The first officers of Modell township were: Trustee, G. W. Eastman; Clerk, Wm. Pickering; Treasurer, R. McDaniels; Justice of the Peace, E. Trescott; Constable, James Chapman. (page 6)
Away back on the bottom shelf of the court house vault we found an old assessment roll of Thomas Beaumont who was assessor at that time, containing the following information.
James Landis owned the only musical instrument in Solomon Township in 1874 and it was valued at $13.00. Thomas Beaumont owned five hogs, all there were in the township, and M. Dannevik had the only sheep in the county, five of them. There was but three watches in the county at that time.
In 1873 Solomon township had the following livestock: Six mules, six horses, 22 head of cattle and two hogs.
In 1874 there was 74 acres of wheat under cultivation, 579 3/4 acres of corn, 2 7/8 acres of oats and 5 1/4 acres of potatoes and one acre of sorghum.
According to the assessment roll of 1873 the following people were residents of Solomon township, Billings county : Charles Fitzpatrick, age 23, O. N. Dannevik, age 53; Wm. Landis, age 22; James Landis, age 21; John Landis, age 45; Edward Haverson, age 30; Thomas Beaumont, age 25; A. Pounds, age 24; D. Coeynange, age 48; Wm. Henery, age 26; George Hanson, age 29; Lewis Clark, age 50; Jacob P. Buck and Henry Gordon, age 28; Dan McLaren, age 50; Rebecca Beaumont, age 24; Sarah M. Coeyman, age 42; Elizabeth Peak, age 35; Salley Clark, age 45. (page 6)
The first natural death occurred in the county on June 10, 1873, when Miss Minerva Stiles died. (page 7)
Rebecca Hillman was the first woman candidate for public office in Norton County. She ran for Register of Deeds. (page 7)
The first settler in Aldine township was Abner Case, who came in 1872, but left soon after. (page 7)
The First Jury Trial
The first jury trial held in Norton county was between Morris Atkinson and Lemuel Ford, on November 26, 1873. The following men served as jurors: B. F. Williams, John M. Cooper, C. D. Beiber, Sam Newell, John P. Dopps and R. B. Curry. The case was tried before Justice Oliver and the jurors failed to agree but the second trial resulted in a victory for Ford. (page 7)
In 1873 Henry Oliver, as county Treasurer, went from house to house and collected the taxes, and he reported the following taxes collected:
State Tax $26.25
County Tax $196.46
State School Fund 5.22
Interest on school bonds $1.22
Sinking Fund $0.12
Cost of Suit $0.13
School Tax on Dist. 7 $1.18
School Tax on Dist. 2 8.63
from the State $92.82 (page 8)
Billings, the temporary county seat of Norton county, designated by Gov. Harvey, in organizing the county, was on the farm now owned by Geo. H. Griffin one mile southwest of Norton. (page 8)
The Western Locomotive was the first newspaper in the county. Started in 1875. The motto of the paper was "We'll Keep Up Steam, or Bust." (page 9)
The first election held in Aldine Township was in the home of J. J. Allen. A cigar box was used for a ballot box. (page 9)
The Township election of 1879 was held at the residence of H. A. Knapp. An axel grease box was used for a ballot box. (page 9)
In 1890 the prohibition amendment to the constitution was carried in Norton county by a vote of 512 to 407. (page 9)
The first term of court in Norton was held in a log house, the next in frame house with four rooms downstairs for offices and the court room upstairs. This building was used until 1888, when bonds were voted to build a brick building. The old court house was sold to Wm. Simpson for $62.00. It was intended to keep it for a relic, but no money was ever appropriated for this purpose, and the second story removed and today stands just north of the Rock Island tracks on Norton avenue, and is used as a dwelling. Elias Foland, David Close and M. B. Pogue were the commissioners when the present court house was built in 1899. (page 10)
The assessed valuation of the county in 1880 was $324,723.22. The taxes collected amounted to $16,872.40. (page 13)
Abraham Bieber was the first postmaster appointed at Neighborville, but he died before his commission reached him. He named the postoffice Neighborville. Charles Bieber was appointed as postmaster when it was established in April 1875. [Transcriber's note: Neighborville was later called Calvert.] (page 13)
