There were three ways land could be secured from the government during the period of settlement in Barnes County.  With only about two thirds of the government land in Barnes County settled upon by 1882, there were many opportunities to obtain a homestead.

  1. Pre-emption. Any citizen over 21 could secure a tract of 160 acres bye pre-emption and have one year in which to make payment for the land.  He paid a filing fee of $2.00 and after living on the land for a period of one year, he was required to pay for the land at the rate of $2.50 per acre if within the railroad limits or $1.25 if beyond the railroad limits (railroad limits being twenty miles on either side of the railroad).  If the land had not been offered for public sale by the government, the homesteader had two and a half years to make final payment.
  2. Homestead.  Any person 21 year of age and who had declared his intention to become an American Citizen could obtain 160 acres of land by filing such an intention, paying a fee of $14.00 and fulfilling the requirement of living and improving the land for a period of five years and then paying a further fee of $4.00 plus about $2.25 for drawing up the papers.
  3. Tree Claim.  Any person who was entitled to pre-empt or homestead land might likewise acquire 160 acres under the timber culture law.    In this case he proceeded just as in taking a homestead and the cost was the same.  Under this method he was required to plow five acres the first year and plant trees the third year.  This operation was to be repeated for three years, each year plowing another five acres and so forth.  At the expiration of eight years, upon proving that there were at least 675 growing trees on each acre of land, he then became entitled to the land by paying a fee of $4.00 plus a $2.25 cost of making out the necessary papers.  Forty, eighty or one hundred acres could be acquired this way but sine the fee was the same regardless of size, it paid to take the larger amount of land.
  4. In the event of the death of the claimant before the homestead was proved up, the heirs could consummate the proceedings.