A treaty between the United States government and the
Indians, at which the latter relinquished their title to
lands bordering on the Missouri River, was ratified April 17,
The proclamation of the United States President, Franklin
Pierce, extinguishing the Indian title, was made June 24 of
that year. Anticipating this event, large numbers of people
had gathered on the Iowa side of the river, ready at any time
when the signal was given to cross the river and stick their
"claim stakes" on the coveted grounds of Nebraska. Before
this treaty the government had successfully blockaded the
passage by establishing military posts on either side of the
river, and only by permission from the secretary of war was
any person allowed to settle or remain on Nebraska
Samuel Martin in the spring of 1853 obtained such a permit
and established a trading post on the ground now occupied by
the City of Plattsmouth, and was therefore the first white
settler to locate in what is now Cass County. Under this
permit he, assisted by James O'Neil and others, built a
two-story hewed log house situated on what is now lots 6 and
7, block 31, in the original town of Plattsmouth, and for
some time conducted an Indian trading post. After his death,
December 15, 1854, the "barracks," as it was usually called,
was used for various purposes, stores, offices, and
postoffice, until it was finally torn down to make room for
other buildings. In July, 1853, Mr. Martin also had erected a
smaller log house, which in later days was used for county
offices. Many of the pioneers paid their first tax in this
building, which, on account of some illegality in
proceedings, were afterward refunded.
A soon as the Indian title was relinquished a rush was
made for the most valuable claims, and within a very short
time nearly all the most desirable lands near the Missouri
river in Cass county were staked and the claimant's name
written thereon. The U. S. laws allowing a claim of 40, 80,
120, or 160 acres.
Like all new countries, the claim speculators were much in
evidence in Cass county. Their scheme was for each man to
make as many claims as he could, many times one man's name
appearing on ten or a dozen different pieces of land, and
then force the bona fide settler to buy him out at fabulous
To make a claim would be to stake out any of the above
quantities of land and write the claimant's name and usually
the description, upon the stakes, and file such description
with the secretary of the "Claim Club."
Before territorial organization it was found necessary to
have some tribunal by which to facilitate the settlement of
disputes that were constantly arising over claims. Therefore
the Claim Clubs were established, each one defining its
boundaries. Club law was the personal government of the
settlement, by the settlers in club meeting assembled. The
officers were a president, secretary and treasurer. A
constitution and by-laws were adopted and provisions made for
regular and special meetings. No claim was supposed to be
recorded that conflicted, in the least, with any other
member's rights, and must be properly described, section
township and range, and date of claim. Most of the clubs also
required an assurance of bona fide settlement. However, these
clubs varied according to location. Near the river they were
largely composed of speculators, who often equaled, if not
outnumbered, the real settlers. Where the speculators were in
the majority, usually self-interest ruled in the proceedigs,
but in the other clubs the welfare of the settlement was
Where these speculators controlled the clubs many abuses
were made of their power. Some of them were composed of men
remaining only long enough to secure and dispose of their
claims and then return east, or farther west, to greener
fields. Many of them, void of all integrity, secured claims
by jumping them, and then by perjury, try to hold them and
bring their case before their claim club. When the claim of
an honest member came before such a club, there was no such
thing as justice meted out to him, and the "over-the-river"
route was suggested to him if he further protested.
Claim jumping consisted of pulling up the stakes already
set and replacing them with other names attached. There was
no law controlling the assessment of fines, no jails or state
prison. Therefore there was but little effort made to grade
the punishment according to the offense. Where clubs were
controlled by bona fide settlers a fair trial was accorded
any offender, and notice given him what he must do. If he
failed, or was obstinate, the penalty was a removal from the
territory, or in pioneer parlance, "put over the river,"
which did not always mean a safe landing on the other side,
at least of the Missouri.
Thus, it can be readily seen how an unprincipled,
non-resident Claim Clb, as it might be termed, following the
same tactics as the legitimate claim club, could impose upon
Only one case has ever been recorded where the extreme
penalty was meted out to anyone, and that one was not one,
but four, a more complete description of which is given in
the reminiscence of L. G. Todd.
The speculator was the demoralizer of the clubs, and
caused many hard names to be circulated regarding club law.
But where clubs were controlled by the better classes, as
they usually were, no jury, it is said, ever gave a more fair
Most of the early settlers' latch strings were out. Their
cabin or dugout was always open to strangers. They were
anxious to see the country improve, would assist, if they
could, to establish a permanent settlement where they might
again have the privilege of the school and church they had
left behing. To obtain these privileges they would divide
their last crust with no assurance of another for themselves,
would leave their work to go out over the prairie and hunt a
claim for a promising stranger, or do any other honorable
thing to increase the settlement, and thereby gain the
advantages they so much desired.
