A. Burlingame, chaplain; A. C. Burlingame, reader of
the declaration; R. G. Brown delivered the oration, followed by
Hon. W. H. H. Flick, of the house of delegates of West Virginia.
It will be long remembered as one of the best we ever had.
Luther French was the
first postmaster, and was appointed in the summer of 1871. A. Burlingame,
formerly an M. E. clergyman, came in from Iowa and settled August
18, 1871. He succeeded Mr. French as postmaster January 1, 1872.
During the year 1885
there were raised: Corn, 3,842,566 bushels; wheat, 181,216 bushels;
oats, 848,000 bushels; barley, 520,560 bushels; total number of acres
in county, 366,642 acres; improved for all purposes, 242,781 acres.
In 1885 there were in the county the following animals: Horses, 7,529;
mules and asses, 786; cattle alone, 17,351; milch cows alone, 7,212;
total, cattle, 24,563; swine, 51,570; sheep, 7,926. The above statistics
were taken from a circular bulletin issued by Robt W. Furnas, secretary
of State Agricultural Society.
The first marriage occurred
November 24, 1871, at Spring Bauch, between Joseph E. Hawley and
Alice Julia Stephenson. Louis N. Bryant, J. P., performed the marriage
The first child born
in the county was a boy to Mr. and Mrs. Schemmerhorn, in August,
1871, four miles south of Sutton.
The first death was
that of a Mr. Magoon, who froze to death in the fearful ice and sleet
storm on the 18th and 19th of November, 1871, near Harvard.
In the early summer
of 1870, Peter O. Norman and his brother, natives of Sweden, settled
and built a dug-out on the creek and were the first white settlers
in this precinct. In October, 1871, John Kennedy came from Ohio and
settled and built his dug-out on Section 2, Town 8, Range 5, in the
north part of the town. A. A. Corey settled on the creek near the
Fillmore county line, early in 1871, and built a log house. At that
time the creek both ways was heavily timbered. About the same time,
Albert K. Marsh settled and built a log house on the creek below
the Normans. In the same spring J. Steinmetz and the Ballzer boys
settled on the prairie on section 34. F. M. Brown, Chas. W. Brown,
Geo. Brown and R. G. Brown came April 10th and took up a section
of land excepting one eighty, and are among the early settlers of
School Creek. W. Cunning and wife settled on the northeast quarter
of section 34, May 4, 1871, spending four weeks under a wagon bed
before building his dug-out. Mrs. Cunning was one of the first settlers.
Ezra Brown settled in
July, 1871, and commenced the business of plastering; he has held
the office of county commissioner three terms, justice of the peace,
and twice elected state senator.
E. J. Stone, George
Vangilder, Eli Mosier and Newman Brass, settled upon and pre-empted
Section 34, Town 8, Range 7. July 13, 1871, taking one-quarter each,
and building frame residences thereon. After perfecting their title,
they sold the whole section to the Eastern Land Association, commonly
known as the B. & M. R. R. Town Site Company, in February, 1872,
and the town site of Harvard was laid out on the same in the following
spring by the company.
F. M. Davis moved in
from Lincoln precinct July 10, 1871, and opened a boarding house
in Mosier's and Vangilder's buildings.
The settlement of this
precinct commenced at Liberty Farm ranch, at the mouth of Liberty
creek, on the Little Blue. The first settler in the precinct was
at the ranch, and was agent of Wells, Fargo & Co.'s Pony Express.
It was a post on their route from Atkinson, Kansas, across the continent
to Pike's Peak and San Francisco, California. These posts were also
the depots of the U S. overland mail service. So troublesome were
the war-like Sioux in those days that the Pony Express riders were,
when carrying on the business of the company, usually chased by them
from one post to another; their custom was to ride always at full
gallop through this part of the country, then considered a dangerous
part of the route. The Indians repeatedly broke up the route and
at times it was entirely abandoned to them. Some time in 1858, James
H. Lemon kept the ranch and was succeeded by Benjamin Royce, who,
with his brother John, natives of Ogle county, Ill., settled in the
latter part of 1867. Ben was at that time a state militia man, in
the United States service, and stationed at the military post at
Kiowa, on the Blue, in Thayer county. He was in the numerous battles
between the Sioux and the settlers.
Soon after he took his
claim the Indians broke up the entire settlement along the Blue,
stealing the stock, burning the ranches and driving the settlers
down the river to Kiowa.
In the fall of 1868
and spring of 1869, the Indians were driven back, and practically
gave up their hold on the country, and from this time forward settlements
took place with astonishing rapidity.
J. W. Small, from Red
Oak, Iowa, one of the early settlers at Glenville, came into the
town of Fairfield, and engaged in the real estate business and the
sale of the town site property, in the fall of 1874.
In November, 1871, J.
K. Sanborn made the first settlement in this precinct and built a
log house. A. F. and Jacob Ritterbush came in the spring of 1872,
and settled on lands adjoining the town site of Edgar. Mr. Carr came
in soon after. Henry Gipe preempted the land upon which Edgar now
stands. The first store in what is now Edgar was started by Ritterbush & Graham,
in a log house. S. T. Caldwell started the second store and Ritterbush & Mills
the third. The first postoffice in that part of the county was established
at Edgar. A. F. Ritterbush was the first postmaster; W. A. Gunn,
the second; and W. J. Waite, the third and present postmaster.
Albert Curtis was the
first settler in this precinct, and came in March 7, 1871. Following
him came John Yandle, Riley Thurber, May, 1871, Wright Stacy, E.
