T. R Cooper.

Nebraska City : the most beautiful city of Nebraska ; as it is today in story and pictures online

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Nebraska City



In Story and Pictures







OUR endeavor in presenting this little volume to the citizens of Nebraska
t'ity is not to attempt to give an exact biographj' of all the industries,
nor a complete history of our city, but to place liefore you briefly and simplj'
an inexpensive collection of the most interesting facts, and to present to you
photograi)hical views of a few of our homes and business houses, which will
prove the justice of the pride we all feel in Nebraska City — the most beauti-
ful city of the state.



The Story of Nebraska City

^ =12=0 ^

THE history of Nebraska City is old enough to be romantic, even tra-
ditional. The facts, though hidden often by suppositions, personal
prejudices, and the relentless harvest of Father Time among the
pioneers — are in themselves a mine of interest and glamor To properly
picture the history of Nebraska City, one must go back over one hundred
years, when shortly after the Louisiana purchase, in 1803, Captain Meri-
wether Lewis and his comrade, William Clark, were appointed by President
Jefferson to explore the vast country and report to congress. Accordingly,
in the summer of 1804, Lewis and Clark, with two score picked men, in a
keel boat fifty feet long, drawing three feet of water and carrying one large
square sail and twenty-two oars, made their way up the Old Missouri. Their
journal is very interesting, even thrilling. According to it they touched this
point on Friday morning, July 20, 1804, and passed on up the river the next
day, passed the mouth of the Platte River and landed somewhere near the
present site of Bellevue on the Iowa side. These were the first white men to
set foot upon or to see the beautiful site of our city. The next was Manuel
Lisa, a Spaniard, and his party who came up the river from St. Louis in
1805, in search of trading grounds. 13854^8

Imagine if you will Nebraska City before its history begins. Oft on a
moonlight night the mind pictures the scene from the gentle slope, which is
now Kearney Hill; or the eastern slope of our present Central Avenue.
Nature has folded her birds and flowers to sleep; the cricket and frog chorus;
an occasional flitting bat; the night vapor drifts over with its woody smell;
yon lonely forest echoes with the night cry of the Whip-poor-will; the plateau
at your feet unmarred by human habitation; off to the left the dim outline of
a herd of buffalo settled for the night; the mighty river, glorious in its silver
path, finds its way over the uncertain sands to the sea many miles away;
alone in the cloud-veiled heavens float the peaceful moon and the eternal stars.
Silence! Serene! Beautiful! Only the Creator enjoys this peace and majes-
tic beauty. Tomorrow evening, perchance, that camp Are way off to the hills
in the West will send up its smoke and flame on the bank of the river at the
foot of these two hills. A roving band of noble red men will have had a hunt
that day, and there will be a week of rest and pleasure. The wild Indian
disturbs not the quiet scene. He rises from restful slumber while the East
is still streaked with gray, ruby, purple and gold, and unconsciously is stirred
to admiration of the Great Spirit who makes all things beautiful and good.
Then after a few days full of sunshine, bracing atmosphere, and warmth of

Nebraska City Illustrated

heart and spirit, the hunting grounds are transferred to other scenes. And
so the moons pass and the years roll on, and the scene before you grows even
more beautiful.

Now passing over forty years of unwritten history we come to the first
real occupation by white men, for up until 1844 the territory now known as
Otoe County may be said to have been exclusively in the possession of the
Pawnees, the Otoes and Omaha tribes of Indians; although there were a num-
ber of traders to whom might properly be applied the title of itinerant, were
among them a number of years earlier than this, crossing from Iowa and as-
cending the river from St. Louis, then the great trading post of the North-
west. It is certain, however, that no regular settlement had been made in
Nebraska, other than Bellevue, a station of the American Fur Company in
Sarpy County, until the establishment of Old Fort Kearney, in the year men-
tioned, 1844, on the present site of our city.

Then came the white man in numbers, and with him civilization. He
settles up the country. The buffalo and the red man must seek new haunts.
The white man trades whiskey for his red brother's furs. The red man be-
comes troublesome, and he is "induced" to go farther into the wilderness.
Stores, hotels, schools, fine homes, railroads, etc-, come with the white man
and we have Nebraska City. But the cost! The cost!

