Two railroads brought life to Wilcox 125 years ago and even though they are gone, this small Kearney County community still continues to be strong. The town was born in 1886 when the Burlington-Missouri and Kansas City-Omaha railroads converged about 13 miles southeast of Holdrege.
The first homesteader came to the area in 1871 and built Walker’s Ranch which was one mile east and one mile north of Wilcox. The ranch was the mail station on the route from Kearney to the government station at Naponee. But when the railroads came to the future site of Wilcox, a town began in the new location and Wilcox was born. Just like many other towns that sprang up throughout the state of Nebraska during the late 1800s, the railroad was the impetus for the growth.
In 1886, Henry Wilcox, a Michigan native and W.R. Sapp of Ohio became partners. Wilcox was an attorney, living in Alma, but his first love was banking. He and Sapp bought 240 acres at the Wilcox site and opened the Bank of Wilcox which was the first business in town. That same corner is where the Iowa-Nebraska State Bank sits today. Records show that Wilcox and Sapp made $5,290 in one day, selling 50-foot lots for $250-$300 each. The town was registered with the Kearney County Clerk July 21, 1886 and incorporated June 10, 1887.
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