1889 HISTORY OF LINCOLN, NEBRASKA
POLITICAL HISTORY OF THE COUNTY -- A COMPLETE LIST OF THE STATE AND COUNTY OFFICERS FROM THE BEGINNING TO THE PRESENT
(82) The organization and political history of Lancaster county is, of course, of great interest, and valuable. Political contests in those early days were as warm as at present, and political canvasses were made with the same spirit of rivalry that now exists. For this part of the history of Lancaster county, the authors are indebted to Hon. Chas. H. Gere, editor of the State Journal, who prepared a chapter upon Lancaster county for W. W. Cox's "History of Seward County." The work is well and accurately done, as many of the dates and figures have been compared with the records and found to be correct, and the authors have no hesitancy in giving the subjoined extract as being a comprehensive and exact political history of the county. Mr. Gere's figures and reminiscences reach to and include the fall election of 1887, which have been supplemented by the authors from the records: to bring the history down to date:
In the fall of 1859 the first movement toward county organization was made. A public meeting was held under the "Great Elm" that stood on the east bank of Salt creek, near the northwest corner of the B. &. M. R. R. depot grounds, in Lincoln. Festus Reed was elected chairman, and after a strong speech predicting the future greatness of the little commonwealth they were preparing to organize on the frontier, the business in hand was proceeded with. A. J. Wallingford, Joseph J. Forest, and W. T. Donovan, were appointed a commission to select a location for a county seat, and they chose the present site of Lincoln, which was laid off in 1864, and named "Lancaster." An election was ordered by the Commissioners of Cass county, to which the unorganized county west was attached for election and judicial purposes, to be held at the house of William Shirley, on Stevens creek, and Judges and Clerks of Election duly commissioned. At this election, held on the 10th day of October, 1859, A. J. Wallingford, J. J. Forest, and W. T. Donovan were elected a Board of County Commissioners; Richard Wallingford was elected County Treasurer; L. J. Loder, County Clerk; and John P. Loder, Recorder. No record of this election, or of the official proceedings of the county officers, are on file, except the certificates of the election and the qualification of L. J. Loder and J. P. Loder, in the archives of the county.
It is probable that little or no business was done under this organization. On (83) the 9th of October, 1860, a general election took place, and was held at the house of W. T. Donovan for Lancaster county. Twenty-three votes were cast, and the following names are found on the official poll list:
Jeremiah Showalter, Richard Wallingford, J. D. Main, C. F. Retzlaff, Johnathan Ball, Hiram Allen, Benj. Eaves, Festus Reed, Daniel Harrington, James Coultard, Benj. Hemple, Wm. Shirley, James Moran, J. J. Forest, E. L. Reed, Michael Shea, L. J. Loder, John Dee, A. J. Wallingford, Aaron Wood, Lucius West, J. P. Loder, and W. T. Donovan.
For Delegate to Congress J. Sterling Morton received eleven votes, and Samuel G. Dailey twelve, showing a close contest. For Councilman, equivalent to a Senator in a State, T. M. Marquett received thirteen votes, and W. R. Davis two. For "joint," or float Councilman, Samuel H. Ebert received fifteen votes, and ---- Cozad one. For Representative, Wm. Gilmore had sixteen votes; Louden Mullen, fifteen; W. R. Davis, sixteen; Wm. Reed, sixteen: E. W. Barnum, twelve; and J. N. Wise, six.
For county officers the following were elected without opposition: Commissioners -- one year, J. J. Forest; two years, A. J. Wallingford; three years, W. T. Donovan; Treasurer -- R. Wallingford; Clerk -- J. P. Loder. No candidate for Sheriff, Prosecuting Attorney, or Coroner, appears to have been running, and probably there was not business enough in the legal line to pay for the trouble of getting up a ticket. Festus Reed and R. Wallingford were elected Justices of the Peace, and C. F. Retzlaff and James Coultard Constables. Had all the offices to which the county was entitled been filled, they would have gone more than half way round the entire voting population. There are no records of any official acts of these officers elect.
