Kansas: The Homestead Act (1863)
So much misunderstanding exists among the settlers regarding this Act, that we again repeat the important features of the law.
On the payment of ten dollars, and the office fees, any person, being the head of a family, or over the age of twenty-one years, or anyone under any twenty-one, provided he has served in the army not let less than fourteen days, may enter 160 acres, or a less quantity, of the unappropriated Public Land as his Homestead. The applicant must either be a citizen, or have declared his intention to become such.
The law allows a settler owning less than 160 acres to enter, without being compelled to occupy and improve it, an amount of adjoining land, lying in a compact parcel, which, with his own, will make 160 acres. The ruling allows the settler to take a Homestead without reference to the amount of land he has pre-empted, or owns, provided he makes the tract his home.
Homesteads may be taken on offered or unoffered land, but if the tract has been previously filed on, and the legal period allowed the pre-emptor has not expired, then the applicant will have to procure a Quit Claim Deed, or have one made at the Land Office, by the person who filed on the tract, before he will be permitted to enter the tract.
If there is a filing on the tract, and the persons filing cannot be found, then the proper course is to procure a notice at the Land Office, and place it on the tract, notifying the party filing that a certain day he will make application to enter said tract as his Homestead.
Land along the line of the Kansas branch of the Pacific Railroad, while it cannot be located with Land Warrants, or purchased with money, is open to settlement under the Homestead and Pre-Emption Laws. All the sections designated by even numbers can be thus taken. Each person settling after the 3lst of July, 1863, can take an 80-acre tract, while those settling prior to that time are; entitled to 160 acres. 3
No filings or improvements are required at the time of entry, but the applicant will be required to make the land his home, and get, on it in a reasonable time. No witnesses, except in the case when notice has been posted on the tract, are necessary. The applicant comes to the Land Office in person, makes his application, takes the oath, pays his entrance money and fees, and receives a Receipt, which is his title till the end of five years.
Under the beneficent provisions of the Homestead Act thousands can find excellent lands on the line of the Railroad, and tens of thousands can select the most beautiful locations all over Western Kansas.
Let this war once he brought to a close, and we shall soon see these unoccupied lands made fruitful fields. In no place in the United States can such openings be found for settlement. As yet, but a very small proportion of the Government land is taken.