Crofton History

Rich in cultural history, prehistoric remains of the first human inhabitants in the Crofton and Knox County area have been found dating back to 1010 B.C. Modern day records show that there was trade between trappers and the Ponca Indians in 1789. In 1804, Lewis & Clark took five days to traverse the part of the Missouri River that lies just north of Crofton. In 1846, overland travelers, the Mormons, wintered near Crofton along the Niobrara River.

The passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1865 created the territory of Nebraska and opened the doors for settlement. In 1868, the Fort Laramie Treaty gave Ponca land to the Sioux Indians in Knox County. Originally called County of L’eau-qui-court, meaning “running water” in French, the county name was changed to Knox in 1873 after Major General Henry Knox. The town of Crofton was laid out in the summer of 1892. It was the tenth of thirteen communities platted in Knox County.

The naming of Crofton has been a topic of discussion over the years, with the prevailing tradition favoring a story that the name was drawn from a hat. It has been said that several names were placed in a hat. The first name drawn was that of “Frances”. Mrs. “Frankie” Miller objected to that name due to its similarity with her name. Another name was drawn. That name honored Crofton Courts in England. It was submitted by Mr. J. T. M. Pierce, a former resident of that community. The vote favored Crofton. With that decision made, Crofton, Nebraska had its beginning.

Crofton was ready to expand. It’s been reported that the first buildings in Crofton were two saloons. Each saloon was built on the same street, across from one another. Afterwards a lumber yard, a building to house the bank, other stores, a school, and some homes were built.

Crofton was supposed to be a town with a heavy railroad influence. Settlers came to the area to farm, work for the railroad, or start a business. However, the railroad’s dominance waned as time wore on and farming emerged as the dominant influence.

Still relying on its strong agriculture and small business base, Crofton is home to 800 residents and thousands of annual visitors. Crofton’s mild climate averages 62 percent sunshine annually, 34″ of snow, 24.5″ of rain and temperatures averaging a high of 59 degrees and a low of 37 degrees make outdoor recreation very popular.

Today the Crofton area provides outdoor enthusiasts a plethora of recreational activities. To learn more about Crofton’s many activities, tour through the rest of this site making sure to visit the Recreation and Area Attractions pages.

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