An Allis Chalmers tractor used in Alaska by the nation’s last homesteader under the Homestead Act of 1862 has arrived at the Homestead National Monument west of Beatrice.
Its recovery from the homestead of Kenneth Deardorff was made possible by a donation from Dr. C.T. Frerichs of Beatrice and the Friends of the Homestead.
Dr. Frerichs wanted to acquire the tractor in the memory of his wife, Julia. She came to Beatrice from Georgia, sat on the seat of a similar tractor, and became Frerich’s wife.
Frerichs thanked Homestead National Monument of America superintendent Mark Engler, Friends of the Homestead president Diane Vicars and David Hendee, author of an Omaha World-Herald story regarding the tractor’s discovery and efforts to recover it.
Vicars says the tractor is significant for being part of a decades-long history of homesteading.
Before going on display at the monument’s Heritage Center, Engler says the 1945 Model-C will first go to the Lester Larsen Tractor and Power Museum, where University of Nebraska students will do conservation treatment work on the machine.
Engler said the goal is to maintain the appearance of the tractor as it was being used and to demonstrate the role of the tractor in homesteading.
Rob Ruskamp, of the Homestead National Monument, led the team that traveled to Alaska to recover the tractor and to prepare it to be helicoptered off the Deardorff’s homestead. It was placed on a barge and shipped to Anchorage, to Seattle, then was trucked to Nebraska.
Homestead officials anticipate the tractor will be returned to the National Monument in late fall to go on display inside the main entrance of the Heritage Center.
Story and photo by Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice