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August Newsletter
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This August is a month of celebrations! Homestead National Monument of America and the National Park Service are proud to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing the right to vote for women in America. The theme for the year here at Homestead has been "Women Homesteaders Leading the Way to Suffrage" and we have been celebrating all year long: our Winter film festival, Women's History Month events, distance learning programs, campfire programs, as well as a historical resource study by park Historian Jonathan Fairchild titled "Planted in the Soil: Women Homesteaders, the Homestead Act, and the 19th Amendment."

Upcoming events in August include one more Campfire program on August 8th, and a presentation for the Centennial of the 19th Amendment on August 23rd. We invite you to come experience and enjoy  the park this summer.  August also marks the birthday of the National Park Service itself - happy 104th birthday to the NPS! 

Mark Engler, Superintendent

19th Amendment Centennial - Planted in the Soil
Planted in the Soil - The Homestead Act_ Women Homesteaders_ and the 19th Amendment. Image shows Liberty walking across crops planted on a farm.

The 19th Amendment and the history of the suffrage movement and the women's rights movement is a crucial part of the American story, one that we are proud to honor and celebrate here at Homestead National Monument of America! You might wonder - why exactly is Homestead talking about this moment? What does the Homestead Act have to do with women's suffrage? Many people have heard about some of the major figures involved - perhaps about Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Anna Howard Shaw, Jeannette Rankin, Alice Paul -  as well as the organizations they led, the suffrage marches and protests, and their fight for equality. But what most don't know is the stories of the rural and agricultural women who were involved in the suffrage movement, including the stories of women homesteaders and the important ways in which they planted suffrage in the soil.

The Homestead Act of 1862 was a progressive document, a gender-neutral piece of legislation that was tied to the women's rights movement in the 19th century, including the right to own land.  It welcomed anyone who was the head of a household and eligible to become a citizen. The Homestead Act provided opportunity and access to land to for American women, with enormous social impacts, including the vote - a foundational right of democracy. Estimates suggest that approximately ten period of all homesteaders were women, meaning that hundreds of thousands of women sought land under the Homestead Act, and more than 160,000 successfully "proved up" claims. 

Women were staking claims at the very beginning, and at the very end of the Homestead Act: Mary Myer, right here in Gage County, Nebraska was the first female homesteader across the country. She was  a neighbor of Daniel Freeman - less than a mile away, and she actually proved up at the exact same time that he did - both on September 1, 1869. She had the 3rd patent issued by the Brownville land office, compared to Freeman's first. Elizabeth Smith, just like Ken Deardorff, was a homesteader in Alaska. She was the nation's last woman homesteader. She received 116 acres in 1984.  

Women are an important part of our nation's epic homesteading story. Estimates are that approximately 10% of those who attempted to claim land under the Homestead Act were women - that means as many as 400,000 women filed claims, and approximately 160,000 received land in their own name. That percentage starts off fairly low - not as many women in the 1800s were homesteading, but after 1900 and on, it really takes off. In some areas up to a quarter of the homesteads had women as heads of household (especially Montana)!

Okay, you're saying - so there were a lot of women homesteaders. But why does that have anything to do with suffrage? 
Have you ever heard the term "no taxation without representation? - it's a phrase that goes back to the American Revolution. As hundreds of thousands of women across the country are receiving land, paying taxes on THEIR land - they are realizing that they don't actually have a say in how those taxes are going to be spent!

 It is no coincidence that the states granting women the vote were largely homestead areas. Homesteading women were leaders in the suffrage movement, and in politics too.

 Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress was the daughter of a homesteader, and her experiences working on the family homestead as a young woman led her to reflect on that though men and women worked a homestead as equals, they did not have equal rights. The governor of North Dakota who signed that state's suffrage bill into law, Lynn Frazier, grew up on a homestead, and supported homesteader goals and the equality of women in farm families. Susanna Madora Salter, the first woman elected Mayor across the nation, all the way back in the 1880s, participated in the Oklahoma Land Rush as a homesteader. In fact, another Land Rush homesteader, Kate Stafford was one of Alice Paul's "Silent Sentinels" - members of the National Women's Party who were jailed for protesting in favor of women's suffrage. Adelina Otero-Warren was a Latina homesteader and leader of the National Women's Party in New Mexico, who was instrumental in ensuring the movement reached both English and Spanish speaking women, as well as the first Latina to run for Congress.

The ranks of land-owning women homesteaders across the country swelled between 1862 and 1920. As more and more women joined the ranks of propertied Americans, they increasingly sought the rights that had traditionally been associated with being a landed citizenry - the vote. 

