Changes Down Through the Years


What constitutes a state?
Not high raised battlement, or labored mound: 
Thick wall or moated gate;
Not cities fair, with spires and turrets crown'd: 
No:--Men, high-minded men,
With powers as far above dull brutes endued
In forest, brake or den,
As beasts excel cold rocks and brambles rude:-

--Alcaeus, The State.

     THE FIRST regular election held in Valley county after its organization took place in October, 1873, and resulted as follows: L. C. Jacobs, John Case and R. W. Bancroft, Commissioners; W. D. Long, Clerk; E. D. McKenney, Treasurer; Oscar Babcock, Judge, H. A. Babcock, Sheriff; Thomas McDowell, Surveyor; and Charles Badger, Superintendent of Schools. At an election held October 13, 1874, R. W. Bancroft was re-elected Commissioner and Peter Mortensen and Mingerson Coombs were elected respectively Treasurer and Surveyor, to fill out the ticket.

     At the regular election hold on October 12, 1875, Mingerson Coombs, A. S. Adams and C. H. Woods were elected Commissioners; Thomas Tracy, Judge; M. B. Goodenow, Sheriff. H. A. Babcock, Clerk, Peter Mortensen, Treasurer; Oscar Babcock, Superintendent of Schools; Charles Webster, Surveyor; and Charles Badger, Coroner.

     On Nov. 7, 1876, Oscar Babcock was elected County Commissioner. Herman Westover was appointed County Superintendent to fill Mr. Babcock's unexpired term.

     At the next annual election, held on Nov. 12, 1877, H. A. Babcock was elected Clerk; Byron K. Johnson, Commissioner; Peter Mortensen, Treasurer; Herman Westover, Judge; H. W. Nelson, Surveyor; M. Coombs, Superintendent of Schools, and E. D. McKenney, Coroner.

     The election of November, 1878, resulted in the election of Oscar Babcock to the State Legislature from the Forty-fifth Representative District. W. B. Keown and A. V. Bradt were elected Commissioners.

     At the general election on November 4, 1879, B. H. Johnson was elected Commissioner; H. A. Babcock, Clerk; Peter Mortensen, Treasurer; Herbert Thurston, Sheriff; S. L. R. Maine, Judge; H. W. Nelson, Surveyor; and M. Coombs, Superintendent.

     In November, 1880, H. C. Perry was elected County Commissioner.

     The regular election on Nov. 8, 1881, resulted in the election of Arthur C. Lapham, Commissioner; H. A. Babcock, Clerk; Peter Mortensen,
(203) Treasurer; John Mosher, Judge; Herbert Thurston, Sheriff; John F. Kates, Superintendent; C. J. Nelson, Surveyor; and E. D. McKenney, Coroner. In the November election of 1882, H. A. Chase defeated his opponent for Commissioner by a vote of 422 to 83.

     Now, as the county increased more rapidly in population, much of the old, neighborly feeling was beginning to wear away, and party lines to be more closely drawn In the regular election of 1883 a bitter contest ensued between Arthur H. Schaefer, the Republican nominee and Ed. Satterlee, Democrat, for the Clerkship. Mr. Schaefer was elected. A. D. Robinson was chosen to succeed Mr. Mortensen who had refused further re-nomination to the office of Treasurer. All the other officials were re-elected.

     The election of Nov. 3, 1885, resulted in a complete Republican victory. J. J. Hamlin was elected Commissioner; A. D. Robinson, Treasurer; A. H. Schaefer, Clerk. A. A. Laverty, Judge; W. B. Johnson, Sheriff; John F. Kates, Superintendent; D. C. Way, Surveyor; F. D. Bickford, Coroner.

     In November 1886, J. A. Ollis, Jr. was elected County Commissioner, and E. J. Clements, County Attorney.

     The election held November 8, 1887, was closely contested as a new element--the Prohibitionist--showed remarkable strength. The Republican nominees were, however, elected with the one exception of Superintendent. For this place the Democratic candidate, Stephen A. Parks defeated Mrs. Emma Gillespie by some 50 votes. The other republican candidates elected were, Jacob Lemaster, commissioner; Abe Trout, Treasurer; Jas. A. Patton, Clerk; A. A. Laverty, Judge; R. C. Nichols, Sheriff; C. J. Nelson, Surveyor; and Ed. McKenney, Coroner.

     In the election held November 6, 1888, the main issue before the people was the question of township organization versus the Commissioner system. The township supervisor idea seemed to meet with general approval, and carried at the polls by a vote of 826 for to 381 against. At this election B. H. Johnson was chosen Commissioner, the last under the old organization.

