The early history of Albion and the county are closely connected. As has been shown, the first settlements in the county were made on the town site, and since that time it has continued to be the center of trade. It was platted October 9, 1872; by Loran Clark and surveyed by George W. Newberry. The land platted was located on the northwest quarter of Section 22, Township 20 north, of Range 6 west. July 6, 1877, Mansfield's Addition was recorded, and, on the 5th of
December, of the same year, Clark's Addition was made. In 1879, Clark, Connelly & Stout's Addition was surveyed by C. P. Bollman, and the record made September 26. The first building erected on the town site was the Frontier Hotel, already mentioned. During 1873, it was opened as a general store by S. D. Avery. After a few months, Mr. Avery sold to Horace Clark, who continued the business. The next business house was a harness shop, opened in 1874, by John Hare.
Nothing further was done in the line of building until 1876, when A. L. Nickerson built the store, which he now occupies. In 1876, also, Dr. D. A. Lewis built a drug store and carried on his business for some years. The building is now occupied by Gorman's stock of goods. In the spring of 1877, J. W. Riley built the hardware store, which is now occupied by Loran Clark. The growth of the town until 1879 was very slow. But little settlement had been made in the
county, and the transactions of business were of little consequence. During that year, however, a sudden impetus was given to business by a rush of immigration to the county, and, during 1880 and 1881, during the building and after the completion of the railroad, Albion grew rapidly. This growth has received no check and still continues, and a constantly increasing business warrants great expectations for its future.
Albion is now a town of about 600 inhabitants. It is centrally located in the county, on the Beaver Creek, and is the terminus of the Omaha, Niobrara & Black Hills Railroad. It is forty-one miles from Columbus, and one hundred and forty miles by rail from Omaha. Its inhabitants are an intelligent and enterprising class of people, and all the institutions common to civilization are found here in flourishing condition. Schools and churches both show a healthy condition of public sentiment and receive a hearty support.
Albion is situated in School District No. 1. It has no district town school, but the building of this district is located conveniently and thus far has been sufficient to satisfy the needs of the community. It was built in 1873, at a cost of $1,300, and was the first schoolhouse in the county. Its present value, including the site, is only $350. John Peters is the present Director of the district, and Mrs. E. M. Weitzel and H. O. Smith were the teachers during the last year. The wages paid are $50 per month; the number of children of school age is 155. Of these, sixty-three are enrolled upon the books and fifty-two are regular attendants. Last year, there were 172 days of school taught.
The Albion Private School was started September 1881, by Rev. J. A. Hungate. The number of scholars enrolled is forty-five and the average attendance is something less. Rev. Mr. Hungate is assisted by Miss Clara G. Cook and Miss Edna Davis. The building used is the Baptist Church and furnishes very commodious and convenient room. The work done by this school is highly commended and the prosperity bids fair to continue.
The Methodist Church is the oldest in Albion or Boone County. Rev. S. P. Bollman, who came into the county in June, 1871, and has since contributed in many ways toward the growth and prosperity, held the first religious services. In the spring of 1872, Rev. Mr. Bollman was received into the Nebraska Conference and was appointed to a circuit. Elder Vandoozer was at the time Presiding Elder, and the first quarterly meeting was held at T. H. Bowman's house, in May, 1872. In October 1874, Rev. Jabez Charles was appointed to the circuit and was followed, in October, 1876, by Rev. D. Andrews. He soon resigned and Rev. William Shertzer took the place. In October 1877, Rev. C. W. Wells became pastor. During this year, the parsonage was built, at a cost of $300. In 1878, Rev. Thomas Thompson became pastor, and remained two years. The church was built while he was here, at a cost of $1,400. In 1879, Albion was made a station, and, in 1881, Rev. R. F. Bishop became the settled pastor. November 28, 1881, Rev. C. W. Wells was again appointed and is the present pastor. The present membership of the church is seventy-five. The Sunday school is attended by forty scholars.
The Congregational Church was organized at Albion September 4, 1872. The meeting was held at the house of John Hammond and the sermon was preached by the Rev. O. W. Merrill. Rev. A. Dresser assisted, and also Rev. S. P. Bollman. The members who organized the church were Mrs. Emma M. Weitzel, Mr. and Mrs. John Turner, H. Maricle, Mrs. M. Newbury, Mrs. R. J. Dresser, Mrs. Maria Voorhees, Alex. Voorhees, Mrs. Frances Voorhees, George Newbury and R. D. Cross. For some years, the church was supplied by Rev. J. E. Lowes, who traveled in this section. The first regular pastor was Rev. C. C. Humphrey, who came October 1, 1874. In1876, Rev. James Armstrong became pastor; he was followed, in May 1880, by the present pastor, Rev. A. A. Cressman. The present membership of the church is thirty-three. As yet, no church building has been erected, but one is now contemplated and bids will soon be received on the work. Hon. Loran Clark has donated a lot and a building will be erected, costing in the neighborhood of $1,000.
