In 1888, Nebraska became the first state to hold a statewide referendum, in which citizens could vote directly on proposed laws.
Thomas County is located in the central part of the state of Nebraska and was established on April 1, 1887. It was named after George H. Thomas, a Union Army general during the American Civil War. The area was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Pawnee and Sioux, who utilized the land for hunting and gathering.

The first European settlers arrived in the area in the 1870s, primarily of German, Irish, and Scandinavian descent. These early pioneers faced numerous challenges, including harsh weather conditions and a lack of infrastructure. However, they persevered and began establishing homesteads and small communities. Agriculture was the main industry in Thomas County, with farmers cultivating crops such as wheat, corn, and oats, as well as raising livestock.

The county's population steadily grew, leading to the establishment of more towns and the construction of schools, churches, and businesses. In 1911, the railroad arrived in Thomas County, bringing further development and connecting the area to larger markets. This facilitated the transportation of goods and allowed for increased trade and economic growth.

Over the years, Thomas County has experienced both hardships and milestones. The Great Depression in the 1930s had a significant impact on the county's economy, leading to widespread unemployment and poverty. However, Thomas County rebounded from these difficult times and continued to develop its agricultural and industrial sectors. Today, the county is known for its picturesque landscapes, strong sense of community, and dedication to preserving its unique history and heritage.

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

  • 1887 - Thomas County is established.
  • 1890 - The county experiences rapid growth due to homesteading.
  • Early 1900s - The county's economy thrives on agriculture, particularly cattle ranching and wheat farming.
  • 1915 - The county seat is moved from Thomas Center to Thedford.
  • 1930s - The Great Depression impacts the county's economy, leading to decreased population and struggling businesses.
  • 1950s - The construction of Interstate 80 through the county enhances transportation and encourages tourism.
  • 1971 - Nebraska National Forest, a significant recreational area, is established in the county.
  • 1980s - Farming practices evolve with the introduction of new technologies and irrigation systems.
  • 2000s - The county's population continues to decline as rural areas face challenges.