History of Hastings, Nebraska. (Part 2)
From: Past and Present Adams County, Nebraska
Edited by: Judge William R. Burton
Assisted by David J. Lewis
Published By: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago 1916


While the activities of Hastings in 1872 and 1873 were satisfactory and promising, it was not until 1874 that what had hitherto been the settlement of Hastings was incorporated. It was declared an incorporated town by the board of commissioners on April 20th of that year. The board of trustees named by the board were M. K. Lewis, A. D. Duckworth, J. G. B. Smith, A. W. Cox and H. A. TForcht. On May 4th the trustees held their first meeting in the office of the Town Company. M. K. Lewis was made chairman of the board. At their first meeting the trustees elected city officers as follows: W. F. J. Comley, city clerk; W. A. Smith, treasurer; T. E. Farrell, collector; G. W. Mowrev, marshal; G. D. Pierce, attorney; L. E. Gould, police judge; C. H. Paul, assessor; C. K. Lawson and R. V. Shocker, flue inspectors. The position of flue inspector, no longer a city office, reminds us that at that date all buildings were of wood and it was the purpose of the trustees to guard against fire.

The first ordinance enacted by the trustees was at the meeting held May 30, 1874. This ordinance required that sidewalks be built 6 feet wide, of 1 inch boards, with four stringers running lengthwise with the street. The first financial enactment came up for discussion June 25, 1874, when a resolution was adopted providing that a tax of 10 mills be levied on, all personal property. The ordinance finally resulting from that resolution authorized the raising of $500 for general revenue purposes. A short time afterward the levy was reduced to 5 mills. It was on June 25th, also, that Hastings was organized into a city of the second class. It was divided into three wards. All of the city lying south of the Burlington track was designated the First Ward; all west of Hastings Avenue and north of the Burlington track was the Second Ward, and all east of Hastings Avenue and north of the Burlington track was the Third Ward. These ward divisions remained until 1886, when the Fourth Ward was created and the boundary lines changed. Since 1886 the ward divisions have been as follows: First Ward, south of the Burlington main line tracks; Second Ward, north of the Burlington and west of the center line of Burlington Avenue; Third Ward, north of the Burlington and between the center lines of Burlington and St. Joseph avenues; Fourth Ward, north of the Burlington and west of the center line of St. Joseph Avenue. In the spring of 1916 the First, Second and Fourth wards were each divided into two voting precincts. The east and west division line of the city has always been Wabash Avenue.

The bond of the early city treasurer was fixed at 8500, and the mayor's at the same figure. The marshal gave bond for $200. At present the bond of the city treasurer is $25,000, and the city clerk's $5,000. The trustees called an election for the selection of city officers to be held August 8, 1874. When the trustees canvassed the returns on August 10th, they threw out the returns from the First and Third wards on account of irregularities. The returns from the Second Ward also were irregular. They were not thrown out, however, the committee postponing action upon them until the following evening. When the next night the committee reported, they declared the returns from the Second Ward were "regular and proper, but different from what they were at the last meeting." The trustees then canvassed the vote from the Second Ward and declared the following officials had been elected: Mayor, H. A. Forcht; clerk, G. D. Pierce; police judge, L. C. Gould; treasurer, J. G. B. Smith; marshal, Alfred Berg; councilmen, J. M. Smith and John E. Wood.

A good deal of feeling had been aroused, however, when the returns from two of the wards had been thrown out, with the result that no sooner had the first officials been declared elected than they resigned. A. D. Buckworth was notably active in the first city politics, and he and M. K. Lewis, also active, were all but sworn enemies.

