In 1857 stranded passengers from the steamboat Hannibal formed the “Nebraska Association.” The portion of members who headed south from their starting point of Nebraska City located at the site of Beatrice. The settlement is named after Julia Beatrice Kinney, a daughter of a member of the Association.
In 1 January 1863 the Homestead Act and allowed settlers to claim 160 acres or land for a nominal fee. Daniel Freeman was the first of 417 applications filed that day.
Gage County Historical Society and Museum has some great historical pictures on it’s website, along with some very interesting facts about the city. If you want a more scholarly report of the area the Nebraska State Historical Society has a very interesting PDF they have developed, it does include some great historical pictures along with very interesting facts of the area.
Vital Information available:
As to getting vital information and other documents proving your ancestors were in the area you are able to find marriage records beginning in 1855, land records beginning in 1855 along with Probate records for the same time. Census records begin in 1860. There has been some time taken to transcribe tombstones of the area. Birth and death records are scarce for this area.
My ancestor that lived in Beatrice was:
Milton Brown BISHOP born 22 February 1832 in Bourneville, Ross, Ohio and died 5 November 1911 in Beatrice, Gage, Nebraska. He was the son of David Henry and Sarah Bartlett (BRADFORD) BISHOP; husband of Sara Jane CLARK. Milton was my fourth cousin four times removed.
 Find A Grave, Find A Grave, online images (www.findagrave.com : online 29 February 2016), Milton Brown Bishop; memorial 58575910.