The Baptist Church was organized in October 1878, by Rev. A. J. Wright. Among the earliest members were Deacon S. W. Pierce and wife, Mrs. Lavina Pierce, Mrs. William Crouch, Deacon John Clark and wife, Stephen Clark and wife, Mrs. Waller and Frank Pierce. Rev. A. J. Wright remained as pastor until July, 1880, and, in August of the same year, Rev. J. A. Hungate arrived. The church building was erected in the fall of 1879, and cost $1,200. The lots upon which it stands were donated by A. G. Mansfield. The present membership of the church is twenty-nine.
The Union Sunday School meets every Sunday at the Baptist Church; eighty-five scholars attend, and the school is in a prosperous condition. F. B. Tiffany is Superintendent.
St. Nicholas Catholic Church was organized at Albion in 1877 by Father Smith. Occasional services were held, but the priest did not reside at Albion, and as yet the society has not grown strong enough to support a local priest. Father Smith came until 1880, and in the spring of that year, Father Flood, of Shell Creek, became pastor, and has since visited the parish every two weeks. Among the earliest members were Michael Mathews, John Halligan, Patrick Halligan, John O'Neill, Stephen Thomas, John Raleigh, James Burns, Robert Cunningham, Archie Cunningham, James Mooney, James Toney, Cornelius Deagon and James Tierney. There are now about thirty-seven families in the church, and thirty children attend the Sunday school, which is held every two weeks. When Clark, Connelly & Stout made-their addition to Albion, they donated two lots to the church, and, in 1881, a building was erected at a cost of about $700.
Albion Lodge, No. 78, A., F. & A. M., was organized August 1, 1879. The charter members were Henry H. Gillett, Luther Clark, Manley B. Boardman, Adelbert L. Nickerson, Loran Clark, Thomas N. Williamson, Fitz M. Sackett, Peter J. Files, Jacob Widaman, William Willott and Lafayette B. Wamsley. The number of members has since increased to twenty-two and new ones are being constantly added. Regular meetings are held on the last Saturday of each month. The hall, which is used by both the Masons and the Odd Fellows, is in the second story of Judd & Lidell's drug store, and is handsomely furnished by the two societies. The officers of the lodge at the present are: H. H. Gillett, W. M.; Luther Clark, S. W.; Samuel Fox, J. W.; John G. McKay, S. D.; Jacob Widaman, J. D.; William Simpson, Secretary; E. M. Gunther, Treasurer; James Starring, Tiler.
Albion Lodge, No. 83, I. O. O. F., was organized March 8, 1880. The early members were Henry J. Hudson, H. C. Kilborn, H. M. Grimes, Alex. Pringle, George Garrett, John Kepfer, Samuel Dalton, G. Shaw and William Cannicutt. Although so lately organized, the growth of the society has been rapid and the membership already numbers thirty-two. Regular meetings are held every Tuesday evening in the hall used by the Odd Fellows and Masons. The officers at present are: George Rieder, N. G.; L. P. Judd, V. G.; A. D. Brainard, Secretary; Alex. Pringle, Treasurer; M. C. Kilborn, Warden; Samuel Fox, Conductor; Charles Beitz, Inside Guard; D. G. Bobbs, Outside Guard.
The Albion Cornet Band was organized in the summer of 1880. There are ten members. The instruments were purchased by private subscription of the citizens and cost $225. Mr. A. W. Ladd is leader.
The Albion Orchestra was also organized in 1880 by Mr. Ladd. There are six members and music is furnished for entertainments of all kinds.
The first paper ever published in Boone County was the Boone County News. It was established in 1874, and for six months maintained a precarious existence. At the end of that time, it succumbed to the inevitable, and Boone was without a paper until the Argus office was opened.
The Boone County Argus was established in 1876. The first issue was dated June 30, and the salutatory patriotically declares for "Boone County first--the world afterward." W. A. Hutton was editor and proprietor. In 1877, D. A. Willard purchased the property and Col. P. Bollman edited it for a short time. When he retired, James I. Robinson became editor and remained until the fall of 1878, when A. D. Brainard purchased the office. Afterward, in January, 1881, Mr. Robinson purchased a half-interest, since which time no changes have been made. The paper is issued as an eight-column folio, is Republican in politics and anti-monopoly in sentiment. Its circulation is 1,000 and is constantly increasing. Connected with the paper is a fine job office.
