Early Omaha: Gateway to the West
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The home in this image was located on the northeast corner of 18th & Farnam and belonged to the last Territorial Governor of Nebraska, Alvin Saunders. Governor Saunders was born on July 17, 1817 in Flemingsburg, KY. His early years were spent in Springfield, IL and Mt. Pleasant, WI (later Mt. Pleasant, IA). Mr. Saunders began his political career as postmaster of Mt. Pleasant from 1838-46. He was also the youngest member elected to the Iowa Senate 1854-61. Alvin Saunders worked to carry Iowa for Abraham Lincoln in the 1860 election. President Lincoln appointed Saunders as the Territorial Governor of Nebraska on May 15, 1861. Governor Saunders served until statehood on March 27, 1867. He remained a pillar of the Omaha community. Saunders helped to found Omaha High School and was one of the original partners in Omaha Smelter. Alvin Saunders suffered serious financial losses in the Panic of 1873 and had to sell his home at 18th & Farnam to W.A. Paxton. He remained in Omaha and was elected U.S. Senator 1877-83. Saunders’ last home was at 18th & Grace Streets. Senator Saunders died November 1, 1899.
Text written by Lynn Sullivan, December 2003
Becker, H. W. “History in Photos." Omaha World Herald, March 6, 1980.
Sheldon, Addison E. Nebraska: The Land and the People, Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1931.