature of the business to be transacted by said corpo- 
ration shall be the purchase and sale, the feeding and caring for. slaughtering, 
dressing and packing and holding for sale, selling and selling for others, of live 
stock, including cattle, hogs, sheep and horses, and shipping by refrigerator cars 
or otherwise, of meats and the product thereof, and doing generally the business 
of a stock yards, whatever is incident or in anywise related to or usually connected 

The capital stock of the company was fixed at $1,000,000. which could be 
increased by vote of the stockholders, and the company was authorized to com- 
mence business when $700,000 had been subscribed and paid in. As that amount 
of stock had been taken before the articles of association were filed, and the money 
paid into the treasury, the company began operations on the very day it was 
incorporated by the election of the following officers, to serve for one year: 


William A. Paxton, president; Alexander 11. Swan, vice president; John H. 
Donnelly, secretary; James M. Woolworth, attorney. The first directory was 
composed of William A. Paxton, Alexander H. Swan, Frank Murphy, Peter E. 
Iler, John A. McShane and Thomas Swobe. 

The next step was to select a location for the yards. After Mr. Swan and 
his associates had purchased the large tract of land south of the city they formed 
a land syndicate. On February 21, 1884, the Union Stock Yards Company 
purchased from this syndicate 156.48 acres, described as part of the southwest 
quarter of Section 4, Township 14 north, Range 13, the purchase price being 
$78,250. This tract is now bounded on the north by M Street ; on the east 
by the right of way of the Union Pacific Railroad ; on the south by O Street, 
and on the west by Thirty-sixth Street. Actual work on the stock sheds and 
pens was commenced on April 8, 1884, under the immediate supervision of 
President Paxton, and on the first day of August the yards were pronounced 
ready for the reception of stock. John F. Boyd was appointed superintendent 
and for nearly two weeks his office was a sinecure. No stock arrived at the 
yards. On August 13, 1884, a train of twenty-five cars came in over the Union 
Pacific, carrying 531 cattle consigned to the Uinion Stock Yards (Limited) by 
F. Walcott, of Medicine Bow. The cattle were fed and cared for until the next 
day, when they were reshipped by the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad 
for Chicago. This was the first transaction in live stock by the Omaha Union 
Stock Yards (Limited). On the 27th two car loads of hogs were received over 
the Union Pacific from the firm of Black & Nash, of Kearney, Neb., and 
like the cattle were sent on to the Chicago market. 


Twenty-five years after the establishment of the stock yards, one of the 
officials, in reviewing the progress of a quarter of a century, said: 'Tt was slow 
work at first; the market did not build in a day, and for a considerable time the 
yards remained merely a feeding station for stock en route to the eastern 
markets. Being located on the natural route from the West to the East, the 
beaten trail, so to speak, of the stockmen going to and from market, Omaha's 
natural advantages were easily advertised, and as the volume of stock which 
stopped at the Union Stock Yards, for rest and feed, increased, it at length 
began to draw buyers and dealers as honey draws bees. 

"First came the speculators and traders, some of them being shippers them- 
selves; then feeder buyers, countrymen and farmers looking for cattle and sheep 
for feeding purposes ; then buyers seeking supplies for outside packing houses, 
and finally the packers themselves, one by one, started to locate their plants at 
South Omaha, until today a great live stock market and packing center, thir<l 
largest in the world, makes famous in the realm of commerce the city of South 
Omaha, which has furnished figures to make the name of Nebraska conspicuous 
in the markets of the world." 

Although there is no romance in figures, they often tell the story of growth 
and development better than it could be told in any other way, and below is 
given a brief comparison of the figures that have made "Nebraska conspicuous 


in the markets of the world," First, the number of animals received at the 
Union Stock Yards in 1884, the first year of business, was as follows: 

Cattle 88,603 

Hogs 3,686 

Sheep 5,593 

Horses and mules 489 

Total 98,37 1 

Less than one hundred thousand head of stock! And of this number received, 
nearly all were reshipped to eastern markets, to wit : 

Cattle 83,459 

Hogs 752 

Sheep 2,009 

Horses and mules 419 

Total reshipments 86,639 

From these figures it will be seen that less than twelve thousand head of the 
total receipts found a market in Omaha in 1884, chiefly hogs and sheep. After 
thirty-one years the figures tell a different story. The receipts for 1915 were: 

Cattle 1,218,342 

Hogs 2,642,973 

Sheep 3,268,279 

Horses and mules 41,679 

Total 7,171,273 

During these thirty-one years the great packing houses had grown up in 
Omaha and these concerns bought a large number of cattle, sheep and hogs, so 
that the reshipments for 1915 were as follows: 

Cattle 516,283 

Hogs 629,836 

Sheep 1.317,203 

Horses and mules 38,755 

Total reshipments 2,502,077 

While in 1884 only a little over 12 per cent of the stock received at the yards 
found a market in Omaha, in 1915 over 60 per cent of the animals received were 
sold in the local market. If the horses and mules be left out of the consideration, 
the percentage of stock sold in the local market would be much higher. In 1910 
there were sold at the Union Stock Yards nearly half a million more feeder 
sheep than in any other market in the United -States, and this record has since 
been maintained. 



It may be of interest to the reader to know when and by whom the first sale 
of stock was made at the Union Stock Yards for the local market. Several 
live stock commission men have claimed this distinction, and to settle the question, 
|. C. Sharp, secretary of the Union Stock Yards Company, recently hunted up the 
old records. The first sale was made on September 15, 1884, by Green & Burke, 
a commission firm whose offices were located at the old Bridge Yards. A car 
load of cattle from Plum Creek, Neb., had been billed to the firm at the 
Bridge Yards, but the railroad company — through mistake, or for the purpose of 
helping the new stock yards — delivered the car at the Union Stock Yards. 
Green & Burke were notified and Mr. Green went to the new yards. Knowing 
that [ohn Yeager, who had a butcher shop at the corner of Eleventh and Farnani 
streets, wanted to buy some good beef cattle, ]\Ir. Green sent for him to come and 
look at the cattle just received from Plum Creek. Mr. Yeager soon appeared on 
the scene and purchased the entire car load. This was the first sale at the 
Union Stock Yards. It was made by George B. Green, of the firm of Green & 
Burke, and John Yeager was the first purchaser. 


The first meat packing was done in Omaha several years before any attempt 
was made to establish a stock yards. As early as 1871 David Cook began in a 
small way. Two years later O. H. Ballon became a partner and the firm of Cook 
& Ballou in 1873 packed 3,000 hogs. In 1877 Mr. Ballon withdrew and Mr. Cook 
carried on the business alone until a fire in December of that year caused a 
temporary suspension of the business. Pie rebuilt his packing house and erected 
a new smoke house and continued in business until he sold out to Joseph F. Sheely 
& Company in Januarv', 1880. This firm killed about fifteen thousand hogs 
annually until the plant was destroyed by fire on December 3. 1886, when it 
closed up its afi^airs and went out of the packing business. 

James E. Boyd began killing and packing hogs in 1872. The first year he 
was in business he handled 4,515 hogs. The next year the number of hogs 
killed was 13,546. From this time on his annual output varied. On January 18. 
1880, his establishment was burned to the ground, but he immediately rebuilt on 
a larger scale, spending some fifty thousand dollars on his new plant, and con- 
tinued in business until 1887, when he sold out. The last year he was in business 
he packed 141,000 hogs. 

J. P. Roe embarked in the packing business in the fall of 1874 and killed 
about two thousand hogs annually for several years. Other early packers were 
Sheely Brothers, Harris & Fisher. Aiist & Knuth, F. Hickenstine, Joseph F. 
Sheely & Company, and perhaps a few others. 

One of the objects of the men who organized the Union Stock Yards Company 
in 1883 was to make Omaha, not only a live stock market, but also a meat packing 
center. To carry out this object a building was erected at the stock yards for 
packing purposes. A little over sixty thousand dollars were expended on this 
building and as soon as it was certain that the stock yards were going to be a 
success, the company began to look around for some heavy packing firm to locate 


in the building. The firm of George H. Hammond & Company leased the prop- 
erty for three years on very liberal terms and established the first real packing 
house in Omaha. It was opened for business on May 23, 1885, with a daily 
capacity of 1,000 hogs and 500 cattle. The firm was afterward incorporated as 
the G. H. Hammond Company, purchased and enlarged the plant and carried 
on a successful business for several years, when the entire interests were sold to 
other parties. 

Not long after the opening of the stock yards the Fowler Brothers built a 
much larger packing house than the one erected by the Stock Yards Company, 
but before it was finished it was leased to the Anglo-American Packing Company, 
which began business in November, 1885. In 1888 the company was reorganized 
as the Omaha Packing Company, which enlarged the plant and increased the 

Thomas J. Lipton, the great English provision dealer, was one of the pioneer 
packers at the Union Stock Yards. His plant was completed in the fall of 1885, 
but was soon afterward sold to the Armour-Cudahy Packing Company. The 
coming of this company added a great stimulus to all departments of the market. 
The original Lipton plant was greatly enlarged and the increased buying power 
represented by the new concern was reflected in a better outlet for stock, which 
was quickly appreciated by the farmers and stockmen of the West generally. 
In 1890 the partnership between Mr. Armour and Mr. Cudahy was dissolved, 
the company then becoming the Cudahy Packing Company. 

In 1887 Swift & Company built a large packing house at the stock yards 
and the coming of this great concern gave an additional impetus to the cattle and 
hog market. For several years after this no new packing establishments came to 
Omaha, but those already in the field spent considerable sums of money in enlarg- 
ing their plants and increasing their capacity. 

In the summer of 1897 Armour & Company began the erection of their large, 
modern packing house. This firm soon became a prominent factor in the devel- 
opment of a better market through their heavy buying of high grade cattle and 
hogs. New buildings were added and in 1915 one of the largest buildings in the 
history of the plant at South Omaha was erected. The improvements made by 
Armour & Company in that year involved the expenditure of $350,000, and 
included a sheep killing and cooling department, new engine room and machine 
shops and car shops. 

Smaller packing companies doing business in connection with the stock yards 
are the Higgins Packing Company, Hoft'man Brothers, Mayerowich & Vail, Roth 
& Sons, and the South Omaha Dressed Beef Company. Then there are a number 
of outside packing companies who buy on orders at South Omaha. Foremost 
among those may be mentioned The St. Louis Independent and Krey Packing 
Companies, of St. Louis ; Cudahy Brothers Company and the Layton Company, 
of Milwaukee; Sulzberger & Sons Company, of Chicago; the Evansville Packing 
Company, of Evansville, Ind. ; Plammond, Standish & Company, of Detroit, 
Mich., and the H. Kohrs Packing Company, of Davenport, Iowa. The wide 
territory over which these orders are distributed shows the far-reaching influ- 
ences of Omaha as a live stock market, as well as a market for dressed meats. 
As stock moves eastward from the great cattle ranges, the Omaha packers have 
the first choice, and "packed in Omaha" is a synonym for good quality. 




The Live Stock Exchange is a voluntary association of men doing a live stock 
business at the Union Stock Yards, and on January i, 1916, numbered about 
two hundred and fifty members. The purposes of the exchange are "to establish 
and maintain a commercial exchange, not for pecuniary gain or profit, but to 
promote and protect all interests concerned in the purchase and sale of live stock 
at the Omaha Stock Yards ; to promote uniformity in the customs and usages at 
said market ; to inculate and insure correct and high moral principles in the trans- 
action of business ; to inspire confidence in the methods and integrity of its 
members ; to provide facilities for the orderly and prompt conduct of business ; 
to facilitate the speedy and equitable adjustment of disputes ; and, generally, to 
promote the welfare of the South Omaha market." 

The Live Stock Exchange is, in fact, a medium by which any shipper, who feels 
that he has not received fair treatment from any member of the exchange, can 
have redress by simply placing his case, with the evidence, in the hands of the 
secretary. It is then referred to the arbitration committee, and if that com- 
mittee's finding in the case is not satisfactory he has the right of appeal to the 
appeals committee, whose decision is final. Within recent years the arbitration 
and appeals committees have heard but very few cases, the influence of the 
exchange being sufficient to assure fair dealing in nearly every case. The organ- 
ization occupies a handsome brick structure known as the "Live Stock Exchange." 
Over fifty live stock commission firms are engaged in business at the stock yards, 
and most of these have a representative in the Exchange Building. 

Connected with the stock yards is a hotel with a" dining room that can com- 
fortably seat 400 people at a time. Although this hotel has proved to be self- 
supporting, it was established by the Union Stock Yards Company, not so much as 
a revenue producing venture as to provide for the comfort and convenience of the 
shippers, commission merchants and others having business at the yards. The 
menu at this hotel compares favorably with those of the leading hotels, and no 
one has ever been heard to complain of "outrageous prices." 

Govenmient inspection is rigidly enforced at the yards and the company has 
jirovided ample facilities for "dipping" both sheep and cattle, as well as comply- 
ing with all the other Government regulations, thus insuring to the buyer clean, 
healthy animals. During the years 1914-15, when some of the large eastern 
markets were closed on account of the foot and mouth disease, the Union Stock 
Yards at Omaha kept on doing business. The company placed an embargo on 
animals from infected or suspicious districts and every precaution is constantly 
taken to keep the yards in a sanitary condition that will bear the most rigid 

The officers of the L'nion Stock Yards Company (Limited) for 1916 were as 
follows: H. J. Dunham, of Chicago, president; Everett Buckingham, vice presi- 
dent and general manager; J. C. Sharp, secretary,'; J. S. Walters, superintendent. 



GOVERNOR Cuming's first message — the union pacific — credit mobii.ier 
— central pacific — completion of the trans-continental railway — 







When Omaha was founded in 1854 there were no manufacturing estabhsh- 
nients of consequence west of the Mississippi River. Those who came to Douglas 
County came either by water, over the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, or overland 
in wagons. No matter which method they adopted, the amount of manufactured 
goods they brought with them was extremely limited and one of the most serious 
problems that confronted the pioneers was to obtain new supplies. The first 
merchants of Omaha brought a few wagon loads of goods, but to replenish the 
stock by making overland trips to the nearest market centers involved consider- 
able labor and expense ; hence, for more than a decade after the first settlement 
of Omaha, the people depended chiefly upon 


Thirty-five years before the beginning of Omaha, Captain Nelson, a veteran 
river man, ascended the Missouri River as far as the Town of Franklin, Mo., 
arriving there on May 15, 1819. His boat was called the Independence and its 
arrival at Franklin was made the occasion of a celebration, the citizens of the 
town tendering Captain Nelson and his passengers a dinner, at which a number 
of toasts were offered. One of these was a tribute to Captain Nelson, "propri- 
etor of the steamboat Independence; the imaginary dangers of the Missouri 
vanished before his enterprising genius." The old Town of Franklin, where these 
festivities occurred, was afterward washed away by the constantly changing 

On May 3, 1819, the steamer Western Engineer left Pittsburgh, Penn., carry- 
ing Maj. Stephen H. Long and his party of topographical engineers on what 
was known as the Yellowstone Expedition, an account of which is given in another 
chapter of this work. On September 16, 1819, the Western Engineer passed 



the plateau upon which the City of Omaha now stands, being the tirst steamboat 
to ascend the river to that point. The voyage of the adventurous Nelson and the 
successful trip of Major Long demonstrated that the Missouri was navigable for 
boats of light draft and for many years the Missouri and American Fur com- 
panies sent steamers up the river with supplies for their trading posts and goods 
for the Indian trade. In 1834 the former company built and equipped a steam- 
boat called the Assinniboine, which made a successful voyage to the trading 
posts, but the next year she was burned to the water's edge, causing the company 
a loss of about seventy-five thousand dollars. In 1S43 the Omega, Capl. 
Joseph A. Sire, master, went up the river supplying the posts of the American 
Fur Company, and the next year he ascended the Missouri with the steamer 
Nimrod on a similar mission. On both these occasions his pilot was Joseph La 
Barge, one of the best known of the Missouri River navigators. As late as 1877, 
while in command of the steamer John M. Chambers, Captain La Barge spent 
some time at Omaha, assisting in the rebuilding of the railroad bridge. He 
then stated that he had been on the river for fifty years, having made his first 
trip in 1827, when only thirteen years of age. 

In 1849, during the rush of inmiigration to the California gold fields, the 
steamer El Paso was engaged for several weeks as a ferry boat at Council Bluffs, 
carrying the gold seekers across the Missouri and landing them near the foot of 
the present California Street in Omaha. William P. Wilcox was clerk of the 
El Paso at that time and one day while the boat was tied up on the west side of 
the river, accompanied by Charles M. Connoyer, took a walk over the site of the 
present City of Omaha. As a boy he had been a passenger on the Independence, 
when Captain Nelson ascended the river to Franklin, thirty years before. In 
1865 he became a resident of Omaha as the junior partner in the firm of Stephens 
& Wilcox, dealers in general merchandise. 

For thirteen years after Omaha was founded, the Missouri River was the 
principal artery of commerce. In 1857 there were about fifty steamboats run- 
ning regularly between Omaha and points farther down the river, some of them 
going as far up the stream as Fort Benton, Mont. Among these steamers may 
be named the West Wind, E. A. Ogden, T. C. McGill, D. A. January, Omaha, 
Watossa, D. E. Taylor, Amazon, Kate Kinney, Martin Graham, Platte \'al- 
ley, Yellowstone. Fontenelle, Morning Star, Chippewa, Spread Eagle, Emigrant, 
Fannie Tatum, Katie P. Kountze, Deer Lodge, Polar Star, J. M. Converse, 
Monongahela, Fanchon, Kate Howard, Sultan, Prairie State, A. B. Cham- 
bers, Star of the West. William Campbell and Lizzie Bayliss. The last named was 
used for some time as a ferry boat between Omaha and Council Bluffs. 

While these boats and their sister steamers were in commission the levee at 
Omaha presented a lively picture upon the arrival or departure of some steamboat. 
For a number of years the firm of Porter & Deuel, composed of John R. Porter 
and Harry Deuel, did a large business as steamboat agents, and John A. Horbach 
also did a large business in that line. The completion of the Chicago & North- 
western Railroad to the Missouri River in 1867 marked the beginning of the 
decline of the river traffic, with its romance and picturesque characters, though 
there are still a few steamers on the river. During the spring, summer and fall 
months the Julia makes regular trips between Decatur, Neb., and Sioux City, 
Iowa; the Ada Belle plies between Decatur and Omaha, and on April 14, 1916, 


R. H. Manley, commissioner of the Commercial Club of Omaha, announced that 
arrangements had been completed for the opening of a line between Omaha and 
Kansas City, Mo., with the steamer Julius F. Silber as the boat to nm between 
the two cities. Concerning this boat the Omaha World-Herald of the above date 

"The Silber will pull a 150-ton barge. Her captain is J. B. xVeff and she carries 
a crew of eight men. The present plan is for the Julius F. Silber to make two 
trips a month between Omaha and Kansas City and to connect at Kansas City 
with a boat from there to St. Louis. Boats are now running between Kansas 
City and St. Louis. The trip between Omaha and Kansas City will require about 
ten days coming up and four days going down. 

"The present plan of the Decatur-Omaha Navigation Company is for the 
Julia to operate this year between Decatur and Sioux City, Iowa. With the Julia 
going between Sioux City and Decatur, the Ada Belle between Omaha and 
Decatur, and the Julius F. Silber between Omaha and Kansas City, the Missouri 
River will be open from Sioux City to St. Louis. Later in the season the Julius 
F. Silber may be used for a short time between Omaha and Decatur to help the 
Ada Belle move the grain crop from the vicinity of Decatur." 


The first railroad of practical utility in the United States was a short line, 
only nine miles in length, connecting the City of Mauch Chunk, Penn., 
with some coal mines. The rails used in the construction of this road were of 
wood, with a strap of iron nailed on the top. Sometimes these nails would work 
loose, the iron strap would become displaced and the engine would drop off the 
track. The locomotive used was about the size of some of the engines used by 
threshermen at the present time, and the cars would not carry over five tons of 
coal each. Yet a railroad even of this crude character awakened capitalists to 
the possibilities of steam as a means of land transportation and through their 
influence the legislatures of several states granted charters to railroad companies 
during the next twenty years after the completion of the Mauch Chunk line. 

Li this year 1916, when the entire country is covered by a net-work of rail- 
roads, it seems almost incredible that any intelligent person should ever have 
opposed their construction. About 1828 some young men of Lancaster, Ohio, 
organized a debating society and asked the school board to permit them to use the 
schoolhouse in which to discuss the question of whether railroads were feasible 
as a means of transportation. To this request the school board (men selected 
no doubt for their wisdom and sagacity) replied as follows: 

"We are willing to allow you the use of the schoolhouse to debate all proper 
questions in, but such things as railroads we regard as rank infidelity. If God 
had ever intended His creatures to travel over the face of the country at the 
frightful speed of fifteen miles an hour He would have clearly foretold it through 
His holy prophets. It is a device of Satan to lead immortal souls down to hell." 

This incident is mentioned here to show how some people regarded railroads 
less than a century ago. The railroad of today that could run its trains at no 
greater speed than fifteen miles an hour would neither receive nor deserve a great 
amount of patronage. Yet this rate of speed was considered "frightful" in 1828 












by a board of leading citizens of Lancaster, Ohio, charged with the education of 
the young people of that city. The people of Nebraska looked upon the subject 
in a dift'erent light in 1855, as may be seen by the following extracts from Acting 
( 'io\emor Cuming's message to the first Territorial Legislature: 

"One of the principal subjects of general interest to which, next to the enact- 
ment of your laws, your attention will be directed this winter, is that of a Pacific 
Railroad. You have acquired, in respect to this an acknowledged precedence; 
and the expression in your representative capacity, of the wishes of your constit- 
uents, throughout the vast extent of your territory, may have a potent influence, 
together with the efforts of your friends, in promoting the construction of such a 
road up the Valley of the Platte. 

