Florence was born after the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act opened lands west of the Missouri River to speculators and settlers. Build on the grounds of Winter Quarters, founder James C. Mitchell named the new town after his granddaughter, Florence Kilbourne. The little town dreamed of greatness, hoping fora bridge across the Missouri River and a railroad. Florence was even the Capitol of Nebraska Territory for one glorious wee, January 9-16, 1858.
The town prospered as a supplier o goods and services to pioneers heading west. European immigrants landed here by riverboat before starting their long trek to Utah, California, or Oregon with handcarts or wagons.
Boom turned to bust with the Financial Panic of 1857. Florence was on the verge of economic collapse by 1860. the Union Pacific railroad chose Omaha City as its terminus. A bridge across the Missouri River looked unlikely. The Territorial Capitol did not return to Florence. Its population decreased.
A new wave of immigrants traveling on the historic Mormon Trail revived the community's economy. Florence became the official outfitting town for the 1860-1863 "Down & Back" wagon trains originating in Salt Lake City. Florence served America's westward migration until railroad transportation ended the era of Overland Pioneer Trails.
Florence remained a separate town until it was annexed by the city of Omaha in 1917. A bridge spanning the Missouri River became a reality in 1953, nearly 100 years after Florence's founder, J.C. Mitchell, first promoted the idea.