Homesteading on the Great Plains

Poorly constructed sod house
The Homestead Act of 1862 opened up millions of acres of land for farming to Americans and immigrants for free. All one had to do was pay a small filing fee depending of the acreage. Homesteader could claim 80 or 160 acres. The only requirement was that they had to prove that they were working the land for five years. After five years, the land belonged to them. Many of the first homesteaders did not survive the five year requirement due to the harshness of the climate and difficulties of farming. The sod was hard to bust, rain seldom fell, and grasshoppers ruined the crops. The greatest hardship may have been the solitude and loneliness due to the great distances from the rest of civilization.