A piece of homesteading history is ready to be displayed in Gage County.
The lengthy process of retrieving a 1945 Allis Chalmers Model C tractor owned by the last homesteader has been completed, and the tractor is now in Nebraska after being retrieved from the Alaskan wilderness.
The tractor has been restored, and a public unveiling will be held at Homestead National Monument of America on Monday, Nov. 20 at 2 p.m. The event will be held at the Homestead’s Heritage Center.
“When most people think of homesteading, they have an image in their minds of a single bottom plow being pulled by a team of horses,” said Homestead Superintendent Mark Engler. “This tractor will show the size and scope of homesteading, as well as the relevancy of this law that transformed our nation.”
The tractor once belonged to Ken Deardorff, the last American homesteader, who bought the tractor when he moved to the Alaskan wilderness in 1974.
Dearsdorff staked a claim under the Homestead Act and settled on 80 acres of land located about 200 miles from Anchorage and nearly 50 miles from the nearest town.
Using his tractor, Deardorff cleared a forest to grow his crops—mostly hays and grasses, as those were the only things that would grow in the climate. The tractor was his most important tool.
When he left the Alaskan homestead ten years after starting it, the tractor was left sitting outside for the next 30 years. Officials from Homestead Monument learned about the tractor and were determined to bring it to Beatrice.
Last year, the Friends of Homestead started an online fundraising campaign to bring the tractor to Nebraska, where University of Nebraska students have been preparing it for display.
The tractor was cleaned with mineral spirits and denatured alcohol to kill bacteria and black mold.
The rotting wood seat was put back together and period-correct spark plug wires were added to replace those that were missing.
Officials used a helicopter to lift the tractor to Big Lake, Ala., where a crate was custom built for it. It was put on a barge to Anchorage, then onto a ship to Seattle before being trucked to Beatrice.
Police arrested a man for drug possession after they responded to an alleged suicide attempt last week.
Jimmy Haynes, 29, was arrested for possession of a controlled substance, introducing methamphetamine to a minor and child abuse.
At around 7 p.m. Thursday, Beatrice police responded to reports of an attempted hanging.
Police were directed upstairs where Haynes was found on the floor. There was no rope or cord near him, according to Gage County Court documents, and there were no marks on his neck.
Haynes was woken up, but refused to answer questions from police.
In another room, police identified a spoon on a nightstand near a bed. The spoon was in plain view and had a crystal substance in it that was suspected to be methamphetamine, court documents state.
Four spoons with a similar substance were located, and syringe needles were also found.
A minor child advised police they had access to the room on occasion. The juvenile was removed from the home, and Haynes denied any knowledge of the methamphetamine.
Bond was set at $5,000 with a 10 percent deposit in County Court Monday. His next hearing is set for Dec. 5.
Gage County sheriff's deputies made an arrest Saturday after reports that a felon who was prohibited from having a weapon was hunting.
Shawn D. Huntington, 45, was arrested for possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and possession of a controlled substance.
In late October, Gage County deputies were notified that Huntington was going to be hunting last Saturday morning. Huntington is a convicted felon and is not allowed to possess a firearm.
Just before 6 a.m. deputies located Huntington in a vehicle that matched a description they were given.
Deputies conducted an investigatory search of the vehicle and found a rifle in plain view on the floor. During a search of Huntington, deputies found a white crystal substance identified as methamphetamine.
Documents state there was an active warrant for his arrest for a possession of a controlled substance offense.
He as also arrested for possession of a controlled substance in the unrelated case where court documents state he was suspected of burglaries in the Barneston area.
He was contacted and found to be in possession of stolen property valued at $6,300 connected to at least five burglaries. A scale that tested positive for methamphetamine was found in his vehicle.
Huntington's bond was set at $25,000 with a 10 percent deposit. His next hearing is set for Nov. 28.