The unprincipled speculator, however, after accepting the
hospitality of these people, would then, in many instances,
secure four stones, easily carried in his pocket, go out and
take possession of a claim, drop the stones at what he
imagined as the four corners of a house, split the end of
some sticks and therein insert a piece of glass. Sticking
these in the ground on the supposed sides of the house for
the windows, he would secure a piece of board or plank, lay
it down in the center of the supposed enclosure, take a
blanket and retire for the night in his newly made house. In
the morning he would leave for the land office and there
solemnly swear that he had taken a claim, describing it, that
he had built a house with glass woundows and wooden floor;
that it was his intention to make a permanent settlement, and
wished to enter his claim, and that he had already moved onto
it. As soon as he had secured his papers he would start to
his eastern home, congratulating himself on his shrewdness as
a land speculator and the ease with which he worked the green
pioneer. The result of these operations were very
discouraging to the early settlers. They were thus gradually
hemmed in and surrounded by the speculators, who held their
lands for advanced prices. By their own generosity and
kindness they assisted in isolating themselves from friends
and neighbors and the many comforts they had anticipated. By
privation and stick-to-ative-ness they enhanced the value of
their lands. The country, however, was slower in developing
than it would have been under more favorable circumstances,
and many of the settlers became discouraged and sold their
lands to these same unpricipled land-grabbers.
EARLY SETTLEMENT CHRONOLOGICALLY ARRANGED
The following list of settlers, chronologically arranged,
is probably far from complete, but it will serve to show the
years that the greatest settlement was made from 1853 to
L.G. Todd, Isaac Wiles, Stephen Wiles, Luke Wiles, John
Schwab, L.C.W. Murray, Richd Pell, W.M. Wiley,
Thomas L. Wiles, Mary (Murray) Sullivan, Delila Schwab,
William Young, Mrs. G.F. McNurlin, J.G. Hansen, Mrs. Z.W.
T.D. Buck, L.B. Brown, William Young, F.M. Young, Jr.,
W.W. Kirkpatrick, Adam Ingram, Bucephalus Wolph, William
Ellington, F.M. Young, Sr.
Joshua Gapen, Nicholas Young, Lawson Sheldon, Isaac
Pollard, Cap. Isaac Wiles, T.L. Campbell, G.D. Amick, J.H.
Allison, Thomas Thomas, S.L. Thomas, Lee Allison, J.R.
Vallery, Theobold Vallery, J.S. White, Ann (Smith) White,
G.S. Ruby, Nelson Jean, H. Eikenbary, Joseph Cook, W.G.
Erhart's parents, W.D. Hill, T.W. Fountain, G.C. Cook, Sarah
M. Young, D.L. Amick, Mrs. J.D. Ferguson, Charles Swan.
J.B. Moore, Joseph Sans, S.G. Latta, J.M. Chalfant, A.B.
Taylor, T.J. Todd, A.B. Todd, F.P. Todd, E.R. Todd, William
Coleman, John Holschuh, E. Todd, Nicholas Halmes, William
Gilmour, W.H. Royal, Shadrach Cole, S.O. Cole, Z.W. Cole,
George L. Berge, J.C. Crabtree, Hon. Orlando Tefft, H.C.
Peter Gruber, Simon Gruber, L.C. Pollard, Peter Stoll,
C.J. Martin, Frank Stander, J.D. Ferguson, I.M. Ward, Eliza
A. Stander, G.D. Pearson, Charles P. Hall, W.H. Smith,
L.J. Griffith, T.A. Sullivan, William Wetenkamp, Gertrude
M. Wiley, W.W. Willey, William Snyder, R.E. Contryman, C.E.
Mockenhoupt, Henry Hubbard, W.C. Noxon, A.M. Noxon, W.J.
Laughlin, O.W. Loughlin, E.G. Laughlin, A.A. Leesley, William
Leesley, Mrs. Henry Behrns, Henry Behrns, William Leesley,
J.M. Craig, Jas Spratlen, F.H. Stander, Garry Treat, J.M.
Craig, F.H. Stander.
Rev. A.L. Folden, William Rose, Mrs. F.H. Stander.
G.W. Eaton, J.W. Edmisten, W.A. Edmisten, John Buskirk,
Hery Behrns, C.J. Gaebel, Allie Adams.
Lewis Bird, I.W. Capple, Mathias Meyer, William Rose, S.H.
