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Homestead Act in Brown County, Nebraska History

In 1904 a new law was passed permitting a homestead of 640 acres to be acquired by five years residence thereon and placing improvements upon it to the value of $800. This was called the “Kinkaid law,” honoring the congressman from this district who secured its enactment Hon. Moses P. Kinkaid of O’Neill. This law proved of great value to all of northwest Nebraska and its passage resulted in the settling of the sand hills in a very few years. Again new settlers, sometimes called “Kinkarders,” came into our county, and a most prosperous period followed their coming. The population was greatly increased, live stock, grain and other personal property was almost doubled in a very short time. Small but prosperous cattle ranches with a few acres in grain and other produce soon covered the sand hills sections. The dairy business sprung into prominence and has proved to be a source of great revenue for this county. Several new precincts were formed, schools and post offices established, roads laid out and a few bridges built. What had been regarded by some as a hopeless wilderness became a region of comfortable homes. Even the land itself, underwent a change in character and appearance due to the fact that prairie fires no longer were allowed to sweep over it. Vegetation still increases yearly and by its decay the soil is changed and enriched. As these deposits increase the appearance of the sand hills is changed and the soil becomes more productive. Thus did the Empire of Brown have its beginning and thus has its growth and development been brought about. No...

Interview with Nannie Hogan

(Having had the privilege of a very interesting interview with Mrs. Nannie Hogan, daughter of the late Mrs. Nannie Osborn, during her last visit to Ainsworth in July, 1935, a few facts of general interest, as well as some of her own pioneer experiences were recorded, chiefly for the benefit of the school children who often have need to seek information regarding the early history of the town.)-Lila McAndrew. Mrs. Osborn and her daughter, Nammie lived at old Fort Hartsuff near the town of Ord. They became acquainted with Mr. and Mrs. Tower, the latter being a sister of Mr. Ed Cook, who was foreman of the famous Cook ranch. The buildings which were erected in 1873, all built of logs, were located on the bank of Bone Creek and were the first to be erected on the site which was later to be known as the town of Ainsworth. Many bones of mastadons and other prehistoric animals were found in and along the banks of the stream, hence the name Bone Creek. Mr. Cook had come in 1877 and “squatted” on the claim. The cattle were owned by a syndicate but Cook was manager of the ranch. In 1879, through the influence of Dr. and Mrs. Tower, Mrs. Osborn and Nannie were persuaded to come up from Fort Hartsuff and serve meals to the cow boys on this ranch. Mr. Cook was to take care of their stock and pay-them a monthly salary. Coming across country with all their worldly possessions, they were given living quarters in the north end of the log building. Mr. Cook’s home, including...

Ainsworth Public School

(Lila McAndrew) School District No. 10, Ainsworth was organized August 25, 1883, E. A. Palmer was director, J. W. Alden moderator and S. G. Chaney treasurer. The first school in district No. 10 was held in a little log building, northwest of town, on the north bank of Bone Creek, in 1882. It was taught by Mrs. Mary Wade. Some of the pupils attending were Lettie Cheney (Mrs. J. D. Kirkpatrick), Millie Cheney (Mrs. Will Kirkpatrick), Joy and Bert Cheney, Dan and Mary Woodward, (the late Mrs. L. M. Short.) In 1883 school was: held in a frame building where the home of Mr. Leve Lindquist now stands. The building was also used as a jail. Judge S. G. Sparks was the teacher. The names of the late James Munson and Albert Chaney were among those added to the list of pupils. The next year, (1884) school was held in the original Congregational church building, although the walls were not yet plastered and brown paper had to serve as a substitute. Prof. A. W. Smith presided over the advanced grades who were seated with faces to the north. Mrs. O. B. Rippey taught the primary pupils whose seat faced the south, both departments being in one room. In 1885 school convened in a two room frame structure, which was located across the street east of the present site of the Bell Telephone building. Prof. A. W. Smith continued as upper grade instructor and Mrs. Hattie Ray had charge of the lower grades. In 1886 a four-room, two story brick building was erected on the ground where the present grade...

