Bade – Introduction


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This thesis will be an historical portrayal of the development of the little Dutch‑American settlement at Holland, Nebraska. This settlement is located in the southeast part of Lancaster County. The organization of Nebraska as a territory and its early history, including the flow of immigration during the “sixties,” together with the political vicissitudes attending the organization of Lancaster and Gage counties, the establishment of the state government, and the location of the State Capitol will first be reviewed.

Previous to the spring of 1856, when the first white man took up his residence in Lancaster County, there had been no permanent settlement made. The county at that time was a part of the hunting grounds of various tribes of Indians.[1] In 1854, the Territory of Nebraska was organized and opened for settlement. The Homestead Act of 1862 gave immigration a new impetus. If one could look back to the latter part of the nineteenth century, one might see an almost continuous parade of canvas covered wagons, usually drawn by oxen or mules, wending its way along buffalo trails and crossing unbridged streams. During the “sixties,” pioneer families came singly and in groups. They passed through states having an abundance of rich soil, continuing their journey to the West, where, in addition to other attractions, free homesteads and opportunities awaited them.[2]

When first organized, the Territory of Nebraska was divided into eight counties: Burt, Washington, Dodge, Douglas, Cass, Pierce, Forney, and Richardson.[3] From the organization of the territory until 1861, the population of Nebraska was relatively small and large areas ware almost entirely unsettled. Very little had been done toward the development of the territory. From 1861 to 1865, during the War of the Rebellion, immigration to this state was compara­tively light, but with the advent of peace a new era dawned in her history.[4]

On March 1, 1867, the Territory of Nebraska was admitted into the Union as a state. People from the eastern states took advantage of the Homestead Act of 1862 and immigration increased with great rapidity. From 1860 to 1870, a period of ten years, the population of Nebraska increased from twenty-eight thousand to one hundred twenty‑two thousand or almost a hundred thousand.[5]

Following the period of the admission of Nebraska, daily newspapers and land agencies made a great effort to advertize [sic] the state. One account reads:

It has truly been said, that one of the strongest inducements for the people to come to Nebraska to live, is the extreme healthfulness of the climate. The pure‑running streams, and the fresh air heavily filled at every season of the year with oxygen, affords means of promoting a healthful life. Malarial diseases or epidemics are unknown here. We are on the Trans‑Missouri Plateau, which rises at it stretches westward to the mountains. There is no healthier country in the world.[6]

Lancaster County in the days of the pioneer, presents a striking contrast with the county today. One can hardly conceive of the changes that have been made. There were no houses, no churches, no schools, no fields of grain, and no bridges. There was nothing but “virgin prairie” as far as the eye could see. The few settlers here lived in “dug‑outs.”[7]

The first steps toward perfecting a county organization were taken in the fall of 1859. Previously, Lancaster was attached to Cass County for revenue, judicial, and election purposes. The commissioners ordered an election to be held October 10, 1859, but a general election was not held until October 9, 1960.[8]

The political history of the organization of tbc county and the location of the county seat is of great interest. Political canvasses were made with the same spirit of rivalry that now exists.[9] The settlement of Yankee Hill under the leadership of Cadman and Field was jealous of the Lancaster colony under the leadership of Elder Young.[10]

In the winter of 1862‑1863, the boundary of the county was materially changed. Cadman from old Clay County, located between Lancaster and Gage counties, secured the election to the legislature. Gregory secured the election from Lancaster County and‑Parker from Gage County. Each of the three had a scheme. Parker wanted the county seat made secure for Gage County. Cadman wanted to eliminate his county, by dividing it between Lancaster and Gage counties, and make Yankee Hill the county seat of Lancaster County. Thus he would be able to spoil Elder Young’s plan. Gregory’s plan was never made known.[11]

Cadman, having succeeded in his plan of abolishing Clay County, proceeded at once with his scheme of locating the county seat at Yankee Hill. In old Clay County, the settlers had established what they thought would be a county seat at Olathe. When Gadman managed to have the county abolished, he aroused the wrath of alll his neighbors at Salt Creek Basin. They ware irritated by having their dreams of a county seat suddenly disappear, and their county torn into two parts and swallowed by her greedy sisters. They, naturally became enemies of Cadman and planned revenge in some way. Their opportunity came in the election of the summer of 1864. The fight for the county seat was between Yankee Hill and Lancaster settlements. When the votes were counted the colony at Lancaster had won and was officially declared the county seat.[12]

