Collection: Days of Yore Early History of Brown County Nebraska

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. Discover your family's story. Enter a grandparent's name to get started. choose a state: Any AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE DC FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY INTL Start Now 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...

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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...

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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...

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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,...

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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,...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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Early Mills of Brown County, Nebraska

To pioneers the early mills are of great value. The fine running streams on the south side of the Niobrara offered ample water power which was early utilized for grinding grain and sawing lumber. On Pine creek were the Ritterbush mills for both flour and lumber, Richard Upstill, sawmill; Steve Kyner, flour mill. On Bone Creek was Sisson’s mill and people came from great distances to have their wheat ground or to buy flour. It was owned by A. L. (“Gus”) Sisson. Otto Hoefs built a sawmill at the mouth of the Fairfield in 1892 and sold to Wm. Kuhre the next year. Mr. Kuhre still owns it. An earlier mill was built on the Fairfield in 1883 by Cornell and King. Chas. Cornell took the first homestead in Fairfield precinct. Logs were cut along the creek by the government for use in building Fort Niobrara and later lumber from this mill was bought for use in the construction of the buildings there. The Bruce mill on the Niobrara in the western edge of the county about six miles above the Norden bridge, was useful to early settlers in that...

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History of Johnstown, Nebraska

A Methodist church was built in 1884. The United Brethern church was organized December 12, 1885, Rev. Campbell, minister. Among the very earliest ministers was John Calvert. Rev. Elias Frame and Jeremiah Frame filed on claims near Johnstown on April 7, 1880, the first filings made in what is now Brown county at the Valentine land office. The first store in Johnstown was opened in the railroad depot by W. H. Marriner in 1882. Later it was moved to a building north of the railroad under the firm name of Scattergood and Marriner. The next year George Weber of Lincoln put in a general store and in 1884 established a bank. Farleigh and Diamond put in a stock of drugs in 1884. Dr. Farleigh was the first physician. After the establishment of Johnstown station on the newly built railroad the post office was moved from “Evergreen” to the section house and Mrs. Parsons was the postmistress, wife of the section foreman. Dan Hart was the first depot agent. The earliest school in that locality was conducted by W. G. Townsend in the Harrison Johnson home. The late A. W. Scattergood taught a spring term in 1883 in a little log house about one mile north of the townsite. Miss Lou Richmond taught there in 1884 and had an attendance of twenty-one pupils, and W. G. Townsend taught in Johnstown...

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Churches, Schools and Incorporation at Long Pine Nebraska

The Methodist church of Long Pine was the second church in Brown County. It was organized by Rev. I. H. Skinner, Cornelius B. Morefort, Charles R. Glover W. E. Davis, Joseph E. Dunn and Benjamin Elliott, November 30,1883. (contributed by Mrs. W. M. Ely). One of the earliest Methodist, pastors, Rev. W. W. Thomas, often walked to Ainsworth and Johnstown and conducted services. The earliest school in Long Pine was held in a building on Main street. Dr. Learn who was also one of the first dentists in Brown county, was the teacher. In 1882 a small frame school house was built. On January 9, 1884, the county commissioners granted a petition signed by Long Pine citizens making it an incorporated village. The following Indian story is taken from a collection of early Brown county history memories made in school district N. 18, Fern Keim, teacher. “During these years of early settlements the Indians were frequent visitors, but seldom bothered people. Every spring they would travel from the Niobrara River to Moon Lake to fish. On one of these trips their chief, Warning Hawk, died from drinking poison whiskey. The Indian tribe started from Moon Lake with his body which was to be buried on their hunting ground along the Niobrara. During the entire trip from Moon Lake to the river, the Indians kept screaming their death cry which...

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Items of Interest from Rock County, Nebraska

Delving into the original records of Rock county for information, one finds that the first entry in Record book A is a copy of the proceedings of the county board of Brown county on August 1, 1888. At this meeting M. E. Freeman and others filed with the county commissioners a petition asking for a division of Brown County and the formation of a new county to be called Rock. In this petition is quoted the boundary lines of the proposed new county. The next day the board passed a resolution submitting the proposed question to the voters of the county and set the date of the regular election, November 6, 1888 as the day on which the voters might make their decision. The election notice was signed by C. F. Boyd, county clerk of Brown County. The election gave a vote of 1429 for the division, and 689 votes as being opposed to a division. Governor Thayer then issued a proclamation ordering a special election to be held December 24, 1888, for naming officers and locating the county seat. This election resulted in naming the following: Clerk, W. T. Phillips Treasurer, J. D. Likens Judge, F. N. Morgan Sheriff, Henry Harris Coroner, A. J. Taylor Superintendent, W. H. Rugg Attorney, A. H. Tingle Commissioners: S. Corder A. H. Gale E. Opp The question of location of the county...

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Memories Of Long Pine, Nebraska

In the fall of 1881 Long Pine was a hustling little frontier town only a few weeks old. It was headquarters for Berry Brothers stage line and all freight and supplies for Fort Niobrara and surrounding country. The Railroad eating house was operated by Mr. and Mrs. Rich. The Severns House was built shortly after this. There was lots of talk and excitement about the possibilities of the new country farther on when the road was built west in the spring. A number of business men who established themselves at Long Pine that year, later came to Valentine, then on to Chadron. Doctor Alfred Lewis was Long Pines’ first physician; in 1883 he came to Valentine and was the first physician to locate here. Thomas Moore, now living at Riverside, California, was a pioneer businessman of Long Pine who later moved his flour and feed store to Valentine. F. H. Warren who was elected Judge of Cherry County in November 1883, also came up here from Long Pine. My father, Peter Donoher, brought his family to Long Pine. In the fall of 1881 and we lived that winter in the canyon near the Seven Springs that we heard so much about and close by Sergeant O’Leary’s attractive little house built of red cedar logs was situated. Some people thought the water in the springs contained medicinal properties and should...

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