The Homestead Act of 1862 allowed settlers to claim land for free as long as they lived on it for five years and made improvements such as building a house. The act brought 75,000 people to Minnesota in its first three years, quickly settling the prairie and displacing the Dakota living there.
Land Office at___________________
I, ____________________, of _______________________ do hereby apply to enter, under the provisions of the act of Congress approved May 20, 1862, entitled "An act to secure homesteads to actual settlers on the public domain," the _____________ of section __________________ in township ________________ of range ____________, containing _______________ acres.
[In pre-emption cases let the following be added: "Having filed my pre-emption declaration thereto on the ______ day of ______________________."]
Land Office at ___________________
I, ___________________________, Register of the Land Office, do hereby certify that the above application is for surveyed lands of the class which the applicant is legally entitled to enter under the Homestead Act of May 20, 1862, and that there is no prior, valid, adverse right to the same.
"There are the most old maids out here holding down claims that a person must wonder where they all come from."
—Myrtle Yoeman in a letter to a friend
Most homesteads are registered by men, but a notable number of single women also take to the land. They leave the expectations of family or city life for the freedom they find on the open prairie. Many, like Miss Ficknor, marry later and join their claims with a husband's; others enjoy their independence and never marry.
Myrtle Yoeman, letter to Grace H. Carpenter, 24 June, 1905, South Dakota State Historical Resource Center, Pierre.
See Edith Kohl's story of her experiences as a homesteader: Land of the Burnt Thigh (reprinted by the Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1986); also Glenda Riley, The Female Frontier (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1988).
|Name of every person whose residence was in this family on the 1st of May, 1875.||Age||Sex||Color||Nativity, State or Country||Father's Nativity||Mother's Nativity|
|George W. Carpenter||40||M||W||Mass.||Mass||Mass|
|M. E. L. Carpenter||34||F||W||N. York||Mass||R.I.|
|M. L.||11||"||"||Minn.||"||N. York|