Saline County History


Saline County was created by an act of the Territorial Legislature in January 1855 and was officially organized in February 1867, the year Nebraska was admitted to the Union. The county derives its name from a belief held by the early pioneers that great salt springs and deposits could be found in the area. The pioneers' supposition, however, proved to be false.

At the time Saline County was organized, the settlement of Swan City was designated to serve as the county seat. This settlement was located just west of the present day DeWitt. Swan City would be the first of three sites that would serve as the home of the county's government.

In 1871 an election was called to settle a contest that had developed over where the county seat should be located. Vying for the honor were Swan City, Crete, Dorchester and Pleasant Hill. Voters selected the latter settlement and in July of that year county records were moved from Swan City to Pleasant Hill.

Within six years this issue would surface once more and a special election would be called for Sept. 4, 1877. In the first of what would be three elections that year, Pleasant Hill, Crete, Wilber, Dorchester, Friend and Center competed. Since none of the sites received a majority vote, another election was held two weeks later. This time voters were asked to choose from Pleasant Hill, Crete and Wilber. Once again a majority was not gained by any of the three and the election served only to eliminate Pleasant Hill. Finally, during the Nov. 6 general election, Wilber won out over Crete with a majority of 230 votes.

Pleasant Hill would not easily relinquish the county records, however. On Jan. 28, 1878, a contingent of 300 people representing Wilber drove 160 wagons and teams to Pleasant Hill to secure the records. Due to this show of strength and force, Pleasant Hill finally succumbed.

The cornerstone for the present courthouse in Wilber was laid on June 5, 1928 and 12 months later the building was formally dedicated.

Saline County History