In Montana in the 1800’s under the original Homestead Act heads of family could claim 160 acres of contiguous government land. To be eligible, an applicant had to be twenty-one years of age, as well as a U.S. citizen, or an alien who had filed for citizenship. Applicants had to live on the homestead for five years and make certain improvements to gain title to the land.
Jan’s parents were the children of ‘Homesteaders’. Her father Jens Roland Hansen was born on the Missouri River bottom in 1919. His parents came from Denmark and married in America. They homesteaded just South of Wolf Point, the town known for being the granddaddy of all Rodeos in Montana. When the time came for him to attend high school, his dad offered him a gold watch to stay home and work the farm and he accepted!
His first jobs were as a cowboy- he rode his horse 25 miles to work for the week and then spent his hours breaking horses for 1 dollar a day. Lena, Jan’s mom’s parents came from Denmark and Germany, and they homesteaded in the Vida, Montana area. Lena, born in 1918 was a schoolmarm who taught many years in Northeastern MT in one room school houses until bigger schools were built and she enjoyed teaching 1st and 2nd grades.
This Homesteader room is to honor all those who crossed over from their known countries with courage and a pioneering spirit brought civilization to this great state. And while these Billings accommodations are a good deal more comfortable than the homesteaders had, a night in this room with a western flair in a comfy King-sized bed and private bath may just allow you to enjoy inspired dreams.