On the 22nd day of April of that year. Company G, Second U. S. Dra-
goons, under command of Captain Allen, arrived and proceeded to establish
a military post on the present site of Nebraska City. They erected a block
house near what is now the middle of Fifth, between Central Avenue and
First Corso. A hospital was also built which was afterwards used for the resi-
dence of William R. Craig, near the present corner of Fourth and Central
Avenue. This cabin, it may be noted, was removed in 1858, the block house
standing until 1865, having in the number of years of its service been occu-
pied successively as printing office, justice court, drug store, saloon, jail and
butcher shop.

This company was removed when the Mexican war was declared, but
in 1847 five companies of U- S. troops arrived and took possession. These
troops being removed and the post abandoned in the fall of 1848, the gov-
ernment property was left in charge of Mr. Hardin, superseded by Col. John
Boulware in 1849; Col. Hiram P. Downs assuming control in 1850 and con-
tinuing in control until the government withdrew all claim to the site upon
which the fort stood. The original settlers and claimants, as squatters, of
the ground now embraced by Nebraska City, were John Boulware, John B.
Boulware and Hiram P. Downs. John B. Boulware built as early as
1852 a log residence, also used as a ferry house-, opposite the site of the old
Planters House, a ferry having been established prior to this by the Boul-
wares; father and son. The former's claim was the present Kearney addi-
tion to the city, while Hiram P. Downs took old Nebraska City or 160 acres

Nebraska's Most Beautiful City

of land upon which it afterwards stood. In April 1854, Stephen F. Nuckolls
and in May of the same year Allen A. Bradford crossed the river, making an
agreement with Hiram P. Downs, whereby they became, with him, joint
owners in the claim which he had taken, immediately employing Charles W.
Pierce to survey and stake off a city. This company known as the Nebraska
City Town Company, subsequently added a number of others to its member-
ship, and by an act of the Territorial Legislature approved March 2, 1855,
"Old Nebraska City" was duly incorporated and declared to be the seat of
justice of Otoe county, an organization being effected in May of the same
year by an election. In the winter of 1856-57, Kearney, desirous of a separate
organization, organized by an election of officers. On the first Monday in
May, 1857, the corporation of South Nebraska City was organized into a sep-
arate townsite by an election of officers, and on October 7th the same year,
Prairie City was surveyed and entered as a townsite, but all these separate
organizations united in 1858 and Nebraska City of today includes the con-
solidated cities of Nebraska City, as at first organized, Kearney, South Ne-
braska City, Prairie City, Greggsport, Belmont, Anderson's Addition, Hail
& Co's Addition, Edgewood and Elmwood. The first attempts at agriculture
occurred about. 1857, on land that is now the richest and most fertile in the
state. The first white child born in Nebraska City was the son of George H.
Benton, who made his debut in August 1854. The first marriage celebrated
was that of George W. Nuckolls to Miss Sarah Kennedy, sometime during
the same year, and the first death was that of one of the Donahue family,
occurring in the fall of 1854, the remains being interred in the block which is
now between Central Avenue and First Avenue and Eleventh and Twelfth
Streets. The first hotel was built by Mr. Downs in the fall of 1854. The
first court was held in a little log cabin owned by H. P. Downs and situated
near Fifth Street between Central Avenue and First Corso. Court was then
held in a number of other places at other times until the Otoe County Court
House was erected at a cost of $26,000, including walks and everything which
is located between Tenth and Eleventh Streets and Central Avenue and First Cor-
so, which is undoubtedly the finest public square in the state. Court was first
held here in the fall of 1865, and this is the building used at the present
time. As early as 1852, a postoffice, called Table Creek postoffice, was
established with Col. John Boulware as postmaster. He was superseded in
1853 by Hiram P. Downs, and in 1854 the name of the office was changed
to Nebraska City, C. W. Pierce being appointed postmaster. The first regular
preaching in the new city was by AVilliam D. Gage, a Methodist missionary,
who commenced his ministrations in the city as early as 1853. There is
every probability that the garrison of old Fort Kearney had enjoyed some
kind of religious privileges, but if so, all record regarding it is lost. The
first church building erected was that of the Baptists, a rude frame structure
at the foot of Kearney Heights in 1855, followed in 1856 by the Methodists,

Nebraska City Illustrated

and 1857 bj' the Presbyterians, all three of whose organizations were effected
in 1855, later by other denominations. The first school was taught by Miss
Martin (afterwards Mrs. .lessen) who resided in this city until her death a
few years ago. There is quite a contrast in the little old log school she
taught then and our excellent public school system at the present time, which
is unsurpassed anywhere. Pupils enter the University of Nebraska or other
Universities without examination after completing our High School course.
It takes thirty-five teachers to accomplish what Miss Martin did at that time
and eight buildings to do the service that one did then. There are upon
the roll at the present 1,350 pupils.