When the officers resigned, Mr. Buckworth urged that another election he called for August 27th. The trustees, however, were not precipitate and did not order an election until September 22, 1874. The officials who have served the city since the first election have been as follows:


H. A. Forcht, elected August 8, 1874; John E. Wood, September 22, 1874; Charles H. Paul, April 6, 1875; M. K. Lewis, May 7, 1875; A. D. Yocum, April 4, 1876; J. S. McIntyre, April 3, 1877; R. A. Batty, April 2, 1878; Fred Forcht, April 1, 1879; D. M. McElhinney, April 5, 1881; W. H. Lanning, April 4, 1882; J. E. Gant, April 1, 1884; Henry Shedd, April 7, 1885; Samuel Alexander, April 6, 1886; A. D. Yocum, April 3, 1888; A. L. Clarke, April 1, 1890; C. C. Rittenhouse, April 5, 1892; D. M. McElhinney, April 3, 1894; G. J. Evans, April 7, 1896; Jacob Fisher, April 5, 1898; R. V. Shockey, July 15, 1901; C. J. Miles, April 1, 1902; C. G. Ingraham, April 1, 1913; William Madgett, April 6, 1915.

In 1875 Mr. Paul failed to qualify and M. K. Lewis was elected at a special election to fill the vacancy. July 15, 1901, Jacob Fisher resigned and R. V. Shockey became acting mayor, serving until the next regular election. Mayor Miles served as mayor continuously for eleven years and was not a candidate for office when succeeded by Mayor Ingraham.


A. T. Bratton, city clerk, is an institution of the city; almost as much so as the city council itself, or the city schools. Mr. Bratton has occupied the position continuously for fifteen years. Successive councils have learned to look upon the city clerk as authority upon the records of his office and the procedure of the municipal body.

A. F. J. Comley was the first clerk and acted in that capacity with the trustees governing Hastings as a village until G. D. Pierce qualified following the election of September 22, 1874. Mr. Bratton was acting clerk from the resignation of E. A. Francis, September 2, 1901, until his election April 1, 1902. The following have been the elections to the officer of city clerk:

G. D. Pierce, August 8, 1874; G. D. Pierce, September 22, 1874; John E. Wood, April 4, 1876; G. D. Pierce, April 3, 1877; J. H. Fleming, April 1, 1879; C. J. Evans, April 4, 1882; E. A. Boalich, April 1, 1884; J. D. Mines, April 6, 1886; H. C. Haverty, April 3, 1888; W. W. Miles, April 5, 1892; Ed L. Francis, April 7, 1896; A. T. Bratton, September 2, 1901.


J. G. Smith, August 8, 1874; Samuel Alexander, September 22, 1874: E. Steinau, April 1, 1879; James B. Ieartwell, April 5, 1881; J. S. Allison, April 4, 1882; G. J. Evans, April 1, 1884; Emanuel Fist, April 6, 1886; J. D. Mines, April 3, 1888; G. J. Evans, April 5, 1892; W. L. Vetter, April 3, 1894; J. D. Mines, April 7, 1896; A. H. Cramer, April 1, 1902; Ernest Hoeppner, April 1, 1913. Mr. Cramer served continuously as city treasurer for eleven years. Mr. Hoeppner is the present incumbent.


The office of police judge in Hastings is characterized by the long service of Judge Benjamin Reynolds and the number of election contests that developed. Judge Reynolds filled this office for twelve years, serving continuously from his election April 2, 1895, until the election of David Bryson, April 2, 1907. At the spring election, of 1886 Napoleon B. Vineyard and John F. Ballinger were the candidates, and after the election both claimed to have been elected. Ballinger had occupied the position since 1882 and refused to yield. For a number of months both judges held court, until the election was finally decided by the District Court and Judge Vineyard was declared to be police judge.

The next dispute about this office was in 1911, between Joseph Myer and James A. Benson. Judge Myer was first elected April 6, 1909. Before the next election, state legislation changed the office to that of police magistrate. Under this provision it ceased to be a city office. Acting on the advice of counsel, however, Judge Myer ran for reelection April 4, 1911, at the time of the election of city officers. At the next general election, November 7, 1911, James A. Benson ran for the office of police magistrate, and upon the vote of that claimed the office. Judge Myer declared that there was no vacancy and refused to yield. The matter was in dispute until May 1, 1912, when Judge Myer yielded to Judge Benson upon a compromise agreement.

