Upon seeing the theme of this week’s 52 Ancestor challenge,”plowing through,” the records of the U.S. General Land Office immediately sprang to mind. The Homestead Act of 1862 was passed by Congress in order to make land in the west available to citizens willing to settle and reside on the land for five years and show evidence that they had improved it. The GLO records hold the documents showing the transfer of these public lands to the applicant. Since the applicants were required to show that they improved their parcel of land, no doubt there was a lot of “plowing through” involved.
My husband’s tree has quite a few of these bold adventurers. I decided to focus on his 3rd great grandfather, Stephen Allen Fish, who is credited with being amongst the earliest settlers in the small community of Liberty, Wisconsin.
No one seems to agree on where he was born. Some researchers say he was born in 1802 in Canada. However, others say he was born in New York or Massachusetts.
In 1850, he was living in Walworth County, Geneva with his wife and 4 sons. One of his sons was 18 year old Samuel.
According to the History of Vernon County, Samuel settled on section 9 of Liberty in 1855. He was elected as one of the first town officers in 1858, holding the position of clerk.
Stephen followed his son to Liberty shortly after. He was awarded the 85 acres he had been farming on February 1, 1858 by the Bureau of Land Management.
Stephen died in 1864 in Liberty. He is buried in the McCullough family plot in Liberty.