Established in June 1848 near Grand Island, Fort Kearny was the second fort named after Stephen Watts Kearny, the U.S. general of Mexican War fame. The first Fort Kearny, established in May 1846, was located on the Missouri River, some 50 miles south of Council Bluffs. It was abandoned in May 1848.
The second Fort Kearny, sometimes called New Fort Kearny, was built on a site purchased from the Pawnee Indians for $2,000 in goods. Sometimes the second Fort Kearny was also referred to as Fort Childs, in honor of Major Thomas Childs of the U.S. artillery. It was abandoned in May 1871.
July 13, 1850
“It took us several hours to gather our cattle. We started about 10 o'clock and traveled 12 miles and camped with both divisions in one corral for the Sabbath, on the banks of the Platte 10 miles east of Fort Kearney.”
July 15, 1850
“I visited the fort. During the evening we were visited with a terrible thunder storm. The lightning struck all around us and while the teams were crossing a slough the lightning burst into their midst and shocked many persons and beast[s] and killed three oxen and one man dead.”
Eliza R. Snow
“As we journeyed, mothers gave birth to offspring under almost every variety of circumstances; except those to which they had been accustomed—in tents and wagons—in rainstorms and in snow storms.
“Let it be remembered that the mothers referred to, were not savages, accustomed to roam the forest and brave the storm and tempest—those who had never known the comforts and delicacies of civilization and refinement.”