History of Webster County Nebraska

“80 Years in Webster County: A Compilation of Webster County Chronicles” presents an extensive collection of articles that chronicle the history and life of Webster County, Nebraska, from its early days to the mid-20th century. Authored by Dr. Elmer Alonzo Thomas, this compilation draws from a series of writings initially published in the Red Cloud Commercial Advertiser and the Blue Hill Leader, the county’s prominent newspapers. The book, printed in 1953 by Tribune Graphic Arts in Hastings, Nebraska, spans 148 pages and includes illustrations, portraits, and maps, offering readers a vivid portrayal of the county’s evolution over eight decades.

Dr. Thomas, a native of Webster County, provides a firsthand account of the area’s development, reflecting on his experiences growing up and living there. His narrative covers a wide range of topics, from early settlers and significant events to personal anecdotes and reflections. The articles are presented in their original form, preserving the authenticity and personal touch of Thomas’s writing.

Webster County, located in southern Nebraska near the geographical center of the United States, has a rich history marked by the resilience and determination of its inhabitants. The first settlers arrived in 1870, and by the following year, the county was officially organized. Dr. Thomas meticulously documents the county’s milestones, including the establishment of its first roads, schools, and public buildings, as well as the challenges faced by its early residents.

The book not only captures the historical facts but also delves into the everyday lives of the people who shaped Webster County. From farming and education to local politics and community events, Thomas’s articles offer a comprehensive look at the county’s past. The inclusion of stories about notable figures, such as Chief Red Cloud and Governor Silas Garber, adds depth to the narrative, highlighting the interconnectedness of local and national history.

List of Articles

  1. Where How and When The Land
  2. The Lure Of The Land
  3. State Government, 1860 – 1878
  4. Many Firsts 1871
  5. 1872 – 1873
  6. The First County Road
  7. Blue Hill – Bladen Country
  8. Sadie Hummel Holdrege Reminisces
  9. Walnut Creek
  10. Bobier – Haakes – Murder
  11. Webster County 1874
  12. 1876
  13. 1880
  14. First Settlers
  15. Official Beginning
  16. Lynching
  17. The Pleasures Of Pioneer Life
  18. Education In Webster County
  19. The Gurneys
  20. The Town Of Blue Hill
  21. The Pioneer Fuel Problem
  22. The Horse-Drawn Street Car
  23. Queen Of Webster County’s Pioneers
  24. My Parents’ Courtship and Marriage
  25. Eighty Years Of Progress
  26. Webster County Schools
  27. The Past and Present
  28. Webster County’s Newspapers
  29. The Good Old Days
  30. The First Directory Of Red Cloud
  31. Indians In The Area
  32. Storms Of The Early Days
  33. The Honorable Silas Garber
  34. Honorable William A. Mckeighan
  35. Closing Of The Morhart Hardware
  36. My First Train Ride
  37. My First Date
  38. I Go To School
  39. Stories From The Pioneers
  40. Contentment A State Of Mind
  41. First Settlers Of Inavale
  42. Invasion Of The Happy Hunting Grounds
  43. Who Am I?
  44. Webster and Adams Counties
  45. Bill Cress First Trapper and Hunter
  46. 1870 – 1953
  47. Religious Experience
  48. I Teach A Country School
  49. Spor Dy S. Earsoinidental Practice
  50. D0 Phorses Get Homesick
  51. Webster and Adams Counties
  52. Bill Cress First Trapper and Hunter
  53. 1870-1953
  54. Religious Experience
  55. I Teach A Country School
  56. Forty Years in Dental Practice
  57. Horses Get Homesick
  58. Politics and Politicians
  59. The Rileys and Lairds Of Oak Creek
  60. Personal and Otherwise
  61. Pet Crows
  62. Red Cloud Daily Chief
  63. The Indian Buffalo Hunt
  64. Nebraska – Kansas Inter – Relations
  65. Memoirs
  66. Discovery Of The Pawnee Village
  67. Pike’s Memorial
  68. Hill Straightens Record
  69. Guide Rocks Foremost Citizen
  70. Guide Rock
  71. Wells – Bladen
  72. Old Settlers Day 1955
  73. Webster’s Industry
  74. Early Experiences of the Wheats
  75. Author’s Farm Experiences
  76. Depression 1932
  77. Banks and Bankers
  78. The Cave Man
  79. A New Auto
  80. Willa Cather As I Knew Her
  81. Red Cloud Stockade
  82. Newspaper Items Of The Past
  83. A Pioneer Picnic Is History
  84. Webster County’s Mining Craze
  85. A Tribute To The Oldest Citizen
  86. A Visit To The Nebraska Asylum Of Incurable Insane
  87. Nebraska Develops Its Hospitals
  88. I Become An Attendant
  89. The Life of an Attendant
  90. Insanity My Avocation
  91. Retrospect
  92. A Fight For Dental Service
  93. Ignorance
  94. Cowles The Town That Was
  95. The Corners Of Webster County
  96. Doctors and Doctoring
  97. Republican River
  98. W. C. Frahm Exemplary Citizen
  99. Pioneer Churches and Ministers
  100. Three Township Supervisors
  101. Railroads
  102. Webster County Health Resort

