First City Folks

   Jesse Lowe, promoter
   Alf.  D. Jones, surveyor
   J. E. Johnson, merchant
     blacksmith, and editor
   Robert B. Whitted, farmer
   Mr. Seeley, carpenter
   William Clancey, grocer
   Jeffrey brothers, millers
   Harrison Johnson, expressman
   J. C. Reeves, expressman
   James Hickey, expressman
   Ben Leonard, fiddler
   Mr. Gaylord, carpenter
   Mr. Dodd, grocer
   C. H. Downs, speculator
   A. R. Gilmore, office seeker
   William P. Snowden,
      auctioneer
   O. B. Sheldon, blacksmith
   J. W. Paddock, carpenter
   William Gray, carpenter
   John Withnell, bricklayer
   A. J. Poppleton, attorney
   George L. Miller, physician
   Lorin Miller, surveyor
   J. G. McGeath, merchant
   A. B. Moore, speculator
   O. D. Richardson, attorney
   and some few others

 

This Page*

   Pres. Pierce
   Francis Burt
   Thomas B. Cumings
   Rev. Mr. Hamilton

 

Omaha Timeline

• 1854 (August): Nebraska opened for settlement, first house built.

• 1855 (July): approximately 40 homes, 150-200 inhabitants.

• 1856: population is approximately 1,000 inhabitants.

- or -

• 1856 (February): population is approximately 1,800 inhabitants.

• 1859 (June): population is approximately 4,000 inhabitants.

 

Visit the Cass County Tourism website.
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Tourism

 

Trans-Mississippi Exposition
Trans-Mississippi Exposition
Trans-Mississippi Exposition
Trans-Mississippi Expo Stamps

Capitol Hill Antics

Artifice 1.

"First Territorial Capitol"

A Start

When Nebraska became a territory (1854), it wasn't exactly clear where the territorial capitol would be located.

It looked like Bellevue would be the spot.  The newly appointed territorial governor was heading toward Bellevue from back east.  Construction started as part of the future capitol because it was all but guaranteed, except, it wasn't guaranteed.

President Pierce appointed Francis Burt of South Carolina as acting territorial governor.  His responsibilities would be to set up a government, and have elections to determine a state governor.  At the time, a U.S. Treasury worker, Mr. Burt had spent 25 years in government work, but had been a newspaperman, and the son of a slave owner, nothing that appeared to make him stand out as ideal for the job.  In the end, it didn't matter.

Leaving his wife behind to join him later and accompanied by his son, Mr. Burt arrived in Bellevue on October 6-7, 1854, already ill of unknown causes.  He was taken to the Presbyterian Mission where he was visited by political folks with their own ideas for the territory's future.  One week after arriving, while still recovering, he took the oath of office on October 16th.  Two days later,* he passed away still in his prime at the age of 47.

The responsibility then fell on the Territorial Secretary, Thomas B. Cuming, who offered to locate the capitol at Bellevue if the Presbyterian Mission would donate 100 acres of land.  The Rev. Mr. Hamilton, who had taken charge of the Presbyterian Mission, thought the offer was too steep, and so refused.

At this point, Mr. Cuming leaned toward Omaha being the capitol but legislature voting would make the final decision.

The state was divided in half by the Platte River, four counties on each side.  The southern half had a higher population, guaranteeing a more deciding voter base.  It was clear that the capitol would no longer be Bellevue or anywhere north of the Platte, and with a good possibility being Nebraska City.

The individuals that made up the legislative body that represented the settlers were mostly new to the area, and from the Iowa side of the Missouri.  There was no restriction that required them to live on the west side of the Missouri.  Many were arriving from cities and states farther to the east just in time for voting, and representing an area they were not in the slightest even familiar with.

Somehow, in December Mr. Cuming arranged a quick election, and an announcement was made that the first legislative meeting would be in Omaha on January 16th, 1855.  That didn't seem possible since every voter's position and alliance was well known, and by all accounts, it was expected to be south of the Platte River.  Someone had to have changed their mind, and the only thing that changed peoples minds was a financial incentive, in the form of cash, or as land.

It was soon learned who changed their votes and that didn't go over very well with the folks that opposed Mr. Cuming's shenanigans.  Two voters from Glenwood, Iowa came close to paying the ultimate price.  One nearly got beat up, another had to move from Glenwood to Council Bluffs to avoid being killed.

To show their disdain, voters from the southern half wore red and green blankets (the same colors as decorated the meeting headquarters in Omaha) to the first meeting in January.

The whole thing caused such an upset, arguments carried over to the favorite "after legislative work" meeting place, a Council Bluffs bar.  There several arguments came close to turning bloody.  For the time being, Omaha was the territorial capitol.

The first meeting did not take place in the building on Capitol Hill.  Instead, a two story brick building donated by the Council Bluffs and Nebraska Ferry Company was used.  Later sessions were held in the territorial building on Capitol Hill.  Therefore, Capitol Hill was the site of the second territorial capitol.

Artifice 2

Artifice 3 of 3

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