Cass County History

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Cass County is one of the earliest settled counties in the state of Nebraska. It was named in honor of General Lewis Cass of Michigan (1782-1866), an American statesman and patriot who took an active part in the fight over the Kansas-Nebraska bill. Cass was the Democratic nominee for President in 1848.

The county was approved by Territorial Legislature March 7, 1855. Bounded on the North by the Platte River and on the East by the Missouri River, the county measures approximately 50 miles East to West and 30 miles North to South and has a population of about 26,000.

The story of the county begins June 2, 1739, when Pierre and Paul Mallet reached the mouth of a river they called the “Platte” and followed the river upstream for 70 miles. This became the first expedition by white men on Nebraska soil.

Numerous towns were incorporated during the early days of settlement, many have since become “ghost towns” but today Cass County is still one of the largest counties in the state and is comprised of fifteen towns.

Alvo, NE
It is unique.  It is one of a kind. No other community in the United States is known by the name “Alvo.” Early settlers had come to this area as early as 1869, they had established post-offices, school district and towns. The railroad was the main means of transportation , so towns were established along its lines. Alvo reportedly received its name from the first child born after the community began to form around the depot. Her name was Alvo and she was the daughter of the railroad’s master.

Avoca, NE
The Village of Avoca was established in 1882.  We’ve celebrated several community events over the years.  But one of the finest was our Centennial Celebration in 1982.  Over 100 years our little Village has been able to keep its population between 220 – 250. The 34th Avoca Duck Races is in the record books. The Annual “QUACK OFF” is always on the last Saturday of January.  What started out as a bar room bet between two windy men, has now become a population explosion for this little Village. One day a year this small Village has over 2,000 folks experiencing the small town life. We are “Small Town Proud” of Avoca.  Visitors are always welcome.

Cedar Creek, NE
Cedar Creek, named for cedar trees growing along its banks, empties into the Platte River 13 miles west of Plattsmouth.  In 1861, just 7 years after Nebraska was opened for settlement, John Inhelder, an immigrant from Switzerland, purchased 520 acres of Cass County land and set aside 40 acres for the development of a new town “Inhelder Station.”  Today, with a population of near 400 year around residents and over 1000 summer residents, Cedar Creek is a flourishing river resort with five private lakes, a post office, village hall/fire station, and several restaurants.

Eagle, NE
Three men named “Sam” were instrumental in the early development of the town of Eagle:

  • Sam Prouty, an early settler to the region, took aim and shot an eagle from the sky. Proud of this trophy, he chose “Eagle” for the name of the post office, which he established in his home on November 5, 1869
  • Sam McClintic sold land to the Missouri Pacific Railroad in 1886 as construction began on the branch line from Weeping Water to Lincoln. He turned down the idea that the town be called “McClintic” in his honor, suggesting that they use the name of the nearby post office, “Eagle”
  • Instead, Sam English came to Eagle during its first year and opened a general store that became the focal point of the community. He also edited the local newspaper, the “Eagle Eaglet.” Eagle celebrated its centennial in grand fashion in 1986. Recent developments, including new businesses along Main Street and a number of new residents, bode well for the future of Eagle.

Elmwood, NE
Elmwood, located on a hill in the southwest part of the county, was founded in 1868 when a post office was established near a grove of Elm trees. Because of these trees, Postmaster David McCaig, a Civil War veteran, chose the name “Elmwood.” McCaig’s cabin was actually on Stove Creek several miles north of the present town. Later he moved to a store about a mile to the east, where mail arrived by horse and buggy. Elmwood’s population, which was 645 in 1910, currently stands at 598. Elmwood has many lovely new homes. Our founders would be proud, as we continue to improve the community and keep their dream of an active town alive well into its second century.

Greenwood, NE
Greenwood is located at the west most end of Cass County, just four miles south of the Saunders County line and one mile from the Lancaster line. The first resident of this area was Silas Greenwood, an Indian trapper and hunter who lived with his white wife and family in a dugout along Salt Creek in the early 1860s. The village was named for him.  In addition to our big elevator, we have a candy factory, and the old high school is the home-business for “Verna Mae Collectibles” — dolls, bears, etc. — which are sold all over the nation and around the world. In addition to a small business district, we have a nice park, a tennis court, and a good ball field.

Louisville, NE
Louisville is nestled in the tree-lined hills in north-central Cass County bordered by the Platte River. In addition to good croplands and an abundance of wildlife, the area is rich in limestone, sand and clay.

Gardner Powers first settled here in 1857, building a log cabin on Mill Creek just south of what is now 3rd Street. He registered a plat for the town of “Louisville” in February of that year, which was incorporated under a special act of the territorial legislature. Because of our proximity to Omaha and Lincoln, we will always be in competition for business. However, with the development of recreation and the Platte River State Park, Louisville, with a population of 1,022, brings people from the city to enjoy our small-town cafes, and many antique shops.

Manley, NE
Located within a stone’s throw of the geographic center of Cass County is the little town of Manley, first known as “Summit” for the breathtaking view in all directions. In early days there were three ranchers in the vicinity by the name of Manley, and the town was probably named for one of them.  The first steps toward organization were taken in 1945, with incorporation not completed until 1954, exactly 100 years after the Territory was opened for settlement. Manley owes its existence to the Missouri Pacific Railroad, which built its main line from Atchison, KS, to Omaha in 1881-82. This line traversed Cass County south-to-north coming through Avoca, Weeping Water, Manley, and on to Louisville.

