Tuesday was not the official start of the convention, but we had an exciting tour to start the event.
First stop was the Homestead National Monument & Museum. Museum Curator Jason Jurgens led our visit to help us understand the full impact of the Homestead Act of 1862. One of my friends, R. Dale Copsey, has always told me the Homestead Act of 1862 was one of the prime reasons for Germans from Russia to come to America.
According to http://www.nps.gov/home/index.htm
This act was signed into law in 1862 by Abraham Lincoln after the secession of southern states, this Act turned over vast amounts of the public domain to private citizens. 270 million acres, or 10% of the area of the United States was claimed and settled under this act.
People interested in Homesteading first had to file their intentions at the nearest Land Office. A brief check for previous ownership claims was made for the plot of land in question, usually described by its survey coordinates. The prospective homesteader paid a filing fee of $10 to claim the land temporarily, as well as a $2 commission to the land agent.
Sharon Lemke listens to information at the Homestead Museum
With application and receipt in hand, the homesteader then returned to the land to begin the process of building a home and farming the land, both requirements for "proving" up at the end of five years. When all requirements had been completed and the homesteader was ready the take legal possession, the homesteader found two neighbors or friends willing to vouch for the truth of his or her statements about the land's improvements and sign the "proof" document
David Eisenhower and Fritz Kiessling at the Homestead Museum
After successful completion of this final form and payment of a $6 fee, the homesteader received the patent for the land, signed with the name of the current President of the United States. This paper was often proudly displayed on a cabin wall and represented the culmination of hard work and determination.
From the first homesteader Daniel Freeman who was a Union Scout in the Civil War to the last homesteader Vietnam Veteran Kenneth Deardorff , the museum covers all aspects of the Homestead Act. The film “Land of Dreams, Homesteading America” details the Homesteaders’ struggles and shares all perspectives including Native American. It was a powerful presentation capped off with a visit to the Palmer-Epard Cabin built in 1867 where twelve people lived in extremely close quarters.
Then we followed a narrow path to the gravesite of Daniel and Agnes Freeman. We all left the site with a better understanding of the struggles and greater respect for everything our ancestors accomplished across the thirty states on which the Homestead Act help to build America.
For more information on this museum visit http://www.nps.gov/home/index.htm
The tour stopped at Valentino’s for lunch. No one left the restaurant hungry. And, we all learned the correct pronunciation of the name of the city of Beatrice.
In the afternoon we visited Bedient Pipe Organ Company where designer and project manager Chad W. Johnson showed us the ropes of this organization. This company builds one to two custom pipe organs each year. They specialize in restoration and repair, too. We learned it requires many mechanical techniques and fine precision to master the art and construction of creating these musical instruments.
From Duane who created the pipes to Fred in the wood shop who graciously explained the critical spacing of the holes in the wood and how it connects with the pipes to play the perfect notes, we began to understand why these organs are priceless pieces and can last over six hundred years. For more information visit bedient.com.