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Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska
Produced by Jeanne Walsh.

Part 3


This town is the county seat. Located geographically in the center of the county, although without a railroad, is one of the most prosperous town in Thayer. It is situated in the valley of the Little Blue, on the north side of the river. According to the original design, Hebron (or a town in the center of the county) was to have been located on the opposite side of the river from where it is now. This location was, however, abandoned after the erection of one house, for a long time the property of Mrs. Rawsom.


The first selections of land for settlement in this locality were made by Edric J. Huse and Amos Duffield, on the 19th of June, 1868. No movement looking toward a settlement was made until 1869, when the advance guard of a proposed colony named the Union, arrived in the State, first making Beatrice, in Gage County, their base of operations. In May, however, headquarters were advanced to Farrell farm, on the Big Sandy, in Jefferson County, east of the present town of Alexandria.

After the establishment of Company A at Fort Butler, claims were taken up around Hebron and farther to the west.

In July, a post office was established at the dugout of C. J. Rhodes, on the west side of the Blue.

In August, the present town of Hebron was surveyed by E. M. Correll, on the land belonging to E. J. Huse. The lots were to be divided equally between the eighteen members of the colony. Owing to some dissatisfaction, the project was not at once carried out, and on the 14th of September Mr. Huse went to the county seat, then Fairbury, and had the plat recorded in his own name, which done, he returned to Illinois, leaving word with E. S. Past that when he found eighteen men willing to enter into the contract in earnest, that he would divide the lots among them. In June, 1870, William Bradt, believing the establishment of Hebron a failure, surveyed and platted his proposed town of Hillsdale, located on the south half of the southwest quarter of Section 31, Town 3, Range 2, now partly occupied by the Catholic Cemetery. The towns thus far were only on paper and in the fertile imaginations of their dreamy founders. Mr. E. S. Past revived the Hebron town project a little later in July, by fully organizing the town company. Certain blocks and parts of blocks were set apart for public use and benefit, and the balance divided into eighteen shares, and distributed to the following persons, who paid their share of the cost of the land and surveying, and who constitute the original town fathers, namely:

E. J. Huse, John C. Past, Ed S. Past, E. M. Correll, Jacob Hendershot, L. J. Correll, C. J. Rhodes, F. J. Hendershot, C. A. Elliot, Dr. C. W. Walker, A. C. Ring, W. F. Tolles, Fayette Kingsley, G. D. Proctor, William H. Bradt, A. Thompson, J. H. Williams and Miss E. S. Potter.

In October, Elder L. J. Correll, made the first advance toward building in the new town. The building he erected is now a part of the store of M. R. Glenn.

In December, G. D. Proctor built the Proctor House, now the Sherman House, which was followed by the erection of a small frame office opposite, by Miss E. S. Potter. These were the pioneer buildings of the county seat of Thayer.

In Miss Potter's building which was also served as post office for some time, was born the first issue of the Hebron Journal, from which humble birth has grown the press of Thayer County, which is among the first in the State. The editor of the Hebron Journal, by the merits of his paper, has been so highly esteemed by the members of the State Press Association as to be honored with the position of President of the Association. The town was very feeble, and doubts of its survival were entertained until the spring of 1872, when, after the division, Hebron became the county seat. Although an inland town, i.e., with a railroad, it has made more rapid and more substantial progress than any of the railroad towns. The location, in the valley of the Little Blue, properly on the second bottom, is very pleasant and healthful, as the drainage is perfect. The meandering course of the Blue can be traced for many miles to the east and west. When the neighboring hills are clothed in green, the view is strikingly beautiful. At this point the valley is very wide, every acre of whose fertile land long since has passed out of its first and second market into the hand of actual settlers.

Just west of Hebron, on the opposite side of the river, is a prairie dog town which has had a large population, but it, like the Indian village, has rapidly depopulated since the occupation of the country by the white man.


The population without railroad communication has increased from about twenty to 800 in ten years.


1872--F. J. Hendershot, Chairman: E. M. Correll, Clerk; L. J. Correll, A. C. Ring, J. P. Scott, O. H. Scott.

1873--F. J. Hendershot, Chairman; E. M. Correll, J. P. Smith, J. O. Talmage, A. C. Ring.

