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The present day Loup Basin area became part of the United States in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase. This area was called the Great American Desert by explorers and travelers. It was said to be fit only for nomads and wild animals. It was part of the Nebraska Territory organized in 1854 after delays due to political controversies, adverse reports about Indians and Indian land titles and the belief that the land was arid and unfit for range or farming. This view prevailed until the 1870’s when cattle proved they could do well in the “desert” when feed failed elsewhere. The State of Nebraska, admitted to the United States in 1867, was much smaller than the Nebraska Territory.

Settlers coming into this area had several procedures for acquiring homestead land. One eligible person could file on a homestead, a pre-emption and a timber claim. One could commute the terms of a homestead claim by living on the claim for 14 months and paying the government $1.25 per acre for 160 acres. Soldiers, sailors and marines were allowed one year deduction of the required residence, up to four years, for each year of service.

Public lands were to be had by:

  • Purchase by use of Military Bounty Land Warrants.

  • Outright purchase on or after the date on which the land was put up for public auction.

  • The Pre-emption Laws of 1841 by which a resident purchaser could file on 160 acres of land and secure title by paying $1.25 an acre when the government put up the land for sale. Lifting the 1785 regulations by new regulations of 1854, Congress gave several Nebraska Territory people head starts since they did not have to wait for surveys before filing.

  • The Homestead Act of 1863 whereby a settler could acquire 160 acres of land by paying a filing fee of $10.00 and living on it five years in addition to building on it, improving it and cultivating it, as specified.

  • Relinquishment. A homesteader could relinquish this claim to the government and could sell his rights to another who filed on it at the moment of its release.

  • Timber Cultural Act of 1873. This act gave homesteaders the right to claim 160 acres additional land by planting 40 acres of trees and attending them for 10 years. Later this requirement was reduced to 10 acres and 8 years of care.

  • The Kinkaid Act of 1904 allowed 640 acres of non-irrigatable land for a homestead in 37 of Nebraska’s northwest counties. The filing fee was $14.00. The patent could be secured with five years of residence and proof that $1.25 per acre value in improvement had been made.

  • Blaine   
  • Custer  
  • Garfield
  • Greeley
  • Howard 
  • Loup     
  • Sherman
  • Valley    
  • Wheeler