McBride at Fort Kearny

Fort Kearny, established in 1848, served as a way station, sentinel post, supply depot, and message center for forty-niners bound for California and homeseekers traveling to Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. By the 1860s the fort had become a freighting station and home station of the Pony Express. Although never under attack, it did serve as an outfitting depot for several Indian campaigns. In 1871, two years after the completion of the transcontinental railroad, the fort was discontinued as a military post.

Little remained of the old post in 1877 when J. C. McBride, Webster Eaton, and their wives visited the site. McBride reported in the May 1877 issue of The Nebraska Farmer, published in Lincoln: “A few weeks ago your correspondent, his wife, and Hon. Webster Eaton and his wife, paid a flying visit to the historical Fort Kearney. This being our first view of that much talked-of place we were somewhat disappointed. Instead of old crumbling walls and ruins of buildings, nothing presented itself save about forty gnarled and stunted cotton-woods, two or three heaps of bricks, the remains of chimneys and foundations, and an irregular ditch, which bore unmistakable signs of having once been a rifle pit. On the ground, around which stand the trees, is a small 10×14 frame shanty, the residence of W. O. Dungan, who has a squatter’s claim upon the old site of Fort Kearney, and is holding it until the lands are surveyed by the Government, and thus placed within the reach of homesteaders.

“On the north side of the plaza stands an adobe building-the residence of C. L. Delabarre-who has a claim upon the south-east quarter of section 21, township 8, range 15, Mr. Dungan’s claim, above referred to, being upon the S. W. l/4 of 22. Mr. Delabarre was ‘at home’ to our little party, and to him we are indebted for much of this data. Mr. D. was a soldier during the war, serving in company ‘G’ 134th Illinois. He settled, or rather squatted upon this claim in April, 1876, and expects to homestead the claim as soon as the government survey is completed. The surveyors are now in the field, and will soon be running their last line. There are several families occupying claims in that vicinity, and other settlements are being made daily.”

McBride concluded by describing the remains of the “once business mart of this State-DOBY TOWN,” located west of the old fort, and noting that Moses Sydenham, long associated with Fort Kearny, still lived in the vicinity.

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.