Millions of People, Millions of Stories

People traveled across the country and around the world to take part in homesteading. Homesteaders came from a variety of backgrounds and faced many unique challenges. Immigrants, formerly enslaved people, women, and more claimed homesteads and each one has a unique story.

The Homestead Act of 1862 allowed anyone over 21 years of age or the head of a household to apply for free federal land with two simple stipulations:

  1. Be a citizen of the United States or legally declare their intent to become one

  2. Did not fight against the United States or aid enemies of the United States

Nearly four million homesteaders settled land across 30 states over 123 years. These stories have remained largely untold. Homestead National Historical Park is working to collect and share the stories of homesteaders.

Four people standing outside a building
The Mosaic of Homesteader Backgrounds

Explore the stories of different groups of people who homesteaded across the United States.



Last updated: September 24, 2023

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

8523 West State Highway 4
Beatrice, NE 68310


402 223-3514

Contact Us