At the November election in 1914 Judge Benson was opposed by Karl D. Beghtol. Judge Beghtol claimed the office by one vote. Judge Benson refused to yield the office, on the ground of the illegality of some of the votes cast by mail for Beghtol. Not until April 1, 1915, did Judge Beghtol receive the order from the District Court giving him possession of the office. Judge Beghtol is the present police magistrate. Elections to this office have been as follows:


L. C. Gould, August 8, 1874; A. L. Wigton, September 22, 1874; John E. Wood, April 6, 1875; J. H. Darnell, April 4, 1876; George F. Work, April 2, 1878; J. A. Vanatta, April 1, 1879; John F. Ballinger, January 23, 1882; Napoleon B. Vineyard, April 6, 1886; W. R. Burton, April 5, 1887; Napoleon B. Vineyard, April 3, 1889; U. S. Rohrer, April 4, 1893; Benjamin Reynolds, April 2, 1895; David Bryson, April 2, 1907; Joseph Myer, April 6, 1909.


Joseph Myer, April 4, 1911; served until May 1, 1912. James A. Benson, elected November 7, 1911; served from May 1, 1912, to April 1, 1915. Karl D. Beghtol, the present incumbent, elected November 3, 1914; took office April 1, 1915. James A. Benson was again elected November 7, 1916, defeating Mr. Beghtol for reelection.


Alfred Berg was elected the first marshal, or chief of police, in the two elections of August 27 and September 22, 1874. After that the office was filled by William Brown and Joseph C. Williams successively. William H. Stock was appointed chief by Mayor Alexander in 1886, but resigned and J. C. Williams was appointed temporarily. George Crane was the next chief and filled the office until he resigned to take the officer of sheriff.

Charles H. Wanzer was appointed by Mayor Yocum to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Mr. Crane and assumed the office January 1, 1890. Mr. Wanzer was the chief until 1896. G. J. Evans was elected mayor in the spring of 1896 but did not appoint a chief for about two months after the resignation of Chief Panzer. Mr. Evans appointed Andrew Lepinski who resigned toward the close of Mr. Evans' administration to take a position as policeman at the then new Burlington station at Omaha. Mayor Fisher appointed Lew Martin who resigned before the close of the administration and Chief Wanzer was again appointed by Mayor Fisher, and continued chief until he resigned in October, 1908. Mayor Miles then appointed William Widmier, who had been acting chief for some time because of the illness of Chief Wanzer and who had been a patrolman since about 1897. Chief Widmier was succeeded in the spring of 1913 by George Harm, who served until Chief Raymond Crosson was appointed by Mayor William Madgett in the spring of 1915. Chief Crosson is a major of the third batallion, national guard, and was given leave of absence while with his regiment on patrol duty on the Mexican border in 1916. Since the departure of Chief Crosson, Bob Carter has been acting chief. Patrolman Joseph Budnek, now on the force, has been in the service since about 1900.

As related in the chapter devoted to trials Officer Balcom lost his life while on duty.

Closely related to this subject is the account of the action of Sheriff W. A. Cole who was severely wounded while discharging his duty on the afternoon of June 12, 1916. Sheriff Cole, accompanied by his deputy, Charles W. Wilson, went to the farm residence of Bert Whitcomb which is located on the east half of the northeast quarter of section 24 in Little Blue township, to serve a writ of ejectment upon Whitcomb. When Whitcomb, who had been informed by the deputy of the purpose of the visit of the officers, caught sight of the sheriff he immediately opened fire with a revolver. The officer took shelter behind a self binder and began to return the fire. A number of shots were exchanged. Sheriff Cole received three wounds and Whitcomb four wounds. Whitcomb was brought to Hastings by the sheriff and his deputies.

As a result of a wound received in this action it was necessary to amputate the right leg of Sheriff Cole about three inches below the knee. Whitcomb was in the hospital for many months and his trial is pending.


The city councilmen have been elected as follows:

September 22, 1874 - A. W. Cox, J. L. Parrott (Parrott failed to qualify and Oswald Oliver was elected in his place, beginning service October 26, 1874), J. G. Smith, H. A. Forcht (T. J. Pardoe elected December 29th to fill vacancy caused by removal of Mr. Forcht from the ward), J. M. Smith, T. E. Farrell.

