James C. Mitchell (settler)

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James C. Mitchell (1810-1860) was the founder of the town of Florence in the Nebraska Territory in 1854.

Biography[edit]

Born in Pangborn, Pennsylvania, Mitchell ran away from home at the age of fifteen to become a seaman. By age eighteen, he was captain of a ship which sailed between New York City and Liverpool, England. In 1836, Mitchell married the widow of a Royal Navy chaplain who was lost at sea.

Mitchell worked as an Indian Commission in Bellevue, Iowa in 1840. Leaving for California in 1850, the Mitchells decided to stay in Council Bluffs where they opened a mercantile. Following the advice of Peter A. Sarpy, Michell bought the land where the abandoned Mormon settlement of Cutler's Park stood, platting the village of Florence in January 1854, including the old buildings and improvements.[1]

Mitchell thought the town would be the Nebraska Territory's Capitol and in 1854 co-founded the Nebraska Winter Quarters Company, which became the Florence Land Company in 1855.[2] He named the town "Florence" after his wife's granddaughter. Mitchell himself owned 277 lots in Florence and was very active in real estate in both Florence and Columbus, Nebraska. Mitchell joined the first board of the Bank of Florence in 1856.[3]

Mitchell served in the First Territorial Council and cast the vote that gave the early capitol to Omaha. As a commissioner involved in choosing the location for the second capitol building, he selected the site where Central High School now stands.

Mitchell died in Florence in 1860.[4]

Claims[edit]

Michell owned several claims and ran numerous enterprises throughout the Territory. They included Elk Horn and Loup Fork Ferry and Bridge Company, the Winter Quarter Ferry, land once owned by the Council Buffs and Nebraska Ferry Company along the Missouri River, the Columbus Company, the steam ferry boat Nebraska No. 2, and the Florence Bridge Company.[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska - Douglas County
  2. ^ "Florence, Douglas County, Nebraska", Nebraska State Historical Society. Retrieved 4/17/08.
  3. ^ (1856) Laws, Joint Resolutions, and Memorials Passed at the Regular Session of the Nebraska Territorial Legislature. p 177.
  4. ^ "James C. Mitchell", Nebraska State Historical Society. Retrieved 4/17/08.
  5. ^ "James C. Mitchell", Nebraska State Historical Society. Retrieved 4/17/08.