Nebraska As It Was, Is, and Will Be, by J. Garside

The first issue of Robert W. Furnas’s Nebraska Farmer was published in October of 1859 in Brownville. Furnas (who had established the Nebraska Advertiser, also at Brownville, in 1856) included in this first issue a letter from J. Garside of Nebraska City. Joshua Garside (1821-1902) had emigrated to the United States from England in 1847 and first settled in Illinois for nine years before locating in Nebraska City, where he worked as the cashier in the Platte Valley Bank. Garside described “Nebraska as it was, as it is, and as it will be,” in a flowery tribute:

“It is now nearly four years ago since I, a wanderer from an Eastern state, set my foot on shore for the first time on the eastern side of the ‘rolling turbulent Missouri.’. . . I crossed the river on a ricketty, shaky, old ferry-boat, the dashing of the waves against which, shook every timber, to the disturbance of my not very strongest of nerves. The place where I first put my foot on shore in Nebraska had been called a city, and was composed of some few rough wooden shanties–most conspicuous among which and which most excited my curiosity, was an old block-house. Not a decent building did the place contain sufficient to entitle it to be called a village, much less a town, or a ‘city’. . . .

“Such was Nebraska four years ago.–And now what a change!!. . . The spot where I landed four years ago has grown into a large populous city.–Here the hand of industry has been active indeed; in place of the wooden shanties breaking the solitude of the place, we have now reared hotels, mansions, and store-houses, and all such things pertaining to luxury and civilization.–Capital combined with energy, perseverance and industry, has here brought about a magic like change, the busy hum of trade and commerce is now heard, where four years ago the Indian planted his wigwam, and made the air resound with his war whoop. . . .

“Four years ago, all the corn, flour, and potatoes, consumed in Nebraska, were brought from abroad. We were entirely dependent for supplies from the neighboring States. Now we can supply them; we can raise all we can consume, and have an abundance to send abroad. The tide is reversed; instead of sending money down the river to buy the food we eat, we have money sent up the river to purchase what we have to spare.”

Garside closed with the prediction that “in less than ten years Nebraska will have ceased to be a Territory. [Nebraska became a state eight years later, in 1867.] She will have become a sovereign State, and as such in all her greatness will proudly take her place among the bright constellation of our land and who can then prophecy her greatness, who can foretell her destiny!” 

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