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Nebraska Counties Explorer

Jefferson County

Cities, Towns, and Villages

County Seat: Fairbury

Steele City


Courthouse Address and Hours:
411 4th Street
Fairbury, Nebraska 68352
M-F 9:00am-5:00pm

Chairperson: Mark Schoenrock

Senator: Tom Brandt

Board Meetings: Every Tuesday of each month (except the 5th Tuesday)

Population: 7,176
View Additional Census Data


It has been claimed that if an accurate map of the United States is folded from east to west and then from north to south, the creases would intersect at the point where Jefferson County is located on the map. Some believe this truly confirms that Jefferson County is literally located in the center of the United States.

Long before Jefferson County was organized, this area was possibly the site of one of the largest Indian battles on the American continent. It was reported that in 1832, 16,000 warriors from the Pawnee and Sioux tribes engaged in a battle near where the Big Sandy Creek joins the Little Blue River. After three days of fighting, more than 5,000 warriors had died and the battle gave the Pawnee control of the area.

Jefferson County was once part of a much larger county designated as Jones County. The Legislature determined that Jones County's land area of 706,560 acres was too large so in 1870 it separated the area into Jefferson and Thayer Counties. The county was named Jefferson in honor of Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States.

The Oregon Trail and Pony Express Route both passed through what would become Jefferson County, paralleling the Little Blue River. The famous Rock Creek Station was built along the trails. History has it that James "Wild Bill" Hickok first came into prominence as a result of a fight at the station. Hickok was apparently tending stock for the Ben Halliday Stage Company at the station when it was alleged that he killed three men. Hickok was put on trial in Beatrice and pleaded self defense. When no one appeared at the trial to testify against him, the case was dismissed.

The county seat of Fairbury was surveyed and platted along the Little Blue River about a year before Jefferson County was organized. The settlement was a popular place for the Otoe tribe to visit since it was close to their reservation.

Jefferson County's stately, ornate courthouse dates back to 1891 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.