could be Buffalo's crossing the platte

 Research Papers

Today is:

County Government

The Early Days

[Source: Bassett & 1870 Federal Census unless otherwise noted]

I. Organization of the County

Records show Buffalo County was organized in 1855 by Nebraska Territorial legislature a year after Nebraska was organized as a territory

        Officials were elected and probably acted in their official capacity sometimes, but there are no official records until 1870.

        The only official Buffalo County records of the period 1858-1870 are in Hall County
                (Nothing from 1855-1857)

        Land office was there also where people had to go to file homesteads.

Reorganized in 1870

        Patrick Walsh, Martin Slattery (UP employee), Sgt. Michael Coady (stationed at Ft. Kearny) sent petition to Nebraska governor in 1869 asking for an election in the county before organizing the county.

        Gov. Butler issued a proclamation calling for a re-organization of Buffalo county because it had become disorganized when county officials moved west in 1867, and that a special election be held at Dist. 1 schoolhouse on Jan. 20, 1870.

II. County Board Composition

County organization 1870 - 1883
        Divided into 3 districts
            A Commissioner elected from each after 1871
        3-year terms

New Law forming townships – Nov. 1883 to Dec. 1895
One representative from each township
        1-year terms
        159 men held office in these 12 years
            most years served – one 6-years & one 8-years

Amended plan - January 1896 – 1915 [year Bassett wrote this history of the county]
        Seven districts
        2-year terms

Present Day (see county website)
        Still 7 districts
        4-year terms
        Elections staggered so 4 are elected in one election, 3 in the next

III. Elections, Officials, Board Actions

Special election called by the Governor – January 20, 1870

First elected officials
County commissioners – A. C. McLane – not in 1870 census,
                Thomas Woods – farmer, born in Virginia
                Edward Oliver – farmer – Purchased Joseph Johnson’s store in [Shelton]

        Probate judge – Patrick Walsh - farmer

        County clerk – Martin Slattery – U P Railroad Section laborer at Shelton

        Treasurer – Henry Dugdale - farmer, stock raiser

        Sheriff – Roger Hayes – RR Section laborer, born in Ireland [citizen??]

        Road supervisor – Angustus Meyer – farmer, lived next to Ed Oliver

        Coroner – J T Walker – RR station agent [in Dist. 2 – Stevenson Siding??]

        Surveyor – George P. Russell – not in 1870 census

1st Meeting of new county commissioners
        Edward Oliver
        Thomas Woods
        A C McLane – absent
        Samuel Boyd – younger brother of James – listed as member at 1st meeting

        Divided county into 3 precincts.
            1. Hall county line to present east edge of Kearney
            2. East edge of Kearney to Stevenson Siding (Alfalfa Center, west of Odessa)
            3. Odessa to Phelps Co. line (Elm Creek)

            [Divisions were used in 1870 census]

        Passed four resolutions:
            1. Resolved to hold all business at Dist. 1 schoolhouse until Oct. election

            2. Resolved to tax all horny cattle at rate of $10 for 1 to2 year olds, $30 for over 2 years old
                (dehorn the milk cows)
                [horny cattle were the Texas longhorns]

        3. Resolved that all whiskey saloon keepers pay $25 a year + $25 per billiard table per year

        4. Resolved that John Oliver be appointed Sheriff and assessor –
            Apparently his brother James was later appointed and served as the first assessor

First regular election – October 11, 1870
                35 registered voters, 3 more taxpayers who did not register to vote
                [All men, women could not vote yet]

        Bassett says:
            It is related that on election day as the hour for closing the polls drew near 15 registered voters had failed to cast their votes [20 had voted, 57% ]
            Judge of the election arose and said: "I am well acquainted with these men who have not voted; they are all good and true men, and I will vouch for them."
            He then placed fifteen ballots in the ballot box
            These were later counted with those regularly cast.

        Bassett continues:
            If this be true it is believed it was not done to further any partisan end or purpose but as a neighborly act, it not being convenient for the voter to attend in person, a neighbor kindly performs the necessary duty instead.

Results of the election of Oct. 11, 1870

        County Commissioners - Edward Oliver (dist. 1).
            Wm. C. Booth (Dist.2) – Saloon keeper living next door to the RR station agent, Walker

                    Who had been elected Coroner
            Charles Davis (Dist. 3) – Country merchant
                    Also living with him & his wife was the (Elm Creek) RR station agent

        Probate judge – Patrick Walsh [same]

        County clerk – Michael Coady –
            accepted the position even though he was still stationed at Ft. Kearny so he was not a resident of Buffalo county.
            He furnished an iron bound box to keep the county records in.
            Attended all the Co. Board meetings and was frequently asked for advice

        Treasurer - Henry Dugdale [same]

        Sheriff – John Oliver [moved from appointed to elected]

        [Road supervisor, surveyor & corner not mentioned]

        School superintendant – Thomas Wood was chosen superintendent,
            [was on original County Board]
            Was not known whether he qualified
            In case he did not qualify, the Board appointed Patrick Walsh to take the position at the first meeting after

                 election was held [which Walsh did]

Patrick Walsh – The man who really ran the business of the county
        Still county judge
        also deputy county clerk, deputy treasurer, deputy superintendent of schools
        – he actually kept the box with the records.
        [He signed the first marriage license issued by the county in 1870 to Sarah Oliver and Joseph Owens]

Found in Passing – Kearney Cemetery (military burial area)
Croston, T. H.- When Government markers were sent, this marker was sent by mistake.

        They did not know where to return the marker so placed it with the others.

        There is no body there.


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