The following important events in the history of Nebraska affected political boundaries, record keeping, and family movements.
1803: Nebraska was part of the Louisiana Territory when it was purchased by the United States from France.
1804-1824: United States government explorers visited the region and described it as a vast wasteland. The resulting myth of the Great American Desert delayed significant white settlement in Nebraska.
1813-1827: Trading posts and forts were established near present-day Omaha.
1830-1854: Nebraska was part of an area designated as Indian Territory. Between 1833 and 1876, Indian tribes ceded all Nebraska claims to the United States government.
1840s-1860s: Pioneer wagons heading west passed through the Platte Valley over the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails.
1854: The Kansas-Nebraska Act established the Nebraska Territory. The creation of the Colorado and Dakota territories in 1861 and the Idaho Territory in 1863 reduced Nebraska to nearly its present size. Lands in Boyd and Thurston counties were received from South Dakota in 1890.
1863: The first claim under the Homestead Act was staked near Beatrice.
1865: The first railroad to the Pacific Coast was begun at Omaha. It was completed in 1869.
1867: Nebraska became a state.
1870-1890: Nebraska's greatest population growth occurred in the post-Civil War boom as settlers arrived from the eastern United States and northern Europe.
1904: The Kinkaid Homestead Act opened the last rangeland in northwestern Nebraska to settlement.
The Nebraska State Historical Society has a major collection of state and local histories. The Family History Library also collects histories. An especially helpful source is James C. Olson, History of Nebraska, Second Edition. (Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1966; FHL book 978.2 H2o).