Cities, Towns, Villages
Brandon; Elsie; Grainton; Grant; Madrid; Venango
For many years, Perkins County was part of Keith County to the north. But distinct differences in the topography of the two areas, combined with the sheer size of Keith County, led to the division of the areas in 1887 and two separate counties.
The lands north of the Platte River were classified as Sandhills, conducive to cattle ranching. South the river were the High Plains, which were better suited for farming. Those settlers who farmed south of the Platte River petitioned Keith County for the establishment of their own county in 1887. That November an election was held and the proposal carried.
There are two versions of how the county was named. The first claims it was named after Charles E. Perkins, who was president of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. The local version is that the county was named after Joseph Perkins, a former resident of Grant.
The first order of business for the new county was to establish a county seat. Knowing the financial benefits associated with being the county seat, the townsites of Grant, Madrid and Lisbon competed for the honor. After three elections, considerably more votes were cast than there were inhabitants, and following a legal challenge, the District Court ruled in favor of Grant in October 1988.
Grant had been established two years earlier. It began with a store and a newspaper. On July 4 of the following year, a major celebration took place when a Chicago, Burlington and Quincy train pulled into Grant for the first time. With the coming of the railroad came a steady influx of settlers. By the fall of 1887, Grant boasted three banks and many additional businesses.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Perkins County had no permanent courthouse. In 1901 the county's offices were housed in an old bank building. The offices would remain in this building until 1927, when the present three-story, stone courthouse was built.