Omaha city immigration and expansion

Omaha City started as a remote Indian territory, which was part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. With the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act (May 30, 1854), public lands in these areas were allowed for private use. These attracted land speculators, and increased the development in the area. On February 2, 1857, Omaha was incorporated by the state legislature of Nebraska. The passage of the Pacific Railroad Act on June 24, 1868, making Omaha one of terminals of the transcontinental railroad system, was one of the biggest boast to its development. Another big boast to its increase in population happened after the Civil War.

Former slaves from other states heard that this state was a good place to live in. These increased the American Black residents to at least 10% of the total Nebraska population. At the turn of the century, there was also a sudden surge in population increase, due to attractions of Omaha’s rich frontier heritage and economic advancements. During World War I, many of the white residents went to the battlefronts. The black workers were assimilated into the society by taking over the jobs left by the white workers. Miseries caused by the Great Depression were somewhat alleviated, when jobs to make war materials became available.

Before 1835 (Omaha population- less than 1000) The territory that would eventually become the city of Omaha, Nebraska, was acquired as a part of the Louisiana Purchase, which was completed by Thomas Jefferson in 1803. The open plains of the central United States were, at this time, uncharted. Native American groups were the first inhabitants of the region. These groups included the Pawnee, Otoe and Sioux. By the early eighteenth century the Omaha Indians, a group of Indians who shared cultural traditions with the Pawnee, had moved into the vicinity of present-day Omaha.

The word "Omaha" means "against the current. " It is speculated that the Omaha Indians were referred to as such due to their earlier, northward movements against the current of the Mississippi River . ( Handbook of American Indians, 1906) 1835 to 1850 (Population less than 1000) Mormons established the first non-Native settlements in the region at what would become known as Cutler's Park. They suffered many deaths during their stay in the area due to the challenging climate, poor living conditions, lack of adequate food and resulting disease.

(omaha. adamhaeder. com/trails/index. htm -) 4 1850-1860 (Population- less than 1000) Omaha was officially incorporated by the state legislature on February 2, 1857. The Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed by the U. S. Congress on May 30, 1854. It allowed people in the territories of Kansas and Nebraska to decide for them whether or not to allow slavery within their borders. The Act served to repeal the Missouri Compromise of 1820 which prohibited slavery north of latitude 36°30?. (www. learncalifornia. org/doc. asp? id=112) 1860-1870 (Population- 1,900)

Arguably the most significant event in the early development of Omaha was the passage of the Pacific Railroad Act on June 24, 1862. This act provided for the construction of a transcontinental railroad from an unspecified point on the Missouri River to a western terminus at Sacramento or San Francisco, California. (www. learncalifornia. org/doc. asp? id=112) 1870-1880 (Population-16,100) The 1870s: Growing Pains. The forces of settlement that were at work in the West brought profound changes to Nebraska in the decade immediately 5 following the close of the Civil War.

Population of Nebraska, which had been only 28,841 in 1861, at the beginning of the war, increased to 122,993 by 1870 and was estimated at 250,000 in 1874. (www. khastv. com/modules/news/index. php? storytopic=0&start=3375) 1880-1890 (Population-30,500) In summarizing the progress of the decade, Addison E. Sheldon wrote: In it came the largest addition to our population; the greatest increase in our production; the furthest extension of railway mileage; the greatest change in the physical aspects of our state. More land was taken by settlers in this period, more livestock added, larger increase in crops of all kinds, more new towns were founded, more post offices were established, and more schools were created 1890-1900 (Population- 40,500) People residing in the Omaha area continued to enjoy its rich frontier heritage, while experiencing economic and cultural advances. 6 1900-1910    

(Population-102,600) In 1893, crops in Nebraska were almost totally destroyed by drought and hot winds. Then came the panic and financial stress, which paralyzed business. In 1894 Nebraska was doomed to have another crop failure. (www. rootsweb. com/~nemcpher/survey. html) 1910-1920

(Population-124,100) During the fateful months between August 4, 1914, and American entry into the war on April 6, 1917, the issues of preparedness, peace, and war were fought out in Nebraska as vigorously and with as much bitterness as perhaps anywhere in the nation. Many of Nebraska's citizens were either born in one of the combatant nations or had relatives and friends in war-torn Europe and reacted, at least in part, as European nationalists to the struggle across the Atlantic. Although the dominant sympathy was with the Allies from the beginning, Nebraska had a strong German

element numbering about two hundred thousand. Of these about thirty thousand were born in Germany and over sixty thousand were children of parents born there, and this group sympathized to a large degree with the 7 cause of the Fatherland. On the other side of the issue were the Czechs, second only to the Germans in numbers and equally vigorously opposed to the Germans. The sympathy of the Poles was also strongly against the Germans. These groups were counteracted somewhat by the Irish, who were strongly anti-British in their views but not particularly sympathetic to Germany. (www. rootsweb. com/~nemcpher/survey. html) 1920-1930 (Population- 140,500)

Signs of hard-times were being felt even before the stock market crash in 1929. To their credit, not one of Omaha's banks failed as a result of that event. When new leaders were elected in the 1930s, Omaha was faced with the Depression, coupled with the drought which destroyed the crops and economic base of the farmlands that supplied Omaha's industries. It brought the city to a virtually standstill. (casde. unl. edu/history/counties/douglas/omaha/) 8 1930-1940 (Population- 214,000) Omaha was justly proud of its volunteer efforts.

It received recognition for having started the national "scrap metal drive," for support of war bonds, and for the Red Cross Center and Canteen at the railroad depots, which  never closed. By 1932 relief funds were drained. Not even the "alphabet soup relief" created by President F. D. Roosevelt did much for Omaha. What finally ignited the economy was the end of the drought in 1939, and increasing orders for war materials needed for the conflict in Europe. In 1939 Omahans celebrated the world premiere of the Paramount movie "Union Pacific" during the week-long "Gold Spike Days.

" World War II, that burst upon the nation on December 7, 1941, brought great changes to Omaha. While no large war-industries were located within the city, many people worked at nearby plants: the Martin Bomber plant at Fort Crook, and the ordnance plant at Mead. Many were employed at food processing plants, turning out tons of flour, cereal, butter, meat, and dehydrated foods. Still others worked at the Omaha Alcohol Plant, where corn was turned into fuel. Largest of its kind in the world, it produced 50,000 gallons of alcohol daily "for the war effort.

" Omaha's work force climbed from 80,000 in 1940 to over 100,000 by 1945. (casde. unl. edu/history/counties/douglas/omaha/)

CONCLUSION: From 1835 to 1945 or about 110 years of existence, Omaha City grew to become the biggest city in Nebraska. Though its growth and developments were not spectacular, it has survived problems of racism (mix of American Natives, African Blacks, Asians, and Europeans), two World Wars, Great Depression, and droughts. It maintained its rural ambiance, but has all the urban comforts. Like a nice and proper lady, it survived all the hardships with dignity.