Fontanelle, Nebraska

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Fontanelle, Nebraska
Fontanelle Town Hall from SW.JPG
Fontanelle Township Hall
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Fontanelle, Nebraska
Location within the state of Nebraska
Coordinates: 41°32′19″N96°25′41″W / 41.53861°N 96.42806°W / 41.53861; -96.42806 Coordinates: 41°32′19″N96°25′41″W / 41.53861°N 96.42806°W / 41.53861; -96.42806
Country United States
State Nebraska
County Washington
Elevation 1,085 ft (331 m)

Fontanelle is an unincorporated community and census-designated place in Dodge and Washington counties, Nebraska, United States. [1] 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. [2] The town dwindled from a population of 500 to a few dozen after an early university left in the 1870s, it failed to get a railroad connection, and the nation suffered a financial depression. [3]

Unincorporated area Region of land not governed by own local government

In law, an unincorporated area is a region of land that is not governed by a local municipal corporation; similarly an unincorporated community is a settlement that is not governed by its own local municipal corporation, but rather is administered as part of larger administrative divisions, such as a township, parish, borough, county, city, canton, state, province or country. Occasionally, municipalities dissolve or disincorporate, which may happen if they become fiscally insolvent, and services become the responsibility of a higher administration. Widespread unincorporated communities and areas are a distinguishing feature of the United States and Canada. In most other countries of the world, there are either no unincorporated areas at all, or these are very rare; typically remote, outlying, sparsely populated or uninhabited areas.

A census-designated place (CDP) is a concentration of population defined by the United States Census Bureau for statistical purposes only. CDPs have been used in each decennial census since 1980 as the counterparts of incorporated places, such as self-governing cities, towns, and villages, for the purposes of gathering and correlating statistical data. CDPs are populated areas that generally include one officially designated but currently unincorporated small community, for which the CDP is named, plus surrounding inhabited countryside of varying dimensions and, occasionally, other, smaller unincorporated communities as well. CDPs include small rural communities, colonias located along the U.S. border with Mexico, and unincorporated resort and retirement communities and their environs.

Dodge County, Nebraska County in the United States

Dodge County is a county in the U.S. state of Nebraska. As of the 2010 United States Census, the population was 36,691. Its county seat is Fremont. The county was formed in 1855 and named after Iowa Senator Augustus C. Dodge.



A misspelling of the name of Logan Fontenelle, this town was named in honor of the Omaha Tribe leader, who was killed in 1855 by Sioux. He had served as interpreter to a delegation of Omaha chiefs in negotiation with the United States when they agreed to cede most of their land in Nebraska to the US. The town was originally organized by the Nebraska Colonization Company, founded in Quincy, Illinois in 1854. The Company's goal in 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.

Logan Fontenelle Omaha chief

Logan Fontenelle, also known as Shon-ga-ska, was a trader of Omaha and French ancestry, who served for years as an interpreter to the US Indian agent at the Bellevue Agency in Nebraska. He was especially important during the United States negotiations with Omaha leaders in 1853–1854 about ceding land to the United States prior to settlement on a reservation. His mother was a daughter of Big Elk, the principal chief, and his father was a respected French-American fur trader.

Sioux Native American and First Nations people in North America

The Sioux, also known as Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, are groups of Native American tribes and First Nations peoples in North America. The term can refer to any ethnic group within the Great Sioux Nation or to any of the nation's many language dialects. The modern Sioux consist of two major divisions based on language divisions: the Dakota and Lakota.

Quincy, Illinois City in Illinois, United States

Quincy, known as Illinois's "Gem City," is a city in and the county seat of Adams County, Illinois, United States, located on the Mississippi River. The 2010 census counted a population of 40,633 in the city itself, up from 40,366 in 2000. As of July 1, 2015, the Quincy Micro Area had an estimated population of 77,220.

Fontanelle was the original seat of the Dodge County, but later became a part of Washington County. It was originally promoted for the territorial capital, but lost to Omaha City to the south. [4] It had one of the first churches in the Nebraska Territory. [5] 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. [6]

Omaha, Nebraska City in Nebraska, United States

Omaha is the largest city in the state of Nebraska and the county seat of Douglas County. Omaha is located in the Midwestern United States on the Missouri River, about 10 miles (15 km) north of the mouth of the Platte River. The nation's 40th-largest city, Omaha's 2018 estimated population was 466,061.

