History of Craig, Nebraska
From: A History of Burt County, Nebraska
From 1803 to 1929
The Ludi Printing Co.
Wahoo, Nebraska - 1929


The P. S. Gibbs family from Massachusetts and the Craig and Clark families from Ohio were living in and around the territory where Craig now is located when John W. Freeman of Battle Creek, Mich., located his homestead to the east of said territory in the fall of 1866.

A short time later John D. Batchelder and Otis Freeman also from Michigan located adjoining homesteads. Mr. Batchelder was a charter member of the Masonic Lodge at Tekamah.

About a year later the Geo. W. Healen family came from Ohio and located west of Bell Creek. The first school in the neighborhood east, was taught by Mrs. John W. Freeman in her home. There were eight scholars and she received twenty dollars per month salary.

Mr. Freeman came to this new country with five children and fifteen dollars in money. Their first wheat crop was seventeen bushels raised on three acres and stored in a dry goods box in the house. Another year the wheat crop was four hundred bushels, threshed by John Driscoll and James R. Davis and hauled to Blair, Neb., to market.

The next school was held in the Phillip Geise granary located by the side of the road between what is now the Freeman school house and the Ed. Goodman farm home. Mrs James McDaniel now of Tekamah, taught the first term and Jackson Critchfield taught the second term in this building.

Sunday School and Church services were held in the homes until the organization of a Union S. S. in this same granary.

After the building of the school house in this district, preaching and Sunday School were held there.

The first Fourth of July celebration was held in 1870 in what is now the Ed. Goodman timber, people coming for miles around, bringing their picnic dinner

One of the social events of these days was a Singing School at the Alfred Clark home west of Bell Creek, when Jim Freeman accompanied the singers on his violin. A rain coming on prevented the company going home until morning Mrs. Clark and Mrs. Jim Askwig prepared breakfast for the crowd for they were there from as far west as the Logan Valley.

The first Post Office was at the Alfred Clark home. The first train went through this section of the country the winter of 1879 and 1880.

The late W. S. Craig gave the railroad one half the town site and the town was named Craig.

L. E. Plumb, the first man in the town, rode through the country adjoining to get signatures for the Post Office. With the financial backing of W. S. Craig and Ott Alexander he put in a stock of goods in connection and Craig's first store was in operation.

The first residence was built on a pole frame with a thatched hay cover in which Dick Sessman, the first carpenter lived while he built the first frame house, one block east of the present telephone office. Harlow Alexander and Henry Batchelder, son of John D. Batchelder, built the next two homes.

The first school was taught by Harry Gates, a brother of the late George G. Gates, Superintendent of Burt County Schools for a number of years. This school was in one room of the John's building on north main street across from the Craig News Office. School was held here about one year when a three room school house was built on the hill where the brick structure now stands. Mrs. Belle Smith-Newman of Lincoln and Joseph Coans of Beemer were instructors in the new school.

The summer of 1883 the Presbyterian church was finished and dedicated. Rev. Sloan from Lyons was the pastor and before the church was erected he made a trip to New York to get financial assistance for the building. Ike Paddock from on Silver Creek was the carpenter, who with the help of some of the congregation built the church. A union Sunday School located one mile west of town, moved in with the school of this church and the combination was known as the Union Sunday School for several years. W. I. Duel was the first resident minister

Some of the ministers who preached in the homes and school houses in the vicinity of Craig in an early day were: Holden, Tinkham, John Patrick, J. D. Hungate, I. C. Jones, W. B. Lovelace, Wm. Olinger, Trine, David Marquette, Holland.

The Craig Christian church was organized April 15, 1883 with the following as charter members: Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Jeger, Mr. and Mrs. Simeon Buchanan, Mr. and Mrs. W. L. Ireland, Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Adams, Mrs. Susan Adams, Mr. and Mrs. T. T. Shipman, Mr. and Mrs. C. J. Hale, Mrs. Sarah Hale, Vivia Lewis (Mrs. Will Healea), Jessie Jeger (Mrs. John Young), and Hother Jeger. Brother N. B. Alley preached for them Sunday afternoons in the Presbyterian church and was instrumental in the building of the church which was dedicated November 15, 1885. C. B. Lotsteich was the first minister in the new church.

The permanent organization of the Methodist church was brought about by Mr. and Mrs. J. A. McLaughlin, Mr. and Mrs. E. C. Fennell, Mr. and Mrs. E. E. Tracy, J B. Maxfield presiding Elder and G. H. Brooks pastor at Oakland, who preached Sunday afternoons in the Presbyterian church. Later, services were held in the Craig Christian church and here Rev. Dayhoff, then preaching at Vacoma, held the first Quarterly Conference. The church was dedicated in '1890 and Rev. Jabez Charles an Englishman was the first resident minister. The Alder Grove M. E. Church was built in 1880, but they owned a parsonage prior to this time and services were held in the school house. Uncle Davie Clark and his wife were leaders in the religious life of this community. Rev. David Marquette's book on Nebraska Methodism tells of church work in this community.

The first physician in Craig was Dr. J. F. Tracy; the first druggist, Frank Wallerstedt; the first hardware firm, Eggleston and McLaughlin; the first blacksmith, John Donnelly; the first harnessmaker, Charles Peterson; the first brick masons, W. L. Ireland and Henry Batchelder; the first furniture dealer, Mr. Lindroth; the first Bankers, Jim Latta and Geo. Greene; the first dray man, Sam Raver; the first livery man, Woodson Bell, owner of two horses and one single open buggy. A man named Baker owned and operated the first meat market. His death was probably the first in the town. The first burial in the Craig cemetery was a child of F. T. Kessler, living north of town.

Very appropriately named was Craig's first newspaper, "The Burt County Central" located near, where the Whitney furniture store now stands. This building and the press burned and soon after L. H. Warner located in the present building of the Craig News and published the paper.

C. A. Stewart, son of Sam Stewart, one of the early settlers has probably been in business the longest of any man located in the town at present.

The history of Craig would be incomplete without mention of J. A. McLaughlin. In 1896, the year of the heavy corn crop, when bids for corn were only eight cents a bushel he went to Chicago and secured a contract from Norton and Worthington to furnish them one hundred thousand bushels of corn at ten cents a bushel to be cribbed in Craig. The building of these cribs and handling the corn gave employment to many men at one dollar a day, for this was the year of hard times. Corn was handled from various parts of the county, some from a distance of twenty miles, the farmers bringing their lunch with them also feed for the horses as they could not afford to pay the twenty five cents then charged for meals or the same fee which was the charge for a team put up at the livery barn.

Through McLaughlin's efforts the first rural telephone system of the county, out from Craig, was put into operation in June, 1900.

O. A. Farley secured signers for the rural mail route in June, promising free delivery inside of a year, which was accepted rather skeptically by said signers, but on September 1, 1900, just six months later, mail was being delivered at the farmer's door yard.

Today Craig's population is about five hundred and there are three churches with services in each church.

The school has one hundred pupils in the grades and sixty five in the high school, employing eight teachers for all.

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