Fillmore 

History

A "veritable Eden" was the description used to attract early settlers to the area that is now Fillmore County.

In 1871 the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad completed its line that paralleled the west fork of the Big Blue River. Company officials immediately began advertising in Eastern newspapers that a "veritable Eden" awaited anyone who wanted to homestead on the Nebraska plains. Glowing testimonies told of ample water and fuel, rich land, and, of course, easy access to the rail line. These advertisements brought hundreds of settlers to the area. Some found it to be as advertised; others did not and quickly returned to the East, discouraged and disheartened.

The influx of settlers hoping to make their fortune from the land brought in the necessary number of inhabitants needed to officially organize the county, which had been named after President Millard Fillmore when the boundaries were established 15 years earlier. On March 15, 1871, acting Gov. William H. James decreed that a county election would be held the following month. It was decided during that election that a site near the center of the county should be named the county seat.

County commissioners met for the first time later than summer in a dugout located on the land of Col. J.A. McCaully. During the meeting they discussed possible locations for a county seat and McCaully's young daughter, Emma, suggested it be named Geneva, after the town in New York from where the family had come. Thus, the future county seat of Geneva was established on the McCaully farm.

The sale of land at this new townsite took place in June 1872, a year after it had been surveyed. In a general election held in November of that year, residents of the county approved a tax for the purpose of building a wood frame courthouse and jail. By February 1873 the jail was completed. Three months later the courthouse was finished and it would serve county residents for 20 years. It was replaced when the present courthouse was completed in 1893.