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Edward A. Creighton

Edward A. Creighton, one of the most successful businessmen of Irish ancestry to settle in Nebraska, came to Omaha in 1857. The Ohio native had been a farmer, freighter, and builder of telegraph lines. Creighton resumed the telegraph business in 1858, assisting with the building of a line from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Omaha, which gave Omaha its first connection by telegraph to the East Coast. Creighton visualized the building of a telegraph line to the Pacific Coast. He was commissioned in 1860-61 to survey a route between the Missouri River and the Pacific Coast. The Union Pacific Railroad later, for the most part, followed this route.

Congress subsidized the building of a telegraph line from Julesburg, Colorado, through South Pass to Salt Lake City, where it was to connect with a line to be built by a California company. Creighton became the first general superintendent of the new company, known as the Pacific Telegraph Company. In October 1861 the lines merged at Salt Lake City. He resigned as company president in 1867 and later built a telegraph line from Salt Lake City to Montana.

Creighton invested both in the Pacific Telegraph Company and in a freighting company which operated from Omaha to Denver, then to Salt Lake City, and to the Montana gold fields. He also contracted for grading for the Union Pacific Railroad and put up its telegraph lines. In 1864 Creighton became a cattleman near Laramie, Wyoming, and supplied beef to the Union Pacific construction crews.

Through the years Creighton maintained his business interests in Omaha. He was president of the First National Bank in Omaha from its founding in 1863 until his death on November 5, 1874. He had hoped to build an institution of learning in Omaha, but died before this was accomplished. However, his widow, Mary Wareham Creighton, provided the initial funds for the formation of Creighton University in 1875 through her will.

(March 1999)


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