New Perspectives on THE WEST
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The People
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Death Runs Riot
The Grandest Enterprise Under God
Fight No More Forever
The Geography of Hope
One Sky Above Us
Grandest Enterprise Under God


A Grand Anvil Chorus

White Man's Pipe

The Artillery of Heaven

An Instinct for Direction

One People

The Woman's Exponent

Walking Gold Pieces

Good Company

How do you like Nebraska?


A Wound in the Heart

THE WEST The Grandest Enterprise Under God

How do you like Nebraska?

Nebraska PrairieSurely 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.
Uriah W. Oblinger

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.

Urian, Ellan and Mattie OblingerOctober 6th, 1872
Dear Wife & Baby:
Well I suppose the first question you would ask me now would be, How do you like Nebraska? Wife... you can see just as far as you please here, and almost every foot in sight can be plowed... The longer I stay here, the better I like it. There are... mostly young families, just starting in life the same as we are, and I find them very generous, indeed. We will all be poor here together. I am hunting a home for us where we can enjoy ourselves without... being bothered doing as other people say... I can get along well enough through the week, but when Sunday comes I feel a little lonesome without you... Give baby a kiss -- yes, 2 of them -- and take one yourself.
Uriah W. Oblinger

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.

Sod HouseDear Mother and Father:
At home in our house and a sod at that!... We moved in last Wednesday -- Uriah's birthday -- It is not quite so convenient as a nice frame, but I would as soon live in it as the cabins I have lived in... I ripped our wagon sheet in two, have it around the sides and have several papers up... It looks real swell... The only objection I have is that we have no floor yet.
Mattie Oblinger

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.
Uriah Oblinger

A PlowWell, 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.
Mattie Oblinger

Dear Grandpa:
I have learned my letters and can spell... Ax & Cat & Dog & Girl.... I bother Pa and Ma considerable to get them to learn me... I am learning "Twinkle, twinkle, Little Star."
Lots of love and kisses,

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.
Mattie Oblinger

Ella OblingerWe 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.
Mattie Oblinger

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.

Prairie WindmillFebruary 27th, 1880
She was confined Tuesday evening about 4 'clock and about 8 o'clock she took a fit very sudden and never spoke after the first one. The doctors were compelled to perform a surgical operation by relieving her of the child... The Lord called for Sister Mattie this evening at 4:15 o'clock... and she is now resting with the angels in Heaven... The child is also dead and will be buried with her some time Sunday.
Giles S. Thomas

Dear Father and Mother:
I try to bear the trouble cheerfully, though the task is hard at times... I hardly know how to manage.
Uriah Oblinger

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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