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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  Special Interests - Groups & Societies  |  Cas City Historical Society (Moderators: St. George, Silver Creek Slim)  |  Topic: How settlers got their free land 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: How settlers got their free land  (Read 3423 times)
Delmonico
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« on: January 14, 2011, 01:43:53 pm »


Well we all know they homesteaded it, but what does that mean, well here is how it read:


Chap. LXXV. -- An Act to secure Homestead to actual Settlers on Public Domain.
       Be It enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in assembled, That any person who is the head of a family, or who has arrived at the age of twenty-one years, and is a citizen of the United States, or who shall have filed his declaration intention to become such, as required by the naturalization laws of the United States, and who has never borne arms against the United States Government or given aid and comfort to its enemies, shall, from and after the first January, eighteen hundred and sixty-three, be entitled to enter one quarter section or a less quantity of unappropriated public lands, upon which said person may have filed a preŽmption claim, or which may, at the time the application is made, be subject to preŽmption at one dollar and twenty-five cents, or less, per acre; or eighty acres or less of such unappropriated lands, at two dollars and fifty cents per acre, to be located in a body, in conformity to the legal subdivision of the public lands, and after the same shall have been surveyed: Provided, That any person owning and residing on land may, under the provisions of this act, enter other land lying contiguous to his or her said land, which shall not, with the land so already owned and occupied, exceed in the aggregate one hundred and sixty acres.

SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That the person applying for the benefit of this act shall, upon application to the register of the land office in which he or she is about to make such entry, make affidavit before the said register or receiver that he or she is the head of a family, or is twenty-one year or more of age, or shall have performed service in the army or navy of the United States, and that he has never borne arms against the Government of the United States or given aid and comfort to its enemies, and that such application is made for his or her exclusive use and benefit, and that said entry is made for the purpose of actual settlement and cultivation, and not either directly or indirectly for the use or benefit of any other person or person whomever; and upon filing the said affidavit with register or receiver, and on payment of ten dollars, he or she shall thereupon be permitted to enter the quantity of land specified: Provided, however, That no certificate shall be given or patent issued therefor until the expiration of five years from the date of such entry; and if, at the expiration of such time, or at any time within two years thereafter; the person making such entry; or, if he be dead, his widow; or in case of her death, his heirs or devisee; or in case of a widow making such entry, her heirs or devisee, in case of her death; shall prove by two credible witnesses that he, she, or they have resided upon or cultivated the same for the term of five years immediately succeeding the time of filing the affidavit aforesaid, and shall make affidavit that no part of said land has been alienated, and that he has borne true allegiance to the Government of the United States; then, in such case, he, she, or they, if at that time a citizen of the United States, shall be entitled to a patent, as in other cases provided for by law; And provided further, That in case of the death of both father and mother, leaving an infant child or children, under twenty-one years of age, the right and fee shall enure to the benefit of said infant child or children; and the executor, administrator or guardian may, at any time within two years after the death of the surviving parent, and in accordance with the laws of the State in which such children for the time being have their domicil, sell said land for the benefit of said infants, but for no other purpose; and the purchaser shall acquire the absolute title by the purchase, and be entitled to a patent from the United States, on payment of the office fees and sum of money herein specified.

SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That the register of the land office shall note all such applications on the tract books and plats of his office, and keep a register of all such entries, and make return thereof to the General Land Office, together with the proof upon which they have been founded.
SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That no lands acquired under the provisions of this act shall in any event become liable to the satisfaction of any debt of debts contracted prior to the issuing of the patent therefor.

SEC 5. And be it further enacted, That if, at any time after the filing of the affidavit, as required in the second section of this act, and before the expiration of the five years aforesaid, it shall be proven, after due notice to the settler, to the satisfaction of the register of the land office, that the person having filed such affidavit shall have actually changed his or her residence or abandoned the said land for more than six months at any time, then and in that event the land so entered shall revert to the government.

