Select Page


RG1547.AM:  James C. Mitchell, 1810-1860(?)

Papers:  1853-1859, n.d.

Florence, Douglas County, Nebraska:  Real Estate Agent, Land Promoter

Size:  Fifteen items


James C. Mitchell, a native of Pangborn, Pennsylvania, was born in 1810. He ran away from home at the age of fifteen to become a seaman. By age eighteen, he was captain of a ship which sailed between New York and Liverpool. In 1836, Mitchell married Eliza Krosnick Vandenberg, widow of a British Navy Chaplain who had been lost at sea.

By 1840, the Mitchells were living in Bellevue, Iowa, where James Mitchell served as an Indian Commissioner. They started for California in 1850, but decided to stay in Council Bluffs, where Mitchell opened a store. Interested in the development of Nebraska Territory, Mitchell thought that the area that would become Florence would be the Territory’s Capitol. He platted the townsite in January 1854 and named the town Florence after his wife’s granddaughter. With James Parker, Mitchell formed the Florence Land Company to promote the sale of town lots. Mitchell himself owned 277 lots in Florence and was very active in real estate in both the Florence and Columbus areas.

Mitchell was also involved in territorial politics. He served in the 1st Territorial Council, casting the vote which gave the territorial capitol to Omaha. As a commissioner involved in choosing the location for the second capitol building, he selected the site where Central High School now stands.

James C. Mitchell died in Florence around 1860.


This collection consists of entirely of legal documents dating from 1853 to 1859. These items relate to the varied business dealings of James C. Mitchell during his years as promoter, townsite owner, and developer of Florence, Nebraska. Arranged in chronological order, the documents reflect Mitchell’s business dealings and efforts to encourage development of Nebraska Territory, particularly the Florence area, through projects such as bridges, ferries, and land companies.

Acc# 1993.0340

Acc# 2008.0298



  1. Elk Horn and Loup Fork Ferry and Bridge Company claim at Iron Bluffs on the Elk Horn River (includes hand-drawn map), March 14, 1853

  2. Granting of power of attorney to Mitchell by Thomas Sebring, attending the Sebring’s interest in the Winter Quarter Ferry, May 10, 1853

  3. Mitchell’s account record at Bugle (newspaper) office, 1853-1854

  4. Land conveyance from Council Buffs and Nebraska Ferry Company to Mitchell, December 20, 1854

  5. Quit claim agreement from the Council Bluffs and Nebraska Ferry Company to Mitchell, March 10, 1855

  6. Quit claim agreement from the Council Bluffs and Nebraska Ferry Company to Mitchell, March 10, 1855

  7. Receipt from the Nebraska Winter Quarters Company and the Florence Land Company, May 12, 1855

  8. Land sale receipt from the Florence Land Company to Eliza K. Mitchell, October 1, 1855

  9. Deed assigning John B. Bennet’s interest in the Elk Horn and Loup Fork Bridge and Ferry Company to Daniel C. Oakes, March 1, 1856 (recorded by Mitchell)

  10. Columbus Company stock share, August 1, 1856

  11. Sale receipt to Mitchell from James Bradshaw for Steam Ferry Boat Nebraska No. 2

  12. Mitchell’s account record with H. Grebe, 1857 (or 1859)

  13. Receipt from the Columbus Company, January 9, 1858

  14. Letter from A.E. Smith to Mitchell, written from Florence, May 29-30, 1859

  15. Bill to incorporate the Florence Bridge Company, n.d.


Subject headings:

Douglas County (Nebraska) — History

Florence (Nebraska) — History

Land — Nebraska

Real estate — Nebraska


AIP/ksa                   01-1994

Revised TMM        03-08-2007; 05-15-2009