Union Township, Dodge County, Nebraska

Union Township is the extreme southwestern civil township in Dodge County, and comprises all of township 18, range 5, east, and a small portion of township 17, of the same range. It is bounded on the west by Colfax County, on the north by Pleasant Valley Township, Dodge County, on the east by Cotterell Township, and on the south by the Platte River and Saunders County.

The Union Pacific Railroad courses through the township from east to west, following the meanderings of the Platte River largely. Before 1886 when township organization obtained in Dodge County, this was within what was known as North Bend Precinct. The rule of the new law was to have each civil township conform to the lines of the surveyed township of six miles square, and this holds good in Dodge County, except in places along the Platte River, where a part of other townships are included.


According to the United States census returns this township had at various periods a population as follows: In 1890 it was 660 ; in 1900 it was 723, and in 1910 it had decreased to 633. The 1920 figures have not been made public as yet.

First Events

The first death in the township was the wife of pioneer George Young, December 20, 1856.

The first white child born here was Seth W. Young, in November, 1856, also the first birth in Dodge County.

The first furrow turned in the township by a plow was the garden patch of Robert Miller, in the fall of 1856.

The first religious services in the township were held by Rev. Isaac E. Heaton at a private house. He was the pioneer Congregational minister who founded the Fremont Congregational Church.

First Settlers

Union Township has the distinction of being the first place where Dodge County's pioneer settlement was made-Union and Cotterell townships had the first, or 1856-57 colonies of immigrants within their borders.

July 4, 1856, was "commencement day" for the county, for it was on that date that the newcomers camped and got their breakfast where now stands the thriving City 'of North Bend.

This colony consisted of Robert Miller and family, and his brother, John, with his family ; George Young and family ; George McNaughton and family; William and Alexander Miller, single men and brothers of Robert and John Miller, also the sister Elizabeth, who became Mrs. Ely, of Fremont.

Robert Miller located in what is now Union Township, in section 12. William Miller settled later in Sarpy County, Nebraska, and Alexander in Utah. McNaughton becoming disheartened after a few days returned to his old home in the East. George Young remained and became one of the county's well-known citizens. He chose a part of section 12 for his home. His son, James R., when old enough took land in section 11.

J. Mason Smith, a farmer of section 12, came to the county June, 1857, with Mathew S. Cotterell, Alexander Morrison and James Humphrey, who brought with them a steam sawmill.

In 1859 Michael Johnson pre-empted a part of section 8, Union Township, and there constructed a dugout in the side of the hill, and there he managed to live two years or more. He moved to his place in section 21 in the spring of 1877. His brother, Edward Johnson, located in the county in the spring of 1859, first locating on Maple Creek. About 1866 he homesteaded eighty acres in Union Township where he was living in the '90s.

Part of section 18, this township, was settled by the parents of John M. Dickerson in the autumn of 1860. As soon as the homestead law went into force David Dickerson, the father, took his homestead.

Charles Thrush came to the county in March, 1861, and became a permanent settler in Union Township.

David Scott, section 23, located in Dodge County in the autumn of 1863. Josiah Dickerson took a homestead in 1865, the same being in section 34. James and William McVicker arrived in the spring of 1867, locating in sections 30 and 20 respectively.

In the fall of 1866 Hiram Burger effected his settlement, rented until the summer of 1867, then homesteaded in section 28.

Andrew Quigley came to Dodge County in 1869, rented land and finally settled permanently in section 18, Union Township.

Mathias Ruff and John Kern arrived in the spring of 1869. Ruff took a homestead in section 26.

William R. Black, section 18, came to Dodge County in July, 1874; Thomas Gaughen, section 15, came in 1875, and Daniel A. Boggs, March, 1877.

Later settlements were made by: Martin Gaughen, section 9; William L. Hatcher, 1880; Joseph Krause, section 28, in the fall of 1881; George J. Campbell, manager of the Bay State Stock Farm, arrived in the county in 1882; C. M. Black, section 16, spring of 1884.

Dennis Killeen came here in the spring of 1877; was a native of Ireland and arrived in America in 1868. His son became county clerk of Dodge County.

Another settler who should not be left from the record was James Sloss and family, who located in Union Township in October, 1858, locating in section 12.

Eighteen hundred fifty-nine saw the following immigrants locate in the township: David Dickerson and family, of New Jersey, and John B. Waterman, of New York. Waterman remained until 1864 then removed to California.

It should be here stated that during the eventful years of 1869-70, the greater portion of the land within this township was taken up by actual settlers, who flocked from all parts of the globe.

Schools and Churches

The Protestants and Catholics both have a cemetery within Union Township.

General Items of Interest

Purple Cane post office in section 18, of Union Township, existed from 1885 to 1892.

The Bay State Live Stock Company had a very extensive ranch in the southeastern part of the township. There immense numbers of cattle and horses were raised and fed annually. The ranch included all of section 11, upon which the Bay State station of the Union Pacific Railroad was located. There large barns and yards for stock and extensive corn and grain warehouses were erected.

From this point a branch railroad was projected, and known as the "North Bend and Elkhorn Valley" Railroad. For reasons best known to railway men, this line was never constructed.

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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