Homesteading Certificate of eligibility for Daniel Freeman, January 20, 1868
After five years of homesteading, Daniel Freeman filed for a title deed to his 160 acres in Beatrice, Nebraska. He submitted to the local land office proof of his residency and agricultural improvements and paid his fee. The local office sent the documents and this certificate to the General Land Office in Washington, D.C.
Records of the Department of the Interior, National Archives and Records Administration
The First Homesteaders
The Homestead Act of 1862 made 160 acres available to any head of household who filed a claim, lived five years on the land, and paid a fee. Homesteaders included citizens, immigrants seeking naturalization, women, men, African Americans, and whites. American Indians, who were not recognized as U.S. citizens, were excluded. Daniel Freeman, a Civil War scout in Nebraska, may have been the first to file a land claim when the Homestead Act became effective on January 1, 1863.