The Homestead Act became active on January 1, 1863. The story goes that Daniel Freeman submitted his land application at 12:10 am on January 1st at the Land Office in Brownville, Nebraska. Freeman thus became the first person in history to apply for and receive land under the Homestead Act. Freeman succeeded in settling his land grant and lived there until his death in 1908. Today, the Homestead National Monument of America sits on the site of the old farm where many come to honor their pioneer ancestors who started out as homesteaders.
 Information taken from http://www.nps.gov/home/historyculture/firsthomesteader.htm; accessed Sept 15, 2008.