Brownville, 1859

Brownville in 1859 was a small but growing settlement on the Missouri River in Nemaha County. One of the town’s early settlers, journalist and agriculturist Robert W. Furnas, that year published Brownville and Nemaha County in 1859, a short historical sketch that included the town charter and ordinances and a Brownville business directory.

Furnas reported the arrival in 1854 of Richard Brown and the platting of Brownville in 1855. He recorded his own significant role in the early history of Brownville: “On the 9th of April, 1856, R. W. Furnas, the present Editor and proprietor of the ‘Nebraska Advertiser’ arrived at Brownville with a press and material for the purpose of publishing a paper. On the 7th of June in the same year the first No. of the Advertiser made its appearance, and has been published regularly since.”

The 1859 publication extolled the countryside surrounding Brownville. “The population of the county is supposed to be between 4,000 and 5,000. There are between 20,000 and 25,000 acres of land under cultivation this season. The past year there was a surplus of corn of over 100,000 bushels; several thousand bushels of potatoes, and respectable quantities of other products. On the first day of May, 1859, there were 100,647 acres of land pre-empted in Nemaha County. The inhabitants are from nearly every portion of the Union, mostly, however, from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Missouri, Tennessee, and Michigan.”

Brownville itself in 1859, according to the Furnas publication, consisted of “about one thousand moral, industrious and enterprising inhabitants. . . . The educational advantages are as good as could reasonably be expected in so new a country. Thus far schools have been in active operation the most of the year. Under the excellent new school system adopted by the last Legislature, free schools will be kept the entire year hereafter. The Brownville College, a chartered institution, is located at this place, . . . The Medical Department of the Brownville College is organized and in operation; its Professors having already delivered two courses of lectures.” Also in Brownville were four mercantile houses, one clothing store, one boot and shoe establishment, a drugstore, and a steam ferry.


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.