SEC. 6. And be it further enacted, That no individual shall be permitted to acquire title to more than one quarter section under the provision of this act; and that the Commissioner of the General Land Office is hereby required to prepare and issue such rules and regulations, consistent with this act, as shall be necessary and proper to carry its provision into effect; and that the registers and receivers of the several land offices shall be entitled to receive the same compensation for any lands entered under the provision of this act that they are now entitled to receive when the same quantity of land is entered with money, one half to be paid by the person making the application at the time of so doing, and the other half on the issue of the certificate by the person to whom it may be issued; but this shall not be construed to enlarge the maximum of compensation now prescribed by law for any register or receiver; Provided, That nothing contained in this act shall be so construed as to impair or interfere in any manner whatever with existing preŽmption rights. And provided, further, That all persons who may have filed their applications for a preŽmption right prior to the passage of this act, shall be entitled to all privileges of this act: Provided, further, That no person who has served, or may hereafter serve, for a period of not less than fourteen days in the army or navy of the United States, either regular or volunteer, under the laws thereof, during the existence of an actual war, domestic or foreign, shall be deprived of the benefits of this act on account of not having attained the age of twenty-one years.

SEC. 7. And be it further enacted, That the fifth section of the act entitled "An act in addition to an act more effectually to provide for the punishment of certain crimes against the United States, and for other purposes," approved the third of March, in the year eighteen hundred and fifty-seven, shall extend to all oaths, affirmations, and affidavits, required or authorized by this act.

SEC. 8. And be it further enacted, That nothing in this act shall be so construed as to prevent any person who has availed him or herself of the benefits of the first section of this act, from paying the minimum price, or the price to which the same may have graduated, for the quantity of land so entered at any time before the expiration of the five years, and obtaining a patent therefor from the government, as in other cases provided by law, on making proof of settlement and cultivation as provided by existing laws granting preŽmption rights

Approved, May 20, 1862.
Vol. XII Pub -- 50  page 393

Pretty clear right?

Well they amended it also, allowed Union Veterans and their widows to deduct time in military service from the five years required to prove up.  Also in the alternate blocks of the railroad grants one was only allowed 80 acres. 

So move out away from the railroad a bit and we can have 160 acres of land and no more right?  Wrong, until 1891 one could also take 160 acres under the Preemption Act of 1841.  This allowed you to buy it at $1.25 an acre.  So we see if we want and can afford it, we can have 320 acres.  Wrong again, because after 1873 one could also take another 160 acres using the Timber Culture Act.  All you had to do was plant and cultivate 40 acres in trees.  (In some places you can still see those stands of trees.)

So from 1873 to 1891 one could take 480 acres.  and just 320 after that.  But in 1904 what was called the Kinkaid Act was passed, this allowed one to take a full section (640 acres) in 37 counties in north and western Nebraska.

For good or bad, the original idea of taking up a quarter section was great in the areas in the eastern part of the Great Plains where there was enough natural moisture to allow dry land farming.  However in the western part where dry land farming was hit and miss, the land was better suited to cattle.  Our Congress made up mostly of men from back east did not understand this.  This lead to a lot of problems that are well documented.  This thread is not to get into a battle of whether the the ranchers or the farmers were right in the range wars.  This long introduction is to explain the next picture I've anilized and a couple more which are on the chopping block.
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Mongrel Historian


Always get the water for the coffee upstream from the herd.

Ab Ovo Usque ad Mala

The time has passed so quick, the years all run together now.
Delmonico
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« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2011, 02:20:14 pm »

All these ways of obtaining free land required you build a dwelling on the land and reside in it.  The Chrisman sisters who Butcher photographed in 1886 helped their father build a ranch by taking homesteads, timber claims, and preemption claims and proving up.  480 acres apiece.  They each had a soddy on their claim and visited around with the other sisters. 

Picture 10604:



From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, Ruth.







Two sisters have outfits made of the same material.

The door is pretty primitive and by the growth of weeds in front of it, one can see they haven't been living in this one much lately:



By the weeds growing in the roof which appear to be ragweed I'd guess it is late summer and none of the sisters has much problem with hay fever.

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Mongrel Historian


Always get the water for the coffee upstream from the herd.

