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The Farming Frontier and the End of the Wild West.

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Presentation on theme: "The Farming Frontier and the End of the Wild West."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Farming Frontier and the End of the Wild West

2 Getting a farm Many went west in search of land ownership. The state and federal governments had given the railroad companies large strips of land to distribute. So, railroad companies tried to encourage settlement, especially to Europeans. This would provide them more customers. Another early way to acquire property was the Homestead Act of 1862.

3 Homestead Act of 1862 The new law established a three-fold homestead acquisition process: filing an application, improving the land, and filing for deed of title. Any U.S. citizen, or intended citizen, who had never borne arms against the U.S. Government could file an application and lay claim to 160 acres of surveyed Government land. For the next 5 years, the homesteader had to live on the land and improve it by building a 12-by-14 dwelling and growing crops. After 5 years, the homesteader could file for his patent (or deed of title) by submitting proof of residency and the required improvements to a local land office.

4 Application and Proof of Improvements

5 Certificate of Eligibility

6 Homestead Issues Some land speculators took advantage of a legislative loophole caused when those drafting the law's language failed to specify whether the 12-by-14 dwelling was to be built in feet or inches. Others hired phony claimants or bought abandoned land. The General Land Office was underfunded and unable to hire a sufficient number investigators for its widely scattered local offices. As a result, overworked and underpaid investigators were often susceptible to bribery.

7 Homestead Issues Physical conditions on the frontier presented even greater challenges. Wind, blizzards, and plagues of insects threatened crops. Open plains meant few trees for building, forcing many to build homes out of sod. Limited fuel and water supplies could turn simple cooking and heating chores into difficult trials. Ironically, even the smaller size of sections took its own toll. While 160 acres may have been sufficient for an eastern farmer, it was simply not enough to sustain agriculture on the dry plains, and scarce natural vegetation made raising livestock on the prairie difficult. As a result, in many areas, the original homesteader did not stay on the land long enough to fulfill the claim.

8 Problems of the Farming Frontier 1) There were few trees in many locations. As a result, Sod Houses had to be built. Advantages: warm and cozy in the winter, cool in summers; safe from fires; hard to blow down Disadvantages: dark; ceiling dripped when it rained; animals might live in the walls

9 Examples of Sod Homes

10 More Problems 2) Without wood, it was tough to find fuel needed for cooking and heat. Initially, it meant burning whatever you could find, like buffalo chips.

11 Acquiring needed materials and technologies Homesteaders who persevered were rewarded with opportunities as rapid changes in transportation eased some of the hardships. Six months after the Homestead Act was passed, the Railroad Act was signed, and by May 1869, a transcontinental railroad stretched across the frontier. The new railroads provided easy transportation for homesteaders, and new immigrants were lured westward by railroad companies eager to sell off excess land at inflated prices. The new rail lines provided ready access to manufactured goods and catalog houses like Montgomery Ward offered farm tools, barbed wire, linens, weapons, and even houses delivered via the rails.

12 Additional problems 3) The weather. The areas settled by the new farmers were lands of extremes. 4) Prairie fires 5) Grasshoppers: They were so bad at times, in one summer 30,000 settlers left and went back east.

13 The Mormon Migration and Dry Farming From 1846 to 1857, the Mormon Trail was the path of thousands of LDS members and other who decided to head west. Although the eventual destination was Utah, many settlement areas were established on the way, including some in Iowa.


15 Dry Farming The LDS members developed dry farming to deal with the dry soil in Utah. 1) Plow the land deep to hold the water. 2) The topsoil is then firmed so moisture below does not escape. 3) After every rain, the surface is stirred to keep the moisture in the ground. Problems: a large area is needed; good equipment is needed. Who has it? Big business

