Chase County, Nebraska was purchased from France along with a vast Midwestern territory, and all of what was to become known as the State of Nebraska, as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Nebraska was declared a territory in 1854 and later a state in 1867. Chase County was organized by proclamation of Governor Dawes on April 12th, 1886, at which time Imperial became the county seat. Chase County was named for Colonel Champion S. Chase, of Omaha, Nebraska.
Chase County is situated in the southwestern portion of Nebraska. It 24 miles wide and 37 1/2 miles long, covering an area of about 900 square miles, containing about 576,000 acres of land. It borders the state of Colorado to the West, and Perkins County to the North, Hayes County to the East and Dundee County to the South. It's southern border is 25 miles from the Kansas line.
The following information about towns and Post Offices established in Chase County was collected by the Chase County Historical Society over the course of their existence since 1938, and published in a series of Histories which can be purchased directly from the Society, or viewed at the Imperial Public Library which has copies in its collections in Imperial, Nebraska. Towns often grew up around post offices, and became extinct when post offices closed, or the rail road did not travel near them.
The Best Post Office was established on June 12, 1902. Ethel M. Best, wife of Charles Best, served as postmaster. Dora E. Long became postmaster on October 7, 1904 and served until February 29, 1912, at which time Elmer E. Ray became postmaster. Dora Long became postmaster again on July 3, 1913, and served until August 26, 1914 when Eliza J. Taylor took over postmaster duties. According to Mrs. J. A. Roe (nee Eva Long) there was never a store at Best, although the mail carrier often bought groceries for the patrons from the Marell Hait store in Lamar.
The Blanche Post Office was established June 18, 1887, with Ellen Kelso serving as the
post master. It was discontinued February 28, 1920. Ed Hine, who came
to the Blanche Community with his parents in 1888 where they homesteaded on Section
2-8-35, told researchers that the Post Office was eventually moved from its original site,
which was three miles east, on the north edge of Stinking Water Creek, where a fresh water
spring emerged from under a rock ledge. Elen Kelso, the post master, was the wife of
a Methodist minister. Community members came together to construct the alkali sod
house for the Kelso family on the creek bank. Mr. Hine, a contractor, reported that
the formula for the plaster mixture which was used on the interior of the soddie as
"one bucket of sand to one bucket of magnesia, watered to the consistency of plaster
mix, and applied in the same manner as plaster is today." This mixture was used
frequently by the homesteaders, who used materials at hand to improve the quality of their
Soon after the Kelso house was constructed, an addition was made for a store. Blanche became a gathering place for the neighborhood, especially on Saturday afternoon when people gathered to play baseball. As many as ten or more rigs would be waiting their turn to get water at the spring after the ball games on Saturday, with as high as three teams being oxen. The wagons hauled five 50 gallon barrels as their load.
The Catherine Post Office was established April 2, 1980, with Emanuel Reisinger as postmaster, followed by Mrs. Ella M. Etherton, who took over the duties on November 24, 1891. She was succeeded by Charles D. Troxel on September 3, 1986. Ida King was the last postmaster appointed March 28, 1907. The office was closed November 14, 1914, and the mail was directed to Wauneta.
Mr. Orlie Troxel told researchers that his father received a salary of $11.00 per month when he was postmaster. Tom Wallace ran a store at the location. Mr. Troxel owned a large and long sod house on the north branch of the Stinking Water Creek. It was divided into three rooms: the store and post office occupied an end room. When Mrs. King took over the Post Office was moved to another location. (Research on the Catherine Post Office was provided by Chester C. Stock.
Champion was originally called Hamilton, and at one time had a newspaper published by J.
S. Shoemaker called The Hamilton Herald. It's first issue was dated January 6,
1886. The Hamilton Post Office was established March 4,
1887. Hamilton was one of the early contestants for the County
Seat. At the June 24, 1886 election, Hamilton, Imperial and Eldridge were all voted
upon to select the location of the County Seat. The Hamilton Herald carried the
following news: "Providing the County Seat is located at Hamilton, she proposes
to deed one of her best and most suitable blocks for County purposes. The will also
donate $1500.00 in cash. The deed for the land and bond for the $1500.00 will be in
the hands of L. Jenkins, County Clerk, on and after June 21, 1886. Call and see
Hamilton lost out on the election to Imperial. J. I. Moseberger of Hamilton served on the first County board. The first County fair was held in September 1886 southeast of what was the W. L. Davidson homestead.
On November 25, 1886, the County Commissioners chose the Hamilton Herald as the official paper of Chase County.
In December 1886, Dr. A. J. Dern from Benkelman settled in Hamilton and set up his office in the drug store. There was a hack line operated by Reynolds Brothers which left Hamilton for Benkelman three times a week.
The first record of church services was in December 1886 when Reverend O. Holcomb preached at Hamilton House, which advertised as having the finest accommodations of any house in the city. "First class board by the day or week."
The Post Office became Champion on May 26, 1887. The Bonner hotel owned by Charles Bonner later became the home of Walter Gibb. The Davis Hotel, a two-story building, later became the Clint Goddard home. In a photograph dated 1896 in the collection of Edna Robert, Oswald Wirsig has a general store, Jim Bell a hardware store, W. L. Davidson a drug store, Rush Dewey was Blacksmith, C. O. Mead, bank. Mrs. Pauline Smith, who was five years old when her father came to Chase County in 1886, told researchers that Mr. Mead also ran a lumber yard in Champion. Mat Cunningham operated a general store, and Silas Warren Kelly was editor of the Chase County Champion. Dr. Albert M. Lyman was in Champion in the 1990's and lived in near the Champion Mill.
The Lakeview cemetery was organized in 1889 and its records were maintained by Cap Hayes. In his records he included pertinent information about the deceased, such as, "Johnnie Roller, 15, fell dead from a horse catching his foot in a stirrup and was dragged to death; Charles Hancock was killed by being thrown from a buggy; Hugh Hill was killed when he fell from a load of freight seven miles north of Benkelman." Some of the funerals for the deceased were held in the school houses.
In May 1886 the editor of the Hamilton Herald reported, "Hamilton is situated in the center of Sec. 21, Township 6, Range 39, on the Frenchman River. A more picturesque place, on a finer stream of water and in a better section of the County cannot be found."
(Research on Champion provided by Anoma Hoffmeister.)
The U.S. Post Office was established in Chase on November 28, 1887. At one time there were eight businesses, including a printing office owned by a Mr. Hobbs and his sister. G. G. Rummell told Chase County Historian researchers that the name of the paper published in Chase was the Chase County Call.
A Post Office named Colberg was established June 6, 1891, with Herman Ahlman as Postmaster. It was discontinued April 3, 1893, and the mail was sent to Grant.
The town of Eldridge was located five miles southeast of the town of Chase. T. S. Woodard and the Buzick Brothers are responsible for starting the town of Eldridge, according to C. G. Rummell. He also told researchers that the town ran for County Seat against Hamilton (later named Champion) and Imperial, but was not successful. The Eldridge Post Office was established September 22, 1886, with Edwin Buzick as Postmaster. The Post Office was discontinued on November 28, 1887, and the mail was directed to Chase.
email Linda Banks at: FlorenceEm@AOL.com
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