- Built: 1885
- Address: 2232 N. 16th Street
- Architecture: Victorian Gothic Style
- Demolished: est. 1945
Early politics in the Nebraska Territory were often dirty, ruthless and more than a little roguish. A. J. Poppleton was one of the people who made it that way.
A lawyer, he frequently partnered with a group of other young brash professionals including George Miller and James Woolworth to make sure their will was heard. He was tied up in the Omaha Claim Club, including their notorious enforcement methods, and finagled his way to becoming the Speaker in the Nebraska Territorial Legislature for a short time. He was a powerful force in the 1857 fight to keep the Capitol in Omaha when the town of Florence tried to steal it. Poppleton also became Omaha’s second mayor, serving for six months in 1858.
His most important – and best paying – job was working as the general counsel at the brand-new Union Pacific headquarters in downtown Omaha. As their lawyer for 24 years, he argued many cases in local, state and federal courts. His most important case was done outside the Union Pacific though.
In the 1870s, he represented Chief Standing Bear in a trial brought by the U.S. government at Fort Omaha. Winning the trial, the judge famously declared for the first time ever that Indians were human beings, and as such had the rights of American citizens.
Poppleton was also a real estate investor. Carefully choosing areas throughout Nebraska, he prided himself on never speculating on railroad property, and relying solely on his career as a lawyer for his wealth. Poppleton and his business partner James Woolworth bought the former town of Sulphur Springs in the 1860s after it went belly up.
In the 1880s, Poppleton built a country estate out along Sherman Road that he called “Elizabeth Place.” His home looked out over Cutoff Lake, now called Carter Lake and much small than it originally was. With 15 rooms, it had a magnificent view of the Missouri River bottoms.
Early Omaha historians thought his personal library was great, with one writing,
“He has a large and well-selected library of general literature at his elegant and commodious home on Sherman avenue, and, notwithstanding his multiplicity of duties, he is an extensive reader.”
Poppleton lost his sight completely in 1892, and died in 1896.
After his death the estate subdivided into house parcels called Victor Place, and it was largely built out be 1911. Caroline moved out of the home by then, and passed away in 1917.
Their home was sold at some point afterwards and was used as the Roszelle Sanitarium and Rest Home for a few years. It was demolished around 1915.
Special thanks to Micah Evans for his research supporting this article! Check out his Adventures in Omaha History blog to learn about him. Additional thanks to Sam Swanson of the Benson Historical Society for the second picture of the mansion!