Beatrice, Nebraska
—  City  —
Gage County Courthouse.jpg
Gage County Courthouse in Beatrice
Gage County Nebraska Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Beatrice Highlighted.svg
Location of Beatrice, Nebraska
Detailed map of Beatrice, Nebraska.png
Detailed map of Beatrice, Nebraska
Coordinates: 40°16′6″N 96°44′35″W / 40.26833, -96.74306Coordinates: 40°16′6″N 96°44′35″W / 40.26833, -96.74306
Country Flag of the United States.svg United States
State Flag of Nebraska.svg Nebraska
County Gage
 • Type Mayor-council government
 • Mayor Dennis Schuster
 • Total 7.5 sq mi (19.4 km2)
 • Land 7.5 sq mi (19.4 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 1,286 ft (392 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 12,459
 • Density 1,666.7/sq mi (643.5/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 68310
Area code(s) 402
FIPS code 31-03390[2]
GNIS feature ID 0827241[3]

Beatrice (play /bˈætrɪs/ bee-AT-rəss)[4] is a city in and the county seat of Gage County, Nebraska.

Beatrice is located 40 miles (64 km) south of Lincoln on the Big Blue River. It is surrounded by agricultural country. The population was 12,459 at the 2010 census.


Gage County was one of the 19 counties originally established by the Nebraska Territorial Legislature in 1854. At the time of its establishment, there were no settlers living within it.[5]

In 1857, the steamboat Hannibal, carrying 300 passengers up the Missouri River from St. Louis, Missouri to Nebraska City, Nebraska, ran aground near Kansas City, Missouri. While it was stranded, 35 of the passengers agreed to form the "Nebraska Association", under which name they would unite in seeking a townsite and establishing a settlement in the territory.[6][7]

After reaching Nebraska City, the Association divided itself into two exploratory parties, one of which went directly westward and the other southwest. The latter party located the site of Beatrice, at the point where the DeRoin Trail crossed the Big Blue River; and the whole Association decided to settle there. The settlement was named after Julia Beatrice Kinney, the 17-year-old daughter of Judge John F. Kinney, a member of the Association.[6][7][8]:120

The Territorial Legislature selected Beatrice as the county seat of Gage County in 1857. The decision was challenged by Blue Springs, but was confirmed by the Legislature in 1859. In 1864, the Legislature dissolved the original Clay County (not the current Clay County, Nebraska), dividing its land between Gage and Lancaster Counties. The addition of this ground in the north placed Beatrice near the center of the enlarged county, strengthening its claim to the county seat.[5] It continues to hold that position today.[9]

Homestead ActEdit

In 1862, the U.S. Congress passed the Homestead Act, which allowed settlers to claim 160 acres (65 ha) of government land for a nominal fee. The law went into effect on January 1, 1863. Just after midnight on that day, Daniel Freeman persuaded a clerk to open the local Land Office so that he could file a claim for a homestead located 4 miles (6 km) west of Beatrice. His is regarded as the first of the 417 applications filed that day.[10][11]

In 1936, Congress created Homestead National Monument of America on the site of Freeman's claim.[12]

Early developmentEdit

The Big Blue River was both a help and a hindrance to the development of Beatrice. It provided the town with a water source, and produced ample power to operate the mills that were among the town's first industries.[6][7] However, it represented a major obstacle to travelers on the Oregon Trail route;[5] and floods frequently destroyed the dams and bridges in the area. Not until 1890 was a Big Blue bridge built in Beatrice that could survive for decades.[5][6]

In 1871, the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad constructed a line from Lincoln, Nebraska to Beatrice. In 1879, the Union Pacific Railroad built a line joining Beatrice to Marysville, Kansas. By 1890, the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad had also run tracks through Beatrice.[5]

Beatrice State Developmental CenterEdit

In 1885, the Nebraska legislature enacted legislation to establish the Institution for Feeble Minded Youth near Beatrice, subject to the city's donating a suitable parcel of land.[8]:303 Beatrice donated 40 acres, located 2 miles (3 km) east of the city limits; and the first residents were admitted in 1887.[13]

Over the following decades, the institution expanded greatly. By 1935, there were 1171 residents living on 519 acres (210.0 ha). The institution was largely self-supporting, operating a farm on which the residents did much of the work; in 1935, 346 acres (140.0 ha) were under cultivation.[13]

