Congress passed the Land Ordinance of 1785 to establish a uniform system for surveying the western lands of the republic. The land was divided into ranges and townships, like a checkerboard. Each six-square mile township had 36 sections. Each section contained 640 acres and was one-mile square. When homesteaders filed a claim, they filed for 160 acres or a quarter of a section in a township. The income from section 16 was reserved for public schools.
1. Locate Beatrice, Nebraska, and Homestead National Monument of America on a state map of Nebraska. Where is the Big Blue River? How far is the river from the town of Beatrice? Why might people have wanted to homestead and farm in this area?
2. Locate section 16 on Map 1. Is there a school located in that section?
3. The side of a section is equal to one mile. If children lived in section 1 on Henry Fleshner's property, what is the shortest distance they would have to travel to get to the school in section 16? What would be the daily round-trip distances these students would have to walk?
4. Would it have been practical to locate the township's only school in section 16? What weather conditions might make the distance too difficult or dangerous for children to walk?
5. Locate the other schools in Blakely Township. In what sections are they located? Offer a reason why there are so many schools in Blakely Township.
6. Locate the school in section 22. Name the four landholders closest to the school.
* The map on this screen has a resolution of 72 dots per inch (dpi), and therefore will print poorly. You can obtain a larger version of Map 1, but be aware that the file may take as much as 60 seconds to load with a 28.8K modem.