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Nance County

 

HISTORY OF NANCE COUNTY, NEBRASKA

 

     The State Legislature, which met the first Tuesday in January, 1879, provided for the organization of the present county, including the entire Reservation, and gave it its present name, as an honor to our respected Governor, Albinus Nance.

     To enumerate all who came in during that summer would take too much of our space and be of no particular interest to any but the parties named. It is sufficient to say that when the Governor issued his proclamation appointing 0. E. Stearns, J. W. Whitney and Geo. S. McChesney temporary commissioners, quite respectable settlements were to be found along the several valleys of the rivers and creeks -- settlements which have been rapidly increasing ever since.

     In his proclamation the Governor selected Fullerton as the temporary county seat, until election could be had. This "Fullerton" at that time consisted of rows of stakes, marking out its future streets, but a building was soon erected by Mr. Fuller, the then owner of the town site, for the use of the county. Like in all new counties there were several places brought forward for the honors of permanent county seat, Genoa being one and Fullerton another; and strong efforts were made by the friends of both sides to bring in immigrants. The rush which followed in consequence was, as a general thing, a healthy growth. Mr. Brad. D. Slaughter, Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives, foreseeing that the future prospects of Nance county were brilliant, purchased a half interest in the Fullerton town site, and has ever since been using his influence to advertise these lands. Substantial buildings began to go up, not only in town, but also in the several precincts surrounding. For the benefit of the many families living in Cottonwood precinct, Mr. A. Brown established a postoffice at his farm and named it Glenwood. Mr. Gordy also erected a blacksmith shop on his place, and does considerable work for the farmers in that vicinity. Loup Ferry receives its mail at Miller's Ranche, which goes by the name of Lone Pine. Stockraising receives the most attention in this section, but it is plain that this broad, fertile valley of the Loup (one of the finest in the state) is more admirably adapted to farming purposes, and must sooner or later be dotted in all directions with beautiful rural homes. Even this summer, standing upon the table land, and looking up or down the river, a person could have seen one of the most beautiful sights he ever beheld. The fields of waving corn, the golden wheat, surrounded by the green prairie, as level and as beautiful as a carpet floor; with ever and anon a neat frame cottage, and here and there the herds of cattle grazing peacefully on the velvety sward -- but why digress? The same can be said of the Cedar or Timber Creek valleys, although they are not so wide and roomy. On the Cedar in this precinct, Mr. Hodges established a post office -- Tekonsha -- which, it is said, handles a large mail daily; and Mr. Frank Gay has charge of the Red Wing office, in Timber Creek precinct. Outside of Fullerton and Genoa, the largest settlements can be found in this portion, of the county, and as settlers usually pick for good land, it is natural to suppose that its soil is of the best quality, which in fact it is. In the northeastern part we find the very fertile valley of the Beaver.

     Nance county is located in the very center of the settled portion of the state, being in the fifth tier of counties from the north, east and south. It is about fifteen miles in width and thirty in length, and contains in the neighborhood of 280,000 acres. It is traversed from west to east by the Loup and from north to south by the Cedar

 

Photograph

PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

and Beaver rivers, and numerous smaller streams, including the Skeedee, Cottonwood, Horse, Plum, Council, Timber and Ash creeks. The surface is variable, from smooth, level valley and table lands to rolling prairies, rugged hills and abrupt bluffs. There was at one time a large amount of timber growing along the rivers, but the early settlers "borrowed" it from the government, and the loan has never been made good. Little is now left but the cottonwood and willow that skirt the banks of the larger streams to quite an extent. The tract of land comprising Nance county was formerly the reservation of the Pawnee Indians, a warlike tribe, long resident on the Platte and tributaries, with occasional sojourns on the Kansas. The Pawnees were first heard of through the Illinois, the name being of that language. Originally they were divided into four bands, the Tsawe (Grand Pawnees), Tskitkakish or Tapahawkees (Tapage Pawnees), Petoweras or Tapahowerats, and the Skere (Pawnee Mahas, or Loups). It is supposed the Pawnees were originally from Southern Colorado, New Mexico or Arizona, though their traditions throw but little light upon their progenitors. At any rate they were once a powerful tribe, Capt. Pike in 1806 estimating their population at 6,300, with nearly 2,000 warriors. They were hostile to the Spanish before and after the session of Louisiana to the United States, but were always inclined to be friendly with Americans. They hated their Sioux brethren with a bitterness that caused the Sioux the loss of many a noble brave, and the name of the Pawnees became a very terror to the tribe. The Pawnees were rather industrious, cultivating a little corn, beans, melons, etc., but regularly went buffalo hunting on the plains. They lived in villages of earth-covered lodges and shaved their heads, excepting scalp-lock.

     In 1832 the great Pawnee village on the Republican Fork was attacked by the Delawares and burned, and a scourge of small pox soon carried off a large number of the people. This broke the strength of the Pawnee tribe, and they were henceforth easy prey to the ferocity of the Sioux, who never let slip an opportunity to scalp a Pawnee in remembrance of Auld Lang Syne.

     After the destruction of their village on the Republican, the Pawnees moved to the Platte Valley, establishing a large village in the bluffs south of where Fremont now stands. Here they flourished for a number of years. They were finally attacked in their village at night by a large band of Arapahoes, who drove them into and across the Platte, that is, all who could swim. The balance surrendered or were drowned.

     In the spring of 1855 depredations were committed upon the property of settlers in Dodge county, supposed to be the work of the Pawnees, and Gov. Izard appointed Gen. John M. Thayer and Gov. 0. D. Richardson to confer with the chief of the Pawnees. They were instructed to assure the Indians of the desire for peace on the part of the whites, and at the same time to impress upon them the necessity of a strict observance of the rights of the settlers. The Pawnees declared their innocense of having committed any depredations and accused the Poncas of whatever mischief had been done. At this time the Pawnees were badly scattered, having villages near Columbus, Grand Island, Central City and at the mouth of Horse creek, in this county.

     In their halcyon days the Pawnees had waged succesful warfare against the Sioux, Arapahoes, Delawares, Piutes and other tribes, and they were very loth to sue for peace with any of their former enemies.

     Before giving an account of the early settlement and "Pawnee War," it might be well to state that in 1834 these Indians ceded to the United States all their lands south of the Platte. On the 6th day of August, 1848, a treaty was held with the four confederate bands (then living on the south side of the Platte for fear of the scalping knife of the Sioux, but whose possessions were on the north side). By this treaty they relinquished to the general government all the tract of land extending from Kearney to Grand Island and from the Platte river to the bluffs on the north. This was the last treaty made with the Pawnees

(Continued)

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© 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 by Ted & Carole Miller