Cities, Towns, Villages
Allen; Concord; Dixon; Emerson; Martinsburg; Maskell; Newcastle; Ponca; Wakefield; Waterbury
Dixon County may be the only county in Nebraska that can claim a volcano as part of its history. It may not have been a Mt. Vesuvius, but the phenomenon of nature that occurred prior to the time the county was organized certainly generated as much attention from those who had settled in this area.
As the story goes, the waters of the Missouri River once undermined a large section of bluff along its south bank. As the bluff slid into the river, a chemical reaction occurred between the earth's minerals and the water and for days a column of fire, smoke and fumes rose toward the sky. As rumors began to circulate that a volcano had erupted, a steam-powered excursion boat from Sioux City would bring sightseers up the river at regular intervals to view this anomaly.
The original boundaries of Dixon County were created in 1856 and were redefined again in 1858 and 1860. At the time it was established, the name Dixon was chosen in honor of an early pioneer who had settled in this area. Ponca, said by some to be the fourth-oldest community in Nebraska, has served as the county seat since the days when the county was first organized.
Members of the Ponca Indian tribe inhabited this area long before the first settlers arrived. That changed the year the county's boundaries were created, as a group of 11 Easterners settled along the creek banks that would eventually become the town of Ponca. Despite a hand-drawn sign that proclaimed the area to be Indian territory, the settlers staked out claims and built sod shanties. In August of that same year, Frank West arrived from Sioux City. West had a reputation for being a great fighter and seeing that same hand-drawn sign, he kicked it to the ground. West would soon begin platting the first 24 blocks of the townsite that he daringly named Ponca, after the tribe.
The county's original courthouse was built in 1883, 27 years after West founded Ponca. A three-story brick addition was added in 1938.