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)

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

Other Publications

The Bachelors’ Protective Union of Kearney

When the Bachelors' Protective Union gave a gala reception for two of its newly married, former members and their brides in March of 1890, the social club for young, ...

U.S. Weather Bureau in 1890s Nebraska

The U.S. Weather Bureau was established by an act of Congress on October 1, 1890. It took over the weather service that had been established in the office of the Chief ...

Canning the Way to Victory

During American participation in World War I the U.S. Food Administration, under the direction of Herbert Hoover, launched a massive campaign to persuade Americans to ...

The Shoemaker’s Ashes

"Edward Kuehl, one of the most peculiar characters that ever lived in Omaha, or anywhere else, was found dead in his bed last night in the back room of his place of ...

Crazy Horse Surrender Ledger Foreward

Red Dog, an Oglala Lakota who lived at the Red Cloud Agency, Nebraska, 1876-77 (Nebraska State Historical Society   In the summer of 1876, following the ...

Darryl F. Zanuck

Darryl F. Zanuck Darryl F. Zanuck (1902-1979), a native Nebraskan, produced some of Hollywood's most important and controversial films. He helped found 20th Century Fox ...

The Burlington’s Profitable Pork Special

Nebraska railroads were much concerned with developing an adequate economy in the areas they served. The Burlington, for example, had a long history of caring for the ...

Bungalow Filling Stations

After the giant Standard Oil Company was broken into thirty-four separate companies in 1911, the newly independent Standard Oil of Nebraska dominated the state's market ...

The Bull Fight

This is the perfect time of year for a visit to the old fishin' hole. But a group of fisherfolk from Plainview discovered that this bucolic pastime sometimes has ...

Buffalo Soldiers West

African-American soldiers on the western frontier are the focus of an exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln. Buffalo Soldiers West, on loan from the Colorado ...

Protection for Buffalo

The extermination of the buffalo on the Plains occurred largely between 1870 and 1885. The Nebraska State Journal of Lincoln on February 1, 1874, editorialized in vain ...

Buffalo Hunting

In late October 1877 young Rolf Johnson and three friends left their homes in Phelps County, Nebraska, for a buffalo hunt in northeastern Colorado. The hunt was not very ...
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.