How do you like Nebraska?
the hand of Providence must be in this, as it seems this "desert" -- as
it has been termed so long -- has been specially reserved for the poor
of our land, where they can find a home for themselves and their families.
And where they can enjoy the companionship of their loved ones, undisturbed
by those that have heretofore held them under the most exclusive control.
In the summer of 1872, a Union veteran named Uriah Wesley Oblinger left his rented farm in Onward, Indiana, and set out with his brother and two brothers-in-law for Nebraska, to claim the homestead to which his military service entitled him. His wife, Mattie, and infant daughter, Ella, were to wait at home until he sent for them.
After more than a year of separation, Uriah Oblinger's long wait ended. Mattie and Ella, along with a crate containing all their worldly goods and another filled with live chickens, finally arrived aboard the morning train. Uriah took them to their new home, built from prairie sod with his own hands to begin their new life.
Mother and Father:
What a pleasure it is to work on ones' own farm... for you can feel that it is yours and not for someone else... I would rather live as we do than have to rent and have someone bossing us and telling us when to move.
we have just come in from the truck patch and found the gophers had about
cleaned the peas off all the vines... But our squash vines are full of
bloom... and we had cucumbers sliced for breakfast. We brought in beets
just now that measured one foot in circumference and potatoes almost as
large as a goose egg.
Uriah is repairing the minutes of the last Literary Society which was held last Saturday night. They have some big times debating... I go once in a while to hear them spout... We had rather a nice time over the holidays... We had a Christmas tree at the schoolhouse.
all went to a Christmas tree on Christmas eve and each of us girls got
a new red dress... and a doll and... a string with candy and raisins on
it. From your grandchild,
I suppose you would like to know if we have been grasshoppered again. They were here several days pretty thick and injured the corn considerable... Nebraska would have had a splendid crop if the grasshoppers had stayed away a while.
The Oblingers had two more daughters, Stella and Maggie. But after six years on the prairie, things had not gotten easier. And by 1879, Mattie was pregnant again.
Dear Father and Mother:
Uriah eventually took the train back east to Minnesota and remarried. But he never gave up his dream. He returned to the Plains to start over -- Nebraska, then Kansas, then Nebraska again. He spent the last few months of his life being cared for by his daughter, Ella -- the same little girl, now grown, he had once been so anxious to bring out to Nebraska, with her mother.
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