In the year 1871, the State Legislature passed a law bounding Antelope County as follows: “Commencing at the southwest corner of Township 23 north, of Range 8 west; thence east to the southeast corner of Township 23 north, of Range 5 west; thence north to the northeast corner of Township 28 north, of Range 5 west; thence west to the northwest corner of Township 28 north, of Range 8 west; thence south to the place of beginning.” These boundaries have not been changed.
At the time of the passage of the above act, Hon. Leander Gerrard was a member of the Senate. In 1870, some Indians stole some valuable stock from settlers near Columbus, Platte County. Twenty-four hours afterward, Mr. Gerrard, S. C. Smith and E. A. Gerrard were in pursuit. Their route lay through what is now Antelope County, and when near Cedar Creek some of their number became too faint from fatigue and hunger to proceed, having been without food for two days. Opportunity offering, they slew and refreshed themselves upon a fine young antelope, and, being rested, continued the pursuit of the Indians to the Niobrara River, but failed to overtake them. The circumstance of the killing of the antelope, remembered by Mr. Gerrard, led him to suggest the name “Antelope” for the county then being defined by the law above recited. Hence the name.
In accordance with an act of the Legislature, the first general election was held in June, 1871. Two hundred and two votes were polled, and the following officers elected: Commissioners, E. R. Palmer, L. A. Boyd and William Clark; Clerk, John W. Skiles; Treasurer, R. Marwood; Probate Judge, D. V. Coe; Surveyor, G. H. McGee; Sheriff, Jeptha Hopkins; County Superintendent, A. J. Leech. At the regular election in November following, all of the above officers were re-elected except two–Z. Buoy being elected Commissioner instead of E. R. Palmer, and W. W. Putney being elected Clerk instead of John W. Skiles. In 1875, R. C. Eldridge, of Neligh, was elected a member of the Constitutional Convention. Representatives in the State Legislature from Antelope County have been William B. Lambert, of Neligh, elected in 1877; F. H. Trowbridge, of Neligh, in 1879, and W. W. Putney, in 1881.
About the time the county limits were defined, and before any town had been started, I. N. Taylor, agent for the sale of all the lands of the Omaha & Northwestern Railroad Company, in the valley of Elkhorn–20,000 acres of which lay in Antelope County–was sent by them to examine their lands in Antelope, for valuation, and to report to them on the most eligible location for a county seat. His choice fell upon the present site of Oakdale, and it was subsequently approved by the great majority of the settlers in the county, in the year 1872. A small one-story frame courthouse was built in 1873, at a cost of $650. This was destroyed by fire on October 6, 1875, and, on account of a desire of a portion of the people to remove the county seat to Neligh, has not yet been replaced. The final location of the county seat will probably be determined by the location of the center of population and wealth. This question has all along been complicated with the difficulties between the county and the Burlington & Missouri Railroad Company, over that company’s lands, located in the county, a brief history of which, as of local interest, we insert.