"Lord, we cleared this land. We plowed it, sowed it, and harvested it. We cooked the harvest. It wouldn't be here and we wouldn't be eating it if we hadn't done it all ourselves. We worked dog-bone hard for every crumb and morsel, but we thank you Lord just the same for the food we're about to eat. Amen."
A person who seeks to claim land by improving it through agriculture.
This trope came into its own in America with the Homestead Act of 1862, which offered 160 acres of public land "free" if a homesteader filed a claim and succeeded in making a viable farm of the land.
In fiction, the Determined Homesteader
is determined to have a place that he owns in his own right, come hell or high water. And generally, every horrible thing that could happen to a piece of land will during the course of the story. Drought, flooding, fire, locusts, hostile natives, land barons who want all the acreage in the valley, and anything else the writer can throw at the homesteader will not be neglected. But somehow, the Determined Homesteader will hold on
. Even if a good-faith offer to buy the land at a fair price comes up, he won't sell, no sir.
Often has an equally resolute wife
, as well as several children
of both sexes.
Even killing a Determined Homesteader doesn't necessarily end the story, since most of them will leave a Determined Widow
. Commonly found in Westerns
. Usually part of Settling the Frontier
Film - Animated
- In Barbed Wire on the Prairie, Lucky Luke and a group of these face off against a ruthless Cattle Baron.
- In "Family Reunion" in Creepy #5 two of the three Cartwright brothers came back from the grave to prevent the third brother from selling the family farm to the local lawyer.
Film - Live Action
- Beans from Rango qualifies as one, refusing to sell her dad's ranch to the mayor.
- Joe Starrett, the farmer for whom Shane worked and to whom Shane bonded, and leader of the other homesteaders; "The one real man in this valley," as described by Shane himself.
- The main character in all three versions of 3:10 To Yuma
- Aaron Edwards and his family in The Searchers, as well as his neighbors.
- The townsfolk of Rock Ridge in Blazing Saddles, although this being a comedy, their determination wavers a bit.
- Pa Ingalls of the Little House on the Prairie series.
- The Lermer family in Robert A. Heinlein's Farmer in the Sky are Determined Homesteaders In SPACE, as is Lazarus Long in one part of Time Enough for Love.
- Henry Gale, uncle of Dorothy, in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Less so in the movie, where the farm is long-established and prosperous enough for full-time hired hands.
- William Thornhill, a deported convict in New South Wales, in The Secret River.
- Hatsue and her husband, Kabuo, in Snow Falling On Cedars.
- The Countess Sandriliene fa Toren in Circle of Magic shows this side of herself in The Will of the Empress - she is determined to own and take care of her land no matter how the Empress threatens her. But in the end her friends pressure her into giving it up - fortunately it goes into good hands.
- Karl Oskar in The Emigrants.
- Matthew Stark in Cloud of Sparrows was one of these earlier in life, and almost succeeded before his wife was killed.
- Pretty much all the protagonists of the novel The Octopus, with the antagonists largely being affiliated with the railroad company that still owns half the homesteaders' land.
- The Grapes of Wrath details the lives of Determined Homesteaders whose Heroic Resolve is threatened when the Dust Bowl obliterates their crops and the modernization of agriculture defiles the Good Old Ways.
- The Pioneers in Dark Life determinedly homestead the sea floor—in jellyfish-shaped houses, no less!
- Deconstructed in the Young Jedi Knights series, where the people of Zekk's homeworld Ennth take this to Too Dumb to Live extremes. Due to orbital oddities of its moon, Ennth goes through cycles of worldwide seismic activity every seven years, whereupon the inhabitants pack up and move to space station refuges, then return when things calm down and rebuild everything. Anyone else would have moved to another planet a long time ago.
- Many examples in Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar books/stories on the borders of the Pelagirs.
- Ezra Baxter, hacking out a farm in the middle of the Florida swamp in The Yearling. It's a hard life with a great deal of struggle.
- An episode of Sliders played with this; a goon in the employ of a businessman from back East is trying to force out the local farmers. By the end of the episode, the goon's been fired for violating his orders, the businessman is shown to be level-headed and reasonable, and the settlers are preparing to move on to California. They had no problem with selling; they just refused to be forced out.
