Fire in Kearney
Kearney Volunteer Fire Department
Celebrating 125th anniversary now in July
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
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 
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
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
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.
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 ONeill, et al.
Responsibilities of the Townships
Representative to County Board of
Justice of Peace handled minor law
enforcement issues & disputes
Township Board members
Representative to County Board served on township board
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
Township maintained roads & built
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
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
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
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
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
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 (??)