     A spiritless campaign, characterized by Republican disaffection and general dissatisfaction, marked the fail of 1889. When November 5 came the best the Republicans could do was to elect treasurer, clerk and coroner; the other offices all went to the Democrats. Those elected were Abe Trout, Treasurer; J. A. Patton, Clerk; J. R. Fairbanks, Judge, W. H. Beagle, Sheriff; S. A. Parks, Superintendent; Bennett Seymour, Surveyor, and F. D. Bickford, Coroner.

     By 1890 the Farmers' Alliance was entering politics and the Populist party was in the making. A great shifting in party affiliation was taking place. And this to such an extent that the Republican party was soon to lose control of both county and state. November 4, 1890, saw the election of Charles Munn, a former Republican, to the county attorneyship; this marked the beginning of Valley county's change in political affiliation.

     The next year, Nov. 3, 1891, every office with the sole exception of county clerk was won by the "Independent Party." George Hall was the
(204) only Republican elected, and he went in with the small majority of 59 votes. The Independents elected were: I. S. Fretz, Treasurer; F. C. Cummins, Judge. A. V. Mensing, Sheriff; J. H. Jennings, Superintendent; Wm. Hill, Surveyor; J. M. Klinker, Coroner.

     In 1892 and again in 1894 Charles Munn was re-elected county attorney. The election held November 7, 1893 did in nowise change the political complexion of the county officials. The only changes were the substitution of Vincent Kokes, Republican, for George Hall, Republican, and Dougal McCall, Independent, for J. H. Jennings, Independent.

     The year 1895 was marked by a rather vindictive campaign. The chief fight was on the clerkship, now the Republican citadal. Vincent Kokes and his opponent, Jorgen Miller, were both strong, clean men. The Republican forces were, however, marshalled in such a manner that Mr. Kokes retained his office by a large majority. The Republicans now regained control of the county board, the vote standing: Republican, 4; Independent, 3. The Republicans also regained the offices of sheriff and surveyor. Those elected were: Vincent Kokes, Clerk; H. A. Goodrich, Treasurer; R. L. Staple, Judge; Adam Smith, Sheriff; D. McCall, Superintendent; C. J. Nelson, Surveyor; E. J. Bond, Coroner.

     In 1896, while the nation went for McKinley, Nebraska and Valley county voted for Bryan. J. H. Cronk, an Independent, was elected to the state legislature and A. Norman, a Democrat, was elected county attorney.

     The next year, 1897, was in many respects an off year. The results of the November election were rather mixed. Vincent Kokes was re-elected clerk; W. B. Keown, Republican, defeated H. A. Goodrich, the incumbent, by only two votes; R. L. Staple was re-elected, as was also Adam Smith; Lorenzo Blessing, Republican, defeated D. McCall, likewise S. G. Gardner, Independent, defeated C. J. Nelson. Drs. F. D. Haldeman and E. J. Bond each polled 719 votes for coroner. Dr. Bond later drew the lucky straw and was declared elected. As it was thought that Valley county had now a population which under the law would allow the maintenance of a separate office for Clerk of District Court, candidates were put in the field for this office. Frank Koupal, Independent, was elected.

     The election held November 5, 1899, was a victory for the Independent party; but it was also their last one. W. B. Keown and Lorenzo Blessing were the only Republicans elected. The other officials chosen were: Horace Davis, Clerk of District Court; Frank Koupal, County Clerk; R. L. Staple, Judge; H. D. Heuck, Sheriff; F. J. Ager, Surveyor; and R. A. Billings, Coroner.

     In 1900 the Republican party won in nation, state and county. Victor O. Johnson, the popular Independent who had been appointed County Attorney when Charles A. Munn resigned to become District Judge, was elected by a bare 14 votes. Everything was preparing for the Republican victory of 1901.

     The census of 1900 showed conclusively that Valley county was not entitled to the separate office of Clerk of District Court. This was therefore
(205) ordered discontinued. In the election held, - November 5, 1901, only two Independents were elected. These were Judge Staple and Superintendent Ira Manchester. Everything else went Republican. The new set of officials were: Alvin Blessing, Clerk; W. L. McNutt, Treasurer; John Kokes, Sheriff; C. J. Nelson, Surveyor; C. A. Brink, Coroner.

The largest ear of corn ever grown on the North Loup. Taken at Burwell with Postmaster Beynon as Driver

      The year 1902 proved still more conclusively the Republican ascendency in local politics. The election held November 4th of that year saw the election of Peter Mortensen, one of the first settlers in our county, to the post of State Treasurer; M. L. Fries of Arcadia was elected to represent the 15th Senatorial District in the state legislature; Dr. A. E. Bartoo, (206) also of Arcadia, was elected State Representative and Arthur Clements of Ord defeated Victor O. Johnson for county attorney by 196 votes. These were all Republicans.

