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HISTORY AND FINANCIAL RESOURCES OF LOUISVILLE NEBRASKA; continued
It is not the wish or purpose of the author of this book to exaggerate or draw upon his imagination that the matter herein contained may be made the more attractive, but to give facts just as they are, as best we can. We are not telling of things which we alone have seen and know, and to those who have never tried a frontier life, far from friends and civilization, may appear like fiction. So vast is the change that the birth of this little city, Louisville, of today, that words cannot describe it. Neither will we attempt it. But here present to you the story as told by those who supplanted the Red man here on the banks of the beautiful Platte some fifty years ago.
A word here about our state will not be out of place. Although it is well and favorabley known everywhere. Her development since 1854, when she became a territory, and since 1867, when she became a state, has been so great that it is almost beyond belief, with no natural resources but the virgin soil. Nebraska then appeared to be a bleak, barren wast, except alon the larger water streams where there were scattering clusters of timber which had escaped the destructive prairie fires that swept over the plains every fall. So terrible were these fires at times that they appeared to be a rolling sea of flame, and nothing could stand in its path and live. Great has been the loss and much the suffering to the early settlers occasioned in this way. But like many other things of those times that were grievous and hard for the pioneer to bear, have long since passed away. Yet we have many of those among us who have passed through all of this, and are yet young enough to enjoy the many blessings brought about by the changed condition of things. So great is this change and in so short a time that to those who lived through those early years of Nebraska, it seems more like a dream than a reality.
In many cases one room and that, to not a large one, constituted parlor, bed room and kitchen, with port holes for windows, which in time of trouble with our neighbor, the Indian, were very convenient, and at that tme much more to be desired than the modern plate glass bay window of today. The little truck patches of that day - and that was crudely farmed - has long since grown into large, well-tilled farms; our markets which were then miles away have, literally speaking, been brought to our doors; the little unshaded sod house has been replaced by a spacious, well planned, modern house, richly furnished fit for a king and surrounded with well kept lawns and shade trees of almost every clime; the old dug well, from which our mothers used to draw the water for family use, with a wooden pail fastened to a pole has been replaced with a tubular well and pipe, over which stands a graceful steel tower some fifty feet in height, on the top of this is balanced a beautiful wheel that plays with every passing breeze while it pumps and carries the water for us. Water of the very best and purest is easily obtained anywhere in the state.
Nebraska has four good sized rivers, three of which have their origin in the states west of us. All of them flowing from the west to east and emptuying into the Missouri river. These streams are fed by many creeks and branches that are so numerous in Nebraska. Many of these small creeks afford good water power. for mills an other purposes, for which it is extensively used. As a corn and wheat growing state Nebraska is one of the best. And for variety and quality of crops that can be successfully grown one yar with another this state can not be beat so far. It is the home of alfalfa. There are thousands of acres of this clover grown in every part of the state. The cattle, hog and sheep business is carried on here on an extensive scale. The western part of the state is a natual hay and grazing section, where larger herds of sheeep and cattle are kept until they are at a feeking age, then they are brought to the central and eastern parts, where they are fed and fattened for the market. The fruit industry is getting to be quite a business with us to. Good orchards of many varieties of apples, peaches and cherries, as well as all kinds of small fruit are to be found in all parts of the state. For several years the shipment of apples has amounted to thousands of dollars.
We have no gold, silver or even coal mines to boast of, buyt the census of the United States shows that our mind of learning is above par. The little white school house is a conspicuous landmark in every neighborhood here, also the church. Our colleges, which are many and our universities are among the finest in the west. Farm lands have increased in value in the last five years from fifteen and twenty-five dollars per acre to thirty, forty and in some cases seventy-five dollars per acre. Our people as a whole have grown independent and in very many cases quite wealthy in the last fifteen years, and made it out of theproducts of the farm in Nebraska. No where can there be found stronger evidence of this on every hand than here. Travel any direction you may - east, west, north or south, on andy of the many railroads that traverse this state, and you will find every eight or ten miles, lively, thriving, little towns where all lines of trade and business is there common to the county. And for business, culture and sociability our people have no equal. There is less jar, dissatisfaction and contention among our people in their various walks of life than there is anywhere wlse in the world. The interests of all seem to blended into one harmonious purpose - live and let live.