"JVIany reasons lead to the conclusion that such a memorial from you will be of 
practical efficacy in contributing to the speedy consummation of such an enter- 
prise — an enterprise of such aboslute necessity as a means of intercommunica- 
tion between tlie Atlantic and Pacific States and as the purveyor of a lucrative 
commerce with India, China and the Pacific Islands. Among these reasons are 
the facts that the Valley of the Platte is on the nearest and most direct continuous 
linfe from the commercial metropolis of the East by railroad and the Great 
Lakes, through the most practical mountain passes, to the metropolis of the West ; 
that it is fitted by nature for an easy grade; and that it is central and convenient 
to the great majority of grain growing states, and of the northern portion of the 
Union, being situated in latitude 41 degrees north, while the majority of the 
people of the whole country are between the 38th and 46th degrees of north 
latitude. It seems to me that it will be the desire of the friends of this great 
enterprise — one of the most prominent and important of all the measures of 
national development upon this continent now under consideration of the people 
of the United States — to act immediately in the selection of routes, and to establish 
a permanent policy, the details of which may be practically prosecuted in the 
coming spring; and I sincerely hope and believe that your legislative memorial 
in Congress may have its legitimate weight in the decision of a question of such 
momentous interest. 

"In view, however, of the uncertainty arising from the sectional conflict with 
which the subject is surrounded, I would respectfully suggest that such a 
memorial should urgently, if not principally, ask for a preliminary provision, 
from granting which the general Government will scarcely be deterred by con- 
siderations of policy or economy. I refer to a proposition presented to Congress 
eight years ago for 'Telegraphic and Letter Mail Communication with the 
Pacific,' including the protection of emigrants and formation of settlements along 
the route through Nebraska, Utah, California and Oregon; the promotion of 
amicable relations with the Indians, and facilitating intercourse across the Amer- 
ican continent, between Europe and Asia and the islands and American coasts 
of the Pacific. 

"The plan is substantially, that instead of or in addition to garrisons at 
isolated points, parties of twenty dragoons shall be stationed at stockades twenty 
to thirty miles apart, on a route designated by the Executive of the United States 
as a 'Post Road' between the Missouri River and the Pacific; that express mails 
shall be carried by said dragoons riding each way and meeting daily between the 


stockades, and affording complete supervision and protection of a line of electric 
telegraph constructed by private enterprise. 

"By such an arrangement, in which every detail is subject to free competition, 
a line of telegraph may be opened within one year to the Rocky Mountains and 
a largely increased mail transpwrted in half the time now required, and with 
perfect security, between the Atlantic and Pacific States ; at the same time giving 
complete protection to the thousands who annually travel on the route, and con- 
ducing not only to the settlement of Nebraska, but also of the vast regions between 
us and our fellow pioneers upon our western coasts. 

"Such an emigrant highway would afford one of the best and speediest mail 
lines in the world, giving efficiency to troops already in service for the purposes 
of protection, encouraging emigration and making a continuous series of settle- 
ments and cultivated farms around the stockades, between which individual 
or corporate enterprise will the more speedily construct the long desired 'Pacific 

"The location of Nebraska, remote from, but intermediate between the Atlantic 
and Pacific, indicates the necessity of facilitating intercourse between its inhabi- 
tants and their fellow citizens on the shores of both oceans. It is the duty' of 
governments to defend life and property; to protect and quicken communication 
between all portions of their domain; and this requirement is especially impera- 
tive upon the Federal and State governments of our widely extended Union in 
respect to territories where civilization is struggling for a foothold, and the farms 
and firesides of whose pioneers have a just claim upon the protection of a power, 
whose fleets are traversing every sea, for the defense of its citizens. 

■'Aside, too, from the direct practical blessings of such a system faithfuUv 
carried out in all its details, and its immense effect on the correspondence and 
business of the world, the project acquires additional importance from the fact 
that it will contribute to bind together states far separated and of diverse 
interests, in the commercial fraternity and sympathy of an inseparable Union. 

"W'e may reasonably expect that a memorial advocating the advantages of the 
I'latte X'alley as a route for the Pacific Railroad, and urging especially and 
strenuously the immediate adoption of a policy similar to the above, would n<it 
be without its influence upon the deliberations of Congress." 

In response to Governor Cimiing's suggestions a memorial was prepared and 
referred to a joint legislative committee, which reported favorably upon its 
adoption and said : 

"The Valley of the Platte is well known to the West, it being the great high- 
way through which nine-tenths of the overland emigration passes enroute to the 
Pacific. Those coming via St. Louis travel by water up the Missouri River to 
Independence, Weston, St. Joseph and Council P>luft's and, uniting at these 
points with those who come from the East, pursue their way westward by 
converging lines that unite in the Platte Valley at various points within two 
hundred miles, a little north of a due line west from Omaha, P.ellevue nnd 
Florence. * * * 

"Starting from more westerly points on the Missouri River, there is less of 
land travel than by any other route. There is a better connecting line of good 
water, wood, stone, coal, soil and grass, than can be found on any other route. 
This route lies in the zone of the earth's surface where the greatest varietv of 


useful articles can be produced; where men are capable of the greatest endur- 
ance, and where the greatest population and wealth are most likely to accumulate," 
Thus Nebraska early went on record as favoring a Pacific Railroad, and 
while other states, industrial and commercial organizations, political conventions, 
etc., passed resolutions from time to time favoring a great trans-continental rail- 
way, the systematic and persistent work of Nebraska's territorial governors, 
from Cuming to Saunders, was one of the greatest influences in securing the actual 
liuilding of the road. 


As early as 1819, some eight years before steam power had been successfully 
applied to propelling cars upon the little Mauch Chunk Railway, Robert Mills, 
of X'irginia, began urging the necessity of a cross-country railway. His views 
were hrst presented to the general public and later to Congress, to which body he 
suggested, if found to be practicable, "steam propelled carriages for quickened 
service across the continent, to run from the head waters of inland navigation 
over a direct route to the Pacific." 

Mr. Mills was several years "in advance of the procession," and little atten- 
tion was paid to his theories and suggestions. .Some years later Asa Whitney, 
of New York; Butler S. King and General Robinson, of Pennsylvania; Hosmer, 
Chase and Wade, of Ohio; Pierce, of Indiana; Thomas PI. Benton, of Missouri, 
and a number of other foresighted men, all urged the construction of a railroad 
to run from some point on the Missouri River to the Pacific coast. It was not 
until 1853, however, that the project assumed anything like definite form. 
In that year Salmon P. Chase, of Ohio, introduced in the United States Senate 
a bill providing for surveys of four routes to the Pacific coast, to wit: 1. A line 
from the Upper Mississippi River via the Yellowstone X'alley to Puget Sound ; 
2. .\ line along or near the 36th parallel, through \^'alker's Pass of the Rocky 
Mountains, to strike the coast somewhere near Los Angeles or San Diego, Cali- 
fornia ; 3. A line through the Rocky Mountains near the head waters of the Rio 
del Norte and Huefemo rivers, via Great Salt Lake Basin, and 4. A line along 
the 32nd parallel, via El Paso and the \'alley of the Colorado River, to strike 
the coast somewhere in Lower California. 

Jefferson Davis, then secretary of war, by what authority is uncertain, sent 
five other engineering corps into the field to examine and report on the feasibility 
of constructing a railroad on each of five different routes — one between the 47th 
and 49th parallels, called the "Northern Route;" one between the 41st and 43d 
parallels, known as the "Central Route," also called the Overland or Mormon 
Route; a third along the 39th parallel, called the "Buffalo Trail;" the fourth 
along the 35th parallel, and the fifth, called the "Southern Route," followed the 
32nd parallel. Under date of Januarj' 27, 1S55, Mr. Davis made a complete 
report of what had been done in the way of reconnoitering or surveving the 
routes above mentioned. 

In that same month Stephen A. Douglas, then LTnited States senator from 
Illinois, introduced a bill in Congress, proposing three routes to the coast: "One 
via El Paso and the Colorado River, to be called the 'Southern Pacific ;' another 
from the Iowa border, to be called the 'Central Pacific;' and the third farther 


north, to be known as the 'Northern Pacific' '' It is a fact worthy of note that 
three great trunk Hnes were afterward built upon practically the lines designated 
in the Douglas Bill of 1855, and that they bear the names therein suggested. 

On July I, 1862, President Lincoln approved the bill creating the Union Pacific 
Railroad Company, which corporation was authorized and empowered "to lay 
out, locate, construct, furnish, maintain and enjoy a continuous railroad and 
telegraph, with the appurtenances, from a point on the looth meridian of longi- 
tude west from Greenwich, between the south margin of the Valley of the Repub- 
lican River and the north margin of the Valley of the Platte River, in the Terri- 
tory of Nebraska, to the western boundary of Nevada Territory," etc. 

The bill granted to the railroad company a right of way 400 feet in width 
through the public lands, and also every alternate or odd numbered section of 
land to the amount of five alternate sections per mile on each side of the road 
within the limit of ten miles, not sold or otherwise disposed of, mineral lands 
excepted. It was further provided that bonds to the amount of $16,000 per mile 
should be issued by the Government to aid in the construction of the road, that 
amount to be trebled through the Rocky and Sierra Nevada mountains, said 
bonds to become a first mortgage lien upon the property. 

Another provision of the act of July i, 1862, required the board of directors 
of the Union Pacific Railroad Company to meet in Chicago on the first Tuesday of 
September, 1862, for the purpose of organization. Pursuant to this requirement, 
the board met at the time and place designated and organized by the election of 
William B. Ogden as the first president. This organization was somewhat tenta- 
tive in its nature and about the only act of the board under it was to accept the 
terms of the creative act on June 2.J, 1863. At the next meeting of the board, 
which was held in New York City on October 29, 1863, a formal organization 
was perfected and Gen. John A. Dix succeeded Mr. Ogden as president of the 
company. At the same time Dr. Thomas C. Durant was elected vice president 
and he became the moving spirit of the company, giving it the advantage of all 
his constructive genius and his fortune. 

Section 14 of the act of July i, 1862, authorized the railroad company "to 
construct a single line of railroad and telegraph from a point on the western 
boundary of the State of Iowa, to be fixed by the President of the United 
States," and on November i, 1863, President Lincoln fixed the terminal point 
at the City of Omaha, Nebraska. Peter A. Dey, the engineer employed by the 
company to survey the route, reported in favor of bridging the Missouri River 
at Child's Mills or Bellevue, using the Papillion Valley to the Elkhoni River, thus 
avoiding the objectionable grade through the hills on any line west from Omaha, 
but President Lincoln had designated "the eastern bank of the Missouri River, 
opposite Omaha, as the terminus." The conditions imposed by the act creating 
the company had been accepted by the board of directors on June 27, 1863, and 
on December 2, 1863, ground was broken in the "North Omaha Bottoms" with 
appropriate ceremonies. Andrew J. Hanscom presided and among those present 
were : Gov. Alvin Saunders, Mayors Kennedy and Palmer of Omaha and Coun- 
cil Blufifs, Edward Creighton, George B. Lake, John I. Redick, George Francis 
Train, Experience Estabrook, A. J. Poppleton, Augustus Kountze and a number 
of other prominent citizens of Omaha and Council Bluffs. The long talked of 
Pacific Railroad was actually begun. 


Although Mr. Dey's natural choice for a place of crossing was at Bellevuc 
or Childs' Mills, the order of the President fixing the eastern terminus at 
Omaha must be observed. This led to two surveys being made — one directly 
west from Omaha to the Elkhorn River and the other via Mud Creek and Papil- 
lion, known as the "Ox-Bow Route." Between these two J\lr. Dey favored the 
former and several thousand dollars were expended in grading that route. On 
March 7, 1864, President Lincoln issued his second and more definite executive 
order, fi.xing the terminus of the Union Pa'cific Railway "On the western boun- 
dary of Iowa, east of and opposite the east line of section 10, township 13 north, 
of range 13 east of the sixth principal meridian in the Territory of Nebraska, 
within the limits of the Township in Iowa opposite the Town of Omaha, Neb." 

In the early work of construction the inflated prices caused by the Civil war 
affected the credit of the contractors and slow progress was made. Under the 
discouraging conditions, Mr. Dey retired as chief engineer early in 1865 and was 
succeeded by D. H. Ainsworth, while J. E. House completed the survey over 
the Platte Valley route to the point where that river was to be bridged. 

On October 4, 1864, M. H. Hoxie was awarded a contract to build the road 
for a distance of 100 miles west of Omaha. Soon after this contract was 
awarded Jesse L. Williams and Silas Seymour were sent to Omaha by New 
York interests to look over the surveys and report upon the most practicable 
Missouri River crossing. About the same time the Government sent Col. J. H. 
Simpson on a similar mission. The reports of these three men all agreed that 
the road could be built at less cost if the bridge over the river was located about 
seven miles south of Omaha, and Williams and Seymour recommended a change 
to that point. After the assassination of President Lincoln in April, 1865, a peti- 
tion was presented to President Andrew Johnson asking him to modify the order 
so that the lower location might be used as the terminus. He gave his approval 
for the change, but the people of Omaha were aroused and in the end their 
protests were heeded. The crossing point was located at Omaha and Council 
Bluffs and the road was constructed on the Ox-Bow Route. Y'ears afterward a 
new line was built from Omaha directly west to the Elkhorn. It was opened for 
business on May 15, 1908, and is known as the "Lane Cut-off." 

The first rail was laid on July 10, 1865, and on September 21, 1865, ten miles 
of the road were completed and in use, with material on hand for 100 miles 
more. The first train of which any record has been preserved was run fifteen 
miles out from Omaha to Salings' Grove in November, 1865. Among the pas- 
sengers were Gen. W. T. Sherman, Thomas C. Durant and A. J. Poppleton, 
riding on flat cars with nail kegs for seats. On January 26, 1866, the first Gov- 
ernment inspection was made by Col. J. H. Simpson, Gen. Samuel R. Curtis and 
Maj. William White. There were then about thirty miles of road completed 
and in operation. 


Early in the year 1865 the Credit Mobilier was chartered in the State of Penn- 
sylvania as a construction insurance company and took over the unfinished con- 
tract of H. M. Hoxie on the 15th of March. That summer and fall the Credit 
Mobilier completed the Union Pacific to the looth meridian, 247 miles from 


i)maha. Unfortunately the Credit Mobilier became entangled in political intrigue, 
which destroyed its usefulness as a railroad builder, its purposes — much misun- 
derstood and mistrusted from the first — were discredited and it was forced 
to suspend. 

On May 15, 1866, Gen. Grenville M. Dodge entered the service of the Union 
Pacific Railroad Company as chief engineer, and upon the capitulation of the 
Credit Mobilier, Oakes Ames, on August 16, 1867, undertook the work of carry- 
ing out its unfinished obligations. Under the direction of General Dodge the 
work was pushed forward with record breaking rapidity for the remaining 1,086 
miles to Promontory Point, Utah, where the tracks were joined to those of the 
Central Pacific. 


Although this road has no direct bearing upon the history of Omaha and 
Douglas County, the importance of its indirect inlluence in giving to the Union 
Pacific an outlet to the western coast can hardly be estimated. Ground was 
broken for the Central Pacific at Sacramento, Cal., February 22, 1863, 
nearly eleven months before the Union Pacific was commenced at Omaha. x\mong 
the men who were active in the building of the Central Pacific were Collis P. 
Huntington, Edward P>. Crocker, Cornelius Cole, Mark Hopkins, Charles Crocker, 
1, eland Stanford and Theodore D. judah. the last named being tlic chief 

It will be remembered that the bill of July 1. i8f)2, chartering the Union Pacific 
Railroad Company, authorized that corporation to build its line to the western 
boundary of Nevada. By the act of July 3, 1866, this was changed, the Central 
i'acific being given authority to build eastward until a junction was formed 
with the Union Pacific. On the other hand, the Union Pacific was given the 
I)rivilege of extending its road beyond the western boundary of Nevada, unless 
a junction of the two roads should be sooner effected. With the passage of 
this act the race was on in earnest, both companies doing their utmost to reach 
the construction limit of tlieir charters. In the winter of 1868-69 their grades 
met in Western Utah and passed, paralleling, until the Union Pacific had graded 
more than two hundred miles beyond the advanced work of the Central. Con- 
gress was called upon to settle the terminal difficulties, but before that body could 
act the officials of the two companies adjusted their ditierence by agreeing upon 
I'romontory Point as the place of union. There, on May 10, 1869, was driven 
the last spike that welded together the East and the West by a great trans-conti- 
nental highway. The following description of the ceremonies on that occasion 
is taken from Gen. Grenville M. Dodge's "How We Built the Union Pacific 

"Hon. Leland Stanford, governor of California and president of the Central 
Pacific, accompanied by Messrs. Huntington, Hopkins, Crocker, and trainloads 
of California's distinguished citizens, arrived from the West. During the fore- 
noon Vice President T. C. Durant and I3irectors John R. Duff ar,d Sidney Dillon 
and Consulting Engineer Silas .\. Seymour, of the Union Pacific, with other 
prominent men, including a delegation of Mormons from Salt Lake City, came in 
on a train from the East. The National Government was represented by a detach- 

Chief engineer in the construction of tlie Union Pacific Road 


nienl of regulars from Fort Douglas, Utah, accompanied by a band, and 600 
others, including Chinese, Mexicans, Indians, half-breeds, negroes and laborers, 
suggesting an air of cosmopolitanism, all gathered around the open space where 
the tracks were to be joined. The Chinese laid the rails from the west end and 
the Irish laborers laid them from the east end until they met and joined. 

"Telegraphic wires were so connected that each blow of the descending sledge 
could be reported instantly to all parts of the United States. Corresponding 
blows were struck on the bell of the city hall in San Francisco, and with the 
Inst blow of the sledge a cannon was fired at Fort Point. General Safford pre- 
sented a spike of gold, silver and iron as the offering of the Territory of Arizona. 
Ciovernor Tuttle, of Nevada, presented a spike of silver from his state. The 
connecting tie was of California laurel, and California presented the last spike of 
gold in behalf of that state. A silver sledge had also been presented for the occa- 
sion. A prayer was ottered. Governor Stanford, of California, made a few 
appropriate remarks on behalf of the Central Pacific and the chief engineer 
(General Dodge) responded for the Union Pacific. Then the telegraphic inquiry 
from the Omaha office, from which the circuit was to be started, was answered : 

" 'To everybody : Keep quiet. When the last spike is driven at Promontory 
Point we will say "Done." Don't break the circuit, but watch for the signals of 
the blows of the hammer. The spike will soon ,-B"4^r<fpveii. The signal will be 
three dots for the commencement of the blows.', j;:^- : ■■ . - .. 

"The magnet tapped one — two — three — then paused^'Done.' The spike was 
given its first blow by President Stanford and Vice President Durant followed. 
Neither hit the spike the first time, but hit the rail,.^nd .w^s greeted by the lusty 
cheers of the onlookers, accompanied by the screaftis of the locomotives and the 
music of the military band. Many other spikes were driven on the last rail by 
some of the distinguished persons present, but it was seldom that they first hit 
the spike. The original spike, after being tapped by the officials, was driven 
home by the chief engineers of the two roads. Then the two trains were run 
together, the two locomotives touching at the point of junction, and the engineers 
of the two locomotives each broke a bottle of champagne on the other's engine. 
Then it was declared that the connection was made and the .\tlantic and Pacific 
were joined together, never to be parted. 

".■\t the eastern terminus in Omaha the firing of a hundred guns on Capitol 
Mill, more bells and steam whistles, and a grand procession of fire companies, 
civic societies, citizens and visiting delegations echoed the sentiments of the 
Californians. In Chicago a procession of four miles in length, a lavish display 
of decoration in the city and on the vessels in the river, and an address by Vice 
President Colfax in the evening were the evidences of the city's feeling. In Xew 
York, by order of the mayor, a salute of a hundred guns announced the culmi- 
nation of the undertaking. In Trinity Church the Te Deum was chanted, prayers 
were offered, and when the services were over the chimes rang out 'Old 
Hundred,' the 'Ascension Carol' and national airs. The ringing of bells on Inde- 
l)endence Hall and the fire stations in Philadelphia produced an unusual concourse 
of citizens to celebrate the national event. In other large cities of the country 
the expressions of public gratification were hardly less hearty and demonstrative. 

"After the ceremony a sumptuous lunch was served in President Stanford's 
cars and appropriate speeches were made by Governor Stanford and others, and 


a general jollification was enjoyed. At night each train took its way to its own 
home, leaving at the junction point only the engineers and the workmen to com- 
plete the work ready for the through trains that followed a day or two later." 

Regarding the celebration at Omaha, preparations had been made in advance. 
Before the noon hour arrived the streets were thronged with people waiting 
for the signal that the great trans-continental railroad was finished. At last the 
first of the one hundred guns boomed forth its message and the cheer that went 
up from all parts of the city heralded tlie tidings that Omaha was connected 
by railway with the Pacific coast. At 1 130 the procession mentioned by General 
Dodge started on its way to Capitol Hill, under the command of E. A. Allen as 
grand marshal. Upon arriving at the capitol ex-Governor Alvin Saunders took 
the chair and introduced Gen. Clinton B. Fisk, who delivered an address upon 
"The Day We Celebrate." He was followed by Gen. Charles F. I\Ianderson, who 
responded to the sentiment : "Westward the Star of Empire Has Found its 
Way." Each of these addresses was followed by a musical selection, either vocal 
or instrumental, and the exercises closed with an address by Judge Eleazer 
Wakeley on "The Pacific Railroad," in which he reviewed the history of that 
great undertaking. It was a red letter day in Omaha's calendar. 


