Nebraska was originally part of the Louisiana Purchase, which was a vast territory acquired by the United States from France in 1803.
Burt County, Nebraska, located in the eastern part of the state, has a rich history dating back to the early 1800s. European settlement began in the 1840s when fur traders and Mormons traveled through the area. In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act opened the region for settlement, attracting pioneers and homesteaders.

The county was officially established in 1854 and named after Francis Burt, the first governor of Nebraska Territory. During the mid-19th century, Burt County experienced significant growth and development as more settlers arrived. Towns like Decatur, Oakland, Tekamah, and Lyons emerged as agricultural and trading centers.

Burt County played a significant role in the development of the Nebraska Territory and the state of Nebraska. The town of Decatur, for example, was once a candidate for the territorial capital. However, with the designation of Omaha as the capital in 1857, Decatur's potential was hindered. Nevertheless, the county continued to thrive as agriculture became the primary industry, with crops like corn, wheat, hay, and livestock contributing to its economic growth.

Over the years, Burt County has faced challenges, such as the Great Depression and the decline of the agricultural industry. However, the community has shown resilience and adaptability. Today, Burt County maintains its rural character while also embracing modern developments and amenities. It preserves its history through museums, festivals, and landmarks, celebrating its rich heritage and the contributions of its early settlers.

This timeline provides a glimpse into the major events and milestones that have shaped the history of Burt County, Nebraska.

  • 1854 - Burt County was established by the Nebraska Territorial Legislature.
  • 1856 - The first settlement, called Arizona, was established.
  • 1857 - The town of Decatur was laid out as the county seat.
  • 1869 - The first railroad, the Sioux City and Pacific Railroad, reached Decatur.
  • 1884 - The town of Lyons became the new county seat, replacing Decatur.
  • 1929 - The historic Burt County Courthouse in Lyons was completed.
  • 1947 - A fire destroyed much of Lyons, including several businesses and homes.
  • 1998 - Burt County celebrated its 150th anniversary.