Ab Ovo Usque ad Mala

The time has passed so quick, the years all run together now.
Delmonico
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« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2011, 03:02:04 pm »

Other times a dwelling would be built so that part of it was on two claims.  Luther M. Mitchell and Ami W. Ketchum settled on Clear Creek in Custer County in the spring of 1878 and built a sod house that was partly on both claims.  Anyone familar with the history of the area knows the rest of the story of what happened, that tale would be for another thread.  Needless to say they did not prove up, but others moved into their claims and took them over.  Butcher did not record their names when he photgraphed the sod house in either 1888 or 1889.

Picture 10003:









One can tell from the bed visible through the door the house is occupied:



Also one can see that the house has not been well cared for and is starting to decay:

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Mongrel Historian


Always get the water for the coffee upstream from the herd.

Ab Ovo Usque ad Mala

The time has passed so quick, the years all run together now.
GunClick Rick
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« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2011, 05:05:06 pm »

Just like today,most cars nicer than most homes Grin
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Delmonico
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« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2011, 06:05:34 pm »

Well them horse made your living, got some coming up with sod houses and nice frame barns.
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Mongrel Historian


Always get the water for the coffee upstream from the herd.

Ab Ovo Usque ad Mala

The time has passed so quick, the years all run together now.
Dead I
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« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2011, 08:22:50 pm »

Amazing photos Delmonico@  Just wonderful.  Inside those soddies they'd plaster and paint the walls. The dirt floors became as hard as tile and they kind of took a shine.  The soddies were cheap to build, they made a special plow blade to cut the sod bricks.  They were warm in winder and cool in summer.  My dad said folks would use greased paper for windows.  Glass being rare. My grandfather who spent his entire life in Western Kansas used to show me where soddies had been. They were always built alongside a stream in a gulley and into the back.  You'd see a shallow dip where it had been.  There was usually a dead tree outside and a few flattened tin cans, etc... Sometimes some trusty chimney pieces and a place where the wind mill had been.  The wind out there blew constantly.  My mother who left when she was a teenager recalled the wind, she hated the wind.  I lived with her parents off and on for years.  My grandmother would hang her wash on a steel wire in her back yard and it would flutter and whip in the wind.  Then she'd iron.  She ironed her sheets!  She ironed the underware. She'd fry chicken in an iron skillet and it was to die for.   
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Delmonico
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« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2011, 08:34:41 pm »

I remember being told about the greased paper in the windows in school, never have seen it in a picture of one, until I see more evidence of it, I'm putting that down to a legand.  Doubt they would hold up in most great plains storms anyway. 
By the end of the Civil War glass was not that expensive being mass produced back east.  Plus by the time this area was settled the Railroads had come into the area.  A lot of the stories we were taught in school were often based off of conditions further east before the Industrial Revaloution which really started kicking into gear at a fast pace in the late 1830's in this country.

The old saw we were also taught about how the Homestead Act allowing poor city people to come west and farm is also pretty much bunk.  Most settlers out here were already farmers who had poor land or because of it being sub-divided in wills, did not have enough to make a living on.  This land would be sold and the money used to move and set up a new farm.  One could not prove up on a claim with out some finances.  As it were the common figure given is only 40% of those who filed on claims proved up on them.
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Mongrel Historian


Always get the water for the coffee upstream from the herd.

Ab Ovo Usque ad Mala

The time has passed so quick, the years all run together now.
Professor Marvel
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« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2011, 12:45:33 am »

Ah My Dear Delmonico -
Thanks very much for the photos and commentary! After the short mention of window glass vs oiled paper/cloth, I thought to do a bit of looking about vis-a-vis the level of manufacture, commonality and availability of window glass, and if possible, cost.
Here is a bit of my meanderings:

As early as 1832 quantities of affordable window glass were being produced and shipped from
Clinton County, New York :

"In 1832, the Redford Glass Company produced $78,000 of window glass. Throughout most
of the decade, 10,000 boxes of window glass were manufactured annually. The Company
employed about 175 persons."
http://www.clintoncountyhistorical.org/collection/collection_redford.html

