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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.

1 Image H.R. 125, The Homestead Act, printed House bill with Senate changes,... View All Images
1 Image “Freedom of the Public Lands!!!” petition from citizens of New York,... View All Images
1 Image Photograph of homesteader Daniel Freeman View All Images
1 Image Homesteading Certificate of eligibility for Daniel Freeman, January... View All Images