Saturday, April 21, 2012

Homesteading in Nebraska

In case you haven't alreay figured it out, your new hobby in Genealogy has naturally made you a historian.  You probably knew you had a natural bent or interest in history anyway.  This year our country is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the NATIONAL HOMESTEAD ACT.  In Nebraska the Homestead Monument in Beatrice, a National Park, is planning a series of activities.  Because so many of our personal ancestors took advantage of this opportunity I have made it a personal goal to get as many First Settlers and Pioneer Certificates as I can get this year.  I'm hoping that I can get all ----- of them. 

To commemorate this I'm also going to be doing a series of posts on Homesteading in Nebraska and offering some family activities that you and your families can participate in also.

HEADS UP!  This article and the ones following are leading up to our Tuesday Trivia Question coming next week.

This next week you have the opportunity to learn more at the Homestead National Monument in Beatrice, Nebraska as they beging the 150th year anniversary of the Homestead Act.

Wednesday, April 25

Original Document Display (Educational Opportunities)

10:00 am - Homestead National Monument Beatrice

Plan to go to Beatrice Ne to visit Homestead National Monument where the original Homestead Act document will be on display beginnig at 10:00 AM on Wednesday,April 25th. Later that same day there will be a Naturalization ceremony at 2:00 PM. For more information visit the website at or call 402.223.3514.


Imagine yourself as a young person in a place where the land has all been taken. You might want to become a farmer, but there is no farmland available. Then imagine seeing advertisements for land, some for very little money, some for free! You face many unknowns. What is this new land really like? Will there be enough rainfall to grow your crops? Will you have neighbors? Who will they be? What about the people who are already on the land?

Emigrants, Custer County
The Homestead Act, combined with other factors, unleashed a movement of people that lasted into the 20th Century. In this photo, emigrants arrive at the Gates Post Office in Custer County in 1886.
Photo by Solomon Butcher. Wagon trains became the stuff of legends.

The reality of life and death on the wagon train was something different, as Dr. Robert Munkres explained in this video.

How did all this land become available? In the 1830s the federal government had said this area was Indian country — a place where Native Americans could live as independent nations. But with passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, the government went back on that promise and opened the land to settlement. Newcomers came slowly and began to gradually create farms, towns, and industries.
To encourage this settlement throughout the West, the U.S. Congress passed the Homestead Act and President Lincoln pushed for the building of a railroad across the country. The Homestead Act of 1862 gave 160 acres of public land to any head of household who lived on the land five years. The railroads were given huge tracts of land to encourage construction. They offered this land for sale to immigrants at low cost.
Thousands of settlers, many with families, did move to the Nebraska Territory from the eastern regions of the United States. Smaller numbers came from foreign nations. These settlers traveled westward across the country onto the Great Plains and played a key role in the settlement of Nebraska. Federal land policies set in motion great changes in the physical and cultural landscape.

The above article was taken from a great site called Nebraska Studies and has tons of other great information and activities for young and old alike to learn about homesteading in Nebraska.

Spend some time at the above site learning all you can about the lives of YOUR ancestors who homesteaded this great state of Nebraska.  Then plan some fun family time activities to celebrate!

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