You were limited to 160 acres, and a title would be granted upon your residence and improvement upon the land over a period of five years. This in itself would give an advantage to those richer settlers.
Under the provisions of the Homestead Act of 1862, a legal settler could claim 160 acres of public land, and those who lived on and improved the claim for five years could receive title.
When we (as kids in school) reenacted this every April, we ran across the multi-purpose field—land that no doubt was staked some one-hundred years earlier—to stake a space that as I recall was limited to twenty feet square. We then ate lunch1
on it, dressed in what was in most cases a half-assed attempt at period regalia. After that, we were forced to abandon claim to participate in period amusements—potato-sack racing, (plastic) steer (head-attached-to-a-hay-bale) roping, and like that.
1. For the sixth-graders, this was bought from a silent auction that was based upon the musical Oklahoma!. Underclassmen made the lunches and packaged them in shoeboxes, which we then bid upon for an amount not exceeding five dollars.