Friday, December 30, 2011

Thank you to Homestead Congress Blog 2011 Contributors

The Friends of Homestead National Monument thank the readers of the Homestead Congress blog for their continued support. As of this writing there have been over 55,000 hits to our educational postings on the purpose of the Homestead Act and its many fascinating stories. Readers range from Beatrice, Nebraska, hometown of the Monument, to both the east and west coasts of the United States, as well as, every continent in the world. Without the talents, efforts, and contributions of our many volunteers and supporters the Homestead Congress blog would not be possible. Happy holidays and thank you to:

Merrith Baughman, Homestead National Monument of America

Beatrice Daily Sun

Blake Bell, Homestead National Monument of America

Jesse Bolli, Homestead National Monument of America

Brandon Clark, Southeast Community College

Jerry Davison, Friends of Homestead Volunteer

Denise Elmer, Friends of Homestead Volunteer

Gene Finke, Friends of Homestead Volunteer

Katie Graham, Southeast Community College

Parviz Jamalov, exchange student from Tajikistan, Southeast Community College

Samantha Johnson, Southeast Community College

Bernadette Korslund, Friends of Homestead Volunteer

Allison (La Duke) Alley, Homestead National Monument of America

Nancy Marie Hoppe, Friends of Homestead Volunteer

Mel Mann, 2010 Artist in Residence

Travis Maresh, Southeast Community College

Doris Martin, Homestead National Monument of America

Tina Miller, Homestead National Monument of America

Jamie Sumner, Southeast Community College

Judy Thompson, 2010 Artist in Residence

Diane Vicars, President Friends of Homestead

Brianna Weichel, Southeast Community College

Homestead Congress is a communication program for the Friends of Homestead National Monument of America. It is a 501(c)(3) educational, charitable organization recognized by the IRS to receive tax deductible gifts directed to the use of Homestead National Monument. The Homestead National Monument of America is the source of accurate information on the Homestead Act. Our authors’ contributions can be found at:


Friday, December 9, 2011

Friends purchase supports Homestead

Through grants and the Opal Shum bequest, the Friends of Homestead National Monument of America purchased 140 acres of cropland located south of and contiguous with the monument. This created an opportunity to support landscape and habitat in the park, including the oldest restored tall grass prairie in the region.

By Jesse Bolli
Reprinted with permission
from HTLN Weather Vane

In spring of 2009, the Friends group enrolled the parcel into the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) program administered by the US Department of Agriculture. The Friends received a grant to hire Prairie Plains Resource Institute from Aurora, Nebraska to begin restoration of cropland into high diversity tall grass prairie.

Bill Whitney using an fertilizer spreader
to plant a high diversity seed mixture.
During the 2009 growing season, the area was dominated by mares tail (Conyza canadensis), an annual weed species. By 2010, some of 160 different species of local genotype seed planted in 2009 started to appear.

The land increases the park managed, 100-acre prairie by 140 acres. It also provides a landscape buffer for historic hedgerow trees listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks, and it buffers rare lowland bur oak forest. The additional land will reduce agricultural runoff into Cub Creek. Planned walking trails will add recreational and educational opportunities for visitors.

An unconfirmed sighting of a greater prairie chicken (Tympanuchus cupido) on the monument may be the result of efforts to increase habitat. The park and Friends group are encouraged that this additional prairie restoration will likely benefit this once abundant, but now rare native bird.

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry introduced legislation (H.R. 112) to include this property within the boundary of Homestead National Monument of America. Once Congress approves monument expansion, the Friends of Homestead NM of America plan to donate the land to the NPS.

Monday, November 7, 2011

2012 the 150th Anniversary of Homestead Act

Dear Friends:

Next year we will be commemorating a story we know very well, a story that covers 270 million acres, is tied to 93 million Americans, spanned 123 years and is directly tied to the development of the largest agriculture superpower in the history of the World!

In 2012 our Nation will observe the 150th Anniversary -- in what has been said is one of the most significant laws ever created in the history of the United States -- The Homestead Act of 1862! We are contacting you to ensure you are aware of this anniversary and to seek your consideration in joining us in commemorating this epic event in American History!

While communities and organizations throughout our Nation are preparing for this anniversary it is important for us to remember that Homestead National Monument of America, Southeast Nebraska and our community will be at the center of this anniversary.

Already a number of activities and special projects are under way including:

• A major national symposium will be conducted with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; this event will take place in Lincoln and at the monument.

• Main Street Beatrice will be decorated with commemorative banners and planning special exhibitions.

• Special quilt programs will be presented.

• 44-1 kids will be engaged,

• A special national exhibit on exploration will be brought to the monument.

• The Nebraska Humanities Council will be bringing to the community their 2012 Chautauqua Event.