It is no coincidence that as the  homesteading states were exploding in population, they were also granting women the vote - something few non-homestead states had done. In fact, the only non-homestead states that granted women's suffrage before the 19th Amendment were New York, Rhode Island, Maine, and Tennessee. Of those four states, only New York granted full voting rights. By contrast, 24 of 30 homestead states, and every single Midwest state granted woman suffrage. In 1920, 72 years after Seneca Falls, the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified - women were guaranteed the right to vote across the United States. It was homesteaders and the Homestead Act of 1862 that led the way.

To read more about this important topic, check out the full article online at or visit the park on Sunday, August 23rd at 2:00 p.m. for Fairchild's presentation. 


Did You Know_ Homesteading With Bob King - Monthly Homesteading column

The Story of Abigail Scott Duniway (1834-1915): "Mother of Woman Suffrage in Oregon" and "Homesteader" 

With August 18th, 1920 marking the 100th anniversary of the ratification by Congress of the 19th amendment to the Constitution, I wondered if any women homesteaders might have been especially notable in the women's suffrage movement in the United States? With research, I found that at least one was: Abigail Scott Duniway (1834-1915). By the time of her death in 1915, she was nationally acclaimed as the "Mother of Woman Suffrage in Oregon." Also, she was sometimes called a "homesteader."

Yet, as I researched her fascinating history, I came to discover that she was not a "homesteader" under the 1862 Homestead Act. Instead, she "homesteaded" with her husband on a federal land claim obtained under a special law passed in 1850 for Oregon Territory. This unique law included some of the same principles and requirements found in the later 1862 Homestead Act and is a milestone leading up to it.
Consequently, this article tells both about this amazing woman and the very unusual type of land claim that led her to be called a "homesteader." First, her story....

Abigail Jane Scott was born October 22, 1834 on a farm near Groveland in Tazewell County in central Illinois. Her parents, John Tucker Scott (1809-1880) and wife Ann (Roelofson) Scott (1811-1852), both from Kentucky, immigrated to Oregon in the spring of 1852. Accompanying them was their 17-year-old daughter, Abigail, and another 8 of their surviving children from a total of 12 children that had been born into the family. and Find A Grave include a lot of information and pictures for various members of this family, as well as some details of their trip to Oregon.

In 1852, the Scott family was part of group of 27 Oregon-bound immigrants from Illinois, which made the long journey over the Oregon Trail using five wagons. But, tragically, all did not go well for the Scotts. Abigail's mother died of cholera crossing the Plains, about 30 miles west of Fort Laramie in Wyoming Territory, and her 3-year-old brother also perished during the trip.

Arriving in Oregon in the late summer of 1852, the surviving Scott family members settled in the northern part of the fertile Willamette Valley, in Washington County. Later, Abigail began teaching school for the local children including her own younger siblings. The next summer, at age 18, on August 2, 1853, she married at Lafayette, Oregon Territory to Benjamin Charles Duniway (1830-1896). He was also an Illinois native, but from a different part of the State. He had similarly come to Oregon over the Oregon Trail, but had arrived three years earlier, in the summer of 1850. Initially as a bachelor, Benjamin Duniway mined for gold in southern Oregon Territory near Jacksonville, but by 1853, he was in Clackamas County, Oregon, which adjoins Washington County where Abigail lived. What attracted him to northern Oregon was the possibility of getting free valuable farmland there under a special federal law that applied only to Oregon Territory and only for a few years in the early 1850s.

This was the Oregon Donation Land Act (9 Stat. 496), effective September 27, 1850. Under its unusual terms, Benjamin was able to claim 320 acres of free federal land in Clackamas County, about 18 miles south of Oregon City. The purpose of the 1850 law was to promote homestead settlements in Oregon Territory. But it also became a forerunner of the later 1862 Homestead Act as some of its novel terms and requirements appeared later in the 1862 national homestead law.

The 1850 Oregon Donation Land Act, which applied to men only, gave free land to: "every white settler or occupant of the public lands, American half-breed Indians included, above the age of eighteen years, being a citizen of the United States." And like the later 1862 Homestead Act, those men who were not yet citizens but had declared their "intention" to become citizens prior to December 1, 1850 could also claim free land. The maximum amount claimable was 320 acres, and if a settler were married, he could receive 640 acres with half of that amount granted "to his wife, to be held by her in her own right."

This latter provision was most unusual and was a step toward what the 1862 Homestead Act did twelve years later. It would allow unmarried women, as well as single (and married) men, over age 21, to make homestead claims and receive federal land as their own private property after meeting certain terms similar to those in the 1850 Act.

