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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/804

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NEBRASKA


7-S2


NEBRASKA


Piorrc and Paul Mallet, crossed Nebraska in a south- westerly direction in 1739 on their way to Santa ¥6 and gave an authentic account of the territory sixty- five .\ears before Lewis and Clark visited it.

Siibsequent to that date, many French Canadians and French Creoles of Louisiana made their homes in Nebraska; they were Iiunters and trai)|)ers connected with the fur-tradinn expeditions, who married Indian women and lived vmder the ijrotection of the tribes with which they had become related. When allot ting land to the Indians, the government set ;iside a tract. in the south-east part of the slate called the "Ilalf- Hreed Tract", the French Canadians who had mar- ried squaws settled on this land. Among these were C'harlis Rouleau, Henry Fontenelle, and Michel Barada, who had towns named after them. Sarpy county is also called after a French Creole, named Louis Sari>y. As late as 1846, Nebraska had prac- tically no other population than the Omahas, Otocs, Poncas, Pawnees, and Sioux. In that year occurred the Mormon hcgirn and a temporary settlement in the desert was made by them at Florence, near Omaha, lasting for about a year, until they moved on to Utah. The first permanent white settlers came in the train of the '19 rush to California, and on 30 May, 1854, Nebraska was organized as a territory with an area of S.TLS.'iS square miles, reaching from 40° N. lat. to the British boundary line, and west from the Missouri to the Rocky Mountains. This was finally cut down to the present area of the state. The cre- ation of the Kansas and Nebraska territories was the cause of the bitter quarrel between the slavery and anti-slaverv parlies and ultimately led to the secession of the .southern slates. On 1 March, 1867, President Johnson proelaimetl Nebraska a state of the Union, adding the thirty-seventh star to the American flag. After the Civil War, many of the discharged soldiers secured grants of Nebriiska land under the Home- stead Law. They were followed by men who worked in the construction of the Union Pacific and Burling- ton railroads and who bought up the land donated to the railroad companies. There was a steady inflow of immigrants and land-seekers until the visitation of the grasshopper ))lague in 1874, when many settlers became di.scouraged and left the state. But the rush for land w;is on, the grasshoppers were forgotten, and an increasing stream of immigration poured in. There are no statistics to indicate the nationality of foreign-born immigrants, but the Germans are the most mmierous, followed by the Scandinavians, Irish, Bohemians, and British in the order named. In late years Italians have become an immigrating element, but not to any considerable extent. Although the first to enter the state, French Canadian immigrants are not numerous.

Catholic IiiMKiRATioN. — While many Catholics were among the immigrants subsequent to 1849, there was no attempt at Catholic colonization until 1855, when Father Tracy induced a number of Irish families to settle in Dakota County, where their de- scendants constitute the wealthiest and most promi- nent pcopli^ in that .section. In 1874 General O'Neill, with eighteen Iri.sh Catholics from Boston, colonized a tract in Holt County; they were followed by others, and a town was laid out which they named O'Neill. O'Neill is now one of the most progressive cities north of the Platte and the centre of a prosperous Catholic community. In 1877 some of those who went to Holt County with General O'Neill, dissatisfied with the outlook there, took up land in Greeley County. In compliment to Bishop .tames O'Connor of Omaha, General O'Neill named his first town site, O'Connor. The town was subsequently moved to where the church and convent of O'Connor now stand, while the present county seat, Greeley Center, was built half a mile norlh of the original site. A colonization company was formed and a tract of land was secured


by Bishop O'Connor, John Fitzgerald, William (Juan, and William J. Onahan of Chicago, and others, and sold at 82 per aero to Irish colonists from Massachusetts and Penn.sylvania. This is now avery prosperousCath- olic .section embracing the thriving towns of Greeley ('enter, Spalding, and Scotia, and comjirising a wealthy farming population. Land purchased by the colonists at $2 per acre is appraised in 1910 at from $60 to $100 per acre. Besides these organized colonies, many Irish Catholic families drifted into Nebraska during the years preceding 1874. During that period there was also a comparatively large immigration of German Catholics, but without any regular effort at coloni- zation. The Germans followed in the wake of the Catholic priest. Platte County is almost entirely populated by German Catholics, the immigration be- ing largely due to the efforts of Father Ambrose, O.F.M., the first Franciscan pastor in that section. In Cedar County, there are eight large parishes of German Catholics, who were induced to settle in that district during the same period by the late F'ather Daxascher, the first pastor of St. Helena in that county. South of the Platte there are also several well-to-do German settlements, but no distinct col- onies. There is an Austrian settlement at Bellwood in Buffalo County. Bohemian Catholics are quite numerous north and south of the Platte. The Cath- olic immigrants of all nationalities who settled on the land have i>n)spcred in a measure beyond their most sanguine cxpccl ;il ions. A pleasing feature in regard to Catholic sclliciiicnt in Nebraska is the frequent inter- marriages between the young people of different races, especially between tlie Irish and German elements.

Catholics holil iirominent positions in the political, social, and industrial life of the community, though Nebraska has not yet had a Catholic Governor. Prominent among the benefactors and builders of the state have been Edward and John Creighton, founders of Creighton University and other beneficial institu- tions in Omaha. John Fitzgerald of Lincoln was also a generous benefactor to Catholic works, religious and educational, in this and other cities. John A. McShane represented the then First Nebraska dis- trict in Congress in 1886 and in 1888 was the unsuc- cessful candidate for governor in opposition to Gen- eral John M. Thayer. Constantine J. Smythe was attorney-general of the state from 1897 to 1901. The present state treasurer is Lawson G. Brian. Many Catholics have represented congressional districts; the first district, which includes the capital, is now (1910) represented by John A. Maguire. In all cases where Catholics have held public offices, their records have been most creditable.

(2) Ecclesiastical History. — Ecclesiastically, Ne- braska was first under the jurisdiction of the Fran- ciscan Bernard Boil, Provincial of the Franciscans in Spain, according to the Bull of Alexander VI, dated 25 June, 1493. Theoretically, it became part of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Spain until 1682, when it passed over to the spiritual domain of the Bishop of Quebec. In 1776 it became subject to the Diocese of Havana, Cuba. After the recession of the Louisiana territory to France, the French exercised jurisdiction until 1805, when the territories embraced in the Louisiana Purchase passed to the spiritual rule of Bishop Carroll of Baltimore. In 1815 the region was tran.sferred to the Bishop of New Orleans, and in 1827 to the Bi.shop of St. Louis. In 1850 the territoo' became part of the "Vicariate Apostolic of the terri- tory east of the Rocky Mountains" ; this vicariate em- braced all the territory from the Missouri River to the Rocky Mountains and from the south boundary of Kansas to the British line. Rt. Rev. John B. Miege, S. J., was appointed vicar-ApostoHc. In 1857 Kan- sas was cut oiT and the Vicariate of Nebraska was erected. This vicariate was further reduced to the territoriesof Nebraska and Wyoming, and in 1885 the