The Honorable Judge Paul Korslund will give a program at Homestead National Monument of America’s Education Center on Sunday, Oct. 6, at 2 p.m. on the landmark court case Daniel Freeman v. John Scheve, et. al. The case covered the separation of church and state in public education and originated at the Freeman School, today a part of Homestead National Monument of America. The case made its way to the Nebraska Supreme Court.

Beginning in 1899, Daniel Freeman, one of the United States' first homesteaders, objected to the use of the Bible in public school instruction at the Freeman school near Beatrice. He requested that the teacher in question, Edith Beecher, cease using the Bible as a textbook during her classes. Beecher refused, stating that she had been granted permission by the school board to read passages from the Bible, offer prayers, and sing hymns from a gospel hymn book. Daniel Freeman took his case to the school board.

The school board defended Beecher, noting that the ten-minute exercises she conducted were "in the best interests of the students." The state superintendent of schools, William R. Jackson, suggested that Bible should not be considered as a sectarian book, but as a classic from which moral lessons could be learned.

Freeman pursued the case, first to the Gage County District Court. When that body did not find to his liking, he then appealed to the Nebraska Supreme Court. The case was decided on October 9, 1902. The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled in favor of Daniel Freeman, stating that the actions of Edith Beecher and the school board did indeed violate the Nebraska Constitution's provisions regarding the separation of church and state. The State of Nebraska brought to conclusion this issue many years before the United States Supreme Court ever addressed it.


Keep up with the latest information by following us on Twitter (HomesteadNM) and Facebook (Homestead National Monument of America).

Homestead National Monument of America is a unit of the National Park Service located four miles west of Beatrice, Nebraska. Hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free of charge. For additional information, please call 402-223-3514 or visit http://www.nps.gov/home.