In Pittsburgh there was even more glass activity. From
"Pittsburgh as it is: or, facts and figures, exhibiting the past and present"  By George Henry Thurston
we find

"In 1831 there were eight glass houses four flint and four window glass employing 102
hands using 7,000 cords of wood 700 tons of sand 1,000 barrels of salt 40,000 pounds of
potash 150.000 bushels coal and producing glass to amount of 600,000

In 1837 there were as by the table on page 89 of this volume thirteen glass works viz
6 flint 5 window 1 vial and 1 black Which establishments as per table employed 444 hands
the number of employees in four of them being ou itted There was produced $628,050
worth of glass the production of one factory not being given which would probably
swell the amount to 728,000

In 1867 there are thirty four factories as will appear by the table on the following page..."

"They run twenty steam engines and produce
6,340 tons Flint Glass             $1,147,540.00
561,600 packages Window Glass 50 feet each    $1,123,200.00   =>   $.04 per sq ft
131,700 Vials Bottles Druggists ware 4c     $ 329,250.00
80,000 Demijohns                $32,000.00
                 Total $2,631,990.00   "

All this, in 1867 in Pittsburgh alone!

The Window Glass business had achieved sufficient volume that in 1874 we see a national "Window Glass Workers" group -
From "The government of American trade unions, Volume 31, Issues 1-4"
 By Theodore Wesley Glocker

we find
"The Window Glass Workers when issuing a call for their first national convention in 1874 urged
the need of a uniform sliding scale for all window glass factories as the chief reason for creating a national union"


However, to refute the "Oiled paper/ oiled cloth vs glass window glazing" we must try to determine an actual price ....
remarkably, our tax dollars from long ago can provide some information,

 from
"United States Congressional serial set, Issue 2734" we find that in 1889
" Imported common window glass is worth about 4 cents per square foot,
Ground window glass is worth about 3 cents per square foot"

and eureka! from Industrial Price Policies and Economic Progress, on p288 "Industrial Price Policies"
we find "Indexes of Weekly Wages and Wholesale Prices of Window Glass and Print Cloth, 1870-1937"

interestingly, the costs of glass and print cloth showed some fluctuation year to year:
   1sq ft of    Print Cloth
   window glass   price per yard
1870   5.6 cents   6.6 cents
1871   5.9 c      6.8 c
1872   9.3 c      7.2 c
1873   7.8 c      6.3 c
1874   7.9 c      5.2 c
1875   6.4 c      5.0 c
1876   7.1 c      3.7 c
1877   5.9 c      3.9 c
1878   5.0 c      3.1 c
1879   5.0 c      3.4 c
1880   5.6 c      4.3 c
 and suddenly a drop in glass prices
1887   3.9 c      3.1 c
1888   4.0 c      3.4 c
1889   3.5 c      3.6 c

Thus it is emminently affordable even at $1 a day to purchase a few square feet of glass at between say 20 cents to 40 cents (allowing for markup)  to let the light in and keep the weather out. Judging from the lovely dresses on some of the ladies, I can imagine that a married couple might well make that two-bit investment to let some sunlight into their home...

yhs
prof marvel
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Delmonico
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« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2011, 02:50:53 am »

Thank you Professor Marvel, the older Colonial Period and the really early part of the 19th Century, they had to blow the glass and flatten it while hot, or they spun the glass out by hand.  I was reading about how they did it a couple of months back.  But once machinery was in place it became fast and cheap to make. 

Also notice most of the windows in the sod houses are pre-fab, they were sent to the frontier in car load lots.  This country out here would have never been settled with out the railroads, even if stuff still had to be wagon freighted some distance beyond the rails.  Yes the government gave a lot of land to the railroads, but it made the land they kept worth it.  The stories of the agents for the railroads and they're trips to Europe to sell the land are a whole story on it's own.  Large blocks along the railroads were settled by different ethnic groups, they tended to stick together.  What they brought to this country is amazing, the Czech here in Nebraska brought the roller mill method of making flour that sped things up and the Voga Deutsch ( Germans from Russia) brought improved stains of winter wheat.  Of course they also brought the Russian Thistle which gave us that great symbol of the west, the tumbleweed.  How many knew that was not native?   
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Mongrel Historian


Always get the water for the coffee upstream from the herd.