16 The Impact of Technology: Joseph Glidden

17 Barbed Wire THE INVENTION OF WIRE WITH POINTS In 1867, two inventors tried adding points to the smooth wire in an effort to make a more effective deterrent. One example was not practical to manufacture, the other experienced financial problems. In 1868, Michael Kelly invented a practical wire with points which was used in quantity until 1874. THE INVENTION OF BARBED WIRE Joseph F. Glidden of Dekalb, Illinois attended a county fair where he observed a demonstration of a wooden rail with sharp nails protruding along its sides, hanging inside a smooth wire fence. This inspired him to invent and patent a successful barbed wire in the form we recognize today. Glidden fashioned barbs on an improvised coffee bean grinder, placed them at intervals along a smooth wire, and twisted another wire around the first to hold the barbs in a fixed position. THE BARBED WIRE BOOM The advent of Glidden's successful invention set off a creative frenzy that eventually produced over 570 barbed wire patents. It also set the stage for a three-year legal battle over the rights to these patents. THE FATHER OF BARBED WIRE When the legal battles were over, Joseph Glidden was declared the winner and the Father of Barbed Wire. The aftermath forced many companies to merge facilities or sell their patent rights to the large wire and steel companies. ACCEPTING THE DEVIL'S ROPE When livestock encountered barbed wire for the first time, it was usually a painful experience. The injuries provided sufficient reason for the public to protest its use. Religious groups called it "the work of the devil," or "The Devil's Rope" and demanded removal.

18 Free range grazers became alarmed the economical new barrier would mean the end of their livelihood. Trail Drivers were concerned their herds would be blocked from the Kansas markets by settler fences. Barbed wire fence development stalled. THE FENCE CUTTER WARS With landowners building fences to protect crops and livestock, and those opposed fighting to keep their independence, violence occurred requiring laws to be passed making wire cutting a felony. After many deaths, and uncountable financial losses, the Fence Cutter Wars ended. NEED AND PROMOTION TRIUMPH OVER OPPOSITION A demonstration in the Military Plaza in San Antonio by John "Bet a Million" Gates, proved beyond a doubt barbed wire was durable and successful in controlling livestock. With his expertise in salesmanship, he eventually became the largest stockholder in American Steel & Wire Company and a legend in barbed wire history. THE LAST STRAW The last opposition fell when the large ranches in Texas began fencing their boundaries and cross fencing within. Among the first to fence were The Frying Pan Ranch, The XIT, and the JA Ranch, all located in the Texas Panhandle. PRESERVATION OF, AND COLLECTING BARBED WIRE There are over 530 patented barbed wires, approximately 2,000 variations and over 2,000 patented barbed wire tools to collect as well as advertising, salesmen samples, wire cut medicine bottles, and other wire related items.

19 Why did the New West Grow and the Wild West disappear? 1) The discovery of gold and silver came and went leaving most mining in the hands of companies. 2) The acquisition of land: Homestead Act of 1862; railroads 3) Immigration from Europe: In Kansas: 1870-364,000 1890 1,428,00; In Oklahoma: Sooners; On the first day 10,000 people settled in what becomes Oklahoma City;15,000 in what becomes Guthrie 4) Technology: transportation, communication, barbed wire 5) Development of law

20 Long Term Effects: The Turner Thesis The first settlers who arrived on the east coast in the 17th century acted and thought like Europeans. They encountered environmental challenges that were different from those they had known in Europe. Most important was the presence of uncultivated arable land (though large tracts were in use as Indian hunting grounds.) They adapted to the new environment in certain ways the cumulative effect of these adaptations was Americanization. According to Turner, the forging of the unique and rugged American identity had to occur precisely at the juncture between the civilization of settlement and the savagery of wilderness. The dynamic of these oppositional conditions engendered a process by which citizens were made, citizens with the power to tame the wild and upon whom the wild had conferred strength and individuality.

21 Successive generations moved further inland, shifting the lines of settlement and wilderness, but preserving the essential tension between the two. European characteristics fell by the wayside and the old country's institutions (e.g. established churches, established aristocracies, intrusive government, and class-based land distribution) were increasingly out of place. Every generation moved further west and became more American, more democratic, and as intolerant of hierarchy as they were removed from it. They became more violent, more individualistic, more distrustful of authority, less artistic, less scientific, and more dependent on ad-hoc organizations they formed themselves. In broad terms, the further west, the more American the community.

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