While the West has not been the land of outlaws it is often portrayed in movies and TV shows, they certainly did exist on the Nebraska border. These characters were much more complex than described.
In the case of the pop-up town of Mariaville, the generosity of an outlaw helped keep the town afloat.
The Peacock family were the first to settle in this area of north central Rock County and opened the general store and post office on the site. It was named Mariaville after their daughter, Hatti Maria. Naming the city’s sites after the first born white child was common practice.
A story passed down through the ages, which appeared in the Rock County Centennial Book in 1988, credited the notorious horse thief and convicted murderer Doc Middleton – who later starred on Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show – for buying dinner for his gang and slipping $ 10 to $ 20 under his plate after a meal.
This store was, for a time in the early 1900s, operated by my great-grandfather, who left his life as a doctor in Chicago for the life of a pioneer in Nebraska.
After a long and difficult journey of their luxury life, my great-great-grandparents came to settle in the vicinity of Mariaville. My great-grandfather was born here, whose love for the rugged beauty and natural wealth of the Sandhills has been passed down for generations.
As this tradition continues, the store and the town itself are long gone, located on private property northwest of Newport.