Ab Ovo Usque ad Mala

The time has passed so quick, the years all run together now.
Stu Kettle
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« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2011, 09:55:39 am »

  How many knew that was not native?   

I knew they weren't native, but I never heard the wheat connection, always thought they showed up in South Dakota in a load of flax seed.  I do know they are accomplished travelers.  Vast herds of them can been seen migrating across the prairie from my kitchen window on some days.
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Don Nix
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« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2011, 02:46:24 pm »

When I was a child we moved into a house without window panes. My Dad used isinglas to cover the windows. You used to see it a lot in West texas. Its transparent (kinda) and resembles waxed paper with string embedded to give it strength in a cross hatch pattern..
 i can remember getting a whipping for poking holes in it.
 I have an old friend who grew up in a New Mexico soddy and he said that they had the same isinglass in the windows.
 i have heard about using greased paper over the years but I have always equated that to the isinglas. It was cheap and let in light and you could put it into a window frame quickly and cheaply.
 Not withstanding the cost of glass and its availability,uptown people had glass, poor folks had isinglass, Uptown folks had paint, poor folks had whitewash.
Using a clothes line and ironing sheets is still done  and cooking chicken in cast iron is the only way to do it properly. My wife still uses the clothes line,makes the sheets smell better.
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Delmonico
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« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2011, 02:57:39 pm »

Stu, I've heard the flax seen one also, but around here the VolgA Deutsh take credit.  Heck we got them blowing around sometimes in the state capital, saw a cop getting one out of the street the other day.

Don, isinglass can be one of 3 things I know, one is a kind of plastic made from fish swim bladder, another is sheet mica, like the windows in old stove, the third is a material made out of cellulose and has a string cross hatch patter and came on rolls.  I remember my grandparents covering the screen on the screen doors for winter with it.
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Mongrel Historian


Always get the water for the coffee upstream from the herd.

Ab Ovo Usque ad Mala

The time has passed so quick, the years all run together now.
Stu Kettle
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« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2011, 07:28:46 pm »

If we got someone willing to take credit for em, no sense try to lay blame on someone else.
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River City John
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« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2011, 09:21:37 pm »

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"I was born by the river in a little tent, and just like the river I've been running ever since." - Sam Cooke
"He who will not look backward with reverence, will not look forward with hope." - Edmund Burke
". . .freedom is not everything or the only thing, perhaps we will put that discovery behind us and comprehend, before it's too late, that without freedom all else is nothing."- G. Warren Nutter
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« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2011, 09:37:54 pm »






"Not a cubic foot of putrid air or water. Epidemic diseases unheard of. Winters short and mild." Wink Cheesy Grin

RCJ

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"I was born by the river in a little tent, and just like the river I've been running ever since." - Sam Cooke
"He who will not look backward with reverence, will not look forward with hope." - Edmund Burke
". . .freedom is not everything or the only thing, perhaps we will put that discovery behind us and comprehend, before it's too late, that without freedom all else is nothing."- G. Warren Nutter
NCOWS #L146
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http://www.cascity.com/posseprofiles/River_City_John
Delmonico
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« Reply #15 on: January 15, 2011, 11:32:33 pm »

Thanks John, I've got a bunch of other stuff I'm working on and hadn't had time to search for any of that stuff. 
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Mongrel Historian


Always get the water for the coffee upstream from the herd.

Ab Ovo Usque ad Mala

The time has passed so quick, the years all run together now.
Delmonico
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« Reply #16 on: January 15, 2011, 11:56:48 pm »





Picture 12652 of the Butcher collection, date 1886, The Burlington and Missouri River Route's first engine in to Broken Bow, Custer County Nebraska.  Today as part of the BNSF that route up through Wyoming carries a lot of the coal for the US, I can here one rumbling by about 3 blocks from me as I type.
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Mongrel Historian


Always get the water for the coffee upstream from the herd.

Ab Ovo Usque ad Mala

The time has passed so quick, the years all run together now.
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