In the case of Abigail's husband, Benjamin Duniway got 320 acres, which indicates that he most likely made his claim for the free land as a single man sometime prior to his marriage. That deduction is based on another part of this most unusual 1850 law. There was also a provision in it for granting land to those men who would be arriving in Oregon Territory between December 1, 1850 and December 1, 1853 (with no grants for anyone after the latter date). They could receive 160 acres if single and 320 acres if married, with half of the 320 acres similarly held by the settler's wife "in her own right."

Apparently, what could not be done by settlers like Duniway, who arrived before December 1, 1850 but married after that date, was to additionally "count" their later marriage to increase their grant of free land to 640 acres. Since Benjamin's "donation" land was 320 acres, that also implies that he alone owned it, with half of the land not otherwise owned by his wife Abigail in her own right.

An examination of the 1860 federal census listing in Oregon for Abigail and Benjamin Duniway and their family provides more intriguing evidence that she did not legally own any part of their "homestead."
On June 8, 1860, the federal census was taken of the area where they lived in Lafayette Precinct, Oregon (then a State). It required the census taker to record the value of the real estate owned by all residents. Initially, for the Duniways, their real estate holdings were reported as half owned by Benjamin and the other half owned by Abigail, so "$2,500" each. But then the dollar amounts were changed on the census with her separate real estate value of "$2,500" scratched out implying that she owned no real estate. That left Benjamin listed with all of family's real estate holdings, which meant Abigail had not gotten legal rights in her own name to any of his Oregon Donation Land Act claim. This was despite what the census taker might have just initially assumed that likely led to the first entry made that was corrected. (It is both surprising and intriguing to see this direct evidence of a quick re-thinking and correction of the ownership of the Duniway "homestead.")

As for getting the free land, claimants under the 1850 Oregon Donation Land Act were required to live on the land and to cultivate it for four years before being granted title. This was the same principle used for the later five-year residency and cultivation requirements under the 1862 Homestead Act.

The Duniway land patent for 320 acres under the Oregon Land Donation Act.
The Duniway land patent for 320 acres under the Oregon Land Donation Act.

While the Duniways met both the residency and cultivation requirements of the 1850 Act, Benjamin's claim of 320 acres was nor formally patented to him until February 10, 1885. Why, I do not know at this time, but I have noticed that sometimes other land grants made under this 1850 law for Oregon Territory were also patented later than might be expected. (An examination of the original records for Benjamin's Oregon Donation Land Claim grant in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. might reveal the answer, and is now on my "to-do" list!)

In the Duniways' case, they lived on the 320-acre donation claim "homestead" land only until 1858, when they sold it and bought another farm in neighboring Yamhill County. While at their new farm in 1862, Benjamin Duniway was badly injured in an accident involving a team of horses. The result was some life-long problems that affected his ability to farm. While the event changed his life, it also helped change the life of his wife, Abigail Scott Duniway (as she preferred to be called in later years). The 1862 accident was one of the factors leading her becoming a leader in the women's rights movement including suffrage in Oregon.
Despite having 6 children at home, Abigail Scott Duniway took on the management of their Yamhill County farm after her husband's accident. Then, after the family moved to Albany, Oregon, where Benjamin could better function as a store clerk, Abigail also helped manage and run that business. Reportedly, while working in the store, she heard many stories from women about their problems due to not having legal rights. This further sparked Abigail's desire to create a better life for herself and for other women. It also brought back memories of her mother lamenting that her own daughters (including Abigail) would not be treated as well as her sons simply because they were female. This was quite unjust to Abigail and she never forgot what her mother said.

After the Duniway family moved to Portland in 1871, there were more opportunities for Abigail to pursue her growing interest in the cause of women's rights. There, she became involved with several organizations to advance the rights of women including voting rights.

Abigail Scott Duniway with Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and other leaders of the women's suffrage movement.

Her passion was becoming so strong that in later 1871, after arriving in Portland, she launched the New Northwest, a weekly newspaper that ran from 1871 to 1887. It strongly advocated for equal rights for women and brought her national attention. As an Oregon pioneer, Abigail Scott Duniway knew first-hand that women like herself had been equal partners in creating their communities with their husbands, so it was only fair that they would be treated equally and given equal rights.

Also, in 1871, Abigail had a most memorable and life-changing experience with one of the best-known promoters of women's rights and suffrage in the nation: Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906). That year, the already very famous Anthony came to Oregon as part of her series of speaking tours to promote the rights of women, and Abigail Scott Duniway volunteered to be her escort. It was something both women never forget, with Susan B. Anthony coming to better appreciate the strength of pioneer western women like Abigail Scott Duniway. And for Abigail, it was her opportunity to gain personal inspiration and insights from Anthony, a woman sometimes referred to as Abigail's mentor. Abigail's interest would include women's rights organizations throughout the nation.