The Boone County News, a new paper and in no way related to its earlier namesake, was started in 1879 by A. W. Ladd. Mr. Ladd published a paper in Knox County, Ill., before coming here, and the experience there gained enabled him to quickly establish himself in his new home. For nine months, the News was issued as a seven-column folio, but increasing business soon compelled enlargement and it is now issued as-a six-column quarto. It is the official paper of the county.
The Commercial Hotel is the largest in town, and was built in 1880 by J. E. Needham and run by him until September of that year. It was then sold to C. A. Oblinger, who ran it awhile and then rented it to D. C. Young. In March 1881, A. Palmer took the house, and, in January, 1882, H. J. Howard became proprietor. It is largely patronized by the traveling public and is satisfactorily managed. There are accommodations for forty guests.
The Albion House was the first hotel in Albion. It was built in December 1876, by A. B. Case and run by him two years. S. Z. Williamson then occupied it about one year, and was followed by N. C. Killburn, who only remained eight months. A. B. Case then took charge again, but soon rented to E. V. Van Dorn, who remained about seven months. The house then again was opened by A. B. Chase, who is the present proprietor. During the early years of Albion's growth, it did good service for the traveling public, and it has not been forsaken now that others claim a share of the public patronage.
The Central Hotel was built in 1878 by James Diffenderfer, but was not opened as a hotel until March 1880, when the present landlord, John Kimmel, rented it. It is located directly opposite the Commercial Hotel, and is patronized by the farmers principally.
Albion's position is one, which renders it an important business point. Being the terminus of the road, it naturally becomes the marketing-place for a vast extent of country north and west. Added to this, the demand of a large and rapidly settling county, serves to keep the capital collected here in active service. The amount of business done in a year may be safely estimated at $500,000, and is distributed among forty firms, as follows: Six general stores, three groceries, three hardware, two drug, two furniture, two restaurants, two livery stables, two tailors, two banks, three hotels, one jeweler, three implements, two harness shops, one shoe shop, two milliners, two barber shops and one photograph gallery. Besides, there is a flouring-mill, two newspapers, four lawyers and four physicians. There can be no better test of business prosperity than the manner in which a community sustains its papers. In this respect, Albion has no superior.
Albion Flouring-Mills.--Among the many business enterprises of Boone County none has proved of more substantial benefit than these mills. The buildings were erected by Sackett & Crouch in 1875, and are situated about a mile and a half southeast of town, on the Beaver. The mill is three stories high besides the basement and is 30x40 on the foundations. There are four run of stone--three for grinding flour and one for feed. All grades of flour are made, from patent down, and in each the product of the mill is of the best quality. The capacity of the mill is 300 bushels per day. Besides the part occupied by machinery, there is also storage room for from 6,000 to 8,000 bushels. In September 1881, Sackett & Crouch sold the property to Mann & Peck, who are now engaged in making extensive improvements and will soon have one of the finest mills in the State.
The Boone County Bank is the only institution of the kind open at present in the town. The business was begun in March 1880, by C. De Roberts. A general banking business is done, collections promptly attended to and taxes paid for non-residents. The office is a neat and commodious building, located on Fourth street, near the Argus office.
Thompson & Baker's Bank.--The building which will be used by this firm is now in process of construction, and is situated near the News office. A general banking business will be done.
The implement business is represented by three firms, and is one of the most important branches of business carried on here. The whole country west is furnished from this point, and the settlers are largely engaged in grain raising. It is estimated that the machinery business of 1881 amounted to $30,000. The three firms are: Galbraith Bros., who commenced their business in November, 1879; J. W. Riley, whose operations date from 1878, and Bronson & Hamilton, who started May 1, 1881.
The lumberyard of the Columbus Lumber and Grain Company is located west of the depot. This company, which has such an immense business at Columbus, also has a large trade here. Albion furnishes goods to an extended tract of country, and the rapid settlement of this section makes the lumber trade an important branch of business.
Loran Clark & Co.'s lumberyard is located east of the depot and also does an extensive business. Mr. Clark was one of the earliest settlers and is widely and honorably known as a businessman. In addition to the yard, this company also controls one of the elevators at this place. The capacity of the building is about 5,000 bushels. A large shipping business is done, and the books show 125 cars of grain exported since the 1st of September 1881.
Sackett's elevator was opened in August 1880, and has a capacity about the same as Clark's. Here, also, an extensive grain business is done. Corn is the principal variety shipped. It has been estimated that the grain business alone at Albion amounts to over $100,000 annually.