The Indiana Homestead – copyright 1908

The American Revolution opened to settlement the lands west of the Appalachian Mountains, especially the Northwest Territory (now the Midwest east of the Mississippi) that had been gained in the war.

Even before a new Constitution was ratified, the Congress of the Confederation enacted the Land Ordinance of 1784 (written by Thomas Jefferson) which provided for the surveying and the sale of homesteads in what is now Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.

The cash-poor Congress had granted land in the west to soldiers and creditors of the Continental Army, so the Land Ordinance met both the needs of the growing population of the east and the fiscal needs of the emerging nation.

This postcard print captures a painting of an idealized “Indiana Homestead”.

One is struck by the rustic charm and self-sufficiency of the scene – but also by the isolation of settlers.

(Clearly, this is not a homesteader’s cabin, but a developed land grant after a generation or two.

The postcard was copyrighted by the publisher in New York in 1908.

Like most pictures that elicit a rush of nostalgia, the postcard print was popular at a time that the “originals” were vanishing.

By the early 20th century, the former territories were rapidly increasing in population – and the growth of cities, infrastructure, and industry were changing the bucolic countryside.

Nevertheless, one can enjoy the idyllic view of a prosperous and comfortable homestead.


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