Nebraska And Homestead Program by Sharon Black

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The Homestead National Monument of America on State Highway 4, northwest of Beatrice, Nebraska, hosted their summer campfire program Saturday, July 18th. The subject of the talk was the Home on the Range cabin shared by El Dean Holthus, Smith Center, Kansas, trustee of the cabin.

Homestead National Monument of America is part of the National Park Service. The Homestead Act of 1862 defines the American dream. Explore the complex legacy of a law signed by Abraham Lincoln, the Homestead Act of 1862.

The park ranger lit the campfire, and then Holthus spoke about events in the Civil War in Kansas and Missouri leading up to land being given to settlers after the Homestead Act. Dr. Brewster Higley was one of the homesteaders to come to Kansas and improve upon his claim, which the settler had five years to complete. {{more}}

According to a flyer from Homestead National Monument, homesteading lasted from 1863 to 1986; thirty states were homesteaded; 270,000,000 acres of land was given away, and over 94 million people are homestead descendants.

Dr. Higley had help from the local men to build his cabin on Beaver Creek in northern Smith County Kansas on July 4th, 1872.

There he wrote a poem titled My Western Home that was turned into a song and retitled Home on the Range. The poem was about Dr. Higley’s observations of living on the creek where he could hunt and fish and live up close to nature. He had come from Indiana where he was a surgeon. He also was paid by the county to be the doctor for the pioneers in the area.

Handed down stories from the settlers were put into a book titled Home on the Range by Margaret Nelson, which included Dr. Higley and some of his patients. The cabin that Dr. Higley lived in has been saved through the years and recently a major refurbishing project completed by historical renovators.

After the talk, a demonstration of country line dancing was performed by two women from Omaha who are part of a large group of line dancers. Despite the heat and humidity, they performed two dances and then had people from the audience learn how to country line dance.

Home on the Range is the state song of Kansas and known worldwide.

Line Dancers

Nancy Shaffer board member

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