Second Boom Spurs Women Homesteading
Thousands of Women Homesteaders in ND
Watford City, 1910
Most of the public thinks that homesteading is a man’s activity. Not so. Thousands of women, most of them single or widowed, have taken land in North Dakota. Very few have come as lone adventurers; they usually traveled with other family members and have hom-esteaded near them. They have been a young group with over half under age twenty-five. Homesteading is not restricted to the young women. Many are middle aged and a few are over fifty years of age.
Most of the women homesteaders are native born, but as many as one in three are immigrants. A very high percent of the women manage and tend to their own homesteads. This does not mean that they are completely tied to their homes. Many, perhaps as many as two out of three, earn money on other jobs, especially as teachers, housekeepers, and seamstresses.
The numbers of women homesteaders increases as one moves west across the state. Estimates place the percentage of women among the early homesteaders in the Red River Valley at between 8 and 10 percent. The second boom has lured more women into farming or ranching. In our county, McKenzie, way out here in the far western part of the state, as many as one out of five homesteaders are women!
By Dr. D. Jerome Tweton
Originally published as The North Star Dakotan student newspaper, written by Dr. D. Jerome Tweton and supported by the North Dakota Humanities Council.