(3) Trails and Homesteaders Subjects

Mormon Trails and Communities in Nebraska

by Gail Geo. Holmes

This program is about some 40,000 religious refugees, 1846-1866. They developed four trails and six communities in Nebraska. They published three early Nebraska newspapers, including the first in Omaha. A Mormon lawyer organized Nebraska’s first congressional election and devised a way to break the southern state’s deadlock on admission of Nebraska to the Union as a territory.

The Mormon Trail at the Missouri

by Gail Geo. Holmes

This presentation explores the challenges facing the Mormons during their westward migration across the Missouri River and up the Platte River.  Holmes discusses 90 Mormon communities in the Middle Missouri Valley which the refugees from western Illinois and southeastern Iowa built.  There they regained their health and resupplied their covered wagons to go on another 900 miles to settle in the Great Salt Lake Valley.

To Live and Die on the Plains

by Jeff Barnes

It wasn’t all sunsets and songbirds in crossing the Great Plains. Death was a frequent and indiscriminant fellow traveler on the wagon trails and he took many forms – disease, gunshot, stampedes, nature, accidents, Indian attack and many more. Author Jeff Barnes presents an interesting look at how you could have “bought the farm” on the Platte River Road, or at least have made a down payment. Rarely seen historic maps, paintings, photographs and other images are used to tell these tales of tragedy from the pioneers. NOTE: Some of the historic images presented are graphic in nature and may not be appropriate for younger audiences.

The Heart’s Compass: Women on the Trails

by Lyn Messersmith by Deb Carpenter-Nolting

This is an account of pioneer women crossing the Plains in the 19th century. Carpenter-Nolting and Messersmith present original poems, songs and stories, as well as actual diary entries of women who journeyed on the Oregon Trail.

Music of the Plains

by David Marsh

Pioneers who settled the Plains traveled from far and wide, yet endured many similar joys and hardships.  David’s goals with this program are twofold: 1) to demonstrate the various cultures represented by these courageous folks and 2) to share stories and sing songs that arose out of their common experience of early life here.  Though music, audiences learn about homesteading, cowboys, children’s games and the wonders of the wide open prairie.

The Klondike Goldrush , Seen Through the Eyes of Robert W. Service, Bard of the Yukon

by Stuart C. Lynn

In a Chautauqua-style presentation, Lynn portrays the Scottish-born poet Robert W. Service. Lynn revives the age-old art of storytelling with personal recollections and renditions of ballads about the Klondike gold rush. Service lived and wrote in the Yukon between 1903 and 1910. The program introduces listeners to such characters as Dangerous Dan McGrew, Sam McGee, Blasphemous Bill McGee, Salvation Bill and others.

Riding for Glory: Missionary Travel to the Oregon Territory: 1836-1838

by Helen M. Lewis

Join Lewis as she describes six women, their backgrounds, their missionary goals, and their ultimate sacrifice of travel as newly-weds to the Oregon Territory

Ho For America! Northern European Immigrants to the Midwest

by Jeff Kappeler

Stories of immigrants who settled Nebraska contain fascinating accounts of sacrifice, courage and endurance. The journey to America was a difficult process that is examined in three parts: the decision, the journey and the adjustment. The presentation includes packing an actual immigrant chest and other essential baggage needed by the immigrant for the ocean voyage and the new life on the prairie.

Away and Across the Plains: Pioneer Trails through Nebraska

by Jeff Kappeler

Discover how pioneers passing through Nebraska territory in their journey west had a profound influence on the settling of the state. This presentation focuses on the lives and experiences of the emigrants and the pioneer inhabitants. It includes authentic artifacts used on the trail pertaining to the areas of transportation, food, clothing, tools and bedding.

Myths of Women’s Madness on the Plains

by Nancy B. Johnson

This presentation examines the myths of Plains women—as they are promoted by authors of fiction and history—and the realities, based on recently published works, including diaries and journals. Johnson shows that the lives of Plains women were as varied as the pieces of a crazy quilt. She focuses on Nebraska women 1870-1900. This program is designed for adults.

Overland Trails: The Children on the Trail

by Renae M. Hunt

With over 352,000 emigrants traveling the Oregon, Mormon or California trails, one in five were under the age of 16. Many of these youths kept journals. This program discusses how these children traveled and relates some of the stories from their journals. This program is appropriate for all ages.

A Modern-day Encounter With the Santa Fe Trail

by Les Vilda

This program is presented by a scholar who has traveled the Santa Fe Trail twice by historical means: once walking with a pack donkey (1984) and once with a horse and wagon (1987). The program juxtaposes the history of the trail with Les’s experiences in the 1980’s, comparing the routes, modes of transportation and clothing used in modern-day historical reenactments to those of the 19th-century trail traveler. Sites along the trail are discussed regarding their historical significance in the heyday of the trail, as well as their present-day roles in interpreting the history of the trail.

Maria Rodaway: Prairie Pioneer

by Karen Wyatt Drevo

Maria (portrayed by her great-great granddaughter in period attire) looks back at her life as a prairie pioneer in Otoe County, Neb., where she homesteaded in 1867. Maria crossed the Atlantic Ocean with seven children to reunite her family after a 7½ year separation. She endured grasshoppers, hail, drought, tornadoes, blizzards, and the loss of her husband and six of her 13 children as she worked to become a citizen and a land owner in a new country. Resilient and resourceful, she lived a life of usefulness to her family and large circle of friends with her loving deeds and kind acts, delivering babies and nursing the sick. Program suitable for children grade 4 to adults.

Daniel Freeman: America’s First Homesteader

by Darrel W. Draper

Hear Daniel Freeman’s amazing story as Darrel Draper portrays “Old Number One” in full costume. It is a Chautauqua-style, humorous and historically factual account of America’s first homesteader and the impact of the Homestead Act in settling the West. Recommended for ages 10 to adult.