History, Department of


Date of this Version

December 2007


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Major: History. Under the Supervision of Professor Kenneth J. Winkle
Lincoln, Nebraska: December 2007
Copyright (c) 2007 Nicholas Joseph Aieta


The Nebraska Territory was established in 1854. Consisting of lands that encompass modern-day Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, and parts of Montana, the region was quite extensive. Originally, this land was part of the Louisiana Purchase, and some of the land had been reserved for Native American relocation following various treaties of the 1830s and 1840s. As pressures mounted to open the land for white settlement, both Nebraska and Kansas were established as territories in 1854.

The objective of this research is to examine the foundations of community in Nebraska Territory during the years 1854-1870. Specifically, this dissertation examines the origins of community in Richardson, Burt, and Platte counties. An evaluation of the origins and demographic characteristics of the citizens is described. This includes analysis of a database of the citizens including examination of age, gender breakdown, and birthplace of early frontier dwellers.

This dissertation analyzes settlement patterns in the three counties with reference to the new environment of the Great Plains, cultural background of the settlers, and economic activities. In addition, this study pursues the question of motivation for creating certain institutions in this Great Plains territory and state. A brief study of community politics and legal affairs as well as the impact of creating school and religious institutions is examined.

Residence in the counties of Richardson, Burt, and Platte in Nebraska afforded their citizens the opportunity to construct the social institutions of their choosing while starting life anew. Farmers, businessmen, craftsmen, and political figures all contributed to the new communities while marginalizing the original Native American inhabitants.
Ph.D. dissertation, under the Supervision of Professor Kenneth J. Winkle

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