Cass county was laid out and organized as a county in the year 1855. The population of the county at that time was 712. Plattsmouth at that time was but a little village on the banks of the Missouri river, with a population of less that one hundred souls, and there is where they located the county seat and there it has remained to this day. The following names citizens were made the first county officials of Cass county, Nebraska: County treasurer, Bela White; county clerk, William H. Davis; county sheriff, A.C. Touner[sic]; county commissioners, T.B. Ashley, L.G. Todd and Allen Watson; county surveyor, William Young. L.G. Todd is yet living. Cass is one of the best counties in the state, lying in the heart of the Missouri valley, bounded on the east by the Missouri river, on the north by the Platte river, and is the fourth county from the south line of the state and is in the east tier of counties. From south to north it is about eighteen miles and from east to west about thirty miles.
The general lay of the land is bottom and rolling table land, a little rough and hilly along the water courses. This is one of the best watered counties in the west, besides being bound on two sides by two of the grandest rivers of the west; there are also hundreds of little creeks and branches in every part of the county. The soil is a rich, deep, heavy, clay loam, very productive and well adapted to the growing of all kinds of crops pertaining to this climate, such as corn, wheat, oats, potatoes and all of the best varities of tame grasses - each find their natural element here. No where do you find a better apple growing section than here. This is no theory but a fact and we have the proof. Many of the little towns of this county have, and will this season, ship to the markets, both east and west of us, from five to twenty-five cars of as fine apples and of the best varities that are grown anywhere. Although for twenty-five years our people have been told not to plant orchards here, that this was not a fruit county and that they were wasting time and money to do this. Yet they, like Columbus, just kept on until they, like him, made a discovery which was that they can raise many kinds of fruit here just as well as anywhere else.
Cass county is most favorably situated in many particulars. One is our splendid climate, pleasant summers and mild winters, as a rule. Lincoln, the capitol, a city of forty thousand population, is just thirty miles west of us. The capital building is one of the finest of its kind in the west. The penitentiary is located there, as is other state buildings, among them the State university; that ranks with the best of the kind in the United States. Omaha, a city of one-hundred and forty thousand people, is just twenty miles north of Cass county on the Missouri river and is one of the largest live stock markets in the world, the daily receipts of cattle, sheep and hogs running into the thousands. Here is located some of the most extensive meat packing houses in the world, employing thousands of men all the year round. Here are llocated many manufacturing plants and railroad shops, some of them the largest in the country. It will be seen at once that the people of Cass county do not have to go from home to find a market for their products, and where good prices ar obtained.
While our county seat, Plattsmouth, is located in the extreme eastern part of the county, it is easily reached by rail from all parts of the county, and is a railroad center from all points in and out of the state. The courthouse is a large and substantial building, built of stone and brick. Plattsmouth has a population above five thousand, has many substantial brick blocks, a good system of water works and an electric light plant, good schools and many fine churches. One of the striking features of the city is its many fine homes, some of these owned by theose who came here in the early days and started western life in a little log cabin by the river where they watched for the little steam boat, that comae up the Missouri every spring from St. Louis, hoping it would bring them a letter, if not a friend, from their eastern home. That was before the days of railroads, when to go west meant something, yes, more than we of today can appreciate or would care to experience. Let us thank and bless those who did, for they made the way easier for us.
