Henry M. Schumm, 1907 Colorado Homesteader

Last week I wrote about Henry M. Schumm (1861-1941), who moved from the Willshire area to Cheyenne County, Colorado, in the early 1900s. Henry M. Schumm homesteaded 160 acres in that eastern Colorado county and lived there for about 15-20 years.

It appears that Henry M. spent more time in Colorado than his wife Wilhelmina and children did. Wilhelmina and some of their children were enumerated in Willshire Township in January 1920 and then a month later with Henry in Colorado. Henry and Wilhelmina moved back to Willshire Township sometime before 1930.

I was able to piece together a small timeline of Henry’s time in Colorado and wrote about that last week. But I still had questions. Why did Henry M. decide to leave Ohio and homestead in Colorado? I asked Henry’s granddaughter about this but she said her father did not talk about it much, only mentioning that Henry was gone some of the time.

In the meantime learned some general information about homesteading during that time period.

Approximately 75 percent of the settlers in northeastern Colorado filed homestead claims after 1900. The activity peaked in 1910. The new settlers on the eastern plains soon emphasized wheat and cattle grazing and sugar beets.

How did homesteading work? President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act in 1862, giving citizens up to 160 acres of public land, provided they lived on it, improved it, and paid a small registration fee. The process encouraged the settlement and development of American land by American citizens.

Colorado and other western states promoted settlement and agricultural opportunities through homesteading by advertising in newspapers around 1907-08, the same time Henry M. Schumm decided to homestead there. He may very well have read about western homesteading in a newspaper.

Homesteading would not have been easy, but the opportunity for free land, the challenges of the frontier, and health concerns could have been among the reasons Henry M. Schumm decided to homestead in Colorado. Homesteading is no longer used and Alaska was the last state to offer it.

Under the Homestead Act a person could claim 160 acres, file on it, and if he built a home, lived there, and cultivated the land for five years, he could “prove up” his claim and obtain a government patent to it. It would have been a real challenge and a lot of hard work. The homesteader started from scratch, with nothing but his land. The land did not come with a house and homesteaders often lived in tents until they could build a home or some sort of a structure. This may have been the reason Henry M. Schumm’s family traveled to and from Colorado frequently. There were probably more creature comforts back in Willshire Township.       

Railroad travel opened to Colorado in the 1870s and contributed to the settlement of eastern Colorado. I wonder if the Schumms traveled to and from Colorado by rail? I cannot imagine driving back and forth by car. It is also interesting to note that Henry’s son Emil Schumm worked for the railroad in Colorado.

On 23 February 1907 Henry M. Schumm entered a Homestead contract in Cheyenne County, with five years to establish claim of his land. Eight years later, in 1915, Henry M. Schumm was issued a Serial Land patent in Cheyenne County, Colorado, serial no. COH0004271, signed by President Woodrow Wilson.

A portion of Henry’s land patent: …a Certificate of the Register of the Land Office at Hugo, Colorado, has been deposited in the General Land Office…pursuant to the Act of Congress of May 20, 1862, “To Secure Homesteads to Actual Settlers on the Public Domain,” and the acts supplemental thereto, the claim of Henry M. Schumm has been established and duly consummated, in conformity to law, for the northwest quarter of Section eight in Township fifteen south of Range forty-three west of the Sixth Principal Meridian, Colorado, containing one hundred sixty acres…Patent Number 489568, 9 September 1915. [1]

Henry M. Schumm 1915 Colorado land patent.

Below is an old photo from this family. Although the photo is unidentified, I suspect it is a photo of Henry M. Schumm, his wife Wilhelmina, and a some of their children. Their son Emanuel Schumm (1892-1973) is standing on the right. It looks like they could have been in Colorado. It sure doesn’t look like Van Wert County.  

Emanuel Schumm, far right, possibly with his parents and siblings.

I have other photos of Emanuel that appear were taken out west. Was he visiting family in Colorado or just traveling? His brother Emil Schumm also lived in Colorado for the remainder of his life. He could have been visiting him.

I still have not found Henry M. Schumm in the 1910 census. He was not enumerated in Willshire Township with the rest of his family. He was likely living on his 160 acres in Colorado at the time, homesteading, perhaps living in a tent or makeshift cabin. Perhaps the census taker missed him. Perhaps he was not enumerated at all in 1910. 

I will keep looking…

[1] “Henry M. Schumm Homesteading, Mining, Ranching, Logging,” Cheyenne Wells, Colorado, Homestead Patent, Serial No.COH0004271, 1915; TheLandPatents.com,  https://thelandpatents.com/owners/483990 , viewed 15 Dec 2021.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.