May 20

1862 The Homestead Act was passed by Congress and signed by President Lincoln on May 20, 1862. It promised 160 western acres to each settler who agreed to cultivate them for five years. Citizens or prospective citizens 21-years and older, including women and minorities, who had never fought the government (Confederate soldiers were excluded) were eligible. According to General Land Office records, the first patent issued in Wyoming under the authority of the Homestead Act was given to William Doolan (Dolan) in Laramie County on June 15, 1875.