In the year 1872, the Burlington & Missouri Railroad Company made their selection of lands within the county to the amount of 88,000 acres. A brief history of the difficulties connected with the title to these lands, and of the contests over the payment of the taxes may be found in connection with Antelope County. Suffice it to mention here, the terms of settlement of the question between the Burlington & Missouri Company and Madison County.
The case was brought in the United States District Court for Nebraska, Judge Elmer S. Dundy presiding, under the title of Horatio H. Hunnewell vs. the Burlington & Missouri Railroad Company, and the County Commissioners of Madison County and William Gerecke, Treasurer. The taxes in controversy were for the years 1873 to 1877 inclusive, and averaged $7,135.43 for each of the five years. The company practically gave the county a bonus of $6,000 to permit the case to go into court.
The finding of the court was that the taxes were void and not a lien upon the lands, but that a cloud had rested upon the company’s title. The defendants were enjoined from collecting any of said taxes, and the cloud upon the title was removed. So the county lost by this decision of what they claimed the snug little sum of $29,677.14.
The Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley Railroad Company made a proposition to the people of the county to build their road through the county and maintain a depot in case they would vote to the company $40,000 in twenty year 8 per cent interest bonds. This proposition was voted on, and lost, May 3,1879, the vote being 642 for the bonds out of a total vote of 1,041, not a two-thirds majority.
The Omaha, Niobrara & Black Hills Railroad Company made a proposition to build twenty-seven miles of road and maintain three depots within the county, in case the county would vote them $52,000 in bonds. This proposition was defeated June 14, 1879.
On June 18, the electors of Norfolk Precinct held a meeting, and by resolution invited the Omaha, Niobrara & Black Hills Company to submit a proposition for precinct bonds, and accordingly this company submitted a proposition to Union, Fairview and Norfolk Precincts to build their road through those precincts in case they would vote bonds to the amount of $13,000, $2,800 and $13,000 respectively. The election was held on the 26th day of July, 1879, and the bonds succeeded by the following vote: Norfolk Precinct, for bonds, 171; against, 26; Union Precinct, for bonds, 196; against, 17; Fairview Precinct, for bonds, 46; against. 13.
The Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley Railroad (S. C. & P. R. R.) was built without aid from the county, and reached Norfolk September 15, 1879. The Omaha, Niobrara & Black Hills Railroad reached Norfolk in 1880, and the St. Paul & Sioux City Railroad about April 15, 1882.
The Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley Railroad has twenty-eight miles of road in the county, appraised at $106,261; the Omaha, Niobrara & Big Horn, twenty-two miles, valued at $64,928, and the St. Paul & Sioux City, twelve miles, not appraised.
The Burlington & Missouri Company has yet about fifty thousand acres of land in this county for sale, varying from $2 to $6 per acre.
Source: Andreas, A. T. History of the State of Nebraska, p. 1103-1104. Chicago: The Western Historical Company. 1882.