Two people sifting dirt next to an excavation pit
Two archeologists sifting dirt from a 1x2 meter excavation pit. This dig was done as an outreach event in celebration of the Midwest Archeological Center's 50th Anniversary.

NPS Photo

Homestead National Historical Park commemorates the story of all people who homesteaded under the Homestead Act of 1862. The land the park sits on can reveal stories of the people who were there before homesteaders settled the land. Since, 1948, archeologists have been working to uncover the mysteries underground at Homestead National Historical Park.

Archeology can help us understand aspects of history that were not recorded. That history often cannot be seen above ground; many clues to the past are buried underground. That's where archeologists come in.

Archeologists help identify the archeological resources in the park to help manage, protect, and interpret them. Archeological research ensures that sites are recorded if are being destroyed.

Archeology is the study of the human past through physical remains. Artifacts are objects (from stone tools to forks) that have been made, modified or used by human beings. Features are place based objects, such as cooking hearths or rock walls, that cannot be removed without destroying them. Concentrations of artifacts and features on the landscape are defined as archeological sites.

Archeologists analyze the artifacts, features in archaeological sites to learn more information about what happened in the past. Archeology can tell us about parts of the past that were not recorded through stories or writing and help to clarify bits of information that have been forgotten over time.

four long archeological trenches
Trenches dug during the Bauxer dig at Homestead National Monument of America, 1948

NPS Photo

Timeline of Significant Archeological and Cultural Landscape Research at Homestead National Historical Park

  • 1948: Excavations at the Daniel Freeman Homestead. Study done to find any remaining evidience of the Daniel Freeman homestead structures. The Freeman Cabin, John Suiter Cabin, and Freeman Brick House were found and excavated. The squatter's cabin and brick kiln were not conclusively found.

  • 1967: Historic Structure Report for the Palmer-Epard Cabin
  • 1973: Historic Structure Report for the Freeman School
  • 1975: National Register nomination of the Daniel Freeman homestead
  • 1979-80: Geophyiscal survey of the Freeman School and the purported brick kiln area.
  • 1985-86: 100% surface survey of the park. An American Indian habitation site was found during this survey. The site may be Central Plains tradition or Oneota.
  • 1999: General Managment Plan
  • 2000: Cultural Landscape Report
  • 2002: Assemsment of proposed park trail changes. Mapping of former Highway 4/Old Freight Road after a prescribed burn.
  • 2004: Geophysical survey to determine if there were Euroamerican graves near the Freeman School; no evidence of graves were found.
  • 2004: Survey of the land acquired for the Heritage Center addition
  • 2017: Geophysical survey and testing near the Education Center for a MWAC Paraprofessional Training Workshop
  • 2019: Geophysical survey, site assessment, and testing of sites near eroding areas of Cub Creek as part of MWAC's 50th Anniversary celebration.

Archeology at Homestead

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