     The general election of November 12, 1903, saw the end of Populist regime, so far as administrative offices are concerned. Every Republican of the previous administration was re-elected, and Hjalmar Gudmundsen


Andrew Gillespie, Sr., the Centenarian of the Loup, Who Celebrated, His 100th Birthday at Scotia, June 4, 1905. Mr. Gillespie Has 172 Living Descendants---
Nine Children, Seventy-seven Grandchildren, Eighty Great-Grandchildren, and Six Great- Great-Grandchildren.

was chosen to succeed Judge R. L. Staple, and Alta Jones to succeed Mr. Manchester as superintendent. (207

     Our last election was held in November, 1904. On that occasion M. L. Fries, A. E. Bartoo and Arthur Clements were all re-elected by good majorities.

     One of the greatest drawbacks in the settlement of a new section of country is a lack of means of easy transportation. The settler on the western plains early found it impractical to stray very far from a railway base. For, after all, he had to depend upon this as a depot to supply him with the necessaries of life, and in return to take his output of grain and livestock. When the Loup valley was settled, its southernmost colony was fifty miles from the nearest railway, and the Loup county colony fully twice that distance. In 1872, and for many years after that time, our fathers had to cart every pound of provisions and every foot of finishing lumber from Grand Island. That this was the direct cause of much hardship, and materially retarded the development of the Loup region, goes without saying. A trip to the "Island" was fraught with all manner of difficulties. There were rivers and creeks to be forded, for bridges were few and far between in those days. The early wagon-roads were mere trails and made hauling heavy loads impracticable. And finally there were the elements, summer storm and winter blast, to be reckoned with. It is therefore not to be wondered at that the pioneers should rejoice when the Republican Valley (Union Pacific) Railroad commenced building northward from Grand Island. The new road was completed to St. Paul in 1880 and thereby shortened our distance to market by some twenty-five miles.

     To the Federal Government's praise it must be said that it has always done what it could to furnish outlying settlements with good mail service. The frontier star routes usually entailed a considerable annual deficit, but in spite of this they have been kept up as an encouragement to settlement. By 1880, mail and stage routes permeated every part of our region; and daily and tri-weekly service was furnished the whole valley. The mail time-card here printed gives some idea of the completeness of this service, such as we knew it in 1882:

Arrives from St, Paul, via Scotia and Springdale, daily except Sunday, at 6 p. m.
Arrives from St Paul, via Cotesfield and North Loup, on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, at 
6 p. m.
Arrives from Dannebrog, via Kelso, Bluffton, Mira Creek, Vinton, and Geranium, every Saturday at noon.
Arrives from Willow Springs, Fort Hartsuff and Calamus at 5:30 p. m., daily except Sunday.
Arrives from The Forks and Ida on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, at 6 p. m.
Leaves for Calamus, Fort Hartsuff and Willow Springs, at 7:00 a. m., daily except Sunday.
Leaves for Ida and The Forks at 7:00 a. In. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Leaves for Springdale, Scotia and St. Paul at 
7 a. m. daily, except Sunday.
Leaves for North Loup, Cotesfield and St. Paul at 7 a. m., on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Leaves for Geranium, Vinton, Mira Creek, Bluffton, Kelso and Dannebrog, at 2 p. m. on Saturdays.
Stage leaves North Loup on Tuesday for Mira Creek, Vinton and Arcadia, returning on Wednesday.
Stage leaves for Geranium and other points between Ord and West Union on Friday morning, and returns next morning.

     In the spring of 1881, the air was full of persistent railroad rumors. The Union Pacific would extend northward from St. Paul to North Loup and Ord, it was said. Mass meetings were held at both of these places and much enthusiasm was manifested. April 8th, Ord voted the Union Pacific bonds amounting to $5,000.00, as an inducement to hasten the extension; about the same time North Loup township voted the sum of $4,000.00 for a like purpose. The grade on the extension was at once begun. Within a year the first train entered North Loup amid general rejoicing. But Ord was doomed to wait long years before her cherished hope became reality. Not before midsummer of 1886 was the track completed to Ord, which is yet the terminus of the line.

     Great preparations were made to celebrate the event. It was the intention to make this a banner day in Loup history. Citizens turned out enmasse to make the necessary arrangements. That preparations were thorough-going can be gathered from the minutes of the mass meeting here appended:


Ord, Neb., July 6, 1886.

