Holt County is located in North Central Nebraska, near the eastern end of the Sandhills Region. Holt County has an elevation of 1,400 feet along the Niobrara River in the northeast corner of the county, and increases to 2,400 feet in the southwest. Holt County stretches 40 miles from east to west, and 37 miles from north to south. The boundaries for Holt County were set on January 9, 1862. The population of Holt County is 11,551 according to the 2000 census.
The economy includes ranching, cattle feeding, livestock marketing, hay production, irrigated and dryland crops, retail and wholesale businesses, government services, and manufacturing. There are approximately 1,220 farms and ranches in Holt County.
Holt County is divided into 37 townships. The county is governed by seven supervisors, each elected by popular vote for a four year term. O'Neill is the county seat.
Holt County was named in honor of Joseph Holt of Kentucky, who was a member of President Buchanan's Cabinet, being Postmaster General and Secretary of War. Later, he was Judge-Advocate of the Army under President Lincoln.
The first settler was William Inman in July 1871. In 1885, the first courthouse was erected at a cost of $20,000. A new building was erected and finished in 1935, with a sizeable addition added in 2004. Fifty-nine post offices and towns existed at one time in Holt County. Nine towns are still in existence today.