That portion of Ainsworth lying west of
Main street was platted on the homestead of Mrs. Nannie
Osborn. Leroy Hall platted an addition on his land on
the east side of Main, extending as far north as Fourth,
street. North of that, Henry Woodward's addition on his home
stead. On the corner of Main and Fourth was the Woodward
store, the first business house in the town. It was a log
building put up in 1880, and was located on the freighter's
Among the early business houses were
Tracy and Glover's store managed by J. D. Crawford; Munson
and Secor, later Munson and Ackerman, John DeBrown, George Reed,
general stores; Frank Sellors, real estate; H. J. Sutton,
jewelry; Dr. O. H. Crane, drugs; W. D. McCord, elevator;
Orcutt house and Burns hotel; P. D. McAndrew, L. K. Alder,
Alex Altschuler and S. E. Benton, lawyers; Ed Enderly, Frank
Gillette and the Davisons; Alton and Sherwood, and Burns
bankers; Dr. Kenaston, physcian; Hall and Chaney, hardware;
Merithew, restaurant; Ainsworth Lumber Co.; Grave and Co.,
lumber; Leroy Hall, proprietor Journal, Morgan and Miller,
publishers; Western News, T. J. Smith, publisher; P. P. Shade,
livery owned by E. Loeb; Bridgeford's saloon. Ainsworth was
incorporated as a (48)
village soon after the county was organized.
The petition was presented to the commissioners on December
10, 1883, and was granted the next day. Among the signers were
William H. Orcutt, Frank Sellors, P. P. Shade, Nannie Osborn,
R. M. Munson, P. D. McAndrew.
T. J. Smith was the first postmaster after the
office was changed from Bone Creek to Ainsworth. He was
succeeded by Clark Barnes. The first F. E. & M. V. agent
was O. B. Rippey, followed by L. A. Rodwell.
The first child born in Ainsworth was the
little son of Leroy Hall and wife in 1882. The first death was
The Congregational church of Ainsworth was
the first religious edifice in the county, built in the spring
of 1884. The church organization was perfected on August 12,
1883, by Mrs. O. B. Rippey, Mrs. Henry Woodward, Mr. and Mrs.
J. W. Alden, Mr. and Mrs. W. T. Alden and Rev. J. Herbert. The
first pastor was Rev. N. L. Packard.
The first Fourth of July celebration was held here in 1882,
on the depot platform before the depot was built. A
twenty-foot flag was offered as a prize to the
neighborhood sending the largest delegation. The Grand Prairie
community won the prize, which was accepted by Dan Carpender
on behalf of that neighborhood and the flag is still the
property of his daughter, Mrs. P. J. Holst. For years this
flag figured prominently in all celebrations held in this
section. Mr. Carpender rigged a platform on a wagon and with
the flag flying from a pole erected in the center of the
platform, many of our matrons of today, the girls of those
days, rode to celebrations.
On Christmas of the same year, the
first Christmas exercises were held in the
waiting room of the depot. A beautiful cedar tree which Lee
Gould and Went Conway brought from the banks of Borne creek,
12 miles away, was the main feature of the occasion.
In 1883, the first fair was held on Nannie
Osborn's claim southwest of town, Glen Nesbit took the prize
as the prettiest
baby, and Millie Cheney received a
special prize, a gold thimble given by H. P. Sutton, as the
most accomplished young lady in the county.
The first newspaper, The Western News, was
established by T.
J. Smith. Mr. Smith was later
identified with the Ainsworth Star and afterward with the
Star Journal. He took a prominent part in all county and local
affairs. It is said that he selected the route for the road
from here to Springview. The second newspaper, The Journal,
was established July 3, 1884, by Leroy Hall.
A Sunday School was organized. It was held
in the home of L. W. Gourd and afterward in the waiting room
of the depot. Rev. W. W. Thomas, an itinerant
preacher at Ainsworth, and Rev. Elias Frame, a homesteader,
held occasional services. A Sunday School organizer, Frady,
by name, assisted in the work all through this section.
These religious services were graced by a choir and an organ
loaned by Birdie Bridgeford. Among the singers were W. D.
McCord and Birdie Bridgeford. Mollie Stockwell presided as
The first term of court was held November
27, 1883, F. B. Tiffany, presiding. Among the jurors were:
H. S. Potter, W.
D. McCord, O. B. Rippey, C. F. Barnes, F. W. Sellors, A. L. Sisson.
The first patent issued for land (50)
within the limits of Brown county as it then
stood, by the United States government, as shown by the
records in the Valentine land office (now extinct) was to
Charles W. Wyman of Carns, Nebraska, April 10, 1881.
The first teacher's examination was given in 1883 by Supt.
J. L. Harriman. The applicants
were: Millie Cheney, Minnie Briggs and A. W. Scattergood. At
the conclusion of the day's labor the superintendent announced
that "ladies first" had always been his motto but as
the young man present had to walk to Johnstown yet that night
he desired to write out his certificate first, that he
might be on his way, providing of course that the ladies would
not object. Thus it was that A. W. Scattergood, just graduated
from Cambridge university, received the first teacher's
certificate in Brown county.
The next year, 1884, teacher's institute was held,
conducted by Supt. W. G. Townsend and several rural schools
were organized that year. Among the pioneer school ma'ams were
Lou Richmond, Lou Bain and Nellie Murphy. Unique and
interesting experiences are told by these teachers who taught
for about $25 a month and boarded 'round.
