Hitchcock County - Genealogy Trails



County History





Hitchcock County, named in honor of Ex -U. S. Senator Hitchcock, of Nebraska, was organized in the summer of 1873, by proclamation of Governor Furnas.


It lies on the southwestern border of the State, bounded on the north by Hayes and by Red Willow County, south by Kansas, and west by Dandy County, containing 720 square miles, or 460,800 acres.


The County is watered by the Republican River and tributaries. The Republican flows from west to east through the central portion of the County.


Frenchman's Fork and Blackwood Creeks, both large streams, water the northern portion of the County, and Driftwood Creek and branches water the southern portion.   


The prairies are covered with the celebrated buffalo, grama and other nutritionís grasses affording the finest grazing the year round.


Stock raising at present is the leading industry engaged in by the settlers. There is plenty of good Government land here.


G. C. Gessleman, located near the mouth of Blackwood Creek, on section 15, town 3, range 31, in the latter part of February, 1873, and has the honor of being the pioneer settler of the County.


 In the latter part of May, following Mr. Gessleman's settlement, his solitude was broken by the arrival of about a dozen other settlers, among whom were:


W. W. Kelley

G. E. Baldwin

Daniel Murphy

J. E. Kleven

E. J. Bakken

H. H. Hongan


All of whom settled on Blackwood Creek.


 In June and July the Blackwood settlement was increased by the arrival of:


W. Z. Taylor

Dr. Reaves

F. Martin

C. A. Gessleman

Dr. A. J. Yanderslice

J. H. Conklin


About the same time a number of families settled on Driftwood Creek.


On the night of the 31st of May, (1873) a great flood came down the Blackwood, sweeping everything before it, and covering the whole bottom to the depth of several feet.


The settlers had a narrow escape from drowning, and barely saved themselves by climbing into trees, where they were obliged to remain for twelve hours, till the water subsided.   


A company of soldiers, encamped about six miles from  the mouth of the creek, lost six men and thirty head of horses by drowning.


At the first election for County Officers, held on the 30th day of August, 1873, nineteen votes were polled, and the following officers elected:




 W. W. Kelley

T. G. Le Grande

 F. U. Martin


Clerk - W. Z. Taylor


Probate Judge - A. J. Vanderslice


Treasurer - J. E. Kleven


Sheriff -, G. E. Baldwin


Superintendent Public Instruction - W. W. Kelley



At this election Culberson was selected as the County Seat.


On the 4th day of August, of this year, a big battle was fought between the Sioux and Pawnee Indians twelve miles west of Culbertson, in which the Pawnees were badly beaten, losing sixty killed.


The first stock of merchandise in the County was opened at Culbertson in 1873, by "W. Z. TaylorĒ.


During the year 1874 several families located on Driftwood Creek, among whom were:


 J. H. Sackett

Burd Brothers

The Beaeely Family


 Good crops were raised in 1875, but the population did not materially increase.


Several large herds of cattle were brought into the County this year, and distributed along the river and creeks; and a number of cattle men built houses in Culbertson for their families.



The first school building was erecting at Culbertson, in 1876.  Major E. S. Criswell taught the first school.


There are at present one hundred and seven school children in the County, and two teachers employed.


The estimated population of the County at the commencement of 1879, was 264.



The County Seat, is located on the Republican, in the northeast part of the County.


The town site was selected in 1873 and surveyed in August, 1875, by D. N. Smith.


A large number of cattle men have made this place their headquarters and erected neat dwellings.


It is a good business point and has three large general merchandise stores.






Johnsonís History of Nebraska 1880