Custer County was organized on June 17, 1877, and named after General George Armstrong Custer. In 1879, settlers began taking open lands up and down Muddy Creek valley (where two old buffalo trails intersected). These trails were later followed by gold seekers going from Kearney to the Black Hills.Westerville has the honor of being the first town in Custer County. The county’s first newspaper, the Custer County Leaderwas founded here in 1881. The first church was organized here in 1879 and continues to hold regular Sunday services. Nearby is the location of the first three county fairs.In 1889, the new courthouse was built. (This was not the original courthouse.) Construction began in January. It was a castle-like structure with vaults and rounded corner towers. It had 15 ornate rooms and should serve the county for 60 to 75 years.On January 13, 1910, the Custer County courthouse burned to the ground. Two men were released from the jail as firemen struggled valiantly to control the fire. The building and its contents were lost, but the corner vaults preserved most of the priceless records held within. The only records lost were those of the school Superintendent and Sheriff.In 1911, the new three story courthouse was constructed. Its cost: $55,087. This courthouse was to be fireproof, and still stands today.

The Original County Courthouse is located in Morgan Park in Callaway. This spot is ideal for picnics. Visitors can gaze at the building and imagine what may have happened inside those walls.

Throughout Custer County’s rich history many communities have been established. Unfortunately, not all have stood the test of time. Some towns you won’t find on the map anymore:

  • Climax– Named by Mrs. Mary T. Ewing who owned the farm on which the post office was located and had charge of it when it was established.
  • Dale– Named for its first postmaster, Mr. Daley. The settlers wanted to call it Daley, but he objected so they shortened it to Dale.
  • Elton– Named after Elton, New York.
  • Huxley– Named by J.M. Lowry, its first postmaster. It was named for the scientist Thomas H. Huxley, whose work Mr. Lowrey admired and studied.
  • Lillian– Hugh Gohean, its first postmaster, named this community after his second daughter.
  • Lodi– Named after Lodi, a city in Italy.
  • Lomax– A station on the Union Pacific Railway. Apparently it was named after E.L. Lomax, assistant general passenger and transfer agent in Omaha.
  • Milldale– Station on a branch line of the Union Pacific. Apparently named for a mill site along a near-by creek, the South Loup River.
  • Ortello– Named for Grove Ortello Joyner. First called Ortello Grove and later shortened to Ortello.
  • Walworth– Named in honor of Mr. Walworth who operated a line of lumber yards in Nebraska at the time of establishment.
  • Yucahill – Located in northwest Custer County. So named because of the prevalence of a liliaceous plant known as bear-grass or Spanish bayonet (Yucca glauca) in the vicinity.

Today Custer County is the second largest county (area-wise) in the state of Nebraska, consisting of 2,556 square miles and 1,635,560 acres. The topography of the county is from level irrigated land, to rolling farm land, to almost mountainous canyons. The primary crop is corn, although wheat, milo, alfalfa and feed grains are common. Custer County is considered the “Gateway to the Sandhills”. This is a vast area of naturally rolling grasslands where cattle graze belly deep in the kind of grass that makes them look corn-fed, and drink clean water that makes for healthy cattle as well as people. The Sandhills are a beautiful, productive grasslands not to be found elsewhere in the United States.

Custer County is a hunter’s paradise with special emphasis on pheasant. Of course if you prefer to hunt deer, wild turkey, quail, ducks, grouse, or dove, we can find those too!

Custer County has within its boundaries two rivers, the South Loup and the Middle Loup, which run nearly equal distances north and south of Broken Bow. Both are even flow streams fed by Sandhill springs and always carry plenty of water. This makes for good stream fishing which is a sport not neglected by the local people.

Custer County Online