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Merrick County
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The Nonpareil - June 16, 1898


History of Merrick County

• From "the beginning" until the year 1895.




LetterOR ten years after the fall of the old "Lone Tree," which it will be remembered fell a victim to the storm of 1865, either the memory of the fallen monarch or the natural indisposition of the people toward a change preserved for the little station which had been built up around the depot the old-time, familiar name of "Lone Tree." So far as we can find in any place of public record, no thought of a change of name seems to have entered the minds of Lone Tree's citizens until the latter part of 1874 or the beginning of 1875. Then the absence of the old tree, the growth of the little town away from the old location and memory of the early scenes, and the infusion of new blood into the old town life, led the people, or at least a portion of them, to seek a change of name.
   Early in 1875 some thirty-odd voters met and drew up a petition which they claimed expressed the wishes of the majority of the people of the then Lone Tree. Mr. N. R. Persinger, who was county clerk at that time, and who also drew up for the petitioners their document, tells us that in order to dispense with discussion, when he came to the place where the name should be inserted, he announced that the one who first spoke a name which the new town should bear should have the name inserted. Morgan L. Wright, according to Mr. Persinger's memory of the occasion, responded at once with the name "Central City," and this, being acceptable to the majority, was embodied in the petition. Among the court documents of 1875 we find this petition, worded and signed as follows:

   To the Honorable Samuel Maxwell, Judge of the Third Judicial District of he State of Nebraska:
    Your petitioners would respectfully represent unto Your Honor: That they are a majority of the legal voters, and are residents of the town of Lone Tree, in the County of Merrick and State of Nebraska; and that it is the desire of your said petitioners that the name of the said town of Lone Tree be changed to that of Central City; and that there is no other village, town or city in the State of Nebraska of the said name of Central City. Your petitioners assign the following reasons for desiring that such change of name should be made, to-wit:
   1st. The name of Lone Tree--in the opinion of your petitioners--gives to people that are strangers to our town and its surroundings, and the inhabitants thereof, a wrong impression of the same, the said name of Lone Tree conveying the idea or impression to a stranger thereto of a place of such barrenness as to afford support to only one solitary tree in the midst of a desolate plain; whereas the soil and climate of the county wherein our town is located are such as to support in the greatest luxuriance every variety of vegetation common to the Temperate Zone. It also conveys the impression that the inhabitants thereof are a wild, rough, uncouth and uncultivated people whose chief employments are the extermination of the wild buffalo and the savage Indian; whereas your petitioners aver that they are an intelligent and cultivated people, and a moral people and well fitted to associate with the best in the land.
   2nd. The name of Lone Tree does not properly belong to our town, the tree from which the name was derived having been originally situated upon or near the bank of the Platte river and more than three miles from our town; and further that said tree has not been standing for a number of years and had fallen before your petitioners hereto had located in this spot.
   3rd. The name of Central City is a more appropriate name, as our town is centrally located in the agricultural region of this our glorious state; And we have every prospect (if not burthened with the ominous name of Lone Tree) of becoming a city whose turrets and spires shall attract many to us, who finding a city so centrally located in so goodly a land will take up their abiding places among us and help to increase the honor of our state and the prosperity of our city.
   We, therefore, your petitioners, for the reasons herein assigned would respectfully ask that Your Honor grant the prayer of this, our petition, and cause the change of name to be made as desired. And this, as in duty bount, your petitioners will ever pray.
   Dated at Lone Tree this 13th day of January, A. D. 1875.

