Who were the Homesteaders?

Nearly four million homesteaders settled our country over 123 years, across 30 states. All of these people have personal stories. Homestead National Historical Park is collecting the stories of individuals who are part of this story.

Do you have an ancestor or relative who homesteaded? We’d like to collect their stories! If you would like to share your family's story please contact the park by email and provide the following information.

  • 1. Your Name
  • 2. Information about your Ancestor including:
    • Your Ancestor(s) Name(s)
    • Your relationship to ancestor
    • Where did they come from? and where did they Homestead?
    • Would you be intersted in sharing your story in an oral history?
  • 3. A family history or memory related to homesteading/farm life that you would like to share.

You can also include information about if your homesteading ancestors moved, if your family still owns the land, and other stories about their life as homesteaders. If you have questions about how to submit your family's story please contact the park by email or call (402) 223-3514. You can also submit stories via mail and send them to 8523 W State Hwy 4, Beatrice, NE 68310.

Freeman Scrapbook
Freeman's Scrapbook

NPS Photo

Over the entire 123 year history of the Homestead Act, four million people filed for homestead claims. Every single one of these four million, regardless of success or failure, had a personal story.

Homestead National Historical Park is currently involved in a project to identify well-known figures in American history that have or had personal connections to the Homestead Act. Banners have been produced featuring some of these individuals. The banners hang outside the Education Center at the Park. Links to the stories of some prominent descendents of homesteaders can be found on our Homesteading Legacies page.

The First Homesteader

Daniel Freeman was the first person to file his claim to 160 acres of free land offered by the Homestead Act of 1862. See transcriptions of the Freeman Letters where Daneil asked Anges Suiter to be his wife and move to his homestead in Nebraska.

The Last Homesteader

The last person to prove up on their homestead claim was found in Alaska. Ken Deardorff filed a homestead claim on 50 acres of land on the Stony River in southwestern Alaska in 1974 and received his patent in 1988.



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    Tags: homesteader
    Black and white photo, dustorm on the homestead.
    Millions of People, Millions of Stories

    Discover homesteading stories of migration, risk taking, labor, sacrifice, hardship, and courage in the face of daunting odds.

    Last updated: December 6, 2023

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    Contact Info

    Mailing Address:

    8523 West State Highway 4
    Beatrice, NE 68310


    402 223-3514

    Contact Us