Previous to the building of the Union Pacific bridge, all freight and passen- 
gers were carried across the river on the ferry boats of the Union Pacific Transfer 
Company, which was organized and began operations in 1866. By the act of July 
4, 1864, the railroad company was authorized to build a bridge across the Mis- 
souri River, somewhere between Florence and Bellevue, but the work of grading 
and tracklaying was then under way and nothing toward the construction of a 
bridge was done until two years after the passage of the act. 

Soon after General Dodge became the chief engineer of the Union Pacific, 
he was directed to make an examination of the Missouri River from Florence 
to the mouth of the Platte, to determine the best location, from an engineering 
standpoint, for a railroad bridge. Pie made the examination and on December 
3, 1866, reported that "from an engineering point of view, and taking into con- 
sideration the cost of the bridge and approaches, grades and distances, the cross- 
ing at Childs' Mills is the best." The company then instructed him to continue 
the examination and to take into consideration the commercial importance of the 
location, bearing in mind that the terminus and shops of the Union Pacific were 
already established at Omaha. On January 15, 1867, he reported in favor of the 
site where the bridge is now located. 

In the spring of 1868 a contract was made with the Boomer Bridge Company, 
of Chicago, to erect the bridge for $1,089,500. Work was commenced, but 
it was suspended on July 26, 1869, and for nearly nine months nothing further 
was done. Then on April 10, 1S70, a new contract was made with the Ameri- 
can Bridge Company, of Chicago, which undertook to complete the work at d 
figure that brought the total cost up to $1,750,000. An act of Congress, approved 
by President Grant on February 24, 1871, authorized the Union Pacific Railroad 
Company to issue bonds to the amount of $2,500,000 to cover the cost of the 
bridge and the approaches thereto. The bridge constructed by the American 


Bridge Company was of the pattern known as "Post's Patent." It was a single 
tracli structure, 2,750 feet in length, divided into eleven spans of 250 feet each, 
and stood sixty feet above high water mark. No provisions were made for teams 
or foot passengers, as contemplated in the charter, a fact that caused some criti- 
cism on the part of the citizens of Omaha and Council Bluffs. The west approach 
was over a trestle 60 feet high and 729 feet long and the east approach was 
graded back from the river for a distance of two miles. The first train passed 
over the bridge on March 14, 1872. 

On the night of August 4, 1877, the two eastern spans were wrecked by a 
cyclone. The only witness of the catastrophe was John Pierson, the watchman, 
who occupied a little house on the eastern span, and who was carried down with 
the wreck, barely escaping with his life. The Queen of Dectaur, a flat-bottomed 
ferry boat, was brought down from Decatur and used as a transfer boat until 
the bridge could be repaired. In 1886 the bridge was rebuilt, widened to fifty- 
six feet, the approaches filled and provisions made for vehicles and pedestrians. 
In an interview on March 20, 1916, General Manager Ware, of the Union Pacific, 
announced that a contract had been let to the American Bridge Company to erect 
a new bridge. When the present bridge was built in 1886 it was thought to be 
sufficient for years to come. Traffic has increased until 320 trains now cross the 
river on this bridge every twenty-four hours. The new bridge will contain nearly 
double the quantity of steel in the present one and will be of sufficient capacity to 
accommodate the constantly increasing number of trains. 


Since the completion of the Union Pacific in May, 1869, ^^e main line has 
been double tracked from Omaha to Pine Bluffs, Wyo., just west of the 
Nebraska line, a distance of 473 miles, and branches in Nebraska have been 
extended from the main line to Beatrice, Haig, Norfolk, Lincoln, Loup City, Ord, 
Stapleton, Pleasanton Spalding and several other towns, materially increasing 
the mileage of the system in the state. 

The first general offices of the company in Omaha were in the old Herndon 
House, which was sold to the company and remodeled to make it available for 
the purpose. The present magnificent office building, on the northeast comer of 
Fifteenth and Dodge streets, was opened on January i, 1912. It is twelve stories 
high, containing 304,727 square feet of floor space, and cost $1,500,000. In this 
building there are 1,149 people employed by the Union Pacific and 148 employed 
by other tenants, making a total of 1,297, and the elevatois carry an average of 
7,000 passengers daily. 

The first locomotive purchased by the Union Pacific Company was named 
the "General Sherman," with Thomas Jordan as the engineer. The second engine, 
the "General McPherson," came up the Missouri River in July, 1865, on the 
steamer Colorado and was placed in commission on August 3, 1865, with 
Luther O. Farrington as engineer. The first station in Omaha stood under the 
hill near the foot of Capitol Avenue and T. C. "Morgan was the first agent. 

This road is the only trans-continental railroad operating two daily trains 
carrying mail and express matter exclusively. These trains start from Omaha 
and constitute the Government's fast mail route to the Pacific coast. In 191 5 


the revenue derived from carrying the mails was $3,766,274, and the ex])ress 
revenue amounted to $1,997,973- 

Twenty-four Union Pacific passenger trains enter or depart from the Union 
Station at Omaha every day — twelve in each direction. Five leave for Cahfomia, 
two to the Pacific Northwest, two to Denver, and the other three are local 
Nebraska trains running to Grand Island and North Platte. 

During the year 1915 the road carried 8,075,960 passengers. The average 
length of each passenger's trip was 103 miles. On account of the Panama Exposi- 
tion at San Francisco, the company operated 105 special trains and over three 
thousand extra sleeping cars, most of the traffic passing through Omaha. With 
all this great vohmie of travel, not a passenger was killed or seriously injured, and 
this record has been maintained for three years, during which time approximately 
twenty-five million passengers were carried upon the Union Pacific lines. 

The passengers on the Union Pacific no longer ride on flat cars, with nail kegs 
for seats, as did the first passengers on the first train out of Omaha in November, 
1865. Nearly one-half of all the passenger coaches used today are of steel, lighted 
by electricity and equipped with every convenience of the modern railway. No 
wooden coaches have been ordered by this company for several years and in a few 
years more those still in use will have entirely disappeared. More than four- 
fifths of the freight equipment is of solid steel or steel construction. 

The commissary department, which supplies the forty-two dining cars of the 
Union Pacific, is located in Omaha, and during the year 1915 it expended about 
three hundred thousand dollars. Included in the supplies for the year were the 
following: Twelve car loads of flour, 500,000 loaves of bread, 150,000 dozen 
eggs, 150,000 pounds of butter, 1,600,000 pounds of fresh meats, 60,000 pounds 
of cofifee, 5,000 pounds of tea, 25,000 pounds of sugar. 160,000 pounds of poul- 
try, 16,000 bushels of potatoes, 450,000 quarts of milk. 140,000 quarts of cream 
and 750,000 cigars. 

The Union Pacific was the first road west of the ^Missouri River to run sleep- 
ing cars, dining cars and electric lighted trains. A movement is now on foot in 
the State of Utah to hold an exposition in 1919. for the jnirpose of celebrating 
the fiftieth anniversary of the completion of this great trans-continental high- 
way. Pi. L. Winchell, director of traffic, was the first to suggest the advisability 
of such an exposition, which will show, among other things, a half century of 
railway progress. 

On April i, i<)i6, the principal officials of the Union Pacific Railroad Com- 
pany were: A. L. Mohler, president; J. A. Mimroe, vice president; Charles 
Ware, general manager; W. M. Jefifers, general superintendent: James A. Griffith, 
commissioner of the land department; B. L. Winchell, director of traffic; \\ . S. 
r.asinger, general passenger agent, and C. J. Lane, general freight agent. 


As early as January 10, 1836, the Illinois ]-egislature granted a charter to the 
Galena & Chicago Union Railway Company, which was authorized to build and 
equip a railroad from Chicago to the lead mines on the Mississippi River. The 
first train that ever left Chicago for the West was on this road, October 24, 1848. 
It was drawn by a diminutive locomotive called the "Pioneer," which is still kept 


by the Chicago & Northwestern Company as a relic and was exhibited at the 
Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893. 

After the panic of 1857, in which the Galena & Chicago Union Railway 
Company became seriously involved, the company w-as reorganized as the 
Chicago & Northwestern, an event which marked the beginning of one of the 
great railway systems of the United States. At that time emigrants from the older 
states were pouring into the country west of he Mississippi River and the 
new board of directors immediately began preparations to extend the line of the 
Chicago & Northwestern into the rapidly developing West. Some delay was 
experienced in raising the necessary capital, but early in the '60s the first train 
crossed the Mississippi at Clinton, Iowa, and from that time the progress was 
more satisfactory. Westward through Belle Plaine, Marshalltown, Ames, Carroll 
and Denison, Iowa, the Northwestern gradually extended its line until on 
January 17, 1867, the first train rolled into Council lilufts. 

The completion of this line gave to the people of Omaha and the farmers 
of Nebraska, especially those living near the line of the Union Pacific Railway, 
an outlet to the markets of the East and exerted a great influence upon the 
subsequent development of the city and state. Since the opening of the main 
line in 1867, the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Company has played an 
important part in the development of the country west of the Missouri. In the 
State of Nebraska this company owns and operates lines running from Omaha 
to Lincoln, Hastings. Superior, Norfolk, Sioux City (Iowa), and longer branches 
to Winner, South Dakota, and Lander. Wyoming. From Chadron, Neb., on 
the last named division, a branch ' runs northward to the Black Hills region. 
Altogether the Chicago & Northwestern has over twelve hundred miles of track 
in Nebraska, exclusive of side tracks, division yards, etc. 

Seven through trains run daily between Omaha and Chicago over the North- 
western. The equipment of these trains is of the best possible character — solid 
steel coaches, sleeping and dining cars, electric lighted trains and powerful loco- 
motives, insuring both speed and comfort. 


The next railroad to come to Omaha was the St. Joseph & Council Bluffs, 
commonly called the "Kansas City Line." It was the outgrowth of a consolida- 
tion of three other companies, viz: The Platte County Railroad Company, 
chartered by the State of Missouri on February 24, 1853; the Atchison & St. 
Joseph Railroad Company, which was incorporated on December 11, 1855; and 
the Weston & Atchison Railroad Company, incorporated on April 22, 1859. 
By an act of the Missouri Legislature on February 18, 1865, the Platte County 
Railroad was turned over to the Weston & Atchison and the Atchison & St. Joseph 
companies, which had been consolidated, and on July 16. 1867, the St. Joseph t^ 
Council Bluffs Railroad Company was incorporated. 

Under the new management the work of completing a line from St. Joseph 
to Council Bluffs and Omaha was pushed vigorously and the first train over the 
road arrived at Council Blufl^s on December 20, 1867. Prior to the completion 
of this line, passengers between St. Joseph and Omaha had the choice of going 
by stage or steamboat. During the first year of its existence, this road trans- 


ported large quantities of material for the Union Pacific Railroad Company and 
hastened the completion of that great work. At that time St. Joseph was quite 
a commercial center and the new road proved a great boon to the merchants 
of Council Bluffs and Omaha, by opening a market where they could buy goods 
to better advantage. This road is now a part of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy 


In 1847 the Illinois Legislature granted a charter to a corporation known as 
the La Salle & Rock Island Railroad Company, which was authorized to build 
a line of railroad from the terminus of the Illinois & Michigan Canal, on the 
Illinois River at La Salle, to Rock Island. A supplementary act enlarged the 
powers of the company so that it could build a road from La Salle to Chicago. 
A reorganization was then effected and the name was changed to the Chicago 
& Rock Island Railroad Company. The road between Chicago and Rock Island 
was completed in the summer of 1854, and two years later this company built 
the first bridge over the Mississippi River, connecting the cities of Rock Island, 
Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa. 

In the meantime the Mississippi & Missouri Railroad Company had been 
chartered by the Legislature of Iowa, to construct a line of road from Davenport 
to some point on the Missouri River. A preliminary survey of this road was 
made in 1852 and Council Bluffs was selected as the western terminus. To aid 
in building the road, the Iowa Legislature gave to the company a portion of the 
land grant given by Congress to the state, but land was then cheap in Iowa and 
private capital was timid about investing in railroads running through a sparsely 
settled and practically undeveloped country. Consequently the Mississippi & Mis- 
souri Railroad encountered many difficulties and delays, and ten years after the 
first survey was made the road was completed to a point a few miles east of Des 
Moines. There all work was suspended and a little later mortgages given by 
the company were foreclosed. The road, land grant and right of way for th.e 
remaining distance to the Missouri River were then sold to a corporation known 
as the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad Company, which was incorporated 
under the laws of Iowa for the purpose of taking over the property under the 
foreclosure sale. The Chicago & Rock Island Railroad Company, of Illinois, 
then formed a consolidation with the Iowa corporaton, under the name of the 
Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad Company, and the road was completed 
to Council Bluffs, the first train arriving in that city on June 9, 1869. 

Subsequently the company extended its lines through Omaha, Lincoln, Fair- 
bury and the State of Kansas to Denver, Colorado Springs and Pueblo, Colo., 
forming one of the great trunk lines of the Central United States. At Fairbury 
the main line is crossed by a branch division running from St. Joseph, Mo., to Nel- 
son, Neb. According to a recent report of the Nebraska Railroad Commission, 
the Rock Island system operates a little over two hundred and fifty miles of 
railroad in the state. 




Articles of incorporation of the Omaha .X Southwestern Railroad Company 
were filed on Novemher 27, 1869, signed by the following citizens of the City 
of Omaha: Clinton Briggs, Smith S. Caldwell, Henry T. Clarke, John T. Clopper, 
Henry Gray, Thomas Malloy, A. S. Paddock, Alvin Saunders and Francis Smith. 
In the articles of incorporation it was stated that the company was formed for 
the purpose of building "a railroad from Omaha in a southerly direction, via 
Lincoln, to the southern boundary of the State of Nebraska, in Gage County/' 

Three days after the company was incorporated the county commissioners 
ordered a special election to be held on the 30th of December, 1869, to vote on 
the proposition to issue bonds to the amount of $150,000 to aid in constructing 
the road. The proposition was carried by a vote of 1,655 to 176 and the follow- 
ing spring work was commenced. In due time the Omaha & Southwestern was 
completed to the Platte River, where a flat boat ferry was established for the 
purpose of conveying freight and passengers across the stream, and from the 
ferry wagons ran to the terminus of the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad 
about a mile distant. In 1871 the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad Com- 
pany acquired the Omaha & Southwestern, which is now a part of the Chicago, 
llurlington & Ouincy system. 

0M.\HA & N0RTH:VVE3TEIg\' _'.>5__4..., 

The Omaha & Northwestern Railroad Company was incorporated on the 
last day of November, 1869, by James E. Boyd,< 'Ed\vard Creighton, C. H. 
Downs, Joseph Boyd, John A. Horbach, Ezra and Joseph H. Millard, Augustus 
and Herman Kountze, Jonas Gise, William A. Pa.xton, John A. Morrow and 
.|ohn I. Redick. On the same day the commissioners of Douglas County issued 
an order for a special election to be held on December 30, T869, at which the 
people of the county should express their opinion as to whether the county should 
issue bonds to the amount of $200,000, "to aid in constructing a railroad from 
the City of Omaha in a northwesterly direction to the mouth of the Niobrara 
River, upon such route as the said company shall select," etc. This was the 
same election at which the bonds were voted for the Omaha & Southwestern 
Railroad Company, as mentioned above, and the vote was the same in both 

Work was commenced as soon as the weather would permit in the spring of 
1870 and before the close of that year the road was completed to Blair, Wash- 
ington County. A little later it was finished to Herman, which place remained 
the northern terminus for some time. Then, in order to complete the line to 
Tekamah, Burt County, a mortgage was given upon the property. In 1878 the 
road was sold under foreclosure proceedings and the purchasers reorganized as 
the Omaha & Northern Nebraska Railway Company, which extended the lint- 
to Oakland. The next year the St. Paul & Sioux City Railroad Comi)any 
acquired the road and in 1881 it was sold to the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis 
& Omaha Railroad Company, by which name it is still known, though it is now- 
operated by the Chica.go & Northwestern Railroad Comi)any. 

Vol. I—] 7 



This railroad company was organized under the general laws of the Stale 
of Nebraska on January 20, 1869, and about ten miles of road, starting at Fre- 
mont and running northward, were completed the same year. Next year it was 
extended to West Point, and in 1871 to Wisner. During the next ten years the 
company built lines to Norfolk, Plainview, Neligh, Creighton and Long Pine, and 
in 1885 it was authorized to extend its lines into Dakota. Dy an act of Congress, 
approved on January 20, 1885, a right of way was granted to this company 
through the military reservation at Fort Robinson, in Northwestern Nebraska, 
and the following August the roa'd was in operation as far as Chadron, only 
twenty-nine miles from the fort. From Chadron a branch was extended north- 
ward into the Black Hills country, reaching Deadwood on December 29, i8go. 

In October, 1885, the Wyoming Central Railway Company was organized 
under the laws of that state and built a line of road from Douglas, Wyoming, 
eastward to the Nebraska state line. The Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley 
Company then extended its line to connect with the Wyoming Central and in 
[une, 1888, the two companies were consolidated, after which the road was 
extended to Lander, Wyoming. 

Tn 1886 the Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley Company built a line 
from Fremont, via W'ahoo, to Lincoln, and another branch from Scribner to 
Lindsey. All these lines have since been acquired by the Chicago & Northwestern 
Railroad Company. 


This company, commonly known as the "Burlington Route," has a greater 
number of miles of railway in Nebraska than any other, connecting practically 
all the important cities and towns in the central, eastern and southern parts of 
the state. Its entry into Nebraska was in 1869, when the construction of the 
Burlington & Missouri River Railroad was commenced. In the spring of i87<i 
a branch was built from Plattsmouth to the Platte River, where a connection v.'a'^ 
formed with the Omaha & Southwestern, and in 1871 the latter road was acquired 
by tbe Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Company, which thus gained a terminus in 
Omaha. In the meantime the branch was completed to Lincoln in the latter 
part of July, 1870, and on September 2, 1872. a junction was formed with the 
Union Pacific at Kearney. 

In August, 1880, the company completed the steel bridge over the Missouri 
River at Plattsmouth and during the next ten years it expended in the City of 
CJniaha nearly one million dollars, including the construction of the lines to the 
stockyards in South C)maha. The Burlington Route now has about three thou- 
sand miles of track in the State of Nebraska. It has been an important factor 
in the development of the section known as "the South Platte country," its 
branches touching Lincoln, Table Rock, Wymore, Strang, Superior, York, 
Fairmont, Blue Hill, Hastings, Kearney, Holdrege, Oxford, Culbertson and 
Imperial as well as a number of smaller places. From Aurora a line runs north- 
west to Billings, Mont., and branches of the Burlington system run to Schuyler, 
Columbus, Ericson, Burwell, Sargent, O'Neill, Randolph. Greeley Center ami 


a number of other towns north of the I'latte. Through the operation of these 
various divisions all parts of Nebraska are brought into ready communication 
with Omaha, and over the great trunk lines from that city eastward with the 
best market centers of the country. The general offices of the Burlington Rotitc 
in Omaha are on the northwest corner of Tenth and Farnam, and the city ticket 
office is in the United States National Hank Building, on the northwest corner 
of Sixteenth and Farnam streets. 


In the early '80s the Missouri Pacific formed a connection with the Union 
Pacific at Papillion, fifteen miles west of Omaha, and entered the city over the 
tracks of the latter company until the completion of the belt line some three or 
four years later. The main line of the Missouri Pacific in Nebraska runs south- 
ward from Omaha, via Plattsmouth, Union, Nebraska City, Auburn and Falls 
City, to Kansas City, Mo. Branches from this line run to Weeping Water, Lin- 
coln and Crete. In Northern Kansas is a division of the Missouri Pacific known 
as the "Central Branch," and from Concordia, Kan., a branch runs northward 
into Nebraska, having its terminus at Prosser. Another short line runs from 
X'irginia, Neb., and connects with the Central Branch at Gofi^s, Kan. 

uMAiiA i;i':i.r raii.koah 

C)riginally, this road was a Union Pacific project, that company beginning the 
work of securing a right of way around the city from Mfteenth and Websler 
streets to South Omaha about 1883. Condemnation ijroceedings were instituted 
and considerable progress was made, when, for some reason, the enterprise was 
abandoned. S. H. H. Clark, then general manager of the Union Pacific, soun 
afterward resigned his position with that company and was employed by Jay 
Gould, then president of the Missouri Pacific system, to prosecute the belt line 
scheme in the interests of the Missouri Pac^c. The Union Pacific Railroad Com- 
]}any then Ijegan injunction proceedings in the United States Court to prevent the 
building of the belt line, but after some delay a compromise was effected, Mr. 
Gould paying the L'nion Pacific Company about seventy-five thousand dollars 
and the suit was dismissed. The line was then built, and from a point near 
Farnam Street a branch w^as constructed to Papillion, thus giving the Missouri 
Pacific direct access into the city. This road is used chiefly for the transfer of 
through freight around the city and for conveying live stock to the yards at 
South Omaha. 


