One hundred forty seven years ago today, Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act into law — May 20, 1862. The act, as the Library of Congress observes, “encouraged Western migration by providing settlers 160 acres of public land. In exchange, homesteaders paid a small filing fee and were required to complete five years of continuous residence [in a house at least 12 feet by 14 feet] before receiving ownership of the land. After six months of residency, homesteaders also had the option of purchasing the land from the government for $1.25 per acre. The Homestead Act led to the distribution of 80 million acres of public land by 1900.” For more details, see the Library of Congress webguide to Primary Documents in American History – Homestead Act and the National Archives’ resources on the Homestead Act.
For many more examples of pioneer sod houses and homesteads see Kansas Memory at the Kansas Historical Society.