Addison Erwin Sheldon.

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Congress. It was now called the " Nebraska-Kansas Bill"
and made two new territories out of the Indian country.
It also provided that the settlers in each territory should
say by their votes whether it should be slave or free. This
made a fierce fight over the Nebraska-Kansas bill. The
South said that Nebraska and Kansas belonged to the whole
country, that all people should be allowed to go there and
take their property with them and that the settler from the
South had the same right to take his slaves there, that the
settler from the North had to take his horses and cattle.
The North said that Nebraska and Kansas had been made
free by the Missouri Compromise, that slavery was wrong
and that there should be no more slave territory, but that
both South and North should keep their agreement made
in 1820 and make the West a home for free men and women
and not for slaves. All the country was ablaze with excite-
ment over Nebraska and Kansas.

The South and the North Quarrel over Nebraska. The
old parties Whig and Democratic were broken up
over this question. The churches were broken into northern
and southern factions. For months nothing was talked of
but the Nebraska-Kansas bill. Feeling grew more and more
bitter and it began to appear that there might be war be-
tween the South and the North. Finally, after an all-
night's contest in Congress the Douglas bill, creating the





two new territories of Nebraska and Kansas, was passed
and signed by President Pierce on May 30, 1854.

Thus was Nebraska named and made into a territory.


1. How did the Nebraska region get its different names?

2. Would the fur traders gain more in the long run by trading liquor to the

Indians? Why?

3. How many bills in Congress for making and naming Nebraska and what

obstacles did they meet?

4. What had Nebraska to do with bringing on the war between the South

and the North?

5. Why were the churches and political parties broken up over the Nebraska



Nebraska Territory Five Times as Large as Nebraska
State. Nebraska Territory, in 1854, was five times as
large as the state of Nebraska is now. All the way from
Kansas to Canada, from the top of the Rocky Mountains
to Minnesota and Iowa was Nebraska. Very few white

MAP OF NEBRASKA TERRITORY, 1854. (Drawing by Miss Martha Turner.)

people then lived in the land. Fur traders had built log
cabins in a few places along the rivers. Every summer
thousands of emigrants to Oregon and California traveled
the great Oregon Trail across the territory. At Fort
Kearney and Fort Laramie on the Oregon Trail were




companies of soldiers. At Bellevue was a little village of
fur traders and missionaries. All the rest of Nebraska was
wild plains and mountains, the home of Indians, buffalo
and beaver.

The First Settlers. Soon after Nebraska was named
and made, people began to settle there. Most of the first
settlers came from Iowa. Some came from Missouri,
Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, New York, Massachusetts. All
they had to do was to cross the river and choose the most
beautiful land for their homes. In March, 1854, the Omaha
and Otoe Indians ceded to the United States their country
along the Missouri River. No surveys had been made.
All the land was open to the first comers. Most of those
who came from Iowa picked out the land that suited them,
built log cabins to hold it and went back to Iowa to make
their living.

The First Governor, Francis Burt. Francis Burt, Demo-
crat, of South Carolina was the first governor of Nebraska.

He and the other first officers of

^gOM^ Nebraska were appointed by Pres-

ident Franklin Pierce and were paid
! JKW ky the United States. He was a

slender, handsome man who loved
books and was not used to frontier

The long journey from his home,
part of it by stage and steamboat,
brought him worn out to Nebraska
City. Nebraska City had then one
house and one wagon. In the

wagon Governor Burt was driven to Bellevue, where he
arrived October 7, 1854. He grew worse and died on
October 18th. His body was taken back to the old home
in South Carolina. There was great sorrow in the little
village of Bellevue over the death of the first governor, for
all who met him learned to love him.





Acting Governor Cuming. The secretary of state,
Thos. B. Cuming of Michigan, became acting governor.
He was very different in mind and
person from Governor Burt. His
eyes were dark, his hair straight
and black, his mind bold and

Old Bellevue. Belle vue was
the oldest town in Nebraska, for
Fort Atkinson had been abandoned.
It was in fact the only town. Here
was the old fur trading post. Here
the Indian agent having charge of
the Nebraska Indians lived. Here

the first Christian missionaries came and built the only
mission house then in Nebraska. It was expected that
Bellevue would be the capital of Nebraska.