As early as 1864 a large grant of land in the State of Iowa was given to the 
Dubuque & Sioux City Railroad Company, to aid in the construction of a rail- 
road between those two cities. Progress was somewhat slow for a few years, 
but on July 4, 1870, the first train on this road reached Storm Lake, Iowa, and the 
following year the line was finished to Sioux City. About 1879 or 1880 the 
Illinois Central Railroad Company became the owner of this road, giving Sioux 
City a through line to Chicago. 


For several years after this it was the dream of the IlHnois Central officials 
to construct a railroad from Fort Dodge to Omaha, but the project did not 
assume definite form until the summer of 1898. A survey of the proposed route 
was completed in the fall of that year and early in 1899 work was commenced 
at Tara, a small station on the Sioux City division a few miles west of Fort 
Dodge. The company possessed all the necessary means and facilities for rapid 
construction work and the building of the road was pushed forward with such 
energy that the first train reached the Missouri River on December 18, 1899. 
The construction of the great steel bridge over the Missouri was then hurried 
forward and since its completion the Illinois Central trains run to and from 


Toward the close of the last century the Chicago Great Western Railroad was 
finished to Fort Dodge, Iowa, with a branch from that city running northward 
through Mason City and connecting with the Minneapolis division at Hayfield, 
Minn. Early in the spring of 1901 a rumor became current that the Great 
Western was to build a line from Fort Dodge to Omaha. This rumor gained 
strength a little later, when A. B. Stickney, then president of the company, 
visited Omaha, where he was cordially received and given all the encouragement 
the business men of the city could extend. Mr. Stickney reported the results 
of his trip of investigation to the board of directors, which then decided to 
build westward from Fort Dodge to Somers, Iowa, a distance of si.xteen miles, 
where the road was to divide, one branch running to Sioux City and the other 
to Omaha. 

The Chicago Great Western Company was the owner of about seven thou- 
sand acres of coal lands near Fort Dodge and at a subsequent meeting of the 
directors it was considered better to abandon the Sioux City branch and use 
the money it would cost in developing the coal lands, but the line to Omaha 
was ordered. A survey was made in igoi-02 and before the close of the latter 
year trains were running as far as Carroll, Iowa, eighty-four miles from Coun- 
cil Bluffs. During the sunnner and fall of 1903 this stretch of eighty-four miles 
was completed and on November i, 1903, the first train arrived at Council 
Blufi^s. Arrangements were soon made with the Union Pacific, whereby the 
<.ireat Western trains were permitted to cross the Missouri on the Union Pacific 
bridge and in this way the new road acquired a terminus in Omaha. 


In addition to the railroads above mentioned, the great Chicago, Milwaukee 
tk St. Paul railway system has terminal privileges in the City of Omaha, and a 
division of the Wabash connects Omaha with Kansas City and St. Louis, Mo. 
.^either of these roads has any mileage in Nebraska outside of their Omaha 
terminals, but they add materially to the state's transportation facilities. In con- 
cluding this chapter it may be interesting to note the value of railroad property. 
The following table has been compiled from the tax lists in the office of the 
county clerk for the year 1916: 

Tlip two longest 'Iraw spans in the world 


1^^^^^^^^ MBh- ''^^'"'^^ /^^*i'^^^'^ ^ 



Union Pacific $2,621,458 

Chicago & Northwestern 239,940 

Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific 95,6io 

Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha 212,094 

Chicago, Burlington & Quincy 827,490 

Missouri Pacific 251,414 

Omaha Bridge & Terminal (Belt Line) 105,761 

Illinois Central 7,700 

Chicago Great Western 99,5/0 

Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul 20,000 

Wabash 10,000 

Railroad property outside of Omaha 173,721 

Total $4,664,758 

It should be remembered, however, that railroad property in Nebraska is 
appraised for tax purposes on the same basis as other property, and that the 
above figures represent only about one-fifth of the actual value. The actual value 
of railroad property in Douglas County is therefore over twenty-three millions 
of dollars, which is a conservative statement. And all this investment has been 
made within the memory of people yet living. . -No -line of activity shows more 
plainly the progress of the American people than the railroad development. 
Less than a century ago the United States had but one line of railroad, nine 
miles in length, with wooden rails, employed in transporting coal from the mines 
to the City of Mauch Chunk, Penn. From that humble beginning the railroads 
of the country have multiplied until now there are thousands of miles of railway, 
equipped with steel rails, powerful locomotives, palatial coaches, and represent- 
ing an investment that runs into billions of dollars. In this progress Omaha has 
been so fortunate as to keep pace with her sister cities, so that today she stands 
as one of the great railroad centers of the nation — the gateway to the Northwest. 




Far back in the history of the human race the untutored savage — Nature's 
oldest child — roamed where he pleased, took what he could to satisfy his primi- 
tive wants, and was a law unto himself. Even in the dawn of civilization the 
individual reigned supreme. The average man was as it was said of Ishmael: 
His hand was against every man and every man's hand was against him. But as 
men grew in knowledge they came to realize that, in a great measure, they 
were dependent upon each other. Then those engaged in the same line of human 
endeavor began to organize, in an effort to advance their interests. At first 
the members of such organizations were prompted by selfish motives, but as 
they saw the benefits arising from their acting in concert reflected upon the 
community at large, they learned that there was a common interest that could 
be best promoted by cooperation. The organizations grew broader in their scope 
and more unselfish in their aims, until today there is scarcely a city of any con- 
siderable proportions in the land without its board of trade, commercial club, 
or association of some character working, not only for the selfish interests of its 
own members, but also for the common good. Omaha has not been behind in 
the efifort to advance the material welfare of the city through the medium of com- 
mercial organizations. The first of these was the 


Immediately after the close of the Civil war in 1865, some of the progres- 
si\e citizens of Omaha saw that there was likely to be a tide of emigration from 
the older states to the "boundless West," and felt that the time was opportune 
for the business men of the city to organize an association of some character for 
the purpose of calling attention to Omaha's advantages. The movement finally 
resulted in the organization of a board of trade, with Augustus Kountze as presi- 
dent, and E. P. Childs as secretary. Quite a number of the business men enrolled 
themselves as members. At that time the population of the city was probably a 
little below ten thousand and the interests and industries, generally speaking, 
were not of sufficient magnitude to awaken a thorough interest m the subject 
of cooperation for the city as a whole. The board of trade continued its work 


Looking west from tlie Coiniiieicial Club 


for a few years, when a majority of the nicnibers grew lukewarm and the organi- 
zation died a natural death for want of adequate support. 

Early in the year 1877 W. C. B. Allen, then publisher of the Commercial 
Exchange, a journal devoted to the business interests of Omaha, took upon him- 
self the task of organizing a new board of trade. At a meeting held on March 
12, 1877, Andrew J. Poppleton was elected president and Mr. Allen, secretary. 
John Evans was elected president the next year, Mr. Allen continuing as secre- 
tary. In 1879 W. J. Broatch was chosen president and Thomas Gibson suc- 
ceeded Mr. Allen as secretary. Among the presidents of the board of trade dur- 
ing its existence were: James E. Boyd, 1880-81; Hugh G. Clark, 1882; C. F. 
Goodman, 1883; N. B. Falconer, 1884; Alax Meyer, 1885-86-87; P. E. Her, 1888; 
Euclid Martin, 1889-91; Max Meyer, 1892; Euclid Martin, 1893-94-95. 

Thomas Gibson, who served as secretary for six years, was one of the most 
active forces in building up the organization and increasing its usefulness. 
Through his influence the greater part of the money was raised to pay for the 
board of trade building at the southwest corner of Douglas and Farnam streets. 
In the beginning the membership fee was $25. Shortly after Mr. Gibson was 
elected secretary in 1882 (for the second time) he suggested that the fee be 
increased to $125 for new members, and that each old member pay an additional 
Sioo into the treasury for the purchase of a lot and the erection of a building. 
In 1884 the lot was purchased from the city-for $i3';eGO'-.and the foundation 
of the building was laid at a cost of $io,OQO.\ The piropferty was then mortgaged 
for enough to complete the five-story structiife^^i "l-SSj;. When the new home 
was occupied the membership fee was raised to $5cxd. By the constitution the 
membership was limited to 250 and that number yvas reached about 1889 or 1890. 

For almost twenty years the board of tra-d-si .was an'active agent in the build- 
ing up of Omaha and the advancement of ifs"(50Timiercial interests. In limiting 
the number of members to 250 the founders of the organization did not take into 
consideration the probabilities of the marvelous growth that came to Omaha 
during the next twenty years. When the board of trade was formed in 1877 
the population was between twenty-five and thirty thousand. In 1890, including 
South Omaha, the population was nearly one hundred and fifty thousand, and as 
only 250 could belong to the board of trade, there were many active business men 
who were not permitted to assist in its work or participate in its benefits. The 
attention of those men was drawn toward other organizations and the board of 
trade finally went down. The building on the corner of Douglas and Farnam 
streets was sold, and in 1915 it was purchased by the First National Bank, which 
erected a fourteen-story office building upon the site. 


While primarily intended to advance the real estate interests of the city and 
inmiediate vicinity, the Omaha Real Estate Exchange did a good work for a few- 
years toward the promotion of the city's material welfare and the advertising 
of Omaha's opportunities abroad. It was organized in Novemljer. 1886, by eight 
of the leading real estate firms and dealers. Alvin Saunders, former governor of 
.Vebraska Territory, was elected the first president ; John T. Bell, vice presi- 
dent : David Jamieson, secretary ; J. W. Marshall, treasurer ; Frank L. Gregory, 


W. G. Shriver and J. S. Gibson, executive committee. The membership fee was 
$io and the number of members was limited to twenty-five, though it was after- 
ward increased to fifty. After the payment of the membership fee all subse- 
quent funds were raised by levying an assessment upon the members, and it is 
said that every assessment was promptly met. 

The first quarters occupied by the Exchange were at No. 15 19 Famam Street, 
but later the organization removed to a room in the Board of Trade Building. 
In the fall of 1889 the association was reorganized and leased a large room on 
the first floor of the New York Life (now the Omaha National Bank) Building. 
Here for several months meetings were held every day from 11 o'clock until 
noon, at which there was an open call of real estate offered for sale. These meet- 
ings were attended by all classes of citizens, particularly prospective buyers of 
Omaha real estate. Auction sales were held on Saturdays and at these sales 
a great deal of city property changed owners. 

During the four years of its existence the Real Estate Exchange carried on 
an extensive correspondence with people in all parts of the United States seek- 
ing information about Omaha, its opportunities for the investment of capital in 
business enterprises, etc. It discussed all movements for the promotion of Omaha 
and gave aid in a practical and substantial way to those considered worthy. But 
after awhile the members, or at least some of them, lost interest in the work and 
in 1890 the association was disbanded. 


Not long after the Real Estate Exchange disbanded, some of the owners of 
city property began to discuss the advisability of forming an association to pro- 
mote their mutual interests. In June, 1891, the Real Estate Owners' Association 
was organized with George H. Boggs, president; John T. Gathers, vice president; 
George P. Bemis, secretary ; Cadet Taylor, treasurer. As stated in the articles 
of association, the aims of the organization were "the upbuilding of the interests 
of the city, to encourage the location of new factories and other business enter- 
prises, and use all honorable means to secure for Omaha a good city govern- 
ment." Among the members of the association were many of the leading citizens 
and for several years it was a factor in advertising the advantages of Omaha to 
the people of other cities and states, aiding a number of plans for the general 
advancement of the municipal interests. Its quarters were in the New York Life 
Building, in the room formerly occupied by the Real Estate Exchange. 


This organization was formed in the early part of September, 1891. Some 
weeks before that a few Omaha manufacturers, after consulting with each 
other, issued a call for a meeting in the rooms of the Real Estate Owners' Asso- 
ciation. Among those who signed the call were D. Farrell & Company, refiners 
of syrup ; P. J. Ouealey Soap Company ; and the Rees Printing Company. Sam- 
uel Rees presided at the first meeting and L. M. Rheem acted as secretary. After 
an address by Hon. John M. Thurston, a committee was appointed to prepare a 


plan of pennaneiit organization and the meeting adjourned to September 26, 

At the adjourned meeting the committee reported in favor of an association 
to extend to all parts of the state and to be known as the "Manufacturers' and 
Consumers' Association of Nebraska." The report was adopted and the follow- 
ing officers were elected : W. A. Page, president ; I. S. Trostler, vice president ; 
A. J. Vierling, treasurer; H. J. Pickering, secretary. The last named resigned 
after a short service and was succeeded by A. D. Bradley. In May, 1892, the 
association was incorporated under the laws of Nebraska, with the above officers 
and the following board of directors : A. R. Dempster, of Beatrice ; T. F. Hum- 
mel, of Fremont; G. H. Edgerton, of Hastings; J. J. Bartlett, of Kearney; H. J. 
Hall, Lincoln; Carl Morton, Nebraska City; J. T. Robinson, Daniel Farrell, Jr.. 
Samuel Rees, H. B. Mulford, Charles Metz, W. R. Drummond, C. P. Gedney, 
E. P. Davis, P. J. Ouealey, Charles Coe, M. C. Peters, W. C. Smith, A. J. 
Rawitzer, J. F. Murphy, J. FL Evans, Aaron Chadwick, W. W. Cole, R. I>". 
Hodgin, George M. Tibbs, H. F. Cady and C. W. Thompson, of Omaha. The 
president, vice president and treasurer were also members of the board. 

The purpose of the association was to encourage the consumption of Nebraska 
products, as far as possible. It was organized on the theory that by building up 
the manufacturing interests of the cities, thereby increasing the population, a 
larger market would be afforded for the farmers of the state, which would enable 
them to purchase in larger quantities of the manufacturing establishments in the 
cities. To further this end an exposition was held by the association in June, 
1892, at which a large number of the products of the state — both agricultural and 
manufactured — were exhibited and a general interest awakened in the work of the 
association. But in course of time it was discovered that, while the theory of 
mutual interchange was a beautiful one, it was not practical and the organization 
gradually went down. 


In a statement recently issued by the Omaha Commercial Club is found the 
following: "The Commercial Club of Omaha is one of the strongest and most 
efficient commercial bodies in the United States. Scarcely a dozen clubs have a 
larger membership and few, if any, show such a variety of genuine achievement 
at the end of each year." 

A careful review of the history of the club bears out the above. The club was 
organized on June 30, 1893, by the election of Herman Kountze, president; W. 
A. L. Gibbon, chairman of the executive committee, and F. N. Clarke, secretary. 
The principal object of the club is to "stimulate, foster and protect the commer- 
cial and industrial activities of Omaha through cooperation on the part of its 
citizens." To accomplish this object the work of the organization is delegated 
in a great measure to the following standing committees : Banking and financial 
affairs, city health and hospitals, entertainment, finance, fruit marketing and 
development, good roads, grain interests, industrial, legislative, live stock and 
agriculture, manufacturers, membership, public and military afifairs, public wel- 
fare, municipal afifairs, pipe line and interurbans, railroad extension and iinprove- 


nient, retail trade, wholesale trade, river navigation, trade extension, water power 
development, new activities, and the house committee. 

A glance at this list of standing committees shows the wide scope of the 
club's work, and that it is not confined merely to the city's business enterprises, 
but applies to industries that extend over practically the entire state. To quote 
again from the statement above referred to : "The new activities committee acts 
as the eyes and ears of the club, looks for new things that may be initiated, sug- 
gests new lines of activity for the various committees, as well as analyzing com- 
plaints and suggestions from the members at large. In this way the governing 
body of the club is continually in touch with its members and learns the attitude 
of the rank and file on various activities in which the club is engaged, as well as 
to determine the demand for activity along new lines. The membership at large 
is in the last analysis in absolute control of the club's affairs. Any act of the 
executive committee which meets with disfavor may be taken before the member- 
ship for referendum vote, by securing the signatures of 15 per cent of the club's 

Affiliated with the club are a number of auxiliary organizations that are inter- 
ested in building up the business concerns and public institutions of Greater 
Omaha. First of these is the Bureau of Publicity, which has for its special func- 
tion the securing of publicity for the city throughout the State of Nebraska and 
the United States. It also has charge of all matters pertaining to conventions held 
in Omaha, securing fifty-seven during the year 191 5. Although closely allied to 
the Commercial Club, the Bureau of Publicity is supported without drawing on 
the club's treasury, thi April i, 1916, C. C. Rosewater was chairman of the 
bureau ; Rome Miller, vice chairman, and E. V. Parish, manager. 

Another auxiliary is the Traffic Bureau, which works in harmony with the 
club directorate by looking after the interests of the business men of the city 
in their relations with the railroads. Like the Bureau of Publicity, it is sep- 
arately financed, deriving its support from the large shippers, who receive the 
greatest benefits from its activities. This bureau is under the management of 
E. J. McVann. 

The Omaha Manufacturers' Association is also directly affiliated with the 
Commercial Club and has representation on the board of directors and the execu- 
tive committee. This association is composed of the leading manufacturers of 
tlie city, most of whom are also members of the Commercial Club. 

The governing body of the club is a board of directors consisting of seventy- 
five members, who are elected annually. Immediately after each election the 
board elects a president, secretary, treasurer and an executive committee of 
twenty-four members, to which the jjowers of the board are delegated. In order 
that the board of directors and the executive committee may be thoroughh- 
representative in character, the members of those governing bodies are so selected 
as to insure a proper representation of every class of business men — bankers, 
grain dealers, the professions, merchants, etc., thus ni.nking it practically impos- 
si!)le for any particular interest to gain control of the club and divert its influence 
to some special line of industry. This feature has been from the beginning one 
i;f the mainstays of the club's popularity and success. 

In the matter of securing legislation by the state for the betterment or advance- 
ment of Omaha and her institutions the club has always taken a deep interest. 



This was especially true during the session of the Legislature in 1915, when the 
Commercial Club was directly responsible for the enactment of the law providing 
for the consolidation of Omaha, South Omaha and Dundee. It was also influen- 
tial in securing the appropriation of $150,000 for the benefit of the State Hospital 
and in other important legislation. 

Other things that have been accomplished through the activity of the club 
are the placing of freight boats on the Missouri River between Omaha and 
Decatur, and more recently between Omaha and Kansas City ; it was active in 
securing the building of the handsome Grain Exchange, at the corner of Nine- 
teenth and Harney streets; led the campaign for the purchase of the Auditorium 
by the city; brought about the establishment of "Merchants' Market Weeks" in 
( )maha twice each year; aided in having the United States weather reports sent 
to almost every city of importance in the country for publication ; and in the 
spring of 1916 it began a mo\enient for the establishment of a Hay Exchange, to 
be conducted along lines similar to the Grain Exchange. 

The club is likewise inaugurating a constructive policy for the development 
of the water power of the state; urging legislation for the establishment of a 
State Highway Commission ; conducting constantly an active and systematic cam- 
paign for the location of new industries and business enterpirises in Omaha, in 
which it has been measurably successful ; and ende-ayoring to attract the building 
of interurban railways that will connect Omaha jvith tlie adjacent towns and the 
surrounding country, thus adding to the city's importance as a market center. 

During the twenty-three years of its existence the Commercial Club has 
"learned how." From the time that it wielded its iwiluenpe to secure for Omaha 
the Trans-Mississippi Exposition of i898j__[tiia|li[^ri; etig^aged in constructive 
nork, which has always been conducted with such persistence and intelligence 
that few such organizations in the Union can show as good results. The success 
of the club in whatever it has undertaken has attracted new members, until at the 
beginning of the year 1916 the enrollment was 1,650, and in the spring following 
a campaign was started to make the membership reach 2,000 before the first of 
January, 1917. The officers of the club on April i. 1916, were : J. A. Sunderland, 
jiresident; H. F. Wyman, secretary; T. A. Fry, treasurer; Robert li. Manley, 
commissioner; Randall K. Brown, chairman of the executive committee. 


In the city there are a number of special trade associations, each devoted to the 
advancement or conservation of some particular line of business. The Live 
Stock Exchange, the purposes of which are described in another chapter, was 
organized in 1889. On April i, 1916, the ofiicers of this association were as 
follows : G. J. Ingwersen, president ; \V. B. Tagg, vice president ; A. F. Stryker, 
secretary and traffic manager; E. P. Melady, treasurer. The Traders Exchange, 
the headquarters of which are at the Union Stock Yards, is similar in character 
to the above. James H. Bulla was president of this association in April, 1916: 
F. C. Kellogg, vice president; C. F. Hantzinger, secretary and treasurer. The 
Builders Exchange,, an organization devoted to the building trades, has its main 
office in the Barker Block, corner of Fifteenth and Farnam streets. At the 
beginning of the year 1916 J. J. Toms was president; F. S. Hamilton, vice presi- 


dent; Clark Shelly, secretary; O. F. Nelson, treasurer. The Retail Grocers 
Association has an office at 679 Brandeis Theater IJuildini,^ where the secretary, 
J. J. Cameron, is always on hand during business hours to look after the interests 
of the members, and the Retail Credit Men's Association maintains its head- 
quarters on the third floor of the Ware Block, at the southeast comer of Fifteenth 
and Farnam streets. At the beginning of the year 1916 C. E. Cory was president 
and F. L. Kernan, secretary of the Retail Credit Men's Association. There are 
a few other special trade organizations of this nature that might be classed as 
commercial bodies, but their operations are confined to individual lines of business 
and they do not exert a wide influence upon the commercial or industrial affairs 
of the city in a general way. Alany of the members of these special associations also 
belong to the Commercial Club, where they find ample opportunity to work for 
the promotion of the welfare of Omaha along broader lines than in their trade 







The Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition, held at Omaha in 1898, 
was the outgrowth of the Trans-Mississippi Congress, which held its first meeting 
at St. Louis, Mo., in the faU of 1894. It was composed of delegates holding 
credentials from the governors of the states west of the Mississippi River and 
from mayors of the larger cities. The purpose of this congress was to discuss 
and secure the adoption of measures designed to promote the commercial and 
material interests of the region they represented. During the sessions various 
subjects were discussed, but the congress finally adjourned to meet in Omaha 
the follovving year without having accomplished anything definite as to methods 
to be pursued in advertising to the world the great advantages of the countrj' west 
of the Mississippi. 

