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Dedicated To The Men Who

Founded Columbus, Nebraska


The problems of founding Columbus in Platte County were like the problems of any beginning. Physically and mentally, they must have made the undertaking almost beyond endurance. But the greatest problem was one which does not fit neatly into type ... which defies the limitations of word and line, the form of the printed page. This problem was emotional.

The men who founded Columbus felt all the tremors of human experience. They knew hunger, discomfort, pain, grief and even boredom. Anger they must surely have felt and, because they were human beings who displayed great courage, we may be certain that they triumphed over fear.

It is difficult to remember these men, as men. Rather they tend to take on a legendary quality like faces in a familiar painting or sculptured busts in some quiet, hallowed hail. But this way we must remember them for the touchstone of all dedication is the relatedness of mankind.

Here are the words used fifty years later by one of their number, Jacob Louis, to describe what took place on that long-ago founding day. The picture he draws, the details and the essence, belong in our hearts. Let us treasure it as one of the dearest gifts man ever gave to men.

"We arrived here in the evening of May 29, 1856, and camped for the night on this side of the river near Buck Island. There were thirteen in the party, including myself. The others were: Frederick Gottschalk, Carl Reinke, Michael Smith, Jacob Guter, John Wolfel, Vincent Kummer, Henry Lusche, Charles Bremer, John Browner, J. P. Becker, Anthony Voll and John Held.

"Five of us --- including Adam Denck --- had been here the previous March, later returning to Omaha where the company was organized. The original town plat surveyed by John Rickly --- was one mile square. The grove of trees at my home place was on the east line. The landscape, as far as the eye could see, was unbroken prairie and of course there was not a house to be seen. On the banks of the Loup in those days were many trees, and during the first month we built a log house near the present site of the brewery, covering it with a roof of grass. That was the first building in Columbus and it served all of us as a home for several months.

"Nearly every member of the company had an ox team, and during the first summer we broke ground and put in a crop. The harvest that fall didn't amount to much. Grasshoppers came and saved us the trouble of harvesting, and because of this we had a hard time to keep from starving during the next winter.

"However, wild game was abundant in those days, and we had plenty of fresh meat. Deer and elk, especially, were plentiful, and I have seen wild buffalo in this county. At one time after a prairie fire I saw about a thousand elk in one herd not far from Columbus. They had been driven before the fire until stopped by the river, which was running bank full.

"The day on which Columbus was born was cloudless and calm . . . it seems a long while ago, and as I look about me and see the great changes which have taken place I know that it was long ago."

John P. Becker
John C. Wolfel
Doratha Wolfel
Charles Bremer
John Browner
Jacob Guter
Jacob Louis
Anthony Voll
Michael Smith
Fred Gottschalk
John Rickly
Vincent Kummer
Henry Lusche
Charles Reinke

No Photographs: Adam Denck -- John Held

The History of Platte County, Nebraska



The author



The following pages contain what surely must be the most complete history of Platte County, Nebraska, yet written. This is the work of a native daughter, Margaret Curry, whose accomplishment is as great as her envisonment of the task.

No one qualifies as the people's historian so well as a native son or daughter. Particularly so, if the native son or daughter is bound by a strong attachment to the community and yet influenced by the guiding sense of the historian's detachment.

It is a tribute to the author that she has produced herewith a volume of Americana --- so complete is the scope of the work and so well documented are the contents. As a chronicle of the life and times of several generations of midwest Americans this book will interest not only Nebraskans past and present, including those who are now or have ever been residents of Platte County, but the great number of students of American history everywhere.

Without chronologies of this kind the history of America would be incomplete. These are the records that reach out into the lives of the many, which afford intimate glimpses into the character of the people and the times, and which thus impart to the chain of events a greater sense of the continuity of history.

Local histories are thus special kinds of history. They are repositories of many important source materials and the record of happenings close to the hearts of the people. This work stands out as that kind of chronicle, and those who are closely identified with Platte County will read these pages over again and again with pride.

Those of us who have been privileged to be associated with Margaret Curry during the publication of her book know how great is her knowledge of her native county and state. This association has also led us to discover in her and in her vision of this project a completely selfless devotion to duty and whole-hearted dedication to the task.

The result of her long labor and application is this fine reference volume or people's history. As it stands, it is a great credit to her authorship and a valuable new addition to the treasured store of Americana.


Los Angeles, California
May 1, 1950

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© 2005 for the NEGenWeb Project by Ted & Carole Miller