New Omaha. Eight miles above Bellevue, in the woods
fronting the Missouri river, men from Council Bluffs, Iowa,
had started a town which they named Omaha. There they

built a two-story brick
building which they of-
fered to give for a Cap-
itol. Acting -governor
Cuming called the first
legislature to meet there
on January 16, 1855.
Very bitter were the
quarrels which followed
this act. The first cen-
sus of white settlers

FIRST TERRITORIAL CAPITAL, 1855 taken b Y order of the

acting-governor showed

2,732 people. It was claimed that many persons counted
did not live in Nebraska at all, and that some came over from
Iowa, voted and went back and o)id not settle in Nebraska.

The First Legislature. The first Nebraska legislature
was the only part of the government elected by the settlers.
It had a council of thirteen members and a house of repre-
sentatives of twenty-six members. Twenty-one members
came from the North Platte and eighteen from the South
Platte. By the count of the first census there were nearly
twice as many settlers in the South Platte region as in the
North Platte.

The Dividing Platte. The Platte River cut the scattered
settlements of early Nebraska sharply into two parts. The
people were too poor to build bridges, the river was too wide
and shallow for ferries and its sandy bottom was too soft
to make good fords. The fight between the North and
South sections began at the first session of the legislature
and continued through the years.

Iowa Law Becomes Nebraska Law. There was much
for the first legislature to do. First there was a contest



for permanent location of the capital. In this Omaha won.
A body of laws was needed to govern the territory. The
legislature met this need by taking a book of Iowa laws and
enacting them for Nebraska. In this way most of the Iowa
law was made Nebraska law. The eastern end of the
country between the Niobrara River and Kansas was divided
into counties by the governor and the legislature. All
the rest of the great territory was an undivided wilderness.
Laws were passed for making roads and ferries. Public
roads were made sixty-six feet wide and continue to be so
at this day. A law was passed prohibiting any one from
selling or giving away liquor. Whisky had made much
trouble with the Indians in Nebraska while it was still the
Indian country and in 1834, the United States had for-
bidden its sale here.

Land and Claim Clubs. The first settlers of Nebraska
were not satisfied with the land laws. The United States
law allowed a man to take 160 acres of land and after
living on it for six months to buy it by paying to the United
States $1.25 per acre. The settlers said that the first
pioneers should have 320 instead of 160 acres. In order to
hold this land " Claim
Clubs" were organized.
Each man in a claim
club promised to defend
every other member in
holding his 320 acres.
When the later settlers
began to come they
were warned that they
would be driven off by
force if they tried to FIRST CLAIM CABIN IN NEBRASKA

settle on the land held

by members of the claim clubs. The first legislature passed
a law giving each member of a claim club 320 acres. This
was contrary to United States law and was therefore illegal.



For several years there were quarrels and wars between the

claim clubs and the later settlers. In the end the claim

clubs disbanded.

Governor Izard Arrives. The second governor of

Nebraska, Mark W. Izard, Democrat, of Arkansas arrived

_ - _^_^___^_^^_____ at Omaha February 20, 1855,

and acting-governor Cuming
became again secretary of

The Council with the Paw-
nees. In the spring of 1855,
Indians stole cattle from the
settlers on the Elkhorn River
near Fremont. Governor Izard
sent John M. Thayer and O.
D. Richardson to hold a coun-
cil with the Pawnee tribe.
With them went Rev. Samuel
Allis who had been missionary
to the Pawnees for many years
and spoke their language. A
council was held with Petale-
sharu, the great chief of the
Pawnees, at his village on the
high bluff four miles southeast
of Fremont. The Pawnees
said that the Poncas killed
the cattle. They promised,
however, to keep the peace.
This was the first council
held by the territory with
Nebraska Indians. Fiftyyears
afterward, a monument was

placed on the site of this council and General John M.