Our own little city to which this work is dedicated and the one place of all others mostdear to us, is Louisville; not alone because this is our home or that we would feel unkindlytoward any. Louisville has charms and attractions peculiar to itself. Nature has done muchhere to make this so and no one can long remain here and not be impressed with a feeling ofreverence and respect for the great artist of the beautiful. The location, scenery and thegeneral surroundings are so grand, one can not think this is all chance, but are impressed withthe fact that there is a God, and no where has he done more for mankind than here. This littletown does not greet you upon entrance to it with vain, unsightly, pretentious blocks ofbusiness houses such as we see in the cities, where men slave their lives away, seeking thedollar, the god of today, unmindful of the fact that they owe something to their families and theworld. The life the business man of today is living is but little better than that of a convictbehind the bars so far as leisure and pleasure go. In this respect Louisville is at variance withall the world. Her citizens are all of that friendly, kind and courteous class that one likes tomeet and mingle with. The business men here do not lack any of the best business qualitiesthat go to make up the man of affairs today. But on the contrary, you don't find here theselfish, narrow, suspicious individual who cares for none but self.
All lines of trade are represented here, the stores are all large, comodious[sic] houses, built ofbrick and stone, all of which material they have here. Their stocks are large and well selected,such as you will find in the best houses of a large city. What the world lacks most today, andwhat all men appreciate most keenly, but seldom receive, is courteous treatment. Here thatspirit prevails. Everyone greets you on the streets, as well as in the places of business, in apleasant manner that makes you feel as though there was one place one earth that life wasworth living.
Louisville was first laid out as a town by Captain J.T.A. HOOVER in 1870. He built at thattime a small frame building on Second and Main streets where he kept the first postoffice inthe town together with a small stock of goods, consisting of groceries, tobacco, etc. Mr.Hoover, who is a broad minded, far-seeing, public spirited man, appreciated what could bedone here in making this one of the best little cities in the west by developing the resourcesthat nature had so bounteously placed here. We have here the finest lime and sand stonequarries to be found in unlimited quantities. With this in view he set about this work in apractical business way; first he induced the railroad people to build through the town and atquite a cost to himself. This effort was the means of this town getting three railroads and couldMr. Hoover have had the strong support of all his neighbors at that time Louisville would havebeen the county seat today.
The stone quarries were worked extensively for a number of years which gave employment tohundreds of men and added much wealth to the town. Mr. Hoover owned and operated alarge brick yard and pottery here where they turned out a large quantity of that material andthe best quality of goods, for they have here an unlimited amount of the best clay for thatpurpose to be found.
We have hesitated to give a description of Louisville because we feel unable for the task topicture it to you properly in words. It is half hidden by the little pyramid hills at the foot of thebluffs that lie on the south and about one-half mile from the Platte, which borders it on thenorth, located as it is at the entrance of a valley, through which flows Mill creek, a smallstream that heads far back in the table lands south of the town. This stream is fed by the littlesprings that bubble up here and there from the foot of these small mound-like hills along theway, and quietly winds its way to the Platte river which seems to wait and linger for it as amother for her child. To stand on Gospel hill, which is the most prominent and highest of thesemounds, you have presented to you one of the grandest scenes of nature it has ever been yourlot to behold. You have here a splendid view far up and down the famous Platte Valley withits wooded foothills, through which flows the waters of the Platte that in the distance sparklesand glistens like a lake of silver as it plows its way to the Missouri, fourteen miles east of here.
Far up the river to the west can be seen the smoke and steam as it is sent curling to the cloudsfrom the mammoth freight engines on the Burlington & Missouri River railroad, as they drawtheir long train of heavy loaded freight cars along the banks of the Platte, like a thing of life. Tothe south, half hidden by the hills and forests, may be seen a trail of smoke from a flyingpassenger train on the Missouri Pacific railroad as it makes its way to the border of Kansas atthe rate of fifty miles an hour. A little to the north-east, on a large estate that now belongs toG.W. Holdrege, of Omaha, Nebraska, and who is general manager of the B. & M. railroad,stands a large four story stone house that reminds one of castles of old. It has a history, theparticulars I do not know, more than it was built years ago for a semi-prison and officersheadquarters. All around you, as far as the eye can see, is presented to view one of the finestsections of farming country to be found. In the midst of all this sits Louisville, like a queen, withher population of eight hundred souls.
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