- - - - and
roofs of the village
Colums of pale blue smoke, like clouds of
Rose from a hundred hearths, the home of
peace and contentment.
THE Seventh-Day Baptists settled the rich bottom lands of the
North Loup and Mira Greek valleys, and were well content to live
pastoral lives in their new Arcadian realm. This seemed in fullest
harmony with their simple religious system. The village organization
had therefore no part in their system, but materialized rather in
spite of it, as a part of our gregarious Teutonic system. The first
step in that direction came with the creation of a post office,
called North Loup, with Elder Oscar Babcock as postmaster.
Prior to this time the nearest postoffice was at Cotesfield in
Howard County. The Star route was extended to Valley county in the
fall of 1873, in charge of A. G. Gillespie as carrier and
contractor. The latter at one time controlled the mail routes on
both sides of the river between St. Paul and The Forks. His "Pony
Express" and stage coach were for many years the chief means of
communication between the settlements and the outer world. Thus we
hear that Truman Freeland used to carry it from Cotesfield to
Calamus and Willow Springs on the north side of the river, and that
Mrs. S. S. Haskell at one time managed the route between Ord and The
Forks (Burwell). Mr. Gillespie is still living, a hale and hearty
patriarch, at his home in Scotia; he has just filled his one
hundredth year, which marks him the oldest resident in the Loup
country, if not indeed the oldest man in our state.
Shortly after the postoffice was established the North Loupers
decided to build a school house. These people were indeed people of
education and knew how to appreciate good schools, and they proposed
to make the right kind of a start. Accordingly a dugout, fourteen
feet square, was constructed--a humble enough beginning, but
inestimably better than nothing at all--and Miss Kate Badger, now
Mrs. J. W. Holliday, was installed as teacher. This was in the
summer of 1874. Here then we have the first school in Valley county.
A few months later the county was districted for school purposes.
All the south half was designated as District No. 1, with (137)
North Loup as the centering point: the north half became District
No. 2. with its only school held for a time in the Mortensen dugout,
north of Ord,
beginnings of North Loup 1878, from a picture in the
possession of Frank L. Green
in charge of Mrs. Emma Haskell wife of Orson S. Haskell, one of the
founders of Ord. (138) At North Loup
the dugout school-house was early discarded for a neat little cedar
log cabin, erected on Elder Babcock's land, at the edge of the of
the present townsite. In the fall of 1873, W. J. Holliday opened a
general store on his homestead, not far from the postoffice and
school house. Here naturally enough the center of interest came to
be, and other buildings were soon springing up and making the
beginnings of quite a village. Just then the grasshoppers came, and
with the loss of crops everything came to a stand still., The
village, though, managed somehow to survive, and was regularly
surveyed and platted in 1877, in anticipation of the heavy influx of
settlers which commenced the very next year. The original plat of
North Loup, as may be seen from the cut herewith given, comprised
six blocks only. The streets, denominated as 1st and 2d, and A, B,
Plat of North Loup Showing the Original Townsite and a
Number of Later Additions.
were all 80 feet
wide. Lots were 4 to the half block; alleys were 25 feet wide. The
miscellaneous records show that the townsite was surveyed and
platted by C. H. Webster, that A. J. Davis and Eddie Babcock were
chainmen, and J. A. Green, axman. The plat was subscribed and sworn
to before County Commissioner Oscar Babcock, March 6, 1877, and
received for record the 7th day of March, 1877.
The year '78 marked the beginning of a steady growth in the
valley, In '81 the railroad question came to the fore. The
Republican Valley Road was contemplating a northward extension.
North Loup township helped matters along by voting bonds to the
amount of $4,000.00. The grade was at once begun, and by the spring
of 1882, had been completed from St. Paul to North Loup. As soon as
the railroad became an assured fact, there was a rush of settlers to
the village, and soon numerous, substantial buildings, (139)
were under erection. In a year the population increased from a
hundred to more than double that number. This has slowly been added
to in the course of later years till now, in 1905, the village
counts 510 all told. North Loup can never expect to become much of a
city, but is just a thrifty little residence town, an ideal place if
one wishes to retire to a moral Christian atmosphere, where churches
are wide open and saloons and drinking places are kept closed.
The history of Ord, the county seat and principal town in
Valley county, really begins with the organic election in 1873, when
it was made the official town of the county. But for more than two
years the town was without name, nor was a single house built upon
its site during that time. The county officials were satisfied to
keep their books and records at their respective residences--in
dugouts and in log cabins--and for all practical purposes they got
along very well indeed.
