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HOMESTEADING by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent


Settling America's Heartland

by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, illustrated by William Muñoz

Age Range: 10 - 12

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-8027-8638-3
Publisher: Walker

After the Homestead Act of 1862 and its offer of 160 acres of prairie land for $18.00 and five years of labor, men and women by the thousands took up the challenge and moved onto the prairie. They built soddy houses, tilled the soil by hand, and endured cold, fires, tornadoes, grasshoppers, and drought. Before 1900, fewer than a third of the homesteaders had “proved up,” that is, survived the five years on the land required to obtain ownership. Patent and Mu§oz (Apple Trees, p. 199, etc.) attempt to recreate the era by describing the daily life of the homesteaders, with text, historic documents, and full-color photographs of a 20th-century family living “the old way.” The link between the old and new is jarring, especially when contemporary and historical photographs appear together, e.g., an archival scene of a soddy across from a shot of a modern farmer in a baseball cap plowing a field with beautifully brushed horses. Such contrasts do not further the text, and, with pictures of modern gardens and close-ups of onions and gourds, detract from the compelling historical information. (map, index) (Nonfiction. 10-12)