Another enterprise of Norton which is worthy of mention is the Lathrop hospital, located on the old golf grounds between the city of the living and the city of the dead. This hospital has done a big business in the way of operation, since its opening a year or so ago. (page 21)
James Hall owned the first pigs in Norton county. He gave $5.00 for a pair of them. (page 82)
The First Chickens Hatched in Norton County
In 1873 there was only one flock of chickens in the county and these were owned by Mrs. Jim Hall who had traded her hat for them. She afterwards sold two hens to Clint Worrall and two hens and a rooster to Mr. Freeman, who lived between Norcatur and Clayton. The eggs laid by Worrall’s hens were not fertile, so Worrall took his hens under his arms and walked all the way to Freeman’s where he turned them loose with the flock. This is only a slight specimen of the many inconveniences that the early settler had to face – and to overcome. (page 87)
The total asset valuations of property in the county in 1874 was $24,662.65 and the total tax collected was $147.97. (page 94)
The child of Mr. and Mrs. John Green who died on March 19, 1877, was the first person buried in Norton cemetery. (page 101)
Daniel McLaren was, so far as history can be traced, the oldest inhabitant in Norton county. He came to the county in 1870 and left here for Nebraska in 1884. (page 101)
The following is a true copy of the first marriage license to be issued in Norton county:
July 24, 1873. To any person authorized by law to perform the marriage ceremonty, greetings; You are hereby authorized to join in marriage James Kinyon of Billings county, Kansas, over 21 years of age and Miss N. Ellen Green of Billings county, not of age, by written consent of her parents and of this license you will make due return within thirty day.
(seal) William Gibbons
July 25, 1873. Return of above license. “State of Kansas, Billings county, I do certify that the within named James Kenyon and N. Ellen Green were joined in marriage by me, William Gibbons, Probate Judge, of Billings county, on the 25 day of July 1873.
Witness my hand and seal this 25th day of July 1873.
[The second marriage was] that of Henry Oliver and Emaline Williams, August 12, 1873. The third was that of William B. Lanisand and Alice Fry, on December 10, 1874. (page 104)
Wild Cat Creek
In 1870 Ame Cole was on a creek on the east line of the County and he killed a wild cat in a tree close to the creek. On account of this, he named the creek Wild Cat Creek and it has been known by that name since that time. (page 6)
Sand Creek was named by George Cole because of its sandy bottom. (page 101)
Battle Creek, which had been known as Curry Creek, was changed to its present name because of a fistic encounter between Jesse Wright and John Nelson. (page7)
A man by the name of Comstock camped on what is now known as Horse Creek, at the time of a big snow storm, on November 1, 1871, and his horses froze to death and he had to walk all the way to Jewell county. On account of this incident, the creek was named Horse Creek by Ame Cole. The North and South Forks [of the Prairie Dog?] and Turkey Creek were named by government surveyors. (page 103)
[Horse Creek and N. & S. Forks of the Prairie Dog are all in the Almena area. I have yet to locate a Turkey Creek in Norton County. The closest so far are in Gosper County, NE– about halfway between Arapaho & Oxford, or there is a Turkey Creek township near Huntley, NE in Harlan
©2005 Ardie Grimes. Transcribed from Norton County News Historical Number 1870 - 1916, re-organized and re-formatted for ease of use. These pages are dedicated to free access to records, documents and photos of historical and genealogical value. Documents contained herein may be copied for personal, non-commercial use as long as this statement remains on all copied material. These records, documents and photos may not be reproduced, published or re-published for any reason, in any format, including electronic (web pages or CD's) and print, without prior written consent of the contributors or copyright holders.
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