The first homesteads were filed in 1866 by William O. Bussard and William C. Whitaker along the West Fork of the Blue River. Mrs. E. A. Whitaker, the first white woman, came in 1867. The first white children, Emma Whitaker Hall and Authur Dixon were born in 1869. Fillmore City was the first town platted in 1870. Other settlers soon followed, and on April 21, 1871 an election was held for officers to organize a new county, named for President Millard Fillmore. The county seat was named for Geneva, Illinois, the former home of Nathaniel McCalla in whose dugout the election was held.
The completion of the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad across the county in 1871, resulted in large numbers of settlers taking up the land and the towns of Exeter, Fairmont and Grafton were platted. Other towns now in the county are Burress, Milligan, Ohiowa, Shickley and Strang.
The early pioneers came from varied origins, Anglo-Saxon, Bohemian, German, and Swedish. Indians were not a major threat to the settlers but blizzards, grasshoppers, prairie fires and droughts were major hazards. HONOUR TO PIONEERS WHO BROKE THE SOD THAT MEN TO COME MIGHT LIVE.
Descendents of Johnathan K. and Emma E. Hall
Nebraska State Historical Society
US 81, courthouse lawn, Geneva