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Adams County’s Michigan Colony

The first white settlers in Adams County were Mortimer “Wild Bill” Kress and Jerome “California Joe” Fouts, who entered the area in 1869 and located claims on the Little Blue River in March 1870. The summer and fall of 1870 brought a number of other settlers into the county. In April 1871 a colony of Englishmen settled upon land where Hastings later was platted, and later that year, A. H. Bowen helped locate a colony of Michigan people near the site of Juniata. The Daily State Journal (Lincoln) on January 16, 1872, published a letter from Bowen to J. H. Noteware, the state superintendent of immigration, describing the new settlement.



Bowen traveled to Adams County with other “trustees of the Michigan colony to select for them a location for their future homes. We passed over the proposed line of the B & M. R. R. as far as Ft. Kearney, examining the country as thoroughly as possible as we went out, and finally decided that the lands lying in the center of Adams county, offered better advantages for all purposes than any thing we had seen. Returning immediately to Michigan we commenced forwarding our Colonists as fast as they could get ready to move, and continued at this work until the last of October, . . .



“The advantages that we considered Adams county possessed over the other portions of the State which we examined were two fold. First, the quality of the soil is unsurpassed by any county in the world, and, second, the county is better watered and has more timber than any other county in the interior of the State. The streams running through the county are the Little Blue, and West Blue rivers and Thirty-two mile and Elm creeks, beside these the Platte river touches the northwest corner of the county. All of these streams are fairly timbered.



“Our Colony is in a highly prosperous condition and notwithstanding the severity of the winter [we] are all delighted with the country. We have organized our county and located our county seat in our midst in the center of the county, and on the line of the B. and M. R. R. Junietta [Juniata], our county seat, is already a flourishing village and bids fair to be the principal point on the road west of Lincoln, from which place it is distant 103 miles. It will undoubtedly be the point of junction of the St. Joseph and Denver railroad, and the B. & M., the former having three separate lines of survey centering here and as the road is being pushed forward rapidly we hope to have it to our place before another winter.”



Unfortunately for Juniata, the Burlington and Saint Joseph and Denver City railroads joined not at Juniata but eastward, where the town of Hastings sprang up, and in 1877-78 the county seat was removed to Hastings.



(February 2008)

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