In 1945, the institution was renamed the Beatrice State Home.[14] Its resident population peaked at about 2300 in the late 1960s.[15] From there it declined: new restrictions had been imposed on the use of unpaid labor by residents of institutions, and there was a national trend toward deinstitutionalization.[13] In 1975, the Horacek v. Exon lawsuit was settled with a consent decree whereunder many of the residents of the Beatrice State Home were transferred to community-based mental health facilities.[16] In that year, the institution's name was changed to the current Beatrice State Developmental Center.[17]

A 2006 investigation by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services revealed a number of severe deficiencies at the Center;[18] after two years of appeals, the Center lost its Medicaid certification in 2009.[19]

The Center currently serves about 175 clients.[20] The majority have been diagnosed with "severe" or "profound" retardation; nearly all suffer from two or more other disabling conditions.[21][22]


Beatrice is located at 40°16′6″N 96°44′35″W / 40.26833, -96.74306 (40.268449, -96.743192)[23]. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.5 square miles (19.4 km2), all of it land.


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1880 2,447
1890 13,836 465.4%
1900 7,875 −43.1%
1910 9,356 18.8%
1920 9,664 3.3%
1930 10,297 6.6%
1940 10,883 5.7%
1950 11,813 8.5%
1960 12,132 2.7%
1970 12,389 2.1%
1980 12,891 4.1%
1990 12,354 −4.2%
2000 12,496 1.1%
2010 12,459 −0.3%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census[2] of 2000, there were 12,496 people, 5,395 households, and 3,301 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,666.7 people per square mile (643.3/km²). There were 5,818 housing units at an average density of 776.0 per square mile (299.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.50% White, 0.34% African American, 0.45% Native American, 0.33% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.30% from other races, and 1.05% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.96% of the population.

There were 5,395 households out of which 28.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.8% were married couples living together, 8.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.8% were non-families. 33.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.24 and the average family size was 2.87.

In the city the population was spread out with 23.4% under the age of 18, 8.4% from 18 to 24, 25.5% from 25 to 44, 21.4% from 45 to 64, and 21.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 89.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $33,735, and the median income for a family was $42,472. Males had a median income of $29,976 versus $21,303 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,816. About 7.0% of families and 9.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.0% of those under age 18 and 8.9% of those age 65 or over.

Notable peopleEdit


  1. ^ City of Beatrice website. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  4. ^ Nebraska Pronunciation Guide. Associated Press. Retrieved 2010-03-06.
  5. ^ a b c d e Kay, John, Lonnie Dickson, Robert Kay and Katherine Fimple. "Nebraska Historic Buildings Survey: Reconnaissance Survey Final Report of Gage County, Nebraska". Nebraska State Historical Society. Retrieved 2010-12-29.
  6. ^ a b c d "Gage County". Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska. Retrieved 2010-12-29.
  7. ^ a b c Sanny, Mary Lou. "Beatrice—Gage County." Nebraska... Our Towns. Retrieved 2010-12-29.
  8. ^ a b Dobbs, Hugh Jackson (1918). History of Gage County, Nebraska. Retrieved 2010-12-29.
  9. ^ "About Gage County". Gage County website. Retrieved 2010-12-30.
  10. ^ Davey, Monica. "Cities View Homesteads as a Source of Income". New York Times. 2010-07-25. Retrieved 2010-12-30.
  11. ^ "Teaching With Documents: The Homestead Act of 1862". National Archives Teachers' Resources. Retrieved 2010-12-30.
  12. ^ "About the Homestead Act". Homestead National Monument of America. Retrieved 2010-12-30.
  13. ^ a b c Ahlgren, Carol (1997). "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: Institution for Feeble Minded Youth Farm". Nebraska State Historical Society. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  14. ^ "Nebraska Health and Human Services System Chronological History". Nebraska Library Commission. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  15. ^ Winter, Deena. "Olivia's story: How BSDC failed one of its most vulnerable". Lincoln Journal Star. 2009-06-14. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  16. ^ Horacek v. Exon. University of Michigan Law School: The Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  17. ^ Center for Disability Rights, Law and Advocacy (2007). "An Indictment of Indifference". Note 23 on p. 12. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  18. ^ "Deficiencies Found at Beatrice State Developmental Center". Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  19. ^ Hicks, Nancy. "BSDC loses Medicaid funding". Lincoln Journal Star. 2009-09-25. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  20. ^ Beatrice State Developmental Center. Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved 2011-01-23.
  21. ^ "Beatrice State Developmental Center (BSDC) Demographics". Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  22. ^ "Beatrice State Developmental Center History". Nebraska Department of Administrative Services Building Division. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  23. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 

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