Nickerson Township, Dodge County, Nebraska

Nickerson Township is Government Township 18, range 8, and a part of range 9, that part west of the Elkhorn River. Originally this was all a part of Maple Township, but after various changes the present bounds were made in 1886.

Geographically, this township is bounded on its north by Hooper Township, on the east by Washington County, on the south by Platte and Elkhorn townships, on the west by Maple Township. What is known as the Black Hills line of Northwestern Railway runs through the township from north to south, with a station point at the Village of Nickerson, situated in section 11. The Sioux City branch of the "Burlington" system also touches this point.


The United States census reports for various decades gives the population of this township: In 1890 it was 633; in 1900 it was 717, and ten years later it only had 637, which has increased probably in the last decade, although the present census figures have not as yet been made public.

Pioneer Settlement

The first person to take land in this township was an attorney-at-law named Henry Depew, who bought a quarter section in "thirteen," in 1857. He finally let the land go back for the taxes and it was bid in by Michael Herman, who subsequently sold a part of it to the railroad company, and they platted the Village of Nickerson on it. Depew went to Germany as counsel to Baden and later was made an Indian agent on the Pawnee Reservation, Nebraska.

July 2, 1859, came Michael Herman, and he stated that when he arrived the only actual settlers in the township were Thomas Fitzsimons, Morris Wogan, O. A. Heimbaugh, Henry C. Campbell, Arthur Bloomer, J. H. Peters and a Mr. Bingham. In 1861 August Milligan and E. Abbott settled in the township. Other settlers were as follows: John K. Cramer came to Dodge County in 1855, before the organization and was numbered among the first Fontanelle colony. After remaining there twelve years, he moved to section 14 of Nickerson Township where he was still residing in the '90s.

James H. Peters, of section 8, was a pioneer of 1855, and located at Fontanelle, but later moved to this township.

Christopher Knoell, of section 32, came to Dodge County in 1859 with his parents, and in 1862 they moved to a new place in Nickerson Township. The experiences this family had with the Indians at an early day were really of an interesting character.

Michael Herman came to the Elkhorn Valley in 1859 and finally purchased land in section 12 of this township. Subsequently he retired in the nearby village.

Rasmus Johnson, section 23, came to Dodge County in the fall of 1867, at first settling in section 20, homesteading twenty acres. Later he sold and purchased land in section 23.

Another settler of 1867 was William H. Sweet, Jr., who finally settled in section 4, and secured a half section of land prior to 1892. He was a native of New York State.

In 1876 came Romanzo M. Havens, who first located at Fontanelle in 1868 and lived there until 1876, when he moved to Nickerson and bought a hotel property which he still owned in the early '90s. Francis M. Healey, section 28, came to Douglas County in 1870 and at first worked by the month for others. He then farmed in Wisconsin till 1874, then returned to Nebraska and bought land on the Maple Creek, living there until he moved to section 28 in 1880.

Other settlers included Andrew P. Shepard, section 27, who was a resident of Dodge County from 1871 and in 1893 owned 680 acres of excellent land in this county.

Philip Gentzler, section 20, came to Dodge County in 1868, first stopping at Fremont, but four years later moved to Nickerson Township. Gerhart Harms located in section 3. He came to the county in 1870. He settled on Logan Creek, purchasing a place in Nickerson Township three years after his coming.

Another settler of Nickerson in 1870 was John Thede. He located in section 28, lived there five years then moved to a new place in section 16.

Reuben Falconer purchased 240 acres of land in this township in 1872 and built in section 17.

Jerry S. Diehl, section 23, came to Dodge County in the spring of 1877. He worked on a farm for others three years, then bought a quarter section of land to which later he added considerable.

Nels Christiansen, section 21, located in Fremont, and eight years later, or 1882, removed to his farm in Nickerson Township. Charles Diers, section 32, came to this township in 1874.