Thayer, standing for the second time on this bluff, made

the speech of dedication.



The First General John M. Thayer. Soon after the
council with the Pawnees, John M. Thayer was made
general of the Nebraska militia composed of settlers who
were armed to protect the frontier. The militia were first
called out in July, 1855, when Sioux Indians made a raid
into the Elkhorn valley. The soldiers made a camp on the
river. They saw no Indians but caught many catfish.
This is sometimes, in jest, called the "Catfish War."

The Rival Cities Omaha and Nebraska City. Dur-
ing the year 1855 settlers came slowly into the new territory.
The census in October of that year found 4,494, of whom
1,549 were in the North Platte section, 2,945 in the South
Platte section. Nebraska City had become the largest
town in the territory, the leader of the South Platte section
and the chief rival of Omaha.

The First Schools. The first schools in this region were
held in very early days. There is good reason to believe
there were children of the garrison at old Fort Atkinson as
far back as 1820 and school for them. The next schools
were for the Indian and half-breed children. Such schools
were taught at Bellevue by the first missionaries, Mr. and
Mrs. Merrill, in 1833 for the Otoes, and soon after for the
Pawnees by Rev. Samuel Allis and Rev. John Dunbar.
The Mormon schools came next. Thousands of Mormons
wintered in log cabins and sod houses where Florence now
is and also near Bellevue in 1846-47 while on then* way
across the plains to Utah. Schools for their children were
held during the winter.

Free schools came to Nebraska with her first govern-
ment. The terms were short and the schoolhouses made of
rough logs, but wherever there were children schools were
started. Sometimes the first school was taught in a log
cabin home by the mother, the children sitting on benches
split out of trees. One of the acts of the first territorial
legislature, dated March 10, 1855, was to provide free
common schools. Each school district could vote what


studies should be taught in the district. Teachers were
very hard to get. The district school board examined
those wishing to teach and the subjects in which they must
pass examination were reading, writing, spelling, arithmetic,
grammar, geography and United States history. These
examinations were oral.


The School Boards and Teachers. Frontier school
boards were often good hunters and trappers, having little
knowledge of books, and many amusing stories are told of
the examinations given by them. Sometimes the school
board and teacher got into an argument over what was the
right answer to a question. The law provided for a county
superintendent, but the salary allowed was so small that
few cared for the office and in some counties there was none.
So these first Nebraska schools were run very much as each
neighborhood wished. There was so little money to pay
the teacher, that she often " boarded round" the district,



a week at each house. The schoolhouses were rough, the
books few and the term only a few weeks in the winter.
All the children were eager to go. The grown-up boys and
girls recited and studied in the same room with the little
ones and made one big family in their studies, in their
outdoor play, and at noon when they ate their lunches
together seated about their home-made desks.

The First Churches. In the social life and in the forma-
tion of the public sentiment of early Nebraska, religion had
its part. Missionaries taught the first schools and pioneer



(Drawing by Miss Martha

preachers were among the earliest settlers in the territory.
Nearly all of the churches in Nebraska of to-day trace their
beginnings here to little groups of settlers inspired by a
common faith who gathered in the cabins and sod-houses
to hold their first meetings and sometimes in summer in
groves for the larger assemblies. There was great warmth
of good feeling in the pioneer churches as in other pioneer
associations. The members were nearly equal in riches and
in poverty and rarely did any misfortune come to one which
was not shared by all. The pioneer preachers were a
peculiar class, fervent and untiring in spirit, always poor


and always welcome in every settlement where they brought
messages of good will and the friendly news from settlements
at a distance. To found schools, colleges, and libraries
was the dream of many of these early missionaries. In
some cases the dream was realized. Many Nebraska towns
and country neighborhoods to-day bear the impress in their
social ideals of these early preachers and the churches and
the schools which they founded. Bellevue, Brownville,
Fremont and Fontanelle are examples.