On the eighth of October, 1861, the county election was held at the house of James Moran, and only fourteen votes were cast. The new names appearing on the poll list preserved in the office of the County Clerk, are: E. Galvin, E. L. Barrett, T. G. Maxwell, and Michael McDonald. Donovan, Wallingford, the Loders, Dill, Reed, Moran, Harrington, Dee, and Shea, again exercised the right of suffrage.
J. J. Forest was elected County Commissioner; Festus Reed, Probate Judge; L. J. Loder, Sheriff; J. P. Loder, Clerk; C. L. Barrett, Assessor; T. G. Maxwell and J. Moran, Justices of the Peace; and Jonathan Ball and C. F. Retzloff, Constables.
A record of an adjourned meeting of the County Commissioners, after this election, held May 1, 1862, is the first sign of official life in Lancaster county to be found in the County Clerk's office. This record occupies fifteen lines on a page of small commercial note paper, and informs us that the county was then and there divided into two election precincts, by a line running east and west through the center of "town 10;" and a petition for a road from the southeast corner of section 31, town 9, range 7, and another from the southeast corner of section 36, town 9, range 6, and one from the southeast corner of section 16, town 12, range 6, were received. In what direction and whither these roads were to run, the record saith not, and County Clerk J. P. Loder forgot to append his signature to the document. The Board adjourned till July first, but probably did not meet again till after the October election.
At the election of 1862, held on the fourteenth of October, the division of the county into two precincts was disregarded. Fourteen votes were cast, by Messrs. (84) Cox, Mason, Foster, Calkin, Chatterton, Blunt, Wallingford, Ball, Chambers, Loder, Maxwell, Van Benthusen, Donovan, and Coultard. J. F. Kinney, Independent Democrat, received ten votes, and Sam. G. Dailey four, for Delegate to Congress. T. M. Marquett received twelve votes for Councilman for the district. Geo. L. Seybolt received ten, and J. E. Doom three votes, for joint or float Councilman. Five other Cass county statesmen received from one to seven votes for Representative, and T. G. Maxwell received thirteen, all, it is presumed, but his own suffrage, for the same office; but the other counties in the district not doing so well by him, he was not elected. Joel Mason was elected Commissioner.
The next record is of a meeting of the Board of County Commissioners, held November 3d, which ordered a special election to be held on January 17, 1863, to fill vacancies in the offices of Coroner, Surveyor, and Justices of the Peace and Constables, as those previously elected had not qualified.
The next meeting was held February 5, 1863, and the officers elected at the special election sworn in. The Clerk was directed, at this meeting, to notify Judge Festus Reed to stop his depredations on the timber in the school section, in town nine, range six.
Another meeting was held September 12th, of the same year, and the county divided into four precincts -- named Lancaster, Salt Basin, Stevens Creek, and Salt Creek, and the various places for holding elections were designated.
In 1863 the county election was held October 13th, and an entire new set of officers were elected, fifty-five votes having been cast in the county.
J. S. Gregory was elected County Commissioner for three years, William Shirley for two, and P. S. Schamp for one year. Clerk, Milton Langdon; Treasurer, R. Wallingford; Sheriff, Joseph Chambers; Surveyor, J. J. Forest; Coroner, Dr. John Crim; Probate Judge, J. D. Main.
J. S. Gregory was elected to the State Legislature, for the Representative district to which Lancaster belonged, and John Cadman, who lived in that part of the county then belonging to Clay, was elected for Clay, Johnson, and Gage counties, and took with him a petition from the residents of the northern and southern parts of Clay county for the wiping out of that county, and dividing it between Lancaster and Gage. This measure was consummated, and the addition to Lancaster made her a county of no mean proportions, extending thirty-six miles north and south, and twenty-four east and west.
The assessed valuation of Clay county at the time of its transfer was $36,129.82, of which $22,637.82 fell to the share of Lancaster. Her debt was $295.11, of which Lancaster assumed $185.70.
