In the rolling hills along Oak Creek northwest of Lincoln, pioneers arrived as early as 1864. From then on, there was a steady influx of settlers. Among the early families to arrive were Thompson, Densberger, Campin, and Hornung. In 1870 a dam and grist mill were built on Oak Creek. This was a welcome addition, and saved people a long haul to mills further down-stream.
For several years, school was held in homes with parents "taking turns" teaching. When District 19 was formed in 1871, the people voted to remodel a vacant granary for use as a schoolhouse. In 1874 the first "real schoolhouse" was built south of the present town site. While there were post offices at several locations, there was no definite settlement or name for the community.
In the late 1870s it was rumored that a railroad was to be built through the area. A post office named "Orlando" was established on February 6, 1878, and in 1879 an "independent branch line company" surveyed along the valley. The tracks were laid the following year.
When the line was completed and the depot established in 1880, the name was changed to "Raymond," for Isaac M. Raymond, listed in several historical accounts as the "senior member of Raymond Brothers & Clark, wholesale grocers of Lincoln." Further research revealed that Raymond was also a stockholder and officer in the Nebraska State Bank, and the vice-president of the Lincoln & Fremont Railroad Company -- a primary "project promoter."
A town plat was filed on April 19, 1880, the name of the post office changed to Raymond on May 15, and the new railroad-town burst upon the scene. Soon there were three general stores, two elevators, a lumberyard, two livery barns, a hotel, two taverns, a doctor, and a dentist, a hardware and implement store, a restaurant and confectionary store, a photographer, and a dance hall.
A Presbyterian church was organized and incorporated in February, 1881, by John Mulvane, Willard Kinyon, and L. L. Larimer. The first church was built in the north part of town, but was later moved closer to the center of things. A Methodist Society built a church in 1911.
On March 9, 1892, a delegation of 43 people appeared before the Lancaster County Commissioners to request that articles of incorporation be granted, "...since there were by then 200 residents of the village." With their action approved, the town elected its first board and established a village hall. The town's peak population (249) occurred in 1920.
A two-room school was built in 1893. In 1901 a second story was added to the building to accommodate grades nine and ten. The 11th grade was added in 1909 and the 12th in 1919, all of which were contained in the four-room building. In 1921 a petition was circulated to build a new brick schoolhouse, but the proposition was voted down. With the enrollment of over 100 students, an addition was made to the old building, and later a gymnasium and auditorium was added. After several school districts consolidated, "central" high school was built at the old missile site near Agnew. Elementary classes are still held at Raymond.
With the advent of automobiles and the proximity of Raymond to Lincoln, the small town suffered many setbacks. The railroad, now Union Pacific, still hauls freight, but Highway 79, providing hard-surface access north and south, missed the town one-half mile to the west. During the war-years, with the building of the Lincoln Air Base, and available factory jobs, the population fluctuated, and many of the better homes were moved to other towns. The once-bustling business district dried up as the population in both the town and rural area declined.
In 1970 the long-awaited Branched Oak Dam was constructed, providing needed flood control as well as a large reservoir-lake. With its location near the largest recreational facility in eastern Nebraska, Raymond was again "on the map."
Today we find Raymond with a population of 190 and growing. The business district, catering to fishermen and vacationers, includes groceries, a tavern, and several other shops.
By Jane Graff from material found at the NSHS and in Elinor Brown's Lancaster County -- Then & Now.