could be Buffalo's crossing the platte

 Research Papers

Today is:

Building the Buffalo County Jail

The Challenge: Where were county prisoners kept before the stone jail was built on the courthouse block in Kearney?
        No record of a jail or of jail cells in the Gibbon courthouse.
                May have been a room set aside for keeping a man overnight under guard
                May have taken prisoners to Grand Island or some other county seat with a jail

Hamaker Notes in Archives


History Professor at Kearney State Teachers College 1969-1984

Researched Buffalo County history in primary sources
        Early newspapers
        County Board Minute Book One
        Kearney City Council Minute Book

Move County Seat to Kearney

Bassett: Oct. 12, 1874 – Vote taken to move County seat. Records moved shortly after.
        Deposited in a heap on the floor in the Chandler building
        About July 1, 1875 the records were removed to the R. R. Greer building until Jan. 1876.

County Board Minutes: 4 Sept 1875
        Board refused to pay L R More rent on building for County.
        Say citizens of Kearney responsible.
        More says move out by 6th.
        Commissioner order sheriff to find building

    18 Sept 1875
pay claims for moving county records into Dart building

    [remained there until the courthouse construction was complete]

    Jan. 1876

        Occupied first Kearney courthouse built by UP

The Jail

Where the Buffalo Roamed

        [Maggie Anderson story by daughter]
            “Buffalo County erected a stone jail in 1874, bringing in limestone from Kansas….
            “This stone jail was in continuous use from 1874 to 1959….
            “It was used for Federal prisoners as well as for local offenders.

                Over the years this jail held 8,335 prisoners, consisting of murders, horse thieves, highway robbers

                 and assorted miscreants.”

County Board Minutes

        31 July 1875
- B &M will freight stone for jail free

        18 Sept 1875 - UPRR & So Platte Land Co offer land (discussed at last meeting) as site of the courthouse & jail

                B & M to freight stone here before 1 Jan 1876

        23 Oct 1875 - Board decided to advertise for bids on jail

        20 Nov 1875 - W F Marsh was awarded the jail construction contract.

        6 Dec 1875 - Contract signed with Wesley F Marsh for jail construction



        3 July 1876 – County tax levies include 5 mills for the jail

        Between July 5 & Aug 19 bills were paid to various people for building & guarding prisoners

        19 Aug 1876 – Marsh was paid a claim of $3000 for extras, for iron cells in jail. Paid from jail fund

        2 Oct 1876 – In Annual settlement with County treasurer, James Van Sickle for fund cash on hand.
                Included County jail - $76.71

        14 Sept 1876 – Newspaper reported that a tin roof was being put on jail

        21 Nov 1876 – Marsh offered County jail as completed.

Cost figures given in the minutes were unclear but apparently the total was somewhere around $5,000
This was a year after the courthouse was completed


        2 Jan 1877 – L.H. Johnson paid for services as jailer

        13 Jan 1877 – W. F. Marsh presented a proposal to build a fence round the jail. Laid over
                R. R. Greer was paid $40.44 for goods for jail

        3 Apr 1877 – Among fees allowed was Lewis H Johnson, jailor

        26 May 1877 – David Anderson paid for claim for materials to paint jail cells

        June – Dec (except Aug) - David Anderson was paid various amounts for boarding prisoners
                Amounts ranged from $40 to $85
                Amount probably depended on the number of prisoners fed

Kearney Daily Hub – 1914


The secretary of the State Board of Charities and Corrections reported on a tour of inspection of the Buffalo County jail and poor farm.

The jail was described as a two-story stone building 30 feet by 40 feet.
    4 cages or cells 6 feet by 7 feet, all connected
    In front of the cells was a corridor about 6 feet wide.
    There was also had a large area for exercise or reading.

The building was described as:
    Quite old but in a good state of preservation
    Not rated a No. 1 jail, but much better than the average.
    The jailer and his family were quartered in the upper story.


Copyright ©   All rights reserved


You may use content from this web site for your personal, not-for-profit purposes only. 


 Search Our Site

Please send Mardi Anderson your comments/feedback

Revised: 02/05/2018