State of Nebraska - Genealogy Trails




    Nebraska's Origin




The state of Nebraska was originally a part of the great Louisiana Territory purchased from France in 1803.  Before the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1804-1806 the region was little known to white men.  During the early history of the New World each of three nations, Spain, France and England laid claim to this land.


The Spanish based their claim on the explorations of Coronado in 1541 when he was searching for the rich lands of Quivira, with its gold and silver.  Although his expedition ended in failure as afar as riches were concerned, his exploration gave the Spanish a claim to the land as far north as the 40th degree latitude.  Another outcome of this trip was the fact that many of the Nebraska and Kansas Indians come into possession of horses that had escaped from the adventurers.  Before that there had been no horses in the Nebraska Country.


The French claimed the land because their traders and trappers had explored along the Missouri and Platte Rivers and had established trading posts there.  The Spanish had discovered the region but had left it.  The French had stayed.


The English claimed the land because of grants by the King to early eastern settlers.  These grants specified the width of each claim in miles but the length was to extend from the Atlantic Ocean to the "South Seas," as the Pacific Ocean was then called.  Nebraska land was within the boundaries of several of these grants.



Three great nations were interested in flying their flags over our state.  After the French and Indian War in 1763, the French conceded all of their lands east of the Mississippi to the English and all of their lands west of that river to the Spanish.  Later, in France, Napoleon Bonaparte became emperor.  He bought back this region from Spain.  It became known as the Louisiana Territory.  In 1803, needing money, the French sold all of the land to the Americas.  This is known in history as the "Great Purchase," and it added millions of fertile acres to the United



The name of our section of this land did not come into existence until after 1842.  At this time Lieutenant John Fremont was sent out from Washington to find new overland routes to the West.  He visited with the Otoe Indian Tribe living along a broad flat river, which we know as the Platte but which was called the "Nebrathka" by the Indians.  Fremont liked the name and in his reports to the government, he suggested that name, meaning broad water, be given to this land.  In 1844, the Secretary of War approved the name and this region became known as the "Nebraska Country" from that time.