Saturday, January 1, 2011
First To File For Goverment Land
The Homestead Act signed into law by Abraham Lincoln May 20th 1862, was designed to give away 160 acres of undeveloped federal land. Any one over the age of 21 who had never taken up arms against the United State, including freed slaves could file a claim. There were three steps; an applicant would file an application, make improvements to and live on the land and file for the deed of title. This was an expansion of the Preemption Act of 1841, which the South fought, fearing that an increase of free farms would threaten the plantation system. Once the south seceded in 1861, the Homestead Act passed quickly. The first person to file an claim was Daniel Freeman. He was a physician living in Ottawa, Illinois when he enlisted in the 17th Illinois Infantry. Freeman filed on a claim January 1st 1863 in Beatrice, Nebraska Territory, just ten minutes after the Act went into effect. The site of Freeman’s claim is now the Homestead National Monument of America.
A couple of other very good web sites on this subject are Daniel Freeman and the Homestead Act and Teaching With Documents: The Homestead Act of 1862