Updated: May 8
Did You Know? One-Fifth of Homesteaders in the West Were Women!
Never saw this in a Hollywood western! Under the Homestead Act of 1862, single women, widows, and divorced or deserted women had the right to claim 160 acres in their own name. (Married women, however, did not.) Today historians estimate that about 20% of homesteaders in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, North and South Dakota, Utah, and Idaho were single women. And the rate of gaining title, or “proving” the claim, was much higher among women than men. Married women, too, worked alongside their husbands doing heavy farm work. The work was endless and back breaking and pioneers had to use all available labor. Try wrangling a steer in a dress and corset!
PHOTOS: (Left) Mrs. George “Coyote” Smith after killing a mountain lion near Glenrock, Wyoming, around 1910. Wyoming State Archives. (Right) Women branding cattle in Colorado, 1884. Colorado Historical Society.
"Women Homesteaders" were first posted May 19, 2019 on Facebook and NotesfromtheFrontier.com
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