The first marriage license issued in Brown county was to L.
D. Bates and Miss Columbia L. Mills on September 8, 1883. The next four to follow were: Harry
L. Brown and Louisa Humstaker; Chas. W. Stannard and Juva
Melins; Daniel D. Bennett and Julia A. Carns; Jasper L.
Stanley and Martha. E. Berge.
Nesbit Hose company was organized June 30,
1890. Officers: president, J. A. Rogers; vice president, J. M.
Kingery; foreman, T.
J. Smith; assistant foreman, J. A. Douglas;
secretary, W. H. Williams; (51)
assistant secretary, Frank Boyd; treasurer,
L. M. Short. Charter members. F. A. Pennell, J. A. Rogers, R.
M. Nesbit, Ned Jones, L. M. Short, C. Alton, T. J. Smith,
W. H. Williams, J. G. Ackerman, J. M. Kingery, J. F. Wyvel,
Charles Marsden, Earl J. Pollock, Bert Fournier, W. O. Toliver,
Z. Funk, B. A. Miller, W. E. Spencer, J. A. Douglas, H. O.
Paine, M. White, W. H. Hogan, Louis Reif, E. W. Fair, J. Reif,
E. T. Ash, Frank Boyd, Edgar Heffley, Alex Altschuler, O. C.
Bartlett, W. G. Hedges, C. B. Sargent, Frank W. Sellors.
In 1936 Mrs. Elizabeth Sellors Deer gave to
the city of Ainsworth, the Sellors Pioneer Memorial cabin to
be used as a museum for any relics of pioneer days as may be
placed therein. It is built of native logs and stands on
ground given by Mrs. Osborn, near the east side of the Court
House park. Mrs. Deer built it as a memorial for all pioneers
of Brown county, especially honoring her father, Frank W.
Sellors, who played an important part in the early history of
Ainsworth and Brown county.
The fist birth in the county was Arthur L.
Kirkpatrick, son of Mr. and Mrs.
G. W. Kirkpatrick. He was born
on a ranch near the Niobrara river.
The first pair of twins were Lee and Lou Magill, born to W. H. Magill and wife August 24, 1882 on Pine
The accidental shooting of Alfred Chase, brother of Byron
Chase in the western part of, the county was probably the
first death in the county. Edgar Crandall's death by shooting
was one of the earliest fatalities. Both these men were buried
in Grand Prairie cemetery, the first cemetery in the county.
In the winter of 1880-'81 many farmers
were unable to get supplies, as the cold and snow were so
severe that it was almost impossible to drive to
Atkinson for the necessities of life. Even at Cook's ranch
where supplies could usually be obtained, but little could
be spared. Three settlers, Gus Sisson, C. N. Swett and Jap
Stanley, sent a team to Atkinson, but owing to the deep snow
it dial not return for thirty days. They got a half-bushel
of shelled corn, a few beans and a hog's head from Cook's
and on this they lived till the team came through.
The little log cabin built by Bill Woods on
his homestead in 1879, still stands. It is on highway 7, on
of section 13, township 30 range 22,
four miles north of Ainsworth. It is probably the oldest
house in the county.
Agricultural products from this county have
won recognition at Nebraska state fairs. In 1909-'10-12,
and possibly in
other years a carload of exhibits took
the first prize for the western district. In 1910 Brown
county took first prize on potatoes in competition with the
entire state. A collection of nearly one hundred varieties
of native grasses found in this county was also awarded
first premium in 1912. C. W. Potter, W. H. Peck and J. E.
Stauffer were in charge of this enterprise.
In 1908 Frank Herron and August Bokhold
while employed by Wm. Slonecker cutting brush for
riprapping on the north bank of the Niobrara river, discovered the curious
tree known as the "spreading
cedar." It is a tree whose branches surround the trunk
making a carpet on the ground for several feet surrounding
the tree. When discovered it
was but three feet high. Samples of it were sent by Mr.
Slonecker to the state (53)
university. It is said to be one of only
four of the same variety in existence. It is near the
Meadville baseball park.
Kid Wade, a young outlaw supposed to be
one of the famous gang that operated in this section
in early days, was
lynched in the early morning hours of
February 8, 1884. He was captured in Iowa by a band of
vigilantes, given a trial and turned over to officers from
Holt county. During the night he was taken from the guard in
a hotel at Bassett by a band of masked men and hung to a
railroad whistling post, one mile east of the town. He was
buried on Bassett hill. His true given name was Albert. His
trial took place in the home of the late Charles Honnen of
Johnstown, then residing a few miles west of Carns, in Keya
Paha county. On July 11, 1884, the commissioners of Brown
county allowed the bill for his coffin and box, twenty
dollars, furnished by J. M. Mead of Long Pine.
In very early times the Pawnee Indians from the southern
part of Nebraska, made hunting trips to the sand hill regions
every summer, camping on what is now called Goose creek in
southern Brown county. They gave the name "Koskopah"
creek to the stream. The curves of the creek resembled the
crook of a goose's neck, so the name was changed by white men
to Goosecreek. When the post office was established there in
1920; the Indian name, Koskopah, was sent in by the patrons,
but by a mistake in copying it was made Koshopah. The office
was established in a 10 by 12 sod house at Lee Athey's and he
was the first postmaster. Koshopah is said to be the only name
of Indian origin in the county.
By Fern Burdick, District 16