Cities, Towns, Villages
Barada; Dawson; Falls City; Humboldt; Preston; Rulo; Salem; Shubert; Stella; Verdon
Richardson County was among the eight original counties to comprise the Nebraska Territory in 1854. Located along the Missouri River in the far southeast corner of the state, the county was officially organized the following year by the Territorial Legislature and named after William A. Richardson of Illinois, who would serve as Nebraska's fourth territorial governor in 1858.
In the early years the area of Richardson County included what is today Pawnee County. But public sentiment in the western part of the county began to develop about creating a separate unit of government, primarily because most the of county offices were held by men living in the eastern part of the county. In 1856 the area was divided into two counties.
Embedded deep in the history of Richardson County is the famous John Brown's Underground Railroad, a secret network of cooperation which aided slaves in reaching sanctuary in the free states and Canada. Several of the network's stations were set up in this area. Ann Dorrington was one of the area's residents who befriended those fleeing slavery. Her kindness and compassion led to her being known as "Mother" Dorrington.
Falls City would officially become the county seat in 1871, a full 16 years after the county was organized. This brought to an end a hotly-contested campaign that Falls City and Salem were embroiled in for more than a decade.
In 1872 a proposal to issue $25,000 in bonds to build a stone and brick courthouse did not meet with the approval of the county's voters. The following year the proposal was scaled back to $15,000 and this time it was successful. The courthouse that was built would stand until May 1919, when it was destroyed by fire.
The following July an election was held to levy five mills on the county's valuation for the purpose of building a new courthouse. Although voters approved the levy, construction on the present courthouse did not begin until 1924.