- Found in Firefly, especially in the episode Heart of Gold, about a once-Companion determined to keep the brothel that she and her girls call home.
- The folksong "The Little Old Sod Shanty on My Claim" as sung by Marc Williams.
- Many of these are sarcastic, such as "Acres of Clams" and "Starving to Death on My Government Claim."
- A Determined Homesteader Recycled In Space is one of the many character backgrounds available in Traveller. Ardin Enlisson Helmgard is a sample character on page 91 of the volume Sword Worlds that gives a splendid picture of the archetypical homesteader, as well as the self image of the Sword Worlder people in Traveller.
- You play one in the game FrontierVille, though this is a Lighter and Softer take where your character can't actually die or be completely dispossessed. By completing various goals, you can add a Determined Homesteader's Spouse and Determined Homesteader's Children.
- Harbormen in Neverwinter Nights 2 are this in spades. No matter how many times West Harbor gets overrun by Githyanki or wrecked by the King of Shadows' minions, they just rebuild (in a swamp!) and dig in deeper. They even have a reputation in-universe for being tenacious and stubborn.
- It's a well earned reputation. In the game's prologue, the village avoids the Doomed Hometown trope when they actually manage to repel a Githyanki invasion (albeit barely).
- In Storm of Zehir, West Harbor is besieged by a pair of black dragons. Clearly the town is the Butt Monkey of the Sword Coast.
- One Self-Imposed Challenge for The Sims 2: Seasons makes your sim earn their living purely by gardening and fishing... after buying the biggest empty lot and using up all their starting money. If the player uses expansions after Seasons, the sim can buy a lot so big they literally can't afford furniture/housing at first.
- Turned into a game mechanic in Star Trek Online. Duty officer assignments that require colonists typically improve your odds of a critical success if the colonists assigned to them have traits such as "Resilient", "Stubborn", and/or "Teamwork".
- This is Dantooine's hat in the Knights of the Old Republic games. In the second, the homesteaders have been put to significant hardship by the war and now have to deal with opportunists trying to make credits off of salvage and mercenary work. When picking sides for the homesteader vs. mercenary fight, the homesteaders under Terena Adere are (naturally) the good guys.
- In Tachyon: The Fringe, the Bora are a group of Asteroid Miners whose ancestors left the Solar System in protest using a one-way mega-gate. Centuries later, they are rediscovered by the expanding humanity, and their area of space is found to be extremely wealthy in minerals. The Galactic Spanning Corporation, seeking to claim the area, engage in a Loophole Abuse, claiming that the original Bora settlers did not officially file a claim to their area of space with the Sol government (of course, this seems to imply that the Sol government lays claim to the whole galaxy). Having lived and toiled there for generations, the Bora aren't about to be forced out by a piece of paper. So, GalSpan brings its corporate fleet and mercenaries to forcibly take Bora space. Luckily for the Bora, their miners prove to be pretty good pilots and manage to go toe-to-toe with the largest Mega Corp. in existence. It doesn't help that GalSpan isn't above using illegal or unethical tactics from achieving their goal, such as blowing up hospitals, destroying civilian shipyards, attacking refugee transports, or sabotaging Bora TCG gates.
- Susannah Zane in Zombie Ranch is nobody's wife or widow, but damned if anyone's going to take the land her family has owned for generations.
- These guys: http://urbanhomestead.org/ They are a family devoted unconditionally to their little plot of land, their scrappy-but-lovable farm animals, and living independently even in today's modern world. The catch? They're in the middle of a city. On a miniscule 1/10th of an acre in the middle of a bad neighborhood of Pasadena CA, they grow 6,000 pounds of food a year and are completely self-sufficient.
- One of the colorful cast of charactersnote in Pennoyer v. Neff, a US Supreme Court case every law student reads in first-year Civil Procedure dealing with the issue of jurisdiction, is the defendant, Marcus Neff. Neff was an illiterate but apparently hardworking pioneer who had claimed a homestead in Oregon...and just before he was about to seal his title to it, went to California to participate in the Gold Rush (hey, there's determined, and then there's "free gold just across the border"). This proved to be an extremely bad move for Neff, because it led to a ridiculous chain of events that simply has to be read to believed...and immortalized him in one of the foundational cases of American law. Strange, that.