In the latter part of November, 1895, the second congress assembled in Omaha. 
A committee of five was appointed to prepare resolutions and William J. Ilryan, 
spokesman of the committee, presented the following: 

"Whereas, We believe that an exposition of all the products, industries and 
civilization of the states west of the ^lississippi River, made at some central 
gateway where the world can behold the wonderful capabilities of these great 
wealth-producing states, would be of great value, not only to the Trans-Mississip])i 
.States, but to all the homeseekers of the world; therefore, 

"Resolved, That the United States Congress be requested to take such steps 
as may be necessary to hold a Trans-Mississippi Exposition at Omaha during the 
months of August, September and October, in the year 1898, and that the 
representatives of such states and territories in Congress be requested to favor 
such an appropriation as is usual in such cases to assist in carrying out this 

After some discussion the resolution was adopted and the delegates returned 
to their respective states, where they went to work to carrj- out its intention. 
Thus the Trans-Mississippi Congress paved the way for the exposition which was 
held at Omaha from June to November, 1898. The citizens of Omaha formed 
a temporary organization, which was afterward made permanent, and in January, 



1896, the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition Association was incor- 
porated with a capital stock of Si,ooo,ooo, of which $553,415 was pledged by over 
six thousand stockholders. Gurdon \V. Wattles was chosen president; Alvin 
Saunders, resident vice president; Herman Kountze, treasurer; John A. Wake- 
field, secretary ; and Carroll S. Montgomery, general counsel. 

An executive committee was appointed, each member of which was placed in 
charge of a department, to wit : Zachary T. Lindsey, ways and means ; Edward 
Rosewater, publicity; I'>eeman P. Kirkendall, grounds and buildings; Gilbert M. 
Hitchcock, promotion ; Edward E. Bruce, exhibits ; Abraham L. Reed, concessions 
and privileges; William N. Babcock, transportation. On July 9, 1897, Mr. Hitch- 
cock resigned and the department of promotion was consolidated with tliat of 
publicity under Mr. Rosewater. 

In the articles of incorjDoration it was provided that each state and territory 
west of the Mississippi should appoint a vice president. William Neville, of 
North Platte, was appointed vice president for Nebraska, and the following 
board of women managers was selected: Omaha — Mrs. W. W. Keysor, Mrs. 
W. P. Harford, Mrs. E. A. Cudahy, Mrs. Stella R. Feil, and Misses Anna Foos, 
Kate McHugh, Alice Hitte and Orietta Chittenden ; South Omaha — Mrs. E. B. 
Towle and Mrs. A. A. Monroe; Council Bluffs— Mrs. Edith M. E. Reed and Mrs. 
Sarah C. Key; First Congressional District — Mrs. A. J. Sawyer and Mrs. A. W. 
Field, of Lincoln ; Second District — Mrs. Omar Whitney, of Elk City, and Miss 
Helen Chase, of Papillion ; Third District— Mrs. D. C. (Hffert, of West Point, 
and Mrs. Nettie K. Hollenbeck, of Fremont; Fourth District— Mrs. K. L. Dutton 
and Miss Hattie Fyft'e. of Hastings; Fifth District— Mrs. J. !!. McDowell, of Fair- 
bury, and Mrs. F. Johnson, of Crete; Sixth District — Mrs. C. L. Kerr, of Ansley, 
and Mrs. Hattie Hunter, of Broken Bow. Mrs. Sawyer was chosen president of 
the board and jMrs. Frances M. Ford, of Omaha, secretary. 

The United States Government also appointed commissioners representing the 
different departments as follows: J. H. Brigham, department of agriculture, 
president of the commission; W'. H. Michael, state department: C. E. Kemper, 
treasury department; F. W. Clarke, interior department; Frank Strong, depart- 
ment of justice; J. B. Brownlow. postoffice department; Captain Henry C. Ward, 
war department; Lieut.-Com. L. C. Logan, navy department; F. W. True, 
Smithsonian Institution; William deC. Ravenel. fish commission; Lieutenant H. 
C. McLellan, life-saving station. 


On January 3, i8g6. Senator W'illiam ^'. Allen introduced in the United States 
Senate a bill "To authorize and encourage the holding of a Trans-Mississippi 
and Intemational Exposition at the City of Omaha, in the year 1898, and making 
an appropriation therefor." The bill was referred to a special committee, of 
which John M. Thurston was chairman. 

In the house of representativ^es Congressman David 11. .Mercer, of the Omaha 
District, introduced a bill on February 17, 1896, making an appropriation of 
$500,000 for the exposition. This bill was not received with the favor that its 
author anticipated, some members of the house suggesting that the directors of 
the exposition pledge themselves to raise a similar sum. The directors sent word 


to Senators Allen and Thurston that they were ready to give the pledge, but the 
Mercer bill was side-tracked in favor of the senate bill, which carried an 
appropriation of $250,000, on condition that the exposition officials would raise 
the same amount. The bill was approved by President Cleveland on June 10, 189b. 
During the month of February, 1897, the department of promotion sent 
rxcursions to the capital cities of several of the Trans-Mississippi States to lay 
the matter of the exposition project before state officials and such legislatures as 
might be in session. One of these excursions visited various cities in Kansas, 
Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and California. Another 
visited Minnesota, North and South Dakota, and a third visited Missouri, Arkan- 
sas, Texas and Oklahoma, going as far south as the City of Mexico. Through the 
missionary work done by this department, the following state appropriations were 
made : 

Nebraska $100,000 

Illinois 45,000 

Iowa 30,000 

Montana 30,000 

Georgia 10,000 

Utah 8,000 

Ohio 3,000 

New York 10,000 

Territory of Arizona 2,000 

Total $238,000 

Added to this, Douglas County, Nebraska, gave $100,000 and the City of 
Omaha raised $30,000, the latter sum being spent in preparing the grounds. One- 
half of Montana's appropriation was donated by Marcus Daly, of Butte. In 
several states that failed to make appropriations considerable sums were raised 
by private subscriptions among the citizens, to wit : 

Minnesota $ 30,000 

Kansas 22,000 

South Dakota 5,000 

Wisconsin 25,000 

Oregon io,ooo 

Washington 1 5,000 

Oklahoma 5,000 

New Mexico ■ 3,000 

Wyoming 1 5,000 

Los Angeles County, California 10,000 

Missouri 15,000 

Colorado 10,000 

Texas 10,000 

Total $175,000 

This made a grand total of $543,000 raised by state and county appropria- 
tions and private donations. The department of ways and means secured subscrip- 


tions to the capital slock amounting to $625,962.70, of which about 88 per cent 
or $550,847.17, was collected. 


The grounds selected by the association for the exposition consisted of three 
tracts, aggregating 184 acres, about a mile north of Omaha's main business 
district. The "Kountze Tract," on which were erected the principal buildings, 
is bounded by Sherman Avenue on the east ; Pratt Street on the north ; Twenty- 
fourth Street on the west, and Pinkney Street on the south. Just east of this 
and across Sherman Avenue lay the "Bluff Tract," where were located the music 
pavilion, the horticultural building and the several state buildings. Through the 
northern part of this tract wound the serpentine street of foreign villages, crossing 
the Sherman Avenue viaduct, to the "Oak Chatham Tract," where the live stock 
exhibits, althletic park and most of the concessions were located. The total 
amount expended by the association for buildings was $564,616.59. State 
buildings were erected by Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Kansas, Wiscon- 
sin, Montana, Georgia and New York. As a rule, the state buildings were for 
meeting places for the visitors from the states represented, though in some of 
them there were special or private exhibits, loaned by individuals or made by 

Twenty-two states and territories that did not go to the expense of erecting 
buildings of their own, made exhibits of their products. They were: Alabama, 
Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Indian Territory, Louis- 
iana, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, 
Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. 

At the west end of the Kountze tract directly in front of the Twenty-fourth 
Street entrance, stood the Government Building, 504 feet in length by 150 feet in 
depth, in which was placed the Government exhibit, consisting chiefly of historic 
relics, portraits and autograph letters of prominent American and foreign states- 
men, diplomats, etc., swords carried by Washington and Jackson, Jefferson's little 
writing desk, upon which he is said to have written the first draft of the Declara- 
tion of Independence, and a large number of interesting articles. The various 
Government departments also made exhibits. The dome of this building was 
surmounted by a statue of "Liberty enlightening the World," the torch being 17S 
feet above the pavement. 

.A.long the east side of the Kountze tract were the buildings devoted to 
mines, agriculture and machinery, and along the west side were the manufacturing 
and art buildings and some smaller structures. The horticultural building, located 
on the Bluff tract, has already been mentioned, and on the Oak Chatham, or 
north, tract was the transportation and agricultural implement building, the 
largest one erected by the association, covering five acres. One of the noticeable 
features of the exposition was the "Arch of States," which formed the grand 
entrance at Sherman Avenue. It was fifty feet wide, twenty-five feet deep and 
sixty-eight feet in height. Above the main arch was a broad frieze bearing the 
coat-of-arms of the Trans-Mississippi States, and in the curved wings extending 
from either side were the main ticket offices. 



It was planned to open the exposition precisely at twelve o'clock, noon, on 
June I, 1898, but as usual on such occasions, some delays occurred. At 10:30 
A. M. a line of parade was formed down tow^n, the right of the column resting 
on Sixteenth and Douglas streets, and moved to the exposition grounds. There 
the program was as follows : 

Jubilee Overture by the United States Marine Band. 

Prayer by Reverend Samuel J. Niccolls, of St. Louis. 

Address by Gurdon W. Wattles, President of the Exposition. 

Song of Welcome by the Trans-Mississippi Chorus of 150 voices. 

Address by John L. Webster, of Omaha. 

Address by John N. Baldwin, of Council Bluffs, Iowa. 

Music, "The Voice of Our Nation," United States Marine Band. 

Address by Governor Silas A. Holcomb, of Nebraska. 

Starting of the Machinery by President McKinley. 

Music, "America," United States Marine Band, Chorus and Audience. 

It was 12:15 P. M. when Director William F. Santleman of the United States 
Marine Band raised his baton and the first notes of the Jubilee Overture greeted 
the ears of the assembled multitude. Fifteen minutes later President William 
McKinley, in the Executive Mansion at Washington, D. C, pressed the button that 
started the machinery. The Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition was 
open. Standing with the President in the Executive Mansion were Senators 
John M. Thurston and William V. Allen, of Nebraska ; the Nebraska representa- 
tives in Congress — David H. Mercer, Samuel Maxwell, W. A. Stark, R. D. 
Sutherland and W. L. Greene — and a number of other prominent persons. The 
total admissions on the opening day were 27,998. 


According to the custom adopted by great expositions in the past, certain days 
were designated for the various states participating, high officials, etc. The special 
days observed by the Trans-Mississippi Exposition were as follows: June 14, 
1898, Nebraska Day, also Flag Day; June 18, Wisconsin Day; June 21, Illinois 
Day ; June 22, Kansas Day ; June 23, Iowa Dedication Day ; July 4, Independence 
Day; July 11, Massachusetts Day; July 14, Children's Day; July 20, Minnesota 
Day; August 4, Indian Day; August 5, Flower Day; August 10, Red Men's Day; 
August 18, Texas Day; August 24, Nebraska Editors' Day; August 27, Bohemian 
Day; September 3, National Editorial Association Day; September 5, Labor Day; 
September 16, Oklahoma Day; September 30, Georgia Day; October 5, Pennsyl- 
vania Day ; October 7, Ohio Day ; October 8, New York Day. 

There were also days set apart for certain fraternal organizations and some 
of the principal cities of the Middle West and named for such orders or cities. 
The week from October 10 to 15, 1898, was known as the "Jubilee Week," during 
which there was a Mayors' Day. a Governors' Day, President's Day, Army and 


Navy Day and Civil Government Day, each uf which was distinguished by special 

October 12, 1898, was President's Day. President McKinley and his escort 
arrived at Omaha at 8 P. M., October nth, and the party were conveyed in 
carriages to the City Hall, the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben, in their tmiforms, acting 
as the escort of honor. After visiting the mayor of the city, the President was 
taken to the Omaha Club, where a banqtiet was served. The members of the 
Omaha Club had tendered the use of their club house to the President during his 
stay in the city, and he and his cabinet officers accepted the invitation to make 
it their headc^uarters. 

The largest number of admissions in any one day was on October u, 1898, 
the day the President visited the exposition, 98,845 people passing through the 
gates. President McKinley and the other distinguished guests of the day arrived 
at 10:30 A. M. and found the Second Nebraska Regiment, which had just returned 
from the Spanish-American war, drawn up in two lines from the entrance to the 
grand stand on the grand plaza, where the following program was carried out : 

Music by Innes' Band. 

Invocation by Reverend John ilcOuoid. 

Address by President Gurdon W. Wattles. 

Address by President McKinley. 

Music by Innes' Band. 

Address by Postmaster-General, Charles Emory Smith. 

Music by Innes' Band. 

PRESIDENT Mckinley's speech 

"Gentlemen of the Trans-Mississippi Exposition and b~ellow Citizens: It is 
with genuine pleasure that I meet once more the people of Omaha, whose wealth 
of welcome is not altogether unfamiliar to me and whose warm hearts have before 
touched and moved me. For this renewed manifestation of your regard and for 
the cordial reception of today my heart responds with profound gratitude and a 
deep appreciation which I cannot conceal, and which the language of compliment 
is inadequate to convey. My greeting is not alone to your city and the State of 
Nebraska, but to the people of all the states of the Trans-Mississippi group par- 
ticipating here, and I cannot withhold congratulations on the evidences of their 
]irosperity furnished by this great exposition. If testimony were needed to 
establish the fact that their pluck has not deserted them and tliat prosperity is 
again with them it is found here. This picture dispels all doubt. 

"In an age of expositions they have added yet another magnificent example. 
The historical celebrations at Philadelphia and Chicago, and the splendid exhibits 
at New Orleans, Atlanta and Nashville are now a part of the past, and yet in 
influence they still live, and their beneficent results are closely interwoven with 
our national development. Similar rewards will honor the authors and patrons 
of the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition. Their contribution will 
mark another epoch in the nation's material advancement. 

"One of the great laws of life is progress, and nowhere have the principles of 
this law been so strikingly illustrated as in the United States. .\ century and a 


decade of our national life have turned doubt into conviction; changed experinieni 
into demonstration ; revolutionized old methods and won new triumphs which have 
challenged the attention of the world. This is true not only of the accumulation 
of material wealth and advance in education, science, invention and manufactures, 
Init above all in the ojjportunities to the people for their own elevation which 
have been secured by wise free government. 

"Hitherto, in peace and in war, with additions to our territory and slight 
changes in our laws, we have steadily enforced the spirit of the constitution 
secured to us by the noble self-sacrifice and far-seeing sagacity of our ancestors. 
We have avoided the temptations of conquest and the spirit of gain. With an 
increasing love for our institutions and an abiding faith in their stability, we have 
made the triumphs of our system of government, in the progress and prosperity 
of our people, an ins])iration to the whole human race. Confronted at this moment 
by new and grave problems, we must recognize that their solution will aiTect 
not ourselves alone, but others of the family of nations. 

"In this age of frequent interchange and mutual dependency, we cannot shirk 
our international responsibilities if we would ; they must be met with courage and 
wisdom and we must follow duty, even if desire opposes. No deliberation can 
be too mature, or self-control too constant, in this solemn hour of our history. 
We must avoid the temptation of undue aggression and aim to secure only such 
results as will promote our own and the general good. 

"It has been said by some one that the normal condition of nations is war. 
That is not true of the United States. We never enter upon war until every etifort 
for peace without it has been exhausted. Ours has never been a military govern- 
ment. Peace, with whose blessings we have been so singularly favored, is the 
national desire and the goal of every American aspiration. 

"On the 25th of April, for the first time for more than a gene'ration. the United 
States sounded the call to arms. The banners of war were unfurled; the 
best and bravest from every section responded ; a mighty army was enrolled ; the 
North and the South vied with each other in patriotic devotion ; science was 
invoked to furnish its most effective weapons ; factories were rushed to supply 
equipment; the youth and the veteran joined in freely offering their services to 
their country; volunteers and regulars and all the people rallied to the support 
of the Republic ; there was no break in the line, no halt in the march, no fear in 
the heart. No resistance to the patriotic impulse at home, no successful resistance 
to the patriotic spirit of the troops fighting in distant waters or on a foreign 
shore ! • 

"What a wonderful experience it has been from the standpoint of iiatriotism 
and achievement ! The storm broke so suddenly that it was here almost before 
we realized it. Our navy was too small, though forceful with its modern equip- 
ment and most fortunate in its trained officers and sailors. Our armv had years 
ago been reduced to a peace footing. We had only nineteen thousand available 
troops when the war was declared, but the account which officers and men gave 
of themselves on the liattlefields has never been surpassed. The manhood wa.i 
there and everywhere, .\merican patriotism was there and its resources were 
limitless. The courageous and invincible spirit of the people proved glorious, and 
those who a little more than a third of a century, ago were divided and at war 
with each other were again united under the holy standard of liberty. Patriotism 


banished party feeling; fifty million dollars for the national defense were appro- 
priated without debate or division, as a matter of course, and as only a mere 
indication of our mighty reserve power. 

"But if this is true of the beginning of the war what shall we say of it now, 
with hostilities suspended and peace near at hand, as we fervently hope? Matchless 
in its results ! Uneqauled in its completeness and the quick succession with which 
victory followed victory! Attained earlier than it was believed to be possible; 
so comprehensive in its sweep that every thoughtful man feels the weight of 
responsibility which has been so suddenly thrust upon us. And above all, and 
beyond all, the valor of the American army and the bravery of the American navy, 
and the majesty of the American name stand forth in unsullied glory, while the 
humanity of otir purposes, the magnanimity of our conduct have given to war, 
always horrible, touches of noble generosity. Christian sympathy and charity, and 
examples of human grandeur which can never be lost to mankind. Passions and 
bitterness formed no part of our impelling motive, and it is gratifying to feel that 
humanity triumphed at every step of the war's progress. 

"The heroes of Manila and Santiago and Porto Rico have made immortal 
history. They are worthy successors and descendants of Washington and Greene ; 
of Paul Jones, Decatur and Hull; of Grant, Sherman, Sheridan and Logan; of 
Farragut, Porter and Gushing, and of Lee, Jackson and Longstreet. New names 
stand out on the honor roll of the nation's great men, and with them, unnamed, 
stand the heroes of the trenches and the forecastle, invincible in battle and uncom- 
plaining in death. The intelligent, loyal, indomitable soldier and sailor and the 
marine reg^tlar and volunteer are entitled to equal praise as having done their 
whole duty, whether at home or under the baptism of foreign fire. 

"Who will dim the splendor of their achievements ? Who will withhold from 
them their well earned distinction? Who will intrude detraction at this time to 
belittle the manly spirit of the American youth and impair the usefulness of the 
American army? Who will embarrass the Government by sowing seeds of dis- 
satisfaction among the brave men who stand ready to serve and die, if need be, 
for their country? Who will darken the counsels of the Republic in this hour 
requiring the united wisdom of all? Shall we deny to ourselves what the rest 
of the world so freely and so justly accord to us? The men who endured in the 
short but decisive struggle its hardships, its privations, whether in field or camp, 
on ship or in the siege, and planned and achieved its victories, will never tolerate 
impeachment, either direct or indirect, of those who won a peace whose great 
gain to civilization is yet unknown and unwritten. 

"The faith of a Christian nation recognizes the hand of Almighty God in the 
ordeal through which we have passed. Divine favor seems manifest everywhere. 
In fighting for humanity's sake we have been signally blessed. We did not seek 
war. To avoid it, if this could be done in justice and honor to the rights of our 
neighbors and ourselves, was our constant prayer. The war was no more invited 
by us than were the questions which are laid at our door by its results. Now, as 
then, we will do our duty. The problems will not be solved in a day. Patience 
will be required ; patience combined with sincerity of purpose and unshaken reso- 
lution to do right, seeking only the highest good of a nation and recognizing no 
other obligation, pursuing no other path but that of duty. 

"Right action follows right purpose. We may not at all times be able to divine 


the future, the way may not always seem clear; but if our aims are high and 
unselfish, somehow and in some way the right end will be reached. The genius of 
the nation, its freedom, its wisdom, its humanity, its courage, its justice, favored 
by Divine Providence, will make it equal to every task and the master of every 

The President left Omaha early on the morning of the 13th and that day was 
Army and Navy Day, the principal address being made by Gen. Nelson A. Miles, 
and on the next day — Civil Government Day — Gen. William R. Shafter was 
the principal speaker. 


