Before we get going with the “epilogue”, I wanted to first share some excerpts from Louis Hanson’s Homestead Application which I received from the National Archives today. It allows us to fine-tune the timeline on Louis’ and Lisa Stina’s migration from Illinois to Kansas.
The best page in any Homestead Application file is the “Proof” affidavit. The applicant has to have two witnesses verify that that he has lived on the land for the required period of time and made certain minimum improvements. Here are the pertinent sections from Louis’ proof affidavit, with my footnotes below:
We, Peter Hall and August J. Johnson, solemnly swear that we have known Louis Hanson for 7 years past; that he is head of a family consisting of a wife and 5 children1 and is a citizen of the United States2; that he is an inhabitant of the S 1/2 of the Southwest Quarter of Section 10, Township No. 7 South, Range No. 6 East and that no other person resided upon the said land entitled to the right of Homestead or Pre-emption3.
The the said Louis Hanson entered upon and made settlement on said land on the 28th day of April, 18664 and has built a house thereon, said house built of logs 14 x 16 feet in size with an addition 8 x 8 feet square5, shingle roof, board floors, 2 doors and 2 windows and is a comfortable house to live in6; and has lived in the said house and made it his exclusive home from the 20th day of July 18667 to the present time, and that he has, since said settlement, plowed, fenced and cultivated about 17 acres of said land, and has made the following improvements, to wit: built a stable, cattle corral, hog pen, hen house, set out 40 fruit trees8 and about 100 forest trees, and dug a well on said land.
The above affidavit was taken and subscribed on this 24th day of May, 1872.
1This checks out perfectly; their son Louis Alfred was born in February, 1872 – just three months before the affidavit was signed.
2His citizenship affidavit was filed on December 12, 1865 in Leavenworth County, Kansas. This county is just west of the present-day Kansas City metropolitan area. My guess is that they were still living in Illinois at that time and that he made a trip to Kansas in December to initiate his paperwork with the intention of homesteading that spring. I’ll have to find his land sale records in Illinois to confirm this.
3He still owned this land in 1880, and had acquired another 40 acres to the north of the original 80-acre homestead.
4This means he was definitely in Riley County on April 28, 1866. His son (my great-grandfather) Edward Cornelius Hanson was born just four days earlier on April 24, 1866.
5The size of their house was about the same size as my office at work! And I wonder what the addition was – was it the master bedroom suite?
6I love that this tiny house is considered “comfortable” for seven people to live in.
7I would presume that it took from April 28 until July 20 for him to construct the house. I would guess (or hope) that Lisa Stina and the kids were able to live somewhere in Randolph or Manhattan while the house was being built. I hope they weren’t having to rough it in a covered wagon…
8The Randolph history (excerpted in Part 6 of this series) said that the fruit tree crops of the first settlers did not do very well. Note that it only says he “set out” the trees, which kind of suggests that maybe they didn’t do too well after that.
Louis Hanson is one of three of my homesteading ancestors. The others were Christian Pearson and John Martinson. All of them are my great-great-grandfathers. They were all born within five years of each other and homesteaded within six years of each other. I think this says a little something about the narrow window of opportunity to succeed at homesteading in this region of the Midwest.
Lisa Stina’s obituary suggests that the Hansons may have sold the homestead farm when they moved to town in 1888.
Christian Pearson’s homestead farm was sold within 10 years after his death.
The John Martinson homestead farm, however, is still in the family.