In 1862 the US Government passed a law that allowed any family to
claim 65 hectares of land, which they had to farm for 5 years and then
they could claim it as their own. The 'Homestead act' saw 1000's of
immigrants from Europe heading west to claim the land. After the Civil
war when slavery was abolished, freed black slaves also claimed land
on the Prairies.
The 'homestead act' was not all plain sailing. It had several consequences.
The native Americans were pushed off even more of the land that they
had lived, off freely for 1000's of years. This loss of land had already
begun with the growth in the number of ranches on the Plains. The homesteaders
also came into conflict with the ranch owners..
The ranch owners believed that the land belonged to them, causing
disputes between the Homesteaders and the Cowboys.
Despite all the hardships many of the homesteaders managed to claim
their land and built thriving communities and farms. The arrival of
the Homestead families helped bring a more civilised lifestyle and
also law and order to the Prairies.
Did you also know that the Homesteaders
were also known as 'Sod Busters'. This was because they often built
their homes from 'Sods' or blocks of earth. This was because there
were very few trees on the plains to provide them with the, wood
that was needed for their homes.
History of the West - Native
American Peoples Of the Plains - Wagon
Trains - Gold Fever - Ranches
on the Plains - Cowboys - The
Railroad - Justice in the Wild West - War
Between The Settlers and The Native American Indians