General history of Seward county, Nebraska

In writing history of Seward County it has been my desire to produce a work of interest to the public and value to the county. All matters of history have been truthfully portrayed so far as 1 have been able to present them. I have not aimed to make it a high grade scholarly production, touching only the high places in the public attainments and official life of the past, but endeavored to give an unadorned narration of the real modes of life and progression of the county from its infancy to full growth and maturity. Trusting the worth of the work to stand upon its merits rather than upon its flattery of popular sentiment, no church, society, political party or enterprise has received advertising reading space in it, while all have been fairly and impartially dealt with.

Like, other authors I feel that my work is not above, but subject to criticism and ask that such be made with an honest purpose alone and that the value of the work be considered above its faults. I do not disown my errors in writing and printing there are many to be found in this history but I am glad to say I have endeavored to make everything plain, readable and comprehensible.

Many people expect to find, in a history of any part of the once "Wild and Wooly West," reading matter in line and spirit with the day and age covered by the narration. And not wishing to disappoint any one I will say: do not open this history expecting to find accounts of blood curdling Indian depredations, buffalo chases and other exciting events. There never was any Indian troubles aside from begging and stealing in Seward County and of course there is no story of them in this book. There were a few buffalo, elk, deer and antelope in the county at the date of its earliest settlement, but they were driven out by the freighters and early settlers. However Indian scares were of frequent occurrence during the period from 1860 to 1870, but I find it difficult to record scares as history. They are not tangible although real, unavoidable and discouragingly disagreeable to the early settlers.

In mentioning the passing away of early settlers it was not my intention to publish obituaries, nor mention the church, lodge or society deceased belonged to nor the previous military service of any comrade soldier, but merely to mention that part of their life that is connected with the history of Seward County. And I trust there will be no disappointments in regard to this memorial feature of the history. I feel that my neighbors who shared with one another the trials and hardships of pioneer life in that honest, honorable and patient endurance which characterized nearly every early settler of Seward County, has won a brighter crown than can be given by any lodge or church.

I wish to thank all who have kindly assisted me in gathering items of historical interest for this book. With my forty-six years residence in Seward County, during which time the pioneer period has passed and modern conditions are speeding well along in years, I have many times felt myself unable to bring before the public a collection of the historical events which are worthy of record and remembrance, and in conclusion of this introduction will say my work has been a day and night task which J hope may meet the requirements of the most exacting as c history of Seward County.

 

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The historical "Steam Wagon Road" was established in 1864. It was roughly worked and prepared for the passage of the "steam wagon" which was to cross the great plains, conveying a forty horse load of merchandise. But misfortune seemed pre-eminent in the career of this first iron horse for Nebraska and on its trial trip it was wrecked in the ditch by the side of the road a short distance west of Nebraska City, its starting point, where it was abandoned, being later desected for the metal there was in it. And although the said iron horse, which had caused the building of so many groundless hopes and expectations "sleeps the sleep that knows no waking," the road that bore his name lives and will continue to live in history as long as historians write and people read history, as one of the great highways across the western plains. But in reality the steam wagon road was not an independent and distinct route or road. With the exception of a very few miles through Seward county it can- not be called by any other name than the original freight route or road. It followed the i860 freight route west from Nebraska city to near the Seward county line where it left the route and made a cut-off of a few miles by crossing the North Blue river where the city of Milford was shortly after located, instead of continuing south to the bridge at Camden. It forded the river at this place, continuing west ten miles to the Walnut creek crossing where it again united with the freight route, continuing as a part of the same, or as might properly be said, lost its name. It has never been known as the "steam wagon road" west of the Walnut creek cross- ing in Seward county.