Do you have family that claimed land under the Homestead Act?

| 6/10/2009 3:12:55 PM

Tags: homesteading, Homestead Act,

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 The Homestead Act was repealed in the lower 48 states in 1976 and in Alaska in 1986.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.

Linda Kimrey
6/27/2009 10:30:29 AM

My ancestors made "The Run" on September 16, 1893 when the Cherokee Strip was opened for settlement. (This is a portion of the land that later became the state of Oklahoma in 1907.) My grandfather and two of his brothers were on horseback while my great-grandfather drove a buckboard. They raced from the state line at Caldwell, Kansas, beginning at high noon when the US Army fired the starting shots, and all four were successful in staking claims to homesteads before the day ended. They were very fortunate because more than 100,000 determined settlers raced that day for the 42,000 available claims.

RJ Black
6/25/2009 9:31:36 AM

Although all of my ancestors came to the U.S. from Germany, my g.grandmother's stories are the most interesting. They first came to New York state, then progressed to Wisconsin, and after g.grandfather served in the civil war, finally homesteaded in central Nebraska, living in a sod house for some time. Indians came by and asked for food, a prairie fire swept over the region, and the sod house had to be moved when a road came through the property. G.grand was a small, but strong woman who lived until age 96 - a true pioneer. My first-cousin's son now lives on and farms the land.

Gary G. Way
6/24/2009 1:44:47 PM

My grandfather homesteaded just North of what is now the town of Suprise, NE. He was a veteran of the Civil War and was 57 years old when my father, the youngest of 13 children was born. The farm remained in the family until my Uncle, who was the last Way to farm it, died. I remember going to visit the farm where our family reunions were held until my uncle died and the farm passed from our family. The original sod house where my father was born was added on to and still remained as the utility room of what became a large, two-story farm house. I remember the farm well as I was in highschool the last time we attended a reunion there.

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