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Receipts for homestead applications of George Caldwell, Gainesville, Florida; and Lucinda Lockhart, San Francisco, California; November 10, 1875

Two very different homestead applications were among those filed on November 10, 1875. George Caldwell submitted his claim to a homestead in Gainesville, Florida, where he had farmed for five years. Lucinda Lockhart, widow of a soldier, based her claim on her husband’s military service and requesated that it be transferred from Arkansas to California.

Records of the Bureau of Land Management, National Archives and Records Administration

Receipt for homestead application of George Caldwell, Gainesville, Florida Receipt for homestead application of Lucinda Lockhart, San Francisco, California

A Lasting Legacy

The Homestead Act was one of Congress’s most far-reaching laws. Congress amended the Homestead Act several times after 1862 and repealed it in 1976 under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, allowing a ten-year extension in Alaska. By 1986, when the last homesteader filed a claim, the federal government had transferred 270 million acres in thirty states to private citizens. The Homestead Act stimulated settlement of the west, promoted agriculture, and provided a foothold in the national economy to workers, immigrants, and freedmen.