Moving the Courthouse

Virtually every county in Nebraska has had a county seat fight. In Box Butte County Nonpareil was designated the first county seat after the county was formed in 1886, but lost the prize to Hemingford in 1891. When the county seat was later removed to Alliance, the county had a problem: what to do with the courthouse at Hemingford. The solution involved the Burlington Railroad, which had reached Alliance in 1888, platting the town on a school section purchased from the state by the Lincoln Land Company, an auxiliary of the railroad. The Nebraska State Journal, on July 4, 1899, reported:

“About five years ago the Lincoln Land company erected a commodious court house in Hemingford and leased it to Box Butte county. Last year the county seat was removed from Hemingford to Alliance and early in the spring of 1899 the county officials removed all the records.

“The Lincoln Land company then conceived the object of moving the court house to Alliance, a distance of about twenty miles. The most successful house mover in Lincoln entered into contract with C. H. Morrill, president of the Lincoln Land company, to move the building. His contract gave thirty days to complete the job. After a trial of ten days he notified Mr. Morrill that he could not perform the work in the time specified. Mr. Morrill then went to Hemingford and found that the building had not been moved twenty feet. The land company was under contract with the county commissioners to have the building in Alliance on a stone foundation and ready for occupancy by July 15th.

“J. R. Phelan, the superintendent of the Wyoming division of the Burlington, proposed to move the building on the railroad. His proposition was submitted to General Manager [George W.] Holdrege and Mr. Phelan was authorized to go ahead. The following letter explains the results:

“ALLIANCE, Neb., July 1, 1899. C. H. Morrill, President, Lincoln Land Co.-Dear Sir: Referring to your message of June 30th asking for information concerning the moving of the court house-The building was safely hauled from Hemingford to Alliance and is now on the way from the track to its permanent location. As you know the building is fifty feet long by forty wide[,] two full stories in height with a heavy truss roof and constructed with a heavy hard pine frame. As there were two cuts to pass through the building was raised on timbers high enough to clear the banks and when ready to start it was fifty feet from the railroad track to the top of the deck on the building. The weight of the building was estimated at 100 tons. . . . Six hours after leaving Hemingford the building was clear of the track in Alliance. . . . Yours truly, J. H. Phelan, Superintendent.”

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.