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Jerry Shores, a freed slave, claimed a homestead near Westerville, Nebraska.The Homestead Act allowed any head of household over 21 to stake a claim to public land. The Act took effect 1/1/1863 -- the same day Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Many Black Americans looked to the West as a place where they would have the freedom to own their own land. “Head of a household” included a single woman, or a single mother, and widows of Union soldiers could “prove up” a claim more…

Homesteading in Appalachia - Rugged, self-sufficient, fiercely loyal – despite stereotypes to the contrary, the Appalachian mountaineers were, and are, an admirable people who developed a rich culture while learning to survive in the isolated coves and valleys of some of the oldest mountains on Earth.