     As per special call of committee previously to arrange for a celebration at Ord on the completion of the railroad the citizens met at the court house. By unanimous vote Judge Laverty was made chairman, and H. A. Walker secretary. The committee reported their doings and were discharged. Upon motion the chairman appointed the following named nine gentlemen as an executive committee: J. M. Provins, C. B. Coffin, H. C. Wolf, Peter Mortensen, H. A. Walker, Fred Cleveland, D. N. McCord, George Stover, and E. M. Coffin. H. A. Babcock, A. D. Robinson and D. N. McCord were retained to further correspond with the railroad company in regard to excursion to Ord. The following committees were appointed on invitation of speakers and special invitations, J. H. Ager, D. B. Jenckes, Geo. A. Percival, and Wm. Haskell; on finance J. L. McDonough. J. K. McConnell, E. K. Harris, and John Beran, on program A. A. Laverty, G. W. Wishard, I. Moore, J. M. Klinker and A. M. Robbins; on shade M. J. Coffin, Wm. Wentworth, John Maresh; reception, A. M. Robbins, G. W. Milford, W. B. Johnson, E. J. Clements, F. L. Harris, W. D. Ogden, J. M. Provins, C. C. Wolf, W. H. Williams, Geo. O. Ferguson, A. H. Schaefer, T. R. Linton, Rev. Dodder, E. A. Russell; on music, Geo. A. Percival, D. Quackenbush, J. G. Sharp; on printing, editors-in-chief of North Loup Mirror, Arcadia Courier, Ord Democrat, Ord Weekly Quiz, and Valley County Journal; marshal, W. B. Johnson, with A. W. Travis, John Wentworth, Bud Likes,
(209) Wm. McKenney, Fred Bartlett and Steve Weare assistants; on ammunition, Chas. Feiger, J. C. Heddle, Ezra McMichael, with request that they secure a cannon from Grand Island, if possible. The executive committee were empowered to appoint any sub-committee advisable. A motion carried inviting citizens, farmers mechanics, tradesmen, and secret organizations to take part in a general industrial parade, Wm. Wentworth being manager. It was decided we celebrate on or about July 23d, 1886. Meeting adjourned subject to special call of executive committee. H. A. Walker, Sec."

     The date of the celebration was later definitely set for the 29th of July. The fete was liberally advertised and every preparation made for a glorious ratification. Then at the last moment word came from railway headquarters stating that it would be impossible for them to furnish the desired 


An Early Photograph of the Ord Court House and Square. The Trees Have now Grown
so Large as to almost entirely Hide the Building from View.

train by the specified time. The result was a great disappointment and ended by the celebration being definitely called off.

     The year 1887 had a surprise in store for the Loup region. It was the unheralded coming of the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad. To be sure surveying outfits had been passing through the valley at various times during the spring, but that was not taken very seriously as the Union Pacific experience had made most men rather pessimistic on railroad questions. But when one bright day in March, gang after gang of graders commenced filing through Ord on their way up the country, the doubter received a sudden set-back. By April 1st, grades were beginning to take form all along the route and the whole valley rejoiced. The following appeared in one of the newspapers at that time:

     "Last Saturday a B. & M. grading outfit came into town without ceremony or forewarning. It consists of 60 mule teams and about 100 men, all provided with abundance of new implements. Monday they pitched their tents at various points up the river as far as Meeks' place. The first camp is on Dane Creek just north of town, and the dirt is flying in grand shape. This move on the part of the B. & M. was the greatest possible surprise to the Ordites and naturally enough they are elated over this good luck and rejoice over the boom that must inevitably come. It has been a question in what direction the B. & M. will connect with their main line, but that is pretty well settled now. The line will run from Central City to Greeley Center and from thence to Ord leaving Scotia out in the cold. In this way Ord will have a direct B. & M. line to Lincoln and a competing line to both Lincoln and Omaha The object of the B. & M. starting work at Ord first is evidently to cut off all possibility of the U. P. going farther up the stream. It will have the line completed to Ord as soon as the grade above this place will be ready for the ties. It is undoubtedly true that surveyors of the Northwestern railroad are at work headed for Ord. The company has already made a survey to this place and the second visit means something. With the U. P., B. & M. and the Northwestern Ord will be a great railroad center indeed."

     The coming of the B. & M. was important in more ways than one. In Greeley county is settled the fate of Scotia so far as being the county seat is concerned. Greeley Center, near the geographical center of the county, lay in the path of the new road. This settled the county seat controversy in its favor. The B. & M. was the making of Burwell in Garfield county, and as completely the undoing of poor Willow Springs on the opposite side of the river. Loup county, too, was greatly benefited by the railroad for, although it did not tap the county, Taylor and Almeria were brought fully 20 miles nearer railroad communications by its coming.

     Arcadia and the Middle Loup had long awaited the building of some railroad. The Union Pacific filed a plat of extension of the O. & R. V. R. R. up the Middle Loup, with the county Clerk October 27, 1886, and Arcadia lived in the happy expectancy of its early advent. The road was built from St. Paul through Dannebrog and Boelus, to Loup City, but that is up to the present time its terminus. For here, too, the Burlington played a lucky hand. From Palmer in Merrick county, it quietly built westward through Saint Paul to Loup City, and then followed the identical route selected by the Union Pacific up the Middle Loup to Arcadia, cutting out the latter at Loup City. Lately the B. & M. has been extended from Arcadia to Sargent in Custer county, and may in time be projected further north westward.

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