Lizzie Speese

Quick Facts
A female homesteader in Empire, Wyoming
Place of Birth:
Date of Birth:
Circa 1879
Place of Death:
Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska
Date of Death:
December 13, 1932
Place of Burial:
Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska
Cemetery Name:
Forest Lawn Memorial Park

Lizzie Speese homesteaded in Empire, Wyoming, one of two women to do so.

She was interested in accumulating land. Lizzie kept a sharp eye on how new laws and regulations affected her rights to claim federal land.

Empire was settled by several families closely related through intermarriage. Speese’s efforts began when she arrived in Empire about 1908. Her ability to secure additional land contributed to her extended family’s growing operations.

Speese’s inquiries to land agents and the Secretary of the Interior show she was a strong advocate and active farmer. She acquired her land through the Desert Land Act and made significant improvements to it. In conjunction with her family, she built a frame house, a root cellar, and a sod hen house, along with a barn and a cow shed. In her final proof, she estimated her improvements to be worth over $1,500.

She attempted to grow corn, potatoes, and millet, but like others in this dry area, she experienced frequent crop failure. Eventually poor crops forced Speese to leave Empire. She lost her land in 1921 when it was foreclosed on.

Learn more about Black Homesteading in America.

Patent Details - GLO Records

Homestead National Historical Park

Last updated: November 2, 2021