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April 4, 1872, Act to enable honorably discharged Soldiers and Sailors, their Widows and orphan Children, to acquire Homesteads on the Public Lands of the United States.
The 1872 Act provided that every private soldier and officer who served in the army, seaman, marine and officer who served in the navy or marine corps during the rebellion for ninety days or more and was honorably discharged and remained loyal to the government was entitled to enter upon and receive patents for public lands (not mineral) not exceeding 160 acres or one quarter-section. Widows and orphan children of those entitled to a homestead under the act could enjoy its benefits. Actual service in army or navy was deemed equivalent to a residence for the same time upon the tract entered as a homestead.
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"1872, April 4 - 17 Stat. 49, Act to enable Soldiers-Sailors and Heirs to Acquire Homesteads on Public Lands" (2016). US Government Legislation and Statutes. 16.