Thursday, May 29, 2008

Black Homesteaders At Ewing, NE

Something of interest sent to me via John Rueberry from Marathon Pundit. The blog is called Prairie Bluestem.
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.
Check out Rueberry Mississippi Manifest Destiny series, it's a very interesting look at his recent vacation in the state of Mississippi. Keep an eye on it there are more stories to come.

1 comment:

John Ruberry said...

Thanks Levois...and Praire Bluestem knows that part of Nebraska inside and out.

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