In 1873, in Oregon, Abigail helped found the Oregon State Woman Suffrage Association. And starting in the early 1870s, she also began regularly lecturing in the Northwest in support of women's rights including voting rights. Later history reveals that her efforts were ultimately successful but at times they were personally quite challenging. She withstood the outspoken opposition of many, even her own younger brother, Harvey Whitefield Scott (1838-1910), who was editor of Portland's The Oregonian newspaper. And at least on one occasion, she was the target of eggs thrown during a talk. She also endured verbal as well as written insults coming from those opposing her ideas over the course of her life.

Yet, she prevailed. Over time, Abigail Scott Duniway's prominence and persuasive arguments in favor of the rights of women, including voting rights, built support for women to get the vote in Idaho is 1896, in Washington in 1910, and in Oregon in 1912. She was reported to have been the first woman to have voted in an election in Portland in 1913.

Largely self-educated, it is a tribute to her tenacity and intellect that Abigail Scott Duniway became a skilled writer as well as an engaging speaker. She wrote her life story in 1914, a year before her death. She also authored two novels and many poems.  Additionally, she composed the "Centennial Ode" for the Lewis and Clark Exposition in 1905 in Portland and was honored by the naming of "Abigail Scott Duniway Day" at this World Exposition on October 6, 1905.

In all, by the time of her death on October 11, 1915 in Portland at age 80, and despite not living to see the 19th amendment to the Constitution ratified by Congress, her influence and celebrity was such that newspapers across the nation took notice of her death, calling her an important figure in the national struggle for women's rights including voting rights.

Her obituary appeared in the Evening Star newspaper of Washington, D.C. on October 12, 1915, and printed information originating from Portland, Oregon. It admiringly identified her as the "mother of woman suffrage in Oregon," as well as saying: "She was one of the prominent factors in the fight for suffrage in Oregon, Washington and Idaho."

In all, Abigail Scott Duniway was most remarkable, and her connection to the 1850 Oregon Donation Land Act, a forerunner of the 1862 Homestead Act, makes her life story even more fascinating to those of us interested in the history of homesteading.

"Suffrage in 60 Seconds" Videos and Suffrage Podcasts

One of the many ways that the National Park Service is celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment is through the creation of digital media - including videos and podcasts on this epic part of American history! 

Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument has a fantastic video series running right now titled "Suffrage in 60 seconds", exploring some of the most important moments and figures of the movement in quick minute-long clips. You can check out the series here.  You can also follow the series on social media at 

Suffrage in Sixty Seconds - National Woman_s Party leader Alice Paul toasting the ratification banner

You can also check out two new podcast series on women's suffrage. The Magic Sash is hosted by gold medal gymanst Aly Raisman as she journeys back in time with Lotty and Isaiah, two modern fifth graders, to meet iconic heroes in the women's suffrage movement.

The Magic Sash - Suffrage Podcast.

And Nothing Less - the official podcast of the 19th Amendment Centennial
And Nothing Less is the official podcast commemorating the centennial of the 19th Amendment and women's constitutional right to vote. It is hosted by Rosario Dawson and Retta, bringing us untold stories of the generations of diverse activists who fought for suffrage.

A Little Space Goes a Long Way - What does six feet look like_ Image of various items that are six feet long. Stay Safe and Recreate Responsibly.

Remember to practice social distancing (keeping a distance of six feet and avoiding large gatherings) and be aware of CDC guidance and NPS Public Health Service recommendations.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
    • Wash with soap and water to destroy the virus. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.
    • While an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%-95% alcohol can be used, it's best to reserve those resources for work locations where soap and water are not readily available.
    • If your hands are visibly dirty, soap and water should be used rather than hand sanitizer.
  • As always, it is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. Regular household cleaners will destroy the virus.
  • Most importantly, stay home when you are sick in order to avoid exposing others.

Maintenance Corner

We're grateful to the Maintenance Division for all their hard work in keeping everything here at the monument pristine and beautiful! They recently finished installing and replacing over 5,000 feet of fencing and gates across the park. As you walk the trails along the prairie and by the Freeman School, you can admire their handiwork on the split-rail fences. Another project involved doing maintenance and conservation work on the covered wagon near the farm implement exhibit at the Education Center. The wagon was sanded, cleaned, water-sealed, and restained, and the cover was cleaned as well.

A covered wagon in Homestead_s maintenance bay_ undergoing conservation work.
A covered wagon in Homestead's maintenance bay, undergoing conservation work.

