GETTING AN IOWA FARM pgs 71-72
The land in Iowa was not all open to settlers until many years after the first ones were allowed to cross the Mississippi into the land bought from the Indians. But along the eastern part the family which came in the covered wagon or the one which came by boat down the Ohio River and up the Mississippi River could select a farm almost anywhere.
At first there were no farm lines; no one knew exactly where his land began nor where it stopped. It was marked off in the best way by stepping a certain distance each way and putting down stakes or marking trees to show boundaries. The sun at noon and at sunset helped, it is said, to find directions. But in this homely way mistakes would surely be made.
In those days men did not quarrel about the little things like farm lines. Land was too cheap to cause any disagreement over a small portion along the edge of such a large piece. Each one would give up if he was wrong, for he would have his share when all had been carefully measured. An ordinary farm contained 160 acres but some farms, called half sections, were twice as large. In making his claim the settler had to pay only a small amount of money, for a whole half section would cost only $400, and $100 would be enough to fix a claim upon it, or �enter it�. If a man just settled down on a piece of land and made no claim he was called �squatter� and he might be driven away.