From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Black Homesteaders At Ewing, NE

Monument to be dedicated



Marathon Pundit
sent me a news article tonight that he thought I might enjoy. The article, originally published in the Omaha World Herald, was about black homesteaders who settled near Ewing, Nebraska.

World Herald writer Paul Hammel relates how an IRS agent, Dennis Vossberg of Plainview, NE, learned of the black settlers and became so interested in their history that he finally wrote a book.

After the book was published, readers began donating money for a monument in honor of the black homesteaders of Bliss, Nebraska. The monument has been placed in a small country cemetery west of Ewing, where about 20 of the settlers are buried in unmarked graves.

Bliss, Nebraska, named after its postmaster, was a small town located near Goose Lake in southeast Holt County, near the Wheeler county line. The black homesteaders at Bliss were freed slaves.

It's believed that the black settlers arrived in the early 1880s. They were misled by dishonest land agents who told them that the land around Goose Lake had veins of coal. The land that they settled on was difficult to farm. Depending on the weather, it was a wet marshland, a dry sandy wasteland, or anything between. The last black settlers at Bliss left around 1918.

During the terrible dust storms of the 1930s, the wind blew out a small black cemetery at Bliss, exposing caskets and bones. Three local ranchers moved the remains with horse-drawn wagons to Valley View Cemetery, southwest of Ewing, and reburied them. Valley View Cemetery already contained about ten unmarked graves of black homesteaders.

The identities of some graves are known, but others are unknown. The monument, to be dedicated on Memorial Day, lists family names of the black homesteaders of Bliss.

Many thanks to John, aka Marathon Pundit, for sharing this very interesting article.

Source: Nebraska's Black Homesteaders: Forgotten graves mystery no more

2 comments:

John Ruberry said...

Hey, you're welcome!

Genevieve said...

From Fred B., an Arizona reader (and a former resident of Rock County, Nebraska)

"This brought to mind my finding an article about blacks in Cherry County, Nebraska. Day, Ava Speese (1912- ? ) | The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed ."

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.