This Month in Montana History: May


Photo courtesy RAE BRUCE

May 20th, 1862, 161 years ago: President Lincoln signed the Homestead Act of 1862. Under this new law, an American citizen could claim 160 acres of Federal land, provided they "prove up" and reside on the land for at least five years. Many of Montana's first settlers claimed land under the Homestead Act, totaling 151,600 homesteads of 32,050.480 acres of land (about 34% of the state). However, shaping Montanan land proved difficult, causing many homesteaders to fold early and sell their plots back.

May 26th, 1864, 159 years ago: The Territory of Montana is created out of portions of Idaho T...

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