1874--J. W. Hughes, Chairman; C. B. Coon, Clerk; F. Kingsley, W. Fitchpatrick, W. J. Green.

1875--J. B. Smith, Chairman; J. W. Hughes, Clerk; George Deutch, E. Raymond, B. F. Young.

1876--B. F. Young, Chairman; J. W. Hughes, Clerk; W. F. Tolee, N. Betchscheider, E. Raymond.

1877--A. C. Ring, Chairman; J. J. Mallowney, Clerk; F. Nayler, N. Betchscheider, B. F. Young.

1878--J. T. Ingham, Chairman; A. C. Past; F. W. Wetherald, J. H. Boyle, B. F. Young.

1879--F. W. Wetherald, Chairman; A. C. Past, Clerk; W. D. Church, J. J. Malowney, J. G. Rice.

1880--J. J. Malowney,Chairman, A. C. Past, Clerk; M. Baum, W. W. Chilton, J. W. Hughes.

1881--A. D. Werner, Chairman; R. D. Ferguson, Clerk; J. A. Bowdle, F. Nayler, N. Betschscheider.

1882--J. A. Bowdle, Chairman; G. V. P. Payne, Clerk; F. B. Udell, J. E. Freeman, Milton Rhodes.


The town has never met with any serious misfortune by fire, but the people, warned by fires in other localities, have made quite extensive preparation to protect the business portion of the town. A reservoir of 8,000 barrels' capacity is so located that the central portion of the town can be reached with the hose. The engine, though small, is capable of controlling the flames, provided the wind is not too high. The fire company is well organized.

For the size of the place, the hotel accommodations are good. There are four hotels, besides a number of private boarding-houses.

The first post office in Hebron was kept by C. J. Rhodes. The first mails were exceedingly light, a cigar box containing the mail for the box and general delivery. This may have been due to the Postmasters' salary--$1.00 per month. Miss E. S. Potter followed Mr. Rhodes in the office, and was succeeded by Ed S. Past. The present Postmaster, T. T. Thompson, succeeded Mr. Past in 1874, and he is so popular, owing to a good memory, and careful business ability, that only a revolution in politics will dethrone him from his position.

The library association, organized in June, 1878, has a library of about three hundred volumes. At present, it is a private enterprise, but when the town hall is completed, its property is to be given to the city. There is to be a large reading-room in the new building, to be open night and day to the public. W. J. Thompson is President, and Noah Coffman, Secretary.

The Hebron Hall Company recently organized for the purpose of building an opera-house or town hall. J. J. Malowney, President; Noah Coffman, Secretary, and W. J. Thompson, Treasurer. They have commenced the erection of a substantial and ornamental stone building, seventy feet in depth by forty in width. The auditorium with the gallery will have the capacity to seat 700 persons comfortably. There is to be a public reading-room in the front portion of the building. The front portion, two stories in height, is to be of cut limestone, obtained from the quarries along the Little Blue. The enterprise was quite an ambitious one, but it goes to illustrate the energy and progressive spirit of the people, for the stock was at once taken, and ample means are now on hand for the completion of the enterprise. It will be years before the investment will be financially successful, but they are going to be satisfied by the gratification of knowing their ambition was not beyond their ability to reach, and in the social enjoyment it will afford to themselves and their children.

The Exchange Bank of W. J. Thompson was established in 1877 by W. J. Thompson and E. B. Appelget. In 1878, Mr. Thompson bought the interest of his partner, and has since conducted a general banking and farm loan business. Mr. T. is almost one of the town fathers, having located at Hebron in 1871. A substantial limestone bank building, costing, including the furniture, $5,000 , has just been completed. It is an ornament to the town. Mr. T. enjoys the confidence of the people, and consequently, the bank does an excellent business. It is considered safe, as only a part of his capital is in the bank, the remainder being invested in real estate--principally farm lands.


The "Premium Mills" of Hebron, situated in the west portion of the town, occupies the best mill building we have seen in Southern Nebraska. It is a substantial three-story stone building, with the foundation resting on bed rock. It is far enough from the main channel of the river to be free from the danger of wash-out. It was built in 1873, by H. L. Wetherald. There are at present three run of buhrs in the mill, but the capacity of the building is much larger. Only about two-fifths of the water is used. The building and machinery cost about $25,000, but it could be rebuilt now for less money.


