In 1871, the first white men visited Boone County with a view to permanent residence. Previous to this time, no
white man, except Government Surveyors, adventurers, explorers, or daring trappers had ever
explored this country.
But the tide of Western emigration soon penetrated the valley , and the dwellings of civilization began to appear
in this section of the "Great American Desert."
The first company who ever passed up the valley with a view of locating consisted of six men--
S. D. Avery
It had been organized at Columbus by Sam Smith, who, some years before, had gone through the valley in
pursuit of a band of Indians and some stolen horses. The prospects for the early settler were not flattering.
On the south was the Pawnee Reservation, and on the north the roving bands of Sioux. Boone itself, the center,
was a stamping-ground for both tribes and the scene of many depredations committed upon each other.
John Hammond, Rpbert
and James Hare and William Prescott arrived at the center of the county, where
Albion is now
This company had also been organized at Columbus, and consisted of twelve members, part of whom
were to come up and pre-empt the land and the others were to bear the expense.
Avery pre-empted one of the quarters of the present town section. The other three were taken in the names
of John Stauffer, Robert Kummel and Rev. Henry Wilson, of Columbus. The others who had come up in the
party located east of and adjoining the town.
April 13, 1871, marks the arrival of the first actual settlers. The party consisted of
fourteen men from Columbus, as follows:
The first house in the county
was a poorly built sod house without
a roof, but the hardy band of pioneers all
lived together in the little room (about two weeks.
At the end of that time, S. D. Avery and John Hammond went to Columbus for lumber, and soon returned
with six teams and loads.
On the road, a bridge was constructed across the Beaver, about two miles above St. Edward, which was the
first in the county.
Work was immediately begun on a frame building, and in May it was completed. It
was the first frame building and the second building of any kind in the county. It has
experienced many changes since that early period. At first,
it was a hotel, known as the "Frontier House," then a store building and finally a residence, and is now used as
such by Mr. Avery. Elections have been held in it, the County Commissioners have used it for
court house, and people have gathered there to attend divine worship when Rev. Mr. Bollman was their pastor.
The next frame house erected was a little one by Mrs. Rice, since Mrs. Loran Clark, who came early in 1871,
and took the quarter which had been pre-empted by Rev. Mr. Wilson.
The first school was held and was taught by Miss Sarah Rice, in 1872, when six or eight scholars attended and
$20 per month was considered ample compensation.
At this time many other buildings were being erected in all parts of the county. Of the original company who came together, Dresser had located just across the creek north of town. The Hares stopped a mile east of town,
where they now live. Stout took his land on the west side adjoining the town site, and Smith located next to
In June, S. P. Bollman and his son Calvin arrived from Virginia and took a claim two and a half miles northwest
of town. Rev. Mr. Bollman had been a minister for many years and often held religious services in various
places in the county. After building her house, Mrs. Rice had returned to Columbus, and was there married to
Loran Clark, who came into Boone in the fall of the year.
May of 1871, Elias Atwood and son, Theodore Tilson and William Comstock located three miles west
A little later, Joe Green, Albert McIntyre, Charles Downs and C. M. Selby located in what is known as Milwaukee Valley.
In June, George Crites and Mark Mattison located. Alex. and Ralph Voorhees stopped at Voorhees
Valley, four miles east of town. Ed. Dwyer settled near St.
The first men on the Cedar were the Robinsons, an old man and four sons, who located at Dayton.
In the spring of 1872, Messrs. W. H. Randall, Barnes, Garrett and Van Camp pushed ten miles farther
up the Beaver and located.
In the same spring, the Roe brothers settled in Roe Valley.
The winter of 1871 was one of the most severe ever experienced in this section. The snow piled in so deep
that communication with the outside world was next to impossible. It required a week for all the settlers
to shovel a road from Albion to Boone, a distance of six miles.
For many this was the first experience with the "blizzard." The effects of one are thus described by Mr. Dwyer:
"When I succeeded in digging out from under my blankets that eventful morning, I had the pleasure
of hunting for my boots through about three feet of snow that had found its way into my dug-out. So,
after taking a general survey of the premises, I concluded to vacate and went up to Baldwin's dug-out,
there too, I found snow over everything.
