This Day in History
Homestead Act

On a day like today in the 1860’s…

During the decade following the Civil War, millions of immigrants poured into the West. The Homestead Act and inexpensive land, which was available from the transcontinental railroads, facilitated the acquisition of farms and ranches. During the early years of settlement on the treeless Great Plains, sodhouses were the cheapest and quickest means of sheltering a family. Three-foot blocks of thick sod plowed from half an acre of prairie would build a one-room house. Except for leaking and occasionally falling roofs, the sodhouses were comfortable and had a lifespan of about seven years.

This painting commemorates the anniversary of the historic Homestead Act signed into law by President Lincoln on May 20, 1862.

July's Archived Features:

Friday July 1, 2022



All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.