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Setting the Stage


The log cabin has long been a symbol of American self-sufficiency. The cabin could be quickly built, and it provided a reasonably secure haven in a strange and often hostile environment. Neither arrows nor bullets could penetrate its thick wood walls which--if well built and carefully chinked--would keep out rain, snow, and cold. Although the cabins could be set aflame by fire brands during an Indian attack (one great fear shared by early pioneers and later settlers was being trapped within their houses during such an attack), this did not happen very often. As people continued to move westward in search of more and better land, they would abandon their cabins knowing they could easily build new ones as long as timber was available. Even in the early 20th century as far western lands opened up to settlement, new immigrants continued to construct log cabins as their first American homes.

Under the Homestead Act of May 20, 1862, those citizens who were the head of a family or at least 21 years of age were offered 160 acres of surveyed land after five years of continuous residence and payment of a registration fee ranging from $26 to $34. Alternatively, land could be acquired at $1.25 an acre after six months' residence. By means of this act, Finnish immigrants settled in Idaho between 1900 and 1930.

 

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