Pioneers – Homesteaders

Nebraska is part of what was once known as the Great American Desert, an area unfit for agriculture or settlement.  Roughly 200 years later, Nebraska is celebrating its 150th anniversary of statehood.  Many people of varying backgrounds influenced the state as it exists today, but perhaps one of the most important of these groups to Western Nebraska, in particular, is the Pioneers/Homesteaders.

 

Mass numbers of brave men, women and children traversed the roughly 2,000-mile route from Missouri bound for Oregon in search of a better life; when gold was discovered in California, sparking the Gold Rush, traffic on the overland trails dramatically increased.  Pioneers walked alongside their wagons overloaded with food and possessions up to 15 miles a day, leaving many loved ones and possessions behind along the Oregon/California Trail.  By the time they reached Ash Hollow, their journey was only 1/3 of the way over.

 

Pioneers belonging to the Church of Latter Day Saints pulled handcarts loaded with their food and possessions nearly 10 miles a day from encampments along the Missouri River Valley to the Salt Lake Valley in search of a better life.  Their 1,000-mile route followed the northern bank of the Platte River through Nebraska and became known as the Mormon Trail.

 

Nebraska as we know it today began to take shape following the passage of three important acts:  the Homestead Act, the Timber-Culture Act, and the Kinkaid Act.  Passed between 1862 and 1904, the Acts allowed Homesteaders to obtain public lands for minimal financial cost.  Men and women with enough strength and determination were able to put down roots and establish agriculture in the Great American Desert.

Homesteaders lived a subsistence lifestyle, growing and preserving their own food; making their own fabric, clothing and quilts; washing laundry by hand; making their own candles and soaps; milking cows and churning butter; raising crops with horse-drawn equipment; and many other tasks long since forgotten by modern society.

 

Join the Friends of Ash Hollow State Historical Park as we celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Nebraska and all the brave men and women who left everything they knew behind and helped shape the Cornhusker State.

 

During the Convergence on Sacred Ground event on July 21-23, 2017, everyone (young and old) can experience a day in the life of a Pioneer on the Oregon/California Trail and a Homesteader on the Nebraska prairie by participating in a wide variety of fun and interactive activities, including:

  • Wagon Rides down the Oregon/California Trail

o   What they left behind

o   Graves along the trail

  • Pioneer Trail Camp

o   Circle of Wagons

o   Campfire Cooking

o   Gathering Buffalo/Cow Chips

o   Chip Throwing Contest

o   Laundry

o   Music and Dancing

o   Children’s Games

o   Draft Horses Equipment Demonstration

o   Homesteader Village

o   Antique Farm Equipment Display

o   Cows and Chickens on the Prairie…and the Table

o   Laundry and Clothing

o   Quilting

o   Spinning

o   Pioneer Schoolhouse

o   Outhouse Display

  • Corn Crib (Pass Purchase Required)
  • Area Homesteading Stories and Music (no stage, everyone welcome)
  • Gospel Service (Sunday Only)
  • Humanities Speakers (Saturday Only)

o   “The ‘Tradition’ in Traditional Music” with mini-harmonica workshop – David Seay

o   “Nebraska Territory Stories” with mini-harmonica workshop – David Seay

 

To volunteer in the Pioneer/Homesteader area, loan antique items of any nature for display, provide musical talents, share stories passed down from ancestors, or just obtain more information, please contact Melinda at (308) 778-6818 or melinda.lobner@gmail.com.

 

 

Schedule of Events

July 21st

10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Wagon Rides on the Oregon/California Trail

Pioneer Trail Camp Activities

Homesteader Village Activities

Corn Crib (Pass Purchase Required)

Area Homesteading Stories and Music

 

July 22nd

10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Wagon Rides on the Oregon/California Trail

Pioneer Trail Camp Activities

Homesteader Village Activities

Corn Crib (Pass Purchase Required)

11:00 a.m.

“The ‘Tradition’ in Traditional Music” and mini-harmonica workshop – David Seay

Mormon Trail Reader’s Theater “The Enoch Train, Gathering to Zion”

12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Area Homesteading Stories and Music

1:30 p.m.

Mormon Trail Reader’s Theater “The Enoch Train, Gathering to Zion”

2:00 p.m.

“Nebraska Territory Stories” with mini-harmonica workshop – David Seay

3:30 p.m. – 5:00 pm.

Area Homesteading Stories and Music

Mormon Trail Reader’s Theater “The Enoch Train, Gathering to Zion”

 

July 23rd

10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Wagon Rides on the Oregon/California Trail

Pioneer Trail Camp Activities

Homesteader Village Activities

Corn Crib (Pass Purchase Required)

 

10:00 a.m.

Old-Time Gospel Service

 

12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Area Homesteading Stories and Music