County History


Nebraska became a state on March 1, 1867. Nearly 20 years later, on November 2, 1886, Box Butte was formed from Dawes County by a public vote. Box Butte County was named after a large butte located roughly 12 miles north/northeast of Alliance. The butte is box-shaped in outline. Box Butte County was officially incorporated in 1887.

Box Butte County is predominately rural farm and ranch land. With 1,078 square miles, the county consists of only three communities: Alliance, Hemingford and Berea.

Hemingford (pop. 803) was first settled by Canadian immigrants in the summer of 1885. A town company was organized in 1886 and land was sold to the Lincoln Land Company, which formally platted the townsite. Much of Hemingford’s early history involved the location of the Box Butte county seat. After the county was created from southern Dawes County in 1886, the courthouse was built in rival Nonpareil. Later, in an 1890 election, Hemingford secured the prize with the backing of the Lincoln Land Company, whose goal was to promote the community’s growth. County offices remained in Hemingford until 1899 when voters designated Alliance the permanent county seat in still another bitterly-fought election. The courthouse was moved by railroad from Hemingford to Alliance in 1899. Hemingford has hosted the Box Butte County Fair since 1926.

Alliance (pop. 8,491) was founded in June, 1887, and named Grand Lake. The Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy railroad opened a station for business on February 3, 1888. The name Alliance was offered by railroad superintendent G.W. Holdrege and accepted by the citizenry. Alliance was the junction point between two lines of the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy railway. Alliance was officially incorporated on March 28, 1888.

The railroad reached the area of Berea (pop. 50), located halfway between Alliance and Hemingford, in 1889. Railroad support facilities included a water tower and section house. The town was founded by a group of settlers, originally from Ohio, who named their new home after Berea, Ohio. In 1890-91, the town had a population of 50, and a general store, newspaper, and post office; five years later, a school and community hall had been added. In 1960, Berea sported a population of 75. The District 39 school was closed in 2007.

As of the 2010 census, Box Butte County's population was 11,308.

In the Nebraska license plate system, Box Butte County is represented by the prefix 65.

Four (4) Major Highways help make up the county's transportation system, including U.S. Highway 385 and State Highways 2, 71, and 87.

-- Information from the Knight Museum and Sandhills Center, Alliance.