BEATRICE, Neb. – C.T. Frerichs is a retired physician living in Beatrice. He's 93 years old, but he's been on a mission this past year.
With help from Friends of Homestead, Dr. Frerichs made it possible to bring a very special tractor from Alaska to Nebraska.
In the late 1940s, Frerichs fell in love with a pretty, young lady while he was in theU.S. Navy.
"I took her to my home in Coleridge, Nebraska to meet my parents in September of 1950," Frerichs said.
While he was home, he took a photo of his fiancée on his dad's Allis-Chalmers tractor.
"I've always enjoyed the picture very much," Frerichs said.
Fast forward 66 years...
"My wife died in 2016, and shortly thereafter, there was a beautiful article by David Hendy in the World-Herald," Frerichs said.
That's where he learned that the Homestead National Monument was wanting to bring a tractor from the last homestead in Alaska to the site of the first homestead in America.
"I wanted to leave some kind of memorial for my wife, and I thought about several things, but when I saw this I thought 'here was an ideal way to memorialize her,'" he said.
Frerichs said his wife Julia was a very special woman.
"She did a lot of work in our church and one time a lady from there told me that she was beautiful on the outside, but also beautiful on the inside," he said.
It took a great deal of work and money, but the 1945 Allis-Chalmers Model C was transported more than 3,000 miles to East Campus in Lincoln where it underwent some intense, tender loving care.
"There's a great significance to this tractor," said Joshua Bauer.
Bauer is the president of the UNL Tractor Restoration Club.
"It came from so far away and such a remote location, and then we were given the privilege and the responsibility to restore it, it's incredibly special to all of us here and all of us involved," Bauer said.
"This tractor, this artifact represents the end of a 123-year era of homesteading in our nation," said Mark Engler, the superintendent at Homestead National Monument in Beatrice.
"To have this tractor as part of the museum experience, and to allow people to learn more about our nation's homestead story through this tractor it's a great thing," Engler said.
"Our family is very pleased because it will memorialize my wife, which will continue for a long time, as long as there is a United States of America, and so we're happy about that," Frerichs said.
Engler is excited to have the priceless homestead artifact on permanent display right in the Homestead National Monument of America for all the world to see and appreciate. Come on down and get an in-person look at it for yourself!