This enterprising village was first laid out and recorded in 1871 by the Cedar Rapids Land and Emigration Company. Settlement had been made before this in the vicinity. As has already been stated, Ed Dwyer, after leaving the early settlers of Albion in their cabin, went down the Beaver Valley to the Indian Reservation. He soon came back, bringing with him A. W. Dyer and a Mr. Graves, who did not remain long. Dwyer took his claim about a mile north of town and Dyer about five miles north of him, at what was known as Boone Post Office. This was in April, 1871, and, for a month, these were the only settlers in this part of the county. In May, J. D. Farrell, L. H. Baldwin and two men by the names of Spencer and Ellis, who never stopped, arrived. In June, J. B. Long and his sons, W. S. and E. T. Long, came out and located two and a half miles north of St. Edward. During the summer, Pat Coyle and M. J. Thompson both located. In May, of 1871, Ed Dwyer’s dug-out was built and was the first house in the section Shortly after they had erected it, Beaver City as St. Edward was once called, was platted. Mr. Dwyer thus narrates the event:
“One day, while working on that dug-out, I observed a team and several men moving around the valley about two miles below here; but, thinking they were land-hunters and expecting they would soon pass up this way, I did not go down to investigate. However, they disappeared the next day before I had a chance to interview them. But on my next trip to Columbus, I learned that that party, with J. North as surveyor, had laid out and surveyed a town site, and had given it the name of Beaver City. The name has since been changed to St. Edward.”
The first building on the town site was the frame store building of Joseph Rittel, which was a 10×14 structure, located near the river. This was built in the spring of 1874. In the spring of 1876, Rittel also erected a building, which was used as a hall. The two buildings stood alone until the year following, when Disher & Smith built their building and put in a stock of groceries. The first child born in the neighborhood was Daniel Morgan, in 1874, but B. K. Smith received the silver knife and fork, which the town company offered for the first child. In 1872, a post office was located just east of town and Robert Hardy was appointed Postmaster. It was then known as the Beaver City Post Office. Shortly afterward, it was moved across the Beaver by M. J. Thompson, who became Postmaster, and was called the Waterville office. In 1878, Mr. Thompson moved into town and brought the office with him, since which time it has been called the St. Edward office.
The first Fourth of July celebration in this section of country was a very patriotic one. There were four men in the neighborhood — Ed Dwyer, Milton Hollingsworth, Graves and Baldwin. As alcohol and water were distasteful to the latter, the other three proceeded to carry out the order of exercises; speeches were made, songs sung and the Declaration of Independence repeated from memory. At the close of the exercises, the audience was thanked for its attendance and kind appreciation, and the three dispersed, vowing eternal allegiance to the glorious principles embodied in the constitution.
There have been two additions made to the original town plat. Thompson‘s was recorded in the summer of 1877 and Hardy‘s in the spring of 1879. The growth of the town has occurred entirely within two years. Especially has it been marked in the last year, and the prospects are good for a large immigration during 1882. There are at present about 200 inhabitants in the town. That they are an intelligent and refined class of people may be seen by reference to their schools and churches.
History of St. Edwards, Nebraska Schools
The first school ever held near St. Edward was by Kittie Coyle at her home just west of town, in 1871. The public schoolhouse now used in the town was erected in 1875. At that time, $1,000 bonds were issued by the precinct and the building was erected at a cost of $800. At present, two teachers are employed by the board, which consists of three members, D. V. Whitney, Moderator; J. O’Donnell, Director, and W. S. Anderson, Treasurer. The teachers during the last year were T. C. Williams and Miss Nannie Case. The number of scholars in the district is fifty-three, of whom forty-two were regular attendants.
The Boone County Seminary was organized in 1879. It is a Baptist school and thus far has been fairly successful. It is taught by Rev. Z. C. Rush, the Baptist pastor at St. Edward. Rev. Mr. Rush was assisted by his son, C. W. Rush, but at present is conducting the school alone. The first story of the church building is used for a schoolroom. The first year of school the attendance was fifty. At present, it is about forty. Z. C. Rush is Chairman of the Board of Directors; A. J. Wright, Secretary, and O. K. Smith, Treasurer. The board consists of twelve members.