Jorgan Larson, later of section 16, came to this county in 1879 and bought eighty acres of land. All was wild prairie then, but in a few years he had developed his land into a very attractive and valuable place. Isaac H. Brown, section 5, came in 1881. He bought cheap land and within a few years was surrounded by a comfortable home.

Lewis Larson, section 9, first located after coming in 1883 on the old Doctor Sexton land, which he leased six years then bought in Nickerson Township and made himself a good home.

Christopher Johnson, of section 21, came to Nickerson in 1887 and bought his land there.

Henry E. Heimbaugh came in 1889, worked by the month a year or two and then engaged in business in the Village of Nickerson.

First Events in the Township

Henry Depew was the township's first settler or land-owner. The first child born in the township was a son to Mr. and Mrs. Morris Wogan, early in the '60s.

The first death was that of Mr. Higgle about 1858. He was buried on the hill west from the present Village of Nickerson, but later the remains were removed to the City of Omaha.

The first residence was a log building on the old Depew place. The first frame building was built by Jacob Easier soon after the close of the Civil war.


The first school in Nickerson Township was taught a mile west of the present Village of Nickerson. See educational chapter, and for churches also see index for general chapter on all churches in the county. Village of Nickerson

This little village is located in section 13 of Nickerson Township, and was platted January 13, 1871, by John I. Blair, for the railroad company. The land was originally purchased from the United States by Henry Depew. It was sold for taxes and the man Herman who bid it in sold to the railroad company for $500.

The earliest attempt at business at this point was about 1872, when the nearby farmers formed an association and handled grain from a warehouse they erected. Soon thereafter, a post office was established and among the early postmasters in charge were O. B. Rippy, R. B. Schneider, W. H. Havens and George E. Herman.

O. B. Rippy opened a general store about 1872. The first blacksmith was Adam Niece, who built a shop in 1887. He sold to "Cal" Lehnier and he, in turn, to Charles Ladd, whose father was an early settler in Washington County.

The grain and stock business finally passed into the hands of W. R. Wilson, and the Nye, Schneider Company got the business in 1888. R. M. Havens opened a hotel in 1876.

A beer saloon was started early in the history of the village by Christ Basel, but finally he moved his "place" to Hooper.

In the summer of 1892 the commercial interests of Nickerson were:

Lumber and Grain-The Nye, Schneider Company.
General Dealers-W. H. Bruner, N. J. Leffler and H. E. Heimbaugh.
Blacksmithing-Ladd Brothers.

In the spring of 1892 a fire destroyed a greater part of the business houses.

Schools and Churches

From the platting of Nickerson up to 1883 the scholars from this locality had to attend school at the district building a mile to the west of the village.

The Methodist people built the first church building, the same cost $1,300.

Present Village of Nickerson

In the summer of 1920 the commercial and other interests of the village were as follows:

General Merchandise Seidel-Anderson Company,
Implements Freeman Brothers.
Garage Freeman Brothers.
Grain Elevator Farmers' Co-operative Association.
Pool Hall Ross Wickersham.
Hotel The Havens.
Lumber and Coal Nye, Schneider Fowler Company,
Banks First Bank of Nickerson, Farmers & Merchants Bank.
Hardware and Coal Same as lumber dealers.
Jeweler A. B. Crocker.
Barber John Litz.
Postmaster C. M. Ward, with one rural free delivery route.
Physicians Dr. R. C. Byers.

Nickerson was incorporated October, 1910, and among the various village officials may be recalled: H. J. Sidner, 1910-13; Calvin Spangler, 1913-18; A. P. Coulter, 1918; all having been chairmen of the village board. The village clerks have included: C. M. Ward, J. C. Brown, W. L. Seidel and A. P. Coulter.


Dodge County | Nebraska AHGP

History of Dodge and Washington Counties, Nebraska, Rev. William H. Buss and Thomas T. Osterman, Volume 1, The American Historical Society, Chicago, 1921. 

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