Nebraska State
Saunders County, Nebraska

Past and Present of Saunders County - 1915

County History and Organization

By an act approved on the 6th of March, 1855, which had for its purpose the bounding of the County of Lancaster, all of the County of Saunders which lay east of range 5 east, was included within the designated boundaries, the remainder of the present territory being included within the boundaries of Green County.

In January, 1856, when the Legislature again assembled, it was proposed to rebound and define, by surveyed lines and watercourses, the several counties which had been bounded by the previous Legislature. So by an act approved January 26, 1856, the boundaries of Green and Lancaster counties were so modified as not to include any portion of the territory now known as Saunders County.

Section 19 of this act read as follows:
"Section 19. Calhoun—Beginning at the southwest corner of township 13, north of range 5 east, thence east to the main channel of the Platte River; thence up said channel until it intersects the fourth standard parallel; thence west to the northwest corner of township 16 north of range 5 east; thence south to the place of beginning, shall be named and hereafter known as Calhoun County."

As none of township 17, in ranges 5, 6 and 7, which lies south of the Platte River, was included within the boundaries of Dodge County, it is understood that that strip of territory was omitted, and not being included within the boundaries of any county.

By section 1 of an act approved November 3,1858, Calhoun County was rebounded as follows: Beginning at the southwest corner of township 13, of range 5 east of sixth principal meridian, thence east to the main channel of the Platte River; thence up said main channel until it intersects the line dividing ranges 4 and 5; thence south along said dividing line to the place of beginning.

By an act approved December 22, 1859, for the purpose of redefining the southern boundaries of Platte and Dodge Counties, the south bank of the Platte River was declared to be the southern boundary of these counties, but did not affect the former boundary of Calhoun County east of range 7.

An act of the Legislature, approved January 8, 1862, contained the following clause:
"That the name of Calhoun County be and is hereby changed and shall be hereafter known by the name of Saunders."

The name was given in honor of the last territorial governor of Nebraska, Mr. Alvin Saunders.

This change in the name of the county was due to a feeling of dislike for political graft and the surveyor-general of Nebraska and Kansas which spread over these two states. The name of Calhoun was very unpopular. Many charges of dishonesty were brought in those days; in fact, corruption was rife throughout the administration.

Saunders County was destined to have other changes and reformations before stepping into the line of organized counties.

By an act approved February 8, 1865, Saunders County was attached to Cass County for judicial, election and revenue purposes, but two years later (act approved February 8, 1867) Saunders was again detached from Cass and provision was made for the holding of court in the former county.

By an act approved February 12, 1866, the boundaries of Saunders County were again changed. The change is described by the following:
A strip of land from the north side of township 12, north of range 9 east, of the sixth principal meridian, and bounded as follows, viz.: commencing at the northeast corner of said township, and running south two miles; thence west six miles; thence north two miles; thence east six miles to the place of beginning, is hereby detached from Cass County and attached to Saunders County.

The first general election held in Saunders County was on the 8th of October, 1866, when a full list of county officers was chosen and the county seat located at the Town of Ashland.

The definite organization of the county was not accomplished, however, until the general election held on the 8th day of October, 1867.

Immediately after the election of 1866, a dispute arose over the legality of the same, and quite a bit of trouble was incurred.

At the next session of the Legislature an act was passed which settled the muss and quieted the doubts in the minds of the people.

Section 1 of this act stated that the organization of Saunders County, Neb., was legalized.

Section 2 declared that the officers of the county elected at the general election of 1866 were legal officers from the time of their election until a year had passed, or until their successors were elected and qualified.

This act was approved January 31, 1867. In spite of this, though, as stated above, the county was not permanently organized until October 8, 1867.

The year 1866 in the history of Nebraska was a notable one it was also an important one in the life of Saunders County.

In this year the Territorial Legislature prepared a constitution of the state and submitted the question of its adoption or rejection to a vote of the people, the election for this purpose being ordered for the 2d day of June, 1866.

At this election Saunders County polled the following vote:
For the constitution, 21 votes; against it, 21 votes also.
For governor: David Butler, 24; J. S. Morton, 14. For secretary: T. P. Kennard, 24; Charles W. Sturges, 14.
For auditor: John Gillespie, 24; Guy C. Barnum, 14. For treasurer: Aug. Hountz, 24; St. John Goodrich, 14.
For representative in Congress: T. M. Marquette, 20; John Brooks, 12.
For chief justice: O. P. Mason, 24; William A. Little, 14.
For associate justice: L. Crounse, 24; George B. Lake, 24; G. W. Thomas, 14; B. E. B. Kennedy, 14.
For state senator: T. K. Hanna, 16; S. F. Cooper, 14; John Cadman, 6.
For representatives: W. F. Chapin, 17; Samuel Maxwell, 19; H. D. Hathaway, 19; A. Hinckley, 26; Jacob Vallery, 14; Thomas Paterson, 14; John Mutz, 14; L. H. Bell, 3.

At the general election held October 8, 1867, a full congressional, state and county ticket was voted upon, together with the location of the county seat and the county organization.

The total number of votes polled in the two precincts of the county was 95.

The congressional ticket received 80 votes;
the state ticket an average of about 53 votes;
the county ticket, 90;
for county organization, 78;
for county seat at Ashland 78 votes were cast;
for county seat on northwest quarter of section 2, town 16, range 7 east, 16 votes were cast.

William Reed and Austin Smith were elected county commissioners by 76 votes, and Thompson Bissell by 78 votes.

Hobart Brush received 82 votes for the office of counfy clerk; J. Richardson, 82 votes for county treasurer; Loomis Wickwire, 86 votes for county sheriff; Andrew Marble, 85 votes for probate judge; S. E. Wilson, 90 votes for county surveyor; Marcus Brush, 80 votes for prosecuting attorney.

All of these officers appear to have been chosen without opposition.

Pohocco Precinct did not vote upon the question of county organization, but gave 16 of her 17 votes for a county seat at a point immediately west of the farm then owned by James Kilbourn and south of John Staats.

Saline Ford, the other precinct, gave 78 votes for the location of the county seat at Ashland.

The county was divided into three precincts, namely:

Source: Past and Present Saunders County

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