The first Arbor Day was observed 125 years ago in April, 1872. Phil Johnson of Nebraska City Magazine gathered these items from newspapers that appeared that Spring in Nebraska City, Nebraska, home of Arbor Day.
(Since then, we've seen these reprinted on some other sites.)
March, 1872

Arbor Day Resolution
Assorted Items: St. Patrick's Day,
   Tree planting customs, more.
Comet to collide with Earth!

April, 1872

Arbor Day Vigorously Observed
Champion tree planter
Fire Companies Meet
Nebraska, Garden of the West
Reflections on a Locomotive
Assorted News Items, April 1872

This notice appeared in the Morning Chronicle, a Nebraska City newspaper, in February, March and April, 1872.

Nebraska Arbor Day

    At the last meeting of the Nebraska State Board of Agriculture, held at Lincoln Jan. 3d, 1872, the following, among other resolutions, were adopted:
    Resolved, That Wednesday, the 10th day of April, 1872, be, and the same is hereby especially set apart and consecrated for tree planting in the State of Nebraska, and the State Board of Agriculture hereby name it "ARBOR DAY," and urge upon the people of the State the vital importance of tree planting, hereby offer a "Special Premium" of one hundred dollars to the County Agricultural Society of that county in Nebraska which shall upon that day plant, properly, the largest number of trees, and a Farm Library of Twenty-five Dollars worth of books to that person who on that day shall plant, properly, in Nebraska, the greatest number of trees.
    Resolved, That the newspapers of this State be requested by the State Board of Agriculture to keep the resolution in regard to Anniversary Day, for tree planting, standing in their columns until April 10th next, and call the especial attention of the people of the importance of the matter from time to time.

More items from 125 Years Ago, Spring, 1872, year of the first observance of Arbor Day.
Morning Chronicle, March 13, 1872:

    It is a custom in Germany to plant a tree at the birth of every child, that every person on the declining side of life may have a shade for himself. The Ottawa Herald thinks that if this were done in Kansas, the whole state would soon be well-timbered.
    Next Sunday will be St. Patrick's day. Our Irish friends will probably celebrate in some way. Father McGoldrick will lecture on the subject of character and history of that St. on that day. It will be a treat of course.
Neck-tie parties are becoming fashionable in western towns.
Be sure you are in Dr. Smith's Photograph Rooms before sitting for your pictures. Good pictures made in cloudy as well as fair weather.
Post Office open Sundays from 1 to 2 o'clock p.m.     DAVID BROWN, P. M.
The mayor of Nebraska City at the time of the first Arbor Day was Albert Tuxbury.
  This first appeared Morning Chronicle March 14, 1872, and ran for several weeks:

Go to Bueter & Mollring

    A new sensation. A coming Comet in August, 1972, being that Prof. Plantamour, a Genevan Astronomer, prophecies a terrific collision between the earth and an approaching comet, which he sets for the 12th day of August, 1872. We have concluded to give this due notice to our friends and customers in general that we are now prepared to sell goods cheaper than ever in order to prepare for the great exciting 12th day of August.
    We find it will be necessary to sell at least half of our entire stock of Dry Goods, Groceries, Hats, Caps, Boots and Shoes, Carpets and numerous articles too tedious to mention, all of which we offer to sell at greatly reduced prices for bankable notes secured by the United States, or country produce in exchange at the highest market price. The produce may be shipped by the Southwestern or Northwestern and Nebraska City Railroad and then be transferring to the great Trunk Railroad to St. Louis or the East.     mar14tf             BUETER & MOLLERING.

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Morning Chronicle, April 10, 1872:

    The "Arbor Day" has been most vigorously observed in Otoe county. A great number of fruit and forest trees have been planted and the work will continue for two weeks to come.

