Questions of the Week — Readers ask about agricultural impact in York County

The following questions were asked recently by inquiring readers:


Q: During recent county board meetings, when zoning regulations were being discussed, it was said York County is the top corn producing county in Nebraska. Is that true?

A: Yes. The most recent agricultural census showed York County was the top corn producing county in Nebraska followed by Hamilton County.


Q: How does York County rank in Nebraska in soybean production? I’m asking because of the ongoing debate regarding solar farms in York County.

A: According to the Nebraska Farm Bureau, farmers in Saunders County produced 7.9 million bushels of soybeans in 2022. Since 1980, Saunders County has regularly been the state’s top soybean-producing county. Last year, it was followed closely by York and Fillmore Counties with 7.7 million and 7.6 million bushels, respectively.


Q: I asked questions about crop production in York County, as the solar zoning regulation conversation continues, but I also wanted to ask if York County is a certified Livestock Friendly County. And if it is, why was that designation pursued? And who asked for the designation when it took place?

A: Yes, it is. It was designated a few years ago.

The Nebraska Livestock Friendly County program is a voluntary program which recognizes counties which actively support the livestock industry.

York County is among these other counties which have been designated in the state: Scotts Bluff, Banner, Kimball, Dawes, Box Butte, Morrill, Cheyenne, Sheridan, Garden, Deuel, Grant, Keith, Lincoln, Hayes, Hitchcock, Red Willow, Furnas, Dawson, Buffalo, Sherman, Holt, Howard, Hall, Adams, Webster, Knox, Antelope, Nance, Merrick, Hamilton, Platte, Polk, Fillmore, Thayer, Wayne, Colfax, Seward, Saline, Jefferson, Cuming, Dodge, Saunders, Gage, Dakota, Thurston, Burt, Otoe, Johnson, Pawnee and Richardson.

According to the program, “Applying for the designation sends a strong message of commitment to local farmers and businesses that rely on livestock production. It recognizes their importance to the local community and economy and demonstrates a willingness to have county regulations and actions evaluated to ensure the county is doing all that it can to foster a good environment for growth of those businesses and operations.”

The application was made by the members of the York County Board of Commissioners.


Q: How many acres of farmland are there in York County, Nebraska?

A: According to the most recent Census of Agriculture, there are 346,602 acres of agricultural land in York County.


Q: What is the oldest original building on York University’s campus?

A: The oldest original building is Hulitt Hall.


Q: What is the history of the First United Methodist Church in York? It is so beautiful and so old.

A: The history of the First United Methodist Church in York began in the home of David Baker – in June, 1871.

On May 14, in that year, according to local history books, “Rev. W. E. Morgan of the Rock River Conference preached in Brother Baker’s home. A few weeks later, Brother Baker gathered a number of Methodist pioneers together. This class consisted of 16 members.”

Then, on July 2, 1871, in a grove near the home of Brother Baker, the first quarterly meeting was held by J. B. Maxfield, presiding Elder of the Beatrice District.

W.H.B. Wilson, the preacher in charge of the West Blue Circuit, took charge of the new class until Brother Morgan was transferred to York in October, 1871. “At the time of his coming, there was no suitable place for holding services. The store of Brahmstadt and Kleinschmidt was in the process of being built – on Oct. 29, of that year, preaching services were held in this building. Carpenter benches, nail kegs and boards were used as seats.”

After that, until April, services were held in Father Baker’s home or the Buzzard School House.

In April, 1872, Rev. Morgan was again appointed to York and steps were taken for building the first Methodist Church in York. Its dimensions were to be 24×36 feet. The lumber to build the church was hauled from Lincoln on wagons. The church was located upon lots donated by the South Platte Land Company, at Seventh and Platte Avenue. The sum of $100 was secured from the Church Extension Society.

The church was completed and dedicated Sept. 14, 1873, by Dr. Raymond of the Biblical Institute at Evanston, Illinois. History books say “$1,100 had been subscribed from the membership, which was more than the indebtedness. This church was sold in 1880 – for five years, services were held in the city hall or Bell’s Hall.”

“In the winter of 1883-1884, Bell’s Hall was the scene of revival meetings. All seemed to think the time had come to build another church,” history accounts say. “These meetings had added largely to the membership. The Board of Trustees decided upon the corner of Seventh and Nebraska Avenue. The church was to cost no more than $12,000; it was decided there would be no building until $10,000 had been subscribed. On Feb. 27, 1886, the church was completed and dedicated by Bishop H. W. Warren.


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