Nebraska Counties
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Nebraska Counties

There is ninety-three counties in state of Nebraska. Despite the fact that Sarpy County contained the oldest settlement in the state, it was one of the last lands along the river to be recognized by law. Finally, on February 1, 1857, the land "where the cities meet the country" was officially created.

Merrick County, Nebraska

Merrick County Education, Geography, and HistoryMerrick County, Nebraska Courthouse

Merrick County is a county located in the state of Nebraska. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 7,845. Merrick County was formed in 1858 and later organized in 1864.  Merrick's county seat is Central City. The county was named for Elvira Merrick, the maiden name of the wife of territorial legislator Henry W. DePuy.

Merrick County is part of the Grand Island, NE Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Etymology - Origin of Merrick County Name

The county was named in honor of Elvira Merrick, the maiden name of the wife of territorial legislator Henry W. DePuy of Dodge County, who introduced the bill creating the county


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Merrick County History

Merrick County could literally be called a "panhandle" county, but not because of Nebraskans' general reference to the 11 counties which are located in the state's Panhandle region. Rather, a series of events at the time Merrick County's boundaries were created resulted in the county having narrow "panhandles" on both the northwest and northeast corners.

When the Legislature laid out the county in 1858, the northern boundary was a straight line. The preceding year a reservation had been established for the Pawnee tribe and Merrick County took in about half the reservation. As the Pawnee tribe gradually moved to Oklahoma, the Legislature adopted an act to create Nance County from the southern 180 square miles of reservation, all of which were located within Merrick County. Since the Pawnees had wanted both banks of the Loup River included in their reservation, the boundary line was jogged to roughly parallel the Platte River. Thus, Merrick County today has a jagged northern boundary, with narrow "panhandles" on both corners.

The county's history dates back to the pioneers who were headed west along the Oxbow Trail. The Western State Company used this route to carry mail between Omaha and Fort Kearny. It established a station about three miles southwest of what today is Central City. Known as "Lone Tree Station" because of a lone cottonwood tree, it became a welcome resting point for weary travelers.

When Merrick County was established, it was named in honor of Elvira Merrick, wife of territorial legislator Henry W. DePuy of Dodge County. At the same time, a settlement name Elvira was named the county seat. The advancement of the railroad contributed much to the development of Central City, a town given this name because it was centrally located in the agriculture region of the state. With its development, Central City became the county seat and eventually Elvira ceased to exist.

Before a courthouse was built in the 1870s, county offices were housed in the residences of various officials.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 494 square miles (1,280 km2), of which 485 square miles (1,260 km2) is land and 9.6 square miles (25 km2) (1.9%) is water.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Platte County (northeast)
  • Polk County (east)
  • Hamilton County (south)
  • Hall County (southwest)
  • Howard County (west)
  • Nance County (north)


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