The Nebraska City News was not only the first newspaper published in
this city, but the first pubhshed in the state. It was first published on No-
vember 14, 1854, with Dr. Henrj^ Bradford as editor. It is still being
printed under the same name; C. M. Hubner has been editor since 1884. It
has always been democratic in politics and is now a daily and semi-weekly

The Nebraska City Press was established in the spring of 1858 by C. W.
Sherfey, as a weekly paper. It is now a daily and weekly sheet under the
editorship of E. A. Brown. Republican in politics.

In 1861 the "Deutsch Zeitung" was esiablished by Dr. F. Renner, but
in 1867 the name was changed to Staats-Zeitung. This is still issued as a
weekly paper by Jake Beutler and has a large circulation. The paper meets
the demand for a well conducted paper, printed in the German language.

The Conservative was a weekly newspaper issued by .1. Sterling Morton
until his death in April 1902, when it was changed into a daily and semi-
weekly newspaper called the Nebraska City Tribune, under Mr. Frank E.
Helvey as editor. This is republican in politics.

Tne "Phunny Phellow," George V. Sroat's humorous paper, the only
humorous paper ever published in Nebraska, was started in May 1880 and
issued for several years.

The Nebraska City Chronicle was commenced in August 1868, but in
1872 was united with the Daily Press.

The Nebraska City Daily Sun was issued April 27, 1879, by T. J.
Pickett & Sons. This was issued for a year or more when it was suspended
and moved to Lincoln.

Although very small in population at the time of the civil war, Nebraska
City sent three full companies to the war. The Home Guard under Captain
W. L. Boydston; The Zouave Guard, under Captain Ivors; The Nebraska
City Guard, under Cai)tain Allen Blacker.

The first railroad built in Nebraska, from Nebraska City, was the old
Midland Pacific from Nebraska City to Lincoln, the new capital of the state;
which was finished, equipped and put into operation in April 1871. In 1874
Nebraska City voted and issued $75,000 in bonds, to aid in the extension of

Nebraska's Most Beautiful City

the Midland Pacific from Nebraska City to Brownville, since which time it
has further extended to Tecumseh and Beatrice. This company was com-
posed almost entirely of Nebraska City citizens. The Midland Pacific was
bought out by the Burlington and Missouri Railroad, which road, in the
year 1868 began work on a line from Red Oak, Iowa, to Nebraska City and
finished the following year, thus in 1869 giving a through line from Chicago
to Denver via Red Oak and Lincoln through Nebraska City, direct connec-
tion East and West. The Kansas City, St. .Josejih & Council Bluffs Railroad
finished their road from Kansas City to Omaha in 1870, coming up on the
Iowa sidfi of the river; the depot being situated directly opposite the city a little
over a mile from the river. In September 1888, the B. & M. having com-
pleted their new $1,000,000 steel bridge across the Missouri River at this
point, on which both trains and teams could cross, formally opened the bridge
to tlie public with appropriate ceremonies, at which the greatest crowd ever
gathered within the city was present. It has been variously estimated, at
from 20,000 to 35,000 people. This gave direct communication with the rail-
road across the river and the surrounding country.

In 1887 the Missouri Pacific entered the city from St. Louis to Omaha
putting us on the main line and giving Nebraska City direct connection
North and South and West.

Thus today we have the following railroad facilities: B. & M., West and
South; Missouri Pacific, North, South and West; K. C, St. .1. & C. B.,
North and South, and C, B. & Q. East.

In 1860 the greatest fire in the history of the city was started. Forty-
one store buildings, both brick and frame, were consumed. The loss was es-
timated to be $107,300, of which only $61,175 of insurance was recovered.
This was a sad blow. In 1857 when the great panic swept over the country
the Platte Valley Bank, situated at Nebraska City was the only bank of the
six then existing in Nebraska that maintained its credit.

