The Kansas-Nebraska Act was introduced into
Congress. Midwesterners had tried to get a new territory organized
for four years. The bill said that the new territories were to be
decided by the settlers rather than by Congress.
Heinrich Egge boarded a ship called the America in 1855. He is important to Grand Island because he was one of Grand Island's first settlers and he kept a journal of it's early history. He is buried in the Grand Island Cemetery.
Some wealthy businessmen in Davenport, Iowa decided to invest in making a town.They started a town company called Chubbs Brothers and Barrows. They believed that the national capitol would be moved to the middle of the United States after the Transcontinental Railroad was built. They wanted it to be near the big island on the Platte River.
The town company advertised in the newspaper to find people interested in making this town. They found 36 German immigrants to go to the Platte River Valley to start the town. The company promised them wagons, oxen, supplies and living expenses for a year.
The German settlers left Davenport, Iowa on May 28, 1857. It was rainy and wet so they had a hard time at first. They had four wagons and 16 oxen. When they got to Omaha they stopped to get more food and supplies. They crossed the Missouri River on a ferry boat. The settlers arrived near the big island on the Platte River on July 4, 1857. They explored the area along the Platte River, Wood River and Prairie Creek. Then they chose to build the new community opposite the big island on the north side of the Platte River. They called the new community Grand Island Station.
The first thing that they did was to build 4 cabins to live in. They used the trees that were growing on the island in the Platte River and it took them until September to build them.
The first baby, Nellie Stier, was born.
Hall County was founded.
In October the first weekly stagecoach was put on the road from Omaha to Grand Island.
Three miners returning form the gold mines of California had difficulty with some settlers. They set a fire on the prairie. Only a few of the houses were saved.
The Homestead Act was passed by Congress in May of 1862. It said that people could come to the Indian land and have free land, but they had to live on it for five years. They also had to make improvements on the land. Then they could have 160 acres of land. That would be 2,323,200 square yards. They had to be over 21 years old and the head of the family. They could be a citizen or an immigrant who wanted to be a citizen.
The first school was started by Theodore Nagel. It was a one room sod building and it was taught in German.
In August, 1864 while loading hay in a field near their homestead, George Martin and his two young sons were attacked by a small band of Sioux Indians. The two boys, Nat and Robert, jumped on their mare and headed for home. They were pursued by the Indians and one of the arrows pinned both boys together. They escaped home and lived to tell their story.
Two forts were built because the settlers feared Indian attacks. Fort O.K. was built with prairie sod around the O.K. Store and Fort Independence was built of logs on the Stolley land. The settlers used the forts but never had to defend them. The U.S. Cavalry troops came through in 1865 and left a cannon for the settlers protection. It is now located on the west side of the courthouse in Grand Island.
The Union Pacific Railroad came through the area. The settlers realized that the town was in the wrong place and moved the store and business adjacent to the railroad. The town of Grand Island was laid out by the Union Pacific Railroad. A post office was established, a flour mill was started, and a land office was opened. Grand Island was not yet an incorporated town. It was known as Grand Island Station.
The first Catholic church was built but destroyed by a tornado two years later.