New research on black homesteading to be presented Feb. 19

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New research on black homesteading to be presented Feb. 19

Moses Speese family in Custer County, Nebraska
Solomon Butcher | Library of Congress
Moses Speese family in Custer County, Nebraska

Researchers at the University of Nebraska’s Center for Great Plains Studies will talk about new research on black homesteaders in the Great Plains during the February Paul A. Olson Great Plains Lecture at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 19.

African Americans successfully homesteaded in all of the Great Plains states. Although few in comparison with the multitudes of white settlers, black people, against steep odds, created homes, farms and a society which were all their own. About 70% of them settled in clusters or “colonies,” the most significant of which were Nicodemus, Kansas; DeWitty, Nebraska; Dearfield, Colorado; Sully County, South Dakota; Empire, Wyoming; and Blackdom, New Mexico. Others were independent homesteaders, filing on land not near black colonies. They faced even more severe challenges, but many persisted and succeeded.

Richard Edwards, the center’s director, and Mikal Eckstrom, postdoctoral researcher, will speak on the topic at the center, 1155 Q St. Their project, funded by the National Park Service, seeks to bring to life a history that was nearly forgotten. Deanda Johnson, with the National Park Service, and Jeannette Jones, associate professor of history and ethnic studies at Nebraska, will also discuss their research during the event.

The free public talk is part of an interdisciplinary lecture series from the Center for Great Plains Studies on various Great Plains topics. Learn more.