Yesterday, I was telling you about my visit to the Homestead National Monument over the Memorial Weekend. The Homestead National Monument, which is part of the U.S. National Park system was celebrating the 150th anniversary of the 1862 Homestead Act that was signed into law by President Lincoln. (The actual signed document was brought in under a great deal security. One of the volunteers told me they bring it in, in the middle of the night. How cloak and daggerish. So, it would seem there is a security force in place for past president's signatures.)
I did manage to learn a few things while visiting the museum. ......Homestead acts had been around from the very beginning of our country. The Continental Army offered parcels of land to those that fought in the Revolutionary War. You can click on the Homesteading Timeline to see some of the other Homesteading Acts prior to the 1862 Act. The one we are most familiar with is the Homestead of of 1862 and it was in effect from 1862 until 1986.
As an estimated 93 million of us are decedents of the homesteaders that participated in the 1862 Homestead Act. If you click on the Homestead National Monument web site there is a link that will let you search for ancestors. I have such a common maiden name, there were quite a few that came up. I have no idea if they were actually related to me.
Only about 40 percent of those that filed claims were able to last the five years that was required to receive the deed to the land. There are a lot of reasons that the homesteaders failed but some of the reasons were the harsh elements, drought, disease, isolation, and the economic climate of the time.
Thought #1- A Really Hard Life
Here is a family that homesteaded a claim in North Dakota. It must be summer, spring or fall in this picture.
How do I know this?
Because this is what winter looks like in North Dakota. Let's go up to the roof for some fresh air.
|Six kids in a tent house....makes you appreciate real walls, huh?|
Lacy Goldthorpe was one of the single women that claimed land as a homesteader. This is a picture taken around 1905 of her standing outside her shack. She wrote " I was caught up in the excitement of the moment, I had no doubt but what I could prove up on the land as anyone else. I had a little money saved and no fears of rural life. (Prove up was the term for accomplishing the required steps of building a house, planting a crop and staying 5 years in order to get the title to the land)
Historians estimate that some 12 percent of homesteaders in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, North and South Dakota, and Utah were single women. Lured by the Homestead Act, which gave any 21-year-old who headed a household the right to homestead federal land, independent women crossed the country to become landowners. By the early 1900s, a woman could load her belongings on a train and in several days make a trip that once took months. When she arrived, a land-locator took her by wagon to find her claim.
|Some of the states with the most AWFUL weather had the greatest numbers of homesteaders that managed to|
stick it out for five years. Go Montana!!!! Makes me a little sorry
I didn't go homestead some acreage in Florida in the 1980's.
Thought Number Two: Why I Might Not Have Been a Good
|It isn't the amount of work....it's having to wear layers|
of petticoats and long dresses while working.
OK....It's about the amount of work, too.
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