The Commissioners of Lancaster and Gage held a meeting at the house of H. W. Parker, Clerk of Clay county, near Olathe, July 19, 1864, and made a final settlement of the affairs of the county. The document setting forth the terms of this settlement was signed by Fordice Roper, F. H. Dobbs, and William Tyler, Commissioners of Clay county, and John W. Prey, of Lancaster, and attested by Oliver Townsend, clerk of Gage county, and duly filed. Copies of the official records of Clay county were made for Gage and Lancaster counties, but the latter were lost in Salt creek while en route, and have never been filed among the archives of the county.*
*John W. Prey was the Treasurer of Clay county when the division was made, and by some means had charge of the records referred to. When the division had been completed he sent these records to Beatrice, to have the copies made. When the copy was ready for Lancaster county, Mr. Prey sent over to Beatrice a man named William Mills, a neighbor, with an order for the books. Mills's especial errand to Beatrice was to get a grist of flour. On getting this and the records Mills started home, late in the afternoon. When he reached Salt creek a tremendous rain had raised the waters very high, and not thinking of this, Mills plunged his team into the stream where he had comfortably forded it on his trip to Beatrice. The current was too strong, and the wagon box was floated off and upset, records, grist, and groceries, floating down the tide. Mills himself was nearly drowned, and was only rescued by the Prey family, whose residence was near the ford, rushing out and lending him assistance.
(85) At the time of the division of Clay county the principal settlements were in the extreme north and south of its territory, and a large majority of its tax-payers were undoubtedly favorable to its division. But after the lapse of a few years, when the central part was filled up with inhabitants, much discussion ensued as to the propriety of restoring the county, and several attempts have been made in that direction; but it is probable that the majority of the people in the territory involved are well satisfied with their present status. The clause on county division in the constitution adopted in 1875, will probably preclude any further agitation, and will establish our present boundaries for all time to come.
In 1864, at the Territorial election held October 11th, eighty votes were polled, of which P. W. Hitchcock received fitly-three, and George L. Miller twenty-seven, for Delegate to Congress.
John Cadman was elected to the House of Representatives for Lancaster county, and William Imlay for the Representative district composed of Lancaster, Seward, and Saline counties. Richard Wallingford was elected County Commissioner; P. S. Schamp, Surveyor; and Milton Langdon, Prosecuting Attorney.
At the general election, October 10, 1865, 125 votes were polled. August Kountze, for Territorial Treasurer, John Gillespie, for Auditor, received 100 votes. each, and S. G. Goodman and John Seaton, their opponents, six votes each.
John Cadman was re-elected Representative for Lancaster county, and Joel Mason for the district of Lancaster, Seward, and Saunders counties.
The county officers elected were: Milton Langdon, Clerk; Luke Lavender, Probate Judge; S. S. Snyder, County Commissioner; William Guy, Treasurer; W. Ingram, Coroner; J. S. Gregory, Prosecuting Attorney; and P. S. Schamp, Surveyor.
June 2, 1866, an election was held under the State constitution, prepared by the Territorial Legislature of '65-'66, at which 165 votes were polled in the county, of which David Butler received 112, and J. Sterling Morton 53, for Governor; for the constitution, 95; against, 53. John Cadman was elected Senator to the first State Legislature, which met July 4th. James Queen, of Lancaster, was returned elected as Representative from Lancaster, Seward, and Saunders, and his seat was contested by his opponent, J. L. Davison, of Seward, and the contest was pending when the Legislature adjourned, after an eight-days' session. Ezra Tullis was elected Representative from the county.
At the October election of the same year, pending the admission of Nebraska as a State, 199 votes were cast, of which T. M. Marquett, (Republican,) received 129, and J. Sterling Morton, (Democrat,) 69 for Delegate to Congress.
