Homestead certificate for Daniel Freeman - 150th Anniversary of the Homestead Act
Daniel Freeman was the first American to file a homestead claim for land under the Homestead Act of 1862. The act required a series of steps, such as improving a plot of land and living on it for five years, before the homesteader could gain ownership of the 160 acres he claimed. Daniel Freeman initiated his claim on January 1, 1863 and received his ownership certificate January 20, 1868.
(See our “celebrity” Homestead Proofs from Almonzo Wilder and Virgil Earp for other examples.)
See the rest of our series commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Homestead Act »
“Indian Territory That Garden of the World, Open for Homestead and Pre-Emption”
Sunday, May 20 marks the 150th Anniversary of the Homestead Act, passed on May 20, 1862. It greatly accelerated settlement of the western United States, providing 160 acres of free land to qualified citizens, but this often came at the expense of displaced Native Americans.
Dust storm in South Dakota
This photograph, taken on May 5, 1936, shows a dust storm blowing in South Dakota. The Department of Agriculture used such images to illustrate the environmental and land problems faced by farmers in the Northern Great Plains states and to educate farmers about soil conservation and recovery practices.
“Frank E. Webner, pony express rider,” ca. 1861
The first ride of the Pony Express began on April 3, 1860. The service would end in October 1861, with the advent of the transcontinental telegraph.
Today marks the 100th anniversary for Arizona’s statehood! Check out our image gallery to see a selection of documents we’ve compiled from Arizona’s path to statehood.
Memorial of the Territory of Arizona praying for Statehood, 3/11/1899, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives
Happy Birthday, Arizona! (Part 3)
The trouble with paperwork…
We all know it’s true: Oftentimes it’s just hard to figure out government paperwork. Where do I get the form? Am I filling it out correctly? Where do I send it? How do I follow up? The questions are endless! Apparently this is not new!
Some unfortunate people just wanted to apply for naturalization, but happened to do so in a court that would soon cease to exist, and in a territory that would soon become a state. What happens to their paperwork?! Is it lost in the abyss?
This unsigned letter, dated less than a month after Arizona’s statehood, deals with this issue. We found it in the files of the clerk of the U.S. District Court for Tucson. We can assure you (cause we went and checked in the minutes of the court) these cases were not lost. Good thinking on behalf of the clerk, and good recordkeeping all the way around!
Happy Birthday, Arizona! (Part 2)
It’s the little things, right?
On February 14, 1912, Arizona officially became a state. Arizona had already been functioning as a recognized U.S. territory, but statehood made things official! So many things had to change, a state government had to be constructed, and lots of thought had to go into every little detail.
One of the best places to glimpse into these little details in the minute books of court clerks. Here at NARA-Riverside, we hold the minute books of the U.S. District courts for Arizona. In the first volume of minutes for the newly created state’s District Court in Phoenix, one of the little things that had to happen was the seal of the court. The description of the new seal is clear:
Though these seals are very important and we usually see them looking quite official, we found a first draft:
The little seal doesn’t look so bad on the whole page, though!
Happy Birthday, Arizona!
From our colleagues at the National Archives at Riverside, CA (the newest addition to the National Archives Tumblr presence!):
Today marks the 100th anniversary of Arizona’s statehood!
Here at NARA-Riverside, we decided to commemorate this day by trying to find some records that refer back to the transition from a U.S. territory to a state; after all, we do maintain all of the permanent federal records for all of Arizona!
One of the first records we found that tells us about the statehood was on the last page of a very large, very old bound volume of minutes of the First District of the Arizona Territorial Court. Upon statehood, the Territorial Court was no longer the correct avenue for proceedings—now Arizona needed District Courts. The Pima Bar Association asked that an entry be included at the end of the volume—it’s celebratory and transitional, but also a little bittersweet.
Taking advantage of a clause in the Antiquities Act of 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt declared the Grand Canyon a National Monument on January 11, 1908. It would not become a National Park until 1919, after several frustrated attempts designate it one.
Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon?
Letter Relating to Peace Prospects at Wounded Knee, ca. 12/1890
This letter from William “Buffalo Bill” Cody contains a note of guarded optimism amid the increasing tensions between U.S. Cavalry and groups of Lakota Sioux camped near Wounded Knee Creek on the Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota. Cody’s hopes for peace were dashed when the situation ultimately culminated in a massacre of over 150 Lakota men, women and children on December 29, 1890.
November 24, 1874 - While the later half of the 19th century saw a series of patents for barbed wire, it was this one that has proven to be the most enduring. In 1874, Joseph Glidden, an Illinois farmer, patented an improved design which held the wire barbs in place. Glidden’s wire was the leading barbed wire used while the West was being settled; since that time, there has been little change to his innovation. Barbed wire not only simplified the work of the rancher and farmer, but it significantly affected political, social, and economic practices throughout the region.