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Henry T. Clarke

Henry Tefft Clarke, pioneer legislator, freighter, and bridge builder, settled in Bellevue, Nebraska, in 1855. He became a steamboat agent at Bellevue and later began a general merchandise business. He contracted with the government to supply corn and oats to Fort Kearny between 1862 and 1864, hauling these products from Bellevue. Later Clarke freighted merchandise and mining supplies to Denver.



In the mid-1860s Clarke made surveys to promote location of the eastern terminus of the Union Pacific Railroad at Bellevue; and the location of railroads from Bellevue to Sioux City via Omaha, and from Bellevue to Lincoln. After completing the surveys, Clarke obtained the right-of-way and constructed the first ten miles of the Burlington line, which ran from Omaha to Bellevue and on south.



In 1870 Clarke began building highway and railroad bridges, in time building seven bridges over the Platte River. In 1876 he built the Camp Clarke Bridge, two thousand feet in length, over the north fork of the Platte. This toll bridge provided a short line to the Black Hills goldfields over the Sidney-Deadwood Trail. The bridge’s location made it indispensable for cattlemen, the United States Army, and freighters.



Clarke established the Clarke Centennial Pony Express in 1876, connecting Sidney with outposts in the Black Hills. He also established post offices in the mining towns and operated a large store, dealing mainly in mining camp supplies. For building railroads in the state, Clarke received state lands, which he used to raise grain and livestock. In 1879 he became involved in the hardware business and in 1883 the wholesale drug business.



Clarke was a member of the Nebraska territorial legislature in 1862. He was one of the incorporators of the Northwestern Electric Light Company, which first furnished electricity for Omaha. He laid out the town of Bellevue, built its first schoolhouse, and founded Bellevue College. He was also elected president of the Nebraska Territorial Pioneers Association and of the Nebraska State Historical Society. He died in 1913.

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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 ...
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