1856 was a year of promise to Nebraska settlers. Timely
rains had fallen. The few little fields of wheat and corn
had borne good crops. Gardens of plenty smiled by the
side of log cabins. Elk, deer, antelope, grouse and wild
turkeys were everywhere. Buffalo were abundant just
west of the settlements. The Sioux had been badly beaten
at Ash Hollow by General Harney and desired peace.
Fifty thousand dollars had been voted by Congress to build
a new capitol at Omaha and fifty thousand more to make
a good road from Omaha to Fort Kearney. The joy of
living in a new country and faith in its bright future were
in every heart.

The Hard Winter. Then came the severe winter of
1856-57. It began with a great storm on the first of
December and grew fiercer with each month. The ravines
were filled with snow. Elk and deer perished. Roads were
blocked. Hardly could the pioneers venture from their
cabins to chop the wood which kept their families from
freezing. This was always known among the early settlers
as the ''Hard Winter."

Dreams of the Pioneers. Most of the pioneers were
poor in pocket but they were rich in hope. They saw how
black and fertile was the soil, how thick and tall the grass
in the valleys, how smooth and level lay the land ready for
the plow. Much they thought and dreamed and foretold
about this beautiful land in which they had come to live.
There were dreams of the great Pacific railroad, of mills




and factories by the riversides, of farms and orchards and
homes and schools where then waved only prairie grass.

Money was what was needed, everybody said. They
thought if only they had money to start things, to hire men,
to buy goods, to let the world know how good the country
was, people would come rushing in, the lands would be
settled, towns be quickly built and all would easily get rich
together. There were such splendid sites for towns and
cities, at the ferry crossings upon the Missouri, where creeks
and rivers came together and on the beautiful slopes where
the woodland and prairie met. Many of these were staked
off into town lots. Each one's dream was a little more
certain to him than his neighbor's dream.

Money was needed. There was very little of it in
Nebraska for the settlers as yet raised almost nothing to
sell. Each man grew a little patch of garden and grain,
killed a little game and swapped the little surplus with his

How to Make Money. When the second legislature
met in 1856, some of the men who wished to make things
go faster said: "Pass a law that will let us join together
in a company and start a bank. Let the bank issue bank

notes. Everyone can use these
notes for money and we will grow
rich together." So the legislature
made such a law. Only a few
brave men, among them J. Sterling
Morton and Dr. George L. Miller,
opposed it.

The Good Times. Five men
could then start a bank. They

NEBRASKA WILDCAT CUBRENCY dld nOt Deed tO P Ut m al ^ mOn6 y

at the beginning. Each one

promised to pay money at a certain future time. Then
the bank opened. Thousands of dollars of bright beau-
tiful bank notes were printed by each bank and loaned


to those who wished to borrow. This was the money
which the banks promised to make. Everyone soon had
plenty of this kind of money. Everybody was willing to
buy. Town lots rose rapidly in price. Business was
booming. Population doubled, the census of that year
showed 10,716 people. Everyone seemed to be getting
rich. More banks were started in order to make more
money. Towns of only two or three log cabins had a
bank. In one year over $400,000 of these bank notes
were issued in Nebraska. Since the bank money was so
plentiful and so easy to get, everyone freely bought with
it, and those who sold things for a high price at once sought
to buy other things. So the market was always lively.

The Great Panic. These good times lasted a little
over a year. Then came the great panic of 1857. All
over the West banks broke and closed their doors. People
who had beautiful, bright bank notes could buy nothing
with them. People who thought they were rich, found
that they had nothing. Those in debt, found that they
could not pay their debts, for ho one would take the bank
notes. There was great distress and poverty and suffering
for a number of years.

The Wild Cat Days. Then the people ceased to dream
of getting rich in a few months and began to plow up their
town sites, plant crops, and live in a quiet and modest way
according to their means. The years 1856 and 1857 are
called to this time, the "Wild Cat Days" of Nebraska
because the bank notes used were known as wild cat money.

