Polk County - Genealogy Trails














The precinct of Osceola derives its name from the county seat. The first settlers are Rev. James Query and V. P. Davis, who came with their families in October, 1868. H. C. Query located here in 1869, and among the early settlers who came into the precinct may be mentioned J. R. Stewart, George Kerr, John A. Beltzer, Henry Hildebrand, G. W. Kenyon, J. F. Campbell, William Query, Lumin Van Hoosen, H. T. Arnold.

Osceola, the county seat of Polk County, was first located three miles southeast of the present site in the year 1870, and the present location, the geographical center of the county, was selected and made the permanent site October 10, 1871. The fata morgana cannot create a plain fairer than that which stretches away on either side of the town. A small ravine, beginning on the southwest side, bears northwest in the shape of an ox bow, gives it the appearance of an elevated situation and making a pleasing contrast to the usual flat sameness.

The spot was chosen by Hon. John H. Mickey and Hon. William F. Kimmel, who were appointed by the County Commissioners for this purpose and surveyed and platted in the month of June, 1872.

The first building erected was the old court house, completed in January, 1872, and was honored as the seat of the curia regis of the county until the morning of January 1, 1881, when it was destroyed by fire, together with all the county records of the Commissioners' Court up to the year 1878, and other valuable records.

In the month of May, 1872, William H. Waters built the first frame store in the town, as also the county, stocking it with general merchandise. The following October, Hon. John H. Mickey and Hon. William F. Kimmel each built a residence, which were the first that graced the site of the new town, and are still standing--relics of the pioneer period.

In the month of December, 1872, the old schoolhouse was built and a school established, with Mrs. J. C. McWilliams as teacher.

Osceola was incorporated as a town August 26, 1881, with E. L. King, J. P. Heald, Owen Wilson, H. A. Scott and W. H. Myers as Trustees. M. E. Crookham was appointed as Town Clerk, and Hon. John H. Mickey, Town Treasurer.

The first birth took place January 26, 1874--a son, Evan, to Hon. J. H. Mickey.

The post office was established in June, 1872, with William E. Loring as Postmaster. At this date, Osceola was the terminus of the mail route from Lincoln via Ulysses.

In 1877, Osceola furnished Nebraska with a Speaker of the House of Representatives in the person of Hon. Albinus Nance, who later filled the gubernatorial chair for four consecutive years. The Omaha & Republican Valley Railroad ran its first train into Osceola June 23, 1879. All branches of business that make up the commercial list are unusually well represented, and the town enjoys the trade of a large tributary territory. Banking interests are represented by the private banking house of Messrs. Hon. J. H. Mickey, Hon. A. Nance and C. F. Morrill, an institution widely known and enjoying the entire confidence of the people of the county. It has an ample capital of $20,000, and furnishes every facility in this important interest.

Grain and stock are an important feature, and the following shipments over the Omaha & Republican Valley Railroad, for the year 1881, will show the business done:

Freight forwarded--Hogs, 67 cars; horses, 2 cars; cattle, 1 car; broom corn, 2 cars; household goods, 3 cars; barley, 1 car; wheat, 85 cars; oats, 17 cars; corn, 145 cars. Total, 323 cars.

Freight received--Coal, 91 cars; merchandise, 297 cars; machinery, 10 cars; corn, 4 cars; stone, 10 cars; lime, 4 cars; lumber, 86 cars; emigrant goods, 7 cars. Total, 509 cars. Grand total, 832 cars.

History of the State of Nebraska