Sheridan County AND ITS STORY
By Mrs. Fred (Betty E.) Evans, Hay Springs, Nebraska
from "Recollections of Sheridan County, Nebraska"
Sheridan County gets its name from the Civil
War general Philip H. Sheridan. Principal Indian
tribes at that time were the Sioux, Pawnee, and
Cheyenne. A band of the Sioux, known as the Brule
(Broo-la) Indians, lived on Beaver Creek. Here in
1871 was established the Spotted Tail Agency named
for the Indian Chief Spotted Tail. Spotted Tail
disappeared after a few years and in 1874 Fort
Sheridan was established on Beaver Creek not far
from the agency's previous location. In 1881 Fort
Sheridan was discontinued.
Sheridan County was originally a part of Sioux
County. Sioux County was a great block of
unorganized territory with no administrative,
judicial, or tax set-up. Because it had no
organization "set-up" it was attached to Cheyenne
County to carry out any taxation, administration,
etc. This vast territory extended from Holt County
to the Wyoming line.
The first white settlement was made on White Clay
Creek approximately twenty miles northwest of the
present site of Rushville. Most of the first
settlers took "squatter's rights" upon the land,
filing later at Valentine after the U.S. land office
was established in 1881.
The homes of the early settlers were tents, dugouts
and sod houses.
James Garfield Brooks and
Beatrice Hannah (Frost) Brooks with family outside
sod house in Gordon, Sheridan County, Nebraska. Children: Beatrice, Kathryn
Pearl, Lorin, Robert Emmett. Photograph taken
On July 1, 1885, Gov. James W. Dawes
proclaimed the new County of Sheridan, the same
being a strip 69 miles long and 36 miles wide off
the east edge of Sioux County.
The towns soon became incorporated after the county
was formed. Rushville was first on October 9, 1885,
with Gordon and Hay Springs incorporating on
November 19, 1885. The first trustees of the village
of Hay Springs were William Waterman, A. McKinney,
George Millard, George Ballet, and J. E. Brown.
At Hay Springs the early doctors were Dr. Anderson,
Dr. A. N. Sheffner, Dr. Stanley Clements, and Dr.
Albert J. Molzahn and Dr. Bowman.
The railroad was first built only to Valentine. The
settlers could travel this far by train but from
there on they had to travel by team.
The very first church was organized and the first
services held in Sheridan County near Gorgon by the
Rev. Scamahorn. This took place in front of his
home, a tent, in May 1884. This was the first
Methodist Church west of Valentine.
In those days every vicinity tried to bring in new
settlers. Rushville did quite a bit of boasting --
their best boast was the one about the climate being
so good that they had to shoot a man in order to
start a cemetery.
[For a more detailed history of Sheridan County,
please read the full
text written by Mrs. Betty E. Evans and
Ms. Mae Manion]
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Our Sincere THANK
YOU to Emmett
Mason, who did such
a wonderful job as the
previous Sheridan County
All of Emmett's
hard work has been preserved
on these pages, and can be seen in
many valuable research records.
Halsey-Brooks & Eireann
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updated May 21, 2017.
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