Antelope 

History

When it came time to select a name for a newly-created county in Northeast Nebraska, State Sen. Leander Gerrard recalled an incident that had occurred to him in this area the preceding year. In 1870 Gerrard was a member of a party that was in pursuit of thieves who had stolen livestock in the Columbus area. The trail led to the northwest and Cedar Creek. Tired and low on provisions, Gerrard's party was able to kill a young antelope for food. So in March 1871 when the Legislature defined the boundaries of this new county, Gerrard suggested it be known as Antelope.

In June 1871 the county was officially organized and 202 votes were cast in the first election. The present site of Oakdale was selected to serve as a temporary county seat.

John Neligh led a party up the Elkhorn River Valley in 1872 to explore the area. Neligh was so impressed with what he found that he returned to Omaha and purchased 560 acres of land along the river. It was his intention to persuade Antelope County voters to select his site as the county seat. On election day a messenger carrying this notice from West Point became lost along the way. Neligh's message to the inhabitants of the county failed to arrive in time and Oakdale was subsequently victorious. A one-story frame courthouse was built the following year for $650. In 1874 it was destroyed by fire and residents decided at that time to move the county offices to a more central location. Neligh, the current county seat, was the overwhelming choice.

Early farmers in Antelope County gave considerable attention to planting fruit and forest trees. It has been estimated that by 1882 more than 15,000 apple, plum and cherry trees had been planted.

The Neligh community became widely known for Neligh Mills, built on the north bank of the Elkhorn River. Grinding began at the mill on Oct. 10, 1874 and within the first 2½ months of operation 7,500 bushel of wheat had been processed. Today, Neligh Mills holds a prominent place in the area's history and is a popular stop for visitors to the area.