My sister, Melanie Olson, has been working on a genealogy project tracing the roots of our ancestors on each side of the family. I had known that my Grandpa Bloomquist's farm has been in the family since 1899 just south of the small, but tough, town of Magnet in Northeast Nebraska. What I didn't realize, is that I am a decedent of homesteaders who helped build Nebraska. The recently uncovered passage, which was written by my Great Great Grandfather, outlines the hardships the early settlers faced when homesteading here on the plains.
"They had a great many heartbreaking and backbreaking times in their first years here, as they had very little to work with and few conveniences...But schoolhouses were built and churches were established through all the hardships, and these staunch men and women worked and lived and died, helping to settle this beautiful state of Nebraska and we should all be proud to be descendants of such sturdy pioneers."--S.M. (Mack) Switzer, c. 1900
Reading this passage not only makes me proud of Mack and his family, who took a chance moving from Pennsylvania to homestead on land that was unknown and unseen, but also of the countless other families who toiled on 160 acres of free government land. Today, March 1, Nebraska's Statehood Day, take a moment to reflect upon our ancestors who not only wanted better for themselves, but a better life for their descendants..