Pleasant Valley Township, Dodge County, Nebraska

Pleasant Valley Township is situated on the west line of Dodge County, second from the north line, and hence comprises Congressional township 19, range 5, east. It is bounded on the north by Webster Township, on the east by Ridgeley Township, on the south by Union and on the west by Colfax County. This is another of the civil subdivisions of Dodge County in which there are no towns or villages, neither a railroad. The Federal census in 1890 gave the population as 815, but a state census of schools gave it 1,000 in 1892. In 1900 it had dropped down to 734 and in 1910, the same authority gave its population as only 646. The figures on the present (1920) census have not yet been given out.

Organization of Township

Up to 1886 this township was included in Webster precinct, but at the time this precinct system of the county was changed to township government, it was changed to conform to its present territory and its domain has since been known as "Pleasant Valley Township."

Pioneer Settlement

A single man named James Ferguson is supposed to have been the first person to permanently locate within this township. He claimed land in section 24 in the autumn of 1868.

In the early spring of 1869 came John Ross, locating in section 22. He homesteaded a quarter section and became a permanent figure in Dodge County. He had served in the army and navy of the United States from 1861 to 1865.

John L. Brown came here in June, 1869, and pre-empted a quarter section of land in section 10. He also took a homestead of eighty acres in the same section.

John Emanuel, of section 28, this township, was postmaster and storekeeper at Pleasant Valley, was numbered among the pioneers of this township. He came in during 1869, taking a homestead.

Among those who came to this township from other parts of Dodge County may be recalled: Eben Ives, who first located in section 32, Ridgeley Township, but later moved over to section 36, Pleasant Valley. Also James Robertson, who came with his family and located in section 14 in March of that year, but later moved to section 26.

Joseph Cross came to Fremont in the early autumn of 1870. In the spring of 1871 he rented in Union Township. In 1872 he homesteaded in section 28, where he died in August, 1891.

Henry Rose came to the county in 1870 and made his settlement in Pleasant Valley Township in 1871. John Andrews took his homestead of a quarter section in section 8, in the fall of 1870. He had been a soldier in the Civil war and therefore entitled to a quarter of a section in his homestead.

Besides those already named as being settlers in Pleasant Valley Township in 1870, were also these: James Harvie, whose parents settled in section 14; Henry Sturbaum, section 2; John Arps, section 32; in 1871 came Hans P. Stoltenberg, located a homestead which had been claimed by another, in section 28, but he paid the former claimant $100 and thus secured what soon came to be a valuable place.

In 1873 Peter Emanuel located in this township, purchasing railroad land. Edwin Hook also located in section 6 that year.

Frederick Zadehoff, of section 31, came to Dodge County in 1874 and bought 200 acres of land.

Hon. Charles Feichtinger, section 22, came to Dodge County in 1868. He was a native of Germany where he mastered the jewelry trade. He came direct from the fatherland to Dodge County, Nebraska. Jacob Longacre came in the spring of 1873.

John Haase, section 29, dated his settlement from the spring of 1880. Frederick Haase settled in section 19, in 1883.

In 1869 when John Ross came to this township he found residing here: William, John and James Ferguson, who belonged to a Scotch colony on the eastern line of the township. They all came in 1869; John Johnson, who took a homestead, came that year, and later moved to North Bend.

William Ross came in 1870 and took his homestead, remained until 1884, when he sold and went back to New York State. He sold to John Hair. John Ross came in 1877, purchased railroad land in section 27, remained in the township until 1889, then moved to Box Butte County.

Hon. John R. Cantlin, section 26, came in as a homesteader in 1870.

Quite a goodly number of Germans located in the northeast part of the township in 1870; these included the family of Martin Heckenroder, in section 12.

Charles Warnsdorf claimed a part of section 22. J. W. Porter bought him out in 1881, and he returned to Germany. He was an odd, character, but highly educated. He had been wealthy before coming to this country, but had spent most of his fortune before settling here. He took a homestead and lived a single man, doing his own cooking.

Other early settlers were Thomas M. Stubbert and Hugh Robertson.

It may be stated that many of the first settlers in this part of Dodge County were young single men, who took land, made rude houses from sod and other cheap material, and then sent for their intended wives, their marriage taking place after they had arrived from some of the older settled places in the East, and in many cases from across the great Atlantic Ocean. It took stout hearts and strong bodies to thus leave home and firesides where they had been reared and attempt to make a home in a wild, prairie land like Nebraska was at that date. These women made the best wives and mothers and have certainly accomplished their share of developing this township and county.

The first marriage in this township was that of James Ferguson. This marriage was dated sometime in 1869.

Schools and Churches

The first school was held in a sod shanty.

Reverend Wilson, of North Bend, held the first religious meeting - see chapter on various churches of the county.

Post Offices and Cemeteries

Prior to 1890 there were two cemeteries laid out in this township, one in section 28, and one in section, "Pleasant Valley" and "Glencoe." It is likely that the first death in the township was that of the mother of John L. Brown.

The first birth recorded was that of Bessie Ferguson, May 22, 1869, the daughter of John and Jane Ferguson.

Pleasant Valley post office was established in 1871, with Matthew Stubbert first postmaster, section 34. Other postmasters were: Messrs. Huffland, Hans P. Stoltenberg, section 28, who was followed by John Emanuel. The postmaster then conducted a general store.

General Historic Items

During 1873-4 and 75 the grasshoppers ruined the fair prospects of scores of farmers in Pleasant Valley. Excellent "eighties" of land could have been purchased for $100, but most of them held on because they found no one to buy them out, and their sons and daughters can now sell the same acres at not less than $300 an acre. Twenty-five years ago these lands sold at $40.

A town hall was built for public meetings and election purposes in the northeast quarter of section 21, in 1891, costing $200.

A Grange or Farmers' Alliance hall was also erected in section 24. A German Farmers' Club hall was erected in the '80s in the western portion of this township. This cost $500. It was a six-sided building and built by a stock company.

Dodge County | Nebraska AHGP

Source: 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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