Friday, September 16, 2016

Saline County History: Earliest Settlers Came 158 Years Ago

The Hunt Cabin was the home of early settler J.S. Hunt and his family.
Years before Nebraska was a state, pioneers were already establishing thriving communities in the territory -- and not all of them were along the Missouri River.

So who were some of Saline County's earliest settlers? 

According to Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska, the first European Americans to lay down roots in Saline County arrived here in 1858.  

Among those first pioneers were E. Frink, who located on Turkey Creek, near the present site of Pleasant Hill, and Victor Vifquain, who located in the northeast part of the county, not far from where Crete now stands.  

Records show Vifquain was most likely the first permanent settler in the county.

Soon after, Tobias Castor arrived and established a post office at Blue Island, which was approximately mile to the south of present day Wilber.

The photo accompanying this story is of a painting that many readers will recognize from the Saline County courthouse.  It hangs outside the county treasurer's office.  Entitled "The Hunt Cabin, Blue Island, Saline County, Nebr." and completed in 1861 by Jack Tobias, the Hunt cabin was the home of early settler J.S. Hunt and his family.

Others immediately following Vifquain, Frink, Hunt and Castor were:  William Stanton, James Johnston, Jonas Gilbert, John Tucker, J. C. Bickle, William Remington, William Wall, among others.

By January 1863, the number of families settled in the county was 15, according to Andreas' historical account.  The population of Saline County grew from 39 in 1860 to 3,106 in 1870, three years after Nebraska became a state.

Ten years later, in 1880, the county population stood at 14,943 -- about 700 more than resided here in 2010.  The Dorchester precinct was home to more than 950.  The Pleasant Hill precinct claimed 1,013.


  1. This is a very interesting story. Glad that you folks posted it on your blog.

  2. Does anyone know where the stone house in the painting was located?

    1. Blue Island, Saline County, Nebr. So approx. one mile south of Wilber.

    2. I believe it was on the property currently owned by Gary Gross.

  3. The Dorchester Times is perhaps the most interesting state or local read on the internet!!!


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