Just like summer is the peak season for visitation and the busiest time of the year for the Ranger Division, summer is also the busiest time of the year for Maintenance. Each summer, a Homestead hires a group of Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) workers. The Youth Conservation Corps is a summer youth employment program that engages young Americans to work for public lands - national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, in order to instill environmental stewardship and civic responsibility. Here at Homestead our YCCs have been hard at work helping out the Maintenance Division all summer long with a wide variety of projects, including at the Freeman School, as seen in the image below. As the summer winds down, the YCCs time at Homestead comes to a close, but we thank them for all their hard work!

Homestead_s Youth Conservation Corps paints the interior of the Freeman School_ a 19th century one-room schoolhouse.
Homestead's Youth Conservation Corps paints the interior of the Freeman School, a 19th century one-room schoolhouse.

Meet Administrative Support Assistant Sara Meece! 

Meet the newest member of the Administrative Division here at Homestead National Monument of America - Sara Meece. Sara is Homestead's Administrative Support Assistant, which means that she works closely with the park Superintendent, Mark Engler, and the Administrative Officer, Brandy Steelman, to make sure that all the "behind-the-scenes" work needed to keep Homestead moving is taken care of. We're very fortunate to have such a dedicated and talented Admin staff - one of the best there is, if you ask us! Sara has a background in administration, and she joined us after working as an business office manager for a skilled nursing facility in Beatrice.

Meet Homestead_s new Administrative Support Assistant_ Sara Meece.
Meet Homestead's new Administrative Support Assistant, Sara Meece.

Sara is new to the National Park Service, but not to Homestead, or to the area. She grew up in Liberty, a village of about 75, here in Gage County. Being so close by, she often visited the monument as a kid. She said "I grew up coming here, my dad used to bring us here regularly, almost every few weeks it felt like. I remember having lunches and picnics, looking at bugs, and coming out for field trips." 

Earlier this year a friend asked her - "I don't know if you're looking for a new job, but have you seen this?" - there was a job posting at the monument. Sara wasn't actively looking, but she was curious about working for the National Park Service, and applied anyways. We're so glad she did! She started at the monument earlier this summer. Her favorite aspect of working here at the monument is that "it's just such a friendly, welcoming, happy environment. It's calm and relaxed here - very pleasant and reassuring."

Welcome to Homestead, Sara!

Upcoming Events

Special Events and Exhibits at Homestead National Monument of America:

June - August: Impact: Willa Cather Art Exhibit (Education Center)

August - November: "Rightfully Hers" Suffrage Exhibit (Education Center)

Saturday, August 8th, 7 P.M. - Summer Campfire Program: Homesteading, Suffrage, and the Wizard of Oz with Ranger Amber Kirkendall. Musical performance by Placeholder (Education Center)

Sunday, August 23rd, 2 P.M. - "Planted in the Soil: Women Homesteaders, the Homestead Act, and the 19th Amendment" - program by Historian Jonathan Fairchild

To learn more about events visit:
A New York Teacher Finds a Summer Home at Homestead National Monument

by Christopher Albrecht

Years ago, I discovered the National Parks. As a resident of Brockport, New York, the National Parks were distant lands that were spoken about but rarely visited. Only two National Monuments are within ninety minutes of our town: Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site and the Seneca Falls Women's Rights National Historic Park. It was not until a cross country trip by car when I was a young adult that I discovered many of America's finest treasures, the National Parks. From that point on, every summer I drive thousands of miles to learn about history and witness the grandeur of diverse national parks and monuments in the United States. Often my summer plans begin at the conclusion of the previous summer's trip.

In 2019, I was traveling by car to the Grand Tetons from eastern Kansas. I stopped for a few hours at Homestead National Monument of America located in southeastern Nebraska. I had visited this monument twice before and was interested in returning. I had attended a presentation about the McCormick reaper earlier that year. The McCormick reaper was manufactured for twenty years in Brockport in the 1860s, 70s, and 80s. I recalled that there was a display featuring Cyrus McCormick reapers at the Heritage Center, so I immediately gravitated toward that display upon arrival. 1,400 miles away from my home at Homestead National Monument is a reference to the reapers from Brockport. I felt compelled to tell someone, and that person was Park Ranger, Jonathan Fairchild. Within minutes, we had not just talked about reapers, but he sensed I was a teacher and introduced me to the Teacher-Ranger-Teacher program. I would have never guessed that this conversation would affect my entire summer of 2020.

The Teacher-Ranger-Teacher program is an educational opportunity for a public-school educator to spend a summer working in National Park on a designated project, while taking an online three-credit graduate course through the University of Colorado at Denver. The teacher gets to learn from rangers and assist the rangers in their duties. When I heard about the opportunity, I applied. The experience even carries a stipend.

