Nebraska State
History
Sarpy County, Nebraska

In 1823, the Indian agency which had previously been established at Fort Calhoun, where Lewis and Clark held a council with the Indians, was removed to Bellevue, and was known in Government reports as the "Council Bluffs Indian Agency at Bellevue."

Traders for hundreds of miles north and west brought their furs to this post, where the Indians came to make their purchases and sit in council with the "pale face."

An attempt was made to foster civilization among native tribes, especially with the Omahas, Otoes and Pawnees. For this purpose, three blacksmith shops were established, as also other auxiliaries of civilized life, but with the usual result -- failure.

In 1846, the Presbyterian Board of Missions resolved to establish a post in the West, and the Rev. Edward McKinney was selected to choose a suitable point. He arrived in the fall of the same year, and, after careful observation, finally settled at Bellevue, where he erected a log house as his residence and headquarters.

In the following spring, Walter Lowrie, Secretary of the Board visited Bellevue, and formally located the mission. The building was begun at once and completed in 1848. A school was also established, and children of Omahas, Otoes, half-breeds and Poncas were taught the rudiments of elementary science by D. E. Reed, who arrived the same fall, and with the missionary and his family constituted the mission force.

Previous to this date, a school had been established some distance up the Platte, on Council Creek, by Messrs. Dunbar and Ellis, but, owing to the Indian hostility, was abandoned, and the agents returned to Bellevue, which place is also noted as being the Council Bluffs of 1848, a name afterward appropriated to a city opposite Omaha.

During the same year (1847), the Mormons made Sarpy's a rallying point for their final departure to the "promised land," and a company under the leadership of Brigham Young crossed the river between St. Mary's and Bellevue on a ferry-boat owned by Gen. Sarpy.

In 1849, the gold excitement attracted thousands on their way to the far Pacific, bringing much trade and giving an impetus to the growth of Bellevue.

In the fall of the same year, the "Nebraska Post Office: was established, but two years later the name was changed to Council Bluffs, to correspond with the name of the agency.

In 1852, Maj. Barrown, Col. Stephen Decatur and others conceived the idea of laying out a town, but it was not until February 9, 1854, that a company was organized for that purpose, and the agreement signed by the following named persons:

Peter Sarpy
Stephen Decatur
Hiram Bennett
Isaiah N. Bennett
George Nepner
William R. English
James M. Galeswood
George T. Turner
P. J. McMahon
A. W. Hollister
A. C. Ford

These were the original proprietors of the town, and were known as the "Old Town Company." But there were no settlements in the West at that date to support a town, and the city proved to be an elephant on the hands of the incorporators. Most of the land owned by the company passed into other hands, and the company itself dissolved by the process of natural decay.

In July, 1854, the Indian title expiring by treaty, the town and surrounding country were opened to pioneers, and, in October following the Government officers appointed by President Pierce arrived.

These included Francis Burt, Governor, and T. B. Cuming, Secretary, the former surviving but ten days after his arrival, leaving the Territorial Government to be conducted by Mr. Cuming, who offered to locate the capital at Bellevue on the donation of one hundred acres of land, but the Rev. Mr. Hamilton, who had taken charge of the Presbyterian mission, refused, and the first Territorial Legislature, which convened at Omaha January 16, 1855, sealed the destiny of Bellevue in that connection.

Many new-comers were added daily to the town, prominent among whom were:

S. A. Strickland, who began the erection of the Benton House
F. Calkins
W. W. Wiley
C. D. Keller
S. D. Bangs
Col. R. Lovejoy
James Gow
H. T. Clarke
M. S. Martyn
C. E. Smith
J. A. Thompson
J. S. Allen
Watson brothers
John Finney
Dr. Upjohn
L. B. Kinney and others, not forgetting Esquire Griffin, who was the first Justice of the Peace in Bellevue.

In 1855, there was an Indian scare. It having been reported that the savages had stolen thirty head of horses, everybody turned out to hunt the thieves, armed with such weapons as they could obtain. The Bellevue and Omaha delegations met at Saling's Grove, and while they were deliberating upon the best plan of pursuit, the Indians actually stole seventy head of cattle near the mouth of the Platte, and escaped by the camp of the whites. Further pursuit was at once abandoned.

Until 1857, there was little to attract attention or emigration. In that year, Col. Benton established a steam ferry, and the county of Sarpy was created.

The county originally formed the south part of Douglas; but, by some "political necessity," it is said, was erected into a separate county by the Territorial Legislature of this year.

Source: Andreas History of Nebraska



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