Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. William Cremin

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert Sundick

Third Advisor

Dr. Alan Jacobs

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


The provisions of the Homestead Act of 1863 (U.S. Congress 1862a) required a settlement pattern of dispersed single families on small tracts of land, which, in turn, affected the subsistence strategies available to the homesteaders. The interaction of federal land legislation with the ecosystem of southern Oscoda County resulted in marked spatial and temporal differences between the tracts that were homesteaded as opposed to those acquired for their timber. A sample population of quarter sections was analyzed in terms of the physical and biotic environments, date of entry, and use. The analysis confirmed that the timber lands were located on better land and had an earlier entry date than the homesteads. In turn, the small size and submarginal environment of the homesteads greatly limited possible subsistence strategies.