The county was organized in December, 1867, and the first election was held in a small frame house on Taylor Creek, January 21, 1868. The following officers were elected at that time: County Commissioners, Herman Braasch, August Raasch and Henry M. Barnes; Probate Judge, Frederick Wagner; Clerk, Samuel H. Thatch; Treasurer, Frederick Heckendorf; Surveyor, August Lentz; Coroner, Horace J. Severance; Sheriff, Fielding Bradshaw; County Assessor, Frederick Boche; Justices of the Peace, John Allison and William Bickley; Constables, Thomas Bickley and Fred Hasse.
The Commissioners held their first meeting at the house of Samuel H. Thatch, April 6, 1868, at which meeting they appointed C. W. Braasch, Probate Judge, to fill a vacancy, and divided the county into three Commissioners’ Districts.
At the first regular election held October 11, 1868, the officers chosen were: Clerk, P. J. Barnes; Sheriff, C. W. Braasch; Surveyor, Alvin Marsh; County Assessor, A J. Thatch; Coroner, J. Q. Harvey; Superintendent of Instruction, Henry A Barnes.
In 1876, Hon. Frank Welch, of Norfolk, was elected a member of Congress, and during the canvass for a re-election, died suddenly of apoplexy, at Neligh.
The first State Senator from District No.7, of which Madison County was a part, was Dr. Alexander Bear, of Norfolk, elected in November, 1874. The second was Samuel W. Hayes, of Norfolk, elected in 1876, the number of the district having been changed to 11.
The first member of State House of Representatives from Madison County, was Dr. Alexander Bear, of Norfolk, elected in November, 1877; the second, Hon. Charles P. Mathewson, elected in November, 1879, and the third, Hon. C. C. Wyatt, of Schoolcraft Precinct, elected in November, 1881.
There have been several contests over the location of the county seat. At the first election, held January 21, 1868, it was located near the present site of Norfolk, but as the town did not grow up around the offices, the offices were moved into town by the officers, by common consent among themselves, which action, though illegal, was never criticized.
In 1875, the question of the relocation of the county was voted upon a number of times, the first election being held July 13. At this election the vote stood: For Battle Creek, 286; for Madison, 220; for Norfolk, 142.
No town having received a three-fifths majority, another election was necessary, which was held September 6. The result this time was as follows: Battle Creek, 256; Madison, 211; Norfolk, 205.
No place having yet received a three-fifths majority, another election was required, and as Norfolk had at this second election received less than two-fifths of the entire Vote cast, she being the county seat, was not permitted to again enter the lists, and at the next election a majority vote would decide the question. The third election was held October 12, and according to the canvass of the vote resulted for Battle Creek, 362; Madisot1, 368. Madison thus became the county seat.
Battle Creek gave notice of their intention to contest the election on the ground of fraud, and commenced proceedings, but not pressing them to an issue, there has been no judicial decision of the case.
An unsatisfied feeling still exists in regard to this matter, and, in consequence, no court house or other count buildings have been erected.
Source: Andreas, A. T. History of the State of Nebraska, p. 1103-1104. Chicago: The Western Historical Company. 1882.
1 thought on “The Organization of Madison County, Nebraska”
I thought there was a courthouse building in Madison NE at one time.