Stephen Story, the first postmster in Richardson County, whose name is interwoven in the history of many of the most stirring scenes of the early days of the Territory, was a native of Vermont. Born in 1810, he moved with his parents to near Montreal, Canada, when only two years of age, and remained there until he became of age. He then started in life on his own account, as a lumber man; and, in a few years, drifted to St. Joseph, Mo., where he was employed by Joseph Robidoux, the founder of the city. He was the stepfather of Mrs. Lavinia Van Valkenberg, who now resides in Rulo. In 1844 he came to Richardson County and built a cabin above the point where he subsequently located St. Stephens on the Missouri River east of Falls City. Nebraska at that time was in full possession of the Indians, and wandering bands of the Nomadic savages stole Story's horses and anything else they could lay hands on. Discouraged by his losses he went back to St. Joseph, and shortly after served in the Mexican War from 1845 to 1847. Returning after the war he caught the California fever and was one of the forty niners who made the painful journey to the coast in search of unlimited wealth. After working in the mines for exactly one year, he threw down his pick with the remark that the anniversary of the day that saw his entrance should see his exit from the mining region. Reaching St. Joseph in 1850 he remained until 1851, when he again came to Nebraska and took a farm at the present site of old Arago. From here he went to the site of St. Stephens and started the ferry at that point. After running the ferry a short time, Stroy and B. F. Loan started the town. In 1857-58 a colony of Germans from Buffalo, New York came to the country, and to them Story sold the town sight of Arago.
In the early part of the war of 1861-65 there was great apprehension of a raid by the Indians, and a company was organized to repel any attacks. Story was captain of the company and is said to have put them in fine form to have met whatever might threaten the country, but the Indians made no demonstration. In person, Story, like most of the men who made their mark in the early history of the State, was tall and athletic. He always wore long sandy hair and a full corn colored beard, which, in his old age, when time had silvered them, presented a striking appearance. When the flat-boat had given way to a steam ferry, Story retired to a farm lying three miles from Arago and one mile from St. Stephens, where he lived until three years before his death, then he moved to Rulo. In 1846 Story married a half-breed Indian woman by whom he had two children, one of whom is Mrs. Lavinia Van Valenberg of Rulo, a well-known citizen. On January 27, 1882, Stephen Story passed over to what is even in the found state of Nebraska, "the great majority" and with him passed away forever much of the unwritten pre-Territorial history of Richardson County.
Photo courtesy of Jean Dobson Sellers