Friday, July 25, 2008

Those Dreadful Women Homesteaders

1862 Homestead Act:
freehold title to 160 acres of undeveloped land outside of the original 13 colonies.

New law required three steps:

• file an application
• improve the land
• file for deed of title

Eligibility: Anyone, including freed slaves, who had never taken up arms against the U.S. Government could file an application and improvements to a local land office

signed by Abraham Lincoln 20 May 1862


• 1.6 million homesteads granted
• 270 million acres were privatized between 1862 and 1964

Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 ended homesteading (except for Alaska where it ended in 1986.)

Women took advantage of this opportunity, too.

Tillie Olson (1885-1918) aka Matilda Olson; Private Secretary at O'Connor and Goldberg Shoe Store in Chicago; Homesteader in Devil's Lake in North Dakota

The Chrisman sisters near Goheen settlement on Lieban Creek, Custer County, Nebraska, 1886

Julia Stockton stands in front of her tar-paper homesteading shack in this photo taken in the early 1900s.