LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A project to digitize Nebraska homesteading case files has been completed after a decade of planning, preparation and execution.
The nearly 77,000 files contain more than 1.6 million digital images, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln said Wednesday. The database can be searched and viewed for free at Homestead National Monument of America near Beatrice, as well as UNL libraries, National Archives and Records Administration research centers nationwide and Family History Centers at several locations across the country. They also may be viewed for fee at Fold3.com or Ancestry.com.
The Homestead Act of 1862 said any adult citizen, or intended citizen, who had never fought against the U.S. government could claim 160 acres of surveyed government land. They had to improve the land by putting up homes and farming it, too. After five years the filers were entitled to the land, free and clear.
Experts have said 45 percent of the land that became Nebraska was distributed to homesteaders, the highest percentage of all 30 homesteading states.