- Beatrice, NE
- National Park, National Register of Historic Places, HABS/HAER/HALS
The Homestead Act of 1862 was one of the most significant and enduring events in the westward expansion of the United States. By granting 160 acres of free land to claimants, it allowed nearly any man or woman a "fair chance." Homestead National Monument of America, located in Southeast Nebraska, commemorates this Act and the far-reaching effects it had upon the landscape and people.
Daniel Freeman was the first to take advantage of the act, settling near modern Beatrice, Nebraska. One structure well known and used by the Freeman family was the Freeman School, located ¼-mile west of the homestead claim. It is not known if the school is named for a member of the Freeman family or for Thomas Freeman, a local brickmaker and president of the school board. Daniel was active in the affairs of the school and he garnered national attention with his protest against bible-based lessons at the school. The Freeman children attended the school, sometimes sharing classroom space with younger nieces and nephews. The Freeman school operated as a place of learning until 1967. Now restored, it is open for visits.