Threshing By Horse and Steam Power
Early Pioneers
1953 Webster County Court House and Jail
The Elm Creek Stockade and First Children
Webster County’s Oldest Store and Owners


Louisiana Purchase (map)
Geographical Center Monument
Hub of U.S. A. 1870 – 1953 (map)
Namesakes of Webster and County Seat
Silas Garber and His Dugout
M. L. Thomas Election Clerk Certifies
L. D. Thomas Filing Paper 1871
County Historian The Author
A Pioneer Home of Native Logs
Webster’s Old Frame Court House
They Built of Buffalo Sod
First Settler Emanuel Peters
They Built of Native Rock
Red Cloud’s First School Teacher
Red Cloud After Eighty Years
Hog and Cattle Population Since 1878 Topography Changes With Time
Newspapers Consolidate
Red Cloud and Blue Hill Newspapers’ Family
Sod School House Where Author Started His Schooling
1935 Republican River Flood and Hunters’ Ranch at Inavale
Author Does Acting While on Vacation
Grand father’s Home in 1873
Where The Author Tried School Teaching
The Red Cloud Chief and It’s Publisher 80th Decade
Eckley’s Consolidated Country School
A. T. Hill The Discoverer of Pawnee Village
Guide Rock’s Harry Vaughan
The Guide Rock as it Appears in 1953
Early Milling at Amboy and Red Cloud
Blue Hill Creamery and A Cream Jack
Inavale Cheese Factory
Horse and Mule Industry
Nebraska’s Asylum for Incurable Insane When Red Cloud’s Doctor Damerell was Superintendent
The Old Time Doctor of Horse and Buggy Days
An Old Steel Bridge Across the Republican
Webster’s Pioneer Dean W. C. Frahm
Webster’s Most Distinguished Pioneer Preacher
The Small Community Church of the Past
Township Supervisors During Township Organization
The County, A Health Resort, With Examples, Peirce and Griffith
Centralized Horse Drinking Fountain and Horse Street Cars
Horse Power and Steam Power Threshing
A Varied Community Representation of Pioneers
The Present 1953 Court House and Jail
The Elm Creek Stockade, Builders and First Born
Webster County’s Oldest Store, Founder and Owner, Mother and Daughter

Webster County Nebraska

Webster County lies in the southern tier of counties 150 miles west of the Missouri River. It is twenty-four miles square and comprises 368,640 acres, all of which was prairie except along the streams. On April 19, Donald McCallum and Emanuel Peters settled under the shadow of a large rocky bluff called Guide Rock, 1870, the first in the territory of Webster County. The U. S. Census for 1870 showed but sixteen in the territory. However, by April 19, 1871, there were enough to organize the county, the first to so organize in the Republican Valley and southwest Nebraska. There were many first things in this first year. After the stockade the first building was by Silas Garber and constructed by digging a hole in the ground and laying a few logs around the banks and putting on a dirt roof. This dug-out became of historic im-portance. Mr. Garber was a widower, and lived there alone, doing his own cooking. Whenever public meetings were to be held, that was the place selected.


Thomas, Elmer Alonzo, 80 years in Webster County: a compilation of Webster County chronicles written for and published in the Red Cloud commercial advertiser, and the Blue Hill leader, the county’s outstanding country newspapers, Hastings, Nebraska : Tribune Graphic Arts, 1953.


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