The Old Block House, Tekamah, Nebraska
From: A History of Burt County, Nebraska
From 1803 to 1929
The Ludi Printing Co.
Wahoo, Nebraska - 1929
THE OLD BLOCK HOUSE
A Company Is Organized
Only a short time after the first building activities were commenced in Tekamah and a few families had moved
to Silver Creek and started settlement, an episode happened in the lives of those few pioneers who had come in
to make their homes that stands out in Burt county history so that it is fitting that we devote an entire chapter
to it. This incident was the brutal murder of two white boys by a wandering band of Indians near the now extinct
town of Fontanelle.
Block House Was Needless
However, it soon developed that so far as possible Indian attacks were concerned, all their work had been in
vain and that they had terrified themselves needlessly. It was learned that it was only a small band of Indians
that had been responsible for the murder of the two boys and that the Indians in general were very peaceable. Occasionally
small bands would drift into the little settlement to beg foods and sweets, but they were easily satisfied and
were more of a nuisance than a danger.
Settlers Receive Indian Scare
About three hundred Indans came down one afternoon from the north. The few whites who had moved out on their claims to farm saw them coming and rushed with their families to the block house and the few families in town gathered there. The old muskets were primed and the ammunition was placed nearby. The pickets were stationed and the loop holes in the fort were manned, with all windows and doors barricaded. As darkness approached, the Indians lighted their camp fires and a regular pow-wow was held and kept up until morning. The little band of white settlers cowering inside their fortress underwent a terrible suspense that night, an attack being expected at any moment. The next morning the little colony learned that it was merely a band of Omahas who had no warlike intentions, but came down to their old burying ground with the body of a squaw, a wife of a former chief, to be laid beside her husband and that they had indulged in the formal burial services by engaging in a war dance. This was the only occassion that the early settlers of Tekamah and Burt county ever had occasion to flock to the block house for protection from the Indians.
Within a short time the settlers forgot their fright; the company of soldiers became tired of drilling and was
disbanded. The block house soon ceased to be regarded as a possible haven of refuge and was later fitted up by
B. R. Folsom as a hotel, with a hall on the second floor for public gatherings. It was here that the first term
of court was held in Burt county, May 5, 1857, with Judge E. Wakely of Wisconsin, as presiding judge. Judge Wakely
had been appointed as territorial judge in Nebraska by President Buchanan. Court was held here for the next ten
years. The attic above the court room was used as a jail where prisoners were held during trial.
First Officials Are Elected
The first county officers were B. R. Folsom, first probate judge, commissioned by territorial authority May
16, 1855; Major Harrington, first attorney, 1855; Major Harrington and Adam Olinger, first justices of the peace,
1855; first county judge, elected 1855, William Bates; county treasurer, Lewis P. Peterson; sheriff, John Nevett;
county surveyor, William F. Goodwill; county clerk, Peter F. Peterson.
Conclusion of Second Period
Thus we come to the end of the second important event in the life of the young county that was rapidly being
molded from the wilderness found by that first band of settlers. Almost sensational changes in the appearance of
the countryside had been made by this time and new arrivals were no longer novelties. The choicest bits of land
were being taken up rapidly by the ever growing numbers of settlers flocking in to the new community. A town was
taking shape and a stable local government already was established. Houses and farms were carved out of the wild
country and within a short time all the hardships of pioneering were past. The community was ready to settle down
to a life of happiness and contentment.
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