Self Reliance

Self-Reliance

Three of the four Chrisman sisters used the Homestead Act of 1862 to their advantage. Any single person over the age of 21 or a head-of-household and citizen of the United States, or someone that has filed their intention to become a citizen could file a claim and be granted up to 160 acres of free public land. Single women were able to claim land; five to twenty percent of homesteaders were women.

In the case of the three oldest Chrisman sisters (left to right: Hattie, Lizzie, and Lutie) each held claims on three properties thanks to the Homestead Act and other similar laws. The youngest sister, Ruth (far right) was only fourteen at the time of this photo and too young to claim land on her own. When she did reach the appropriate age, all of the better land was taken. So Ruth turned to two of the main professions available to women at the time. She became a teacher and then later a practical nurse.

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Image Credit:
The Chrisman Sisters on a claim in Goheen settlement on Lieban (Lillian) Creek, Custer County, Nebraska, 1886
Courtesy of Nebraska State Historical Society; RG2608: PH1053

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Last updated: April 10, 2015

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