Loder, J.T.A. Hoover, J.M. Hoover, S.F. Ranard, A.J. Hoover,
Abraham Mst, F.W. Fowler, James R. Vanatta, Frank J. Morgan,
M.G.McQuin, Mrs. W.H. Mark.
William Carroll, W.B. Roberts, August Thimgahn, H.W.
Thomas, Jacob Adams, Helen Marshall, Charles Ingwerson, G.W.
Shrader, Joseph Shera, R.R. Nickels, J. Henry Ahl, J.A.
Walker, James M. Carper, Mrs. Belle Shrader.
A.F. Boedeker, C.H. Boedeker, George McReynold, Z.P. Earl,
John Rohrdanz, F.W. Schlichtemier, George Shafer, P.J.
Shafer, Henry Spangler, C.F. Vallery, Peter J. Vallery, C.F.
Bouck, Truman Sampson, D.C. Rhoden, George W. Rhoden, William
Rhoden, Theodore Boedeker, C.A. McReynolds, W.P. Hutcheson,
J.M. Hutcheson, A.G. Nolting, F.W. Nolting, William Nolting,
May (Rhea) Nickels, Robert Perry Rhea, W.H. Mark, Jacob
Vallery, Sr., W.A. Rhoden, Nancy B. Rhoden, A.H. Weckbach,
Nancy J. Hill
T.J. McCulloch, Isaac Nelson, L.W. Nelson, Morgan
Waybright, R.W. Long, Mary Metzger, Jacob Tritsch, Philip
Tritsch, W.M Buster, Richard Deles Dernier, Charle D. Clapp,
William L. Bates, W.H. Waggoner, Florinda J. Berger, L.H.
Woods, L.A. Tyson, C.M. Cherry, G.H. Woods.
Peter Eveland, C.B. Hadley, C.E. Heebner, J. Fred
Shomaker, Fred Brandt, Charles Brandt, William Coatman, I.S.
Fries, George Heebner, Theodore John Jacob Schlanker, C.G.
Taber, Sarah J. Taber, M.M. Shipman, Jacob Kunzman, R.A.
Young, J.F. Ragoss, Joseph Messina, L.H. Young, C.A. Mathias,
J.P. Rouse, Herman Thieman, J.L. Smith, G.I. Lloyd.
J.H. Waggoner, B.F. Allen, H.E. Calkins, Archibald Rager,
M.A. Hall, Edward Williams, Augusta Rockenbach, Thomas Wiles,
P.J. Linch, J.C. McNurlin, C.M. Seybert, Jacob Schneider,
J.J. Schneider, Jacob Seybert, S.M. Holden, William Seiker,
W.C. Wollen, John K. Johnson, B.W. Bates, J.M. Stone, Peter
Opp, I.N. Applegate, Arthur Rikli, Fred Wehrbein, William
Schneider, Levi Rusterholtz.
George E. Buell, S.M. Cox, Abraham Long, Christ Miller,
H.C. Nielsen, Fred Ruge, G.E. Vanderburg, A.A. Watlinger,
H.R. Waldron, Charles Creamer, L.R. Seybert, J.B. Seybolt,
Christian Duerr, C.E. Noyes, Amos Keiser, W.E. Whitney, J.L.
Wood, Harman Bester, R.L. Propst, T.T. Young, Samuel Long,
Fred Holka, Andrew Christenson, John Erickson, L.C. Hanson,
George Hanson, Paul Johnson, I.Wl Towland, A. Hoenshell, G.F.
McNurlin, Z.W. Shrader, Wendel Heil, John Kelly, G.W.
Gilmore, C.C. Cowell, John Bickert, Robert H. Wall, J.C.
Hayes, Herman Dettman, Samuel Johnson, W.A. Johnson, William
Starkjohan, T.N.Bobbitt, Wesley Bird, James Root, Harriett A.
Root, C.F. Bouck.
Margaret Bornemeier, William Cook, H. Taylor Richars, S.L.
Furlong, Justus Lillie, C.N. Beverae, Norman Slocum, E.M.
Standley, A.E. Hess, Julius A. Pitz, George Goos, Louis
Desour, Abel Bevan, Andrew Christianson, N.L. Keefer, J.C.
Stevenson, Elizabeth Spencer, J.R. Cathery, W.H. Heil, Adam
Heil, William Heil, George P. Heil, Henry Kehrie, Malinda
Gustin, J.J. Christensen, Martin Schafer, Carl Strobel,
Joseph Mullin, A.H. Denison, E.H. Norris, John W. Rubga, G.O.
Harman, C.C. Sherfey, Mary C. (Onstott) Sherfey, William
Lindsey, A.C. Carey, B.F. Horning, F.G. Egenberger.