The educational standard of the people of Hebron is above the average of western towns, and their interest in education and taste display more then intelligence. So many of the early settlers were young men and women from good Eastern schools or colleges, and homes of culture and refinement, that they have established a high standard of educational excellence. There is a healthy tone to the society, devoid of all affectation, ready to acknowledge merit, and with a keen appreciation of all that is worthy. When they first came here they could only obtain the necessaries of life. The luxuries for the mind, in a large degree, as well as for the palate, they had to forego. But now that that state of affairs has passed away, and they feel that they are within the circle of civilization again, the beneficial result is the habit of laying aside all unnecessary and cumbersome cant, or over-nicety that too often depreciates merit. There is a solidity, a frankness in the society that is enjoyable, and yet there is nothing but that betrays good breeding and intelligence. This is borne out and substantiated by the facts of an early attempt to establish a public library, the enterprise in securing a commodious and ornamental town hall, and most conclusively by the fact that Hebron pays more accordingly for her education, and has the best public school it has been our privilege to find in the State, which is the more commendable when it is considered that thirteen brief years ago, the spot now designated by the name of Hebron, was in a wide waste of rolling prairie, and as devoid of human life and signs of civilization as the plains of Soudan. The school of Hebron should be a model for the State, and a great majority of the schools of Eastern States.


The first school in Hebron was taught in the fall of 1870 by Miss A. W. Rawson, with an attendance of eight or ten pupils. The district, when organized in November, 1870, was seven miles wide and seventeen miles long, and contained fifty-three persons. In 1872, the present schoolhouse was erected at a cost of $7,500. It is a large two-story brick structure, ornamental and substantial in appearance. We have met with better buildings, yet the internal arrangement is convenient, and has only the fault of insufficient ventilation. There are now 256 persons of school age in the district. In 1878, it became a grade school, and now employs four teachers. The credit of so good a school is not to be monopolized by the patrons, but shared. Prof. D. S. Dusenbery, who has had charge of the schools for the past three years, has been principally instrumental in perfecting the school system. We attended an entertainment closing a term, which consisted solely of original essays, prepared and committed by the pupils without aid from the teachers or parents, and it was the most creditable school entertainment it was ever our good fortune to witness. The pupils are trained to rely upon their own ability, especially for public showing, so that the term "preparing pupils for display" cannot be applied to this school.


The town of Hebron cannot be said to be very religious but exceptionally moral. The boast is morality rather than religion, yet it is not an irreligious community. The Sabbath is strictly observed and is as quiet and orderly as a town in the old colonial days.

At present only one denomination has a station minister in the place--the Catholic, besides whose church there is only one other, the Christian. The Methodists are contemplating the erection of a house of worship which doubtless before the close of the year will be consummated.

The Christians have a house of worship constructed of limestone. Is a commodious edifice, costing about $1,500 and is a credit to the town. The church has a good membership, but at present has no pastor. Judge George Lobingier preaches every three weeks.

Church of the Sacred Heart, Catholic, was organized in 1876. There are thirty-four families in the parish and the church property, church parsonage, etc., are valued at $2,000. Father P. J. Erlach was stationed here in August, 1880.

The Universalists are quite numerous, and for a time held meetings, but have been discontinued for some time.


The press of Thayer County was born February 15, 1871, at Hebron, in a small building erected by Miss Potter, which has since became a habitation for the horse. It was designated the Hebron Journal, a weekly paper, and we must conclude a weakly paper from the account given by jolly Joe Besach, a prominent character in the early history of the county. He said it was a "tri-weekly." That was, "get out one week" and "try to get out the next." E. M. Correll, assisted by all the settlers in the town, and they were few, edited this first issue, the "pegs" being set up by Joe Worral, a broken-down tramp printer.

From this humble origin, however, has grown a county press equal to any in the State of Nebraska. The editor of this first paper is now honored with the position of president of the Nebraska Press Association.

The press of Thayer has been unanimously Republican from the first, until the commencement of 1882, when the Advocate, an alliance paper, was started. Of course the politics of the press of every county is largely governed by the prevailing politics of the county. The adage of "birds of a feather" here is verified.