Crete, Nebraska City in Nebraska, United States

Crete is a city in Saline County, Nebraska, United States. The population was 6,960 at the 2010 census.

Located next to the Elkhorn River, the town was raided several times by the Pawnee in its early years. By August 1855 the United States Army established a post in the town to protect the area, with additional posts set up at Tekamah and Elkhorn City and a standing militia protected the region for several years after. [7] The New York Times sent a correspondent late in that year to confirm the safety of settlers to the Nebraska Territory. [8] In 1859 the Pawnee were encamped across the river during the Pawnee War. [9]

Elkhorn River river in the United States of America

The Elkhorn River originates in the eastern Sandhills of Nebraska and is one of the largest tributaries of the Platte River, flowing 290 miles (470 km) and joining the Platte just southwest of Omaha, approximately 1 mile (2 km) south and 3 miles (5 km) west of Gretna.

Pawnee people ethnic group

The Pawnee are a Plains Indian tribe who are headquartered in Pawnee, Oklahoma. Pawnee people are enrolled in the federally recognized Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma. Historically, they lived in Nebraska and Kansas. In the Pawnee language, the Pawnee people refer to themselves as Chatiks si chatiks or "Men of Men."

United States Army Land warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Army (USA) is the land warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States, and is designated as the Army of the United States in the United States Constitution. As the oldest and most senior branch of the U.S. military in order of precedence, the modern U.S. Army has its roots in the Continental Army, which was formed to fight the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783)—before the United States of America was established as a country. After the Revolutionary War, the Congress of the Confederation created the United States Army on 3 June 1784 to replace the disbanded Continental Army. The United States Army considers itself descended from the Continental Army, and dates its institutional inception from the origin of that armed force in 1775.

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. [10]

National Register of Historic Places federal list of historic sites in the United States

The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) is the United States federal government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation for their historical significance. A property listed in the National Register, or located within a National Register Historic District, may qualify for tax incentives derived from the total value of expenses incurred preserving the property.

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


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.

Fremont, Nebraska City in Nebraska, United States

Fremont is a city in Dodge County in the eastern portion of the state of Nebraska in the Midwestern United States. The population was 26,397 at the 2010 census. Fremont is the county seat and the home of Midland University.

Nebraska Highway 91 highway in Nebraska

Nebraska Highway 91 is a highway in central and eastern Nebraska. Its western terminus is at an intersection with Nebraska Highway 2 north of Dunning. Its eastern terminus is at an intersection with U.S. Highway 30 and U.S. Highway 75 in Blair.

See also

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Nebraska Territory territory of the USA between 1854-1867

The Territory of Nebraska was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from May 30, 1854, until March 1, 1867, when the final extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Nebraska. The Nebraska Territory was created by the Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854. The territorial capital was Omaha. The territory encompassed areas of what is today Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Colorado, and Montana.

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  1. U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Fontanelle, Nebraska
  2. 1860 Federal Census of Fontanelle, Nebraska Territory. Retrieved 3/26/08.
  3. Olson, J.C. and Naugle, R.C. (1997) History of Nebraska. University of Nebraska Press. p 99.
  4. "Nebraska Colonization Company", Nebraska State Historical Society. Retrieved 3/25/08.
  5. Sheldon, A.E. "Nebraska as a Territory", History and Stories of Nebraska. Retrieved 3/26/08.
  6. Federal Writers' Project. (1939) Nebraska: A Guide to the Cornhusker State. p 283.
  7. "The Indians of Nebraska--Tranquility Restored", New York Times. August 29, 1855. Retrieved 3/25/08.
  8. "From Nebraska--Affaire on the Frontier", New York Times. October 8, 1855. Retrieved 3/25/08.
  9. "Indian Troubles in Nebraska--History of the Pawnee War", New York Times. Retrieved 3/25/08.
  10. "National Register of Historic Places" Archived 2008-03-31 at the Wayback Machine ., Washington County Historical Society. Retrieved 3/25/08.