Capital Removal

Newspapermen Samuel D. Cox and Arthur B. Hayes, the authors of History of the City of Lincoln, Nebraska, published in 1889, explained in the “Preface” to the book the reason for what might have seemed a brash attempt to record the history of a city only several decades after its founding. Cox and Hayes believed it “a work which should be performed while it was still possible to get the facts from those who are personally cognizant of them.” Their information included an account based on the reminiscences of J. T. Beach of Lincoln, who had been hired to help in the removal of furniture and other goods and reference materials from the state capitol building in Omaha to Lincoln in 1868.

“Mr. Beach is now nearly fifty years of age, the fourth of October, 1889, completing the first half century of his existence, and he remembers the occurrences of those days very distinctly. . . . Securing the services of a Mr. Carr, yet a resident of Lincoln, Mr. Beach started with a two-horse team, and Mr. Carr with four horses, to move the capitol [goods] to Lincoln. They crossed the Platte at Ashland, the drifting ice making the crossing very difficult and dangerous. Along with these two men was Luke Cropsey, a son of A. J. Cropsey, who rendered valuable assistance during the trip. The trip occupied nearly a day and a half, for on the second morning, (Saturday,) at 11 o’clock, the party, with the two covered wagons, drove into Omaha, and put up at the old checkered barn, one of the early landmarks of the ‘city by the Big Muddy.’ In the afternoon Mr. Beach went to the State House and had a conference with Mr. [John] Gillespie [state auditor], who strictly enjoined upon him secrecy as to his mission to Omaha and made arrangements for loading the furniture. After night-fall of Sunday the library, furniture, desks, and everything else that was wanted at the new capitol, were loaded in the two covered wagons, ready for the return trip. At 4 o’clock Monday morning the start for Lincoln was made, and miles of ground had been covered before the people of Omaha awoke.”


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