By Sarah Michaelis
It was the year of 1803 that Congress specified a certain territory "The District of Louisiana." On December 20, 1803, this Louisiana Territory was purchased from France. This territory was formed by the states of Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Oregon and the biggest parts of Washington, Montana, Idaho, Dakota and parts of Wyoming. This territory was comprised of 1,122,975 square miles.
It was formally organized as the Territory of Louisiana on March 3, 1805, by an act of Congress. This Elkhorn Valley is a part of that territory. It wasn't until the 1860's that the pioneers started moving westward. Since the Elkhorn River is about 300 miles in length and stretches across the northeastern part of the state, the pioneers were led deeper into the state. Here on the EIkhorn River they found abundant water for their stock as they traveled. The pioneers became acquainted with this Elkhorn Valley in the 1870's. They found many wild fruit hushes which still can be found along the river banks. At that time trees were very scarce end none could be found along the river or the level prairie which became known as Inman about the year of 1876.
As stated in the October 6, 1949 issue of the Holt County Independent - "On July 29, 1876, Governor Garber appointed special county commissioners Elijah Thompson, J B. Berry and James Ewing. W. H. Inman was named special county clerk.
The home of W. H. Haines at Twin Lasser Lake near the site of lnman was designated temporary county seat."
This place is located where the Ed Boyle place is now. It has also been stated that when W,. H. Inman passed away he was on the present Charles Boyle place. (He is buried in the O'Neill cemetery.)
ft was mentioned by Mr. and Mrs. J. G. W. Lewis in "Who's Who in Nebraska" THAT "The first settler in the county of whom there is any record, was William H. Inman, who erected a house on the banks of the Elkhorn, in 1872. During the following year, Dr. Westworth, Eli H. Thompson, Frank Bitney, John T. Prouty, Eli Sanford and John Sanford, from Sauk County, Wisconsin, located claims in range eleven West, near the Elkhorn."
One of the first expeditions that came through this part of the Elkhorn Valley was in 1874. The expedition included 26 men and one woman. It was originated in Sioux City, Iowa by Charles Collins, editor of the Sioux City (Iowa) Tribune.
The train consisted of six wagons, fifteen yoke of oxen, six ponies and one donkey.
To prevent Uncle Sam from asking questions they had a large sign put on the front wagon which read "0'Neil's Colony". They reason for this was that they were prohibited by the United States Government from going into the Black Hills, into Indian territory. The O'Neill Colony was located in Nebraska on the Elkhorn River and the last settlement on this route. So this expedition came through this community.
John Gordon of Sioux City, Iowa was the train boss. The Gordon party passed south of west through Dixon, Wayne and Madison counties, reaching the Elkhorn river at Norfolk, Nebraska. Mrs. Martha McKelvie stated in her book "The Hills of Yesterday" that Mr. Aiken a member of the Gordon party stated that "This country was sparsely settled, and the inhabitants as a rule were poor. Their crops were quite often destroyed by wind, hail or rain storms, but like people of the Frontier, generally had their latchstrings hung out at all times."
The October 6, 1949 issue of the Holt County Independent, stated that in 1876 General Custer passed through this territory on his way to the fatal campaign against Sitting Bull. The general was a guest for a short time at the home of General O'Neill.
Inman is the sixth town in the county with a population of 200. It is situated on the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad. It was in 1881 that the Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri Valley Railroad, as it was then known, started moving west from Neligh, Nebraska. Before the railroad, the stage line came from Neligh to the Harte post office carrying mail and passengers. This post office was located where Harry Harte used to live.
(There is a picture of Albert Smith and daughter. Under the picture it says "Albert Smith, the man who homesteaded the quarter where Inman is located.")
The original town site was taken up by Albert Smith under the pre-emption laws on November 19, 1880. The town was plated on October 13, 1881, and the plat filed on October 18, 1881. Inman was named after W. J. Inman, the first county clerk of Holt County.
Bill Inman and son came from Wisconsin in 1871. Bill Inman's father was a sheriff in Wisconsin. When he came to this community, he had as his companion a man by the name of Henry McEnvoy(?) and a Newfoundland dog.
Submitted by Aileen Sager and Bonnie Bale Todd