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William N. Byers

William Newton Byers played a distinguished role in the histories of both Nebraska and Colorado. Born in Ohio in 1831, he accompanied his parents to Iowa in 1850 and a year later joined a government surveying party working in western Iowa. By 1854 Byers was in Nebraska and living in Omaha. He was the first deputy surveyor appointed in Nebraska Territory. He issued the first official plat of Omaha and shortly afterward formed a partnership with Andrew J. Poppleton under the firm name of Poppleton and Byers. Byers made the first map of the city of Omaha and was a member of the first city council. He was also a member of the first session of the Nebraska Territorial Legislature, convened January 16, 1855, in Omaha.

Byers recalled in an 1896 letter to the Nebraska State Historical Society: “It [Territorial Legislature] was a large assembly for the first in a new territory, and it seems to me now that it was a very wasteful and extravagant one. . . especially in the line of printing, and before it adjourned the country surrounding the capitol building was literally ‘snowed under’ with waste paper in the form of printed bills, journals, roll calls, reports, and such like documents, for which there never had been any use in the world. . . . However, that assembly laid a good, broad foundation for what has become the great state of Nebraska.”

In 1859 Byers moved to Denver to take advantage of recent gold strikes in the area. He and J. H. Kellom were the authors of a Hand book to the gold fields, published that year. Robert W. Furnas, in 1859 associated with the Nebraska Advertiser, later recalled that Byers had bought the equipment of the defunct Bellevue Gazette and had it taken by ox team to Denver, Colorado, where he used it in the publication of the Rocky Mountain News.

Byers afterward had a distinguished career in Colorado, particularly in Denver. He was a member of the first constitutional convention of Colorado in 1864. In 1882 he was elected vice president and chairman of the finance committee of the Denver Tramway Company. Later he became vice president of the Union National Bank. He died March 25, 1905.

 

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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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