John Oak and his wife, Inger Askwig Oak, were among a band of 23 pioneers who struggled into Tekamah from Ottawa, a Norwegian settlement in LaSalle County, Iowa, in July 1855. John Oak homesteaded land in the Silver Creek township north of Tekamah. By 1866, John Oak and his family moved to western Burt County. John assisted five families to locate homesteads in this beautiful rich Logan Creek Valley. John P. Peterson, Victor Colson, Andrew Young, Erick Erickson, Andrew Johnson and John H. Hanson became the founding pioneers of Oakland.
Churches played an important part in the development of the community. Lutheran and Baptist congregations were organized in 1869, followed by the Covenants, Methodists and later the Free Mission churches.
By 1879, it was certain the railroad would be built through Oakland, and public spirited people subscribed to a fund for purchase of the present townsite. Stimulated by the coming of the first railroad, Oakland was incorporated as a village on April 13, 1881. In 1900, the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroads were built to Oakland. Today, Oakland is located on the main line of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad.
A. E. Wells, banker and philanthropist, developed a park along Logan Creek. The 40-acre city park was established in 1921 with a $10,000 bond issue. Oakland established one of the first golf courses in northeast Nebraska in 1924. The sand green course was converted to grass greens in the late 1940s and expanded to an 18-hole country club in 1993. The Oakland Golf Course draws members from a 50-mile radius. Oakland/Craig girls and boys golf teams, along with boys teams from Lyons/Decatur, use the facility as their home course.
Oakland has exhibited great stability with many businesses over 100 years old, such as Holmquist Lumber, the Oakland Independent, and 1st National Bank N.E. Oakland continues to build on its strong foundation with its bi-annual Swedish Festival and is known by its proclamation from the Swedish Counsel General and Nebraska Governor as the "Swedish Capital of Nebraska."
Situated in western Burt County, Oakland is located in the Logan Creek Valley, which is west of the Missouri River. Oakland has the services of the north-south U.S. Highway 77 and east-west Nebraska Highway 32. These two highways intersect one-half mile south of Oakland. Sioux City, Iowa, is 45 miles north and Omaha, Nebraska, is 58 miles southeast of Oakland.
Basic economic activities in Oakland include farming, cattle and hog production, feed processing, wholesale and retail sales, construction and medical services. The primary retail trade area extends 13 miles east, five miles south, and five miles west and contains an estimated 4,000 persons.
First class postal service, one local newspaper and two other newspapers are delivered locally. There are five package delivery services available. One cable TV system and two local radio stations along with the radio and television stations in Omaha & Sioux City serve the Oakland area.
County Government - Burt County has 12 townships and is governed by a seven-member board of supervisors, each elected by popular vote for a four-year term. The county belongs to the Northeast Nebraska Economic Development District with 17 other counties.
Municipal Government - Oakland has a mayor-council form of government elected for four-year terms.
Fire Protection - Fire protection is provided in the community by a 26-member volunteer fire department. This department also provides protection for areas outside the city limits by operating the Rural Fire District's equipment.
Law Enforcement - Oakland employs three full-time and several part-time policemen and has three patrol cars, radio communication and other standard equipment.
Motor Carrier - North-south U.S. Highway 77 passes through the community and intersects with east-west Nebraska Highway 32 one-half mile south. There are no local restrictions. Interstate 29 is 33 miles east and Interstate 80 is 50 miles south of Oakland. There are four trucklines currently servicing the Oakland area.
Air - The Tekamah Municipal Airport, 14 miles east of Oakland, has a 4,000 foot concrete and lighted runway. The Sioux Gateway Airport in Sioux City, Iowa, 45 miles north of Oakland, is served by five commercial air carriers. Omaha's Eppley Airfield, 58 miles south of Oakland, with 11 airlines, provides 80 flights daily.
Rail - Oakland is served by a main line of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe with several freight trains daily.