I found Mr. and Mrs. Baldwin and their two small children,
a bed, a cooking stove, two or three trunks, some other household furniture and a large span of horses.
And for two or three days and nights we all camped in that dug-out about as close as sardines in a box.
Mr. and Mrs. Baldwin and family occupied the bed, and your essayist put in the nights stretched on a
couple of trunks. Mrs. Baldwin had only arrived in the country a day or two before, and I remember
that the piercing cold and her children's sufferings caused her to shed tears. Our friend Farrell was also
snowed under, and when I called round to see him all that was visible of his little dug-out was the
chimney. When I peered down that avenue and asked him if he didn't know he was snowed under, his
"No, I have just been reading one of I. N. Taylor's immigration pamphlets and learn that it
never snows in Nebraska."
The summer that followed was also one of misfortune
for the settlers, for their crops were entirely destroyed by the
In the spring of 1872, the first post office was established
in the county and was known as the Hammond Post Office.
Postmaster was Albert Dresser, and the mail was carried by Michael Welch,
on horseback. No bag was necessary, as his pockets were spacious enough
for all matter that the week brought to the county.
In August, 1873, the
office was moved and the name changed to the Albion office. W. H. Gamadge
was Postmaster for two years, and was succeeded by Hiram Rice, the present
This year also marks the birth of the first child in the
county, Clara Boone Mattison. Her name has a patriotic ring to it and
shows that at least one family had confidence that Boone would yet be a
name to be proud of.
In the spring of the year, Elias Atwood, Sr., lost a
child, the first death in the county.
The winter of 1872-73 developed
nothing new in the history of the county, until April of 1873, when one of
the worst storms known here occurred. Rev. Mr. Bollman thus describes
"On Easter Sunday of 1873, there began a heavy
rain, accompanied with thunder and lightning, a storm which continued for
three days. Shortly after nightfall on the day it commenced, it changed to
snow, and, for forty-eight hours, the fall of snow, driven by a fierce
northwest wind, was so thick that most of the time a person could not see
ten feet from them. Persons could not, in some instances, find their own
barns; some were lost and narrowly escaped perishing from exposure. Much
stock in the country perished in barns, the snow penetrating and filling
them entirely; stock and portions of herds were driven miles before the
storm and many perished. The snow packed so firmly and drifted to such an
extent that ravines and considerable streams were effectually bridged by
it, and loaded teams were driven over them on the drifted snow."
The summer of 1874 again brought the dreaded
grasshopper, and again crops of all kinds were devastated. A great many
who were able sacrificed everything and left, but the vast majority, who
would have been glad to do the same, were unable to. Aid was received and
distributed, and the people lived through.
1875 fully repaired them, for
the yield of everything was abundant and since that time the growth of the
country has been gradual but permanent.
Situated as it was between the Pawnees and the Sioux,
Boone has not escaped some Indian scares, although fortunately nothing
more serious ever occurred.
In 1871, the Pawnee agent sent up word that a
band of Sioux were coming and were committing depredations. All the
settlers gathered at the Frontier House, except Elias Atwood and his son,
who had just arrived and were camping in their wagon. The reason that Mr.
Atwood gave for not joining was that if he was killed, he wanted to be
killed at home. No Sioux ever appeared, and, after a day or two, the
In 1873, a party of Sioux did actually visit the
settlement and stole some horses. A company, headed by Albert McIntyre,
followed and came in sight of the Indians, but there were too many of them
and the horses were never recovered.
The next year, 1874, another scare
was gotten up among the people north of town by the report of a couple of
boys, who had an arrow which they claimed had been shot at them. A few
families gathered at Mr. Boardman's house and prepared for defense. S. P.
Bollman, believing there was nothing in it, remained at home. In the
morning, Calvin Bollman rode over to visit the camp, and, on approaching,
gave the war whoop, which caused much consternation. No Indians ever
appeared, and after that no real fright was ever felt, although the Indian
tribes often met in conflict, and much thieving was done among them.
Source: Andreas History of Nebraska