On October 28, 1905, was a gala day Nebraska City, the occasion
being the unveiling of the new $20,000 monument erected to the memory of
Mr. J. Sterling Morton, the Father of Arbor Day. The city was packed, this
also being a record breaker, being estimated at from 15,000 to 20,000 people,
more noted people being gathered at one time than ever before in a small

Nebraska City has had to encounter many things which would impede
her growth, but in spite of all she has slowly, surely, and steadily grown, and
when we look at her present blocks and blocks of paved streets, her streets
lined with large brick and stone buildings, her numerous and fine public-
buildings, her multitude of elegant homes and numerous large factories ami
compare this with the Nebraska City of 1855, we cannot help but feel a just
pride in her and the people that have helped to make her such. The in-
creasing number of fine buildings, cement crossings, and above all the care

Nebraska City Illustrated

which is being exercised in the proper maintenance of private lawns and
residences, will impress a visitor with the fact that Nebraska City is wide
awake and expanding. Nebraska City is now in the height of her prosperity.
With a population of between 9,000 and 10,000, with four railroads and a
fair prospect of more, with manufacturing industries splendidly developed,
with a location unsurpassed, both as regards natural advantages and her dis-
tance from formidable rivals, thus offering special inducements to manufac-
tories, cheap fuel, raw material, and Missouri River freight rates, her future
rests with herself alone. What she has been has, in a way, been told; what
she will be depends upon her citizens — they who have made her what she is.
What she needs is to eliminate soreheads and knockers and develop boomers
in their stead; a few more large industries as we have; to realize that now
is the time to wake up and become something, for we can be a large city up-
to-date or a small city forever. We have everything in our favor, location,
country to fall back on, wealth, railroad facilities, etc. Why not wake up
and grasp the opportunity?



NEBRASKA CITY is truly a city of factories, having more factories than
any city of its size or much larger anywhere around. The immense
number of factories and industrial pursuits carried on within the city
is due to several reasons: The splendid location of the city, in the very heart
of the richest and most fertile land of the continent, on the Missouri River
with unlimited water power for future industries, excellent railroad facilities
and the best of freight rates, being river rates. The large retail trade and the
great advantage over surrounding cities in the facilities for handling freight.
It is seldom if ever one of our factories closes for want of work to do.


Main plant located at Nebraska City. Has been in operation since Feb-
ruary, 1901. Has one large main five story building 560x120 and large
cold storage five stories, size 320x80, besides numerous other buildings, such
as ice houses, offices, etc. Capacity 300,000 hogs per year, producing from
40,000,000 to 60,000,000 pounds of product. Employing 250 to 350 persons.
Making Nebraska City the second largest packing point in the state. This
plant produces the well known (Coupon) brand of Hams, Bacon and Lard
for domestic trade and the Morton-Gregson Co. brand for export.

Nebraska's Most Beautiful City 9


Has one of its largest plants located in the southern part of the city.
This is a very large company with a capital of $3,000,000, with eight or nine
other mills. The plant here consists of two large buildings, the cereal house
is five stories 50x100, and the corn house four stories 30x70, with a wing
the same size and a large grain elevator with a capacity of 115,000 bushels;
also a large office building. The capacity of this large cereal mills is 11,000
bushels of grain daily; the output 1,400 barrels, (700 barrels of Rolled Oats
and 700 barrels of corn goods). There are constantly employed from 100 to
150 people. A large part of the output of Rolled Oats is packed into cases
under the well known brands: Quail, Mother's and Friends. The corn
goods manufactured are: Brewers Grits and Meal, and Table Grits and
Meal. This large plant is under the management of Mr. A. P. Stafford and
has been running for years, and with its large capacity and output makes
Nebraska City the largest cereal producing point in the state.

This enormous canning factory, about the largest in the state, has under
roof over 50,000 square feet, part of it two and three stories and takes in one
entire city block. This company was organized in 1880, under the name of
"The Nebraska City Canning Co." and continued under that title until the
present management purchased the property in 1901, when it was incor-
porated as the Otoe Preserving Co. of Nebraska City, Neb. They pack corn,
beans, tomatoes, pumpkins, apples, apple butter, cider, etc. Fully 65,000 to
80,000 cans each are packed per annum or about 2,000,000 cans. They em-
ploy at their busiest season from 200 to 300 persons. They pack under the
Otoe, Pearl and Pioneer brands.


