The postoffice department, however, would not allow that name, and the name was left up to Senator P. His choice of St. Paul was acceptable to everyone. Because most of the county's good land lay north of the Middle Loup river, a bridge was soon built. Beebe, the contractor, began driving the piles May 4.
Five days later the county commissioners proclaimed St. Paul the "Seat of Justice" for Howard County. About this time the Pawnee and Sioux Indian tribes began warring with each other, causing fear for the safety of settlers living between the two Indian camps. Company C of the Ninth Infantry arrived, and after helping with construction of the Middle Loup bridge, marched ten miles north on the North Loup to establish a permanent summer camp.
Completion of the bridge and the protection. During June and July of , 80 acres of the St. Paul townsite were platted, and on July 12 a postoffice was established, with Jacob Peters, postmaster. After C.
Ridell arrived with a portable sawmill, construction of homes and other buildings was made easier. On January 4, , a regular mail route to Grand Island was established; on April 29 the first school district was organized, the first session conducted in the town hall by Lizzie Cooper. A party of forty Canadians swelled the county population in the spring of , and a great many other settlers arrived that year. Much prairie was broken for planting crops, which were bountiful. The next spring, , the tide of immigration continued to increase.
But in April the second great blizzard struck, taking tremendous toll of cattle. The first number of the St. Paul Advocate was issued Sept. Seth P. During the same month acres of St. Paul townsite were platted, as were also 30 acres of Dannebrog townsite. The years and were bountiful crop years, and the mild spring of '74 promised even greater prosperity. But then a calamity struck, in the form of a grasshopper plague. Swarms of these insects obscured the light of the sun on July 17, and during the afternoon they descended to the fields.
After remaining on the ground three days, they departed toward the northeast, but returned in a short time and remained another three days. When the grasshoppers finally left for good, hardly any vegetation remained in the county. The following winter, , was a hard one. All crops had been destroyed, and money or credit was practically unobtainable. Grain, food, clothing and seed were distributed to the distressed citizens through a local committee made up of J.
Paul, H. Smith and W. A Bohemian colony called Slovania was started in Howard County at this time. There being no more homesteads available, they bought relinquishments from original English-speaking homesteaders and consequently did not form a compact group settlement as other foreign groups did.
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Grasshoppers again caused damage in , but that year they came after most of the crops had been harvested. The next July, however, they invaded Howard County again, this time remaining on the fields five days. Again all the crops were devoured. The condition of all the settlers, particularly the Bohemians, was critical.
Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs [BIA]
This group, strangers in a strange land, unable to speak English, leaderless, penniless and with all their crops destroyed, turned to prayer for relief. Having no church, they erected a large wooden cross in the center of the cemetery, and there Catholics and Protestants alike gathered to worship their common God. The women succeeded in raising late vegetables, and the men, after preparing their fields for next year's crops, hunted wild game.
They ground parched wheat and barley to make a brew which replaced coffee, they ground wheat in coffee mills to make whole wheat bread and corn for cornbread. A considerable quantity of relief supplies was distributed that winter, as had been two years before, but the recently arrived Bohemian settlers got none of it.
Their ingenuity, a few chickens, cows and game for meat enabled them to last out the winter and the following season was very favorable. In appreciation of better conditions they collected a modest sum of money and built a little church, the first Catholic Church in Howard County. The next year he led a group of Polish settlers to new homes along Turkey creek near the Sherman County line. This group was augmented by arrivals from Illinois the same year.
The only material things to result from the optimistic hopes of this colony's leaders are a convent, a parochial school at Posen and another at Choynice. The winter of was one of the most severe the settlers had yet endured. When the spring thaws came, ice swept out four bridges on the Middle and North Loup rivers, including one railroad bridge.
This was rebuilt, however, and within the next six years the rails were extended to Dannebrog, Palmer, Loup City and Ord. After those difficult years, Howard County progressed steadily, with no more setbacks than any other Nebraska region. A special election on Aug. Before this time crops of Howard and the surrounding counties had to be taken to Grand Island for rail shipment. With the advent of the railroad, St. Paul boomed, and in one year its population doubled. Nearly a thousand carloads of farm produce were shipped from St.
Paul in six months after Aug. The first petition for divorce was made by Chas. Martin at this session.
Trial for the lynching of Tom Jones and his sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Taylor, on March 15, , was held March Brown and T. Matters, for the state, and Messrs. Reagan, L. Hurd and J. Epperson for the defense, resulting in the acquittal for lack of evidence.
The rope used in this lynching is still in the county cupboard. Marsh was president and J. Ramsey, secretary.
The organization has continued with an annual appropriation from the county treasury. Agriculture has been from the first the county's mainstay, and we have a record in of cars of grain shipped from Harvard, from Sutton, from Fairfield, Edgar and Glenvil. Wheat was then 65 cents. The B. Ry sold the land for the new county seat, which was laid off into lots.
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The first building was put up in May, , and was a story frame, used as a courthouse. A post office established in Marshall Township, a mile east of town, in , at the house of James Cruickshank, was changed to Clay Center, and a year later Mrs. Sophia Cruickshank became postmistress. A schoolhouse was built in July, , with Mrs. Charles Wagner as first teacher, this being replaced in by a large frame building, and in the present brick structure was erected.
A large proportion of the county's population is of German or Bohemian extraction. About 55 families of Germans from Southern Russia near the port of Odessa on the Black Sea, came to Sutton and the adjacent country in the fall of Their influence and ways are still very noticeable in the vicinity of Sutton.
Clay County has always been rather Republican in politics, but the Populist movement was strong for a few campaigns. In , A. Epperson, one of the later leaders in the affairs of the county, was elected county attorney, the only one of his party to win out.