Teacher-Ranger-Teacher Christopher Albrecht on the prairie at Homestead.
Teacher-Ranger-Teacher Christopher Albrecht on the prairie at Homestead.

Less than eleven months later, I was the 2020 Teacher-Ranger-Teacher at Homestead National Monument. As it would turn out, I had time to work on more than one project and learn about the responsibilities from United States Park Rangers. I worked on a historical account correlating the initials carved on the 1872 Freeman School with census records of those students that attended there. This resulted in a press release providing the local community with a high interest story that connected some readers to the descendants of their families. For a second project, I created a critical thinking fieldtrip for adolescents, which addressed the need to combine deeper understandings with primary source documents and place-based learning. My final project carried the deepest personal meaning. 2020 is the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. Women gained the right to vote. My final project, which is now being used in the park, involved bringing the frequently overlooked story and history of female homesteaders through firsthand accounts to life.

The Homestead Acts was signed to law on May 20, 1862, and land became available on January 1, 1863. The law was gender-neutral; meaning a man or an unmarried woman could claim a homestead, so accounts of their experiences drastically varied. Accounts expressed emotions ranging from depression to joy, and with a success rate for 'proving-up' a claim under 50%, homesteaders faced many challenges out of their control. Creating a farm from scratch is labor intensive and mentally challenging. Finding personal narratives of early female homesteaders poses challenges. With little time to write, oral histories taken years after a homestead was developed were more common to find than written accounts. Even recordings are few and far between. This project relied on what was already documented because all early homesteaders are deceased.

For weeks, I slowly uncovered articles, recordings, and original accounts from twenty-five female homesteaders from a wide range of places nationwide. Like fingerprints, no two stories are alike. Carefully reading and listening to each account, I condensed the personal narratives into four-page mini booklets with each page to be read at a different station in the park. The objective of this experience is to give visitors an explicit account from a woman of the homestead to create an intimate and deeper understanding of her daily life. When people arrive to the monument, each person in the group is given a different account by a female homesteader, and the hope is that people will talk on their walk from location to location within the park. While I put together this project, I learned side by side with Park Rangers, and worked on my coursework that taught me about the benefits for providing place-based education. I gained valuable resources and ideas that I will be implementing in my classroom.

After collaborating with Park Superintendent, Mark Engler, and interpretive rangers in the park, seven locations were chosen in the park as reading areas. They are denoted by footprint signs. Booklets are available for free at the Education Center and the Heritage Center at Homestead National Monument. To remain COVID safe, they are not reused, and go home with the visitor. This program allows families, couples or individuals to have a safe learning experience in a national park. It is the goal of Homestead National Monument to offer these 25 firsthand accounts on the website as this project evolves.
As a teacher, there is great satisfaction in creating experiences that teach people, young and old. The Teacher-Ranger-Teacher program offered me this opportunity and gave me a behind the scenes understanding of how the day to day operations of a national park work. Homestead National Monument allowed me to live in housing on the park grounds. The opportunity to take the time to explore the monument on the evening.

If you are a teacher from any state, you are eligible to be a Teacher-Ranger-Teacher at a national park or monument. For further information visit
Beat the Heat. Recreate Responsibly. Protect Your Skin. Drink Water. Rest Often. Don_t Mess with Animals.

The Race to Ratification and "Rightfully Hers"

To celebrate the centennial of the 19th Amendment, Homestead has a "pop-up" exhibit designed by the National Archives of the United States
along with a replica ratification banner of the National Woman's Party. This exhibit is on display at the Heritage Center.

The National Women's Party was a major national organization promoting women's suffrage, founded by Alice Paul in 1916. Did you know that there is a National Park dedicated to the National Woman's Party, Alice Paul, and the fight for women's equality? Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument is located in Washington D.C., named in honor of Alva Belmont and Alice Paul, leaders of the National Woman's Party (NWP). Paul led the NWP in marching and protesting for women's rights, and along with members of her organization, was jailed for her suffrage efforts. In fact, you may see rangers wearing jailhouse pins through the month of August to honor Paul and the NWP, as well as the 19th Amendment.

Suffragist leader Alice Paul sews stars onto the ratification banner.
Suffragist leader Alice Paul sews stars onto the ratification banner.

A constitutional amendment requires a three fourths majority - meaning in 1920 that 36 states had to ratify it to become law. Immediately, pro- and anti-suffrage forces prepared campaigns in favor or opposing women's suffrage, trying to win over states to their cause. The National American Woman Suffrage Association declared "A Vote for Every Woman in 1920!" as their rallying cry.

