Lincoln County, in the central part of the state, is in the third tier of counties south of Nebraska, and is bounded on the north by Mitchell county; east by Ottawa and Saline; south by Ellsworth, and west by Osborne and Russell. Its area is 720 square miles. The county was created in 1867 and named in honor of Abraham Lincoln, but remained practically unorganized territory until 1870. During these three years it was attached for all revenue and judicial purposes to Ottawa county as Lincoln township, and later was attached to Saline when that county was organized.
It is believed that the first white men to visit what is now Lincoln county were the French under de Bourgmont in 1724. Pike's expedition in 1806, passed southwest across the county. Hunting parties went up the Saline and Solomon, but their stay was always short and they left no mark upon the wilderness. In 1859 a hunting party, of which James R. Mead was a member, visited the valley of the Saline in what is now Lincoln county, and found the camp of a man who had raised the first civilized corn. In his account of the expedition Mr. Mead says, "We moved to the place and built cabins, stable and a corral for the winter. Having completed comfortable quarters, which became known as Mead's ranch, I set out to explore the country." Michael Stearns, Thomas Boyle, Ade Spahn and a man named Dean also hunted along the Saline in 1858-59, and nearly always camped at the mouth of Beaver creek.
Although the country toward the head of the Saline river was not considered safe from Indian depredations in 1864, Charles, William and Marion Chase, John Moffit and Flavius Moody started to make a settlement on Spillman creek. They located between Beaver creek and the Saline river, where they built a log house and other buildings, but one disaster after another occurred, and in May they abandoned the place because of an Indian outbreak. In July, the Moffits, accompanied by two men named Taylor and Henderson returned to the place, but were attacked by Indians while hunting near Rocky Hill. Two were killed, but the others managed to reach the house and after watching for Indians a day and a night escaped to the settlements.
The first really permanent homes of white men were built near where Beverly now stands by members of the First Colorado cavalry, which had been stationed at Salina in 1865. They came up the Saline and filed on all the desirable river claims from what is now the eastern boundary of the county to the mouth of the Beaver. Six of these men, Richard Clark, James M. Adams, Isaac DeGraff, Edward E. Johnson, William E. Thompson and Darius C. Skinner, who had crossed the plains before the war, returned during the winter of 1865-66, to occupy their claims. The next spring others were added to the population. George Green and his wife came from Massachusetts, and their daughter, Lizzie, born Oct. 18, 1866, was the first white child born in the county. W. T. Wild, of England, and John Dart, of Connecticut, also brought their families. J. J. Peate, William Gaskell, M. D. Green, Michael Ziegler, John S. Strange, Martin Henderson, and a number of others came in 1866, and the next year the population was considerably increased by immigrants from the East, among whom were Louis Farley, Ferdinand Erhardt and M. S. Green.
The first lumber in the county was cut with an old-fashioned whipsaw. By this method the logs were rolled upon a scaffold. On the top of the log stood one man to pull the saw up and one below to pull it downa "slow but sure" process of making lumber.
In common with other frontier counties, Lincoln suffered from Indian raids during the late '60s and early '70s. In 1868 a detachment of the Seventh United States cavalry, under command of Col. Benteen, was stationed for a time at Schermerhorn's ranch, south of Rocky Hill, for the protection of the settlers. After the Indian campaign of 1874 the white people were allowed to pursue their way without molestation, and the progress of the county was more rapid, as well as more substantial in character.
A petition asking for a separate county organization was sent to Gov. Harvey in 1870, and on Oct. 4 he appointed Isaac DeGraff, John S. Strange and Washington Smith, commissioners, and F. A. Schermerhorn, clerk. The temporary county seat was established on the northwest quarter of section 35, township 11, range 8, a few miles east of where Lincoln now stands. The first meeting of the board was held on Oct. 6 at the house of John Strange. The commissioners divided the county into four civil townshipsColorado, Elkhorn, Salt Creek and Indiana. At the election in November I. C. Buzwick was elected representative; Cornelius Dietz, James Wild and John Strange, commissioners; A. S. Potter, county clerk; Volney Ball, treasurer; D. C. Skinner, probate judge; T. A. Walls, register of deeds; R. B. Clark, sheriff; Myron Green, county attorney; J. A. Cook, district clerk; P. Lowe, surveyor, and Francis Seiber, coroner. The election favored a change of the county seat and in Jan., 1871, the county officers met on the open prairie, decided on a location about 3 miles east of the place designated by the governor, and called it Abram. The Abram town company gave the county a deed to lots for a courthouse. In April the commissioners were petitioned to call an election to change the location of the county seat. The petitions were laid over at that time by the commissioners, but on Feb., 19, 1872, an election was held, Lincoln Center receiving 232 votes and Abram 176. On April 1, 1873, bonds to the amount of $4,000 were voted for a court-house. This building burned in 1898 and the present fine building was dedicated in 1900.
The first school was taught in Martin Henderson's house in 1868 by Marion Ivy. The second was opened in 1869 by David G. Bacon in a dugout near the same place. Mrs. Skinner taught the first public school, at Monroe, in 1870. In March, 1871, the legislature provided for court in Lincoln county and James H. Canfield, of Junction City, presided over the first session, which began Nov. 6, 1871. Lincoln county had no paper until 1873, when F. H. Barnhart started the Lincoln County News. He sold his interest in the paper in 1873 and on July 16, 1874, commenced the publication of the Farmer.
The surface of Lincoln county is gently rolling prairie, with high, rough land breaking into bluffs in the southern and eastern portions. The valley of the Saline averages about a mile and a half in width and with the creek valleys comprises a little less than one-fourth of the area. Native trees along the streams are ash, oak, elm, box-elder, hackberry, walnut and mulberry. The Saline river flows, nearly east and west across the center of the county, and its main tributaries are Wolf, Spiliman, Elkhorn and Prosser creeks. Springs are abundant and good well water is found at a depth of 35 feet. Magnesian limestone, red and white sandstone, mineral paint and potter's clay are all found. Cement rock exists in the west and large salt marshes are found in the northeastern portion, while salt springs abound along the Saline river and Spillman creek. Coal of a fair quality has been found and mined for local use. Stock raising is an important industry. The principal crop are winter wheat, oats, corn and Kafir corn, and in 1907 there were 100,000 bearing fruit trees in the county. Transportation facilities are provided by the Union Pacific railroad, which has a line nearly east and west across the county, following the general course of the Saline river, and a branch of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroad runs to Barnard, in the northeast corner, giving the county nearly 40 miles of main track railroad.
The county is divided into the following civil townships: Battle Creek, Beaver, Cedron, Colorado, Elkhorn, Franklin, Golden Belt, Grant, Hanover, Highland, Indiana, Logan, Madison, Marion, Orange, Pleasant, Salt Creek, Scott, Valley and Vesper. The population in 1910 was 10,142; the assessed value of property, $21,198,950; and the value of all agricultural products, including live stock, $3,653,605.Pages 161-164 from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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