Fontanelle, Nebraska

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Fontanelle, Nebraska
Fontanelle Township Hall
Fontanelle Township Hall
Fontanelle, Nebraska is located in Nebraska
Fontanelle, Nebraska
Fontanelle, Nebraska
Location within the state of Nebraska
Coordinates: 41°24′23″N 95°59′47″W / 41.40639°N 95.99639°W / 41.40639; -95.99639Coordinates: 41°24′23″N 95°59′47″W / 41.40639°N 95.99639°W / 41.40639; -95.99639
CountryUnited States
StateNebraska
CountyWashington
Elevation1,085 ft (331 m)
 
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Fontanelle, Nebraska
Fontanelle Township Hall
Fontanelle Township Hall
Fontanelle, Nebraska is located in Nebraska
Fontanelle, Nebraska
Fontanelle, Nebraska
Location within the state of Nebraska
Coordinates: 41°24′23″N 95°59′47″W / 41.40639°N 95.99639°W / 41.40639; -95.99639Coordinates: 41°24′23″N 95°59′47″W / 41.40639°N 95.99639°W / 41.40639; -95.99639
CountryUnited States
StateNebraska
CountyWashington
Elevation1,085 ft (331 m)

Fontanelle is an unincorporated community and census-designated place in Washington County, Nebraska, United States. The site of repeated incursions by the neighboring Pawnee tribe, Fontanelle was an early boom town in the Nebraska Territory, but waned in importance after failing to secure a railroad connection in the late 19th century. The 1860 Federal Census showed the town having dozens of residents, including farmers, carpenters, blacksmiths, clergymen, lawyers, and other professions.[1] The town dwindled from a population of 500 to a few dozen after an early university left in the 1870s.[2]

History[edit]

A misspelling of the name of Logan Fontenelle, this town was named in honor of the Omaha Tribe leader, who was killed by Sioux in 1855. The town was originally organized by the Nebraska Colonization Company, which in turn was organized in Quincy, Illinois in 1854. The goal of founding the town was to develop "a literary institution which shall be known as the Nebraska University." In spring 1855 a prospecting party chose the site about twelve miles from the present city of Fremont.

Fontanelle was the original seat of the Dodge County, but later became a part of Washington County. It was originally intended to be the territorial capital, but lost to Omaha City to the south.[3] It had one of the first churches in the Nebraska Territory.[4] The Nebraska Territory Legislature awarded a charter to the Nebraska University, also called Fontanelle University, in 1855, and the first building was erected in 1856. Operated by the Congregational Church the University flourished for several years. When Fontanelle lost the county seat leaders decided to move the University, and Doane College was organized in Crete, Nebraska in 1872.[5]

The townsite was next to the Elkhorn River, and was the location of several raids by the Pawnee in its early years. In 1855 the United States Army established a post in the town to protect it, and a standing militia protected it for several years after.[6] The New York Times sent a correspondent late in that year to confirm the safety of settlers to the Nebraska Territory.[7] In 1859 the Pawnee were encamped across the river during the Pawnee War.[8]

Voters in the town held their first annual meeting in 1884, and in 1896 they approved the construction of a one-story brick hall called the Fontanelle Township Hall to serve as a meeting hall and polling place. It stands today, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[9]

Failure to secure a railroad connection, depression, and other reverses led the town to fold in the 1890s. Today it is an unincorporated community.

Geography[edit]

Fontanelle is located just northeast of Fremont, Nebraska along Nebraska Highway 91. It is approximately 2 miles east of U.S. 77/U.S. 275.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 1860 Federal Census of Fontanelle, Nebraska Territory. Retrieved 3/26/08.
  2. ^ Olson, J.C. and Naugle, R.C. (1997) History of Nebraska. University of Nebraska Press. p 99.
  3. ^ "Nebraska Colonization Company", Nebraska State Historical Society. Retrieved 3/25/08.
  4. ^ Sheldon, A.E. "Nebraska as a Territory", History and Stories of Nebraska. Retrieved 3/26/08.
  5. ^ Federal Writers' Project. (1939) Nebraska: A Guide to the Cornhusker State. p 283.
  6. ^ "The Indians of Nebraska--Tranquility Restored", New York Times. August 29, 1855. Retrieved 3/25/08.
  7. ^ "From Nebraska--Affaire on the Frontier", New York Times. October 8, 1855. Retrieved 3/25/08.
  8. ^ "Indian Troubles in Nebraska--History of the Pawnee War", New York Times. Retrieved 3/25/08.
  9. ^ "National Register of Historic Places", Washington County Historical Society. Retrieved 3/25/08.