The last week of the exposition was designated as Railroad Week, when the 
various railroads centering at Omaha made low excursion rates which gave several 
thousand people an opportunity to visit the exposition, and the last day of the 
exposition was set apart as Omaha Day. Mayor Moores issued a proclamation 
setting forth the many advantages that the city had received from the exposition 
and declaring that day an official holiday. He recommended that all places of 
business be closed and that every citizen of Omaha attend the exposition if 
possible. The board of education ordered the public schools closed and many of 
the employers of labor distributed admission tickets among their employees. The 
result of all these combined efforts was that the attendance on that day was the 
second largest in the history of the exposition, 61,236 people visiting the numerous 
exhibits and making the holiday one of general enjoyment. At midnight the 
gates were closed for the last time and the Trans-Mississppi and International 
Exposition passed into history. 


By direction of President McKinley the state department extended invitations 
to the rulers of foreign countries to participate in the exposition. With the 
exception of Mexico, none of these countries took any official action, but some 
fifty French manufacturers organized an exposition commission and that country 
was represented by a fine display of French products. Italy sent forty-five 
e:xhibitors; Russia, Switzerland, Denmark, Austria, England, Germany and 
Canada were all represented ; Charles Denby, then the United States Minister to 
China, was active in promoting the exposition and the result of his labors was an 
interesting Chinese exhibit. No attempt has been made in this chapter to describe 
in detail any of the exhibits, either foreign or domestic, for the reason that justice 
could not be done to the subject in less than a volume. In fact, a volume of 
nearly five hundred pages was published some years after the exposition, describ- 
ing the various features and general history of the enterprise. Most of the facts 
in this chapter have been taken from that volume. 


Everybody visited the "Midway," which began near the main entrance on 
Sherman Avenue and ran north to Oak Chatham Tract, where it turned west, 


Mjiilli of till- Athletic i'ark. Along this thoroughfare were gathered the ainuse- 
nieiit features of the exposition, such as the Streets of all Nations, the Moorish 
i'alace, German and Chinese villages, the Japanese Tea Garden, Hagenbeck's 
Trained Animal Show, numerous optical illusions, etc. The manager of conces- 
sions re])orted the aggregate receipts from the attractions of the Midway as 


One of the most interesting features of the great exposition was the Indian 
encampment. It was also one that was missed by the early visitors. Soon after 
the e.xposition association was organized an effort was made to have the I'ederal 
Go\ernment cooperate in holding an Indian congress, but it was not until July 1, 
iS(;8, thai President McKinley approved a bill appropriating $40,000 and author- 
izing the gathering of representatives of the Trans-Mississippi tribes at the 
exposition. A few days later Captain W. A. Mercer, of the Eighth United States 
Infantry, and J. R. Wise, a clerk in the office of the commissioner of Indian 
affairs, were appointed to superintend the installation of the Indian encampment 
at the grounds. 

Captain Mercer was at that time acting agent of the Omaha and Winnebago 
agency in Nebraska, hence it was an easy matter to secure a number of these 
Indians for the encampment. \\ ith persistent effort and unwonted energ)-, 
Indians belonging to the Sioux, Apache, Kiowa, J^lathcad, Sac and Fo.x, Wichita, 
Crow and iSlackfeet, as well as some minor tribes, were secured and brought to 
Omaha, and on August 4. 1898, the Indian congress was opened, occupying about 
four acres of groinul in the north tract. The Indian feasts and dances, the sham 
battles, the souvenirs made and sold by the inhabitants of the camp were all 
highly a])preciated by the thousands of visitors who witnessed this curious exhibit 
and carried the souvenirs with them to their homes. Geronimo, the Apache 
chieftain, who but a few years before had caused the white men so much trouble 
on the western frontier, was one of the Indians in attendance and "turned many 
an honest ])enny by selling his autograph and pictures.'" 

.\n interesting and <lramatic incident connected with the presence of the 
Indians at the ex])osition was the meeting between General Miles and Geronimo. 
C.)ne day during the Jubilee Week the Indians were lined up for review and 
General Miles and his staff' occupied seats in the grand stand. The officers in 
charge of the Indians noticed that Geronimo was restless, looking up into the 
grand stand as th(jugh trying to locate some one. .\t last he caught sight of 
(General Miles and recognized him. Dismounting from his j)ony, he started for 
the seats, brushing away the people as he passed, and finally reached the general's 
side. He extended his hand and in his limited English said : "How, General, 1 
am glad to see you." Miles had captured Geronimo some years before and had 
dictated the terms of surrender. When he saw his old enemy by his side he 
w;is somewhat .surprised, but as he reached out to take the old chief's extended 
hand it was (|uickly withdrawn and Geronimo threw his arms about the general. 
-\liles returned the embrace and for a few minutes they stood thus, neither 
uttering a word. Then Geronimo grasped both the general's hands and pumped 
them U]i and down vigorously several times. General !^Iiles then took from his 


coat a Peace Jubilee badge and pinned it on tlic blue uniform worn by the chief, 
who looked at it for a moment and exclaimed "Good." When the great audience 
learned the true meaning of Geronimo's greeting a great cheer went up, to which 
the Indians responded with another cheer that was carried to the most remote 
parts of the camp. The old chief then was given a chair near that of General 
Miles and the two warriors watched the sham battle that followed, thinking, no 
doubt, of another battle in which they had taken part, and which was no sham 
affair, but a stern reality. 


During the exposition nearly one hundred con\entions and congresses of 
societies, lodges, etc., were held in Omaha. The delegates to these conventions all 
visited the exposition and upon their return home carried a good report of Omaha 
as a great city. These con\entions were one of the features of the exposition 

The total number of admissions from June i to October 31, i8yS, was 
2,613,508, and the total admission receipts were $801,515.47. The total receipts 
from all sources were $1,977,338.69. In a statement issued at the close of the 
exposition. Secretary John A. Wakefield said: "This was the first exposition in 
America promptly to open its gates to the public on a completed show (jn the 
day and hour originally appointed; the first to open free from mortgage or ]iledge 
of all or some of its gate receipts ; the first to make money each and e\ ery month of 
the exposition season, and the first to repay its stockholders any considerable 
l)ortion of the funds advanced by them. In these respects the Trans-Mississippi 
and International Exposition stands without a rival." 

The general eft'ects of the exposition upon the Gity of Omaha and the West 
were thus summed up by President Gurdon W. Wattles in his address on October 
31, 1898, the last day of the exposition: "To this city the exposition has been 
like a rain in a drouth. It has put new life and energy in all our business interests, 
in the clearings of our banks, in the business of our merchants ; to the values of our 
real estate, to the fabrics of our factories, it has brought a new and life-giving 
influence. Our people have forgotten the evils of panic and depression in the 
enjoyment of the beauties and pleasures so abundant on these grounds. To 
the state and the entire West it has given a new standing among the people of the 
East and far-away countries, which will influence immigration and investment 
in all future years. The greatest benefits are still to come, when visitors from 
less favored climes have time to think of and publish the good impressions they 
have received of the country represented here. The future historians of the 
West will record great impetus given in the develoimient of all dejiartments of 
its industries bv this great ex]iosition." 






One of the first problems to confront the settlers in a new country is to provide 
ways and means of educating their children. The young people who enjoy the 
advantages offered by the excellent public schools of Omaha and Douglas County 
in this year 1916 can hardly be expected to realize how difficult was the solution 
of this problem when their grandfathers came to Nebraska in 1854. Without 
public funds with which to build school houses and pay teachers, the pioneers 
were wholly dependent upon themselves. When a sufficient number had located 
within a reasonably small radius of each other they would cooperate in the 
building of a school house that would be situated at some central point, where it 
would be most convenient for the children. The early school house was almost 
invariably of logs, with clapboard roof, and often had no floor except "mother 
earth." Window glass was a luxury on the frontier, but if sufficient money could 
be raised, and the distance to the nearest trading post was not too great, the 
schoolhouse would have a real window on each side. But if money was very 
scarce, or the trading post too far away, a section of a log would be left out of 
the structure on either side, a frame-work of light sticks fitted to the aperture, 
and over these sticks would be drawn a strip of muslin or oiled paper, which 
would admit enough light on ordinarily bright days to enable the pupils to study 
their lessons. 

The furniture of the school room was as primitive in character as the building. 
Seats were made in the form of long benches by splitting in halves a log of some 
eight or ten inches in diameter, driving pins into holes bored with a large auger 
in the half-round side for legs, and then smoothing the upper surface with a 
draw-knife. The legs of the bench were placed at an angle that would insure 
stability, and upon these rude seats the children sat in long rows as they studied 
the old blue-backed Webster's spelling book, McGuffey's or Wilson's reader, 
Pike's, Daboll's or Ray's arithmetic, and, in some of the more aristocratic districts. 
Kirkham's or Butler's grammer and OIney's or Mitchell's geography. Under 
the window was the writing desk, formed by driving stout jiins into holes bored 



in one of the logs to support a wide board for a tabic, and here the pupils would 
take their turns at writing. 

The pioneer teacher was rarely a graduate of a higher institution of learning 
and with very few exceptions had made no special preparation for his work. If 
he could spell well, read well, write plainly enough to "set copies" for the children 
to follow, and "do all the sums"' in the arithmetic up to and including the "Rule 
of Three," he was considered as qualified to teach. There was one qualification, 
however, that could not be overlooked in the teacher of that early period. He was 
required to have sufficient physical strength and courage to hold the boisterous 
boys in subjection and maintain order in his school. Pete Jones, one of the 
school directors in Eggleston's story of the Hoosier Schoolmaster, was a believer 
in the truth of saying: "No lickin", no larnin'," and the pioneer pedagogue went 
on the theory that "to spare the rod was to spoil the child." Not many children 
were spoiled, for at the beginning of the term a bundle of tough switches were 
displayed to the best advantage in the schoolroom as a sort of prophylactic. If 
the mere sight of these switches failed to hold the mischievous boy in check and 
prevent him from committing some infraction of the numerous "rules," a vigor- 
ous application of one of them generally had the tendency to cure his frolicsome 
disposition, even though it did not increase his affection for his teacher. 

To be a good speller was considered the foundation of an education. Conse- 
quently more attention was given to orthography during the child's early school 
days than to any other branch of study. Friday afternoons were usually devoted 
to spelling contests and spelling schools of evenings were of frequent occurrence. 
In the evening exercises the parents would nearly always take part, especially 
those who deemed themselves good spellers. Two "captains" would be selected 
to "choose up," the one who won the first choice selecting the person he regarded 
as the best speller present, the other the next best, and so on until all who desired 
to participate were arranged into two opposing lines. Then the match was on. 
The teacher "gave out" the words from side to side alternately. When one 
missed a word he took his seat and the one who stood longest was proclaimed the 
victor. To "spell down" a whole school district was quite an achievement. 

After the child could spell fairly well he was taught to read. Then came the 
writing lessons. The copy-books of that day bore no lithographed line at the top 
for the boy or girl to imitate. They were generally of the "home-made" variety — 
a few sheets of foolscap paper covered with a sheet of heavy wrapping paper. 
At the top of the page the teacher would "set the copy," a line often intended to 
convey a moral lesson as well as to give the pupil a specimen of penmanship, 
such as "Evil communications corrupt good manners," "Procrastination is the 
thief of time," etc. And, when one stops to consider that the term of school 
was seldom over three months, that the same teacher hardly ever taught two 
terms in succession in the same place, and that each teacher had a different 
style of penmanship, it is a wonder that the young folks of that day learned to 
write as well as many of them did. 

Next came arithmetic. In the pronunciation of this word the sound of the 
initial letter was often dropped and it was called 'rithmetic. This gave rise to the 
expression "the three Rs," Readin', Ritin' and 'Rithmetic being the three great 
essentials of a practical education. If one understood "the three Rs" he was 
equipped for the great battle of life, so far as ordinary business transactions were 


concerned. The family lliat desired better education for their children were 
spoken of as having •■highfalutin' " notions and too good to associate with 
common folks. 

But the three score years that have elapsed since the first white people settled 
in Douglas County have witnessed great changes, and the educational develop- 
ment has kept step with industrial and civic progress. Instead of the old school- 
house of logs, sod, or Cottonwood boards, with its crude furniture, stately edifices 
of brick or stone have Ijeen erected. Steam heating apparatus, or a warm air 
furnace, has superseded the old fireplace or the box stove. The teacher now 
must show fitness and training for his calling. The bundle of '■gads'" is no 
lono-er kept on exhibition as a .warning to evil doers, and corporal punishment is 
no longer regarded as a necessary part of the educational system. Yet, under 
the old regime, professional men who afterward rose to eminence and achieved 
world-wide reputations, great jurists, United States senators, inventors and scien- 
tists, whose discoveries have startled the world, and even presidents of the 
United States acquired their rudimentary education in the old log schoolhouse. 
Many such men are yet living and their memories treasure hallowed recollections 
of the old district school. 


Probably the first school in what is now the State of Nebraska was the one 
opened by Samuel Allis and Reverend John Dunbar in 1834, at a place called 
Council Point, some distance up the Platte River, for the purpose of educating 
the Pawnee Indians. The school was broken up by the hostile Sioux and Mr. 
Allis went to Bellevue, where an Indian mission had been established the year 
before by Reverend Moses Merrill. At Bellevue Mr. .\llis opened a school for the 
Indian children, though it was attended by a few whites. Bellevue was within 
the limits of Douglas County as at first established and the Allis School was the 
lirst ever taught in the county, twenty years before the first counties of Nebra.ska 
were designated b)- the proclamation of -\cting Ciovernor Cuming. 

Section 34 of the ivansas-Nebraska Hill, under which the Territory ol 
Nebraska was organized, provided: "That when tlie lands of said territory shall 
be surveyed under the direction of the United States, prei)aratory to bringing 
the same into market, sections numbered sixteen and thirty-six in each lownshi]! 
in said territoiy shall 1)e. and the same are hereby, reserved for the purpose of 
jjeing applied to schools in said territory, and in the states and territories hereafter 
to be erected out of the same." 

This provision was carried over into the enabling act. under which Nebraska 
was admitted into the Union as a state, but it was several years before the value 
of the lands was sufficient to afford much of an income for educational purposes. 
The first schools were therefore of that class known as "subscription schools," 
each patron subscribing a certain sum for each scholar sent to the school, the 
<ubscri])tion money being paid directly to the teacher, unless the latter collected 
a ]iortii)n of it Ijy "boarding 'round" during the term, which was a common custom, 
the teacher staying a week with one family, then a week with another and so on 
until the school closed. 

The first scliool t;iuglit in < tniaha was opciieil on July 1. 1S55, in a room of 


ihtj old biate house on Xiiith Street, by Mij.s Julia A. Goodwill, a daughter of 
Taylor G. Goodwill, who was a member of the upper house in the first Territorial 
Legislature and later the first treasurer of Douglas County. Miss Goodwill 
enrolled forty pupils, among whom were: Ewing and Robert Armstrong, Nellie 
Urown, Justin, Elizabeth, Annie and Katie Davis, James Ferris, Maggie and 
William Gilmore, Carrie E. Goodwill, ISenjamin, Enos and James Johnson, Lizzie 
lones, Emma Logan, Emma, James, Mary, Xancy and Sarah Peterson, James 
and Mary Ryan. Miss Goodwill taught for nearly six months, or until she was 
required to give up the room for the second session of the Legislature, which 
convened on December 18, 1855. She afterward became the wife of Allen Root, 
who came to Omaha in 1855 and was admitted to the bar in the fall of that year. 
Mrs. J. P. Manning was probably the second teacher. 

In 1855 the Legislature granted a charter to an educational institution known 
u> Simpson University. The incorporators named in the act were : Reverend 
W. li. Good, Marl< W. Izard, William X. Byers, J. R. Buckingham, Charles B. 
Smith, Thomas B. Cuming, J. H. Hopkins, Moses F. Shinn, W. D. Gage, Charles 
Elliott, O. B. Selden, Thomas H. Benton, Jr., and John B. Robertson. Governor 
Izard, in his message to the Legislature in 1857, stated that Simpson University 
was "permanently located and donations of a considerable amount have been 
received." On February 10, 1857, the Legislature adopted a memorial to Congress 
asking for a grant of land, of "not less then ten thousand acres." for the benefit 
of the institution, but nothing ever came of the memorial. A site was selected 
in what was afterward known as Shinn's Addition, but no buildings were ever 
erected and the donations mentioned by Governor Izard never materialized. 

Another institution of learning chartered by the Legislature of 1857 met with 
no better success. It was to be located at Saratoga, about two miles north of 
( )maha, and the following persons w-ere named in the act as incorporators : 
I'enner Ferguson, William Y. Brown, John H. Kelloni, O. F. Parker, LeRoy 
Tuttle, William L. Plummer, Cortland \'an Rensselaer, Joseph S. Grimes, George 
I. Park, B. B. Barkalow, L. AI. Kuhn, William Hamilton, C. D. Martin, Samuel 
( iamble, John Hancock and Thomas Officer, the last named a resident of 
( 'ouncil Bluiifs. 

Mr. Kelloni. one of the incorporators of the above school, was made superin- 
tendent of public instruction and on October 23, 1857, he published an announce- 
ment in the Omaha Times to the effect that J. S. Burt was about to open a 
"select school, ■■ and expressed the hope that the people of the city who had children 
10 educate would give him liberal encouragement. Mr. Burt remained but a short 
time in Omaha, going to Fontenelle. where he conducted a school during the 
winter of 1858-59. 


The public school system was inaugurated on Xovember 10. 1859, under the 
])rovisions of an act passed by the preceding session of the Legislature, which was 
convened on September 21, 1858. The passage of this first territorial school 
law was due largely to the efforts of two members from Douglas County — Dr. 
George L. Miller in the council and Clinton Briggs in the house. Alfred D. 
Tones, John H. Kellom and Dr. Gilbert C. Monell constituted the first district 


school board for Omaha. Mr. Kellom was soon afterward succeeded by Edwin 
Loveland. The board employed Howard Kennedy, of New York State, to take 
charge of the public schools, under a contract for one year at a salary of $i,ooo. 
No schoolhouses had as yet been built, so Mr. Kennedy opened his school in the 
old state house, on Ninth Street between Douglas and Farnam, with five assistants, 
four of whom were employed in the old state house and one conducted a primary 
school in a small building near the intersection of Thirteenth and Douglas streets. 
The furniture for the school rooms was made by H. H. Visscher. 

At the close of the year i860 the territorial and county school fund for the 
support of the public schools in Douglas County amounted to $1,246.50, to which 
was added $656.60 received from license fees and fines, making a total for 
educational purposes of $1,903.10. The board that reported this amount of funds 
was composed of Dr. Gilbert C. Monell, Jesse Lowe and John H. Kellom. In 
their report to the territorial school commissioner, dated January 2, 1861, the 
board said: "One male teacher was employed to teach the higher studies and 
superintend the subordinate teachers in the different schools. One principal and 
three subordinate departments do not sufficiently accommodate all the scholars. 
Though the average attendance is about sixty scholars to a teacher, yet eighty or 
ninety were often present. Four subordinate schools are really needed, but even 
these cannot be sustained the coming year without more funds. The value of 
real estate being generally reduced at the last assessment, and the reduction of 
the school tax last winter to one mill on the dollar, instead of two mills as hereto- 
fore, will reduce our public school fund to about one-fourth or one-third the 
amount of last year. This reduced revenue would easily suppo^rt a single school. 
Two plans suggest themselves to the directors to supply the deficiency : First, to 
lay on the city a sufficient tax; and, second, to charge each scholar a moderate 

The board chose the latter remedy and announced the following rates : For 
instruction in Latin, Greek, French, German, chemistry, surveying and belles- 
lettres, three dollars per quarter; for the common school branches, including 
elementary algebra, physics and bookkeeping, two dollars per quarter; primary 
scholars, one dollar per quarter, and non-resident pupils were charged double 
those rates. Among those who taught in the Omaha schools about this time 
were: Howard Kennedy, John J. Monell, Mrs. Isabella Torrey, Frances Sey- 
mour, Edward Kelley, John H. Kellom, Miss Sarah Gaylord, Mrs. Mary P. Rust, 
Miss Abbie Hayes, Mr. and Mrs. Shimonski, Mrs. Nye and a Miss Smiley. Mrs. 
Torrey taught in a small building on Cuming Street, near the old military bridge; 
Mr. Kellom taught in the old state house on Ninth Street, and Miss Gaylord's 
school was in the basement of the Congregational Church at the corner of 
Sixteenth and Farnam streets. 

Early in the year 1861 Samuel D. Beals came to Omaha and on April 22. 1861, 
opened a private school in the old state house. Mrs. M. B. Newton, in an article 
in Volume III of the Nebraska Historical Society Collections, says : "Professor 
Beals' school was known as the Omaha High School and was extensively adver- 
tised." At one time this school enrolled nearly three hundred pupils. One 
reason for its success was that the shortage of funds in i860 and the breaking out 
of the Civil war the following year caused the public schools to be closed. They 
were not reopened until 1863. Mr. Beals closed his school in 1867 and in 1868 was 


appointed private secretary to Gov. David Butler. On February 23, 1869, 
he was appointed state superintendent of public instruction and to his power of 
initiative and executive ability the State of Nebraska is greatly indebted for her 
excellent public school system. He remained in office until 1872, when he 
returned to Omaha and became principal of one of the schools. In July, 1874, 
he was made superintendent of the city schools and held that office for six 
years, after which he taught for some time in the Omaha High School. He was 
one of the best known of the early educators of Nebraska. 