April 6, 1875 - George F. Work, J. L. Parrott (Parrott failed to qualify and the records do not show that anybody was elected in his place, although special elections were called October 8, 1875, and January 10, 1876), Robert Morledge, Fred Forcht, J. M. Smith and T. E. Farrell.

April 4, 1876 - J. Countryman, Fred Forcht, J. Stabler. Held over under two year term, Work, Morledge, Smith.

April 3, 1877 - Isaac LeDioyt, F. J. Benedict, T. D. Scofield. Held over, Countryman, Forcht, Stabler.

April 2, 1878 - J. G. B. Smith, J. Wemple, W. W. Dungan, Samuel Saddler, A. D. Yocum. Held over, Scofield. William Breede was elected January 14, 1879, succeeding J. G. B. Smith, resigned.

April 1, 1879 - D. M. McElhinney, William Breede. C. H. Paul, A. H. Sowers. Held over, Dungan, Yocum.

April 6, 1880 - William Breede, H. A. Forcht, O. Oliver. Held over, Paul, Sowers, McElhinney.

April 5, 1881 - C. K. Lawson, C. L. Stone, William Breede, I. W. Cramer, W. A. Camp, O. Oliver.

April 4, 1882 - D. C. Brown, L. H. Tower, F. J. Benedict. Held over, Stone, Camp, Cramer.

April 3, 1883 - I. W. Cramer, C. L. Stone, J. E. Gant. Held over, Brown, Tower, Benedict.

April 1, 1884 - Jacob Wooster, E. C. Webster, C. K. Lawson. William Breede was elected in the Third Ward to succeed Gant, who became mayor. Held over, Cramer, Stone.

April 7, 1885 - William Vastine, Charles Cameron, O. Oliver, W. Cramer was appointed July 13th to succeed Mr. Vastness, resigned. Held over, Wooster, Webster, Lawson.

April 6, 1886 - Ezra Langevin, W. H. Stock, C. C. Rittenhouse, O. Oliver, T. E. Farrell, E. L. Lewis, R. Covert. Held over, Cameron.

April 5, 1887 - W. H. Stock, Charles Cameron, T. E. Farrell, E. Gant. Held over, Langevin, Rittenhouse, Oliver, Lewis. April 3, 1888-Ezra Langevin, C. C. Rittenhouse, C. L. Stone, J. J. Lyon. Held over, Stock, Cameron, Farrell, Gant.

April 3, 1889 - J. A. Rose, W. M. Vastine, T. J. Creeth, G. A. Kent. Held over, Langevin, Rittenhouse, Stone, Lyons.

April 1, 1890 - Jacob Heiler, C. C. Rittenhouse, Jacob Fisher, W. H. Fuller. Held over, Rose, Vastine, Creeth, Kent.

April 7, 1891 - A. C. Moore, Charles Cameron, T. J. Creeth (Creeth left in office on account of a tie vote), Mark Levy. D. M. McElhinney was appointed July 13, 1891, to succeed Jacob Heiler, resigned. Held over, Rittenhouse, Fisher, Fuller.

April 5, 1892 - H. B. Borlev, J. Thomas, William Brach, C. J. Hamot, J. Fisher. E. S. Fowler was appointed September 12; 1892, to succeed Jacob Fisher, resigned. J. E. Bruce was appointed February 18, 1893, to succeed Charles Cameron, deceased. Held over, Moore, Levy.

April 4, 1898 - Sven Johnson, J. E. Bruce, E. S. Fowler, Mark Levy. Held over, Borley, Brach, Hamot, Thomas.

April 3, 1894 - H. B. Borley, William Kerr, J. Thomas, E. C. Webster. Held over, Johnson, Bruce, Levy, Fowler.

April 2, 1895 - George Miller, C. C. Rittenhouse, E. J. Pease, Mark Levy. Held over, Borley, Kerr, Thomas, Webster. Mr. Rittenhouse resigned March 23, 1896.