In May, 1874, the first steps were taken towards building the
town. Then O. S. Haskell of Valley county, O. C. Haskell of Chicago,
and A. M. Robbins of Dixon, Illinois, who had purchased the land
from the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad Company, made a
first plat of the proposed town. For some time it was known among
the settlers as "Chin City," a name which it took from A. T. Stacy,
or "Chin" Stacy, so named for a certain facial peculiarity, and who
lived in the only house anywhere near the townsite, in what is now
the Woodbury Addition to Ord. But this is how it took its real name:
During, the summer of 1874. as we will remember, General E. O. C.
Ord, who was then in command of the Department Of the Platte, came
into the valley to locate Fort Hartsuff; and in honor of this old,
war-scarred veteran it was decided to name the town Ord.
In the summer of 1875 the town was carefully platted, and the
first efforts were made to induce the people to build on the site.
To this end the townsite company proposed to give the county every
fourth block in the plat-eighteen blocks all told--on condition that
the county build a court house of equal value with the eighteen
blocks, on the townsite prior to July 4, 1880. The proposition was
promptly accepted by the board of commissioners on behalf of the
county. The townsite company now immediately executed a $2,000.00
bond for faithful performance. This instrument was approved by John
Case, chairman of the board of commissioners Nov. 16, and properly
recorded Nov. 25th of the same year. The eighteen blocks were
appraised at about $50.00 each, and on this basis the plans and
specifications of a court house to cost between $800.00 and $900.00
were drawn up and bids asked for. The contract was let to our friend
the bridge builder, John L. Means of Grand Island, November 17,
1875, consideration to be even $800.00.
SPECIFICATIONS OF COURT HOUSE.
Building to be 16x24 feet; 9 feet high.
Sills 6x8 inches.
studding 2x4, set 16 inches from center to center.
(141) Lower joist 2x8, set
18 inches from center to center.
Ceiling 2x4, set 16 inches from center to center.
Collar beams 1x6 on every set of rafters as shown in
plates, double, 2x4.
Rafters 2x4, 24 inches from center to center.
Joseph A. Green on his way to North Loup from Pardee
Kansas in 1872. This was the first frame house in that
town. Enlarged from a small picture in possession of Mr.
This unpretentious little structure was reared near the south
side of the present Court House Square, which was then a treeless
plat of virgin prairie. After being used for court purposes for some
twelve years it was removed to give place for the present, modern
building. It was carted to the east side of the square, where it may
yet be seen--a forlorn bit of the, past.
The court house was completed in February, 1876, and a couple
of months later Herbert Thurston commenced the erection of the first
residence on the townsite. Nothing further developed till the fall
of the year; then the grand old patriarch, S. S. Haskell, set up the
first hostelry, general store, and postoffice, in what in those days
was considered a very pretentious frame building, situated in the
east part of the present town on the road from the river bridge.
This structure has been variously known as the Ord City Hotel, the
Dies House, and is now in a somewhat remodeled form, the Transit
House, near the north side of the square.
No further improvement was made in the townsite till the fall
of 1877, when W. H. Mitchell moved his paper, the Valley County
Herald, from Calamus, and began its publication in a small log
building, moved from the above-named place, which had until this
time, on account of its location near Fort Hartsuff, been the
principal town of the county.
During the year 1878, there was quite a large immigration to
the county, and Ord began to grow quite rapidly. In the spring, E.
S. Harter moved his stock of goods over from Springdale Postoffice,
and built a store twenty-two by forty feet in size, two stories
high, and put in a large stock of general merchandise, hardware and
drugs. Herman Westover, an attorney, moved here from Calamus and
erected a dwelling. W. A. Hobson and L. E. Post each erected
blacksmith shops and dwellings. W. H. Mitchell sold the Valley
County Herald to J. C. Lee, then built a dwelling and began the
practice of law. In September, H. W. Nelson moved his paper, the
Valley County Courier from Vinton. There were now two newspapers
until the Herald failed in November.
Sylvester S. Haskell, the Father of Ord.
Old Townsite Company L to R. (top) O. S. Haskell, O. C.
Haskell, W. W. Haskell, & A. M. Robbins
The year was
further noted for the (143)
from Calamus to Ord of Z. K. Ferguson with a good stock of general
merchandise. Early in 1879, Joe Capron purchased Henry Nelson's
paper, the Courier, and established the Valley County Journal. Soon
afterwards Case & Mortensen opened the first exclusive hardware
store in Ord, and indeed in the county. J. A. Collins and John A
Bales, established a harness shop, Copp & Westover opened a nice new
law office and Henry Nelson built the first livery stable. S. L. R.
Maine and H. M. Deegan moved down from Calamus and re-established
Early Plat of Ord Showing the Original Townsite, and S.
S. Haskell's and Finn Milford's Addition.
Ord. S. S. Haskell, H. A. Babcock, M. E. Getter, J. H. Collins and
others added to the growing little town by erecting dwelling houses.
