Fillmore County, Nebraska
|Fillmore County, Nebraska|
Fillmore County courthouse in Geneva
Location in the state of Nebraska
Nebraska's location in the U.S.
577 sq mi (1,494 km²)
576 sq mi (1,492 km²)
0 sq mi (0 km²), 0.03%
10/sq mi (4/km²)
Geography and hydrology 
According to the 2000 United States Census, Fillmore County has a total area of 576.6 square miles (1,493 km2). Nearly all of this is land: surface water covers only 0.16 square miles (0.41 km2), representing 0.03% of the county's area.
The county lies entirely within the watershed of the Big Blue River. Water in the county drains via the West Fork of the Big Blue; via Turkey Creek, which runs into the Big Blue near De Witt, Nebraska; and via the Little Blue, which joins the Big Blue in Kansas.
Fillmore County lies within the eastern portion of Nebraska's loess plain, a region of soil deposited by the wind during a period between 25,000 and 13,000 years ago, forming a plain that slopes gently downward to the southeast. The Big Blue and its tributaries have incised channels into the loess surface in places, but in much of the county the original plain remains. These loess-plain regions are characterized by extensive upland flats with shallow depressions. The depressions are lined with fine-grained and relatively impermeable silt, and tend to form shallow ephemeral wetlands when filled with rain or snowmelt; such wetlands range in area from less than 40 acres (16 ha) to more than 500 acres (200 ha).
The surface of the county is underlain by Cretaceous sedimentary bedrock, topped with unconsolidated Quaternary sediments. The bedrock was eroded into hills and valleys before the deposition of the overlying sediments, so the thickness of the latter varies. The unconsolidated sediments range in thickness from 60 to 450 feet (18 to 140 m); they form an aquifer whose saturated zone ranges in thickness from 20 to 350 feet (6.1 to 110 m).
Fillmore County was established, and its boundaries defined, by the Nebraska Territorial Legislature in 1856. It was named for Millard Fillmore, the thirteenth president of the United States, who had left office in 1853.
The first homesteaders arrived in the county in 1866. William O. Bussard and his cousin William C. Whitaker, both natives of Ohio, filed claims on the West Fork of the Big Blue River in the northeastern portion of the county. Settlement of the area was slow until 1870; it was concentrated in the northern part of the county, in part because the surveyed route of the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad ran through York County just north of the present-day York-Fillmore county line. In 1870, Fillmore City, the first town in the county, was established on the Big Blue about four miles (6 km) north of present-day Grafton; in 1871, the county's first post office was opened in Fillmore City.
In 1871, the Burlington and Missouri laid its tracks through the area. A recent change in federal law allowed them to alter their route, shifting it about five miles (8 km) south of their original surveyed path. This placed the route on more level country, reducing the cost of cutting and bridging; it also shifted the line from York County to northern Fillmore County.
The county was formally organized in 1871; up to this time, it had been administered from, and taxed by, Saline County, its neighbor to the east. In April, an election was held to choose officers to organize the county; at this time, it was decided to place the county seat in the county's center. The town site was surveyed and platted, and given the name "Henry". It could not yet be occupied, since it was on school land owned by the State; an act of the Legislature was necessary before the land could be sold.
The Legislature duly acted, passing a bill in the summer of 1872 to allow sale of the school lands. At about that time, the new county seat's name was changed from "Henry" to "Geneva", at the suggestion of the daughter of a local settler, who wanted it named after her family's old home of Geneva, Illinois.
The county grew rapidly through the first years of the 1870s. Three towns were established along the Burlington line; in keeping with the railroad's practice of naming their towns alphabetically, they were dubbed Exeter, Fairmont, and Grafton. By 1873, the entire county had been "thickly settled". Its growth suffered a check in the mid-1870s, due both to the worldwide depression following the Panic of 1873 and to an infestation of grasshoppers in the late summer of 1874.
As additional railroad lines were constructed through the county, new towns were established. In about 1886, the Burlington built a branch line from Beatrice to Holdrege, which ran generally east-west through southern Fillmore County; Shickley, Strang, and Ohiowa were founded on or near the route. A north-south line connected this branch to the Burlington's main line, running from Strang to Fairmont. Milligan was established in 1887, on the Kansas City and Omaha line.
Several ethnic European enclaves developed during the time of the county's homesteading. An extensive Czech settlement covered much of Saline County and extended into eastern Fillmore County, including Milligan. A concentration of Swedish immigrants developed in eastern Clay County, extending into southwestern Fillmore County in the area between Shickley and Ong. German settlements formed in both the southeastern and southwestern corners of the county.
Four state and federal highways cross Fillmore County. U.S. Highway 81 enters from Thayer County to the south; it runs generally northward, closely bypassing Strang, Geneva, and Bruning before continuing north into York County. The other three highways run east and west, crossing Fillmore County between Clay County to the west and Saline County to the east. U.S. Highway 6 runs across the northern part of the county, passing through or near Grafton, Fairmont, and Exeter. Nebraska Highway 41 crosses the central portion of the county, going directly through Geneva and passing just north of Milligan. Nebraska Highway 74 runs through the southern part of the county, passing Shickley and Strang and Ohiowa.
In the Nebraska license plate system, Fillmore County is represented by the prefix 34: when the state began using county numbers on its license plates in 1922, it had the 34th-largest number of registered vehicles.