The Historic Homestead Act of 1862 Document signed by President Abraham Lincoln will be traveling to Homestead from the National Archives in Washington. D.C.; this document is considered, like the U.S. Constitution or Bill of Rights, to be one of our Nation's 100 most important documents.

• Plans are also under way for a major event at the monument on Sunday, May 20, the day on which the law was signed by President Lincoln.

Further activities include working closely with the Beatrice Chamber of Commerce during this historic year to make the 2012 annual Homestead Days event extra special.

We hope you, your business or organization will consider joining in this historic event! Ideas on how you can join in the fun include:

• If your business or organization is planning on giving away promotional items in 2012, consider highlighting the Homestead Act's 150 th Anniversary.

• If you are planning on participating in the annual Homestead Days Parade, start thinking now about your entry. If you plan on tossing promotional items to the crowd, we hope you might consider highlighting our community's tie to homesteading.

• You might consider special displays, window decorations or promotions.

• Your group or organization might want to feature presentations or programs looking closer at the Homestead Act and its effect on our community or Nation.

• You might wish to sponsor one of many special programs coming to the community or monument.

• And we are sure you have great ideas that are not even listed here.

Fifty years ago our community threw a party for the Homestead Act's Centennial that included a variety of activities: a Proclamation signed by President John F. Kennedy, three parades, a Miss Nebraska Pageant, retail promotions, a new postal stamp was issued, along with many other community programs. In doing this the community gained pride while having a great time.

We hope you will consider joining us for afro, filled sesquicentennial! Should you wish to discuss any ideas and would like to call on us for assistance, the Friends of Homestead, along with the staff at Homestead National Monument of America, stand ready to assist you. You can reach me at 402-223-7217, or call the monument at 402-223-3514.

Diane Vicars
Friends of Homestead

P.S. You can pick up your commemorative poster at the monument starting October 1, 2011.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Bernadette Korslund Named Volunteer of Year at Homestead

Homestead National Monument of America recognized its volunteers on Sunday, September 25, 2011.  Over 550 volunteers provided 17,000 plus hours of service in the last year.  Five people provided over 500 hours; 22 provided over 100 hours; 32 provided over 50 hours; and 54 provided over 20 hours. Each year one person is recognized as the Volunteer of the Year based on the most impact to the park as a whole.  The 2011 Volunteer of the Year was Bernadette Korslund.  

Bernadette Korslund has created a lasting impact on Homestead National Monument of America through her involvement in many programs areas.  She is present at most park events.  She is the park’s official volunteer photographer documenting activities at the park for future generations. She is a guide for school groups during Pioneer Days and Heartland Storytelling Festival.  She uses her enthusiasm to encourage young ladies to explore fields in science while leading Beatrice Middle School 8th graders in chemical analysis during the park’s water quality monitoring project.  She is also an active participate in deer surveys, native seed collection, and road side clean ups.  She can be found at the Homestead Volunteer Office at the City Auditorium scanning and indexing photographs.

Samples of Mrs. Korslund's photos can be be viewed at

Sunday, March 6, 2011

True Friends of Homestead

Diane Vicars and Jerry Davison
The Friends of Homestead National Monument of America recognized the talent and time contributions of two members, Jerry Davison and Don Weldon on January 17, 2011. Newly elected president Diane Vicars presented wall plaques commemorating their commitment to the group and to the Monument.

As past president Laureen Riedesel noted, Jerry Davison had a true vision for what Homestead National Monument of America could and should be. In his time on the Board, he was willing to do whatever was needed and shared his vast leadership experience with other groups for the benefit of Homestead National Monument. She went on to observe that Don Weldon accepted leadership of the Friends following a huge capitol project with the Heritage Center. His ideas and activities helped to take support for the Homestead to an exciting new level. She concluded her remarks with “We have been very fortunate to have such true Friends of Homestead.”

During Mr. Davison’s 12 years of service to the Friends of Homestead his contributions were truly monumental. He played a critical role in the development and organization of the Volunteer Senior Ranger Program, a program became a model for other Friends groups to follow and he has been called upon to talk to other groups and land managers from across our Nation. His efforts within the volunteer program brought National Recognition to Homestead as well as a special award from Nebraska's First Lady with the 2005 Outstanding Community Service Award. He was instrumental in organizing and distributing a quarterly newsletter and visitor information cards. As a constant champion when it comes to promoting Homestead National Monument of America, Mr. Davison worked with numerous organizations, groups and individuals in making sure the story of Homestead National Monument of America was told. His greatest accomplishment just may be the creation of the Homestead Congress, a communications group, organized to promote and communicate the work of Homestead National Monument of America. While this group is fairly new in its creation, the long-term benefit of this organizations’ work is expected to have a long lasting benefit on Homestead National Monument of America.

