The first pre-emption claim made in Antelope County was by George St. Clair, commonly known as “Ponca George,” a man of Canadian French descent. His claim was No. 941, in the Dakota Land District. The date of settlement was April 25, 1868. On June 30, he entered his claim, which was in St. Clair Valley, one of the finest valleys in the county. St. Clair went West in the same year. Josiah McKirahan, from Belmont County, Ohio, pre-empted Claim No. 957. The date of his settlement was November 2, 1868. He “proved up” on his claim November 28, 1868, and sold his claim to Cyrus D. Buck May 6, 1869. This was the first deed executed in the county.
Michael J. Hughes brought his family into the county in June, 1868, and moved away in October following. His was the first family that lived in the county.
The first permanent settlement was made by Crandall Hopkins, who came here from Cuyahoga County, Ohio, in November 1868. The next permanent settlers were Thomas Mahan, Charles Timms, J .H. Snider and family, A. M. Salnave, Jacob Bowsman and William Clark, who came in the early spring of 1869. A few months later, B. A. Trueblood, Albert Sleitter, August Learman, John Cowin, A. M. Towsley and Charles Dworak arrived and made selection of claims.
In 1870, the Cedar Creek settlement was made. Among these settlers were A. J. Leech, Henry King, Edward and Albert Palmer, S. Morgan, Charles Wilson, Anson L. Kimball and Chauncey Seely. This settlement is about seven miles above Oakdale. About a month later, Martin L. Freeman, Thomas Stolp, Louis Contois, Louis Patras and W. W. Putney (followed in about a month by his family) moved into the county.
West Cedar Valley was settled in June 1872, by Thomas Lawton, William Lawrence, Henry Griffith, Henry Rogers, Henry Karl and I. N. Taylor.
The first birth in the county was that of Anna Kimball, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. L. Kimball, May 1, 1870; the first marriage was a double one–Allen Hopkins to Miss Frances Bausman and Elias Ives to Miss Hopkins, sister of Allen Hopkins, August 14, 1869, and the first death that of Mary Frances Snider, October 4, 1870.
The first post office in the county was at Twin Grove; J. H. Snider was first Postmaster.
1 thought on “Antelope County, Nebraska Early Settlements”
My 2nd great grandfather Lewis S Potter and his wife Samantha Elizabeth Sherwood arrived in Aug 1873 with their family to the Neligh area and built a homestead there, lived there until his death in 1888. The land grant shows his home cost $500 to build, including well, corn crib and granary. He and many of his family are buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery. He was the 6th Civil War veteran buried there according to The History of Antelope County published in the paper.