In 1888, Nebraska became the first state to hold a statewide referendum, in which citizens could vote directly on proposed laws.
Johnson County, Nebraska has a rich and diverse history that dates back to the early 1800s. The area was initially inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Pawnee and Otoe, who relied on the land for hunting and gathering. European settlers arrived in the mid-19th century, primarily from Germany and Czechoslovakia, and began establishing small farming communities in the region.

In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed, which opened up the area for settlement. Johnson County was officially formed in 1856 and named after Colonel Richard M. Johnson, a war hero and Vice President of the United States. The county seat, Tecumseh, was established in 1858 and quickly became a center of commerce and government for the region.

The county saw significant growth during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The construction of railroads, such as the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad, brought increased connectivity and trade opportunities to the area. Agriculture became the primary industry, with corn and wheat being the main crops. The county also had a thriving livestock industry, with cattle and hogs being raised for market.

However, like many rural areas, Johnson County faced challenges during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl era of the 1930s. Many farmers were hit hard by drought and economic instability, leading to a decline in population and agricultural productivity. Fortunately, the county rebounded in the post-war years, and today it remains an important agricultural hub in Nebraska, as well as a pleasant place to live, with picturesque landscapes and a strong sense of community.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Johnson County, Nebraska.

  • 1854: Johnson County established as a county in Nebraska Territory.
  • 1864: Tecumseh becomes the county seat.
  • 1872: The Atchison and Nebraska Railroad is completed in the county.
  • 1876: Sterling is incorporated as a village.
  • 1885: Cook is incorporated as a village.
  • 1887: Elk Creek is incorporated as a village.
  • 1888: Johnson County Courthouse is built in Tecumseh.
  • 1890: Sterling becomes an incorporated town.
  • 1911: Union is incorporated as a village.
  • 1920: Crab Orchard is incorporated as a village.
  • 1936: Johnson County Museum opens in Tecumseh.
  • 1959: Tornado strikes Tecumseh, causing significant damage.
  • 1989: Johnson County Historical Society is established.
  • 2008: New Johnson County Courthouse is constructed in Tecumseh.