The family spent five years in Welsh while Ellen looked for land. Five years of false leads and disappointment. Five years wondering if she made the right decision.
Ellen arrived at the land office in Lake Charles on a Tuesday morning in May 1898. Eighteen year old Robert Clarence probably drove the wagon into town. The application process was lengthy. Claims were sometimes denied. Ellen was taking a chance that she would be able to fulfill the requirements set forth in The Homestead Act.
- May 10, 1898 – Ellen submits initial paperwork for the southeast quarter Section 35, Township 8S, Range 9W. 162.29 acres. She paid a Receiver’s fee of $14 and an Excess fee of $2.86 (for the 2.29 acres in excess of 160).
- May 11, 1898 – papers filed in New Orleans
- October 30, 1898 – Family moves onto property
- July 27, 1903 – Ellen files notice of intent to submit final proof of claim. The Lake Charles Press runs the notice for six weeks.
- September 9, 1903 – Ellen and two witnesses, Arthur Coney and George Koonce, appear at the Clerk of Court office to give sworn statements. The Homestead Act required two witnesses to collaborate the applicant’s testimony. A five dollar filing fee is paid.
- September 10, 1904 – Ellen’s claim is approved
- October 17, 1904 – Land patent issued
Twelve years had passed since Charles Wesley Sutherland had died. Alone. A thousand miles from his wife and children.
Ellen kept her promise.