For many years the Pawnee nation lived at peace on the rolling prairie lands along the Loup River. The Pawnee sustained itself by raising crops and hunting wild game that thrived in the area. In time, this area was designated as the Pawnee Reservation.
The first white settlers to come to this area were a group of Mormons led by Henry James Hudson in 1855. One-hundred families established a colony on the site that today is Genoa. The colony prospered, but in 1860 the Pawnees claimed the territory as part of their reservation. The Mormons attempted to stay on the land, but the danger resulting from conflicts between the Pawnee and Sioux tribes forced them to move on in 1864.
Twelve years later Randall Fuller came through the area with a cattle herd on his way to the Black Hills. By this time the reservation land was being parcelled off and Fuller bought two sections. He laid out the townsite of Fullerton, today the county seat.
When the county was organized and its boundaries defined in 1879, it was named in honor of Albinus Nance, who was governor at the time. In his proclamation, Nance, who was a mere 30 years old, selected Fullerton as the temporary county seat until an election could be held. At the time, Fullerton, which was located in the fertile valley between the Loup and Ceder Rivers, consisted only of rows of stakes marking the townsite. Fuller pledged six acres of land to the county in exchange for it being named the county seat. When the county was organized, it sold the lots to build the first courthouse. Two years later, Fuller donated 10 acres to Nebraska Wesleyan University when it relocated from Osceola to Fullerton. The university operated in Fullerton for several years before moving to Lincoln in order to be closer to the center of the state's population.
In a special election in 1894, voters approved a $17,000 bond issue to build a new courthouse. Within a year, the Board of Supervisors met in the building for the first time. This building served county residents until the present $440,000 courthouse was built in the 1970s.