Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Western Wednesday- Homesteading

The Homestead Act of 1862, signed by President Abraham Lincoln, made it legal for farmers to acquire ownership of land in the West by settling on it.

With a small filing fee, the Homestead Act allowed anyone to claim a quarter section of land (one-hundred-sixty acres) west of the ninety-eighth meridian(Mississippi River). If the settler stayed on the land and farmed it, called "prove it up" it was his or hers in five years and all they had to do was file for the deed. They had to be over 21 and never taken up arms against the U.S. government. Even freed slaves could homestead.

One of the things that started problems in the west was the invention of barb wire. Ranchers who had been letting their cattle graze for years unfettered now found their neighbors fencing up sections and making them have to rethink how to feed their cattle. Barb wire was developed in 1873 and was in use by 1874. A Midwest farmer, Joesph F. Glidden developed the wire and changed the open ranges forever.


Lauri said...

While in Wyoming this summer I saw the largest display of old barbed wire I'd ever seen. Some of it was down right wicked!

Devon Matthews said...

Great info about the Homestead Act, Paty. It gave me an idea about how to add an extra bit of detail to the conflict in one of my current projects.

Paty Jager said...

Lauri, I hate working with barbwire but it's necessary to keep the cattle in if you don't have one wire hot.

Devon, Glad I could be of help. ;)

Lyn Horner said...

Good info to file away for future books. Thanks, Paty!

Paty Jager said...

Glad I could be of assistance, Lyn! *gwg*