Friday, March 25, 2011

Homesteader Freeman Thanks Congressman Grow

Names such as George Washington and Neil Armstrong are engraved in American history as being the first people to take a step to help the U.S. advance in different ways, but one man is often forgotten and that man is Daniel Freeman, the first Homesteader. Imagine a country where less than half of its land is actually used by the people, Daniel Freeman was the first to take that step to bringing the American life to the unused land to the west. After taking the leap to not only homestead, but being the first to homestead without anyone to follow, Freeman should be commemorated as a great pioneer. Once you hear about Freeman’s background, his homesteading experience, and his gratitude towards the Homestead Act maybe you can understand his importance.
By Brandon Clark
Southeast Community College

Daniel Freeman was a Union Soldier with no farming experience prior to applying for the Homestead Act. Freeman dove into this opportunity like a 15 year old starting up a car with no driving experience. There are no records that stated that Freeman farmed any land before becoming a homesteader. Homesteading without any farming experience sounds like a major obstacle, one that Freeman was able to overcome. However there are records to support the claim that he was a soldier. Going from a soldier, someone who has a squad to rely on, to a farmer, a man that has to work his land with no back up, that is a major change for anyone, but freeman was able to make that change.

The work that Daniel Freeman had to put in to not only meet the requirements of the Homestead Act, but to transfer from a soldier to an inexperienced farmer and still succeed must have been tremendous.

Freeman had an agenda, a future much different than that of a soldier. Much like a teenager waiting in line to get tickets to a midnight premiere movie, Freeman wanted his ticket to be a Homesteader. The Homestead Act represented the American dream, and Freeman wanted a piece of it. Chasing the Dream, a 2011 online article by Amy Leinbach, said “(Freeman) convinced a clerk to open the General Land Office shortly after midnight to file his claim (for the Homestead Act).”

After filing his claim at the midnight the Homestead Act took effect, Freeman became the first to apply and later to succeed in homesteading his land. Even though homesteaders were to cultivate the land for five years, union soldiers, like Freeman, only required three years to acquire the land. This did give Freeman a slight advantage so he could legally own his land sooner, but he continued to live on that land till he died in 1908. After living on that land and obtaining the American Dream, Freeman’s appreciation for the man that gave him the opportunity couldn’t be ignored.

After becoming the first Homesteader, Daniel Freeman credited the Homestead Act as his source of happiness. Much like anyone would, Freeman wanted to show his gratitude to Galusha Grow, the writer of the Homestead Act. According to a 2011 interview with the historian at Homestead National Monument, Blake Bell, Daniel Freeman carved a cane from one of his trees and sent it to Galusha Grow as a token of appreciation. Freeman also donated his land to build the Freeman School House. Even though he had to work for three years to legally acquire his land, he was humble enough to donate his land to build a school house.

Daniel Freeman was an important pioneer in the expansion of our country. After severing in the Union army, Freeman became the first to apply to become a homesteader and showed his gratitude to the people that gave him the opportunity. We commemorate so many famous pioneers in American history, but Daniel Freeman should be honored as the common man’s pioneer.

References

B. Bell (interview Feburary 14, 2011).
Leinbach, A. (2011, January 1). Chasing the dream. Retrieved from elibrary.

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