Dr. Weldon served as a board member, vice president, and president of the Friends of Homestead from 2006 to 2010. During his tenure, he was instrumental with many efforts and projects that will have a long term positive effect on Homestead National Monument of America. The Friends and the Monument are indebted to Dr. Weldon for his work which included: his effort to have Nebraska’s Homestead National Monument of America placed on the America the Beautiful National Park 2015quarter series, his leadership in seeing the Shum Property converted from row crops to native prairie, a partnership project with the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) program administered by the US Department of Agriculture that will one day provide an extended tall grass prairie eco system and expand recreational and educational opportunities for the citizens of our Nation, and his promotion of renaming Homestead National Monument of America to Homestead National Historical Park. He has suggested and watched the implementation of visitor programs such as the Bird and Bagel Walk and improved services for visitors with disabilities. It was under his leadership that the Homestead Congress was created (

Without a doubt Homestead National Monument of America will forever benefit from Mr. Davison’s and Dr. Weldon's work.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Remembering Our Fallen Exhibit

The Friends of Homestead National Monument are proud to sponsor the photographic exhibit Remembering Our Fallen. This exhibition, featuring photographs of Nebraska and western Iowa armed forces members killed during service in Iraq and Afghanistan can be experienced at the Monument's Education Center from February 19 through February 27, 2011.

The Remembering Our Fallen photo exhibit, assembled by Bill and Evonne Williams, keeps the memory of our fallen heroes in the American peoples' thoughts. The photo panels show the portraits of these servicemen and servicewomen, mostly in uniform, listed from the first killed in action to the most recent. Smaller, more personal photos were provided by the families and added later.

Many thanks to our co-sponsors the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion Posts in Nebraska: 

VFW Posts:
Fairbury 3113
Pawnee City 5289
Syracuse 5547

American Legion Posts:
Auburn 23
Milford 171
Denton 355
Diller 282
Dubois 39
Fairbury 24
Gretna 216
Hallam/Lincoln 294
Pawnee City 5289
Seneca, Kansas 21
Steele City Auxiliary 349
Steel City 349
Syracuse 100
Table Rock 289
Wymore 25

Read more about the Exhibit at the Beatrice Daily Sun. and ‘Remember Our Fallen’

Monday, January 10, 2011

160 Acres 160 Dollars Particpants Appreciation

The Friends of Homestead National Monument appreciate the generous gifts of the 2010 Participants of the “160 Acres-160 Dollars program.” Each gift of $160 or more is used to support activities that told the homesteading story. The Participants gifts are commemorated on the Levels of Giving Recognition Board at the entrance of the Homestead National Monument Heritage Center. These recognition plaques can be viewed at 8523 West State Highway 4, Beatrice, NE.

An appreciation dinner was held October 9, 2010 at the destination restaurant The Black Crow, Beatrice, Nebraska. The program Maria Rodaway: Prairie Pioneer, by Karen Wyatt Drevo, celebrated the Homestead experience.

2010 Homestead Innovation Congress Donors

Dr. Donald and Diane Weldon
Mr. and Mrs. John Bauer
Dr. Wayne and Janice Price
Calvin and Bonnie Prebyl
Denise Elmer and Dennis Witthoft
Dr. Harold and Elizabeth Thaut
Eugene and Martha Feit
Thomas and Eileen Shirk
Dan and Dr. Sandra Parks
Rick and Michele Blum
James Stanosheck
Charles and Laureen Riedesel
William Noll
Toro Exmark Mfg Co.
Mr. and Mrs. Norman Wallman
Ross and Anita Bauman
Sue Bruns
Bernadette Korslund
William W. Cook, Jr.
Mark and Barbara Engler
Robert and Rhonda Eddy
C.T. and Julia Frerichs
Marion and Joyce Frantz
Janice Buhr

The Homestead Innovation Congress is a group within the Friends of Homestead organization that is dedicated to increasing communications and awareness of Homestead National Monument of America. All gifts of $160 or more will be known as Homestead Innovation Congress Participants. A 2011 recognition dinner is being planned for those participating. The sponsor gift for the Homestead Innovation Congress is $160 per single (couple). Please make checks payable to the "Homestead Congress" and mail to: Friends of Homestead 8523 West State Highway 4, Beatrice, NE.

Are you a descendant of Homesteaders?

If you are a descendant of Homesteaders, send you name and address along with any family histories to the Friends of Homestead. The Friends of Homestead are collecting the names and addresses of all descendants. This information should be sent to:

Friends of Homestead
8523 West State Highway 4
Beatrice, NE 68310

or email

Homestead National Monument to be Featured on US Quarter in 2015