J. E. Doom, of Cass, was elected Territorial Councilor and State Senator from Cass and Lancaster; E. K. Clark, of Seward, Representative from Lancaster, Seward, and Saunders; and E. H. Hardenberg, Representative from Lancaster county (86) to both United States and State Legislatures. Hardenberg resigned at the close of the Session of the Territorial Legislature, in March, 1867, and John Cadman was elected to fill the vacancy in the State Legislature, which was called immediately after.
John W. Prey was elected County Commissioner in the Third District.
At the county election of 1867, held October 8th, 235 votes were cast. The officers elected were: Silas Pratt, Commissioner; John Cadman, Probate Judge; S. B. Galey, County Clerk; J. H. Hawke, Sheriff; M. Langdon, Treasurer; Ezra Tullis, Surveyor; F. A. Bidwell, School Commissioner; and Emit Lange, Coroner.
At the State election of 1868, held October 11th, 460 votes were cast. David Butler, (Republican,) received 320, and J. R. Porter, (Democrat,) 123. C. H. Gere, of Lancaster, was elected Senator for the district composed of Lancaster, Saline, Gage, Pawnee, and Jefferson counties; Ezra Tullis, Representative from the county; W. R. Fields, County Commissioner.
Seth Robinson, of Lancaster, was appointed Attorney General by Governor Butler.
At the county election, October 10, 1869, 562 votes were cast, S. B. Pound, (Republican,) for Probate Judge, receiving 392; J. M. Bradford, (Democrat,) 170. Capt. R. A. Bain was elected Clerk; John Cadman, Treasurer; Sam. McClay, Sheriff; M. Langdon, Surveyor; Robert Faulkner and D. H. Sudduth, County Commissioners; Allen M. Ghost, Superintendent Public Instruction; Dr. D. W. Tingley, Coroner.
At the State election, October 11, 1870, 1,116 votes were polled, David Butler (Republican) receiving 798; John H. Croxton, (Democrat,) 3113. Col. A. J. Cropsey, of Lancaster, was elected Senator for the district, and S. B. Galey Representative for the county.
An election was held May 2, 1871, for Delegates to the Constitutional Convention, which met in June, and Seth Robinson and J. N. Cassell were elected to represent the county; Col. J. E. Philpott, of Lancaster, from the Eleventh Senatorial District, of Lancaster and Seward; and W. H. Curtis, of Pawnee, for the Fourteenth Representative District, composed of Lancaster, Saunders, Johnson, Pawnee, and Gage.
At the election on the new constitution, held September 19th of the same year, 1,415 votes were cast -- 1,237 for the new constitution, and 178 against it. The constitution was not adopted.
At the county election of October 10th of the same year, 1,259 votes were cast. The officers elected were: J. D. Lottridge, County Commissioner; A. L. Palmer Probate Judge; R. O. Phillips, Clerk; R. A. Bain, Treasurer; A. M. Ghost, Superintendent Public Instruction; J. T. Murphy, Surveyor; and Dr. J. G. Fuller, Coroner.
At the State election, October 8, 1872, 1,736 votes were polled, L. Crounse (Republican) receiving 1,189, and J. L. Warner (Democrat) 535, for Member of Congress. S. B. Pound, of Lancaster, was elected Senator for the Eleventh District: S. G. Owen and A. K. White, Representatives for the county; and M. H. Sessions, of Lancaster, Representative for the Fourteenth District. Henry Spellman was elected County Commissioner. J. J. Gosper, of Lancaster, was elected Secretary of State.
At the county election, October 14, 1873, 1,927 votes were polled. The officers (87) elected were: J. Z. Briscoe, Commissioner; A. L. Palmer, Probate Judge; R. O. Phillips, Clerk; Charles C. White, Treasurer; Sam. McClay, Sheriff; Dr. J. O. Carter, Coroner; Tom I. Atwood, Surveyor; J. W. Cassell, Superintendent Public Instruction.
At the State election, October 13, 1874, 2,038 votes were polled, Silas Garber (Republican) receiving 1,382; Albert Tuxbury, (Democrat,) 287; J. H. Gardner, (Independent,) 170; and Jarvis S. Church, (Prohibition,) 139.
