Reviewing Dates from a Cancelled Homestead

Order is good. I took a little time to organize the materials in John Ufkes’ cancelled homestead application file from the National Archives (for his incomplete homestead claim to the northeast quarter of section 4 in township 3 range 15 in Franklin County, Nebraska). These records are not online and had to be obtained directly from the National Archives. By themselves the dates might not appear to tell all that much.

  • 19 August 1871 John Ufkes filed a declaration of intent to become a citizen in Hancock County, Illinois. The copy of the declaration contained in his homestead application file is dated the same day.
  • 4 September 1871 John pays $13.80 to enter his claim for the northeast quarter of section 4 in township 3 range 15 in Franklin County, Nebraska. The property was 151.87 acres and the claim was entered in the Lowell, Nebraska, land office.
  • 20 November 1873 William Briggs claims John Ufkes has abandoned his claim.
  • 29 Dec 1873 Is the summons date on which John Ufkes is to appear if he wants to defend his claim. Ufkes does not appear and on this date the claim is cancelled by the Register.
  • 17 Jan 1874 The publisher of the Adams County Gazette says that for four weeks in November and December of 1873 he published notice for John Ufkes to appear at the hearing on 29 December.


Reviewing the dates caused me to notice that John’s declaration is filed in relatively close proximity to his making a homestead claim. John knew (or someone told him) that he needed to have “filed papers” for citizenship before he could make a homestead claim. John did not need witnesses for his declaration of intention–that’s only required for citizenship–but from the chronology it looks like he was getting himself ready to head to Nebraska.

Fully analyzing this information requires me to put it into a complete chronology of John’s life. Two other dates are crucial here–John’s immigration to the United States in March of 1869 and his marriage in Hancock County, Illinois, on 3 March 1874. John is known to have been in Adams and Hancock Counties in Illinois shortly after his arrival in the United States (staying with family).

Based upon the dates of his declaration of intention, the fact that he immigrated in 1869, and that he stayed initially with family, John should be in Illinois in the 1870 census. To date, despite numerous searches, he has not been located in that record. Based upon the homestead application, he was in Nebraska on 4 September 1871, but how long he had been there and how long he stayed after that date is debatable.  It is doubtful that he went to Nebraska and returned to Illinois only to return to claim a homestead. On 20 Nov 1873, Briggs claims John had abandonded his homestead–probably indicating John had been away from it for some time, perhaps all of 1873.

Family tradition was that John thought Nebraska was “too wild” and not a place to raise a family. His sister and her husband moved to Franklin County, Nebraska, shortly after the 1880 census. John returned to Hancock County, Illinois, where he married and remained for the remainder of his life (except for a few years when he farmed near Golden, Adams County, Illinois).


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