In the spring of 1879 the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad started work on the grade to extend its line between Aurora and Central City, thus providing the opportunity for another town along the way.
Back during the beginning of settlement in the new territory, people of different nationalities and religions worked together to build homes, churches, and schools. Where there was a railroad, a station was needed, not only to supply fuel and water for the engine, but to load and deliver freight, passengers and mail.
In the spring of 1879 the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad started work on the grade to extend its line between Aurora and Central City, thus providing the opportunity for another town along the way. At that time, there was a post office on the section line called “Avon,” operated by Nancy Carnahan.
However, early in 1882 the Lincoln Land Company purchased 100 acres from J.W. Marquis, and proceeded to survey and plat a town. It was given the name “Marquette,” in honor of the general attorney for the CB&Q Railroad, Thomas Marquette. The land company named the main street “Marquis Avenue” in honor of the original land owner. The post office at Avon was officially moved and renamed on December 2, 1882.
The first store was in a small shack built on Marquette’s main street. The inventory amounted to ten dollars worth of goods. Almost every day new buildings were built and more business ventures begun. Times were good, and everyone was confident that the town of Marquette was here to stay.
The early businesses included several general merchandise stores, a drug store, a harness shop, a blacksmith and wagon maker, a lumberyard, an implement store, a flour mill, a creamery which made cheese, three grain elevators, two hotels, a restaurant, a hardware and furniture store, and a saloon. You could even buy a casket at one of the general stores, and O.T. Greer, who ran the tin shop, was the undertaker.
The town also had a newspaper, a doctor, a dentist, and veterinarian. There were three rural mail routes when that service started July 1, 1902.
Later churches were served by circuit riders. Once the town was established, the Presbyterian and Methodist Congregations were organized. The church of the United Brethren in Christ began in 1873. There are two country churches nearby; St. John’s Lutheran Church in Kronborg and Mamre Evangelical Church.
The first school, a two-room building, opened in 1884. It was replaced with a brick structure in 1913, providing classes for K-12. Most activities took place at the school or in the community hall.
The Village of Marquette was incorporated in March 1889. The governing body was a board of trustees consisting of five elected officials. Two local citizens have served in the state legislature - J.J. Farley in 1889, and Charles Anderson in 1903-05.
Fires in 1906 and 1910 destroyed a number of buildings on both sides of the main street. These were replaced with fire-proof brick structures. However, many, if not all of Marquette’s records were destroyed, making the complete record of the town impossible to verify.
Marquette, located on-half mile west of Highway 14 between Aurora and Central City, recorded a peak population of 308 in 1930. The population has fluctuated over the years, particularly during the Depression and the war years. With different modes of transportation and better roads, people left the community to seek jobs with better pay.
From Nebraska Our Towns: Central Southeast - article by Nina L. Anderson 1987
Edits and updates by the Plainsman Museum 2018, to reflect our mission.
OUR MISSION: The Plainsman Museum is a not-for-profit institution, which focuses on the time from 1860-1950, that collects, preserves, illustrates, and works to establish the History of Hamilton County, Nebraska, through education, exhibits, research, and maintenance of relevant archives and collections.