Lincoln Lot Sales

The relocation of the Nebraska capital from Omaha to Lincoln in 1867 necessitated the erection of buildings to house the legislature and state institutions. It was planned to use money raised by the sale of lots at public auction at the new townsite as a state building fund. The House Journal of the Legislative Assembly of the State of Nebraska for 1869 includes the report of Governor David Butler, Secretary of State Thomas P. Kennard, and State Auditor John Gillespie, who constituted a commission to locate the new capital and supervise the lot sales:

“In anticipation of the completion of the survey, and to ensure parties purchasing lots in time to build upon them before winter, and an early provision of the means for commencing work upon the State House, the Commissioners, upon the 17th day of August [1867], issued their advertisement for the first sale of lots, to be held on the 17th day of September. . . .

“Upon the day of sale, the weather, which had been excessively disagreeable for nearly a week, culminated in a cold, drizzly rain, in consequence of which not more than one hundred persons were present, and but few of those, the bidders we had expected. The whole aspect of affairs was disheartening. Persons who had loudly boasted of ‘Their great expectations’ in buying lots and building houses; others who had been lavish in prophecies of the unparalled success of the enterprise; others who had been free with advice to us in regard to appraisements and sales; these and still others, who were certainly expected to be on the ground and foremost in purchasing, had given us the cold shoulder and were not present or within hearing. Indeed, your Commissioners almost felt that failure was after all to be the result. However, the first lot was put up, and after some delay in getting a bidder, it was sold to J. G. Miller, Esq., for an advance of 25 cents on the appraisement of $40.”

However, the weather improved, bringing more buyers to the sale. (A private arrangement with a group of Nebraska City businessmen to bid up the price of lots was not mentioned in the official report.) According to Commissioners Butler, Kennard, and Gillespie, more than $34,000 was realized from the first five days of lot sales at Lincoln. Subsequent sales at Nebraska City and Omaha raised an additional $19,000.

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