Population by decade
1870 - 238
As of the census of 2000, there were 6,634 people, 2,689 households, and 1,801 families residing in the county. The population density was 12 people per square mile (4/km²). There were 2,990 housing units at an average density of 5 per square mile (2/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 97.75% White, 0.21% Black or African American, 0.44% Native American, 0.06% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.83% from other races, and 0.69% from two or more races. 1.66% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 48.6% were of German, 10.4% Czech, 7.1% Irish and 7.0% English ancestry according to Census 2000.
There were 2,689 households out of which 30.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.10% were married couples living together, 5.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.00% were non-families. 30.20% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.95.
In the county the population was spread out with 26.30% under the age of 18, 5.10% from 18 to 24, 24.00% from 25 to 44, 23.30% from 45 to 64, and 21.30% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 93.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.30 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $35,162, and the median income for a family was $41,725. Males had a median income of $29,813 versus $18,507 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,465. About 4.80% of families and 7.80% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.20% of those under age 18 and 10.00% of those age 65 or over.
Adjacent counties 
||Hamilton County||York County||Seward County|
|Clay County||Saline County|
|Nuckolls County||Thayer County||Jefferson County|
- Belle Prairie
- West Blue
See also 
- "State & County QuickFacts: Fillmore County, Nebraska". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-04-28.
- "Fillmore County". "Welcome to Fillmore County, Nebraska". Retrieved 2013-04-28.
- "USA Counties: Fillmore, NE". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-04-28.
- "Fillmore County, Nebraska". Surf Your Watershed. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved 2013-04-28.
- Keech and Dreeszen (1968), pp. L1, L4-L5, L7; for age of loess deposits, see Muhs, Daniel R.; Bettis III, E. Arthur; Aleinikoff, John N.; McGeehin, John P.; Beann, Jossh; Skipp, Gary; Marshall, Brian D.; Roberts, Helen M.; Johnson, William C.; and Benton, Rachel (2008), "Origin and paleoclimatic significance of late Quaternary loess in Nebraska: Evidence from stratigraphy, chronology, sedimentology, and geochemistry", USGS Staff—Published Research, Paper 162, retrieved 2013-04-28.
- Keech and Dreeszen (1968), pp. L8, L12, L15.
- Perkey (2003), p. 67.
- Gaffney (1968), p. 1; the Bussard and Whitaker homesteads were located on Section 8, Township 8, Range 3 West of the sixth principal meridian.
- "1871 Fillmore County 1971". Nebraska State Historical Society. Retrieved 2013-05-01.
- "Archives Record: Fillmore County, Nebraska". Nebraska State Historical Society. Retrieved 2013-05-01.
- Gaffney (1968), p. 3.
- "Grafton - Fillmore County". Nebraska... Our Towns. Retrieved 2013-05-01.
- Fillmore County, Part 1. Andreas's History of the State of Nebraska. Retrieved 2013-05-02.
- Gaffney (1968), pp. 4-5.
- Fillmore County, Part 3. Andreas's History of the State of Nebraska. Retrieved 2013-05-02.
- Gaffney (1968), p. 5.
- Sources differ on the source of Geneva's name. Lilian Linder Fitzpatrick, "Nebraska Place-Names", 1925, p. 59, states that it was named after Geneva, New York. Gaffney (1968), p. 5., and Perkey (2003), p. 68, state that Geneva, Illinois was the namesake. Perkey's introduction (p. v) states that he was motivated by Fitzpatrick's work; this suggests that he was aware of the New York hypothesis, and had some reason for choosing Illinois instead.
- Cordes, Henry J. "A railroad history lesson: Union Pacific and Burlington Northern". Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen; originally appeared in Omaha World-Herald, 2009-11-08. Retrieved 2013-05-08. The three towns listed formed part of a sequence: Crete, Dorchester, Exeter, Fairmont, Grafton, Harvard, Inland, Juniata, Kenesaw.
- Gaffney (1968), p. 15.
- "Map of Nebraska, published by the Burlington Route, 1886". Library of Congress - American Memory. Retrieved 2013-05-08.
- "Shickley - Fillmore County". Nebraska... Our Towns. Retrieved 2013-05-01.
- "Strang - Fillmore County". Nebraska... Our Towns. Retrieved 2013-05-01.
- "Ohiowa - Fillmore County". Nebraska... Our Towns. Retrieved 2013-05-08.
- Gaffney (1968), p. 254.
- "Milligan - Fillmore County". Nebraska... Our Towns. Retrieved 2013-05-08.
- Murphy, D. "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: Cesko-narodni sin/Milligan Auditorium". Nebraska State Historical Society. Retrieved 2013-05-17.
- Hendrickson, Joan E., Norman E. Landgre, and Joni Gilkerson. "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: Stockholm Swedish Lutheran Church & Cemetery". Nebraska State Historical Society. Retrieved 2013-05-17.
- "General Highway Map: Fillmore County, Nebraska." Nebraska Department of Roads. Retrieved 2013-04-28.
- Map: Nebraska Operating Division. BNSF Railway. Retrieved 2013-04-29.
- "Nebraska Railroads". Nebraska Department of Roads. 2009-01-31. Retrieved 2013-05-08.
- "Counties and county seats by license plate prefix numbers". Nebraska Department of Economic Development. Retrieved 2013-05-08.
- "History Of Nebraska Passenger Vehicle License Plates". Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles. Retrieved 2013-05-08.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
Gaffney, Wilbur G., ed. (1968). The Fillmore County Story. Copyrighted by Geneva Community Grange No. 403.
Keech, C. F. and V. H. Dreeszen (1968). "Geology and Ground-Water Resources of Fillmore County, Nebraska". United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2013-04-28.
Perkey, Elton A. (2003). Perkey's Nebraska Place Names. Nebraska State Historical Society; revised edition.