Cities, Towns, and Villages
County Seat: Center
Courthouse Address and Hours:
206 Main Street
Center, Nebraska 68724
M-F 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Chairperson: Kevin Mackeprang
Board Meetings: 2nd & Last Thursday
View Additional Census Data
The history of the area that today comprises Knox County can be traced back to the French explorers that passed through the area along the Missouri River in the late 1700s. When the county's boundaries were established by the Territorial Legislature in 1857, this French influence resulted in the area being named L'eau Qui Court, a French and Indian name meaning "running water," a reference to the Niobrara River. The county's name would be changed to Knox in 1873, in honor of Civil War Gen. Henry Knox.
When the county was first created, the settlement of Niobrara was designated as the county seat. Located on the far north boundary of the county, where the Niobrara River enters the Missouri River, the settlement was frequently flooded. But it would remain the county seat until 1902, after Center was platted.
This change of was met with considerable controversy. Between 1887 and 1900, five elections were held to determine if the county should be divided into two separate counties, and an additional five elections were held to select a county seat. Three of these elections came in 1900 alone.
Center was platted in the geographic center of the county in 1901 for the sole purpose of serving as the county seat. It was located on the site of two corn fields, with the fence that separated them becoming the settlement's main street. Within a year, the county's first courthouse was built.
Twenty-two years later, the County Board took steps to improve county facilities. A special tax levy was approved and within seven years nearly $50,000 had accumulated. In February 1934 construction began on a new courthouse and by October it was completed.
In addition to county funds, the courthouse construction project was the first in the state to utilize Civil Works Administration and Federal Emergency Relief Administration funds. The make-work project for men on relief received considerable attention from the press, which said that the courthouse would remind the generations living long after the Great Depression of difficult times of that era.