Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Genealogy Fun in Eastern Nebraska...part 2 (Homestead Monument)

Welcome back, the second part of this article is about the continuation of my recent genealogy trip to eastern Nebraska with my cousin. You can read the first part of the story HERE. The latter part of last week was spent having fun just touring some sites and cemeteries in and around Adams and Gage Counties of Nebraska.

First stop was at Red Cloud, Nebraska- the home of the author Willa Cather. Red Cloud is a pretty little quaint town with many historical buildings, several of which relate to some of the writings of Willa Cather. Her book, My Antonia was set around some of the homes and people of Red Cloud. We toured her original home and drove around the tour to see more of the historical buildings. I had never been to the little town and it was treat, especially to be taken back in time in our minds at least.

Willa Cather home

Cather historical marker

Me in front of her home

Historical old home of Willa Cather's writings

Beautiful old red brick building, Red Cloud, Ne.

Old bank block, Willa scratched her initials in the outside wall

Quaint church in Red Cloud, Ne.
Seeing the historical buildings around Red Cloud was certainly fun and learning more about history is always a welcome experience!

The Homestead National Monument near Beatrice, Nebraska was our next stop on our exploring Nebraska some if it's great sites. For anyone interested in history and especially for those with ties to ancestors who may have settled on the plains or other areas of the country who offered homestead land, this is a fun place to visit and learn more about early settlement. All four pages of the original Homestead Act of 1862 are on display at the monument right now and through the end of May in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Homestead Act. What an awesome experience to have been able to view this historical document in its entirety! I was absolutely thrilled to see it in person and be so close to the actual signature of Abraham Lincoln. The display is such that visitors can get quite up close to the document as it is shown behind glass as a unit. It is under armed guard, a rather strange experience to see in the small museum. We were able to get close enough to take semi-descent photos but as NO FLASH or tripods were allowed, there is a rather bad glass reflection from other display lights and the display is dimly lit for preservation purposes, it is hard to get excellent quality photos. None the less, we did get some photos and loved seeing the document. The Homestead monument also offers a great museum and  several displays for everyone to learn more about that period in history. A really nice outdoor learning center, theater with learning films and two excellent gift shops in both buildings at the monument makes this a very worth while historical place to visit even during the times that the original document is not there. I can't wait to go back and spend some time there. Take along some extra fun money as they offer very nice books on history, genealogy, Nebraska, quilts and more! Enjoy a few of the photos that we took when we visited the Homestead National Monument last week!

page 1

page 2

page 3


Signature of Abraham Lincoln

Shows how the  Homestead Act document is displayed

Copy of original poster

A few of our own family Homestead Documents are shown here to give you an idea of what some of the pages look like when you are able to find your own family documents online. I've included a couple pages from about three different people's document folders so you can see the variety of papers that may appear in your ancestors papers. Most packets will contain around 15 pages or more of document pages for each person who applied for a Homestead.  Fold3 is slowly adding the documents to its database and about half of Nebraska is available at this time. The Fold 3 database of Homestead records is FREE through May. Be sure to check back often if you are searching for your ancestor's records as new documents are being added daily. Copies of these documents are NOT available at the Homestead National Monument so do not make the trip there under the assumption that they house those records. 

 Many of my personal families did settle and take homestead land in Nebraska so I have been lucky to get several of the documents. What a thrill to read how our ancestors attained and settled their land!

The fun of discovering your ancestor in Homestead Records is hard to describe, one gets a warm feeling of closeness to those who came before. My cousin and I really had a wonderful time touring the Homestead National Monument and other historical sites in Nebraska while spending
quality time together, it was another grand genealogy outing!

Our last stop was visiting a family cemetery in Blue Springs, Nebraska, which I will tell more about soon. Thanks for stopping by!

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