Outlaws and Pawnee Indians of Brown County, Nebraska

Kid Wade, a young outlaw supposed to be one of the famous gang that operated in this section in early days, was lynched in the early morning hours of February 8, 1884. He was captured in Iowa by a band of vigilantes, given a trial and turned over to officers from Holt County. During the night he was taken from the guard in a hotel at Bassett’ by a band of masked men and hung to a railroad whistling post, one mile east of the town. He was buried on Bassett hill. His true given name was Albert. His trial took place in the home of the late Charles Honnen of Johnstown, then residing a few miles west of Carns, in Keya Paha county. On July 11, 1884, the commissioners of Brown County allowed the bill for his coffin and box, twenty dollars, furnished by J. M. Mead of Long Pine. In very early times the Pawnee Indians from the southern part of Nebraska, made hunting trips to, the sand hill regions every summer, camping on what is now called Goose Creek in southern Brown county. They gave the name “Koskopah” creek to the stream. The curves of the creek resembled the crook of a goose’s neck, so the name was changed by white men to Goosecreek. When the post office was established there in 1920, the Indian name, Koskopah, was sent in by the patrons, but by a mistake in copying it was made Koshopah. The office was established in a 10 by 12 sod house at Lee Athey’s and he was the first postmaster. Koshopah is said...

New County Seat at Springview, Nebraska

It took some time to locate the county seat as there were many little towns contesting for the honor. It was finally established at Springview on April 28, 1885. The residence of David Heiges was made the temporary courthouse. As the county owned the town site the funds secured from the sale of lots were used to build a courthouse. Among the early post offices were Darnall, Adrian, Lutes, Enterprise, Nesbit, Burton, Brewer, Simpson, Norden, McGuire, Carns, Stevenson, Lomo, McLean, Munt and Meadville, though the last named was located in Brown County for several years it served many on the north side of the river for mail facilities, and was finally moved across the river. Mrs. Sam Rhodes taught the first school in the county. Miss Thomas, now Mrs. A. H. Burr of Omaha is said to have been the teacher of the first school in Springview, and to have given the town its name. The second couple married in the county were F. M. Conn and wife, now of Chadron married April 1,...

Winter of 1880-81 and Agricultural Fairs in Brown County, Nebraska

In the winter of 1880-’81 many farmers were unable to get supplies as the cold and snow were so severe that it was almost impossible to drive to Atkinson for the necessities of life. Even at Cook’s ranch where supplies could usually be obtained, but little could be spared. Three settlers, Gus Sisson, C. N. Swett and Jap Stanley, sent a team to Atkinson, but owing to the deep snow it did not return for thirty days. They got a half-bushel of shelled corn, a few beans and a hog’s head from Cook’s and on this they lived till the team came through. The little log cabin built by Bill Woods on his homestead in 1879, still stands. It is on highway 7, on W ½ NW¼ of section 13, township 30 range 22., four miles north of Ainsworth. It is probably the oldest house in the county. Agricultural products from this county have won recognition at Nebraska state fairs. In 1909-’10-12, and possibly in other years a carload of exhibits took the first prize for the western district. In 1910 Brown County took first prize on potatoes in competition with the entire state. A collection of nearly one hundred varieties of native grasses found in this county was also awarded first premium in 1912. C. W. Potter, W. H. Peck and J. E. Stauffer were in charge of this enterprise. In 1908 Frank Herron and August Bokhold while employed by Wm. Slonecker cutting brush for riprapping on the north bank of the Niobrara River, discovered the curious tree known as the “spreading cedar.” It is a tree whose...

Settlers from Bradford, Pennsylvania

From Bradford, Penn., in the early spring of 1883, a colony consisting of sixty-five men, women and children settled along the south side of the Keya Paha river. They played an important role in the early history of the eastern end of the county. Their children and grandchildren are still numbered among Keya Paha County’s leading citizens. Iowa, Wisconsin and eastern Nebraska also sent large numbers of settlers. Probably no other section of Nebraska has seen more crime and tragedy enacted on its soil than has that section which is now Keya Paha County. It was the battleground between the lawless and the law-abiding elements of its citizens, each faction struggling for supremacy, and each upheld in the belief that their claims were paramount. The story of this struggle will probably never be recorded and Time will erase the thrilling tales of the daring deeds of the horse thief and the cattle rustlers as well as those of the early peace officer and the “Vigilante.” The Niobrara proved to be an almost impassable barrier between the two portions of what was then from county, and there were many long weary miles to be travelled to reach the railroad or the seat of the county government. The honest people were at the mercy of the thieves and other outlaws. Poor roads, poor bridges and other drawbacks influenced public opinion to such a degree that the belief in county division soon became very strong. A large majority took the stand that the north side of the river should have its own officers and its own seat of government. There was very...