C. C. Burr, of Lancaster, was elected Senator for the Eleventh District; Alfred G. Hastings and Louis Helmer, Representatives for the county, and Thomas P. Chapman, of Saunders, for the Fourteenth Representative District.
Dr. H. D. Gilbert was elected County Commissioner, and A. G. Scott Superintendent of Public Instruction, to fill vacancy. On the question of a Constitutional Convention, there were 1,069 ayes to 558 noes.
At the election for members of the Constitutional Convention, held on the 6th of April, 1875, S. B. Pound and C. H. Gere, of Lincoln, C. W. Pierce, of Waverly, and J. B. Hawley, of Firth, were elected to represent the county.
At the State election under the proposed new constitution, and the county election, both occurring October 12, 1875, 2,360 votes were polled, S. B. Pound, (Republican,) of Lancaster, receiving 1,533, and G. B. Scofield, of Otoe, 727, for Judge of the Second Judicial District. Judge Pound was elected. The county officers elected were: W. E. Keys, County Commissioner; A. G. Scott, County Judge; William A. Sharrar, Clerk; Charles C. White, Treasurer; Sam. McClay, Sheriff; Dr. A. C. Gibson, Coroner; S. G. Lamb, Superintendent Public Instruction; J. P. Walton, Surveyor. For the new constitution, 2,119; against, 109. S. J. Tuttle, of Lancaster, was elected a Regent of the University.
At the State Election, November, 1876, 2,911 votes were polled, of which Silas Garber, (Republican,) candidate for Governor, received 1,947: Paren England, (Democrat,) of Lancaster, 712; and J. F. Gardner, (Greenback,) 252. The Senators elected from the county, which was now entitled to two, were Thomas P. Kennard, of Lincoln, and Cyrus N. Baird, of Oak creek. The Representatives elected were R. O. Phillips and W. C. Griffith, of Lincoln, John Cadman, of Yankee Hill, and Henry Spellman, of Saltillo. J. N. Wilcox was elected Commissioner.
At the county election of 1877, A. D. Burr was elected Clerk; Louis Helmer, Treasurer; J. S. Hoagland, Sheriff; J. R. Webster, County Judge; G. S. Lamb, Superintendent of Public Instruction; J. P. Walton, Surveyor; E. T. Piper, Coroner; H. D. Gilbert, Commissioner; and C. W. Pierce, State Senator, to fill vacancy.
At the State election of 1878, Albinus Nance, (Republican,) candidate for Governor, received 1,971 votes; W. H. Webster, (Democrat,) 433; and L. G. Todd, Whole number of votes cast, 2,818. Amasa Cobb, of Lancaster, was elected a Justice of the Supreme Court. M. B. Cheney and E. E. Brown were elected to the Senate, and S. G. Owen, W. W. Carder, M. H. Sessions, and T. R. Burling, to the House. John McClay was elected Commissioner.
At the county election, November, 1879, W. J. Weller was elected County Commissioner; J. E. Philpot, Judge; L. E. Cropsey, Clerk; Louis Helmer, Treasurer; Granville Ensign, Sheriff; A. D. Burr, Clerk District Court; E. T. Piper, Coroner; H. S. Bowers, Superintendent Public Instruction; and J. P. Walton, Surveyor, Amasa Cobb, of Lancaster, was re-elected Justice of the Supreme Court for the (88) full term. S. B. Pound, of Lancaster, was elected Judge of the Second Judicial District for a second term.
At the State election of 1880, 4,778 votes were cast, of which Albinus Nance (Republican) received 3,397 and T. W. Tipton (Democrat) 1,381. The Senators elected were C. H. Gere and C. W. Pierce. Representatives, N. C. Abbott, C. O. Whedon, N. T. McClunn, and R. B. Graham. Commissioner, W. E. G. Caldwell.
