Here, in the middle of this restored prairie, you can imagine what homesteaders experienced when they first came to their land - listen to the birds and insects, smell cottonwood in the air, feel the richness of the soil, see the variety nature has to offer.
Daniel Freeman had a claim that other homesteaders would envy. Legend says that Freeman, a Civil War soldier, found this plot of land while scouting for the Union Army in Nebraska in 1862. He chose land rich with resources - a creek for water, trees for a home, lush grasses for pastures, and good soil for crops.
Many homesteaders did not find such wealth on their land. They picked their plot from a map on a wall in a United States land office, making their best guess for a place that would provide enough to make a bountiful new life on the plains.
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In Montana and much of the West land was stark, flat, and even more exposed to the elements than here in Nebraska. People had little to support them while they struggled to survive.
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U.S. land offices were scattered across the country. When Daniel Freeman arrived, the closest land office was in Brownville, Nebraska. Can you select a plot of land from this map that will make for a successful homestead? Look for creeks where trees and water might be found.