When I drive by places in thinking mode, I often wonder how they came up with the name of the location. (Sometimes I drive by places in surviving mode when I just want to arrive there in piece – I really do not care at that point – I just want to pass all of the places and get to my destination. This usually happens when kids are fighting in the back seat. But, of course, this never happens with MY children. Ha, ha!) How about Cherry County for instance? Named for a person or trees? Or Chase county – was their a race for land? Some places you can usually guess correctly. Guess where the citizens of the town of Ohiowa were from? Equally from Ohio and Iowa, the name made sense.
Anyway, yesterday I was at the library briefly, and I found the book Perkey’s Nebraska Place Names by Elton A. Perkey. So, evidently I am not the only one who ponders names. He used several older Nebraska history books as reference as well as other personal sources. And he included any town that has ever been named in our state, including those that faded away to nothingness. Thankfully the book is divided by county, so that you can just study the ones in your area. Well, today I will just tackle the names of some of the Nebraska counties – the ones named from people, as opposed to geographical features or events. And just some of the counties as the this would be a rather long post if I even did half of Nebraska’s 93 counties.
Adams: named for John Adams, 2nd U.S. President (as opposed to his son, John Q. Adams, 6th President, who was not county name-worthy? )
Arthur named for Chester A. Arthur, who was U.S. President from 1881-1885. Approved the name in 1887 (so this was living history then!)
Blaine named for James G. Blaine – U.S. statesman who failed at becoming President in 1884 (maybe Nebraska voted for him?)
Boone Daniel Boone – noted hunter & Kentucky statesman
Boyd James E. Boyd, Nebraska governor 1891, 1892-1893
Brown 2 state legislators had this name, but one source indicated five people were possible county name candidates. So, if that was your last name back then, maybe you could tell people it was named for you?
Burt Francis Burt, first governor of Nebraska Territory
Butler David Butler – first governor of Nebraska from 1867-1872
Picture taken at the Nebraska governor’s mansion “Wall of Governors”
Cass General Lewis Cass, American statesman and patriot associated mostly with Michigan and with free soil states. Plus he ran for President.
Chase Champion S. Chase who was Nebraska attorney general in 1886 (at the time of naming). No racing involved – that would have been more interesting though!
Cherry A person, not a tree. Lieutenant Samuel A. Cherry of the 5th United States Calvary of Fort Niobrara. He never knew of this honor as he had been murdered almost 2 years previously.
Cheyenne the native American tribe
Clay Henry Clay, Kentucky statesman and brilliant orator (The Great Compromiser)
Colfax Schuyler Colfax – was Vice President at the time of naming
Cuming Thomas B. Cuming, acting governor of NE Territory in 1854-1858, except for 1856 (evidently he took a year off?)
Custer General George A. Custer, a year after he was killed at Little Big Horn
Dakota Indians (a branch of the Sioux tribe)
Dawes Nebraska Governo James W. Dawes (1883-1887)
Dawson probably Nebraska Pioneer, Jacob Dawson, first postmaster of Lancaster (now known as Lincoln). Evidently he made quite the impression as Dawson County is about 160 miles west of Lincoln.
Deuel Harry Porter Deuel, pioneer citizen of Omaha. This county is in the southern part of the Panhandle – a LONG way from Omaha.
Dixon an early pioneer (no more is mentioned, even on other websites!)
Dodge Senator Augustus Caesar Dodge. Of Iowa? He supported the Nebraska- Kansas bill so did enough to earn a NE county.
Douglas Senator Stephen A. Douglas from Illinois. You remember – the one who debated Abraham Lincoln. And won the senate seat from him. But did not make it be President (someone else got that job!)
Dundy Judge Elmer S. Dundy, U.S. Circuit Court – prominent Nebraska politician
So, evidently being a politician was helpful to get a county named for you. I will continue noting the names of the rest of the Nebraska counties some time in the future. I will probably not write about many specific towns (unless there are some humorous ones). But I found a great site where you can look up the founding/names of any place in our state: Nebraska…Our Towns: “a historical extension of Virtual Nebraska.” Enjoy!