Hamilton County NEGenWeb Project
Orville City, the first county seat deserves special attention in our history of Hamilton County. Located, surveyed, platted and recorded as a town by the county commissioners, it lay on a beautiful plateau overlooking both forks of the Blue River, on the south half of the northeast quarter of section 22, town Nine, Range Six west. Declared the county seat by a vote May 3, 1870, it remained county seat until January 1, 1876,when it was removed to Aurora by a majority vote in compliance with a General Act of the Legislature of Nebraska approved February 1875. It was named in honor of Orville Westcott, son of C.O. Westcott.
T.H. and William Glover were the first to locate in the new town. There T.H. Glover opened the first store in the fall of 1872, with a stock of general merchandise. William Glover soon followed with the second business when he opened a hotel and boarding house.
The courthouse which was the first building, was erected in May, 1872, and in October the same year, the first frame house was built by T.H. Glover. In 1873, Orville City was a thriving town containing three grocery and general merchandise stores, one drug store, a hotel, blacksmith shop, a real estate office, a low office and a saloon. A portion of the site was later used as the county poor farm, long abandoned now, and no buildings are left to mark the long-deserted village. A school house was built in the summer of 1873, and Miss Nellie Hileman taught the first school in the spring of 1874.
The Poor Farm
Named County seat in 1870, Orville City prospered until the county seat was removed to Aurora in 1876. Then began the disintegration of the town. This location of Orville City, with its four remaining buildings, was the site to which the family of Andrew J. McConaughey came in the spring of 1884, to the County Poor Farm, as its managers, just eight years after the town had received the blow in the removal of the county seat. Mr. McConaughey's salary was $3.50 per day, for days actually worked. There was question as to the need of a Poor Farm in an area so recently settled, but some families were deserted and others came to want, and it was vital in a sparsely settled new country for these people to have shelter. The Poor Farm was in operation for 60 years until it was closed down in 1944. There were only eight couples which served as managers during those years. An early cemetery was located on the southwest corner of the Poor Farm. The first graves were a mother and babe who died between 1871 to 1875. There were old time monuments there during the residence of the McConaugheys, and the county's poor were buried there as they died unless claimed by relatives.
"Centennial History of Hamilton County 1867-1967"
by Bertha G. Bremer