Morning Chronicle, April 12, 1872:

Arbor Day

    The 10th of April was celebrated in Otoe county by planting of trees, while up the Platte Valley the ground was frozen hard.
    There should be two arbor days in Nebraska, one south of the Platte April 10th, and one north of the Platte, whenever the frost is out say May 10th, or 20th.
Hon. J. Sterling Morton returned home from Omaha to-day. He is thoroughly impressed with the importance of the city in which he lives.
Nurserymen in this section of the country will bear in mind that we have good places to plant fruit trees and shrubbery. Specimens would be well advertised on our grounds.
    The Beatrice Express says:
    We noticed a couple of Otoe Indians the other morning, gazing at with mingled curiosity and awe at the locomotive, as the train was about to start. We know not what weighty reflections were passing through their minds, but if they only knew it, this is the monster, with his fangs of iron, his breath of steam, and his shriek like the bravest of braves, that has done more to spread the civilization of the white man over this country and to drive them from the hunting grounds of their fathers than anything else in existence.


    "Here, then, is a field for the pent up energies of the old world, and the ceaseless activity of the new. Precisely what the future of Nebraska will be it is difficult to say, or even safe to predict, because the elements of the future are so many and the workings of each are so uncertain; but I think I see in this State all the essentials which shall entitle it to the appellation of 'The Garden of the West,' and when its groves of trees and hedge rows shall enliven and gladden the landscape, and the result of the energies of the vast throng of its enterprising immigrant population shall have developed its resources, making the wilderness bloom as the roses, then shall the early pioneers, resting upon the work of their labor, sake credit to themselves as having assisted in building up a country with results so gloriously grand." - Extract from a letter by Lord John Waugh to England.

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  Morning Chronicle, April 12, 1872:

    ATTENTION FIREMEN - There will be a joint meeting of the G. W. Fire Company and the H. & L. Company at the Engine House Saturday evening April 13, to consider matters of importance. A full attendance is desired.
      J. H. McLELLAN , Foreman G. W. Co.
      W. M. HICKLAN , Pres't H. & L. Co.
Morning Chronicle, April 12, 1872:

    - A. Trost Chief Engineer of the City fire department is getting everything in good shape at the new engine house.
Morning Chronicle, April 15, 1872:

    Don't forget to go
to the Firemen's Ball,
to-morrow evening.
The last ball of the

Morning Chronicle, April 12, 1872:

- The exhibition at the Opera House last night was a complete success. A good audience was in attendance and everybody was pleased with the performance. The theatricals were original, giving more amusement than instruction, but most of the actors were adept in the art of imitation. The "pastime on the bar" by Bowers, McCallum and McFarland was most excellent and elicited frequent outbursts of applause but the crowning feature of the evening was the trapeze performance by Bowers and McCallum, which was equal to any thing of the kind ever given by the Davenport Brothers or any other star performers. Such talent is a credit to the city.
Morning Chronicle, April 12, 1872:

- The streets are lined with white covered wagons - mostly seeking homesteads or cheap lands. Otoe county is the best place to settle.
From 71/2 a. m. to 7 1/2 p. m.
      DAVID BROWN, P. M.
    - The first number of the "Nebraska Farmer" published and edited by Abraham Deyo, is on our table. It is sixteen page form, and full of matter of interest to the farmers of Nebraska. Altogether it is a creditable paper for any State. Success to it.
Morning Chronicle, April 17, 1872:

Salaries of city offices as fixed in the Council meeting to-day:
Mayor, $500 per annum.
Aldermen, $150 per annum each.
Marshal, $1000  "   "
   Four special policemen were sworn in.
   It is decided now that the new Episcopal College will be erected in Nebraska City. It will be a magnificent building.
Morning Chronicle, April 22, 1872:

Notice to Owners of Stock

All persons are hereby prohibited by ordinance of the City Council from allowing any stock to run at large in Nebraska City, except cows during the daytime. Take notice and govern yourselves accordingly.
            Thomas Thomas
            City Marshal
Morning Chronicle, April 29, 1872:

The champion tree planter of Nebraska is Mr. J.A. Smith, of Lancaster county, who transplanted 85,000 on "Arbor Day," being at the rate of one tree per second for nearly ten hours.
Another man named Cadman, from the same county, planted 16,000.

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