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The speaker is a 61-year-old White woman with a college education from Nebraska City, Nebraska; she was recorded in 1967.


County: Otoe
State: NE

Nebraska City is home of the state's sole nationally recognized Underground Railroad homestead site, as part of the Network to Freedom program. Also home to a large German population, Nebraska City published the Nebraska Staats-Zeitung, a paper that, at one time, had the largest circulation of any paper in the county. The paper is said to be responsible for helping Germans move to the area throughout the 1800s and into the 1900s. In this segment, the speaker talks about Arbor Day and J. Sterling Morton, the man responsible for establishing the tree-planting holiday in 1872.
Inf: I think it's a few more years than ten, because when my grandfather came up the river from Saint Louis, having come from Ohio, that was in 1855 and it was already a settlement.

FW: Mm-hmm. Yeah, that makes that history go back quite a ways there. How did h-, oh, you said your grandfather came up the river from Ohio.

Inf: Yes, he???

FW: What did he do when he first settled here? This was some time ago I imagine.

Inf: Well, yes, it was in 1855, I think the winter of 1855. He and a, a young wife and a young baby, came up from their home in Ohio, and they met J. Sterling Morton in Saint Louis and came up on the same steamboat. River steamboat, with J. Sterling Morton [FW: Mm] and his wife and, and oldest child, and one of them homesteaded west of town, and one homesteaded south of town, and they remained good friends all their lives. J. Sterling Morton, of course, was the founder of Arbor Day.

FW: Mm-hmm. Did he begin his, uh, interest in trees at that time? (xxx)

Inf: Yes, he was, um, let's see, I was trying to think. Under Grover Cleveland, I think, he was Secretary of Agriculture [FW: Mmm]. He went into politics and became Secretary of Agriculture. And he had been interested in trees all the time because Nebraska was a prairie at that time and had no trees [FW: Mmm] other than the willows that grew along the river, and the cottonwoods. And he thought that it was wonderful country if it had more trees so he started, really [FW: Yeah], planting trees and having everyone plant trees [FW: Mm]. And it's now become a national holiday.

FW: Yeah. It's quite something to be proud about, I think.

Inf: Yes, his home is now a state park [FW: Mmm] and it's being kept um, as natural as possible [FW: Mmm]. And they still plant new trees every year, and all throughout the town, new trees are planted every year on Arbor Day, which is his birthday and it's, happens to be in April, our planting season [FW: Mmm], but I understand that Arbor Day is in different months in other states [FW: Yeah], depending on the time of year they plant trees.

FW: Right. And sometimes it's in May even, I think.

Inf: May, it could be in February, March, sometimes in the fall.

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