publications

Cherry Creek Gold

The discovery of gold in 1858 at Cherry Creek, near what is now Denver, Colorado, attracted miners in large numbers. Nearly 100,000 people went to the region, but more than half returned home when they didn’t quickly find gold. J. Sterling Morton, in a January 2, 1886, letter to George E. Howard, wrote that in “looking over a daily journal for 1859, I find recorded on the 5th day of January of that year the advent to Omaha from the Rocky mountains, of Al. Steinberger and Colonel Wynkoop, bringing the first gold from Cherry creek placers, where Denver now stands.

“The precious metal was in goose quills. The feather end had been cut off below the pith, right where the hollow trunk begins, and into this delicate, translucent receptacle the scale gold had been poured. There were not to exceed six quills full altogether, but there were enough to energize, organize, and enthuse a cavalcade of fortune hunters the succeeding spring which reached from the Missouri river to Pike’s Peak.”

However, after learning of Morton’s statement, A. G. Barnes of Lincoln claimed the honor of bringing the first gold from Cherry Creek to the Missouri River. In a letter published in the Nebraska State Journal on January 15, 1886, Barnes wrote: “The coming of these men [Steinberger and Wynkoop] is true-I knew them well and both were from St. Joe, Missouri-but they were not the first to return from Pike’s Peak to the [Missouri] river with gold dust. On the 25th day of December, 1858, I landed at Plattsmouth, and in a quill from a mountain eagle I carried about fifty cents worth of gold dust which I had found and panned myself at what was called the Mexican diggings, three miles above the mouth of Cherry creek . . . .

“Moses Stocking, Milo Fellows, and myself, leaving part of our company, started about November 20, 1858, for Plattsmouth, 600 miles distant, with cattle. In about twenty days we got to Fort Kearney. There, the cattle being foot-sore, I left Stocking and Fellows to come in at their leisure, and started for the river alone.” After meeting Ben Holladay and traveling part of the way with him, Barnes reached Plattsmouth, claiming “first blood in getting gold from Pike’s Peak, as it then was known, to the Missouri river.”

 

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 RG2955.ph).   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.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

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.
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.