Cities, Towns, Villages
Bassett; Newport; Rose
The area known today as Rock County was once attached to Holt County on east for administrative and judicial purposes. In 1883, the area would become part of the newly-created Brown County on the west. Immediately thereafter a movement took place to separate from Brown County and designate the area as a county itself. Voters approved the proposal in 1887 and the following year Rock County was officially organized.
There are two versions of how the county received its name. The first is that it was named after Rock Creek, which empties into the Niobrara River. The second is that it was named after the area's rocky soil conditions during those days. Either is possible, as a rock quarry which produced exceptionally fine building stone was located along the creek.
When it came time to select a county seat, five locations vied for the honor -- Bassett, Newport, Rock Center, Thurman and Tracy. Since none of the five received a majority vote, Bassett was named the temporary county seat. During a special election on Jan. 29, 1889, Bassett was given the honor permanently. This resulted in a bitter conflict between Newport and Bassett that eventually wound up in court.
At a special election on Nov. 8, 1889, a $5,000 bond was approved by Bassett voters to build a frame courthouse. When the courthouse was destroyed by fire 10 years later, the conflict between the two townsites resumed. Bassett quickly built another courthouse, which served the county until 1940. It was during that year, with the assistance of the Public Works Administration, and the current courthouse was built in Bassett.
When the area was first being settled, small farms and ranches were commonplace. Ranching remains the economic mainstay today, with the county being recognized as one of the top producers of wild hay in the state. With the development of center pivot irrigation systems, Rock County has also enjoyed a steady increase in corn production over the past 25 years.