We are to our final installment of “People Behind the Places: Nebraska Counties.” Next week, we will look at “Places Behind the Places” to cover (perhaps) the remaining counties – I lost track of just how many counties we have left to name. 🙂 I have enjoyed learning more behind the history of the counties! And I now happily have my own copy of Perkey’s Nebraska Place Names – a souvenir from our trip!
(Note: there are not any “X” or “Z” Nebraska counties. And our lone “V” and “Y” counties will be addressed in a later entry as they were named for places ).
Thayer: While John Milton Thayer was a Civil War general, he was also one of the first Nebraska senators, serving from 1867-1871. 16 years later he served a term as Nebraska governor for five years (1887-1892). This county was originally called Jefferson County.
Thomas: Civil War General George H. Thomas received the nod for this county that was not officially established until Nebraska had been a state for 20 years.
Thurston: U.S. Senator John M. Thurston was the cause of this county being renamed from Blackbird County. Blackbird was a former Indian Chief who was buried in this area along with his favorite horse. The history behind this renaming is a bit complicated. You can read more in this online excerpt of Andreas’ History of the State of Nebraska.
Washington: You might be able to guess that this county was named in honor of General and President George Washington. But what you would not know is that the boundaries of this county was actually set on Washington’s birthday – February 22nd, 1855. The boundaries were redefined twice in the next five years – that seemed to happen often in early Nebraska counties.
Wayne: Revolutionary War General “Mad Anthony” Wayne name graces this Northeast Nebraska county. From reading a bit of history, evidently Wayne was known for his temper tantrums and drive to push his troops through all sorts of battles. If you enjoy reading military history, General Wayne is a fascinating one (and the first two articles linked even have pictures of him).
Webster: Patriot and statesman Daniel Webster was given this honor. I wonder just how many counties across the country were named for this great American?
Wheeler: A Nebraskan! Major Daniel H. Wheeler served many, many years as the secretary of the State Board of Agriculture. (I am pretty sure this secretarial position was similar to a national cabinet one, rather than the fact that he was good with a typewriter. 🙂 )