American frontier: The Chrisman Sisters on a claim in Goheen settlement on Lieban (Lillian) Creek, Custer County, 1886 Daughters of ranchman Joseph M. Chrisman, left to right: Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie and Ruth.
The Butcher family arrived in Nebraska in time to experience the hard winter of 1880 to 1881. Blizzards often struck without warning, catching people out on the prairie. Those lucky enough to be home, like this family shown here in Cherry County, often brought their horses or cows into their sod homes so the animals would not freeze.
1888 homesteader family. In 1879 there were nearly 800 African Americans living in Nebraska. By 1890 there were approximately 8,900 African Americans residing in the state. The Jerry Shores family claimed a homestead next to his brothers, Moses Speese and Henry Webb in Custer County, Nebraska.
The Homestead Act of 1862. Families were allowed 160 acres for a small filing fee and 5 yrs of residency. 45% of all the land in Nebraska was given away by the federal government under these provisions.
When slavery was legally abolished, the Slave Codes were rewritten as the Black Codes, a series of laws criminalizing legal activity for African Americans. Through the enforcement of these laws, acts such as standing in one area of town or walking at night, for example, became the criminal acts of “loitering” or “breaking curfew” for which African Americans were imprisoned.
Because their profession brought them into contact (literally) with many men, prostitutes were able to provide crucial testimony to frontier law enforcers. The courtroom statements of these women frequently helped convict the guilty & exonerate the innocent. The lasting benefit of all such testimony helped law enforcers overcome widespread skepticism of their ability to fairly dispense justice on the chaotic American frontier.
Wagon train moving out of Atlanta, Georgia (circa 1864). Although wagon caravans jammed the trails in the 1840s and 1850s, there were still quite a few traveling west in the 1860s like the Boone's Lick Wagon Train Company from St. Charles, Missouri, in Prairie Song.