April 2019 History Question of the Month

April 2019 History Question of the Month
Posted on 04/01/2019


The Homestead Act of 1862 was passed to help populate of the west with farmers and was available to citizens and immigrants. Many of the homesteaders within our city boundaries were immigrants. Being new to our country and not speaking the language presented problems for some of those applying for Homestead Grants. What were some of the problems they encountered? 


In 1871, Andrew Hansen and his wife Elsie arrived in Utah from Denmark.  They settled in Cottonwood near 3900 South and Highland Drive. Andrew found work at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' granite quarry in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Because of the distance, it took to travel, it made it necessary for him to stay in the nearby camps. He learned about the Homestead Act from a friend, and in 1872, with the help of his friend, he applied for a grant.  

He chose property near the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon, so he could easily commute each day. Shortly after his first son was born in the fall of 1872, he moved his family, including his wife, son, and mother-in-law into a dugout on his homestead. They lived there until he built a two-room log house which he moved into in the spring of 1874. In 1877 when he applied for a patent on his homestead, he found he had built the house on property that wasn’t part of his homestead. Because he had been either misled or he didn’t understand because of the language barrier, he was able to have his grant amended to include the property with the house, but had to wait another two years before he could again apply for the patent.