The Homestead Act of 1862 was one of the most significant and enduring events in the westward expansion of the United States. By granting 160 acres of free land to claimants, it allowed nearly any man or woman a “fair chance.”
Millions of Americans including immigrants, women, and formerly enslaved men and women would make the dream of westward expansion a reality for this country. For over a century these settlers would test their grit and endurance in the untamed wilderness and remote frontiers.
As Abraham Lincoln wrote on July 4, 1861, ‘It’s the purpose of our government “to elevate the condition of men, to lift artificial burdens from all shoulders and to give everyone an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life.”
In total, 270 million acres, or 10% of all land in the United States, were settled under the Homestead Act. Homesteading occurred in 30 of our 50 states. The Homestead Act was extremely progressive in who it allowed to make claims: women, nearly all immigrants, and African Americans had the right to claim free land.
Homesteading was discontinued in 1976, except in Alaska, where it continued until 1986. About 40% of the applicants who started the process were able to complete it and obtain title to their homesteaded land after paying a small fee in cash.
The Homestead Act revolutionized agriculture; by World War I, the U.S. was known as “the breadbasket of the world.” Homesteading also hastened America’s Industrial Revolution by the need to provide farmers with higher quantities and improved equipment and tools. Immigration to the United States increased dramatically during much of the homesteading era; the Act was highly publicized overseas and drove new immigrants to the U.S. to claim their 160-acre piece of the American Dream.
The Homestead Act encouraged immigration from Europe, and people began to settle permanently Westward for the first time.
One of those European immigrant families who successfully took advantage of the Homestead Act was the Wegis families. They had emigrated from Germany in the late 19th century, and eventually settled in Cuyama, Calif, which is located on California State Route 166 2.5 miles (4 km) east of its much larger neighbor New Cuyama. South of the town is the Sierra Madre mountain range, most of which is included in the Los Padres National Forest.
In this INSIDER EXCLUSIVE “Justice in America” Network TV Special, our news team visits with Ralph Wegis on his family’s original homesteaded ranch in, “DEFENDER OF JUSTICE – Ralph Wegis – America’s Renowned Trial Lawyer” as he shares his remembrances of growing up on the ranch, the work ethic and principles his mother and father instilled in him, and how all of this led to his becoming one of America’s best known and successful trial lawyer.
Ralph is an attorney in Bakersfield, California. He has been practicing law for over 40 years. His career boasts of over 150 jury trials ending with impactful verdicts in the millions, making his passion for the work that he does evident. This level of commitment has earned Ralph the Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent for 20 years now — a peer review award that is a testament to how highly regarded he is amongst his associates. Additionally, his peers selected him to be included as a “Super Lawyer” in The Los Angeles Magazine also deeming him a “Top Attorney” in Southern California.
Ralph has been involved in a number of complex litigation cases which include product liability against Ford Motor Company, Yamaha, Honda ATV, and Tradewinds. He has also taken on the medical device manufactures, music royalties for the Bellamy Brothers and a 13-year effort in a water pollution case against leading oil companies.
He has also handled wrongful termination, discrimination, personal injury, wrongful death lawsuits. As a result of successful litigation against the odds, Mr. Wegis was published in the book, “King of California” by Mark Arax, SLAPP” by Ralph Nader and was featured on the Discovery Channel for his work improving vehicle safety
Ralph shares some of the backstories of some of his many successful cases in his career like:
Johnson v. State of California Verdict $20 million
Wrongful Discrimination: 81, Dr. Robert Johnson’s supervisors at the Lancaster state prison complained to the state medical board that he suffered from memory loss that impaired his work as a surgeon and suggested he retire.
Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC288518
Wegis v. J. G. Boswell Verdict: $11.1 million
In Wegis v. J. G. Boswell Company the California Fifth District Court of Appeal upheld an award of $11,100,000 to three family farmers who had been SLAPPed by a large corporate farmer for their publication of newspaper ads attacking the corporate farmer for its opposition to a water project ballot measure. (June 14, 1991, No. F011230, unpublished opinion.)
Carter v. Kern High School District Settlement: $10.5 million
Personal Injury: Carter a high school student was attacked during a pep rally by other students leaving him with mild traumatic brain injury.
Vanessen v. Tradewinds Verdict: $8 million
Products liability: Defective Tradewinds Swap Cooler ignited causing the house to burn down with the child still inside.
Tulare County Superior Court Case No. 93-161828
Starrh & Starrh Cotton Growers v. Aera Energy LLC. Verdict: $8.5 million
Trespass Claim: Oil Polluted Wastewaster trespass onto farming property Kern County Superior Court No. 245287 MGB Published Appeal Opinion
M.W. a minor v. Panama Union School Verdict: $2.5 million
Personal Injury: Male student assaulted by another student on the school campus. School failure to supervise students
Kern County Superior Court Case No. 235872 RJA
Jane Doe v Kern High School District: Verdict $1,494,574
Personal Injury: Autistic female student harmed by sexual assault
Bellamy Brothers v. Mike Curb Records Settlement
Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC226576
Sneed v. Spectrum Oil Company Verdict: $2 million
Breach of Contract & Fraud
Kern County Superior Court Case No. 242931 JES
Jostens Inc. v. Bardin, Perkowski, Crawford, Moses Settlement
Defended against Unfair Competition
Chandler v. Mercy Southwest Hospital Settlement
Negligent and Carelessness causing personal injury to plaintiff who was a patient in Mercy Hospital. Kern County Superior Court Case No. 243034 SPC
Credit Research v. Experian Information Solutions Settlement
Breach of Contract; Interference with Contract; Interference with Prospective Economic Advantage; Unfair Competition Against; Violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act
Superior Court County of Monterey M 47960
Smith v. Yamaha Settlement over $2 million
Products Liability: Yamaha failed to recall motorcycle part causing injury to Mr. Smith resulting in mild traumatic brain injury.
Farley v. Calcot, LTD. Settlement
Calcot Class Action Settlement over $3million
Ralph also shares, what it takes to ‘Win in the Courtroom’, with advise on:
1. 10 Rules Successful Trial Lawyering
2. Winning Strategies in and out of the Courtroom
3. Discovering the Story
4. Voir Dire
6. The Opening Statement
7. Telling the Story through Witnesses
8. Exposing the Hidden Truth
9. The all-important ‘Closing Argument’ to the Jury
10. What’s wrong with America’s criminal justice system?
11. What is and how does our society achieve Social Justice?
Ralph has earned the highest respect from citizens and lawyers alike…. as one of the best Trial lawyers in Bakersfield, and in California
His firm’s goals are…… Not ONLY To get Justice for his clients…but to make sure that everyone is treated with equal respect and dignity as guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States.
Ralph has built a substantial reputation by consistently winning cases other law firms have turned down.
His amazing courtroom skills and headline grabbing success rate continue to provide his clients with the results they need……And the results they deserve.
You can get more information about Ralph, and his law firm @ https://ralphwegis.com/ 661 635 2100