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RG2636.AM:  Donald McCallum, 1831-1916

Papers:  1865-1943; mostly 1873-1907

Guide Rock, Webster County, Neb.:  Surveyor

Size:  0.5 cu.ft.; 1 box


Born in Plymouth, Pennsylvania, in 1831, Donald McCallum’s life is significant historically, for he and Emanuel Peters were the first settlers in Webster County, Nebraska. McCallum served as surveyor for a colony organized by Colonel Rankin in Omaha during the winter of 1869 for the purpose of establishing a settlement in the Republican Valley. By 1869 the Indians were no longer a serious threat, and settlers were clamoring for more homesteads. Since speculators had already taken the best land in Nuckolls County, the Rankin Colony turned its attention to Webster County, where the government was holding the land open to homesteaders. In April of 1870 a party of nineteen arrived at a site near the present town of Guide Rock and began to build a dugout for living quarters. Before the work was completed, an Indian scare sent all but four on a hasty return to Omaha.

One year after the arrival of the Rankin party, Webster was organized as a county for the first time. The early meetings were held in the dugout of Silas Garber (who later became governor of Nebraska), and elections were called on April 19, 1871. Some forty votes were cast, and Donald McCallum was elected county surveyor. In April of 1872 charges of non-fulfillment of the duties of office were preferred against T.B. Williams, the county clerk, and McCallum was appointed to fill his place. The appointment was a brief duration, however, for the charges were not sustained and Williams resumed office on May 1. In October of 1873, McCallum withdrew from county office to fulfill his duties as treasurer of the Guide Rock Land Company, a position to which he had been elected on September 16, 1873, and which he retained for many years. Donald McCallum died at Guide Rock, Nebraska, on March 19, 1916.


The McCallum papers contain approximately 150 items arranged in three series: 1) Correspondence, 2) Legal and financial file, and 3) Miscellaneous material. The correspondence dates from 1865 to 1903 and relates largely to the coal mining business in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. The bulk of the collection is formed by a legal and financial file which spans the years 1883 to 1903 and contains deeds, mortgages, tax receipts, legal agreements, indentures and contracts. Miscellaneous material includes a Guide Rock Land Company record book, 1873-1907; a pocket diary, 1866; copies of the Guide Rock Signal containing family references, 1931-1943; and two town plats. This collection relates primarily to the early settlement and development of Guide Rock, Nebraska, from 1873 to 1907. Of particular interest is the record book kept by Mr. McCallum while treasurer of the Guide Rock Land Company. It contains minutes of board meetings, records of land payments and copies of legal papers. The Donald McCallum collection was received by the Society on September 2, 1961, from his daughter, Miss Jessie McCallum of Lincoln.

Note:  See the photo component [RG2636.PH] for related images. See the Nebraska History index for citations relating to the McCallum family.


Series 1 – Correspondence

Box 1


  1. 1865, 1877, 1886-1887, 1900-1903; Largely business letters relating to coal mining in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania

Series 2 – Legal and Financial File

  1. 1883-1902; Deeds, mortgages, tax receipts, legal agreements, indentures and contracts

  2. 1883-1902; Deeds, mortgages, tax receipts, legal agreements, indentures and contracts (cont.)

Series 3 – Miscellaneous Material

  1. Guide Rock Land Company record book, 1873-1907

    Pocket diary, 1866

  2. Plat map, “Vance’s Addition to Guide Rock”

    Plat map, “Vance’s 2nd Addition to Guide Rock”

    Guide Rock Signal, 3 issues containing family references; October 22, 1931; December 28, 1933; and February 4, 1943


Subject headings:

Coal mines and mining — Pennsylvania


Guide Rock Land Company (Guide Rock, Neb.)

Guide Rock (Neb.) — History

McCallum, Donald, 1831-1916

McCallum, Jessie, 1879-1966

Webster County (Neb.) — History


L. Willmore/js   09-09-1964

Encoded TMM   07-08-2010