The pride and enthusiasm that early settlers placed in locating the seat of local government was possibly nowhere more evident than in Furnas County. Events there showed just how strong the emotions could become. When Robert W. Furnas became governor in 1873, the Legislature adopted an act to organize an area along the Kansas border and name this latest county in his honor. The influx of settlers that had preceded the Legislature’s action had already resulted in the settlements of Arapahoe and Beaver City being established.
So when the county’s first organization election was held on April 8, 1873, ballots were cast at both sites. Election results from Arapahoe were filed with the Secretary of State’s office within the appointed time limit. The returns from Beaver City, however, were delayed en route to Lincoln because of a heavy snowstorm. As a result, Beaver City’s ballots did not arrive until after the day on which the ballots were counted. The Secretary of State issued certificates of election of officials in Arapahoe and ruled that settlement to be the county seat. What followed was a series of court orders and bitter political fights between the settlers in the north and south parts of the county. A court quickly ordered the Secretary of State to canvass the Beaver City votes and issue certificates of election to the candidates who received the highest vote from the combined returns of Arapahoe and Beaver City, and to designate as the county seat the site that received the greatest vote. A second election was held the following October. This time, Beaver City was declared the victor. Inhabitants of Arapahoe continued to claim victory based on the April election. It took three years of legal challenges before the Supreme Court ruled that Beaver City was indeed the county seat.
Continued dissension delayed the building of a courthouse until 1888. The first courthouse stood for 60 years before being declared unsafe for occupancy in 1948. The courthouse was dismantled the following year and after the county offices were housed in various downtown buildings for two years, the current courthouse was dedicated on May 4, 1951.
Places to Visit
Many travelers on Highway 6 and 34 stop in Arapahoe to see the beautiful Our Lady Fatima Shrine and the Furnas County Museum located downtown. Arapahoe also features a modern movie theater and a picturesque city park with two picnic areas, playground, bandstand and swimming pool.
Arapahoe celebrates Prairie Pioneer Days in July and Holiday Highlight craft show the second weekend in November.
Take the loop four minutes off Highway 6 and 34 and you’ll find a beautiful, scenic view of the Republican Valley and the small town of Oxford. The town offers a free RV park with all services and a new movie theater. Annual events in Oxford include Turkey Days and Festival of Lights.
Beaver City, the county seat, hosts the annual Furnas County Fair and Eager Beaver Days. The town also is home to the Furnas County Genealogical Society and Furnas County Inn.
Edwin Perkins, inventor of Kool-Aid, was born in Hendley. The town is also the birthplace of Victor Meyers, who was born on the last day of World War I and killed on the first day of World War II at Pearl Harbor.
For years, the merchants of Wilsonville have promoted an annual festival called Harvest Home. The tradition of community togetherness carries on today with Wilsonville’s annual festival. During the first full weekend of June, Wilsonville hosts a rodeo complete with a parade, free barbecue and the crowning of a rodeo queen.
Cambridge is located in the northern part of Furnas County on the Medicine Creek. Approximately 3 miles out on Highway 6 and 34 is Sky Chief SpringsRanch. Robert and Joyce Stear welcome anyone to stop in and see the man-made ponds that are fed by springs. The monument, dedicated in 1924 to thePawnee leader, Sky Chief, is at this site. There are Indian mounds and an early dugout to be viewed. Ten miles north of Cambridge is Medicine Creek Reservoir with fishing, swimming, boating, and camping areas.
Cambridge also has a new museum offering free admission. Among the many activities Cambridge offers each year are Medicine Creek Days in late May or early June and Christmas Fantasia, held every year in December.
As you drive on Highway 6 and 34 into Holbrook, you will notice the log cabin on the north side of the road built in 1874 by William Penington. The Norwegian Lutheran Church is 1 1/2 miles west and 2 miles north of town.
The Holbrook Park offers free RV parking as well as a picnic shelter and horseshoe pit. Holbrook has an annual celebration, Holbrook Days, each summer in mid July. The festival includes a parade, livestock show, and River Rat Volleyball Tournament.
Robert W. Furnas
Furnas County was named after Robert Wilkinson Furnas who was the second Governor of Nebraska. Ferns was born near Troy, Ohio, and attended public school. He worked as a farmer, printer, tinsmith, insurance salesman and postmaster.
The Furnas-Gosper Museum is located in the downtown business district of Arapahoe.
The statues of the Lady of Fatima Shrine are in Arapahoe located on Highways 6 & 34 by St. Germanus Catholic Church.
Nebraska State Historical Marker about the very destructive Republican River Flood of 1935.
Burton’s Bend cabin located in the Holbrook Park on Highways 6 & 34