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RG4329.AM:  John Wallace Pearman, 1831-1896

Scrapbook, etc.:  1859-1896

Otoe County, Neb.:  Pioneer, county treasurer

Size:  0.5 cu.ft.; 1 box


John Wallace Pearman was born in Hardin County, Kentucky, on March 16, 1831, one of two sons of Hugh and Nancy Pearman. In 1854 he arrived at Nebraska City, Nebraska Territory, where he worked as a day laborer helping lay out the city. In 1855 Pearman was elected to the first of four terms as Otoe County treasurer, serving until December of 1862 when he was mustered into the Second Nebraska Cavalry. In 1856 he married Miss Mary A. Swift, and in 1858 seems to have operated a small farm near Nebraska City. In 1861 Pearman helped organize a Home Guard unit which he led as Captain, riding out that year to investigate an Indian scare. In August he was commissioned to the rank of Colonel by order of Governor Saunders, and worked to recruit a cavalry regiment. He was, however, enlisted into Company F., Second Nebraska Cavalry with the rank of private, and was discharged ten days later to be commissioned a Major. He proceeded with the Second Nebraska through the battle of White Stone Hills, was discharged in 1863, recommissioned in 1864, and finally discharged in 1866.

After discharge he moved his family to Davenport, Iowa, as he had work compiling for that state a list of names and burial places of Iowa soldiers who died in the war. At Davenport he entered the nursery business, and continued in the business after he moved back to Nebraska City in 1870. A neighbor and friend of J. Sterling Morton, he carried on the horticulture and agricultural work until 1894. Pearman had been a staunch Republican before the war, but at the outbreak of the Civil War he espoused the Union Party and continued his third-party activities for many years. In 1881 he assumed the title of the “Squatter Governor,” and convened his “third house” of the legislature at Lincoln during sessions of the elected legislature. In 1889 he resigned his position as “Squatter Governor” but reassumed the title in 1891. Pearman died in Omaha in January of 1896. For more biographical information see R.E. Dale’s Otoe County Pioneers, part 7.


This collection consists of one manuscript box of material arranged in three series: 1) Scrapbook, 1859-1898; 2) Bible, n.d.; and 3) Psalm book, 1830.

The scrapbook comprises the most important part of this collection. It consists of about 200 sheets of Otoe County tax receipt blanks overlaid with numerous clippings and some correspondence. The clippings comprise the largest part of the scrapbook. These clippings, taken from Omaha, Fremont, Nebraska City and other newspapers, date between 1859 and 1898, and relate primarily to politics. Pearman was himself a regular contributor of editorial letters, and he has included in the scrapbook offerings from authors using the names “Big Foot the Lawyer,” and “Wee Hawken.” Also included are clippings relating to his “third house,” and mention of himself as the “Squatter Governor.” The letters are primarily from absentee landowners requesting information or replying to his own letters concerning the tax state of their property holdings in Otoe County.

Correspondents include: O.H. Irish, 1859; Oscar F. Sake, 1859-1860; R.L. Jordan, 1859; Alex Bain (?), 1860; Jacob Strickler, 1859-1860; J.D. Simpson, 1859-1860; E.B. Sawyer, 1859-1960; W.W. Wyman, 1860; William A. West, 1860; George W. Forbes, 1860; J.H. Maxon, 1860; W.E. Harvey, 1860; D.H. Wheeler, 1860; and Benjamin Butler, 1877.

This material was obtained through the efforts of Merrill Mattes of the National Park Service, and his correspondence with W.D. Aeschbacher, director of N.S.H.S. is included in a separate folder.

See also the Nebraska History index for related articles about John Pearman.


Box 1


  1. Scrapbook (Nebraska City People’s Press, Volume 2, No. 14, April 2, 1860), containing:

    the delinquent tax list for Otoe County, 1859, between pp. 1-2

    Otoe County treasurer’s report, 1861, pp. 2-3

    Account of expedition to investigate the Indian scare in July 1861, pp. 2-3

    Republican party ticket, Otoe County, 1861, p.3

    Letter, O. Irish, 1859, p.4

    Letter, Oscar F. Sake (?), 1859-1860, p.5

    Letter, R.L. Jordon, 1859, p.9

    Letter, Alex Bain (?), 1860

    Letter, Jacob Strickler, 1859, p.11, 15, 31, 36; 1860, p.56

    Letter, J.D. Simpson, 1859, p.14, 28; 1860, p.29, 33, 34, 62 and 85

    Letter, E.B. Sawyer, 1859, pp.22; 1860, p.57

    Letter, W.W. Wyman, 1860, p.45

    Letter, William A. West, 1860, p.53

    Letter, George W. Forbes, 1860, p.58

    Financial record, the Opposition Party of Otoe County, 1859, p.65

    Letter, J.H. Maxon, 1860, p.67

    W.E. Harvey, 1860, pp.67, 68, 77 and 78

    Nebraska City Daily News, September 1861, war news, list of candidates, call for a mass convention at Nebraska City for support of a Union Party ticket, pp. 78-79

    Letter, D.H. Wheeler, 1860, p.79

    Abstract of votes, general election, Otoe County, 1860, pp. 80-81

    Abstract of votes, general election, Otoe County, 1861, pp. 80-81

    “Big Foot” letters, 1876, pp. 111, 113, 120; 1877, pp. 121, 124, 126, 128, 129, 131, 132, 133, 134, 137, 140, 141, 145; 1878, 149 and 151

    Republican ticket, 1876, p.112

    Tilden and Hendricks Reform Ticket, 1876, pp.112-113

    “Wee Hawken” letters, 1876, pp. 113, 118; 1877, pp. 121, 123, 125, 146

    Abstract of Otoe County resources and accomplishments in 1876, p.115

    Description of Palmyra, 1876, p.116

    Description of Syracuse, 1878, p.117

    Letter, Benjamin Butler, 1877, p.123

    Acreage of farm products in Otoe County, 1876, p.127

    Series of public letters concerning the Brownville, Ft. Kearney and Pacific Railroad, 1877, pp. 136-137

    “Why We Should Plant Trees,” address del. 1877, p.138

    Organization of the “third house,” Pearman’s message, 1881, p.155

    Extra session of the third house, May 1882, p.157

    Pearman resigns as squatter governor, 1889, p.159

    Proclamation of reassumption of office, 1891, pp. 160-161

    Obituaries of John Wallace Pearman, 1896, p.189

    McKinley obituary, p.192-193


  2. Bible (lacking title page, unidentifiable)

  3. Psalm of David, by Isaac Watts, D.D. stereotyped by J. Reed, Boston, published by T.O. Sayre, Elizabethtown, New Jersey, 1830

NOTE:  Family tradition has it that the Bible and Psalm book were carried through the Civil War, and that the stains on the pages of the Psalm book are blood.



Nebraska City (Neb.) — History

Otoe County (Neb.) — History

Pearman, John Wallace, 1831-1896

Politics, Practical

Union Party


DAB/HEK/bjh   05-10-1966

Encoded TMM   03-04-2011