Editor's Note - Sources: “Yesterday and Today,” “York County Centennial”
The vast region which now surrounds the village of Lushton was once the roaming place for wildlife. Railroad companies advertised extensively in eastern papers about the land this side of the Rockies which they called “The Great American Desert.” They told of the fine climatic conditions and the rich, fertile soil in this area. Many poor people had come through the grasshopper year of 1874 with barely enough seed to tide them over until a crop could be planted and harvested.
It wasn’t long until heavily loaded white-capped wagons and prairie schooners containing discouraged settlers and their families came from the eastern states. Tied behind the covered wagons were horses and cows. These people were of different nationalities, with unusual ideals and characteristics and they were determined to investigate the opportunity of settling in this locality. Because of the free Homestead Act of 1862, any honorable discharged soldier of the U.S. Army was entitled to a homestead of 160 acres. Soon a law went into effect that homesteaders could only homestead 80 acres. Many of those searchers entered claims along the Blue River and surrounding flat plain. It wasn’t long until the country side was dotted with little sod shanties. Water was hauled from the river until wells could be dug.
Dams were built on the West Blue River which paved the way for the building of grist mills. The Fillmore Mill was just over the York County line (south of Lushton) and was built in 1872 by C.M. Northrup a short distance from Fillmore City. Stage coaches would come through, bringing mail and baggage to this area.
Buffalo Bill Cody would come riding his spirited steed from North Platte to meet the stage coaches at Fillmore City. He was the hero of many a young man and put verve into their lives as they watched find the hard-pans up and down the river so they could be forded as there were no bridges.
With the coming of the railroad 4 ½ miles south, the town of Fillmore City faded away. The Seeley Mill, later known as the Shephardson Mill, was built two miles west of what is now Lushton. People from as far away as 25 miles came with their ox-drawn wagons, had the millers grind their grain and for a small commission gave it back as flour and meal. They would stay overnight, returning the next day.
Following the great blizzard of 1888, the town of Lushton was surveyed and started. The first residence was the home of W.C. Bussard. The lumber for building it was hauled from Grafton. W.P. Cookus moved two small buildings from Grafton, one for his residence and the other for a blacksmith shop. The first general store was built on the west side by the Dorsey Brothers.
In 1890, there was a drought, crops failed and farm prices dropped. The drought lasted one season, then came the prosperous era of the “Gay Nineties.”
Henry Grosshans and Philip Schwab of Sutton erected the first elevator.
The pride of the community was when a temple for worship was built across from the cemetery in the summer of 1888. Some years later, this church building was moved to Lushton by using teams of horses and logs or poles for rollers.