Cheyenne County - Genealogy Trails



County History





Cheyenne county was created by act of the first state legislature in 1867, and at that time contained the territory since erected into Banner, Deuel, Garden, Kimball, Morrill and Scotts Bluff counties.


Cheyenne county is bounded on the north by Morrill county; on the east by Garden and Deuel counties, on the south by Colorado, and on the west by Kimball and Banner counties.


The story of Cheyenne county and Sidney begins in 1867 when the Union Pacific Railroad reached the site of the present city.


On December 13, 1867, the United States established Sidney Barracks, a sub-post of Fort Sedgewick, Colorado Territory.


On November 28, 1870, it became an independent post.  The first purpose of the soldiers at Fort Sidney was to protect the builders of the railroad.


Politics, even at this early day, entered into the life of Cheyenne county, as George W. E. Dorsey, member of Congress from the Third Nebraska District, which extended as far east as Fremont, his home, used the threat or scare regularly to have Fort Sidney abandoned, as an excuse to be returned to Congress.


He succeeded in being elected until the farmers' revolution resulted in the election of Omer M. Kern. Four years after he was first elected, or in 1894, the post was abandoned and the government property later sold to the Burlington railroad and used as the site for the present station grounds.


The Union Pacific railroad was built on to the west from Sidney in 1868, and with it went a large part of the population of the town when it was the end of the road. There was a large, nomadic, rough element in the country at the time, which always followed the rail head where it could prey on the laborers.


The post was reduced to the mere needs of protection from Indians, which grew less and less each year.


For a period there was little life in the town and county, after the road reached farther west, but, in 1870, things began to liven up, and the people began to consider organization. A partial set of officers were named and plans made for a regular election.


This took place October 8, 1871:


    George W. Heist, was elected probate judge, but refused to qualify. He was later appointed and

    did qualify.


    George Cook was elected sheriff, but was removed and John Ellis was appointed in his place.


    James Moore was elected treasurer of the county but was unable to give the county commissioners

    a satisfactory bond and Thomas Kane was appointed for that office


    D. Cowigan was commissioner, but later resigned.


    L. Connell, elected county clerk, served.


Even at this early day there were indications that a political ring had been formed in Cheyenne county and unless a man was favored by the members he "did not succeed in public life.


The stagnation of the town and county continued through the next five years. The trail herds passing through the town and county enlivened life occasionally, when cattle were driven from Texas into the country north of Sidney.


The cattle business was becoming important in the Nebraska Panhandle where abundant pasture was available.


In 1876 Sidney suddenly found itself the nearest town of consequence to the Black Hills at the time of the gold rush.  


Cheyenne entered into a spirited contest for the business which grew with leaps and bounds from the many men rushing in and requiring outfits.


By September 1876, Sidney had a population of a thousand inhabitants, and the matter of city government and a permanently platted city engage much attention, although gold was the item of paramount interest to everyone.  


It was not until May 1, 1877 that a plat of the town was filed.


In 1876 and 1877, there arrived and departed from Sidney about fifteen hundred people daily in the rush to the Black Hills for gold.   People were going to and from the Black Hills, except for a few that stopped in Sidney