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Nebraska Counties Explorer

Nuckolls County

Cities, Towns, and Villages

County Seat: Nelson



Courthouse Address and Hours:
150 South Main Street
Nelson, Nebraska 68961
M-F 8:30am-4:30pm

Chairperson: Tim Zikmund

Senator: Dave Murman

Board Meetings: every other Monday of each month

Population: 4,060
View Additional Census Data


Prior to being organized in 1871, the area which today is Nuckolls County was the scene of some of the most fierce Indian raids ever recorded in the south central portion of Nebraska. The largest raid, recorded on Aug. 7, 1864, is said to have stretched from Gage County to Denver. By 1867, the area was virtually abandoned. By the 1870s the situation had greatly improved and settlers once again began to inhabit the area.

Nuckolls County is named in honor of the Nuckolls brothers. Lafayette Nuckolls, at age 19, became a member of the first Territorial Legislature while his brother, Stephen, was a pioneer Nebraska settler, businessman and banker.

The Little Blue River, which passes through the northeast corner of the county, led to much of the settlement that pre-dated the Indian raids. Mormons passed through this area on their way to Salt Lake City. Thus the Oregon Trail was created and in 1858 the government began using it for transporting supplies to frontier military posts. The following year the Pony Express began following this route.

E.S. Comstock is widely credited for the early development of this area. In 1856 Comstock established the first stage station at Oak, along the Little Blue River. Eventually a post office and a Chicago and Northwestern Railroad station were located in Oak. Following the Indian raids and subsequent return of the settlers, the area began to prosper.

About this same time the county's boundaries were established by the Legislature, although it was be another 11 years before the county was officially organized. The county's first election was held June 21, 1871 under a giant elm tree near the settlement of Oak. For the next several years, all county business would be conducted from the home of D.W. Montgomery, who had been elected surveyor. In 1874, as the population began to spread over the county, voters selected Nelson as the county seat. Nelson, which was surveyed only the year before, was located in the center of the county and was more accessible to settlers.