French in Nemaha County

The movement of French people into the Nebraska country began before the territory was opened for settlement, the first Frenchmen being trappers or Indian traders. For one hundred years or more they roamed over this region, and to them it owes many geographic names.

When the territory was opened to white settlers there were already small French colonies at Rulo, Bellevue, and among the Indian tribes, where they commonly took Indian wives. Genuine French settlers came in the late 1850s, and for ten or fifteen years thereafter. One of the most important of their settlements was near Julian, Nemaha County. Julien Bahuaud was among the first settlers, and the new town which was established on the Missouri Pacific Railroad was named for him.

The rich land in that vicinity attracted more French people until about forty families had settled there. For a time their trading centers were Glenrock, Brock, Peru, and Brownville. In a brief Nebraska History(November 1918) account of the history of the French settlement near Julian, it was reported that the French language was used in the settlers' homes, while English was spoken elsewhere. All of the younger generation were then being educated in English in the schools.

On May 20, 1918, the French people of Nemaha County held a picnic and celebration, calling together all those who had remained in the original colony, as well as those who had gone elsewhere in later years. A large number gathered for this celebration, which consisted of a basket picnic and then a meeting in a grove in Julian where stories, songs, and reminiscences entertained the group.

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