Firsts in Brown County, Nebraska

The first term of court was held November 27, 1883, F. B. Tiffany, presiding. Among the jurors were: H. S. Potter, W. D. McCord, O. B. Rippey, C. F. Barnes, F. W. Sellors, A. L. Sisson. The first patent issued for land within the limits of Brown County as it then stood, by the United States government, as shown by the records in the Valentine land office (now extinct) was to Charles W. Wyman of Carns, Nebraska, April 10, 1881. The first teacher’s examination was given in 1883 by Supt. J. L. Harriman. The applicants were: Millie Cheney, Minnie Briggs and A. W. Scattergood. At the conclusion of the day’s labor the superintendent announced that “ladies first” had always been his motto but as the young man present had to walk to Johnstown yet that night he desired to write out his certificate first, that he might be on his way, providing of course that the ladies would not object. Thus it was that A. W. Scattergood, just graduated from Cambridge University, received the first teacher’s certificate in Brown County. The next year, 1884, teacher’s institute was held, conducted by Supt. W. G. Townsend and several rural schools were organized that year. Among the pioneer school ma’ams were Lou Richmond, Lou .Bain and Nellie Murphy Unique and interesting experiences are told by these teachers who taught for about $25 a month and boarded round. The first marriage license issued in Brown County was to L. D. Bates and Miss Columbia L. Mills on September 8, 1883. The next four to follow were: Harry L. Brown and Louisa Humstaker; Chas....

Memories And Items of Interest

The fact that our sister county, Keya Paha, was a part of Brown from February 19, 1883 to November 4, 1884, gives us an active interest in her early settlement and history. The name “Keya Paha,” meaning in the Indian language, “Turtle Hill,” was given to that portion of our state north of the Niobrara River and the river which traverses it, many years ago. In a communication, dated October 29, 1858, signed C. Randall (from near Fort Randall and printed in the Missouri Republican, of St. Louis) I have found the following: “We travelled up the Turtle Hill river 101 miles having a good road, good grass and wood in large quantities. The Turtle Hill River is a great game country. We saw thousands of buffalo and almost myriads of antelope. The river can be crossed every fifty yards if necessary without bridging or digging. The quick sand is not bad, and in many places there is rock bottom.” In the same article the Niobrara is described thus: “It is a better game country than the Turtle Hill river region. The banks are steep and high, however, making crossing difficult. It is full of petrifactions, and fossil remains. Almost every coolie or ravine where there is pine or cedar, counts its bands of elk, the ravines and plains are filled with buffalo, and the river with millions of wild geese, ducks and a specie of snipe.” A country such as this writer portrays could not fail to attract adventurers. Soon after the Sioux Indians were placed on the Rosebud and Pine Ridge reservations, in 1878-’79, the white men...

History of Ainsworth, Nebraska

That portion of Ainsworth lying west of Main Street was platted on the homestead of Mrs. Nannie Osborn. Leroy Hall platted an addition on his land on the east side of Main, extending as far north as Fourth Street. North of that, Henry Woodward’s addition on his homestead. On the corner of Main and Fourth was the Woodward store, the first business house in the town. It was a log building put up in 1880, and was located on the freighter’s trail. Among the early business houses were Tracy add Glover’s store managed by J. D. Crawford; Munson and Secor, later Munson and Ackerman, John DeBrown, George Reed, general stores; Frank Sellors, real estate; H. J. Sutton, jewelry; Dr. O. H. Crane, drugs; W. D. McCord, elevator; Orcutt house and Burns hotel; P. D. McAndrew, L. K. Alder, Alex Altschuler and S. E. Benton, lawyers; Ed Enderly, Frank Gillette and the Davisons; Alton and Sherwood, and Burns bankers; Dr. Kenaston, physcian; Hall and Chaney, hardware; Merithew, restaurant; Ainsworth Lumber Co.; Grave and Co., lumber; Leroy Hall, proprietor Journal, Morgan and Miller, publishers; Western News, T. J. Smith, publisher; P. P. Shade, livery owned by E. Loeb; Bridgeford’s saloon. Ainsworth was incorporated as a village soon after the county was organized. The petition was presented to the commissioners on December 10, 1883, and was granted the next day. Among the signers were William H. Orcutt, Frank Sellors, P. P. Shade, Nannie Osborn, R. M. Munson, P. 1). McAndrew. T. J. Smith was the first postmaster after the office was changed from Bone Creek to Ainsworth. He was succeeded by Clark...
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