Event Page

The Homestead Act, 1862


The Homestead Act of 1862 was the culmination of decades of work to organize and distribute government lands. Every 160-acre parcel largely went to new settlers, but fraudulent schemes placed much of the land in corporate hands. Homesteaders struggled to settle their land grants and many abandoned the land before receiving ownership. But overall, the Homestead Act was instrumental in settling the frontier, providing land for family farms and creating the legacy of the American West.


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Brownville, Nebraska



Daniel Freeman becomes first Homesteader

Brownville, Nebraska

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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.[1]


[1] Information taken from http://www.nps.gov/home/historyculture/firsthomesteader.htm; accessed Sept 15, 2008.

Added by Clio

Event Details

Becoming a Law:
Approved by House: 28 Feb 1862 1
Approved by Senate: 06 May 1862 1
Signed by President Lincoln: 20 May 1862 1
From: 20 May 1862 1
To: 1976 1
Name: The Homestead Act 1
Major States Settled:
State: Nebraska 1
State: Kansas 1
State: North Dakota 1
State: South Dakota 1
State: Oregon 1
By 1934:
More than 270 million acres—10 percent of U.S. lands--were granted to individuals 2
By 1900:
Homesteaders had filed 600,000 claims for 80 million acres 3
Land Grant:
160 acres 1
Requirements for a Claim:
1: Live on the land for 5 years 1
2: Must be A U.S. citizen or filing for citizenship 1
3: At least 21 years old 1
4: Improve the land by building and planting crops 1
5: Never taken arms against the United States 1
6: Paying a filing fee of $10 1

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