the spike in western migration came with the Homestead Act of 1862.
In this period, individuals could apply for a 160-acre homestead west of the Mississippi River.
the land was free but in order to get the deed the owner had to build a 12 by 14 foot home and grow crops for five years.
the Homestead Act attracted people from many walks of life to the Great Plains, especially poor or landless farmers, disillusioned urban dwellers, freed slaves and new immigrants.
where the Prairie ended beyond the reach of the Homestead Act,
the wide-open foothills of the Rocky Mountains served as home
to scattered ranchers who grazed their cattle freely on the open range where no homesteads or fences or property lines existed.
brands serve to identify ownership of a herd when the cattle were ready for sale.
Cowboys took them on what was called the long drive walking sometimes thousands of miles to the nearest markets
for better or worse this period in history also coincides with the Romantic era in which many aspects of life were recorded
more as ideals than reality
homesteaders might have land but they couldn’t afford the steel plow and needed to break it or an animal to pull it.
even if they had the equipment and animals they often didn’t have enough water to irrigate the crops and water the animals.
they didn’t have trees to build houses or burn fires or light stoves
they faced all the same extreme weather conditions that modern Americans face like droughts, wildfires, tornadoes, blizzards but without any modern assistance
These difficulties led to a result that every 3 out of 5 homesteaders abandon his land.
It might have been difficult but millions of Americans believed that they would be the next success story.