The Homestead Act of 1862, the first of several of its kind, was passed in order to encourage the settlement of the west. Settlers were given 160 acres of stolen Indigenous land in exchange for a small fee and a promise to live on and improve the land by farming.
A photographer took this picture of John and Marget Bakken and their two children, Tilda and Eddie, in front of their sod house in Milton in 1898. John Bakken was the son of Norwegian immigrants, who homesteaded and built a sod house in Milton in 1896. Description from uncopyrighted webpage http://www.lib.ndsu.nodak.edu/ndirs/exhibitions/pioneer/camera/sod.htm