Homestead National Historical Park

Happy Friday, my friends! We had an easy-going day yesterday with a visit to Homestead National Historical Park. I can't remember when or where I first heard about this place, but I was most interested in the Quilt Discovery Experience there. As it turns out, the Quilt Discovery Experience was just a small part of the park. The rest was all about the Homestead Act signed into law by President Lincoln in 1862. It documented the lives of the homesteaders, and the challenges they faced. The exhibits and short video also gave fair time to the Native Americans who were displaced when their homeland was given away to settlers moving west. It was an all-encompassing and interesting look into our nation's past.

As we approached the visitor center, we read this sign. I was inspired to add Willa Cather's book to my wish list.

This was an interesting map. The light tan states were Homestead States.

Oregon was among them, and I have no doubt I live near a homestead. 

Inside the visitor center, there were computer stations where one could do genealogy work, if desired. I was motivated to look up the names of my grandfathers to see if they were homesteaders. Neither were, but I couldn't search any farther back than that, since I didn't know the names of my great grandfathers.

This was just about the extent of the Quilt Discovery Experience. The booklet was handed to me for free.

Inside were listed about two dozen traditional quilt blocks with information about their origin and meaning. There were also quilt block signs posted throughout the trails and walkways. Here are some that we saw.

The booklet inspired me to make my 2023 Rainbow Scrap Quilt as a "Heritage" quilt using different blocks listed in the booklet. While the exhibit was smaller than I expected, it did inspire me, and that made it worth the visit.

There were some interesting exhibits and artifacts inside the visitor center. These beaded moccasins, as an example.

Here's a close-up view of the beading.

I liked this exhibit. There were three items shown, and then three drawers below each showing how the settlers made do with what was available to them. Most interesting to me was the feed sack.

When I opened the drawers below, here were just some of the ways the settlers used them.

Animals were put to use doing some of the manual labor. There was a goat-driven treadmill that turned a grinding stone...similar to the grist mills, but with goat power. Kind of funny. We wondered how one would get the goat to cooperate. Also, this dog hitched to a travois. And this, my friends, is why cats are superior to dogs. A cat would never submit to this kind of manual labor. Don't blame me...I'm just the messenger. 

Of course, I knew you'd want to see the kitchen tools.

Walking on, we took a look at the Palmer cabin.

A family of 12 lived here. Yikes.

Inside, there were a couple of quilts. Directly ahead, there was one draped over the rocking chair.

It was a very small space. To our left was a table and a spinning wheel. The other item there almost looks like a treadle sewing machine without the machine.

To our right we saw this:

In the right corner, a bed with a log cabin quilt. That wood fire would have kept things warm.

Here was some information about another settler, Daniel Freeman, and how he was able to be successful on his homestead when so many others failed.

Looking out across this tallgrass prairie, this is what we saw, and it's what Freeman saw when he staked his claim. 

Looking in another direction.

We walked to the far side of the field to see this:

Here is his and his wife's grave.

Looking back at the visitor center, the upturned roof was designed to resemble a plow.

That was pretty much all the time we spent there. We went back inside to use the restrooms before we left. To the right of the women's room was this quilted wall-hanging.

Here's the information about it.

From there, we drove into Beatrice (pronounced bee-AT-ris). I nearly missed the sign as we drove past.

But that's okay because I caught this painted mural as we drove through town.

We were on our way to this quilt shop. I'll tell you about it in a separate post.

This town is very old. It's one of those small towns that looks as if its frozen in time. It was a windows and walls kind of day. Here are the ones across the street from the quilt shop.

I was able to capture a few more as we drove by. They aren't the best pictures since I was shooting through a window and looking up to see them. Still, I think you get the idea. Windows and walls is just another of the thousands of quilts I'm going to make someday. Lighthouses and barns are also on my list.

We made a quick stop at the grocery store, and then headed for home. We spent the rest of the afternoon just hanging out, and I got quite a bit of slow-stitching done. I'm hoping to finish my quilt block today, but that might be overly-ambitious. It would be good to finish it while I'm able to use my washer to wash out the Sticky Fabri-Solvy. One never knows when the next opportunity might be.

We're planning a chill day for ourselves here. There's nothing on our agenda, and it's raining outside. Not a problem. I'll make us some cookies for two and we'll enjoy just hanging out for an entire day. We'll be moving on tomorrow, and we're coming close to the end of our sight-seeing journey. We have just a few more stops before we start our homeward bound trek.


Barbara said...

The real things haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong. ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

Nice Wheeler & Wilson treadle in the cabin. I'd never heard of this park before. Thanks for sharing. Sorry for the lack of comments the past few months, I've been gone most of the summer with little time for computers.

Sara said...

Now that looks like a very interesting stop. Glad that brochure gave you inspiration. I've already begun thinking ahead to the 2023 RSC possibilities too.

Christi said...

I took a class in college where we read most of Willa Cather's books and I enjoyed them all, but My Antonia was probably one of my favorites. We also took a class trip to Red Cloud, NE where Cather lived.

Anonymous said...

Love that you're enthusiastic about Nebraska... many people zoom on through and comment that it is flat and mostly arid. My mother's parents and grandparents were both homesteaders in western Nebraska, in what is now Kimball County. That land is still in the family!
--Annette in Omaha

Magpie's Mumblings said...

A family of 12 in that cabin wasn't surprising for those times I imagine. My DH came from a house not a whole lot bigger than that and they were a family of 9 kids plus often had a boarder as well. The kids slept 3 to a double bed - two facing one way and the other in the middle facing the other. Not much room when they got to be teenagers! My husband ended up cleaning out a small closet that was just big enough for a single bed so we've often joked that I took him out of the closet when we got married.