Homestead National Monument of America - 2003

Updated: 11/09/08

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Beatrice, Nebraska


"Free Land" was the cry, when our government wanted to settle the new territory. The Homestead Act of 1862 gave 160 acres to anyone who would develop 10 acres of the homestead. If accomplished within five years, the land was his property - free and clear. A popular song was ... Uncle Sam is Rich Enough to Give Us All a Farm.


hnm stone spot.jpg (58354 bytes)This stone from the old State Capitol building in Lincoln NE, marks the location of the first registered homestead under the act.

Daniel Freeman, a Union scout, persuaded a land agent to let him sign up shortly after midnight so he could return to his regiment. 



The National  Park Service has restored over 100 acres of the Freeman homestead to tallgrass prairie. The 18-minute video and the displays in the visitor center were very informative. A 2.5 mile series of trails lets you walk through the tallgrasses. As you can see, it does grow tall.  All trails are accessible to the disabled. Admission is free.

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hnm pra grass 1.jpg (69729 bytes)            hnm pra grass 2.jpg (55615 bytes)

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hnm pic of hs.jpg (37826 bytes)The challenges facing the homesteaders were great. This picture show the tough job of plowing the tall and well rooted grass in farm land.





Not all of the well rooted sod was plowed over. Some was cut into 'bricks' for their homes - the walls and the roofs.

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hnm palmer-epard.jpg (72297 bytes)Over time, some settlers had better homes. The Palmer-Epard Homestead Cabin was built in 1867 by Palmer. Purchased by Epard in 1896, it was donated to the NPS by the Epard family in 1950. 



Tools for the husband and wife ...

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hnm horse collar.jpg (23067 bytes)Most of the homesteaders were poor. They had to improvise to survive. This horse collar is made from woven corn stalks.





One building on the property houses farm implements from the 1800s. We found some unusual.


hnm treadmill.jpg (30068 bytes)A treadmill was used to provide power to turn equipment.
The treadmill was 'powered' by people or dogs.




hnm hog oiler.jpg (25920 bytes)This 'hog oiler' helped to keep their skin soft
and discourage flies and insects. 




hnm windmill.jpg (34460 bytes)This windmill was interesting.
The wooded wheel sections can be folded
'out of the wind' if desired.





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