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Flashcards in The Homesteaders Deck (10):

Which the of people formed the group the homesteaders ?

white civilians - white civilians left the east as land was scarce expensive and crowded . And there was little opportunity that remained to as competition between farms had drawn out profits and the land was becoming crowded. The plains offered new opportunities of new land and large areas for agriculture and setting up a home which appealed to those in the east whom may not have been living idealistic lives due to factors such as the economic state in the east and the problems of conflicts and overcrowding

Black Ex-slaves - in 1865 the civil war came to a close hence freedom was granted to black slaves . Never the less they were still often perceived as inferior to the white man and faced much oppression , persecution and were faced by a lack of opportunity. The offer of free land gave the freed ex black slaves Freedom and independence which they wanted after years of being the property of other men hence the ex black slaves jumped at the opportunity to claim land on the plains and take stance as a homesteader.

European settlers I European settlers would purchase land sold cheaply on the plains as they were able to escape the poverty they faced in their native hopes through doing this .

religious groups - the plains offered space upon which religious groups could settle and establish communities free from the judgment of those already settled in the east.

De -mobilised soldiers - de mobilised soldiers returning from the civil war often wanted a fresh start so set a new life up for themselves on the plains as they felt the east had little to offer them. moreover these soldiers no longer had a profession thus being giving purpose of cultivating land gave them something to do.


How were the homesteaders different to the early settlers.

While the early settlers used their own initiative when settling the land and claimed it as their own, homesteaders were offered land by the government and were told they must cultivate it in order to be considered the owner.


Why were the plains so appealing

The plains were appealing as they offered a fresh start to those moving forth from a dark past such as those that had been burdened in the civil war or lived an unhappy life in the east. The land was also free which juxtaposed the land in the east which was incredibly expensive due to the crowded nature of the east. The plains also seemed like a good option as people were claiming them whom had nothing to loose so things could only get better .

The constructions of the railroads in 1860's also meant the plains which had previously been a geographical obstacle where more accessible as building materials as well as group of people could be more easily moved out onto the open land.

The plains were also made to seem appealing as the government circulate positive posters that highlighted the homesteader life in a fond and warming light.

Letters from those whom had already settled the plains also enlightened people in the east of the potential of the land and success stories were circulated more than those of failure on the plains hence most people were under the illusion plains living as a homesteader were prosperous.

The indians wee also being cleared from the plains by the time the homesteaders began to settle which meant that living did not come with the potential for conflict hence it was more appealing as it was simply gifted an unchallenged .

people who were happy in the east also began to release their crops were failing so decided despite being relatively happy in the east they would move on as they were offered new opportunities.

being homesteaders and cultivating the entirety of the continent also coincided with the concept of manifest destiny which drove some people to Perdue the homesteader life as they believed it was their god given right to settle the entirety of the continent.


What did the government do to encourage people to move onto the plains?

he government published a series of acts which encouraged people to unstable their lives and become homesteaders and settle the land of the great American desert.

Homestead Act 1862
This was the first government act it gave homesteaders 160 acres of land for free providing they lived on it and farmed it for 5 years

Timbre Culture Act 1873
the timbre culture act gave settlers an additional 16 acres of land onto of that 160 which they already attained in the first act should they agree to plant trees on 40 acres of their land. This was an attempt by the government to overcome the problem of the low quantities of timbre on the plains.

Dessert Land Act 1877
Settlers who wanted more land could buy 640 acres of land cheaply in areas of the plains where a lack of rainfall was a problem.


Which problems occurred that made plains living difficult for the Homesteaders?

water shortages
Water on the plains was scarce due to the geography of the land. This meant it was difficult to grow crops and also meant homesteaders found it difficult to maintain good hygein. The over come this problem the homesteaders began building windmills which would bring water up from underground by using the wind power which swept the land. The self governing windmill was a good tool for this it was made in 1874. Farmers also began utilising methods of dry farming which meant they would plough their fields after heavy rain or snow so that a thin layer of debris covered the soil and trapped a layer of moister which could wet the dry soil bellow.

Extreme weather
The extreme climates on the plains
the plains had some very widely varying climatic conditions , there were often droughts in summer followed by bitter winters and also fierce winds , these conditions also limited the success of growing crops on the plains. to over come this dry farming was used but also crops were changed. No longer did the homesteaders persist with growing corn , instead they began growing a Hard Wheat referred to as 'turkey red wheat' a crop which originated from Russia where too had harsh climatic conditions.

