Burt County was so named in honor of Hon. Francis Burt, of South Carolina, Nebraska's first Governor, and its first temporary boundaries were defined by Gov. Cuming's proclamation, issued November 23, 1854. They were as follows: "Commencing at a point on the Missouri River two miles above Fort Calhoun, thence westwardly, crossing the Elkhorn River, 120 miles to the boundary of lands ceded to the United States; thence northerly to Mauvaise River, and along the east
bank of the same to the L'Eau qui Court, or Running Water; thence easterly to the Aoway River, and along the south bank of it to its mouth; and thence southerly along the Missouri River to the place of beginning."
Afterward the boundaries of the county were changed by the Legislature at different times, and, until February 22, 1879, the present boundaries remained, except the northern. Up to that time, the forty-second parallel had been the northern boundary, but on that date, it was extended eight and one-quarter miles to the northward, and was then made and is now, "the middle line of Township 25 north". This was done for "elective, judicial and revenue purposes," for the reason that the reservation afforded a convenient retreat for parties desiring to avoid arrest by State officials for criminal practices, or to which to remove personal property to prevent the collection of taxes thereon. The remainder of the reservations was similarly attached to Cuming and Dakota Counties.
The first election in Burt County was held December 1854. All who had taken the oath, as required, that they intended to make Nebraska their future home, were allowed to vote. In this election, Burt and Blackbird Counties were joined, and were entitled to one Councilman and two Representatives. B. R. Folsom was elected to the Council, and Gen. Robertson and H. C. Purple to the House.
B. R. Folsom was appointed Probate Judge on May 16, 1855.
The second election in the county was for county officers, on the 6th of November, 1855, and resulted as follows: For Probate Judge, William Bates; Sheriff, John Nevett; Treasurer, Lewis Peterson; County Surveyor, William F. Goodwill; Register, Peter Peterson; Justices of the Peace, Olney Harrington and Adam Olinger.
The total amount of taxes levied in 1855 was $91.04, the rate being 7 mills, on a valuation of $13,006.
The present county officers are: County Judge, C. Blanchard; Treasurer, Andrew Palmquist; Clerk, W. B. Roberts; Sheriff. A. A. Thomas, County Superintendent, George G. Gates; Coroner, Austin Nelson; Commissioners, P. L. Cook, P. S. Cook and Titus E. Hall.
The total value of taxable property in the county in 1881 was as follows: Acres of land, 276,480, at an aggregate valuation of $1,013,975; town lots valued at $122,000; money used in merchandise, $42,921; and in manufactures, $50,000; there were 4,267 horses, valued at $103,740; 17,780 cattle, valued at $160,000; 13,917 sheep, valued at $18,640; 21,880 hogs, valued at $39,220; and other animals valued at $12,265; 1,390 vehicles, value, $18,250; moneys, credits and mortgages, $109,382; furniture, $20,693; railroads, $117,915; and other property, $121,317; making a grand total on the tax duplicate of $1,820,087.
The Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railroad was completed to Tekamah in the fall of 1876. It was then called the Omaha & North-Western. It was completed to Oakland in 1879, and to Lyons and Bancroft in 1880.
The public schools of the county are among its most valued institutions as they were among its first. There are fifty-five school districts in the county, and fifty-one schoolhouses, mostly frame. The total value of school property in the county, including houses, sites, books and apparatus is $33,000.
The population of the county in 1879 was 5,165; in 1880, it was 6,937; and in 1881, 7,521. In the latter year, the population by precincts were as follows: Oakland 1,651; Decatur, 1,148; Bell Creek, 788; Tekamah, 1,199; Silver Creek, 504; Arizona, 615; Riverside, 314; Summit, 369; and Everett, 933.