The first schoolhouse built by the City of Omaha was a small frame structure 
of one room on the southwest comer of Jefferson Square. It was erected in 
1863, the school board at that time being composed of Col. Lorin Miller, George 
B. Lake and B. E. B. Kennedy. Mr. Kennedy had charge of the erection of the 
building, in which school was opened in September, 1863. It was not large enough 
to accommodate all the children who wished to attend and owing to the crowded 
condition of the schoolroom the teacher found it difficult to maintain order. The 
first teacher in this house — a man whose name has been forgotten — taught only 
one month. He was succeeded by another teacher who taught about the same 
length of time. Says Mrs. Newton : "This second man fashioned a wooden 
instrument, something like a small spade with a long handle, and with this he 
alternately spatted and punched the disorderly pupils, even quite a distance from 
him." After the resignation of the second teacher a Mrs. Cooper took charge of 
the school, restored order out of chaos and taught a successful term. A little later 
the room was divided by a partition and a Mr. Hutchinson was employed as 
pmicipal. In 1865 the building was removed to the corner of Fifteenth and Cass 
streets, where it was used for school purposes until 1878. It was then removed 
to a lot on the corner of Twenty-second and Burt streets and converted into a 

In 1865 the second schoolhouse, a frame building on the corner of Eleventh and 
Jackson streets, was erected by the city school board. The next year another 
frame schoolhouse was built on the corner of Twenty-third and Burt streets. 
The Pacific Street School was built in 1868, at a cost of $23,000, and at that 
time it was the most pretentious schoolhouse in Omaha, if not in the State of 
Nebraska. The Izard Street Building was erected a year or two later, at a 
cost of $35,000. 


By an act of the Legislature in 1869 the old territorial capitol building at Omaha 
was given to the city as a sort of compensation for the $60,000 contributed by the 
people to complete that structure, but the donation was made with the restriction 
that the property could be used only for educational purpKDses. Pursuant to the 
provisions of the act, Governor Butler appointed the following board of regents : 
George VV. Frost, Thomas Davis, John H. Kellom, Augustus Kountze, Alvin 
Saunders and James M. Woolworth. This board held its first meeting on April 
13, 1869, and organized by the election of Alvin Saunders, president; Augustus 
Kountze, treasurer; and James W. Van Nostrand was employed as secretary. 
A committee of experts, consisting of Jonas Gise, John H. Green and John D. 
Jones, was appointed by the board to examine the building and report what repairs 


were necessary before it could l)e used for sclioul purposes. (Ju May 4, i8(x;, 
the board followed up the investigations of the committee by employing G. R. 
Randall, an architect from Chicago, to make plans for the repairs. Mr. Randall 
made a thorough examination of the premises and pronounced the building 
insecure, "owing to faulty construction and inferior material." 

The board then decided to remove the old building and erect a new one, accord- 
ing to plans furnished by Mr. Randall. Twenty thousand dollars were turned over 
to the board of regents by the school trustees of Omaha, and the people of the 
city voted bonds to the amount of $100,000 for a new high school building, to 
be erected on the site of the old capitol. Even this sum was insufficient, for 
when the structure was coni])leted in 1S72 it was found that the total cost was 

After the new high school had been in operation for several years it was 
discovered that the city had never obtained a deed to the property. Governor 
Butler, when asked by the first board of regents to make the conveyance, replied 
that "the original files of the laws passed at the last session of the Legislature have 
been sent away by the secretary to have them bound." and promised to attend to 
the matter as soon as they were returned. I'A'idently the subject was overlooked, 
both by the governor and the regents, and it was not until the Legislature of i88q 
that the oversight was corrected. That Legislature authorized the governor to 
make the conveyance and the deed was signed by Gov. John AL Thayer. 

On June 6, 1871, W. H. James, secretary of state and acting governor, 
approved an act of the I^egislature by which the old Omaha board of school 
trustees and the regents of the high school were both legislated out of office and 
a board of education was created to take their place. The new board was to be 
composed of two members from each of the six wards of the city, one-half to 
be elected for one year and the other half for two years, six members to be elected 
annually thereafter to serve for two years. The first board was composed of 
Alvin Saunders, Flemon Drake, Dr. Theodore liaumer. X'incent Rurkley, 
Charles M. Connoyer, Adoplh Boehne, Howard Kennedy, Thomas V. Hall, 
Charles W. Hamilton, Joseph Redman, John T. Edgar and James Creighton. At 
the first meeting, which was held on April 8, 1872, lohn T. Edgar was chosen 
president and Flemon Drake was elected secretary. That was the beginning of 
Omaha's present public school system. 

The new board of education, at a meeting held on June 5, 1872, elected A. 1". 
Nightingale superintendent of the public schools for a term of one year and fixed 
his salary at $2,400. At the same time the following salary schedule was adopted : 
Princiiial of the high school, $1,800; principals of graded schools, $1,500; first 
assistant teachers, $750; second assistants, $650; third assistants, S550. The 
board of regents turned over to the new board $8,172.48, and reported outstanding 
obligations of $23,894.76, not including the bonds issued to build the high 
school, dated July i, 1871. The amoinit of this issue, as already stated, was 
$TOO,ooo, the bonds to be payable in twenty years and to draw interest at the 
rate of 10 per cent per annum. At that time the financial re])utation of Omaha 
was not as well established as it is today and the bonds were sold for $96,150. 
Imagine 10 ])er cent bonds issued by Omaha at the present time selling- for less 
than par ! 

In erecting the high school, the board of regents took into consideration the 



future growth of the city. Cousequently wheu it was comijlcted there was much 
more rooui than was needed for the high school classes and for about fifteen years 
the board of education maintained in the building a graded school called the 
"Central School." In 1887 the board found it necessary to transfer two of the 
grades to other buildings. When the order to that effect was issued, it met 
with some opposition on the part of parents whose children were among those so 
transferred, but such a move on the part of the board was the only thing that 
could be done to accommodate the growing high school and it was finally accepted 
by the citizens. Many of them realized, however, that it was only a question of 
time until all the grades of the Central School woukl Ije crowded out. Some 
advocated a large addition to the high school building; others favored a separate 
building on the high school grounds, and still others wanted the board to purchase 
a new site in some con\enient locality and erect a new building for the graded 
school. Thus the city, like ancient Gaul, was "divided into three parts." 

Dr. S. R. Towne, in the fall of 1891, instituted a suit in mandamus to com[)el 
the vacation of the rooms occupied by the lower grades, claiming that the building 
was overcrowded, the number of pupils enrolled at that time being 1,066. Judge 
Irvine heard the case in the District Court and decided that the pupils of the lower 
grades had no legal right in the building, but that the testimony had failed to show 
that the high school was suffering any inconvenience or hardship from their 
presence there ; or at least not enough to .warragt.^t^iei.r,^jecl;ion by order of the 
court. Doctor Towne's complaint set forth .tlifi^itkie-^ijpp^jQf 'the grant of the old 
capitol grounds by the state to the City of Omaha conteinplated that the premises 
should be used only for high school purposes, but Judge Irvine held that this 
contention was not supported. '"■""■ '^ l-f.n-ss; 

As the demand for more room was....oonj3tAlit|y''l5e-iftimi"ng more urgent, the 
board adopted a resolution to erect a temporary building of four rooms on the 
high school grounds. The city council was opposed to such action and forestalled 
it by the passage of an ordinance extending the fire limits so as to take in the high 
school grounds, which made it unlawful to erect a frame building thereon. The 
board of education then adopted another resolution to erect a brick building — one 
that would comply with all the provisions of the new ordinance. The council 
then passed a resolution instructing George C. Whitlock, the building inspector, 
to refuse a building permit for the erection of "any building or buildings whatever 
upon the high school grounds," the council claiming that said grounds were 
deeded to the city for high school purposes only. Lee S. Estelle, now one of the 
district judges, was then attorney for the board of education. Lie applied to 
the courts for a writ of mandamus to compel Mr. Whitlock to issue the building 
permit. Andrew J. Poppleton, then city attorney, was directed by the council 
to appear for Mr. Whitlock. The question was finally carried to the Supreme 
Court of the state, where the application for the writ was denied, the court 
holding that the grounds could be used only for high school purposes. Thus, 
after several years of controversy, the vexed question was settled. 

Prohibited by the Supreme Court decision from erecting a building for a 
graded school upon the old capitol grounds, the board of education was forced 
to resort to some other method of providing accommodation for the children. At 
the election in November, 1S91, a proposition to issue bonds to the amount of 
$385,000, for the ])urpose of purchasing sites and erecting buildings, was submitted 


to the people and was carried by a large majority. A site was then purchased oh 
the comer of Twenty-second and Dodge streets, opposite the southwest corner 
of the high school grounds, where the new Central School was established. 

A manual training department was established in the high school in the '80s 
and is still one of the popular features of the institution. The course includes 
mechanical and architectural drawing, wood turning, joining, melal work, mould- 
ing, etc., for the boys, and a domestic science course for the girls. Early in the 
present century it became apparent that the old high school building was too small 
to accommodate the number of students and the present magnificent structure 
was erected. It was completed in 191 1, at a cost of $848,045, and is one of the 
finest school buildings in the country. And the school taught within its walls 
is in keeping with the building. During the school year of 1915-16 nearly two 
thousand students were enrolled. Joseph G. Masters was then principal and 
eighty-three instructors were employed in the several departments. The cur- 
riculum embraces all the studies taught in the accredited high schools of the 

The High School of Commerce, located on Leavenworth Street in Kountze 
& Ruth's addition, was established some years ago by the board of education for 
the purpose of giving the young people of Omaha instruction in such subjects as 
would be of practical benefit to them in a commercial or business way. The course 
of study in this school includes stenography and typewriting, telegraphy, book- 
keeping, commercial correspondence, arithmetic, commercial law, penmanship, 
etc. During the school year of 191 5-16 nearly one thousand students were en- 
rolled in this school, which was then under the principalship of Karl F. Adams, 
assisted by thirty-two teachers. Some of the graduates of the school are now 
occupying positions in prominent business concerns of Omaha. 

By the annexation of South Omaha in 1915 a third high school came under 
the jurisdiction of the city board of education. It is located on the corner of 
Twenty-third and J streets and is known as the South High School. Twenty- 
eight teachers were employed in this school during the school year ending in the 
spring of 1916, under the principalship of Samuel W. Moore. 


According to the last published report of the board of education — for the year 
ending on December 31, 1914 — there were then forty graded school buildings in 
the city. Including the two high schools, the value of school property, as shown 
in that report, was $1,004,257 for grounds and $2,658,314 for buildings, making 
a total valuation of $3,662,571. By the annexation of Dundee and South Omaha 
in 1915 fourteen buildings were added to the list. The value of these buildings 
and grounds is approximately three-fourths of a million dollars. If the value of 
furniture and apparatus be included in a general estimate, the City of Omaha has 
over five millions of dollars permanently invested for educational purposes. In 
addition to the fifty-four buildings now in use, the board of education owns eight 
sites, upon which schoolhouses are to be erected in the near future. From a little 
'T-Iandbook of the Board of Education," issued in the spring of 1916, it is learned 
that 778 teachers were employed in the city schools during the preceding school 
year. Of these teachers 14.4 were in the three high schools and 634 in the graded 


schools. The amount i)aid in teachers' salaries was about three-quarters of a mil- 
lion dollars. Such has been the educational development of the City of Omaha 
since Miss Goodwill taught her little flock of children in a room of the old state 
house in 1855. 


The names of the members of the first board of education, as established by 
the act of 1872, have already been given. Since that time the public school system 
of Omaha has been fortunate in having upon the board representative citizens — 
men who gave to the office the same careful attention that distinguished them in 
the conduct of their personal business affairs. Among those who served on the 
board a quarter of a century or more ago, and who labored earnestly and con- 
scientiously for the educational interests of the city, may be mentioned: C. A. 
Ijaldwin, W. J. Uroatch, H. E. Davis, Rev. W. E. Copeland, A. N. Ferguson, 
W. A. L. Gibbon, William A. Gwyer, Howard Kennedy, Henry Livesey, F. J. 
McShane, W. W. Marsh, Joseph W. Paddock, Clinton N. Powell, Samuel Rees 
and C. J. Smyth. H. E. Davis was one of the early teachers and Howard Ken- 
nedy and Alvin Saunders, early members of the board, have been honored by 
having public school buildings named for them. 

In the spring of 1916 the board was composed of twelve members, to wit : 
Isaac W. Carpenter, president of the Carpenter Paper Company ; Robert Cowell, 
vice president of Thomas Kilpatrick & Company; C. J. Ernst, assistant treasurer 
of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company ; W. A. Foster, attorney ; 
Thomas A. Fry, president of the Fry Shoe Company ; Dr. E. Holovtchiner, physi- 
cian; Rev. Daniel E. Jenkins, president of the University of Omaha; W. E. Reed, 
manager Clay, Robinson & Company ; Arthur C. Wakeley, judge of the District 
Court; C. V. Warfield, grocer; R. F. Williams, business agent; Frank H. Wood- 
land, attorney. 

C. J. Ernst was then president of the board; Robert Cowell, vice president; 
W. T. Bourke, secretary; William G. Ure, treasurer; C. E. Herring, attorney; 
Ellis U. Graff, superintendent of instruction; Belle M. Ryan and N. M. Graham, 
assistant superintendents; Duncan Finlayson, superintendent of buildings; J. W. 
Maynard_, custodian; J. B. Carver and Paul S. McAulay, truant officers. 


In the cities of Benson and Florence, the incorporated towns of Bennington, 
Elkhom, Millard, Ralston, Valley and Waterloo, and the rural districts of the 
county there are sixty school districts under the supervision of the county super- 
intendent. Benson has three school buildings valued at $94,000 and employs 
thirty teachers. The school property of Florence is valued at $38,000 and thir- 
teen teachers are employed in the public schools. Bennington's school building 
is valued at $11,125 and the town has four teachers. Elkhom has a graded school 
employing seven teachers, but the building is an old one. Its value is estimated 
by County Superintendent Yoder in his report for 191 5 at $8,000. Millard has 
an $11,000 building and employs four teachers. Ralston has two buildings — one 
\alued at $9,870 and the other at $1,800. Four teachers are employed. Valley 

Vol 1—19 


has one of the best public school buildings in the county outside of the City 
of Omaha. It is valued at $25,000 and ten teachers are employed. The value of 
Waterloo's public school building is $15,500 and the town employs eight teachers. 
Eight teachers are employed in the graded school at Ashland Park and sixty-five 
in the rural schools proper, making a total of 148 teachers under the county 

According to the report of W. A. Yoder, county superintendent, for the year 
ending in December, 1915, the valuation of all school buildmgs and grounds out- 
side of the City of Omaha was $309,835. The schools also reported apparatus, 
etc., listed as "personal property," valued at $47,366. Several of the country 
districts had no school during the year 1915-16, the tendency being to discontinue 
the small schools by consolidating them with others in the vicinity and employing 
vehicles to transport the children to and from school. By this method the cost of 
transportation rarely equals the cost of maintaining the small school, while by 
increasing the attendance in the consolidated school a greater interest can be 
awakened and more good accomplished. 


The following statement regarding this institution was prepared by a mem- 
ber of the facult)'; "The Creighton University, founded in 1878, owes its origin 
to the generosity of Edward and John A. Creighton. Edward Creighton, one 
of the pioneers of the Middle West, had in his lifetime often expressed a desire to 
found a free college for young men. He died suddenly on November 5, 1874, 
intestate, his immense fortune passing to his wife, Mary Lucretia Creighton, whc 
made provision in her will for a fund of $250,000 to found the college. 

"Count John A. Creighton, who died on Eebruary 7, 1907, has been the 
university's largest benefactor and it is largely due to his generosity that the 
institution owes its present prosperity with an endowment of about three millions 
of dollars, available for the maintenance of the colleges of Law, Medicine, Den- 
tistry, Pharmacy, Arts and Sciences and the summer session. 

"The College of Arts and Sciences was opened on September 2, 1878, though 
for several years the work was elementary and no degrees were conferred until 
1889. The College of Medicine was opened in 1892; the Colleges of Law and 
Pharmacy, in 1904; the College of Dentistry, in 1905, and the summer session, in 
1913. The astronomical observatory was established in 1885. The enrollment 
for the year 1915-16 was as follows: High School, 368; College of Arts, 155; 
College of Medicine, 128; College of Law, 181; College of Dentistry, 121; Col- 
lege of Pharmacy, 71 ; Summer Session, 173, or a total enrollment of 1,197. 

"Thanks to the Creighton endowment, no tuition is charged either for the 
four-year high school course or the four-year college course. The tuition in the 
j)rofessional schools is moderate. The alumni of the institution now number 
nearly two thousand. Each of the colleges maintained by the university belongs 
to its own national association and is registered by the New York regents. The 
diploma of the law school admits the holder to practice in the courts of Nebraska. 
The teaching staff numbers about one hundred and fifty and the work of the 
university is conducted in nine large buildings. A gj-mnasium costing $140,000 
was built in 1916. The library numbers about forty thousand volumes." 












In 1863 Bishop Talbot of the Episcopal Church established a school for young 
women and girls at Saratoga, a little settlement about three miles north of the 
present business district of Omaha. When the Town of Saratoga was laid out 
by a company in 1858 it was thought that the mineral springs there would make 
the place popular as a health resort and the company erected a large building for 
a hotel. It was in this building that Brownell Hall was opened five years later. 
Rt. Rev. Robert H. Clarkson succeeded Bishop Talbot and in 1868 the school 
was incorporated by Bishop Clarkson, Champion S. Chase, J. M. W'oohvorth, 
George W. Doane, Dr. G. C. Monell, John I. Redick, Henry W. Yates and a few 
others and under the new management Rev. O. C. Dake was installed as principal. 
He was succeeded by Rev. Samuel Herman, who in turn was succeeded by Miss 
Elizabeth Butterfield in 1869. 

In the meantime a large building was erected for the school on the corner of 
Sixteenth and Jones streets and at the opening of the school in the fall of 1868 
the old hotel at Saratoga was vacated. In 18S6 Herman Kountze donated to 
the trustees of Brownell Hall a new site, on Tenth Street near Worthington, and 
also gave liberally to the fund for the erection of a new building. On this site 
a large four-story building was erected. It is a substantial structure, constructed 
of brick, stone and iron, and consists, Q.f_tlxre£ parts, eaelr^p by 100 feet, arranged 
in the form of a capital letter H. 'This'BuilciiHg is 'still Standing and Brownell 
Hall is now conducted as a boarding ^nilvday.'schoef-foV young women and girls. 
During the school year of 1915-16 the institution was under the charge of Euphe- 
mia Johnson as principal. There is'-also a Brownell Hall, Junior School located 
at No. i-i-i North Fortieth Street. ^ ., .. vvv = .. ,.-r:sv4,.._ . 

Going back to the early history of .thas,seh©el;-the first class was graduated in 
1868 and consisted of only two members — Miss Helen Ingalls and Aliss Helen 
Hoyt. The former became the wife of Flemon Drake and the latter married 
Horace Burr. They were the first young women to graduate in a school of this 
kind in the State of Nebraska. 


The plan to establish a Theological Seminary at Omaha was first laid before 
the Presbyterian General Assembly at its meeting in Detroit in 1891. It was 
indorsed by the assembly and the seminary was incorporated on February 17, 
1891, by about forty ministers and laymen of the Presbyterian Church, repre- 
senting the synods of Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota, Iowa and Missouri. A 
board of directors was at that time chosen, which held its first meeting in April. 
when a constitution was adopted and arrangements made to open the institutimi 
in the following September. 

Dr. George L. Miller generously offered to donate twenty-five acres of land 
from his estate at Seymour Park as a site for the seminary, upon condition that 
the directors would erect thereon a building, to cost not less than twenty thousand 
dollars within three years. Seymour Park is about five miles from the business 
center of Omaha, but Doctor Miller pointed out that two lines of railroad 
passed his place, which could be easily reached by suburban trains. The board 


of directors accepted the offer, but, as the time was too short to erect a suitable 
building upon the premises, arrangements were made for opening the seminary 
in temporary quarters. Accordingly the school was opened in the fall of 1891 
with nine students in the junior class, which was the only class organized. 
The recitations were conducted in the Second Presbyterian Church. 

At the meeting of the directors in April, 1891, the following faculty was 
selected. Rev. William W. Harsha, D. D.. LL. D., didactic and polemic theology; 
Rev. Stephen Phelps, D. D., ecclesiastical, homiletical and pastoral theology; Rev. 
John Gordon, D. D., ecclesiastical history; Rev. Matthew B. Lowrie, D. D., New 
Testament literature and exegesis; Rev. Charles G. Sterling, Ph. D., professor 
of Hebrew ; Rev. Thomas L. Sexton, lecturer on home missions. 

Early in 1892 work was commenced on the seminary building at Seymour 
Park. The stone for the structure was donated by the Evans quarries in the 
Black Hills of South Dakota, and it was transported to the site free of freight 
charges by the Chicago & Northwestern and the Burlington & Missouri River 
railroads. The cost of this building was about forty thousand dollars. A few 
years later the board of directors decided that the school was located too far from 
the city and took steps to secure a new site. About this time Mrs. William Thaw 
of Pittsburgh, Pa., and Thomas McDougall of Cincinnati, Ohio, purchased the 
old Cozzens House, on the corner of Ninth and Harney streets, and presented 
the building to the seminary. It was removed to its present site, on the two 
blocks bounded by Emmet, Spencer, Twentieth and Twenty-first streets, in what 
is known as Kountze Place. Charles E. Vanderburgh of Minneapolis, Minn., 
left a legacy to the institution and the money was expended in the erection of 
"Vanderburgh House," which is used as a residence by the members of the 

According to the "Seminary Record," published in April, 1915, the faculty 
at that time was composed of the following professors : Rev. Albert B. Marshall, 
D. D., LL. D., president and professor of homiletics and pastoral theology; 
Rev. Matthew B. Lowrie, D. D., professor emeritus of homiletics and pastoral 
theology ; Rev. Joseph J. Lampe, Ph. D., D. D., Old Testament literature and 
exegesis; Rev. Daniel E. Jenkins, Ph. D., D. D., didactic and polemic theology; 
Rev. Charles A Mitchell, Ph. D., D. t).. New Testament literature and exegesis ; 
Rev. Charles Herron, D. D., ecclesiastical history and missions. 


