Thursday, February 9, 2017

Looking Back: Saline County In 1861

Recently, we stumbled upon an 1861 map of Nebraska -- when the Cornhusker State was still just a territory, not state.  (You can click on the map to the right for a closer look.)

few years before the 1861 map was made, the Nebraska territory had encompassed what is today six or seven separate states.  But by the late 1850s, Nebraska had taken the physical form of the familiar shape we know today.

What makes this 1861 map significant is that even before the North and South were waging war, triggered in large part by the Nebraska-Kansas Act, many Nebraska counties had already been formed.

In fact, six years before Nebraska would become a state, about half of today's 93 counties were already in existence.

Many of those counties had different names than they do today.  For example, today's Jefferson County was Jones County, while today's Thayer County was Jefferson County. To our north, present-day Seward County was Greene County.  Saunders County -- which today contains towns like Wahoo -- back then was located in the far southwestern corner of the state, in the area of present-day McCook.  Clay County was crunched between Lancaster and Gage.

There were also some counties with some unfamiliar names, like Shorter, Izard, Black Bird and L'eau Out Court counties.  And several counties in 1861 had much different geographical boundaries than they do today.  Lancaster County, for example, was only half its modern-day size.  Same is true for Gage.

But Saline County today is pretty much the county that appeared on that map from 156 years ago.

That's something not every Nebraska county can claim.

Congratulations, Saline County. You're a true original.

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