Enter Nebraska

Amazing History

Nebraska has a rich history that spans back hundreds of years including Indian traditions and great explorers from countries all around the world. The history is so extensive that an in-depth view would be too extensive to type out. Therefore I have condensed the information into a basic timeline.

16th century
  • 1541 -  Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado led an expedition across the U.S. Southwest into Kansas. He claimed the entire territory for Spain.
17th century
  • 1682 - French explorer Rene Robert Cavalier, Sieur de La Salle, traveled down the Mississippi River to its mouth. He claimed all the land drained by the Mississippi, as well as its tributaries, for France.
18th century
  • 1714 - Veniard de Bourgmont is the first recorded European in Nebraska.
  • 1720 - Pedro de Villasur was sent to out from Santa Fe on June 16, 1720 to scout enemy positions on the plains. His party included forty-five white soldiers, sixty Pueblo Indians, a priest and an interpreter. He made several attempts to trade with the Pawnees but was openly rebuffed. Pedro de Villasur paused to regroup and plan his next move. As Pedro de Villasur and his group camped near present day Columbus, Nebraska, they were attacked by the Pawnees. Most of the Pueblos had sensed danger and left before the battle began. Pedro de Villasur was killed before he could reach his weapons and only thirteen Spaniards made it back to Santa Fe.
  • 1739 - While looking for a path to Santa Fe, Pierre and Paul Mallet traveled north along the Missouri river to the mouth of the Niobrara. Here they concluded they were traveling in the wrong direction. They traveled south parallel to the Missouri and crossed the Platte and Republican rivers on their way. Eventually, they found their way to Sante Fe.
  • 1763 - Treaty of Paris, All land west of the Mississippi River became Spanish.
  • 1789 - Juan Munier met the Ponca Indians living near the mouth of the Niobrara river. He was given exclusive trading rights with the Ponca's by the Spanish.
  • 1793 - Jacques D'Eglise began trading with the Mandan Indians and was given exclusive trading rights by the Spanish government for his exploration efforts.
19th century
  • 1800 - Treaty of San Ildefonso. The Spanish found it costly to explore this new country and could not see the rewards being worth the investment. They returned the Louisiana to France in 1800.
  • 1803 - The U.S. acquires Nebraska in the Louisiana Purchase.
  • 1804 - Lewis and Clark reach the eastern edge of Nebraska.
  • 1806 - Explorer Zebulon Pike visits southern Nebraska.
  • 1812 - Manuel Lisa builds Fort Lisa on the Missouri River near Omaha.
  • 1819 - U.S. Army established Nebraska's first military post, Fort Atkinson.
  • 1820 - Major Stephen H. Long made an expedition to the rocky mountains and back. His opinion of the plains was not favorable. This opinion, shared by many, could explain the reluctance of settlers to make the prairie their home. The plains most certainly offered new challenges to the pioneer.
  • 1823 - Bellevue becomes the first permanent settlement in Nebraska.
  • 1830 -
    • The Indian Removal Act allows the U.S. government to relocate Native Americans west of the Mississippi River.
    • The Oregon Trail. Jedediah Smith, David Jackson, and William Sublette set out from St. Louis. They followed a route up the Missouri river to the Platte river. Instead of following the Missouri north as Lewis and Clark did, they went west on the Platte river. These were the first travelers on what was to become the Oregon Trail. By the 1840s the southern pass of the trail went west from Independence MO to Kansas City, northwest to Ft. Kearney (Nebraska) and then turned west again to Fort Vancouver (Present Vancouver, Washington).
    • Traders took the first wagons to the Rocky Mountains.
  • 1832 - Steamboat Yellowstone began the first annual fur-trading voyages up the Missouri River.
  • 1833 - Rev. Moses Merrill and his wife, Eliza Wilcox Merrill, were the first resident missionaries to the Nebraska Indians. They settle in Bellevue.
  • 1834 - The Trade and Intercourse Act prohibits whites from trespassing on Native American lands west of the Mississippi River.
  • 1842-44 - The word "Nebraska" first began to appear in publications in 1842 when John Fremont explores the Platte Valley and names Nebraska
  • 1844 - The first bill to organize the new Nebraska Territory, introduced in Congress on Dec. 17, 1844, by Illinois Sen. Stephen Douglas, failed to pass.
  • 1848 - Fort Kearny is established along the Oregon Trail.
  • 1854 - Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed by the U.S. Congress on May 30, 1854. It allowed people in the territories of Kansas and Nebraska to decide for themselves whether or not to allow slavery within their borders.
  • 1860 -
    • The territory's population grew from 2,732 in November 1854 to 28,841.
    • Estimated 82 black people in the state. By 1900 that number had risen to 6,269.
  • April 3, 1860 - Oct. 24, 1861 - Pony Express riders also followed the Platte River valley, carrying mail to the west coast.
  • 1862 - The Homestead Act and the Pacific Railroad Act are passed.
  • 1867 -
    • Nebraska joined the Union as the 37th state on March 1, 1867.
    • The people elected David Butler as the first governor.
    • Lincoln became the state capital on July 29.
  • 1868 - Lincoln replaces Omaha as the state capital.
  • 1869 -
    • Oglala Sioux leader Red Cloud and other Sioux sign the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie.
    • The Union Pacific Railroad is completed; terminus is at Omaha.
  • 1870 - Robert Anderson was the first black person to homestead in Box Butte County.
  • 1875 - A new state constitution is adopted.
  • 1877 - Oglala Sioux leader Crazy Horse surrenders in Nebraska.
  • 1892 - The Populist or People's Party holds its first national convention in Omaha.
20th century
  • 1937 - The unicameral state legislature holds its first session.
  • 1939 - Petroleum discovered in southeastern Nebraska.
  • 1948 - Strategic Air Command establishes headquarters near Omaha.
  • 1963 - Race riot in Omaha led to the creation of the Omaha Human Rights Commission.
  • 1974 - Gerald Ford of Omaha becomes President of the United States.