What hardships did homesteaders face?

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mrshh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Homesteaders faced many hardships.  They settled land that was largely uninhabited.  They did not have the luxury or convenience of shops, roads, and other things associated with towns and cities.  They often lacked neighbors.  Schools and churches could be many miles way, if they existed at all.

When homesteaders settled on a piece of land, they had to clear it themselves.  They had to do this so that they could plant crops and build a house.  Clearing land with limited tools and manpower was incredibly difficult.  They had to plant crops, build a house, and construct a barn.

Supplies were hard to come by.  Towns were few and far between in the west.  Settlers sometimes had to drive many miles in a wagon to get supplies and then haul them home.  If there was a school, children had to walk far in sometimes adverse weather conditions to get there.

Homesteaders were largely dependent on the land.  If they had a bad crop year, they could make little money.  They also could starve, because they also consumed some of their crops.

Many diseases could not be treated or cured in the 1800s.  Many times there was no doctor around.  Women could die in childbirth with no doctor or midwife to attend them.  People often died young from disease.

 Sometimes there were conflicts between the U.S. government and Native American tribes, and settlers could unintentionally get in the middle of the disputes.  Severe weather, such as heavy snows, made life difficult.  Homesteaders could get snowed in to their houses or even lost out in a blizzard.

Isolation often caused loneliness.  Some homesteaders did not have any neighbors for miles.  Churches provided opportunities for socialization, but some homesteaders lived more than ten miles away from the nearest town.

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