When Fort Hartsuff was built it immediately became the center
of interest in the county. Men with an eye to business flocked
thither; and, as might have been expected, a thriving little town
was soon springing up on the very edge of the fort reservation. This
was Calamus. For a year or more it was the liveliest town in the
county. Under the patronage of Lieutenant Thomas Capron of the fort,
the townsite was platted and quite a start was made. Sixteen blocks
and half blocks were laid off, pretentious streets, 100 feet wide,
were planned, and every preparation was made for the expected boom.
Stores of the several kinds were opened, and many residences sprang
up. The town had the undivided support of the fort garrison and of
many outlying settlers. But Ord was altogether too near, and (144)
then came the rumors of the fort's speedy abandonment. The bubble
burst and in three years' time the town was to all practical
Townsite of Calamus.
As we have
seen above, what was Calamus's loss became Ord's gain. For from
Calamus came newspaper men, lawyers, physicians and business men. In
many instances these not alone moved their business to Ord, but the
very houses thither. Thus died ambitious Calamus.
The following record and affidavit is taken from the Valley
County Miscellaneous Record, No. 1, and is reproduced, spelling and
all, just as it appears there:
State of Nebr.,
To the Co. Clerk of said County:
The Undersigned Surveyor being employed by Lieut. Thos. Capron,
to Survey Mark and Plat the Town Site of the Town of Calamus in said
Valley county according to law and for that purpose he did Employ
George Ferguson and C. R. Hutchins, Sworn chanemen on Such survey
and did on the 16th 17th Days of Sept proceed to Make such Survey of
which the foregoing is a correct and True Plat of the same being
made on the North West ¼ of the S. W. ¼ of Sec. (11) Eleven in
Township (20), R. (15) W and extending South 36 ft. on the S. W. ¼
of the S. W. ¼ of said section (11) Tp 20 N. of Range (15)
Dated and signed this Sep 24th, 1874. Levi G. Perce, Surveyor.
Affidavit (to above)
I. G. Ferguson and C. R. Hutchins do solemly sware that we will
support the constitution of the United States and the constitution
of the State of Nebraska and faithfully and impartialy discharge the
duties of Chainmen according to law and the best of our ability.
||W. D. LONG,
Filed Oct. 5th,
In those early days towns were projected rather promiscuously
on the virgin prairie by ambitious organizers. Natural demand had
little to do with such enterprises; the idea was to make a demand.
Thus the town of Vinton came into existence. In 1876 the town was
planned but very little was accomplished for a couple of years.
Early in 1878, Henry W. Nelson (145)
established a newspaper there, which he called the Valley County
Courier. For some months this courageous boomer did all in his power
to attract settlers and investors to the new town, but so seemingly
hopeless was the outlook that, despairing of success, Mr. Nelson
moved with his paper to Ord. On Nov. 18, 1878, the Burlington and
Missouri River Railway Company made an out-and-out donation of the
townsite, but even now no marked progress was made.
The Vinton Townsite Association was incorporated May 11, 1882,
and the following well known men were elected directors: H. C.
Perry, Thomas G. Bartlett and A. W. Travis. The plat on file locates
the town in the S. W. ¼ of the S. W. ¼, of Sec. 7. in Township 18,
Range 14 West. Sixteen blocks
were platted; of these, block six was designated as the "Public
Square." But the town had no future; there was no demand for another
town within seven miles of Ord, and Vinton too--died.
Of the four towns here mentioned Calamus had a meteoric
existence and then died-, Vinton was still-born and came to nothing;
North Loup has become a prosperous and promising little city; and
Ord has developed into a strong, progressive business center. It is
almost pathetic now in the new Ord of 1905, with her many business
houses and fine residences everywhere springing up, to read of the
slow progress of those early days. Years of grasshoppers and
droughts, of hailstorms and windstorms, all did their share in
keeping her in the embryonic state. But when she finally burst into
bloom it was done with a substantiality engendered in the years of
rest. The above statement should however be qualified somewhat. The
first half of the decade 1880-90 was indeed remarkable for steady
growth and substantial progress. The general standstill in affairs
came later as a result of poor crops and hot, blasting winds which
for a time threatened ruin to all the Valley.