The Effort to Move the Capital to Salt Creek. While
the wild cat bank note fever was high, the third Nebraska
legislature met on January 5, 1857. It is noted for two
acts. It passed a bill to remove the capital from Omaha
to Douglas in Lancaster county by a vote of nine to four
in the council, and twenty-three to twelve in the house.
Douglas was a " paper town," somewhere near Salt Creek,
no one knew just where, as no one lived there. As Governor



Izard vetoed the bill, Douglas never started to grow and
no one knows to this day where the capital would be if it
had been moved from Omaha in 1857. The legislature of
1857 also repealed the criminal code, that part of the law
which provides for punishment of those who commit crimes.
It was said this was done to keep a certain man, a murderer,

photograph collection of A. E. Sheldon.)

from being punished. The law was restored at the next

The War between North and South Platte. The fourth
legislature which met in Omaha, December 8, 1857, is
known as that of the " Florence Secession." The war
between the North Platte and South Platte sections had
become fierce and bitter. There were twice as many
settlers in the South Platte country as in the North. A
majority of both houses of the legislature were from the
South Platte. The North Platte by Governor Izard's
veto had been able to hold the capital at Omaha. The
South Platte was determined to take it across the river.
A bill for that purpose was introduced. A fist fight on the
floor followed between members from Omaha and members
from the South Platte. The next day, January 8, 1858, a



majority of both house and council adjourned to the town
of Florence six miles above Omaha. There they met and
passed laws, while the other members met in Omaha.
Among the acts passed at Florence was one providing for
the removal of the capital to Neapolis. This was another
paper town on the south bank of the Platte, near where
Cedar Bluffs, Saunders County, is now located.

Governor Richardson Comes to Nebraska. Nebraska's
third governor, William A. Richardson, Democrat, of Illi-
nois, arrived at Omaha January
12, 1858, in the midst of the Flor-
ence secession. He refused to re-
cognize the members at Florence
or to sign the laws passed there,
because that was not the capital.
So both the Florence and the Oma-
ha legislatures went home, at the
end of forty days, with nothing
done. Soon after this Secretary
of State Cuming died and J.
Sterling Morton, leader of the
South Platte section, was appointed by President Buchanan
to fill the place.

The Early Colonies. In these territorial days, settle-
ment by colonies began. These were groups of people with
some common bond, sometimes that of the same neighbor-
hood in an older state, sometimes that of a common language
or religion. Usually the first comers in these colonies wrote
back for others and the colony spread, so that the county
where they settled became known as the home of a certain
class of people. In this way Germans settled in Hall,
Cuming and Otoe counties in 1857, both French and Ger-
mans in Richardson County, and an Irish colony in Dakota
County in 1856.

The Republican Party. In the year 1858, party politics
appeared in Nebraska. At first all the settlers were Demo-



crats because they came from states where that party was
strong. When the Nebraska-Kansas bill was passed in
1854, the new Republican party was born. But although
the Nebraska-Kansas bill was the cause of the birth of
the Republican party there were at first no Republicans in
Nebraska. The Democratic party in the North and the South
was dividing into two camps on the subject of slavery. The
southern camp said, " A man has the right to take and hold
his slaves anywhere in the Union." The northern camp
said, "Let the people in each state decide whether that
state shall have slaves or not." The Republican party said,
"No more slave territory anywhere."

Slavery and the Political Parties. Most of the people
in Nebraska were opposed to slavery. As the Democratic
party was divided on the question there was a call to
organize the Republican party, and on January 18, 1858,
the first meeting for that purpose was held in Omaha.
Only a few were present. They were called "Black Repub-
licans" and not looked upon as quite respectable. In some
counties they combined with Democrats and called their
ticket "people's ticket" to avoid using the unpopular name

Prohibition Repealed. The fifth session of the legis-
lature was called by Governor Richardson to meet on
September 21, 1858. Its most noted act was to repeal
the prohibition law and in its stead provide a license for the
sale of liquor. Republicans were the leaders in making
this change.

The First Surplus Crop and First Territorial Fair. 1859
was an eventful year in Nebraska history, for in that year the
first corn was shipped to market. Through all the season,
steamboats were carrying the golden grain from the towns
along the Missouri River, where it had been hauled in
wagons by the settlers. From that year there was no

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