Throughout 1919, states began to stream in - by the end of the year, 22 of the required 36 states had ratified, including 16 homesteading states.
By the Spring of 1920, it was "harvest season" for the seeds of suffrage, which had been long since planted in the soil. On March 23rd, 1920, the Gaffney Ledger reported that "nine states remain, from which suffrage must harvest a single vote." The stage was set - following the ratification of the proposed amendment by Washington on March 22, 1920, thirty-five states across the country had voted to ratify. Only one more state was required to reach the three-quarters majority required to ratify a constitutional amendment. Of the 35 states to ratify, every single homesteading state west of the Missouri river had ratified already.

 At that point, 35 states had voted in favor, 8 against, and 3 refused to consider the issue with special legislative sessions. Only two states were left to vote, Tennessee and North Carolina, leaving them as the movement's last hope.
 During the summer of 1920, Nashville became a battleground. The state's Senate passed the measure quickly, but it stalled in the House of Representatives, at a 48-48 tie. A 24-year old Congressman, Harry. T Burn, who had sided with the Anti-Suffragists, had a letter from his mother with him at the session on August 18th, 1920, which said: "Dear Son, Hurrah and vote for Suffrage and don't keep them in doubt... I've been watching to see how you stood but have not seen anything yet. Don't forget to be a good boy and help... With lots of love, Mama"

Volunteer Brittney sews stars onto our replica ratification banner - just like Alice Paul.
Volunteer Brittney sews stars onto our replica ratification banner - just like Alice Paul.
Burns said "I knew that a mother's advice is always safest for a boy to follow." He voted In Favor of suffrage, and broke the tie. His vote pushed the 19th Amendment across the finish line on August 18th, 1920 - Tennessee was the 36th and final state required to ratify.

It was signed in to law on August 26th, as The 19th Amendment. It states that: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation." 

Every single homesteading state west of the Missouri River voted in favor of ratification, and a total of 25 of 29 Homestead states.

Homestead is grateful to the National Archives for the pop-up exhibit, to Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument for providing us with the ratification banner in our exhibit, and to our volunteers Brittney, Kendra, and Talon for sewing the stars on the banner - one for each state which had successfully ratified the amendment. In early August in 1920, 35 of the 36 states required had ratified, so our flag currently has 35 stars. We look forward to sewing the last one on, just like Alice Paul did 100 years ago!

You can learn more about the state-by-state race to ratification at 

Ranger Jesse's Natural Resource Musings:
 Reintroduction of Mussels at Homestead

The culmination of a conversation that started at a Nebraska Legacy Conference in 2017 happened in July at Homestead National Monument of America.  While at a conference in 2017, Natural Resource Specialist Jesse Bolli became involved with a conversation with Nebraska Game and Parks employees Dean Rosenthal and Bryan Sweet and the idea of stocking Cub Creek with Fatmucket and Plain Pocketbook Mussels was born.  Plans were made to survey Cub Creek to see what species were present and to do a literature search to ensure that habitat requirements were met.  Plans to conduct the stream survey were washed out in 2018 and 2019 by high water events.  In 2020 Bolli, four members of the Youth Conservation Crew, and a maintenance worker spent four days crawling up the creek searching for mussels - which was featured in last month's Natural Resource Musings column.  During the four day survey, which covered almost one mile, 311 live mussels were encountered; 302 (97%) of the mussels were mapleleaf mussels (Quadrula quadrula) and 7 (2%) were pimpleback mussels (Quadrula pustulosa), a single live pink papershell (Potamilus ohiensis) and a single live fragile papershell (Leptodea fragilis) were also encountered. 

A double handful of mussels.
A double handful of mussels.

The survey answered the questions - Are populations of the Plain Pocketbook and Fatmucket already present - no; and is the habitat suitable for mussels - yes.  With that knowledge it was decided that the reintroduction of the extirpated mussels could proceed.  Now we just needed the creek to come down... 

Wednesday, July 22, 2020 was set as the date.  On the morning of July 22, the gauge station was checked, the creek was still at a safe level so staff could enter the creek, and there had not been rain for 24 hours in the watershed.  The mussels departed from the North Platte State Fish Hatchery for Homestead.  At 11 a.m. as staff was crossing the bridge it was noted that the creek was up; the gauge station was checked, and it had risen approximately 2' since it was checked at 7 a.m. In talking with Nebraska Game and Parks Staff it was determined that we could continue with the stocking from the bank.  The placement was not as strategic as we had hoped for, but they are in place and will find their way. 

Ranger Jesse stocks mussels in Cub Creek
Ranger Jesse stocks mussels in Cub Creek.