This company has a building 50x120, two stories and emploj's con-
stantly from thrity-five to fifty people. They manufacture the Faultless, Bull
Dog and New Idea Casters. At the St. Louis World's Fair these casters re-
ceived the highest awards and are now sold in all parts of the U. S. The
present large capacity of this factory is entirely inadequate to fill the enorm-
ous demands made upon them, and so in a short time must double their


The Starch Factory is the largest building of its kind in the West. There
is one main building five stores, about 150x400 and a grain elevator with a
capacity of about 100,000 bushels, also office building. When the plant is
running it employs from 300 to 400 people and manufactures the familiar
brand of Argo Corn Starch and laundry starch.

The plant has two large buildings one 60x100, a ware house 50x80,

10 Nebraska City Illustrated

and the foundry 75x125. It employs from 75 to 100 men, and manufactures
the noted King Press Drill, (a full line of grain drills) and two row lister
cultivators. Their capacity is 3,000 drills and 2,500 to 3,000 cultivators per


Located in the southern part of the city near the B. & M. depot has one
of the largest and finest grain elevators in the West. One large elevator
building and four grain tanks with capacity of 350,000 bushels and employ-
ing from fifteen to twenty men constantly. This large elevator is not onlj' a
local house, but one in the grain business known and felt throughout the
whole West, and one readilj^ recognized as one of the lar,qest, finest and most
up-to-date elevators in the state.

Besides all these manufactures we have two brick yards (one steam
brick yard), two breweries, a large bottling works, two steam laundries, three
wholesale grocery houses. The Bradley-Catron Co.; The Utterback, Sargeant
& Rice Co.; and a branch house of Paxton & Gallagher of Omjiha. One whole-
sale poultry and produce house run by Levi Bros, and six cigar factories.


NEBRASKA CITY has few competitors in the number of lodges, be-
nevolent societies, and social facilities in every sense of the word.
Among her most beautiful rooms and buildings are those occupied by
her lodges and social orders. Among tliem the Masonic, Odd Fellows,
Knights of Pythias, Woodmen of the World, and A. 0. U. W. The Athletic
hall used by the gymnasium classes and tlie Armory and G. A. R. halls
might be included in the list, not to mention the different club roi^ms used by
some of our clubs. The lodges are many, tiieir equipments are the best that
time and care can make them, and strange indeed is the man who cannot
find among our thirty or forty orders, a chapter after his own heart, the
members of which are always glad to welcome him and give him the hand of
fel owship.

Nebraska City can certainly be envied for her beautiful opera house,
which would certainly grace a city of the metropolitan class. Tlie building
itself is imposing, not only built for stability but also beauty and comfort,
and considered one of the finest in the state. It was completed in December
1897 by Mr. J. Sterling Morton at a cost of $25,000. The interior decora-
tions are certainly beautiful and it will seat 850 persons comfortably. The
stage is 52 by 32, stage opening 28 feet, and has a complete set of curtains
and fine scenery that are found only in large cities. The Overland Theatre

Nebraska's Most Beautiful City 11

is under the management of Messrs. Woodward & Burgess of Omaha, the
same men that manage the Boyd at that place, and Cliarles Rolfe of this place
resident manager; thus placing us on a direct circuit with Omaha and at par
with large cities, catching many plays direct from the Boyd of Omaha.

Nebraska City has a number of musicians, for they are truly a great
adjunct to the success of the social side of a city. She is beyond the neces-
sity of importing orchestras or musical talent and is ready to supply the de-
mand made upon such talent by other cities of her neighborhood, having
two orchestras and two bands beside the orchestra and band at the Insti-
tute for the Blind. Since Omaha and Lincoln are so close and train service
good, one is enabled to go often to take advantage of world famous artists-

Under the social heading, our Parks should receive mention, three in
number. The City Park or public square with its beautiful trees, grass and


Online LibraryT. R CooperNebraska City : the most beautiful city of Nebraska ; as it is today in story and pictures → online text (page 1 of 2)