October 29, 2022 | Last updated Jun 12, 2023

The Kearney Weekly Hub Celebrates the 1890 Census

The United States Census is an important — and constitutionally mandated — part of American life every ten years. Nebraska has seen fifteen of them come and go since joining the US in 1867 and will see many more in the future.  However, it’s hard to imagine that any census will be greeted with more enthusiasm than the one in 1890. Those numbers caused the Kearney Weekly Hub to exult:




Hurrah for Nebraska’s northwest! The official count of the second supervisor’s census district of Nebraska or the third congressional district was completed on Saturday last. This is a most interesting and instructive… report, covering as it does the newest portion of Nebraska. 



It will be seen that in 1880 the population of this district was 128,021 and that in 1890 it is 372,173, The actual net gain in ten years is about sixty-six percent, the population lacking only 1,890 of being trebled in that time. There are now fifty-four counties in the district, in 1880 there were but thirty-three. Consequently twenty-one new counties have been organized during the ten years. These twenty-one new counties, population marked “none” in 1880, show a population of 60, 345 in 1890. 



This is a truly remarkable increase and a magnificent development. It comprises too, in large part, that portion of the state which the croakers declared fifteen years ago could never be utilized except for great cattle ranges, but the cattleman and cow-boy have passed on and the farmer has taken their places, the broad plains have been dotted with homesteads, and agriculture has conquered the desert.



A comparison of increase by counties shows that Buffalo has gained 14,598. Only one other shows greater increase — Custer, Custer’s total, however, falls 482 behind Buffalo. This leaves Buffalo the most populous county in the district, passing during this census period the older eastern counties of Hall, Dodge, and Washington. Hurrah for old Buffalo!



Considering the grand total, central and northwestern Nebraska have abundant reason for self-congratulation at the great showing Uncle Sam has given us. We feel our oats!

Black and White Photographic Print of a Man Taking the the Census on a Porch, Lancaster County (Neb.), 1920s. Photo by Frederick Blaine Humphrey.

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