Two-hundred fifty of each species were stocked at each of the two sites for a total of 1000 mussels.  Fifty of each species were fitted with passive integrated transmitters.  Those 100 mussels were spread evenly over the stretches that were stocked.  All of the mussels were marked with glue dots, Fatmucket with black dots and Plain Pocketbook with white dots. 

Homestead National Monument of America looks forward to working with the Nebraska Game and Parks into the future with this project with the ultimate goal of finding Fatmucket and Plain Pocketbook mussels that do not have glue dots on them indicating natural reproduction. 

Meet ACE-CRDIP Historian Intern Sabrina Gonzalez-Morabito!

Homestead National Monument is excited to host Sabrina Gonzalez-Morabito as our ACE-CRDIP Historian Intern for the summer of 2020. ACE, or the American Conservation Experience, is a conservation program dedicated to training young Americans in the skills they need for a career in land management. The CRDIP, or Cultural Resources Diversity Internship Program, specifically focuses on historic preservation and cultural resources - preserving and telling the stories of our past.

ACE-CRDIP Historian Intern Sabrina Gonzalez-Morabito at Homestead_s Heritage Center.
ACE-CRDIP Historian Intern Sabrina Gonzalez-Morabito at Homestead_s Heritage Center.

Sabrina is a Senior at Rutgers University in New Jersey, and will graduate with a Bachelor's in History and Political Science in the Fall of 2020. This is actually her second year as an ACE Intern. Last summer she worked at Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in Indiana as a Museum Technician. She was involved with the collections and archives, and her big project was completing the park museum catalog, researching nineteenth century farming equipment in order to catalog it.

From there, Sabrina continued to have a passion for parks and the National Park Service. In fact, her dream is to pursue a career with the National Park Service! She was accepted into the NPS Academy at Grand Teton National Park, where she had hands-on training in all the many skills a park ranger needs - interpretation, safety, protection, outdoor skills, and much more. Looking to continue her journey with the NPS, she is working with park historian Jon Fairchild on Homestead's yearlong celebration of the role that homesteading women played in the suffrage movement, to celebrate the centennial of the 19th Amendment. 

She very excited about contributing to the research going in to the historic resource study "Planted in the Soil," saying "history is connected, and it's important to pay attention to those connections. The stories that we're telling here at Homestead continue to pass the torch on to visitors to help them find and make those important connections!" Well said, Sabrina, and welcome to the team!

Homestead National Monument of America's  Summer Campfire Series continues into August -
Reserve Your Spot Today!

If you haven't made it out to a Summer Campfire program yet this season, don't miss your chance! The final program of the season is August 8th at 7:00 pm. 

Ranger Amber will present on the links between Homesteading, Women's Suffrage, and Frank L. Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. She will be using the framework that Historian Jonathan Fairchild has created on understanding the role of women homesteaders in fighting for the vote, and how those same themes remain prominent in retellings of the classic tale, including the 1939  Judy Garland Film: The Wizard of Oz.

The speaker will be followed with music by Dr. Dan Holtz. Dr. Holtz uses his knowledge of history and the
State of Nebraska to write original music; he also performs classic songs performed at the beginning of the
Homestead Era.

 This campfire program will take place outside at Homestead National Monument of America's Education Center. This event is free and open to the public, but reservations are required to ensure that social distancing protocols can be followed. To make reservations, please contact the park at 402-223-3514.

Ranger Jon leading a campfire program outside at the Homestead Education Center
Ranger Jon leading a campfire program.
The event may be cancelled in the event of inclement weather. Folding chairs will be available to guests, but we welcome lawn chairs and blankets as well.   Insect repellent and water are highly recommended. Mark Engler, Park Superintendent, stated that "We are excited to be offering this summer programming that utilizes the tradition of gathering around a fire."
The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We will continue to monitor all park functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19 and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.  
Details and updates on park operations will continue to be posted on our website and social media channels. Updates about NPS operations will be posted at


19th Amendment and Women's Suffrage Merchandise available

Image of Suffrage Merchandise at Homestead - including mugs_ pings_ books_ and magnets.
National Parks around the country are celebrating the 19th Amendment this month. If you visit the bookstore at Homestead, you'll see a special section full of merchandise and gear to honor this momentous occasion. Items range from pins, sashes, books, coffee mugs, postcards, and more. There is a limited time offer available at the monument - buy one suffrage item, get one 50% off. You can find powerful quotes from leaders such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.

Image of Suffrage Merchandise at Homestead - including mugs_ pings_ books_ and magnets.
 Won't be at the monument in person? Merchandise is available online at 
You don't have to feel as disconnected as the first homesteaders did.

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