April 7, 1896 - B. Button, H. W. Main, J. R. Sims, J. H. Spicer, W. H. Ferguson. Held over, Levy, Miller, Pease.

April 6, 1897 - J. H. Eigenberg, W. H. Ferguson, E. J. Pease, Robert Brown. Held over, Button, Main, Sims, Spicer.

April 3, 1898 - J. H. Spicer, H. W. Main, J. R. Sims, E. P. Nellis. Held over, Brown, Eigenberg, Ferguson, Pease.

April 4, 1899 - J. H. Eigenberg, H. C. Kerr, C. K. Lawson, R. V. Shocked. Held over, Spicer, Main, Nellis, Sims.

April 3, 1900 - J. H. Heiler, J. A. Campbell, W. H. Main, Mark Levy. Held over, Eisenberg, Kerr, Lawson, Shockey.

April 2, 1901 - S. J. Owens, H. C. Kerr, S. S. Snyder, R. V. Shockey. Held over, Main, Levy, Heiler, Campbell.

April 1, 1902 - R. B. Williams, J. C. Campbell, O. C. Zinn, M. M. Haynes. Held over, Owens, Shockev, Snyder, Kerr.

April 7, 1903 - Sven Johnson, Ezra Angevin, S. S. Snyder, R. V. Shockev. Held over, Williams, Campbell, Zinn, Haynes. Mr. Shockey resigned January 25, 1904.

April 5, 1904 - R. B. Williams, E. L. Gauvreau, O. C. Zinn, M. M. Haynes. D. M. Ball was elected from the Fourth Ward to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of R. V. Shockey. Held over, Lngevin, Snyder, Johnson.

April 4, 1905 - Sven Johnson, A. V. Cole, S. S. Snyder, D. M. Ball. Held over, Williams, Gauyreau, Zinn, Haynes.

April 3, 1906 - R. B. Williams, E. L. Gauvreau, O. C. Zinn, G. Ingraham. Held over, Johnson, Cole, Snyder, Ball.

April, 1907 - E. T. Bowers, R. B. Williams, A. V. Cole, E. L. Gauyreau, C. L. Alexander, O. C. Zinn, D. M. Ball, Charles Ingraham.

April, 1908 - E. T. Bowers, Sven Johnson, A. V. Cole, C. I. Van Patten, C. L. Alexander, O. C. Zinn, D. M. Ball, A. E. Allyn.

April, 1909 - W. S. Dieken, Sven Johnson, A. J. Frantz, C. I. Van Patten, C. L. Alexander, O. C. Zinn, A. E. Allyn, A. H. Farrens.

April, 1910 - W. S. Dieken, Sven Johnson, A. J. Frantz, C. L. Ellis, C. L. Alexander, O. C. Zinn, Mark Levy, A. H. Farrens.

April, 1911 - W. S. Dieken, Sven Johnson, A. J. Frantz, C. L. Ellis, C. L. Alexander, O. C. Zinn, Mark Levy, A. H. Farrens.

April, 1912 - W. S. Dieken, Ernest Butzirus, A. J. Frantz, C. L. Ellis, C. L. Alexander, O. C. Zinn, C. G. Ingraham, A. H. Farrens.

April, 1913 - Ernest Butzirus, William Harm, C. L. Ellis, William Westering, O. C. Zinn, Percival B. Renner, Walter Livingston, B. Marti, Ernest Hoeppner.

April, 1914 - William Harm, Ernest Butzirus, William Westering, Joseph A. Gardiner, P. R. Renner, O. C. Zinn, A. J. Van Every, Walter Livingston.

April, 1915 - Ernest Butzirus, William Harm, Joseph A. Gardiner, E. Miller, O. C. Zinn, P. R. Renner, Walter Livingston, A. J. Van Every.

April, 1916 - William Harm, Ernest Butzirus, E. Miller, Joseph A. Gardiner, P. R. Renner, O. C. Zinn, A. J. Van Every, Walter Livingston.

[Hastings part 1 - General History]

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