Homestead Cabin


This cabin represents the requirements of the Homesteading Act of 1862. Most cabins had a dirt floor, a plank door on iron hinges and windows made with greased paper window panes. This cabin has a little bit more than just that. It follows the requirements of the Homestead Act of 1862, which was an act of Congress encouraging the settlement of the American West. Congress demanded that the new lands opening up in the west be made available to independent farmers, rather than wealthy planters. Unlike many laws before this, freed slaves and women could qualify to own land. Before the homestead act, the only land owners were white men.

The Homesteading Act gave settlers 160 acres of public land if they:
∙ Were the head of a household or 21 years old, regardless of race or gender
∙ Had never fought against the United States.
∙ File an application.
∙ Improve the land and build a home.
∙ Live there continuously for 5 years.
∙ Pay the $10 fee, $2 to the agent and $6 final payment.
∙ File for a deed or title.

This small cabin would provide a place for the family to live until other rooms could be added or until a larger cabin could be built. Later homes could also have been made of stones from the area or adobe bricks. If a larger cabin was built, the small cabin could be used as a granary or summer kitchen. Log cabins were often simple, but families tried to make them as comfortable and attractive with whatever materials they had available.