Michigan Homesteaders!

April 6th, 2018 by National Genealogical Society Blog Editor

TITLE: Michigan Homesteaders!

SESSION: S455

TIME & DATE: Saturday, 05 May 2018, 4:00 p.m.

SPONSOR: Midwest African American Genealogy Institute (MAAGI)

In this session, learn about the lives of two families who bought and sold land and then migrated to Michigan and homesteaded in Benzie and Manistee counties, Michigan. One family came from Pennsylvania before the Civil War and the other out of Virginia/West Virginia after the war.

What do you know about the Homestead Act of 1862? Slavery was still in place, and African-Americans were not viewed as humans but pieces of property. They also were viewed as individuals that would not own land, and even in northern states their rights were restricted by law and custom. On May 20, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law arguably the greatest privatization act in American history, opening 270 million acres of lands for private and family settlement, and dispensing to American citizens 10 percent of the entire area of the United States. This Act, and it’s paperwork, has been a boon to genealogists ever since.

Understand who was eligible, how much land was available to individuals, how they obtained it, and what it cost the families who applied.  Steps to access the records will be shown, and attendees will meet two families migrating to Michigan and becoming what are believed to be the first homesteaders of color.

This lecture will be valuable to anyone who has families that migrated and become homesteaders, have an interest in Michigan history, or want to learn more about early homesteading laws.

ABOUT: Shelley Viola Murphy, PhD, DM, is an avid genealogist who presents workshops at local, state & national genealogy conferences. Murphy is known for her inspiring & interactive “SO WHAT” research approach. She is an instructor and Coordinator at the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute (MAAGI). Find familytreegirl on Twitter @familytreegirl and Facebook.

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