Oto Mission

In November 1833 Moses and Eliza Merrill, missionaries sponsored by the Baptist Missionary Union, arrived at the government Indian agency at Bellevue and opened a mission school for the Oto and Missouri Indians living in eastern Nebraska. The Merrills were the first Christian missionaries sent to Nebraska.

In September, 1835 the Merrill family relocated to a log cabin and schoolhouse the government provided on the Platte River about three miles west of here. Part of the Oto and Missouri led by Chief Iatan built a village nearby. as the mission developed, Merrill prepared a spelling book, a reader, and hymnals in the Oto language. More buildings were erected, and a blacksmith and farmer joined the staff.

The Oto were plagued by diminishing game supplies and demoralized by liquor. On April 28, 1837, Iatan was killed in an Indian feud and his successor was unable to maintain the village at the mission. Merrill died on February 6, 1840, and was buried at St. Mary, across the Missouri River from Bellevue. In 2011 only a stone fireplace/chimney remained at the mission site.



U.S. 78/75, south of Bellevue