Homesteading in Missouri, and Introducing Historic Missouri Law

An affidavit in a canceled Howell County, Missouri, homestead claim is one of two records found providing the 1870 death date of Elizabeth (Eyster) Loy. The other was in a second homestead file.

Elizabeth, my great-great-great-great-grandmother, was a widow near or in her 70s when she filed her 1866 homestead claim. Elizabeth’s death did not stop her son, Martin Luther Loy, from using and trying to retain her claimed land. However, Martin had his own homestead claim to maintain. In time, Martin relinquished his rights to Elizabeth’s claim.
Martin’s 1872 affidavit reads:

“West Plains Mo
U.S. Land Office Ironton Mo.
January 12″ 1872
I Martin L. Loy, being one of the heirs of Elizabeth Loy, deceased do hereby relinquish all my right and title to the United States Government, to the within described tract of land.
Martin L. Lay being by me duly sworn further deposes and says that his Mother, Elizabeth Loy, who made the within named Homestead departed this life about the 28th day of August 1870 and that there are no minor heirs to her estate.
Martin. L. Loy
Sworn to and subscribed }
before me this 13th day   }
of January 1872               }
I. Donaldson

Elizabeth’s canceled homestead file is held at the National Archives. Since her land claim was canceled, it is not with completed land entry case files. However, one affidavit about her canceled claim was found in her son Martin’s completed homestead file. It painted a picture of the improvements that Elizabeth made on her claimed land before her death.

“That the said Elizabeth Loy entered upon and made settlement on said land on or about the 1″ day of September, 1866, and has built a house thereon one log house about 14 x 16 feet. Porch on side 7 fee[t] wide That the said Elizabeth Loy departed this life in the month of August 1870 and she lived in the said house and made it his [sic] exclusive home from the 1″ day of of [sic] September, 1866, to the time ^of her death, and that she has since settlement ploughed, fenced, and cultivated about 12 acres of said land, and has made the following improvements thereon, to wit: planted about 20 apple trees about 50 peach trees and that Martin L Loy heir of Elizabeth Loy has kept up said improvmts since the death to the present time And that we live at so great a distance from the land office that we can not appear in person without much trouble and expense } C. M. Collins. J F Tucker” [2]

Martin and Elizabeth both filed claims under the Homestead Act of 20 May 1862. That act did not have a provision for one person to live on and receive multiple claims.[3] The final certificate for Martin’s homestead was dated the day he swore that he relinquished interest in his mother’s claim.[4]

Martin and his family, and his sister, Margaret (Loy) Tucker, and her children, left Howell County and went to Cowley County, Kansas.[5] The family did not last ten years in Missouri. They left without their matriarch, Elizabeth, whose Missouri burial place is unknown.

With homesteading Missouri ancestors, I was happy to see that Missouri Digital Heritage has linked to digitized historic state session laws, 1824 to present. Since they did not include territorial statutes, I found what was available online for the territory and added both the territorial and state statutory law to a Historic Missouri Statutes page in my online law library. Some Missouri case law is found in another collection on the Missouri Digital Heritage site, and I have created a Historic Missouri Case Law page to lead you to that collection.



[1] Affidavit, 12 January 1872, by Martin L. Loy, in canceled land entry case file (homestead) of Elizabeth Loy (Howell County), application no. 630 (1866), canceled 20 February 1872, Ironton, Missouri, Land Office; Land Entry Papers; Record Group 49; Records of the Bureau of Land Management; National Archives, Washington, D. C.
[2] Affidavit, 10 January 1872, by C. M. Collins and J. Foster Tucker, in Martin L. Loy (Howell County) land entry case file (homestead), final certificate no. 119 (1872), Ironton, Missouri, Land Office; Land Entry Papers; Record Group 49; Records of the Bureau of Land Management; National Archives, Washington, D. C. Items in italics were written in on a printed form. Columbus M. Collins was married to Margaret Loy Tucker’s daughter, Phebe. John Foster Tucker was Margaret Loy Tucker’s son.
[3] Adapted from Lee Ann Potter and Wynell Schamel, “The Homestead Act of 1862,” Social Education 61, 6 (October 197): 359-364, National Archives ( : accessed 28 October 2021).
[4] Final Certificate No. 119, dated 13 January 1872, Patent 15 January 1872, in Martin L. Loy (Howell County) land entry case file (homestead), Ironton, Missouri, Land Office; Land Entry Papers, 1800–1908; Record Group 49; Records of the Bureau of Land Management; National Archives, Washington, D. C.
[5] 1875 Kansas state census, Cowley County, population schedule, Omnia Township, sheet 3, lines 4-9, M. L. Loy household, line 10, P. S. Loy, also sheet 2, lines 14-16, M. L. Tucker household; digital image, ( : accessed 29 October 2021), “Kansas State Census Collection, 1855-1925.”
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Homesteading in Missouri, and Introducing Historic Missouri Law

  1. Lisa S. Gorrell says:

    Great story. I’m guessing that Martin didn’t have the money to purchase Elizabeth’s land? Or perhaps that wasn’t allowed since it wasn’t his claim. It seemed a shame to relinquish the property that was so well developed. It definitely had value.

    • debbiemieszala says:

      The Homestead Act of 1862 allowed a head of household to claim up to 160 acres of land. Elizabeth’s initial receiver’s receipt for her application no. 630 is dated 11 December 1866. Her claim was for 160 acres of land, the largest amount of land that she could claim under the act. Martin’s issue was that he started his own claim with application no. 696 on 2 January 1867, for 149-12/100 acres. Since Martin was only a little over 10 acres shy of 160, he would not be allowed a second claim of 160 acres.

      His sister, Margaret Loy Tucker, was another of Elizabeth’s heirs in Howell County. But affidavits in Margaret’s later homestead claim with the Kingfisher, Oklahoma Territory, land office (application no. 9004, final certificate no. 2729) indicate that Margaret also started a claim in Howell County on or around 2 January 1867. Margaret could not recall all of the land description for her Missouri claim, but someone added the land description and cancellation date (but not the acreage). Her Howell County claim (application no. 695, suggesting that she and Martin went to the land office together to claim land) was also canceled, but not until 28 December 1871. I do not yet have Margaret Tucker’s canceled file, but it is back on my to-do list. I do not know if any documents about Elizabeth might appear in Margaret’s claim, or why Margaret was unable to complete her Missouri homestead. Margaret would have been ineligible for Elizabeth’s claim because she had one of her own.

      The families seemed ready to move on from Missouri by the time Martin received his patent. I suspect they hoped that if they were allowed Elizabeth’s as well, they could profit from selling it. They definitely enjoyed benefits from it between the time of her death and when Martin’s rights were relinquished. Instead of the family gaining from a private land sale, the canceled claim was divided and a cash sale owner and a new homesteader benefited from Elizabeth’s hard work. But really, they were gaming the homestead system. The system was riddled with fraud, and my guess is this is one example.

      Obtaining a canceled file is a slightly different process. For Elizabeth’s abandoned Missouri claim, which falls under the BLM Eastern States division, a small fee was paid to the BLM Eastern States division for a copy of the tract book page. The legal description of the land was supplied to the BLM. The tract book page information then went to NARA, which they used to look for the canceled file. This was the process for canceled homestead files several years ago. I do not know if it has changed.

Comments are closed.