Cities, Towns, Villages
On Feb. 17, 1877, the boundaries of Wheeler County were established by the Legislature and named the new county in honor of Maj. Daniel H. Wheeler, a long-time secretary of the Nebraska State Board of Agriculture. It would be four years later, however, that the county would officially organize.
Gov. Albinus Nance appointed a special board of commissioners and a county clerk who would be responsible for the organization efforts. At the time the county was being organized it included the area that is today neighboring Garfield County to the west. The commissioners agreed to meet at a county seat known as Cedar City because it was a central location. Cedar City, so named because three large cedar trees stood there, was located approximately six miles north of the present town of Ericson.
In 1881 residents in the western half of the county proposed their area should become a separate county and in November of that year Wheeler County was divided.
The question of where Wheeler County should locate its government offices became an important topic in 1885. Cumminsville, the first townsite in the county, sought the honor. So too did an area just south of where Bartlett is located today. The Bartlett site offered several incentives, including land on which to build a courthouse. After two special elections, Bartlett was selected over Cumminsville by a vote of 193 to 90.
A modest courthouse was soon built in Bartlett. A fire-proof brick vault was built in Ericson to hold valuable county records. This decision proved to be wise, as in 1909 the courthouse was destroyed by fire. Ericson made an effort to relocate the county seat there. But in a special election, voters rejected the idea and instead approved a $5,000 expenditure to replace the courthouse. This structure was completed in 1920.
In 1976 the courthouse building was condemned by the State Fire Marshal. Concerned citizens began efforts to replace it. After more than six years of study, the present courthouse was completed in May 1982.