The following descriptions appeared Sunday 5 June 1887 in the Lincoln Journal. This was an "immigrant issue" intended to provide the towns of Nebraska with an opportunity to attract new residents.
Three towns in Johnson County supplied information: Elk Creek, Sterling and Tecumseh.
Elk Creek, Johnson County, Nebraska, is situated in the richest and most thickly populated part of the Nemaha Valley, which the late Bayard Taylor, after passing through pronounced "The most beautiful country I ever looked upon." The town has a population of about 400 persons, is on the Atchison & Nebraska branch of the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad, a distance of fifty-five miles from Lincoln, and ninety miles from Atchison, Kansas and is principally a grain and mercantile market. The shipments of grain abd livestock during the past year amounted to 550 cars.
The principal business houses of Elk Creek consists of two dry goods, one hardware, one drug, three grocery, one furniture, one book and news and two general merchandise stores, one bank, two hotels, one lumber yard, two coal dealers, one grist mill, two agricultural implement dealers, two livery stables and one newspaper - the Echo.
The aggregrate amount of business done in Elk Creek during the last year amounts to the sum of $2,500.000, of which the Bank of Elk Creek contributes $2,000,000. In December of last year seven business houses were destroyed by fire, otherwise the business of the town would have been much greater. Elk Creek affords a splendid opening for every branch of mercantile pursuit, as the country tributary is thickly settled, and has a large territory to draw trade from. The farmers are principally Americans and a large majority of them are in excellent financial circumstance.
There is not a better country in the world for farming than is afforded that industry right around Elk Creek, and we just and proudly lay claim to the "garden spot of the state." The people are intelligent and thrifty and the society is good, resulting from the advantages of good churches and excellent scchools. The water power affords rare advantage for milling and manufacturing and franchises can be secured at very low cost.
DAILY NEBRASKA STATE JOURNAL, LINCOLN, SUNDAY 5 JUNE 1887 p 10
STERLING Located in Johnson County - On the Atchison & Nebraska Railroad -
Thirty-Six Miles From Lincoln - Population One Thousand
Sterling, a thriving town of 1,000 inhabitants, is beautifully situated on the Big Nemaha, in the northwestern part of Johnson County and its second city in size and population.
The original site was settled by Mr. John Bentz as early as 1856, but Mr. Wm. Mann, at present a resident of Wilbur, this state laid out the town and named it after his former home, Sterling, Ill. He bought the water power of Mr. Bentz who used it to run a sawmill, and put up a grist mill to run the sawmill which has since become a permanent institution of the town.
In 1873, the Atchison & Nemaha railroad was built from which there has been a substantial and steady growth. Sterling's original advantages and the enterprise of its citizens, together with the thrifty and pushing farmers of the surrounding country, offer excellent inducement for the investment of capital. Realizing the need for improvement in the capacity and appearance of the flouring mill, the business men have subscribed a bonus of $1,000 to be given to parties who will build and operate a first class roller mill. The gift has been accepted and a company is now arranging to commence work at once. A like bonus is offered to establish a canning factory and practical experience in this line will do well to come and look over the advantages Sterling offers before locating elsewhere.
The following is quoted from a recent issue of the Sterling Press. "While Sterling is well represented in almost every department of business, there are nevertheless excellent openings. The boom that is upon us, our rapidly increasing population and enlarged trade, which is daily growing larger, demand new enterprises to cope with the pressing needs. A hearty welcome will therefore be given those who should contemplate moving into our town to engage in business."
Our creamery has been in business a year and is a quite a popular institution with the farmers. They ship butter to New York and other intermediate points. Sterling is one of the best shipping points on the A. & N. R.R. Immense quanities of grain and live stock are raised on the splendid farms and cattle ranges on all sides of us, also most excellent fruit and vegetables. There are three firms doing a general business in buying stock and grain, two banks, two newspapers, the Press and Gazette, two lawyers and real estate dealers, two hardware stores, two meat markets, three drug stores, two restaurants, two hotels, two harness shops, four millinery establishments, three blacksmith shops, one wagon maker and repair shop, one book and stationary store, one exclusive boot, shoe and clothing store, one jeweler, two bakeries, seven dry goods and general merchandise stores, one photographer, one implement firm, two livery stables, two loan brokers, two shoe makers, one billiard hall, besides contractors and carpenters, carpet weavers, dressmakers, market gardeners, broom maker, draymen, painters, plasterers and masons. etc., three allopathic physicians and one homeopathic. There is also a fine public schools divided into four grades.
The Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian denominations each have comfortable and neat churches and exceptionally fine pastors and preachers. Each church supports a good Sabbath school. There are also the Odd Fellows, Masons, Knights of Pythias, Women's Christian Temperance and the Home for the Friendless Auxiliary and hope to have a Young Men's Christian Association in the near future.
The prospect of a competing line of rail road crossing the A. & N. at Sterling is a boom to which all are looking forward.
DAILY NEBRASKA STATE JOURNAL, LINCOLN, SUNDAY 5 JUNE 1887 p 14
TECUMSEH The County seat of Johnson County -
On the Burlington & Missouri Railroad - Forty-eight Miles From Lincoln -
Population Two thousand Five Hundred
Tecumseh, the county seat of Johnson county , situated near the centre of the county on an elevated plateau overlooking the West Nemaha river for miles has about 2,500 population of thrifty, industrious citizens.
Of churches there are the following: Catholic who worship in a brick structure costing about $15,000; Methodist Episcopal church, who have a frame building worth about $6,000, and a parsonage valued at &1,500, the Presbyterians have a frame edifice worth abut $4,00; the Campellites, a frame building costing $3,000; the Baptist, a brick building cost $3,500, the Universalists contemplate building this summer
The high school building is of brick and stone and cost $16,000. There are three ward schools costing $2,500.
There are five drug stores, four hardware stores, three furniture stores, thirteen grocery stores, two millinery stores, five dry goods stores, three clothing stores, three restaurants, five hotels, three livery stables, two banks, one water and steam mill, one elevator, one brickyard, two lumberyards, doing a business of three-fourths of a million dollars annually.
The Atchison & Nemaha railroads from Lincoln to Atchison runs through our town crossed by the Republican Valley from Nebraska City to Denver. The Omaha & Southwestern expects to commence work soon and the Missouri Pacific is going to finish the Brownville and Ft. Kearney, which is already graded to this point.
When the railroads are all built it will make us quite a railroad center. There is also a creamery of brick and a foundry for casting stove fronts, etc.
The lodges are all well attended, having all the associations known to modern times. The Masons have a hall 24, by 44 feet, handsomely furnished, probably excelled by none in the state. The Odd Fellows have a lot and are negotiating for a brick building on it this summer. There are two lodges of K. of P. of nearly one hundred members each.
The town is built around a square with a courthouse as the center piece. The trees are twenty years old, and form the nicest park in the state.
Our business lots are worth on the square $800 to $1,000 per lot. Good brick stores rent readily at $65 per month. There are two opera houses that will accommodate all the theatre going people. There are one or two old saloons which only sell temperance drinks, as license was defeated at the polls. The town is under no lofty boom as Lincoln and Omaha are, but it is gradually coming to the front and to stay.
There are four newspapers: The Chieftain, published by A. H. Swart, the oldest paper in the county; the Repulican, published by A. B. Ball, both republican in politics; Johnson County Journal by Poole and Moore, democratic in belief; the Johnson County News, by C. H. Mitchell, prohibition, and all are getting their bread and butter out of the inhabitants.
Produced for NEGenWeb, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 by Bill Wever, Ted & Carole Miller