Most of the territory that is now Boyd County,
Nebraska was originally Indian land - a part of the Reservation. In 1889
a treaty was made between the Indians and the United States Government,
whereby the Indian land would be opened for settlement. The rest of it
consisted of the part of the Fort Randall Military Reservation that was
in Nebraska, and the original Turtle Creek Precinct (part of Holt
The part of the Fort Randall Military Reservation in Nebraska was bounded by the Military Line, which ran from Section 3, Township 35, Range 10 diagonally southwest to Section 31, Township 34, Range 11, then diagonally north to Section 21, Township 35, Range 12. The Fort Randall Military Reservation was opened for settlement in 1893. The state line between Nebraska and South Dakota was not surveyed until 1895, so the settlers who lived in the so-called "Three Mile Strip" in the northern part of the county did not know whether they lived in South Dakota or Nebraska until that date.
The original Turtle Creek precinct was the territory between the Keya Paha and Niobrara Rivers. It was a part of Holt County and was settled before the rest of this county. Turtle Creek Precinct was added to Basin Precinct in 1909, and the entire area was called Basin. At the same time Mullen Township was formed and Ware Township was remodeled.
In Governor John M. Thayer's proclamation made on August 1, 1891 declaring Boyd County a permanent organization, he designated Butte City as the temporary county seat. The reasons for choosing Butte was that it was the most central location and the fact that it was the largest town in the county, having 350 inhabitants. Later, by vote of the people, the decision was reached to make Butte the permanent capitol of Boyd County.
No definite record can be found about the very first Courthouse, but "old-timers" remember a pink Courthouse located across the street south of the present location. The first building located on the Courthouse grounds was a two-room store building, moved to the site, to which a vault was later added. This building was dedicated in the fall of 1904. The present courthouse was built in 1966.
Formerly the County Jail was a small frame building in the southeast corner of the court yard. The present jail building was built about 1915 or 1916 and is one of three jails in the state of Nebraska like this. The jail has 2 cells and each cell held 4 persons. It also has a unique square sink. The jail is significant for use of tudor-style motifs. The jail was used until 1983 and many people have spent some part of a day or night in this "fine lodging facility". Tours are available by calling the Clerk's Office at 402-775-2391.
The county was named for Governor James E. Boyd, who was governor when the bill providing for the organization of Boyd County was approved on March 2, 1891. A bill known as House Roll 271 provided that the unorganized territory lying north of Holt County be organized into a new county to be known as Boyd County.
Boyd County is situated between the Niobrara and Missouri Rivers, in northeastern Nebraska. In addition to these rivers, the Ponca Creek traverses almost the entire length of the county and the Keya Paha River empties in to the Niobrara about twelve miles east of the western boundary. There are numerous springs and branch tributary to these streams.
Boyd County is 48 miles in length (15 1/4 miles wide in the widest place and 6 3/4 miles in the narrowest place) and covers an area of 535 square miles. The elevation is 1650 feet.
State Highway 12 runs through the entire county from east to west, in all towns except Anoka and Gross. There is a junction three miles southeast of Spencer where Highway 281 joins Highway 12. It continues through Spencer and north to the South Dakota state line. State Highway 11 Junction is 1 mile west of Butte. It also goes north to the state line or south of Butte to the Boyd/Holt county line.