Cities, Towns, Villages
Greeley; Scotia; Spalding; Wolbach
Religion played a key role in the early development of Greeley County. In 1871, a group of Seventh-Day Baptists from Wisconsin settled on the north side of the Loup River. Nine years later, the Irish Catholic Colonization Association was formed in Chicago for the purpose of relocating Irish immigrants to the healthy atmosphere in Nebraska. It purchased 25,000 acres from the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad for its colony.
Greeley County is named in honor of Horace Greeley, who said, "Go west young man and grow up with the country." Enough settlers had come west to this area between the Loup and Cedar Rivers that in March 1871 the county was formed and its boundaries established. A post office called Lamartine, which was located on the south bank of the Loup River, was designated as the county seat.
A townsite called Scotia sprang up in the southwest corner of the county in 1874. Townspeople felt that their settlement was a better site for the county seat since the majority of county inhabitants were located in the Loup River Valley. An election confirmed their feelings and in 1885 a one-room courthouse was built.
That same year, a settlement called Greeley Center was established in the geographic center of the county. When the Burlington Railroad passed through Greeley Center two years later, the citizens there felt the growing economy and central location made it a better site for the county seat. A courthouse was built, complete with a jail, in an effort to relocate the local government. After several elections, Greeley Center finally prevailed over Scotia in 1890. Since the post office was known simply as Greeley, the word "Center" was dropped from the name some years later.
Greeley County, like most other counties in Nebraska, proved to be prosperous for the early farmers. In the northwest corner of the county, which is considered part of the Sandhills, ranching sustained the economy. A decade later, farming and ranching are still the principal industries.