Papio Creek

No results found.

Sorry. Please try using the category links or the search field.

Examination of Omaha’s Annexation History: Millard

Like much of the rest of the Omaha area, Millard’s early origins date back to the mid-1850s. At this time, the “development” consisted of a small handful of farms along the Papio Creek about twelve miles southwest of Omaha. By the 1860s, the Union Pacific Railroad ran through the area, and in 1870, Millard was laid out near the tracks. The developer was Ezra Millard, the current mayor of Omaha (1869-1871). A Canadian-born Iowan who arrived in the Omaha area as a young man in 1857, he quickly established himself as a founding partner of Barrows, Millard, & Co., a banking firm dealing in real estate. He would later serve as President of the Omaha National Bank. He also served in the Territorial Legislature in 1860, and helped establish the Omaha Horse Railway Company in 1867. [1]

Ezra Millard, ca. 1875. Image courtesy of Douglas County Historical Society.

Millard was officially incorporated as a village in 1885, and the population was approximately 400 by 1900. The area was settled predominantly by first-generation Germans immigrants. As late as the 1900s, store clerks had to read German in order fill the shopping lists written by German-speaking housewives.[2]

Millard’s first school was built at the site of modern-day 144th and L Streets, which was not actually within the town’s boundary at that time. In the early years, the school’s population consisted of about 4 or 5 pupils. Before the mid-1930s, local schools only went to 10th grade, so those who wanted to complete 12th grade had to go to Omaha to attend either Central or Tech High. Which resulted in a significant loss of the town’s young population. During the Great Depression, the population dropped to 315. A change of fortune came in the late 1930s when railroad work brought large numbers of laborers who used Millard as a base camp.[3]

Originally along the OLD (Omaha-Lincoln-Denver) Highway. Only a couple of streets were paved by the mid-1940s, and Mayor Harry P. Andersen began a campaign of improving the city with the goal of retaining and growing the population. By the late 1960s, the population had risen to over 7,000.[4]

On August 8, 1967, Omaha moved to annex Millard. Following the precedent set with the annexations of South Omaha, Florence, and Benson in the 1910s, Nebraska law states that metropolitan cities (cities with a population of over 100,000) may expand their boundaries by ordinance of the city council – without a public vote – to annex any village or city of up to 10,000 inhabitants (it’s worth noting that no other state had such a law at the time)[5]. A petition rejecting annexation was signed by over 900 Millard inhabitants and several voices spoke out against annexation by Omaha, raising concerns that annexation would threaten Millard’s infrastructure and that Omaha only wanted to take over Millard to raise the city’s tax revenues and to gain control of a Western Electric plant north of Millard.[6] In response, Omaha asserted that the separate existence of Millard stifled Omaha’s growth, and took over the city in 1971.

[1] Wakeley, Arthur Cooper. Omaha: The Gate City, and Douglas County, Nebraska. S.J. Clarke Publishing Co, 1917.

[2] Speech by Mayor Harry P. Andersen of Millard. Omaha, NE: Douglas County Historical Society, 1973.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Drozd, David and Jerry Deichert. “Nebraska Historical Populations.” Center for Public Affairs Research, University of Nebraska-Omaha. 2018.

[5] “Peril of losing W.E. ‘One Man’s Opinion.’” Omaha World-Herald. November 29, 1967.

[6] Ibid.

Close filters
Products Search
Products Price Filter