HOMESTEAD NATIONAL MONUMENT, Neb.- The Freeman School stands as a reminder of how important education was to pioneers who settled Nebraska.
We traveled to the Homestead National Monument of America to learn more about this former country school that is now a part of the National Park Service. The school opened in 1872. For it's first three years, Monday through Friday it was a school. On Saturdays, they had box socials. And then on Sundays, it was the First Trinity Lutheran Church. "The importance of education to this local area is emphasized by the fact that this school is brick," Homestead National Monument Chief Ranger Susan Cook said. "Not a lot of (these schoolhouses) were brick, but that shows the importance put on this school that they built it of brick." The last class was in the school in 1967.
Daniel Freeman who was the first homesteader, had children going to the one-room school. At that time, children used Bibles as a way to learn to read. Freeman did not want his kids learning from a Bible. So he challenged it. His case went to the Nebraska Supreme Court in 1899, and at that point in time it was decided that teaching kids to read from a Bible was a violation of "church and state". That case law is still used today, and this case is just one of the reasons why this building is unique.
The National Park Service took over the school in the 1970's, and the building has been restored to the 1890's era. The school building is on the National Register of Historic Places.