Primary Sources


"How to Get Land"

"How to Get Land" (1883)

How to Get Land How to get Land

How to get land



THE homestead law gives to a settler, on condition of permanent improvement and continued residence for five years, 160 acres of land, either inside or outside of the railroad limits. The only costs to him are those of the land office, which, including final costs, do not exceed $20 for every 160 acres. Honorably discharged soldiers are allowed a deduction from the five years of the length of time of their military service, but they must actually reside on the land at least one year.
The preemption law permits any citizen, or person who has declared his intention of becoming such, who does not already own 320 acres or more of land, to locate 160 acres within railroad limits at $2.50 per acre, or outside of railroad limits at $1.25 per acre. The only other conditions are that he shall make permanent improvements, and reside for six months on the property.
The timber culture law gives to any citizen of the United States, or one who declares his intention of becoming such, 160 acres, either within or without the limits of the railroad, on condition that he plant one-sixteenth of the land with trees, and cultivate the same for eight years. Laws in some of the western states and territories make additional inducements to settlers to plant trees, in the way of paying money direct to the settlers at so much per acre, or in reducing the amount of their taxes.
But the great bulk of desirable government lands lying within the limits of railroad grants have been taken possession of under the homestead, preemption, and timber culture acts. It is better to buy land within a few miles of a railroad than to procure without cost, under government acts, lands located a considerable distance from railroads. The saving of horseflesh in drawing produce to market will generally, in a short time, make up more than the difference. So then, as a general rule, those who desire to locate in Kansas should purchase lands from the railroad in preference to homesteading or preempting them. The terms of the A. T. & S. F. railroad are moderate, and the company holds out special inducements to immigrants. What it desires is population. It is the increased business for the road growing out of this increased population which it is working for. And it does not ask the settler to come into an ice-bound, undeveloped country, where he can expect nothing for years to come except the hardships of pioneer life, but rather into a land of sunshine and green fields, where he will be surrounded by good neighbors and the gentler influences of human contact.



THE Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fé Railroad Company has nearly one-half of its original grant of 3,000,000 acres, lying chiefly in the famous Arkansas Valley, still for sale, at from $1 to $10 per acre. The unsold lands embrace some of the best grazing tracts in the West. The tillable area is fast decreasing, but there are still good farming lands to be bought of the company. Besides having a wide area of land in a prosperous and well settled state for the settle or investor to select from, this railroad offers the further inducement of low prices, long credit, and interest on deferred payments at the moderate rate of seven per cent. A purchase may be made on eleven years' credit; or if on six years' time, two years' time, or for cash, with various deductions from the appraised price, as shown in the following terms of sale:


TERMS No. 1. — Eleven years. credit with seven per cent. interest. The first payment at date of purchase is one-tenth of the principal and seven per cent. interest on the remainder. At the end of the first and second years, only the interest at seven per cent. is paid; the third year and each year thereafter, one-tenth of the principal is paid, with seven per cent. annual interest on the balance until the whole is paid.


TERMS No. 2. —Six years. credit with seven per cent. interest. The first payment at date of purchase is one-sixth of the principal and seven per cent. interest on the remainder. The second payment at the end of the first year is only interest. Afterwards, one-sixth of the principal is paid and seven per cent. annual interest on the remainder until the whole is paid. A discount of ten per cent. is made from the appraised price when land is bought on these terms, and the payments come as below.

EXAMPLE — 160 acres, at $5 per acre, bought august 1, 1883, would amount to $800. Ten per cent. off would reduce it to $720, and the payments would be as follows:

Date of Payment Principal Interest Total
August 1, 1883(date of purchase) $120.00 $42.00 $162.00
August 1, 1884 ...... 42.00 42.00
August 1, 1885 120.00 33.60 153.00
August 1, 1886 120.00 25.20 145.20
August 1, 1887 120.00 16.80 136.80
August 1, 1888 120.00 8.40 128.80
August 1, 1889 120.00 ....... 120.00
____ ____ ____
Total payments at end of six years $720.00 $168.00 $888.00


TERMS NO. 3 — Three payments. In consideration of the purchaser's paying one-third of the principal at time of purchase, with seven per cent. interest on the remainder, and the balance in two annual payments, the company makes a discount from the appraised price of twenty per cent.


TERMS NO.. 4 — This is a sale where the whole amount of purchase money is paid down and deed given. A discount of twenty-five per cent. is made from the appraised price.

The prices are regulated by the quality of the land, distance from a railroad station, access to running streams, timber, building stone, etc. The terms and appraised prices are arbitrary, and cannot be changed except by approval of the directors. Patents completed and title perfect.


From the Graphic Arts collections of the American Antiquarian Society



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Last updated May June 16, 2005