The following historical statement is taken from the catalogue of the Univer- 
sity for the years 1915-16: "The University of Omaha owes its existence to a 
felt need for an institution of higher learning in Omaha. Such an institution 
could not well have its origin elsewhere than in the spirit of philantliropy 
and devotion to civic welfare. Actuated by this spirit and by the conviction that 
the time was ripe for action, a group of representative citizens, in the early 
.summer of 1908, organized a board of trustees and began the active promotion 
of the movement for the fotinding of a university under Christian ideals and 
influences but, at the same time, free from ecclesiastical control. This board of 
trustees was incorporated on October 8, 1908. The articles of incorporation 
defined the object for which the university was founded in the following terms: 




2 t 


'The object of this corporation shall be to establish, endow, conduct and main- 
tain a University for the promotion of sound learning and education, such as is 
usually contemplated in colleges and universities, under such influences as will 
lead to the highest type of Christian character and citizenship, with the Bible 
as supreme authority.' " 

The school was opened on November 14, 1909, at No. 3612 North Twenty- 
fourth Street, where it is still located. In the spring of 1916 the trustees secured 
an option on a tract of forty acres of land just west of the Douglas County Hos- 
pital grounds as a site for new university buildings. This site, known as the 
Dietz tract, is conveniently located, as shown by an interview with A. W. Carpen- 
ter, president of the board of trustees, at the time the option was taken. Mr. 
Carpenter said: "Of our 117 students, twenty-three live north of Evans Street, 
thirty south of Evans and north of Chicago, fifty south of the courthouse and 
north of Vinton Street, six in South Omaha, two in Council Bluffs and five in 
Dundee. This indicates there is nothing to the statement that the greater number 
of our students live in the immediate vicinity of the present buildings. Within a 
two-mile circuit of the new site are South Omaha, Dundee and Bemis Park. 
1 might add that out of the membership of the Commercial Club, seventy-five per 
cent live within two miles of the university's new location." 

Immediately after the acquisition of the iSw site a campaign was started 
for funds with which to erect buildings. George. 'A. 'joslyn headed the subscrip- 
tion list with $25,000 and the people of Onialia generally responded liberally. 
The aim of the trustees is to expend $100,000 in the erection of two buildings, 
to which others may be added as the institiitiqxL influence and the student 
body increases in numbers. ••-•.• 

The catalogue of the university for 191 5-16 shows an enrollment of 145 
students, exclusive of those in the College of Law. The university is divided 
into the following departments : College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Art, 
Home Economics, Law and Preparatory Medicine. In the first named the degrees 
of Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Sciences are conferred. Candidates holding 
these degrees may receive the degrees of Master of Arts and Master of Science 
upon completion of a year of approved post-graduate study at the university, or 
its equivalent. An account of the law department is given in the chapter on the 
Bench and Bar. Arrangements have been made with the Omaha Medical Col- 
lege (the medical school of the State University) so that the two years of college 
training necessary for entrance to the medical school may be taken in the Univer- 
sity of Omaha. The course of study in all departments embraces such subjects 
as are usually found in the curriculum of the established colleges and universities. 

Two scholarships have been established by the Woman's Club. First, the 
Stoddard loan scholarship which consists of a loan of $200 for three years with- 
out interest and with interest at 6 per cent after three years. This loan is made 
by Mrs. Mary D. Stoddard of Omaha, through the Nebraska Federation of 
Women's Clubs to any young woman, a daughter of a member of the Omaha 
Woman's Club, who passes most satisfactorily a prescribed competitive examina- 
tion. Second, the University of Omaha scholarship, which gives free tuition 
for two years in the institution to the daughter of any Nebraska club woman 
who passes most satisfactorily the competitive examination. 

Mrs. S. K. Spaulding, widow of the late Doctor .Spaulding, has established a 


fund of $1,500, the income from which is to be used in paying the tuition of 
a student each year, the beneficiary to be named by the faculty. This gift is a 
memorial for the late Doctor Spaulding on account of the great interest mani- 
fested by him in the work of the university during its early years. 

At the beginning of the year 1916 the faculty of the University of Omaha 
was made up as follows: Daniel E. Jenkins, Ph. D., D. D., president and profes- 
sor of philosophy and logic; Walter N. Ilalsey, M. A., dean and professor of 
pedagogy; Vera C. Fink, B. A., secretary and professor of Germanic language 
and literature; Franklin P. Ramsey, Ph. D., ethics, sociology and sacred litera- 
ture; Selnia Anderson, M. A., Greek language and literature; Leland Lewis, 
M. A., chemistry and physics; Pansy Z. Williams, B. S., household economics; 
Alice Hogg, B. A., French language and literature; Kate A. McHugh, English 
language and literature. In addition to these regular chairs there are special 
lecturers on certain subjects and subordinate instructors in various branches of 


The first school in Omaha connected with the Catholic Church was estab- 
lished in the early '60s by Miss Joanna O'Brien in a small frame building south 
of the church on Eighth Street. Boys and girls were both admitted at first, but 
a little later a separate building was erected for a boys' school, in which the first 
teacher was a man named Webster. One of Mr. Webster's pupils afterward said 
the only board of education that had anything to do with the school was a strip 
of a pine shingle. John Rush, afterward county superintendent of public instruc- 
tion, took charge of the school in 1866. About ten years later the building was 
removed to the northern part of the city and used for a church. 

It is a fundamental principle of the Catholic Church that as soon as a parish 
is organized a parochial school must be opened. At the opening of the school 
year in September, 1916, nineteen parochial schools began their year's work with 
an enrollment of nearly five thousand pupils. In addition to the parish schools, 
there are four Catholic institutions that pay particular attention to the higher 
grades. The oldest of these is Mount St. Mary's Seminary, which was founded 
by the Sisters of Mercy and is widely known as a boarding and day school. The 
Sacred Heart Convent, on the corner of Thirty-sixth and Burt streets, was 
opened in the year 1882. In 1904 the work of this institution was given into 
the hands of the Sisters of Mercy. The great tornado of March 23, 1913, dam- 
aged this building to such an extent that for a time it was thought it would have 
to be torn down, but the friends of the school came to its assistance and the build- 
ing was repaired. St. Catherine's Academy, at the intersection of Eighteenth 
and Cass streets, and St. Berchman's Academy have both won distinction as 
Catholic schools. 


Col. Robert C. Ingersoll, in one of his lectures, said : "A house that has a 
library in it has a soul." The same statement might be applied to a city, or at least 
it can be said that a city with a good public library possesses one of the essential 



factors of a complete educational system. The Omaha PubHc Library dales its 
beginning from 1871, when John T. Edgar, Nathan Shelton, Albert M. Henry 
and Albert Swartzlander started a movement for the organization of a librarj' 
association. Through their persistent efforts a number of citizens were inter- 
ested and on December 3, 1871, the Omaha Library Association was incorporated. 
The articles of incorporation were signed by T. E. Sickles, St. A. D. Balcombe, 
H. W. Yates, Dr. George L. Miller, John T. Edgar, Herman Kountze, Albert 
Swartzlander, Charles H. Brown, Albert M. Henry, Ezra Millard, Preston H. 
Allen and Nathan Shelton. 

Miss E. E. Poppleton, in a historical sketch of the library published in Volume 
IV of the Nebraska Historical Collections, says that there were nearly one hun- 
dred stockholders in the association. On December 30, 1871, these stockholders 
held their first meeting and elected the following directors : Albert M. Henry, 
Nathan Shelton, Andrew J. Poppleton, St. A. D. Balcombe, J. W. Gannett, Henry 
\y. Yates, John T. Edgar, Smith S. Caldwell, Albert Swartzlander, Dr. George 
L. Miller and John Patrick. The first meeting of the directors was held on 
January 3, 1872, when the board was organized by the election of A. J. Poppleton 
as president; Nathan Shelton, vice president; Albert Swartzlander, secretary; 
Albert H. Henrs-, corresponding secretary; Smith S. Caldwell, treasurer. 

John T. Edgar donated 1,000 volumes and the board -purchased 800 volumes 
from O. E. Crosby of Fremont. These i,Sop yollmies'' constituted the nucleus 
of the library. A little later J. M. Pattee gav? 8oo-Vol4imes to the library, under 
certain conditions, making a total of 2,600 volumes. These were catalogued by 
members of the association, who donated th^i,r^s,er\'ices, and the library was opened 
in a room in the second story of the Simpson-Block^ over the postoffice. 

In this connection it may be of interest to the reader to know how the Pattee 
collection of books was accumulated. In August, 1871, Mr. Pattee established a 
lottery in Omaha under the name of "The Omaha Library Legal Gift Enterprise 
Concern." Lyford & Company were the ostensible managers and the announce- 
ment was made that the purpose was to provide the city with a public library. 
The first drawing was conducted on November 7, 1871, at the Academy of Music, 
at which it was announced that the capital prize of $20,000 was drawn by a man 
in Boston. The books were purchased with the proceeds of the drawing and 
after the library association was organized were presented to that organization. 
Pattee continued his lottery for about two years and did a large business by mail. 
On February 25, 1873, the city council, to correct the impression that the lottery 
had received the official indorsement of the city authorities, adopted the following 
resolution : 

"Resolved, that in the opinion of this council the lottery now advertised by 
J. M. Pattee, in this city, is a fraud and the same is not and will not be indorsed 
by any member of this council." 

In May, 1873, Pattee's mail was withheld by Postmaster C. E. Yost and for- 
warded to the dead letter office in Washington by order of the postofiice depart- 
ment. This ended the lottery and all the library ever received through that 
channel was the collection of books above mentioned. 

When the library was opened in the Simpson Block on JNIay i, 1872, Mrs. Alle- 
man was installed as librarian. She served but a few weeks, when she was suc- 
ceeded by Miss I\L Louise Houey, who sensed until August, when Miss Delia 


L. Sears was appointed by the board of directors. In 1874 John T. Edgar was 
elected president and in February of that year the library was removed to the 
second tloor of the Marshall Block on the north side of Dodge Street, between 
Fourteenth and Fifteenth streets. Here it occupied the entire floor. Miss Jean 
M. Allen was appointed librarian on December 5, 1876, Miss Sears having 

Each member of the association was charged a membership fee of $3 per 
annum. The fees charged and the proceeds of entertainments were the only 
source of income. On January 16, 1877, T. B. Kennard introduced in the state 
senate a bill entitled : "An Act to Authorize Cities to Establish and Maintain 
Free Public Libraries and Reading Rooms," which was referred to the committee 
on judiciary. That committee reported back the bill with the recommendation 
that it be passed, after amending the title so as to read "incorporated towns and 
cities." The amendment was adopted and the bill passed the Senate on February 
8, 1877, by a vote of 31 to 19. A week later it passed the house by a vote of 
49 to 29 and was approved by Governor Garber. In June, 1877, the directors of 
the Omaha Library Association adopted the following preamble and resolution : 

"Whereas, it is evident that this association is not able to keep the library 
and reading room open with its present and prospective income, be it 

"Resolved, that the president pro tern appoint a committee of three to con- 
sult with the city council of Omaha and inquire whether it will establish and 
maintain a public library and reading room for the use of the inhabitants of this 
city, under the act of the Legislature, approved February 17, 1877." 

On June 12, 1877, the city council passed an ordinance signifying its willing- 
ness to maintain such an institution, to be known as the Omaha Public Librar\ . 
and elected the following board of directors: J. H. Kellom, H. J. Lucas, Mrs. 
O. N. Ramsey, L. S. Reed, Lyman Richardson, Andrew Rosewater, N. T. Spoor, 
John M. Thurston and William Wallace. For the support of the library a tax of 
one-fourth of a mill was levied 90 per cent only to be available, which gave ihc 
institution an income of $1,274.80. J. H. Kellom was elected president of the 
board ; Lewis S. Reed, secretary, and Miss Jean M. Allen was continued as 
librarian. On August 4, 1877, Leavitt Burnham, secretary of the Omaha Library 
Association, transferred the books and property of the association to the Omaha 
public library board. Thus the library became the property of the city and the 
old association disbanded. 

In February, 1878, the library was removed to the second floor of the Wil- 
liams Block, on the northeast comer of Fifteenth and Dodge streets. That year 
the library tax was increased to one-half mill on the dollar, which gave an income 
of $2,782.09. With the increased income the board was able to place a number 
of new volumes on the shelves, which added greatly to the popularity of the 
institution. In 1881 the work had grown too heavy for one librarian and an 
assistant was employed. In April, 1887, the library was completely reorganized, 
the 15,000 volumes being reclassified and a card catalogue made under the direc- 
tion of the new librarian, Charles Evans, who had formerly been in charge of 
the Indianapolis Public Librar\-. With the reorganization the library was removed 
to the third floor of the Paxton Block, on the northeast comer of Sixteenth and 
Farnam streets. This removal was made from the Falconer Building, on the 
corner of Fifteenth and Douglas, where the library was taken in 1882. 


On October i8, 1887, the city council adopted a resolution authorizing the 
library board to submit plans for a library building to be located on Jefferson 
Square, with the estimated cost of such building. The plans were prepared and 
a special committee of the council recommended its construction, provided the 
city would submit to the voters a proposition to issue bonds to the amount of 
$80,000 for that purpose. A majority of the councilmen voted against the bond 
proposition and the first move toward the erection of a public library building 
ended in failure. Nothing further along this line was done until January 3, 1891, 
when A. J. Poppleton, who had been elected a member of the board but a short 
time before, offered a resolution providing for the appointment of three members 
of the board to confer with the city council "with instructions if possible to agree 
upon and report a plan for the selection and acquisition of a suitable site for 
such library building, with a view to the erection thereon, as soon as funds can 
be provided by law, of a suitable, indestructible, fire-proof library building." 
The library then numbered over thirty thousand volumes and every one who knew 
anything about the matter realized that a permanent home for the institution was 
a necessity. 

Mr. Poppleton's resolution was unanimously adopted and the committee was 
appointed. While the consultation between this committee and the city council 
was going on, the death of Byron Reed on June 6, 1891, changed the whole cur- 
rent of events regarding a public library building. In his will Mr. Reed left to 
his son, in trust, the lot at the southeast corner of Nineteenth and ffarney 
streets, to be conveyed by him to the City of Omaha, on condition that the city 
erect thereon a "first class fire-proof building, at least four stories high, suitable 
for a public library or art gallery, the erection of said building to be commenced 
within one year from the day this will is admitted to probate," etc. 

The will also provided that, in case the city accepted the bequest of the lot, 
Mr. Reed's collection "of coins, medals, paper money, bonds, drafts and currency, 
and the cases in which they are contained," should be given to the public library ; 
also his private library of books, documents, manuscripts, pamphlets, files of news- 
papers and other periodicals and literary relics, but this part of the will was not 
to take effect until the public library building was completed. Exclusive of the 
lot, the value of the "Byron Reed Collection," which is now preserved in rooms 
especially set apart in the public library building, is fully fifty thousand dollars. 

Soon after the will was admitted to probate the city council submitted to the 
people a proposition to issue bonds to the amount of $100,000 for the purpose of 
erecting a building. The proposition was carried by a large majority and when 
the council saw that the citizens were enthusiastic in their support of the library, 
an ordinance was passed on December 8, 1891, formally accepting Mr. Reed's 
bequest under the conditions of the will. The building was completed in 1893. 
It is a substantial structure of brick, stone and steel, three stories high in front 
and four stories in the rear. At the time it was first occupied by the library it 
was thought to be large enough for all future demands, but the library has 
grown to 110,000 volumes and the number of registered book borrowers to 27,101 
in 1915 and the building is now so badly crowded that many of the books, pamph- 
lets, etc., cannot be properly classified. Miss Edith Tobitt is the present librarian. 
There are twenty assistant librarians, three janitors, one engineer, five persons 


employed in the bindery, one chauffer and eight pages. The following extract 
is taken from the report of the library for the year 1915: 

"The public library system consists of the main library at Nineteenth and 
Harney streets, the South Omaha branch library at Twenty-third and M streets, 
the high school branch at the Central High School, twenty-two deposit stations, 
' and class room libraries in twenty-three schools, both public and parochial. The 
two most prominent features of the library work during the year were the estab- 
lishment of the high school branch library and the adjustment of the South 
Omaha library system to that of Omaha following annexation." 


In the spring of 1S89 A. M. \\'inebrenner came to South Omaha and tried to 
work up an interest in a subscription library. Throvigh his eft'orts and those of 
his friends, a library association was formed, each member paying a small fee 
annually. The library was opened on May 23, 1889, in the drug store of B. F. 
Johnson, on the corner of Twenty-fifth and N streets, Mr. Johnson donating 
shelf room for the books and his services as librarian. A few months later Mr. 
Johnson left South Omaha and the books were taken to the music store of J. C. 
Collins, on Twenty-fourth Street. Miss Anna Glasgow agreed to act as assistant 
librarian. There the library remained until the spring of 1894, when it was 
removed to a small office building owned by Doctor Glasgow. At this time the 
first board of trustees was chosen. It consisted of A. A. Monroe, president ; W. 
J. Taylor, secretary; Miss Hattie Moore, treasurer; E. C. Lane, Mrs. Emma L. 
Talbott, and Rev. H. J. McDevitt. 

In May, 1894, the library was again moved, this time to the rooms of the 
associated charities, and George McBride was chosen librarian. The growth was 
such during the next five years that the question of establishing a permanent 
home for the library came up for discussion. Just before Christmas in i8gg, 
Congressman D. H. Mercer wrote to Andrew Carnegie, suggesting that he give 
$75,000 for the erection of a suitable library building. i\Ir. Carnegie replied 
that he had just given $75,000 to Lincoln, to replace the library building destroyed 
by fire, and that was all he could do for Nebraska that year. Under date of June 
22, 1901, Mr. Carnegie wrote from Skibo Castle, Scotland, to Mr. Mercer, ofTer- 
ing to give $50,000 for a building if the city would agree to give $5,000 annually 
for the librai-y's support. The offer was accepted and the library board was then 
incorporated under the state laws. 

On April 2, 1902, a site 70 by 90 feet on the corner of Twenty-third and M 
streets was purchased from the Glasgow estate for $3,500 and Thomas J. Kimball 
was employed as architect to design the building. The plans were approved by 
Mr. Caniegie, who turned over the amount of his donation to the library board, 
and the library was opened in its new home on Christmas day in 1904, with Miss 
Jane Atbott as librarian. The number of volumes in this library in 1915 was 
9,409. By the annexation of South Omaha in 191 5 the library board passed out 
of existence and the library became a part of the general library system of Greater 

In concluding this chapter, it is worthy of remark that educators of other cities 
have visited Omaha for the express purpose of studying the methods employed 


ill the public schools, with a view of introducing those methods in the schools of 
their home cities. This is evidence that the public schools of the Gate City occupy 
a high place in the educational annals of the nation. The rural schools of Douglas 
County, the parochial and private schools compare favorably with similar schools 
elsewhere. Creighton University stands near the head of the list of Catholic col- 
leges. The University of Omaha, although an infant institution, has a bright 
prospect for the future. One person in every eight of the population holds a 
borrower's card to the public library, from which nearly half a million books 
were drawn in the year 191 5. All this goes to show that the people of Omaha 
and Douglas County are firm believers in education and consistently support their 
belief by practicing what they preach. 





In attracting immigration to Nebraska, the development of Douglas County's 
natural resources and the building up of the City of Omaha, the newspapers 
played no inconsiderable part. Perhaps the early editors would not measure up 
to a high journalistic standard today, but what they lacked in polish they more 
than made up in vigor, and their editorial utterances were forceful if not elegant. 
They came to the West and cast their fortunes in with it, and naturally they were 
interested in seeing the new country make progress. Telegraphic service was 
impossible for several years after the founding of Omaha and the news pubhshed 
in the local newspapers was often days or even weeks old before they had an 
opportunity to present it to their readers. Paper and other materials had to be 
transported long distances by wagon, or brought up the Missouri River on a 
steamboat, yet in spite of all these difficulties the newspaper was one of the early 
institutions of the city. 

Doubtless the first newspaper to be published anywhere near the present 
City of Omaha was the Frontier Guardian, which was started at Council Bluffs 
in 1849. Orson Hyde, a Mormon, brought an old-fashioned printing press over- 
land and installed it in a log cabin, near the corner of what is now First and 
Broadway streets in Council Bluffs. The Frontier Guardian was devoted to the 
propagation of the Alormon doctrines, though it occasionally published a little 
news that the editor thought of general interest. It was issued semi-monthly 
and its publication was continued until the great body of the Mormons went on 
to Salt I^ke. 

On July 28, 1854, the first issue of the Omaha Arrow made its appearance. It 
was printed in the office of the Council Bluffs Bugle and the names of Joseph 
E. Johnson and John W. Pattison stood at the head of the editorial columns as 
editors and publishers. Little can be learned of Mr. Pattison prior to his com- 
ing to Omaha and it seems he was connected with the Arrow but a short time. 
In the summer of 1855 he was second lieute