October 29, 2022

Nebraska Colonization Company [RG4369.AM]


RG4369.AM: Nebraska Colonization Company

Records: 1854-1868
Dodge County, Nebraska Territory: Land settlement company
Size: 0.5 cu.ft.


The Nebraska Colonization Company was organized in Quincy, Illinois, in June of 1854, less than a month after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill opened these territories for settlement. Under the leadership of Jonathan H. Smith, president; J. W. Richardson, secretary; and James C. Bernard, treasurer; it was organized as a joint stock company of settlers recruited from Illinois and the surrounding states. The character of the company is clearly indicated by section three, article one of their constitution which provided for “a literary institution which shall be known as the Nebraska University.” A prospecting party in the spring of 1855 selected the site of their settlement, to be called Fontanelle, on the Elkhorn River about twelve miles from the present city of Fremont. Fontanelle was the original seat of the county of Dodge, but later became a part of Washington County, and it was the intention of the leaders of the colony that the city should also become the territorial capital. Failure to secure a railroad connection, depression, and other reverses brought a relatively early demise to the town.


This collection consists of one manuscript box of material arranged in three series: (1) Minutes, 1854-1856; (2) Record of property allotments, 1858-1868; and (3) Miscellaneous papers, 1855-1856. These records relate to land allocations and titles, and general business affairs of the colony.

Note: All of this material was removed from the manuscript collection of Arley B. Show [RG4371], who gathered them for research purposes. Much of it has been transcribed and can be seen in the Show collection.


Series 1 – Minutes, 1854-1856

Box 1

  1. Minutes, 1854-1856 (includes land records, constitution and articles of incorporation) Digital surrogate

Series 2 – Record of property allotments, 1858-1869


  1. Records issuance of deeds and certificates of title, 1858-1869 Digital surrogate

Series 3 – Miscellaneous papers, 1855-1856


  1. Miscellany (includes certificates of title and copies of land records) Digital surrogate


Subject headings:

Dodge County (Neb.) — History
Fontanelle (Nebraska Territory) — History
Nebraska Colonization Company
Nebraska University
Washington County (Neb.) — History


Revised 10-17-2007    TMM

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

You May Also Enjoy

Nebraska’s Japanese American History

Nebraska’s Japanese American History

The Blacksmith Shop

The Blacksmith Shop

Marker Monday: Long Pine – A Railroad Town

Marker Monday: Long Pine – A Railroad Town

Fred Astaire’s Omaha Origins

Fred Astaire’s Omaha Origins

How much is a teacher worth? What Nebraska paid teachers in the 1920s

How much is a teacher worth? What Nebraska paid teachers in the 1920s

About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

History Nebraska Education

Learn more about the educational programs provided at our museums, sites, and online.

History Nebraska Programs

Learn more about the programs associated with History Nebraska.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast!

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.