Murdock, NE
A lot of living had occurred in this area before the town of Murdock was founded. Both the Ox-Bow Trail and the Mullen Ranch had come and gone. Farms were acquired either through homesteading or purchase from the railroad. Interestingly, 91% of the land in the 43 sections in this area is owned by families who have been here over 100 years.  When the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad built a line from Omaha to Colorado in December 1890, and needed a “water station” at this location, so our town was born.  Murdock’s population has remained a stable 200-250 throughout the years. Life centers around the agricultural interests with its co-op elevator, seed farm, bank, and good array of shops and businesses.

Murray, NE
Murray, population 463, is located on Nebraska Highway 1 about 25 miles south of Omaha. In the spring of 1872 a young bachelor, Joe Burton, occupied the only dwelling in the area. This was a one-room cabin in a grove of trees four miles west and one mile south of “Rock Bluffs,” a flourishing steamboat town along the Missouri River.  It was not until September 22, 1884, that a post office was established in the blacksmith shop of William Loughridge. The village was named “Murray” in honor of Reverend George Reed Murray, the first resident pastor of the church. Today Murray enjoys its small-town identity but also a “metropolitan” appearance. Beaver Lake is a sizable housing development east of town along the Missouri River. Highway 73 & 75 corridor north of Murray links Murray ever-closer to Bellevue and Omaha.

Nehawka, NE
On June 18, 1855, Samuel Kirkpatrick came from Iowa to stake his claim in Cass County, where our town, Nehawka, is today. That fall he built the first saw mill in the area on the north banks of the Weeping Water Creek. The following year other families moved to the area.  Because the name “Weeping Water” had already been chosen by a settlement upstream they chose the name “Nehawka,” meaning “rustling water.” A postal address was approved for that name on January 8, 1875.  As Nehawka celebrated its 100th birthday, citizens paused to reflect on the proud heritage of their little town and the people who made it such a nice place to live. 

Plattsmouth, NE
Located at the confluence of the Platte and Missouri rivers, our town played an important role during Nebraska’s formative years.  Samuel Martin obtained a license to operate a ferry across the Missouri at “Coonville” (now Glenwood), Iowa. In 1852, even before Nebraska was a territory opened for settlement, Martin received a permit from the Secretary of War to establish a trading post at what was to become “Plattsmouth.” He built a two-story house, and another building in which he met to trade with the Otoe and Pawnee Indians who lived nearby.  When this location was passed over for territorial capital, a town-company was formed October 26, 1854. The following March it was incorporated by the legislature and named the seat of government in Cass County, which stretched “…to the west boundary of ceded lands.” The annual Kass Kounty King Korn Karnival (now known as  the Plattsmouth Harvest Festival) was first held in 1931 to lift the spirits of Depression-weary residents, has continued to be a big annual event. This rural-urban cooperation continues to play a vital role in Plattsmouth’s modern-day development.

South Bend
W. H. Hill from Iowa and T. W. Fountain from Connecticut crossed the Missouri River at Plattsmouth in late 1856 on a flatboat. They traveled west together until they arrived at a creek they could not cross. Here they set about to build their homes, becoming the first white settlers on the “south bend” of the Platte. Previous to this, the Nebraska Culture of the prehistoric Woodland Indians, and much later the Pawnee and Otoe, lived in this area.  It is here that the Platte River makes a sweeping turn to the northeast. In April, 1857, the town of “South Bend” was platted. The years have seen many changes in South Bend. The prospects for the next 100 years are bright and promising as it continues to be a viable, quiet place to live a good life.

Union, NE
Only a few miles from the Missouri, settlers arrived in southeastern Cass County as early as 1855. The cluster of houses called “Stringtown,” located on the east side of Weeping Water Creek in the 1880s, was the forerunner of Union.  In 1887, when the Missouri Pacific Railroad began surveying for a rail line from Nebraska City to Lincoln, G. A. Rose saw the potential for business, so built a store. A siding added to the excitement felt in the area. The following year several of the small inland post offices consolidated into one, called “Pleasant Grove” by the residents, was moved to an office at the rail center by Postmaster Robert Frans.  In 1890, when the enterprising MP started laying a line northward to Omaha, the village of “Union” was established. It was this junction or “union of the two rail lines” that gave our town its name.

Weeping Water, NE
An Indian legend tells of a battle which began when one tribe stole the daughter of another tribe’s chief, and ended three days later when all the braves lay dead. The tears cried by the families of the fallen warriors were said to have formed the “Weeping waters.”  The first white settlers arrived In March 1856. Elam Flower and Darrell Reed built a log house, which was used at various times as a church, a school, and a stable. In 1857 a post office named “Weeping Water” was established. The town incorporated in 1870. The railroad, which arrived in 1883, ensured its continued existence, and by 1888 Weeping Water achieved the status of a second-class city. Many things have changed. The steam whistle of an approaching passenger train no longer echoes across the valley, and the livery stable has been replaced by Keckler’s filling station and Mogensen’s garage. However, Michelsen’s variety store, a grocery and hardware, and a bank still stand on main street. Rail cars still load grain from the elevator, and limestone from three quarries is still transported all around the globe.  Local residents work hard to put on annual events — “Limestone Days” and the Cass County Fair.