Essay On Homestead Act

Essay On Homestead Act-7
Smaller places–Dearfield (Greeley, CO) and "The Dry" (Manzanola, CO), for example–continue to be mostly unacknowledged and to have their contributions to the history of the West effaced.

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Unlike the Reconstruction "Exodusters," who were mainly former slaves, the new settlers hoped to convert their claims to dryland farming, thus venturing further west from their original communities.

The area known as "The Dry" was one such early 20th-century African American small homesteading community, located eight miles south of Manzanola in southern Colorado.

Survey and excavation have yielded a large number of artifacts related to domestic life which, when paired with interviews of descendants, have opened a window into the daily lives of those in the African American homesteading community.

According to oral information, most homesteads may have started with dugout constructions (including living spaces, root cellars, and outhouses).

The fate of many was sealed when the towns were bypassed by the railroad and dwellers started moving to cities.

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The original Homestead Act of 1862 had provided homesteading of 160 acres, after payment of a fee, claimed in deed after settlers had lived on the land for five years and showed evidence of having made improvements. The importance of African Americans in the West is widely acknowledged, but often the history of small, rural black communities goes unrecognized in western states' historic narratives, which are often dominated by pictures of white pioneer men wrestling and conquering nature.Though subject to much criticism, the idea of the "frontier" and the depiction of a triumphal settlement of the West as a part of the American character (Turner 1893) still persist in the national culture.But they had no money to go back and had to stay in Colorado." (Author interview with Alice Mc Donald.) Settlers collectively attempted to build an irrigation system using water from the Apishapa River, but after the system's collapse during the 1923 floods, it was never rebuilt, as homesteaders realized that irrigation farming was an impossible task. As with other rural communities, recollections of the descendants from The Dry seem to indicate a large measure of mutuality among community members and a relaxation of culturally determined barriers, including gender and racial barriers. In the early 20th century, farm experts (Campbell 1907; Hargreaves 1957) believed that dryland farming, uniquely dependent on natural rainfall and using non-irrigated crops, such as wheat, corn and beans, could be successful and provide profits when practiced on large-scale acreage. It is acknowledged that the homesteading experience enhanced female status and autonomy, with women sharing responsibilities that altered the traditional gender division of labor, and freed them from traditional gender constrictions. 1972; Moos 2005) in an attempt to reject the traditional concept of "frontier." Population movements, such as the "Exodusters," and all-black towns came to national attention, developing into symbols of African American independence and self-governance.Nicodemus (Kansas) was the first predominantly black town in the West to receive national recognition and came to represent the pinnacle of black political, economic, and social success.All were gone after Viola (Craig) Mitchell died at The Dry in 1974. Descendants of homesteaders recognize that their presence was tolerated and not challenged because African Americans were a very small minority in relation to the overall population. Between 20, archaeological research at The Dry located 10 black homesteads, including an intense survey in five dwellings ranging from 1916 to the 1970s, as well as a test excavation at one of the earlier sites. As families became established, they built more permanent constructions, including frame houses and outbuildings. Initially the settlers attempted agricultural activities and collectively built a series of irrigation ditches and dams, but soon it became clear that irrigation agriculture was not feasible.


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