could be Buffalo's crossing the platte

 Research Papers

Today is:

Fire in Kearney

Kearney Volunteer Fire Department – [Hub article]

Celebrating 125th anniversary now in July 2008
Organized in July 1883
No equipment for first month – bucket brigade
First fire in 1883 on a Sunday between 8th & 9th St. [but we do not know how far north or south]

First fire in Kearney
Mrs. D. C. Hostetter in Come Back Letters –

1st day of April 1874 we had our first fire
a frame building I think third lot north of the Opera House
        [2 story] families roomed upstairs
My sister Mrs H Achey lost a bright colored shawl
        an Indian had found it among household goods things had been (tossed ? spilled?) out loose
        they took it from him she got it again that day.
The building burned to the ground had only a bucket brigade pump and draw wells to get water.

Louisa Collins Diary - Apr 1st [1874] –

The first fire in our town today
Smeads building burned to the ground
three families lost nearly all their goods
But there is sweet with the bitter the worst whisky & gambling hole in town burned with it.



First – some background

Before the Ordinance of 1785 – (which established the Northwest Territories)

Metes & bounds system
Problems in the original colonies with boundary disputes
Odd sizes and shapes
Boundary lines marked by streams, trees, rocks - natural markers which may move/disappear
Land claimed was the best land, however irregular in shape
Left odd, irregular patches which remained the property of the state but had very little value.

Ordinance of 1785 – Established Survey System

Ordinance set up a system of survey and sale of the Northwest Territory.
The land was to be divided by parallel lines drawn north-south and east-west
Formed townships six miles square.
Each township square was divided into 1-mile squares called sections.
The buyer had to take the bad with the good.

[Source: The Federal Union, A History of the United States to 1865, John D. Hicks, 1952, p. 171.]

Original Survey of Buffalo County
Fort Kearny established in 1848
War department ordered survey of a military reservation ten miles square surrounding the fort
First survey of record in the county – Did first row on south edge of county
1866 – 1868 surveys completed the county – [to determine UP land]

[Source:  History of Buffalo County, Samuel Bassett, 1917, p. 14]

1870 – Buffalo County organized
        Township areas were called Precincts
        Organized only where there were settlers in the county

Formation of Townships
        1883 – legislature passed an act regulating the organization of a township.
        Buffalo County adopted the system & named the townships.

[Source:  Pleasanton on the Loup 1890-1990, Barb O’Neill, et al. 1990]

Responsibilities of the Townships

Elected officials:
        Representative to County Board of Supervisors
        Justice of Peace – handled minor law enforcement issues & disputes
        Township Board members – Representative to County Board served on township board
        General fund
                Paid meeting day stipend to board members ($2/day)
                Later – liability and bonding insurance
        Relief fund – for indigent in their township (local welfare system)
        Roads and Bridges fund – largest portion
        Township maintained roads & built bridges
                Purchased road graders & other road maintenance equipment

Shifting of Responsibilities

Welfare - County Poor Farm opened
Roads & Bridges – Contracted with county
        Today 16 road graders
        County roads & Township roads

125 years later – Is it time to Change?

“Township System on its way out?” [Hub article]
Discussions about eliminating been going on for 6 months
        26 Townships – all but 3 contract with county for roadwork
        Meeting of township officials last year – 17 attended, 15 favored eliminating

“Phelps gathers ideas on ending townships” [Hub article]
Phelps Co. has 15 townships
        Had a meeting recently with township officials

The Situation today –

Statewide - 27 of 93 counties still have townships [1/3]

Buffalo County – 3 of 26 townships active – Shelton, Gibbon, Elm Creek
        Road maintenance main responsibility
        Shelton also has library in Shelton & cemetery (which gets funds from Hall Co.)

If we change –
County Board changes to County Commissioners if townships are eliminated.
        May be 3-member or 5-member or could be 7-member

Procedure to change:
        People vote on it
                Put on ballot by petition or by vote of County Board
                Specify # of Commissioners as part of that vote


The Last Story –
(Newspaper unidentified – Nov. 1, 1877?????????)

Train robbery at Big Springs by a gang of some 15-20 men.

Two men came into the depot and held guns on the agent while they tore out his
telegraph key and threw it out. Then they made him put out the red signal for the next train to stop.

When it did, more men appeared and took control of the train.
The engineer and fireman had to put out the fire in the boiler of the steam engine.

Some of the men went through the passenger cars and collected all the gold watches, money and other valuables.

Others went to the freight car where the safe was located.
They tried to get the messenger who rode in that car to open the through safe but he could
not because he did not have the combination.

They were not happy about that.
There were, however, some cash drawers which they broke open.
These contained some $20,000 in $20 gold pieces.
They did not disturb the mail car –
        because the postal service is Federal and that would be unlawful (??)


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Revised: 02/08/2018