The Cornhusker State
Nebraska's nickname is "The Cornhusker State." Early explorers considered Nebraska and the surrounding areas part of the great American desert. In the 1860's the first wave of homesteaders poured into Nebraska to claim free land granted by the federal government. Many of these first Nebraskan settlers built their homes out of sod because trees were sparse on the grassy land.
Much history of the state is the story of these rugged, strong-willed Nebraska farmers who fought hardship, draught, and insects to transform the desert into ranches and farms. Today Nebraska is a leading agricultural state, considered a bread basket for the USA and much of the world.
Nebraska legislature originally designated "Tree Planter's State" as the official nickname in 1895 (Arbor Day was founded in 1872 by J. Sterling Morton of Nebraska City, Nevadan U.S. Senator Phineas W. Hitchcock introduced the Timber Culture Act in 1873, and millions of trees were planted by early settlers of Nevada as windbreaks, woodlots, and orchards).
In 1945 the original act was repealed and the "Cornhusker State" became the official nickname of Nebraska (derived from the nickname for the University of Nebraska athletic teams, "the Cornhuskers"). Husking corn was done by hand by early settlers of course (before the invention of husking machinery).
Nebraska has been known by other unofficial nicknames as well. The earliest nickname applied to Nebraska residents was “Squatters,” in the mid 1800's. This term likely derived from the fact that many early Nebraska settlers moved onto their claims before the land had been surveyed.
By the late nineteenth century, “Bug Eaters” had replaced “Squatters” as the unofficial Nebraska nickname. The bug eater name may have originated during the grasshopper invasions of the 1870s. it may also refer to the countless bull bats that would appear across the plains at night to feast on insects. Either way, "Bug Eaters" was not a a very popular nickname.