The press, next to the railroads, has been most instrumental in building up the county and it has had a beneficial effect upon the press of other counties.

Hebron Journal, a weekly newspaper established February 15, 1871, by E. M. Correll, when there were only three houses in Hebron and only 500 population in the county. It was at first a five column folio--small size--but soon changed to a six and then to a seven-column quarto. During two and a half years of its history it was out of the hands of Mr. Correll. During this time it was consecutively edited by Ed S. Past, R. K. Hill, J. B. Skinner and O. H. Scott. In 1881, the Thayer County Sentinel and Journal were consolidated, and Mr. Correll associated with him Mr. T. L. Cadwallader. The paper has been Republican, with, however, a strong love the Greenback principles at one time. The Journal is one of the most ably edited county newspapers of the State, strong and eloquent in favor of woman suffrage.

The People's Advocate, an eight-column folio, was established March 18, 1882, by Norman Rapalee. It is an alliance paper. The county ticket at the last election having carried this paper has been started to advocate the principles of that party. It is a well-edited weekly paper.


The Masons and Odd Fellows built, in 1874, a large and commodious building, in the second story of which is their hall. The storeroom below is rented to defray the expenses of the lodges.

Morton Post, No. 17, G. A. R., was organized in 1879, and re-organized March 4, 1882. It is one of the strongest posts in Southern Nebraska, having 150 members. There are 300 soldiers in the county, and the membership is expected to reach over 200. The present officers are Edward S. Past, Commander; D. Sherwood, S. V. C.; W. L. Grigsby, J. V. C.; F. J. Hendershot, Adjutant; J. M. Fitchpatrick, Quartermaster.

Gayle Chapter, No. 16, R. A. M. This chapter was instituted in February, 1875. It has a good working membership numbering about twenty. W. J. Thompson, H. P.; Edward S. Past, K; W. J. Green, S.; F. E. Roper, C. of H.; C. B. Coon, P. S.; S. H. Coon, R. A. C.; W. B. Hughes, Secretary and Treasurer.

Hebron Lodge, No. 43 A., F. & A. M. Instituted in 1873. Has thirty-four members. Officers--Adam Werner, W. M.; Henry Drum, S. W.; J. J. Malowney, J. W.; Frank Decker, Treasurer; Edward S. Past, Secretary; W. J. Hannah, S. D.; B. P. Bofenkamp, J. D.

Hebron Lodge, No. 49, I. O. O. F. This division of the order was instituted August 12, 1874, by D. M. McElhenney, Grand Master of Nebraska. The present membership is about forty. Officers--M. Bennett, N. G.; F. Naylor, V. G.; S. L. Evans, Secretary; J. R. Elliott, Treasurer; W. H. Barger, District Deputy G. M. for Thayer County, Lodges, 49, 78 and 94.

Little Blue Encampment, I. O. O. F., was instituted March 7, 1877. There are thirty members at present. Officers -- A. C. Ring, C. P.; J. P. Gates, H. P.; M. Bennett, S. W.; W. H. Stewart, J. W.; W. H. Barger, Scribe; Thomas J. Thompson, Treasurer.


Hebron has made more progress than any town in South Nebraska, considering that she has been deprived of railroad privileges. In business she is ahead of the six railroad towns in the county, some of which are quite as old, and in education she ranks among the first in the State. The people are energetic and enterprising. We have heard visitors from the neighboring town say that they did not see how the town could keep up as it does. Others, that it had outgrown the country surrounding it, but as yet this cannot be, as it is not abating by continuing its vigorous growth. Building has not ceased, and additions from abroad are constantly being made to the population. It does more business than any town in the county, it having three branches less, that of grain, coal and lumber, which, however, is balanced perhaps by its manufacture of flour. Its business blocks are largely constructed of stone. Commencing twelve years ago without population or capital, it has nearly got to numbering the former by thousands and the latter by hundred thousands. The annual business is estimated at about $300,000.

Taste has been shown in the construction and ornamentation of its residences, and they form a pleasing picture to the visitor as he comes to the summit of the surrounding hills and views them nestled cozily in the valley of the Little Blue.

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