Historical Marker in
Thurston County, Nebraska

The state song of Nebraska is "Beautiful Nebraska," which was written by Jim Fras and Guy G. Miller in 1967.
Thurston County, Nebraska has a rich history that dates back centuries. Before European settlement, the area was inhabited by the Omaha and Ponca Native American tribes. Their presence can be traced as far back as the 18th century, and they relied heavily on the Missouri River for trade and resources.

European explorers and settlers arrived in the area in the early 19th century. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark ventured through the land in 1804 during their famous expedition, noting the abundance of wildlife and the strategic importance of the Missouri River. In 1856, the Omaha tribe ceded the land to the United States government, opening it up for settlement.

Thurston County was officially established in 1889. It was named after John M. Thurston, a prominent Nebraska politician at the time. The town of Pender was chosen as the county seat. During its early years, the county saw a boom in agriculture, with settlers growing crops like wheat, corn, and oats on the fertile soil.

Over the years, Thurston County has embraced its diverse cultural heritage. The Omaha Tribe of Nebraska, which has a reservation within the county, plays a significant role in the community. The tribe's culture and traditions are celebrated through various events and initiatives. Today, Thurston County continues to thrive with a strong agricultural economy and a commitment to preserving its rich history and natural beauty.

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

  • 1857: Thurston County is established by the Nebraska Territorial Legislature.
  • 1860s: The county experiences rapid growth with the establishment of towns and settlements.
  • 1865: The first county courthouse is built in Pender.
  • 1870s: The construction of railroads in the county boosts trade and transportation.
  • 1873: The county seat is moved to Dakota City.
  • 1900s: Agriculture becomes the primary industry in Thurston County.
  • 1940s: The county experiences a decline in population due to World War II.
  • 1980s: The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska constructs a casino in Thurston County, boosting local economy.
  • 1992: The county courthouse in Dakota City is renovated and modernized.
  • 2000s: Thurston County continues to focus on agriculture and rural development.