Study Guide

Kenneth Deardorff in Homestead Act

By Congress

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Kenneth Deardorff

If there’s a first, there has to be a last. And Deardorff gets the grand prize for Last Homesteader Ever. (There was no blue ribbon, but he got to keep his land.)

The Homestead Act was repealed in 1976 for the Lower 48 states and in 1986 for Alaska. Ken made his way to Alaska in 1974, fresh from getting his degree in Geography, and somehow found himself staking a claim to eighty acres in Stony River.

Alaska in the ’70s was pretty much the same as the land Daniel had to tame in Nebraska in 1863—wild, untamed, and full of hungry bears and frontier-happy folks. But it wasn't quite as hard—there were more modern conveniences to hand, like supply planes and power tools.

Despite definitely fulfilling the homestead qualifications by the five-year deadline of 1979, Ken didn’t get his patent for the land until 1988, two years after the Homestead Act was repealed. He was officially the last homesteader in the United States; the last frontiersman of the Last Frontier.

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