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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.

Examples of Determined Homesteader include:

Comic Books

Film - Animated

  • Beans from Rango qualifies as one, refusing to sell her dad's ranch to the mayor.

Film - Live Action

  • 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.


  • 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!

Live Action TV

  • 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 song "The Little Old Sod Shanty on My Claim" as sung by Marc Williams.

Tabletop Games

  • 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.

Video Games

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: The Smith Family when they first established Sweet Apple Acres. They succeeded magnificently, and it led to the foundation of Ponyville.

Real Life

  • Hoy! Real Life! These guys: 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. Now THEY are some Determined Homesteaders!