Farming In The West

By Cody Mertens


By 1990, half a million farmers had settled on the great plains. During the civil war, congress passed the homestead act of 1862. Homesteaders were settlers who acquired free land from the government. Rail roads promoted more farming than did the homestead act.

A Hard Life On The Plains

Life on the great plains was not easy. Farmers struggled to make ends meet. They lived in sod houses that were cool and kept the heat out. But they attracted snakes and rodents in there houses. They also made there houses warm in the winter. They often used steel plows for there field work. The men labored from dusk to dawn. The children took care of the animals and helped with other chores. Women work the house, made the clothes, and helped with the crops. They also nursed the sick kids and gave them education.

A Last Rush For Land

By the 1880s, few areas on the plains remained free to settlers. Sooner were people who already sneaked onto the land. At noon a gunfire signaled the start of the Oklahoma land rush. People jumped to good land to try to get it. Sooner were the ones who usually did that. They wanted the best land. Other rushes followed until all two million acres had been claimed.

Farmers Organize.

Wheat and grain from plains farms fed the growing cities of America and Europe. Small farmers faced an economic crisis and then quickly organized to end it. The more grain farmers brought to the market the lower the prices got. Small farmers were effected the most on the lowering the price for grain. Many had to borrow money for equipment and land. As the prices fell farmers could not pay there loan and lost there land. Many farmers lived in poverty and isolation. In the election of 1896 farmers had a huge role on William Jennings Bryan known as the the Great Commoner. He wanted to raise the prices
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