Settling the West

Education Updates

Passed in 1862, the Homestead Act was an opportunity for the adult head of a family to gain a federal land grant.  While eligible citizens were only those who had never taken up arms against the United States government, the act still helped give many post-Civil War Americans a new life, and assisted with the country’s expansion westward.

Today, we shine a spotlight on the first claim to be filed under the Homestead Act.

Homesteading Certificate of Eligibility for Daniel Freeman, 1/1/1863. From the Records of the Bureau of Land Management. National Archives Identifier: 1656508

Daniel Freeman submitted his 160-acre claim on January 1, 1863.  In accordance with the rules of the Homestead Act, Freeman was first required to settle his plot for five years, and follow a series of steps for improving the property before he could gain full ownership of the land.  The basic requirements for the homesteaders to…

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