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July 12, 2023

Homestead Stories

homestead stories

No matter if your goal is to live off-grid or simply reduce environmental impact, these books provide information on everything from farming and gardening to animal husbandry and creating green cleaning products - the ideal resource for anyone interested in homesteading!

Discover homestead tales from the Library of Congress's collection.

Sod & Stubble: A Story of Homesteading in Nebraska Territory

Markers located on the west side of Highway 24 in Memorial Park commemorate homesteaders who lived and died here as well as John Ise's classic American book Sod & Stubble which documents their experiences on the prairie.

William and Isabella Stevens arrived in Kill Creek, Osborne County prior to bringing their family. Under the Homestead Act of 1862 they acquired 160 acres. William picked a site along the bottom of Kill Creek where he dug a dugout; later he raised its sides so as to create both kitchen and sleeping facilities for himself and his three young children.

As legend had it, The Midnight Rangers emerged to protect Henry Hoot's claim of homesteaders who may encroach upon it. At midnight when reports surfaced that homesteaders might jump his claim and overthrow it, these vigilantes met at Vogel's sod house at midnight; among their ranks were Levin Brunner, Morris Kichline, Jim Rau, Albert Kichline Samuel Arnold and Will Garman (this being their one and only meeting at night in Kill Creek). This event proved fateful to the settlers that day; thusly leaving an impressionable memory on them that night which they never did again afterwards in Kill Creek.

The Homesteader's Diary: A Memoir of Life on the Kansas Prairie

The Homestead Act of 1862 provided American West settlers with 160 acres free land. Aspiring families made the risky journey west in search of independence, adventure, and a fresh start. Many men travelled West but women also sought to tame this wild landscape despite facing challenges like weather, disease, homesickness. In this book about Norwegian pioneer families' trials and triumphs.

This memoir by a female homesteader details her early life in a remote wilderness and their struggles to build their farm. Readers will gain insight into taming prairie grasslands and living in dugouts - underground shelters built into hillsides for protection from harsh weather - while also learning of their feelings towards their government and themselves as settlers.

This memoir provides an account of Taylor's experiences as a homesteader in Wyoming, from its rugged mountains and windswept plains, through sagebrush and grassland that stretch to the horizon, to its remote grasslands where she raises livestock and crops for sale. Her grit and grace in facing its challenges will inspire readers. Taylor details her struggles of raising crops and livestock as well as dealing with hostile neighbors, loneliness living alone in an isolated location and the difficulty in raising children - all qualities which she describes with great clarity and grace!

Giants in the Earth: A Story of Homesteading in the Dakota Territory

Giants in the Earth first published in 1927 ignited a national discussion of immigration and American frontier life. Author Ole Edvart Rolvaag had previously published two Norwegian novels entitled I de dage (1924; "In Those Days") and Riket grundlaeges (1925) before Giants appeared. Rolvaag was widely admired for his depiction of harsh prairie life without overromanticizing it while simultaneously showing homesteaders' struggles against isolation, loneliness, and host cultures that perceived national characteristics as nuisances or threats posed to American life at homesteaders' homesteads.

Per Hansa and Beret arrive in Dakota Territory with optimism in 1873, ready to start their lives as early settlers. They build their sod house by a creek, and begin planting crops - but Beret begins having doubts as she and Per are no longer sure they can follow their dream that brought them so far west.

Per is an experienced fisherman who takes great pride in his daring and drive for material advancement, but struggles to remain grounded under constant hardship on the plains. Beret, on the other hand, strives to find peace with her new situation while showing that women can survive pioneering life despite challenges she may encounter - something which earned her much respect from male peers at Spring Creek. Regardless of their contrasting perspectives, however, both must work together towards making their homestead successful.

Letters of a Woman Homesteader

Homesteaders were an eclectic bunch, hailing from across the globe - including former slaves and women - yet many of their stories remain untold. Homestead National Historical Park aims to change that by collecting and sharing these tales through new media channels.

Elinore Pruitt Stewart left Denver in 1909 to establish her homestead in Wyoming, settling on a quarter section and working as housekeeper, hired hand, rancher and even housemaid despite not possessing formal education or being married at the time. To avoid others claiming her land without proper legal status or knowledge, Stewart kept her marriage a secret from others so as to prevent anyone claiming it for themselves; writing letters detailing daily life on the homestead to her former employer Mrs Coney about daily struggles she was facing alone on her new endeavor and struggles on her homestead journey.

These 26 letters written over several years by Stewart capture the essence of homesteading life during the early 20th century. His humor and insight shine through; whether hosting a Christmas party, mediating between cattle and sheep men or consoling widows; his letters provide an evocative picture of homesteading life.

Homesteaders interested in discovering more can turn to this book for historical details about homesteading. Perfect for teenagers exploring the subject independently or adults wanting a primary-source text on this subject matter.