Frank Jewell

J. J. Fisher

John Foulkes

H. D. Reynolds

Sylvester E. Shipley

David Thomas

D. Martin

Wesley Demoss

J. B. Whittaker

Wm. E. Letcher

John Patterson

Michael Duffin

J. S. Wylie

B. U. Berryman

N. R. Persinger

Samuel Swerer

Q. B. Skinner

J. H. Berryman

James Vieregg

R. Kombrink

A. Stone

Wm. McEndree

John Payne

James R. Ratcliff

Robert Watters

A. M. Fleming

Harrison W. Persons

M. R. Hutchings

J. Fuhrman

Richard Eatough

Morgan L Wright

S. R. Bowerman

M. A. Goff

H. N. Bryant

S. L. Frazier

   But it happened that there were several residents of the town and county who did not fancy any change of name from the old Lone Tree. They immediately filed a remonstrance, as follows:
   To the Honorable Samuel Maxwell, Judge of the 3rd Judicial District of the State of Nebraska:
   Whereas it has come to the knowledge of the signers of this remonstrance that a petition has been filed with the clerk of the district court asking that the name of Lone Tree (by which our beautiful little town is known) be changed to that of Central City, we therefore ask leave to enter this our solemn protest against such change, and assign the following reasons:
   1st. The great thoroughfare traversing this vast continent, linking this glorious Union together by an iron band, considered the place where we now stand of so much importance when they first arrived here years ago that they concluded to give it a name and a name they did give it, yes, Your Honor, a name that is dear to our pioneer fathers and mothers. Need we tell you what that name is? Look at our railroad maps scattered all over the land, and there read it. Therefore our monetary interests demand that the name shall stand.
   2nd. The village of Lone Tree is characteristic of a beautiful spot situated in the midst of a great agricultural district; has become so identified with its people that it is one of the landmarks which the frontiersman points out as the place where the wild buffalo, elk, deer and antelope were seen gaily galloping in the dusky twilight, or the place where he first met his black-eyed Mary or wooed his dusky maid. True, the tree from which our village derives its name has long since fallen down; yet the place can be distinctly located by the old pioneer. That in respect to the memory of the Lone Tree the citizens of our village with their own hands procured a suitable tree and planted it in one of the most public places, to-wit: near the depot. Now, Your Honor, we ask in the name of common justice, in the name of those settlers who so interested themselves in perpetuating the name of Lone Tree, shall all this work be lost and the name to us dearer than life pass away like a tale that is told?
   3rd. We protest on account of our mail interest
   4th. That many of the petitioners do not live in or near to the village of Lone Tree.
   5th. That we deny that any such impression as set forth in the said petition can or has been made on the foreign population or non-residents of this state, and of this we challenge proof.
   7th. Therefore, Your Honor, the prayer of this remonstrance is that the name of our town remain unchanged; and if this can be granted our railroad maps and paper headings will remain unchanged, our mail matter still continue without any interruption, and by the enterprise of our people our Lone Tree, e'er a few years pass away, will not be alone. We therefore humbly submit to your orderand will ever pray.

Leverett Taylor

J. B. White

Lorin May

Sidney Bullock

Zachery Fales

Samuel McCathron

E. Bockes

W. W. Burroughs

R. R. Lisk

Wells Brewer

T. A. Johnston

H. C. Waters

R. C. Baldwin

James C. Percival

Samuel Swerer

J. G. Brewer

D. J. Lehr

L. H. Jones

W. C. Comstock

C. W. Adams

S. A. Cheerer

Isaac Traver

Ed Parker

Chas. Howe

B. H. Bacon

H. Lusk

   Upon the filing of this petition the Courier took its position and advocated the change. In its issue of February 11, 1875, and under the, heading, "What's in a Name?" it argued as follows in favor of the proposed change:

   We most distinctly beg leave to answer, a good deal. Though many fond, pleasing associations cluster around the classic cognomen of Lone Tree, yet still we feel that stern necessity and the eternal fitness of things demand a change. No more appropriate or business like title could be suggested for a town with the least tinge of municipal ambition than Central City, May the prayer of our petitioners to the district court meet with a hearty approval, and Lone Tree fade away among the hovering shadows of the things that were.

   The court considered the petition and the remonstrance, and finally concluded that

   "It appearing from the evidence that previous notice had been given as is required by law of such intended application for thirty days in the Lone Tree Courier, a newspaper printed in the county of Merrick and state of Nebraska, and of general circulation therein, said notice having been published in said newspaper for five consecutive weeks commencing with the 21st day of January A. D., 1875, and it appearing further from the testimony that said petition was signed by a majority of the legal voters of the town of Lone Tree, and the court being satisfied by the proof that two-thirds of the legal voters of said town desire said change of name and that there is no other town, city or village in the state of Nebraska named Central City, and the court being satisfied by proof that the prayer of the petitioners is reasonable and just, it is ordered adjudged and decreed by court now here that the prayer of the said petitioners be granted and that the name of the town of Lone Tree, in Merrick County, and state of Nebraska, be, and the same is of Central City, and that the costs of this be taxed hereby, changed to that case against said petitioners.

    From the date on which this decision was given (February 24, 1875) the old name of Lone Tree gradually dropped out of use, and the new name of Central City began to have a more and more familiar sound. It was not until July 1st of that year, however, that the postoffice dropped the old designation and assumed the new one.1

   1A curious relic of the change of name is now in the possession of David Lear, of Central City. It is the old postoffice stamp as it was thrown away the day that Lone Tree ceased to exist. The die reads, "Lone Tree, Nebr., Jun. 30, 1875."


© 2000, 2001 by Ted & Carole Miller