Wyatt Underwood's

Why a Homestead?

[Small ranchscape]

In May 1862, during our Civil War, Congress took time to pass and Lincoln to sign the Homestead Act. It gave a settler title to 160 acres provided that the settler work the public-domain land for five years (stay on it and make improvements), and pay fees. A homesteader had to be a U.S. citizen or an intending citizen, either the head of a household or over 21, and could be male or female!

It must have been a remarkable Congress! They also passed the Morrill Land Grant Act, which gave each state 30,000 acres per congressman for the establishment of colleges of agriculture and mechanical arts. The states eventually created sixty-nine land-grant colleges on 13 million acres they received from this law. If your state has or had an Aggie college or university, it almost certainly started this way.

But back to homesteaders. By 1890, 375,000 of them had received title to 48 million acres. Of course, the then-fledgling railroads also received 20 million acres. The criminal and the rich always profit. But what a country! What a Congress! To give away land not only to the rulers, but also to any citizen willing to work it!

But that doesn't really answer the question does it?

Way back in the beginning of this website, years ago, it was hosted by GeoCities, who used the metaphor of homestead for websites they made available for any user who'd set them up and maintain them.

I liked the metaphor, and kept it as I moved the website from GeoCities to another and a third, I think. The website is now hosted by HostGator web hosting and, for me, the metaphor still applies.