The following paragraphs on "Later Improvements" and "Local
Matters" in Ord of 1882 are quoted verbatim from Andreas's History
of Nebraska, and should now after almost a quarter century prove
interesting reading, and at the same time impress the reader with
the many great changes that have come to the County Seat since that
"In 1880, the little village began to make rapid progress
indeed. So great was the improvement that it is impossible to
mention it in detail. About thirty-five buildings were put up. Over
one-half of these ware business houses. The total value of buildings
erected that year is estimated at $21,226. The population had by the
end of the year increased to 250. (146)
During the years 1881 and 1882, Ord continued to progress
steadily, and its population will number about 500. All branches of
business are well represented, and the trade of the town is in a
prosperous condition. On November 8, 1881, bonds amounting to
$5,000, were voted to the Union Pacific Railroad for the purpose of
securing the early building of the railroad up the North Loup
"In 1881, the entire town was threatened with destruction by
fire. Though the village was saved, the livery stable of H. W.
Nelson was burned to the ground.
"In the spring of 1882, a fire broke out on the south side of
the public square. It was caused by a defective flue. Before it
could be stopped, several buildings, including the office of Judge
Herman Westover, were completely destroyed.
"Ord was incorporated as a village on June 23, 1881. The
following is the first Board of Trustees appointed on the above date
by the County Commissioners: H. G. Rodgers, S. S. Haskell, B. C.
White, R. F. Milford and H. W. Nelson.
"Manufactures.--The Ord Flouring and Grist Mill was commenced
in the year 1880 and completed early in 1881, by R. F. Milford. It
was built at a cost of $5,000, and for the quality of flour
manufactured, it is second to none in the state.
"In 1880 John Drake & Co., started a brick yard and the first
year about 100,000 bricks were manufactured, since which time the
yard has been kept up and a very superior quality of brick is made.
"Banks.--The Valley County Bank was established in October,
1880, A general bank and collection business is done. The affairs of
the bank are in a prosperous condition. J. D. Bacon is President,
and Frederick L. Harris, Cashier.
"The Ord City Bank was established and commenced business on
March 15, 1882. A general loan and collection business is done, and
the bank starts in with very favorable prospects. H. C. Metcalf is
President, and George A. Percival, Cashier.
"Hotels--Besides the restaurants and boarding houses the hotels
are two in number. The Ord City House is the old hotel built by S.
S. Haskell, and is now owned and operated by James Dies, who keeps a
"The Satterlee House, E. D. Satterlee, Proprietor, is centrally
located, is well kept, and is doing a good business.
"Churches.--The different church societies are represented by
the Methodist Episcopal, Baptist, Presbyterian and Seventh-day
Baptist denominations. The first two named have capacious and
comfortable houses of worship, which were completed in the spring of
1882. All these societies are liberally supported by the moral and
intelligent citizens of Ord.
"Schools.--The Ord school is provided with able instructors,
and is well sustained by the intelligent and education-loving
citizens. One of the first things looked to in the foundation of the
town was a good school, and no money or labor has been spared to
make it such a one. (147)
Societies. --Ord Lodge, No. 90, Independent Order of Odd
Fellows, has an organization of over fifty members. The society owns
a hall and are in a prosperous condition. The order was organized
December, 1880, with thirty-six members. W. J. Wilson was the first
"Foote Post, No. 40, Grand Army of the Republic, was organized
late in the year 1880, with W. H. Williams Post Commander.
"Pilot Lodge, No. 57, Independent Order of Good Templars, was
organized at a quite early date. They have a large and working
"Newspapers.--The Valley County Journal is published here by
Capron & Wolf It is a bright and well edited weekly, Republican in
politics, and a five-column quarto in size. The Journal was founded
in February, 1879, by J. H. Capron, who had purchased the Courier
and changed the name, and published it but a few weeks until his
office was burned, when the paper discontinued for a short time,
until a new office could be fitted up. Since that time the Journal
has continued to be published. In August, 1881, Charles E. Wolf
purchased a half-interest in the paper.
"J. H. Capron came to Nebraska in September, 1874. and located
at Fort Hartsuff, where he was Quartermaster's clerk until December,
1875, when he went to Manitowoc, Wis., and took charge of a
newspaper published there until February, 1878, when he again
entered Government employ in Wyoming Territory until December, when
he located at Ord, and soon afterward started the Journal. He was
born in Beloit, Wis., September 14, 1856. He learned the printer's
trade in the office of the Freeport, Ill., Journal, beginning in
1871. and remaining until going to Fort Hartsuff, Neb. He was
married February 15, 1882, to Miss Mary F. Ramsey.
"Charles C. Wolf, the junior editor of the Journal, came to
Nebraska in June, 1881, and in August he purchased a half-interest
in the Journal. He was born in Freeport, Ill., March 3, 1855. He
learned his trade in the office of the Freeport Journal, beginning
in 1872, and working there until be removed to Ord.
"The Ord Weekly Quiz is a bright and sparkling paper,
Republican in politics, and was founded on April 6, 1882, by Will
Haskell, of Chicago. The paper starts out with good prospects for