Cities, Towns, Villages
Big Springs; Chappell
The area of Deuel County was once a popular hunting ground for the Ogalala and Brule tribes of the Teton Sioux Indian nation. An influx of trappers, pioneers and settlers led to growing tensions and frequent battles.
Deuel County, named after a Union Pacific Railroad official, was once the eastern third of Cheyenne County. It was split in 1888 and officially organized the following year. At the time, Deuel County also included the area that is today Garden County. In 1909 an election was held and Garden County was formed from the northern three-fourths of Deuel County.
The county seat of Chappell possesses an interesting history. Charles Henry Chappell, an Illinois railroad man, was responsible for construction in the western division. When lumber, rails and supplies were shipped from Omaha to the end of the route, the instructions would simply read, "Send this to Chappell." The siding became known as Chappell.
Becoming the county seat was not an easy task. When the county was organized, a three-way fight involving Big Springs, Chappell and Froid developed. A special election was held in February 1889. Chappell precinct had 275 legal voters, while Big Springs had 200 legal voters. When the election was completed, Chappell precinct reported a 3,210 to seven victory. Big Springs claimed it had won by a 5,616 to 87 vote. The honesty of Froid was demonstrated when it show a tally of just 292 votes.
Charges of illegal voting were made by both Chappell and Big Springs. A judge ordered county offices to remain in Chappell. It would not be until April 1894 that Judge Silas A. Holcombe rendered a decision. Since the ballots and election records had been stolen, the court could not make a determination as to the victor and ordered a new election. It took two elections that year before a majority vote was cast and Chappell was the winner.
The present courthouse was constructed in 1915 and is located on the same site as the first small structure that was used during the county's stormy organizational days.