Women Homesteaders by the Numbers

Single women took up the land offer given by the US Government’s Homestead Acts of the mid 19th to the early 20th century.Unlike the men who became homesteaders and brought with them their wives and children as helpers, women could take out a claim only if they were unmarried. They faced the hardships in the West totally on their own.

The years 1900 to 1915 were peak years for homesteading. Before the 1900s five percent of all homesteaders were women. After 1900 some settlements had up to twenty percent. single women –  Land in Her Own Name, H. Elaine Lindgren

Montana Inhabitants – 

By Age – Most were in their twenties, ranging from twenty-five to twenty-nine. The oldest was eighty!

By Marital Status –  46% were single; 28% were married and deserted, or their husbands were incapacitated; 7% were widows; 19% are not clearly identified by documents.

By Location –  81% were from the United States, mostly Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Illinois. The rest mostly came from Norway, Canada, Germany, Russia Sweden and England. –  Montana Women Homesteaders, edited by Sarah Carter, 2009

North Dakota Inhabitants – 

By Age – 6% were under 21 (misrepresenting age), 53% were 21-25 years of age, 17 % were 26-30, 13% were 31-40, 4% were 41-50, 5% were 51-60, and 2% were over 60 years of age.

By Marital Status –  83% were single, 15% were widowed, 1% were divorced or separated, 1% were married but husband died before proving up.

By Location –  6% came to US as children, 29% came to US as adults, and 65% were native born with the highest percentage from Minnesota. –  Land in Her Own Name, H. Elaine Lindgren, 1996

 Lamar, Colorado and Douglas, Wyoming Inhabitants – For the years 1887, 1891, 1907, and 1908, it is calculated using land office records that an average of 12% of homestead entrants were women.

Forty two percent of the women “proved up” and received title to their claims, compared with 37% of the men. – Women Homesteaders on the Great Plains Frontier, by Sheryll Patterson-Black 1976

MIRNA: A Life of Her Own is available as EBOOK

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