President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the Homestead Act of 1862, opening up 270 million acres of public domain land for settlers to “prove up.” A filing fee of $10 and a $2 commission to the land agent were the only fees necessary to file a claim on 160 acres of homestead land. Settlers then had five years to build a home and farm on the land before they could receive a patent for the land.
Between 1871 and 1950, more than 1,465,346 people received a final patent on their homestead land. The Homestead Act was repealed in the lower 48 states in 1976 and in Alaska in 1986. You can learn more about the Homestead Act and the pioneers who settled the land at the Homestead National Monument of America just outside of Beatrice, Neb. Their website reports, “On March 19, 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the law and Homestead National Monument of America ‘as an appropriate monument to retain for posterity a proper memorial emblematical of the hardships and the pioneer life through which the early settlers passed in the settlement, cultivation and civilization of the Great West.'"
Do you have ancestors who filed a claim or received a patent on their homestead land? If so, share your family story in the comments below.