First Bank of Utica

Our History

Utica, Nebraska

Following the end of the War Between the States, in 1864, homesteaders moved west, following the path of the transcontinental railroad as it made its way towards the Pacific Ocean. Utica was founded in the fall of 1877 by some of those hearty souls.

Initially, the rail line ran through Derbyville, named after the Derby family who homesteaded on the section west of present Utica. The G.A. Derby home was the only stop between York and Seward and was a halfway house and post office. The Derby family established the area's first school on this same section. The schools first teacher was Mrs. Derby. The facility was later moved to the present site of Conell's Hardware, right off D street in what is now downtown Utica.

The town's name was changed to Utica because the railroad desired the towns named in alphabetical order. The name Utica came from "Chief Utica", a fierce and proud Mohawk Indian from New York. The area was also known as the "garden spot of the nation" in the early years.

Utica was incorporated in 1882 with a population of 220. Many businesses were soon established to serve the town and agricultural area. Today Utica offers health facilities, a K-12 school, three churches, food services, banking, municipal services and many other small businesses. The present population of Utica is estimated at 837.

Cordova, Nebraska

From the land of waving prairie grasses and wild flowers, broken into fields of rich farmland, emerged a little village called "Cordova." With the coming of the Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley Railroad in 1887, a town was platted by the Pioneer Town Site Company in the southwest corner of Seward County. It was named "Hunkins" for Benjamin Hunkins, whose son Clarence was the first postmaster and store owner. However, the name for the village was not accepted by the postal department, which said it was too similar to "Hoskins" in Wayne County. The name "Cordova" was selected since it was not even close to the name of any other town in Nebraska.

The Cordova community and surrounding area was primarily settled by immigrants from Denmark and Germany. Over the years this has changed to include many nationalities. At its peak in the early 1900s, Cordova is said to have exceeded 300 in population. That number has diminished through the years to about 130 due to the movement to urban areas, but the citizenry in 1990 is stable and progressive.

Friend, Nebraska

A souvenir post card, courtesy of the Friend Chamber of Commerce, showing Friend, Nebraska, as the "midway point of the nation on Highway 6," invites tourists and visitors to "write a friend from Friend." Many do.

The town had its beginning in 1870. That year Charles Friend arrived in Nebraska and, with his team of horses, worked on the new railroad grading that was heading west out of Lincoln. He decided to homestead along the proposed route in Saline County. After spending the spring and summer "sleeping on his claim," he went back to Lincoln, where he clerked in a store during the winter. The following spring he returned to his land, bringing with him a load of goods to sell.

With a few boards and a new door, Friend opened a general store on the front of his house. In June a post office was established in his store, and he was appointed the postmaster. The settlement name, "Friendville," was approved on August 1, 1871.

Milligan, Nebraska

The railroad town of Milligan is a village of 330 residents. The officials selected a site, originally owned by the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad, for the town. The six-acre tract of land, purchased on April 9, 1887, from Joseph Svec, was named for Frank Milligan, one of the directors of the line.

Milligan claims the title, “The Hospitality Capital of Nebraska.” It celebrated its centennial with a three day event in June 1987. They continue with their annual celebration the 2nd weekend of June known as “June Jubilee” located at their outdoor Centennial Beer Garden with a grand parade, music, entertainment, co-ed softball tournament, road rally, volleyball tournament, car show, kids pedal pull, eating contests, tractor pull, rooster run, food vendors, and much more.

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