Lancaster, having been officially selected as the county seat, was laid out by order of the County Commissioners in 1864. The survey was made by Jacob Butler, and the plat filed for record August 6th. This became the trading point for most of the settlers at a later date, and many experiences have been told relative to the trips made to Lancaster and crossing the unbridged streams.[13]

Thus the county was slowly inhabited and gradually developed, under many difficulties and surrounding doubts, until June 12, 1867, when the Capitol Removal Act was passed. Governor Butler, Auditor John Gillespie, and Secretary of State T. C. Kennard were appointed commissioners to select the site for the new capitol. This was by no means an easy task.[14]

There ware three important factors to be considered in building the new capitol. First, its location must be determined. Second, the minimum cost of its erection was to be fifty thousand dollars. Third, the building had to be completed for the next session of the legislature, which was to be held on January 1, 1869.[15] The contest soon centered about the villages of Ashland, Yankee Hill, and Lancaster. At Ashland the mosquitoes played havoc with the town’s chances. Likewise Yankee Bill lost its chance, even though the ladies attempted to gain the prize through a sumptuous feast for the commissioners.[16]

In the final decision on July 29, 1867, the commissioners chose the village of Lancaster, later called Lincoln, as the future capitol of Nebraska. There ware very few houses at that time in the town.[17] The capitol building having been completed, the year 1869 stands out as one of memorable achievement in the history of Lincoln. It was introduced by the first meeting of the State Legislature of Nebraska in the new structure.[18]

Arron Abqut says, “It seemed inconceivable that in such a short period a great state should have been organized out of an unknown land.”[19] From 1867 to 1871, immigration flowed into Lancaster County with unexampled rapidity. Settlement of the county originally centered in the area now included within the city limits of Lincoln and eventually spread over the entire county. Lincoln grew from a mere settlement to a small city within this period.[20]

Just as Lancaster County was being developed, the first Hollanders came west. Because of the Homestead Act of 1862, land was available to them, for only a small consideration. The characteristics of the southern part of Lancaster County particularly appealed to the Hollanders. The topography of this area is quite rolling. This section is well watered, and is drained by several large creeks, one of which is a branch of Salt Creek. It was in South Pass Precinct in the summer of 1868 that the first Hollander staked his claim. One of the Dutch pioneers stated, “We selected this spot of Nebraska in preference to the lowlands along the Blue River because our experience in the Netherlands and Wisconsin had taught us the painful lessons of drainage.” No doubt they were aware of the fact that the rolling surface of South Pass Precinct would provide excellent drainage and largely eliminate the problem of surplus moisture.

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[1] A.B. Hays & Cox, History of the City of Lincoln, (Lincoln, 1889), 67; Beatrice Express, April 20, 1872.

[2] Beatrice Express, May 6, 1871.

[3] Hays & Cox, op. cit., 27.

[4] Beatrice Express, April 20, 1871.

[5] Ibid., April 20, 1872

[6] Ibid., May 6, 1871.

[7] Plat Book of Lancaster County, Nebraska, The Brown‑Scoville Publishing Company, (Des Moines, 1903), 103.

[8] A.T. Andreas, History of Nebraska, (Chicago, 1882), 164.

[9] Hays & Cox, op. cit., 82.

[10] Andrew J. Sawyer, Lincoln, The Capital City & Lancaster County, Nebraska, (Chicago, 1916) I, 121.

[11] Idem

[12] Idem.

[13] Plat Book of Lancaster County, Nebraska, 103.

[14] Lincoln, Nebraska ‘s Capitol City, 1867‑1923, Woodruff Printing Company, (Lincoln, 1923), 4.

[15] lbid.,6.

[16] Ibid.,5.

[17] J.M. Wolfe, Lincoln City Directory, (Lincoln, 1880), 7.

[18] Nebraska’s Capitol City, 1867-1923, 7.

[19] Arron Abqut, Nebraska Clipping No. II, Nebr. Hist. Soc., 2.

[20] Idem.