Cities, Towns, Villages
Craig, Decatur, Lyons, Oakland, Tekamah
Burt County holds the distinction of being among the oldest counties in the state, as it was one of the first eight counties to comprise the Nebraska Territory. When its original boundaries were defined in 1855, the county actually included the entire northeast corner of the state, stretching nearly 100 miles westward from the Missouri River. In 1862 the county's boundaries were significantly reduced and redefined to present day 486 square miles.
Burt County was named after Francis Burt of South Carolina, who was appointed Nebraska's first territorial governor. Burt died Oct. 18, 1854, a mere two days after taking office.
The history of the area that is known as Burt County dates back to the early 1800s. It has been reported that Meriwether Lewis and William Clark stopped in the area to visit the grave of Chief Blackbird during their exploration trip up the Missouri River. There are also reports of settlers coming to the area as early as the 1830s.
The Nebraska Stock Company made the first organized attempt to settle the area in 1854 when a group of pioneers staked a claim on the site that is today Tekamah. With the claim, the town of Tekamah was founded on Oct. 7. Five months later, through an act adopted by the Legislature, Tekamah was named the county seat.
Although Tekamah was incorporated in 1855, it would be 23 years before a courthouse was built. For many years, meetings were held in various buildings in the town. An old blockhouse was used for court proceedings and the building's attic served as a jail. In response to the irritation expressed by citizens, petitions were circulated in 1877 in an effort to construct a courthouse. The following year a courthouse became reality when a building was constructed at a cost of less than $3,000. The courthouse served the residents of the county until 1917 when it was replaced by an elegant structure that still houses the county's government offices.