The problem on the plains was there was a lack of fuel due to the lack of wood available for during this meant heating the family home and cooking was difficult as fore was difficult to produce. To overcome this the homesteaders began using buffalo dung and cow dung as a fuel source.

Often those living the homesteader life would suffer disease as they lived in relatively poor conditions in some cases , also their lifestyle was very practical so they could easily get injured which could get infected and become fatal. To over come this problem one of the roles of the homesteader woman was to use natural medicine ate treat the ailments of her family. The homesteader homes would often also be dirty as the strong winds blew dust across the plains and in some areas there were desert like conditions.

Building materials
the homesteaders faced the problem that there was a lack of building materials , as there was a shortage of timbre those whom had spare to sell did so at a high price. To overcome this problem the homesteaders used mud bricks / sod bricks to build houses and used barbed wire for fencing which was quicker cheaper and easier than erecting wooden fences. Building fences also over came the problem of animals wandering into their land and feeding from their crops or destroying their grounds.

Natural Hazards
The homesteaders also faced an array of natural hazards , prairie (grass land) fires could often begin in the summer and the conditions of drought mean that they were difficult to overcome. There were also plagues of pests like grass hoppers which could come and destroy entire fields of crops . In order to try and over come this problem the homesteaders grew a large yield so that even if by chance some natural hazard whipped out their crops they would not be left with nothing.

Cultivating the difficult terrain
ploughing the land was very difficult in the first years of settlement as it was previously uncultivated . To overcome this problem a man named John Deere introduced a particularly strong plough which could tear down long grass and pull up routes . This invention was called a 'sod buster' and enabled the homesteaders to cultivate the land.


How did the homesteaders move out to the west ?

They traveled by train on the newly built rail roads.


What were the farming problems and solutions ?

The dry conditions mean there was a war crust above any fertile soil this mean the land was very difficult to plough. John Deere, an Illinois blacksmith and manufacturer, designed the first cast steel plow in 1837, which made it possible for the farmers on the Great Plains to plow the tough prairie ground. Known as "the Sod Buster," Deere's steel plow contributed to opening up the prairies for farming because it was able to cut through soil without clogging and thus the land could then be cultivated by the homesteaders, this was important as the homesteaders where only thought to own the land if they had farmed it for 5 years and on desert like terrain farming was difficult.

The soil was very dry and little water could be attained. To over come this problem this problem homesteaders placed self governing windmills (windmills that turned to face the direction of wind and controlled their speed so not to break in really high winds) these windmills used the winds energy to extract water from underground.

the lack of fencing, which occurred due to a lack of timbre, meant that the homesteaders could not protect their crops from cattle this meant relationships between cattle men and homesteaders were frictions however the invention of barbed wire by Joseph hidden in 1874 meant that the cattle and life stock could be kept separate from the crops reducing tension and adding more security to the crop yield.


How did the rail road companies advance the progression of westward expansion ?

The government funded the production of the transcontinental rail road which stretched all the way across the plains this mean that the homesteaders could more quickly and safely get out onto the plains. The rail road companies also owned land either sides of the track and could make money selling this hence positively advertised it to entice people out into the land.


What was the role of the homesteader woman?

Women were very important in the lives of homesteaders they were depended on by the family as they were the centre of the home as the man tied and cultivated the most part of the land

women would be responsible for
-making and washing the clothes (domestic chores)
-making items for the home such as candles and soap
-helping out with the farming and gathering fruit
-shooting stray buffalo that threatened their land
-collecting cow pats and buffalo dung for use on the fire
-caring for the children
-removing pests from the house such as snakes which was a dangerous way of life
- they often were responsible for the education of their children

Women generally lived highly stressful lives as a homesteader as they had an array of tasks to complete to ensure the family could survive without the support of others out on the plains. As the homesteader plots of land were often very big there may no be any neighbouring farm houses for miles around hence the women may live lives of seclusion and as a consequence they were prone to mental health problems due to their social seclusion and highly stressful and bust workload.


What was the role of the homesteader man ?

Men on the plains were those whom normally moved out onto the new land prior to the family to carry out the laborious task of building the sod house , this could take several months as it was mostly all done by hand.

Men were also those who tended to cultivate most of the land they ploughed the fields with equipment such as the sod buster , and also did the majority of farming for the family.

Men also worked to overcome problems this is emphasised as the invention of the sod buster , barbed wire and the led governing windmill where all made by men. Moreover it was primarily a team of men whom built the transcontinental railroad which served as an enabling factor on the homesteaders whom could more comfortably move west thanks to the introduction of this means of transport.