State of Nebraska - Genealogy Trails






The Beginnings Of


Nebraska State Historical Society








         Brownville, Nebraska, Jan. 1st, 1885

        To the Hon. James W. Dawes, Governor of Nebraska:




        In accordance with the requirements of "An act to aid and encourage the Nebraska State

        Historical Society," approved February 27th, 1883, I hereby submit this the first report of

        said organization.


        Very respectfully,


        Robert. W. Furnas




      The preparation of this first report of the Nebraska State Historical Society for publication, while entered upon with much interest and pleasure, has been surrounded with many disadvantageous conditions.


      Principal among which has been want of time, owing to other pressing duties, since the work came into my hands.


      The Secretary left the state a year or more ago. Since then I have performed the duties of both President and Secretary. The books and papers of the Society came into my hands in a confused condition, requiring much time to digest and arrange.


      While not as much as I desired has been accomplished, I feel that a good work has been commenced, and now can be followed up under more favorable conditions.


      I find it quite difficult to obtain existing desirable data and matter by correspondence. To be entirely successful requires personal visits and attention. This has not been possible heretofore, but will be resorted to more in the future.


      In this report, in matter of biographies, I have, with a single exception, confined myself to those early pioneers who have died. The autobiography of Father Hamilton, the oldest of all, is so full of interesting history that I present it in this volume.


      I have on file the autobiographies of many of the old and prominent citizens, still living, for future use.


      As to future collections and reports, I feel I cannot too strongly urge the people of the state to make contributions. The importance of such work requires no argument. A moment's thought will convince all. Only let thoughts be followed by acts and an invaluable work is easily and quickly accomplished.

      Robert W. Furnas,





    Robert W. Furnas, President, Brownville.

    J. M. Woolworth, 1st Vice-President, Omaha.

    E. S. Dundy, 2d Vice-President, Omaha.

    W. W. Wilson, Treasurer, Lincoln.

    Samuel Aughey, Recording Secretary, Lincoln.

    Mrs. C. B. Colby, Corresponding Secretary, Beatrice.




Silas Garber, Red Cloud.

J. Sterling Morton, Nebraska City.

H. T. Clarke, Bellevue.

Lorenzo Crounse, Fort Calhoun.

C. D. Wilber, Wilber.




      The present historical society was organized at the time, date, and under circumstances as hereinafter indicated.


      Some thirty or more days prior to Sept. 25th, 1878, the following circular was signed and generally published in state papers:



Nebraska State Historical Society



      The undersigned, impressed with the importance of collecting and preserving, in particular, such historical material as shall serve to illustrate the settlement and growth of the state of Nebraska, and knowing that much valuable to that end can now be obtained from living tongues and pens of those familiar from organization, and which may be lost by further procrastination, adopt this method of

      securing the organization of a state historical society.


      We call on friends of the object in view throughout the state to meet at the Commercial Hotel in the city of Lincoln, on the evening of Wednesday, September twenty-fifth, 1878, for the purpose herein




Alvin Saunders

Geo. L. Miller

A. S. Paddock 

Sterling Morton

Robert Hawke

R.C. Lincoln

R. R. Livingston

Wm. Adair

                          H. Wheeler                           

 J. L. Edwards

E. Lowe  

El am Clark

John L. Carson

E. B. Fairfield

Silas Garber

G. C. Barton

Frank Welch

E. H. Rogers

Robert. W. Furnas

Thos. W. Tipto.






      The above circular letter was obtained by addressing the following letter to the parties:


      Brownville, Neb., Aug. 12th, 1878.

      My Dear Sir:

      Feeling, as I presume every citizen of this state does, the necessity for a state historical association, after some consultation with persons in several parts of the state, it is thought advisable to call a meeting at Lincoln on some day of the State Fair to effect the organization of a "State Historical Society."


      Would like your views, and, if favorably entertained, to use your name to such call.


      Please advise me at your earliest convenience.

      Verv truly yours,

      Robert. W. Furnas



      In pursuance of this call the following meetings were held, and the organization perfected:


      Lincoln, Neb., Sept. 25th, 1878.

      Pursuant to a call heretofore published, the following named gentlemen convened at the Commercial Hotel, Lincoln, Neb.:

      Dr. George L. Miller, Chris. Hartman, and J. T. Allan, Douglas county;

      Gov. Silas Garber and H. S. Kaley, Webster County;

      S. R. Thompson, T. P. Kennard, W. W. Wilson, and Samuel Aughey, Lancaster County;

      Rev. J. M. Taggart and J. H. Croxton, Otoe County;

      C. H. Walker, Franklin County;

      Hon. L. Crounse and E. N. Grennell, Washington County;

      Prof. C. D. Wilbur, Saline County;

      J. Q. Goss, Sarpy County;

      D. H. Wheeler and Wm. Gilmore, Cass County;

      O. T. B. Williams, Seward County;

      L. B. Fifield, Buffalo County;

      Rev. L. B. W. Shryock and E. Shugart, Gage County;

      Wm. Adair, Dakota County;

      Robert. W. Furnas, Nemaha County.



      Robert. W. Furnas called the meeting to order, and on his nomination Dr. George L. Miller was elected temporary chairman. R. W. Furnas was elected Secretary on motion of D. H. Wheeler.


      Dr. Miller on taking the chair delivered a short, appropriate, and pressing address on the importance of forming a historical society, and regretting that it had not been done before.


      On motion of S. R. Thompson, the Chair appointed the following gentlemen Committee on

      Organization: S. R. Thompson, J. Q. Goss, D. H. Wheeler, J. M. Taggart, and Lorenzo Crounse.












Source:  Transactions and Reports of The Nebraska State Historical Society - 1885