County History


Approximately 4200 residents live in Webster County. With the advent of larger farms, the farm population has decreased over the years, and the majority of the people in the county live in the towns of Bladen, Blue Hill, Guide Rock, Rosemont, and the county seat of Red Cloud.

Many Webster County residents drive to Hastings, Nebraska for jobs, a distance of 40 miles. The last few years Webster County has suffered economically as it is entirely dependent on agriculture. Red Cloud, the county seat, was named for the Oglala Sioux Chief, and was founded early in 1871 on homestead land filed upon by Silas Garber and Company, July 17th, 1870 at Beatrice, the nearest land office. It is one of the oldest communities in the Republican Valley.

When Webster County was organized, Red Cloud was voted the county seat at the first county election, April 19, 1871. The election was held in the dugout of Silas Garber, Nebraska's Governor, 1875-1879. The mainline of the Burlington and Missouri River Railway reached here in 1879, accelerating immigration from the east and abroad, bringing together a colorful variety of cultural heritages.

During the 1800's, Red Cloud served as a division center for the railroad. Red Cloud was the childhood home of the author, Willa Cather, and it is known throughout the world as the setting of her six Nebraska novels and numerous short stories. The pioneers she knew in the town and on the nearby farms live on in her writings.

Another interesting bit of history pretaining to Chief Red Cloud--his granddaughter, Princess Blue Cloud, is buried on a bluff south of the town of Red Cloud, overlooking the Republican River. Chief Red Cloud became a national celebrity in 1870 during the first of many trips to Washington, D.C as a stubborn negotiator in behalf of the Sioux.