When a Sioux Indian reservation was established north of here in Dakota Territory in 1878, early settlers in the region grew fearful of attack. They requested military protection, and in 1880 Fort Niobrara was built a few miles east of present-day Valentine. There was no later Indian trouble in the immediate area, and the Ghost Dance religion in the early 1890's brought the last major Indian scare. Among the officers once stationed at Fort Niobrara were John J. Pershing, later commander of U.S. forces in World War I, and Frederick W. Benteen, a survivor of General Custer's ill-fated staff.
Fort Niobrara was an active post until 1906. In 1912 part of the original military reservation was set aside as a national game preserve. It has since become Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge, with ranges maintaining sizable herds of buffalo, elk and Texas longhorn cattle.
Cherry County, a center of cattle production, was organized in 1883 and named for Lieutenant Samuel A. Cherry, a Fort Niobrara office killed in the line of duty. Valentine, founded in 1882, was named for early-day congressman E. K. Valentine.
Cherry County Historical Society
Historical Land Mark Council
Hwy. 20, southeast of Valentine