M. Isham, Nathan Tucker, A. Christison, the Pascall brothers, Fletcher
Page--so rapidly did this precinct settle up that all these men had
settled, built and commenced cultivating the land before June 1st
the same year. J. B. Dinsmore settled in this precint (sic) May 28,
1871. In July came Ashley and Woodhead. M. J. Hull settled here November
1, 1871. Mr. Dinsmore has held the offices of sheriff, county clerk,
county commissioner and state senator.
In July, 1872, Flavius
Northrup came from Buffalo county, Wisconsin, and settled in Marshall,
and was the first settler in the precinct. He brought with him about
seventy-five sheep, the first ones brought into the county for permanent
rearage. When he first came, the wolves troubled the flock considerably,
and in the great snow storm of the following spring, many of them
perished; but the flock afterward increased, and sheep raising here
is counted a success.
In September, 1872,
W. S. Randall and his brothers Addison and Warner, came in from Washington
county, Iowa, and settled upon Sections 28 and 30, and have since
erected comfortable frame houses.
Glenville is located
on the St. Joseph & Grand Island railroad, The postoffice was
established in 1871 with Jacob Kintner as first postmaster. Luke
Goldenstein is present postmaster. The business interests of the
town are represented by Luke Goldenstein and B. Johnson, in the general
store; Enno Uden, hardware; Frank Stiles, drugs, and E. D. Davis,
This town was first
located in Adams county and was subsequently moved to its present
location. Among the first settlers were G. W. Ablott and family and
to Mr. and Mrs. Ablott was born the first child in the township.
This postoffice of Saronville
was established in 1883 with John Florine as first postmaster. He
also opened the first store in the town. Among the early settlers
that have won political distinction receiving well deserved honors
at the hands of their fellow citizens, may be mentioned Dr. M. W.
Wilcox, now of Harvard, member of the constitutional convention elected
in 1875, and afterward state senator. Hon. E. E. Howard, an early
settler of Edgar, twice elected member of the House of Representatives,
and Hon. B. M. Nettleton, elected twice to represent Clay county
as member of the House of Representatives, an early settler of Spring
Ranch precinct. G. \V. Bemis was appointed by Governor Dawes district
attorney of the Fifth Judicial District, afterward elected by the
people to serve in the same capacity.
Wm. H. James, acting
governor of Nebraska, on a petition of citizen voters, issued a proclamation,
September 11, 1871, authorizing an election and designating the time
and place of holding the same to locate the county seat and to elect
a board of county officers; accordingly the first election in this
county was held on the 14th day of October, 1871, at the house of
Alexander Campbell on Section 6, Town 7, Range 6, near the present
water tank on the B. & M. R. R. east of Harvard. At that election
there were 89 votes polled; 56 of these were cast for Sutton, making
it the county seat.
The commissioners elected
at that election were:
A. K. Marsh, three years;
P. O. Norman, two years; A. A. Corey, one year; John B. Maltby, probate
judge; F. M. Brown, clerk; J. Hollingsworth, treasurer; P. T. Kearney,
sheriff; B. S. Fitzgerald, surveyor; J. S. Schermerhorn, superintendent
public instruction; J. Steinmetz, coroner.
The first session of
the board of commissioners was on November 4, 1871; at that meeting
the county was divided into three equal portions and designated as
commissioner and voting precincts, and were named Harvard, Little
Blue and School Creek.
The commissioner precincts
remain, but the voting precincts were increased to sixteen in the
December 4, 1871, R.
G. Brown was appointed treasurer to fill the vacancy caused by the
failure of Hollingsworth to qualify. At the December 4th session
of the commissioner board G. W. Bemis was appointed assessor for
School Creek, and resigned; J. C. Merrill was appointed to fill the
vacancy, Charles Canfield for Harvard and John W. Langford for Little
The first caucus in
the town of Sutton was held in the fall of 1871 at French's dug-out.
The second board of
county officers elected in the fall of 1873 were A. K. Marsh, Ezra
Brown and Richard Bayly, commissioners; E. P. Burnett, probate judge;
F. M. Brown, clerk; F. M. Davis, treasurer; John B. Dinsmore, sheriff;
J. T. Fleming, surveyor; D. W. Garver, superintendent instruction;
Dr. M. Clark, coroner.
The third board was
elected in the fall of 1875, and were:
Richard Bayly, C. M.
Turner, Ezra Brown, commissioners; E. P. Burnett, county judge; John
B. Dinsmore, clerk; F. M. Davis, treasurer; O. P. Alexander, sheriff;
T. W. Brookbank, superintendent instruction; M. S. Edgington, surveyor;
Dr. M. Clark, coroner.
In these days, the growth
of cities, states and their institutions, is measured by events,
not years. And so to those who have been actors in the scenes here
portrayed, the span of time seems full fifty years.
Where fifteen years
ago the deer and the antelope skipped over the plain in their native
freedom, now roam great herds of cattle, fattening on the luxuriant
Then the wild flowers
bloomed in their virgin beauty unnoticed. Now, great fields of waving
grain are on every hand, telling, in silent eloquence, a story of
peace and plenty.
Gathered here from every
clime are representatives of the strongest and best disciplined races
on the earth, who are building up a community on a foundation most
favorable to the permanent prosperity of the "bone and sinew" of
the world--where religious freedom, a free press, free speech and
free schools flourish under a Constitution extending equal protection
to all men.
What the future Clay
county shall be when our forms shall have gone back to dust, let
others tell. Its past has been told.
Established and built
by brave hearted men and women whose names, here committed to the
imperishable pages, are so wedded to deeds that the historian can
scarce separate them. May the memory of their struggles be kept ever
green by posterity.