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.

Grade Level

3-4. 8

Subject Matter

Social Studies

North Star Dakotan:

Journals and Art Work: The Indian People, The Trade, and The Land

The Indian People

The Purchase and Exploration of Louisiana

The Fur Trade

Dakota Territory

The Military Frontier

The Reservation System

George Armstrong Custer and the Battle of the Little Bighorn

The Great Dakota Boom, 1878-1890

Reservation Troubles, 1886-1890

The Making of a State and a Constitution

The North Dakota Economy, 1890-1915

Life on the Indian Reservations

The North Dakota National Guard and the Philippines

North Dakota, The Great War and After

The Nonpartisan League's Rise to Power

The Nonpartisan League in Power

The Nonpartisan League's Decline

The 1920s

1930s: North Dakota's Economic and Political Climate

The New Deal in North Dakota

The Road to World War II

North Dakota and American Society

North Dakota Optimism and Economic Developments

North Dakota and Political Change

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