History of St. Edwards, Nebraska Churches
The Methodist Church was organized at St. Edward in 1873, by Rev. S. P. Bollman, the pioneer preacher of Boone County. The early members were M. J. Thompson and wife, D. E. Collins and wife, Joel Berry and wife and Mrs. Gus. Collins. Elder Bollman was succeeded by Rev. Jabez Charles; next came Rev. C. W. Wells and Rev. Thomas Thompson. Rev. William Gorst succeeded him, and, in September 1881, Rev. E. L. Fox, the present pastor, arrived. The church building, a neat and commodious structure, is located in the northern part of town, and was erected at a cost of $1,800. At present, there are twenty-seven members in the church.
The Baptist Church was organized February 1, 1874, by Rev. A. J. Wright. The first members were Alonzo Brooks, C. C. Bristol, N. S. Bristol, W. M. Saxton, Sarah A Bristol, Augusta Bristol, Myra Bristol, Melva Bristol, Nancy Lovelace, L. A Lovelace, Lottie Cady, Lucy Kilbourn, Lucy Cady, James A. Kilbourn and Mary J. Brooks. The membership has since increased to thirty. Rev. Z. C. Rush succeeded Rev. Mr. Wright, October 1, 1879, and has since been pastor of the church. The church building was erected in 1879, and was dedicated November 18, 1881. It is a two-story building, and cost $1,800. The lower story is occupied by the seminary.
The Presbyterian Church was organized May 11, 1876, with the following members: John McFayden, Margaret McFayden, Charles McFayden, Kate McFayden, Alice McFayden, Israel Haberlin, Kate Haberlin and John Gart. Rev. J. A. Hood was the first supply and was followed by Rev. A. S. Fonda. In September 1881, Rev. John Barkhard arrived and has since been pastor. The present membership of the church is forty-eight. Services are held in the M. E. Church. The Union Sunday School meets every Sunday at the Methodist Church and is attended by sixty scholars.
Hudson Lodge, No. 92, I. O. O. F., was organized in January, 1881. The charter members were Charles Sutton, Fred Walters, William Vizzard, David Zimmerman, John Jennings and L. P. McCullom. Meetings are held every Saturday over Price’s store. The present membership of the society, which is the only one, is fifteen. The officers are: Israel Haberlin, N. G.; William Vizzard, V. G.; L. P. McCullom, Secretary, and E. T. Long, Treasurer, and Fred Walters, P. G.
St. Edward has grown to be a prominent business place, and several important branches flourish there. Once, even, the town rose to the dignity of possessing a newspaper, the St. Edward Courier, published by E. H. Thomas, but that highly creditable undertaking fell through after a year’s struggle against an unyielding destiny. At present, there are four general stores, one grocery store, two blacksmith shops, one hardware store, one feed store, one furniture store, one shoe shop and one harness shop. There are also a hotel, billiard-hall and a mill.
The Waterville mills were erected by John Gart in 1874. As soon as completed, the structure was sold to Powell, and he soon disposed of the property to Hunneman & Tollman. This firm continued for some time, when Tollman sold his interest to Price. Price afterward sold to Crouch and the firm at present is Hunneman & Crouch. The building is 32×44 feet, four stories high and contains three run of stone, one for feed. Its capacity is about 275 bushels per day. Over ten feet fall of water is obtained in a very short race, so rapid is the descent of the Beaver. This mill is one of the important institutions of Boone County, and is one of the best in this portion of the State. Its value is $12,000.
The Hardy House was built by Robert Hardy, in July 1880, and was opened by him. It was soon after rented to James O’Donnell, who ran it for about a year, when H. A Shaffer took it and has since remained landlord. There are accommodations for thirty guests and in every way the entertainment is first-class.
The grain business is at present represented by Alexader Voorhees, who buys and ships.