At the county election of 1881 the following officers were chosen: Treasurer, R. B. Graham; Clerk, John M. McClay; Judge, C. M. Parker; Commissioner, H. C. Reller; Superintendent of Public Instruction, H. S. Bowers; Sheriff, Gran Ensign; Surveyor, J. P. Walton; Coroner, A. J. Shaw.
At the State election of 1882, 4,818 votes were cast, of which James W. Dawes. (Republican) received 3,328; J. Sterling Morton, (Democrat,) 1,099, and E. P. Ingersoll, (Anti-Monopoly,) 391. Senators were E. E. Brown and P. H. Walker. Representatives, C. O. Whedon, A. W. Field, H. Wessenberg, J. W. Worl, M. H. Sessions, and M. H. Wescott. Commissioner, W. J. Miller. W. W. W. Jones, of Lancaster, was elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and C. H. Gere, a Regent of the university.
At the county election of 1883 the officers elected were: R. B. Graham, Treasurer; J. H. McClay, Clerk; E. R. Sizer, Clerk of District Court; S. M. Melick, Sheriff; C. M. Parker, Judge; W. E. G. Caldwell, Commissioner; J. P. Walton, Surveyor; H. S. Bowers, Superintendent of Public Instruction; N. J. Beachley, Coroner; Levi Snell, Senate, to fill vacancy. S. B. Pound was elected to a third term from this county, as a Judge of the Second Judicial District.
At the State and legislative election of 1884 the whole number of votes cast in the county was 6,101. Dawes, (Republican,) for Governor, received 4,012; Morton (Democrat) 2,180, and J. G. Miller, of Lancaster, (Prohibition,) 209. C. C. Burr and Alba Smith were elected Senators, and S. W. Burnham, Wm. B. Brandt, H. J. Liesveldt, A. W. Field, and J. B. Wright, to the House. Commissioner, H. C. Reller. Allen W. Field, of the Lancaster delegation, was, on taking his seat, elected Speaker of the House.
At the county election of 1885 the following officers were chosen: Treasurer, Jacob Roche; Clerk, O. C. Bell; Sheriff, S. M. Melick; Judge, C. M. Parker; Register of Deeds, J. H. McClay; Surveyor, J. P. Walton; Coroner, E. T. Roberts; Superintendent of Public Instruction, Frank D. McCluskey; Commissioner, Alba Brown. C. H. Gere was re-elected a Regent of the university, and Amasa Cobb. was re-elected to the supreme bench.
At the State election of 1886 the whole number of votes cast was 6,834, of which John M. Thayer (Republican) received for Governor, 3,985; James E. North (Democrat) 1,424, and H. W. Hardy, of Lancaster, (Prohibition,) 925. R. E. Moore and S. W. Burnham were elected to the Senate, and J. L. Caldwell, J. Shamp, I. M. Raymond, J. Dickinson, H. J. Liesveldt, and G. W. Eggleston, to the House. Commissioner, H. J. Shaberg.
At the county election of 1887, the following officers were chosen: Treasurer, Jacob Roche; Clerk, O. C. Bell; Sheriff, S. M. Melick; Judge, W. E. Stewart; Register of Deeds, John D. Knight; Commissioner, Thos. Dickson; Superintendent Public Instruction, Frank D. McCluskey; Surveyor, J. P. Walton; Clerk of District Court, E. R. Sizer. Allen W. Field, of Lancaster, was elected a Judge of the second judicial district.
(89) At the State election held on November 6, 1888, 9,962 votes were cast, of which Thayer, (Republican,) for Governor, received 5,440; McShane (Democrat) 3,610, and Bigelow (Prohibition) 811. At that election, Connell (Republican) was elected to Congress for the First Congressional District, receiving 5,355 votes, to 3,821 for Morton, (Democrat,) and 795 for Graham, (Prohibition.) For the State Senate, Raymond and Beardsley were elected, while for the House. Messrs. Hall, Caldwell, Dickinson, Severin, and McBride, were the successful candidates, all being Republicans.
R. D. Stearns was elected County Attorney, and Alba Brown, Commissioner.
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