By Rebecca Drew
FASCINATING photographs have been released revealing what rural life was like for the last generation of American Homesteaders to settle in the Old West in the 1940s.
From fixing fences to shooting hawks to prevent them from carrying away chickens and picking cabbages, the images offer an insight into the working countryside. Other stunning shots show a shepherd on horseback and men and horses pulling a car out of the mud.
One picture shows a herd of calves being driven for the roping at the rodeo at Pie Town, New Mexico Fair, whilst other show men enjoying a barbeque and a man taking part in a rodeo competition in front of onlooking crowds.
The pictures were taken in 1940 by photographer Russel Lee who spent time in Pie Town, New Mexico capturing the essence of rural life. At the time, the town had a population of just two-hundred. Lee shot the images in colour using saturated Kodachrome.
The Homestead Act of 1862 was introduced to make previously undesired areas of land habitable areas where residents could live off the land. It allowed any family to claim up to 65-hectares of land, farm it for five-years, and then they could claim it as their own. After the goal was achieved these programs were discontinued and the families would be left to fend for themselves.
After President Franklin D. Roosevelt brought about his Subsistence Homesteading program in the 1930s and 1940s, these reforms generated a new interest in homesteading,
Other pictures of life on the farm show men harvesting corn, hauling crates of peaches and a herder gathering his sheep.