We saw a deer splashing across the Platte River in Nebraska today. That was a first. Nebraska is warmer and dryer than South Dakota, and the plains are in rolling hills.

Somewhere in Nebraska the style of county courthouses changed. Now we are in the land of big squares, with the courthouse, built in massive The log cabin is chinked with white plaster and a peaked roof has been added, along with glass windows Homesteader's cabin Richardsonian architecture, generally three stories tall, and of the best native stone available, or failing that, good brick, and a big green space on all sides to complete a massive courthouse square. The courthouses look like this south of here, while to the north they're smaller buildings, just built on city streets.

We saw a sign, put up by a farm equipment sales outfit, that said, "Those who walk in integrity are clothed in humility." We speculated what it might mean. We haven't reached a conclusion.

We note for the record that, Nebraska being the Cornhusker State, and a great deal of corn grown, from which ethanol can be made, all the gas sold in Nebraska has 10% alcohol added: Support your local corn farmers!

Before we left Nebraska we stopped at the Homestead National monument of America. It's located on the former Freeman Homestead, Daniel Freeman being one of those who filed his claim under the 1862 Homestead Act on the first day. Actually, homesteading continued until the 1950s, with the peak years around the turn of the century. Periodically there were rushes when the U.S. changed some Indian reservations into public lands to be homesteaded.

You didn't have to be a U.S. citizen, only intend to become one, so lots of Europeans were lured by the promise of free farmland. Homesteaders often orange wildflowers dot the rough green prairie grasses near Manhattan The Great Plains failed to support themselves as farmers, but their lands were bought by speculators who sold them to new families who would work the land some more.

Gradually the entire great plains was transformed, a quarter section at a time, from wild buffalo grassland to productive farm and ranch land. Much of the land that could not yield a living in 1862 was eventually turned into farmland with the aid of ever-modernizing agricultural technology.

The homesteaders eventually ended a way of life for the plains Indians, who could no longer find wild buffalo to hunt. The Indians fought back, but the westward march of the homesteaders was unstoppable, and the cavalry helped "suppress the Indian uprisings."

We have ancestors who grew up in the homestead era on the plains, especially in Kansas. We bought some books at the National Monument.

We're going to stop in Manhattan to chase down another great aunt and great uncle who died here. The town is also of interest because a world-renowned algebraic geometer, Alexandre Grothendieck, was a visiting professor at Kansas State University in the 1960s, on leave from his regular position at IHES in Paris, which is on a par with the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.