The Story of A Black Louisiana Homesteader’s Journey to Acquire Land
Bernice A. Bennett
On October 15, 1895, Peter did submit proof to the land office in New Orleans that he had complied with the homesteader’s rules for settlers. He asked the following individuals to serve as witnesses to testify on his behalf Charles Baptiste(11), Henry Tinkshell,(12) Marshall Douglas, Alfred Robinson and Ida and Robert Benefield.
In compliance with the Homestead Act, The Southland newspaper published a notice for six consecutive weeks beginning October 17, 1894 to ensure that the entire community knew that Peter was in the final process of officially acquiring his land.
Although, Peter was able to give his final testimony, he almost missed his final filing date because he had a difficult time raising money to pay for his transportation to New Orleans and other expenses.
He pleaded his case as documented in his land entry file #9590 as follows:
Land Office New Orleans, Louisiana
"Before me the undersigned authority, personally came and appeared Peter Clark who being by me first duty sworn, deposes and says that he is the identical person who made Homestead Entry No 9590 on April 25, 1887; that the seven years in which homesteaders are required to make Proof in support of their entries expired in his case on April 25, 1894 and his final Proof made this day in support of his said Entry #9590 is not within the statutory period. That he is a very poor man and that until today he has not been able to get money to pay the cost of making proof and this is the earliest day he had the money.
That he has lived on and cultivated his land in good faith for over ten (10) years and it would work a great hardship, were he deprived of his entry. Wherefore, he prays that his Proof be accepted passed, his Final Certificate Receipt issue thereon and that he may receive Patent on his said entry after the necessary formalities in the provisos- Sworn to and subscribed
Peter x Clark
Before me A.D., 1894 G.McD Brumby – Register"
After pleading his case, Peter Clark received his Homestead Land patent in 1896, and he lived on the land until his death in 1909.(13) By 1900(14) the US census listed Peter as a farmer residing on land that he owned with his wife, two children and two grandchildren.
(11) Source Citation: Year: 1880; Census Place: Livingston, Louisiana; Roll 456; Family History Film: 1254456; Page: 170A; Enumeration District: 138;
(13) Death certificate – New Orleans, La., and family bible records.
(14) 1900; Census Place: Maurepas, Livingston, Louisiana; Roll T623_568; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 60
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